By Duane Coombs
New York, NY–The Digicel Foundation, the philanthropic arm of telecom giant Digicel, has given a massive J$8 million grant to the Excelsior Past Students’ Association to help kick start the long-delayed Science Lab building project at the school. Major General Robert Neish, the Foundation’s Executive Director, made the donation at the Founder’s Day Brunch held at the Excelsior Auditorium, Kingston, on January 18, 2009.
The major legacy of Excelsior High School’s 75th anniversary celebrations in 2006, the Science Lab project has been stalled for lack of funding since it was first announced three years ago.
Major General Neish said the project proposal submitted by the Past Students’ Association (PSA), which will spearhead the development work on behalf of the school, had met the Foundation’s guidelines for grant funding. He noted that the Directors of the Foundation were very impressed with the document, and, on a visit to the school, had confirmed the need for upgrading, as outlined in the proposal.
He expressed confidence that, working together, the Project Team, supported by the School and the Past Students’ Association, would successfully complete the Project. Work has already started on the project with completion date set for later this year.
The ambitious project has been scaled back somewhat, as the original budget of more than J$35 million has been reduced to a more modest J$17.1 million, according to Project Coordinator, Orville Alexander Robinson. Construction will be undertaken on a phased basis, starting with repairs to the roof of the Physics Laboratory and continuing with work on the General Science Laboratories.
Expressing gratitude to the Digicel Foundation, Robinson noted that efforts by the PSA to raise funds for the project had netted just under J$1 million in donations, to date. The New York-based Excelsior Alumni Association has also pledged J$750,000.00 towards the project.
Christopher Honeywell (r) President, Excelsior Past Students’ Association accepts donation from Major General Robert Neish (third from left), Executive Director, Digicel Foundation; Mrs. Allison Peart (second from right), Acting Principal, Excelsior High School, Miss Malene Carr (l), Board Director, Digicel Foundation and Miss Eleen Rankine, Administrator, Digicel Foundation also taking part in the presentation.