Corentyne High School celebrates 70th anniversary in New York

Dear Editor,
The alumni of Corentyne High School – JC Chandisingh Secondary School (CHS) of Port Mourant – recently celebrated the school’s 70th anniversary with a reunion at the posh catering venue of Antun’s located in Queens.

The gala affair was graced by the presence of a capacity crowd of 650. Attendees came from Europe, the UK, Guyana, Canada, the Caribbean and from all over the USA.
Special guests included Guyana’s Ambassador to the US, Bayney Karran. The keynote speaker was Jules Nathoo, a former teacher at CHS who was subsequently schooled in law. Former CHS teacher and principal Jagdat P Deonarine attended as a VIP guest. Also in attendance were famous cricketer Joseph Solomon, Prof Chaitram Singh who is a college dean in Georgia, Dr Mahendra Deonarine of Guyana, Mr and Mrs Austin of the UK and Jane Baichu, one of the oldest surviving alumni, and several well-known former teachers whose contributions are noteworthy.

The chairman of the 70th Anniversary and Reunion 2008 Planning Committee was Ashook Ramsaran of the class of 1964. The MC for the event was Rishi Singh, graduate class of 1971 and former teacher at CHS, along with co-MC Bibi Hydar, graduate of class of 1977.

The evening’s programme included a ‘Meet-Greet-Eat’ first 90 minutes. This was followed by the formal speaking programme, then entertainment and dancing. A live band headed by V-Men provided excellent music and songs from the ’60s to contemporary times. Vince Ramcharran of Vancouver, Canada, was the official photographer and videographer.
CHS alumni class of 1963 and former teacher Paul Erriah wore the trademark hat of pioneer educator JC Chandisingh MBE ringing the bell to signify the ‘start of classes’ with the statement,  “Boys and girls, school is now started. Go to your classes.” CHS alumni Martin Lalsingh started the event with the national anthems of both the United States and Guyana, followed by a moment of silence for all those who had passed on.

Rishi Singh spoke of the remarkable and significant history of CHS, its alumni, former teachers and principals who all “in particular JC Chandisingh… [had] made such a tremendous contribution to education in the Corentyne area.” He lauded the significant achievements of former teachers and alumni in Guyana and those who had settled all over the world and had contributed to their various professions as a result of the formative education they received at CHS. “We are a family,” Singh said. He urged everyone to participate in enabling the organization to achieve its goals as well as to explore new and challenging ways to respond to the needs of their former school.

Chairman Ramsaran welcomed everyone to the event which he described as “this historic event in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of a unique institution that transformed the lives of so many since its founding in 1938.”  He stated that JC Chandisingh, MBE and other pioneers helped change the landscape of education in Guyanese society.  “Their unmatched dedication, enthusiasm and pioneering spirit are truly positive models for students of CHS and for that we are grateful.”

Ambassador Bayney Karran extended greetings to the alumni and supporters of the Corentyne High School on “this proud occasion of the 70th anniversary of your school and your reunion 2008.” He continued, “This gala and reunion is a fitting occasion to look back with pride and satisfaction over the last 70 years in acknowledgement of the foundation which your alma mater has laid for your academic accomplishments as well as your personal and social achievements.”

Class of 1971 Alumni Gem Madhoo, who travelled with husband Kit Nascimento from Guyana to attend the event, delivered the vote of thanks, and recognized all those  whose contributions of time, effort, resources and good wishes had helped make the event a reality and a very successful one too.

A handsomely designed 75th anniversary event brochure was released and distributed at no charge that evening.  The contents include citations from NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, herself a Guyanese-American, as well as a message of congratulations from Ambassador Karran. It also included a history of CHS, several articles by alumni and teachers, greetings and a pictorial gallery.

The celebrations continued the following day with a picnic at the Valley Stream State Park in Long Island where hundreds gathered with children, friends and associates. The title of the day was aptly named ‘Day After Reunion’ and given the acronym ‘DARU.’ Martin Lalsingh coordinated DARU and commented afterwards that “everyone had a great time.”

The alumni expressed appreciation to the organizers for their hard work in planning, coordinating and holding the event.  One of them who travelled from Canada to attend the events said they were, “Superb, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world and I am so glad to be here.”
Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram
Alumnus of CHS

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