JCDC sashes nine Kingston, St Andrew festival contestants
For nine young ladies from Jamaica's capital, the intimate setting of the conference room at the Police Officers' Club will forever be a special place. It was the venue where they were joined by sponsors, family, friends and other stakeholders for a sashing ceremony, organised by Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Kingston and St Andrew office.
The sashing is a step closer for one of the ladies to represent her parish at the National Festival Queen Competition in August. But before doing so, she will be competing for the parish crown on May 23, at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre.
The short, compact programme began with the playing of the National Anthem, followed by an item best described as a montage of the performing arts. It allowed the contestants to showcase their talents in a specific discipline. The costumed piece was written by the contestants and choreographed by Kenny Salmon.
After remarks from Deputy Mayor Andrew Swaby and greetings from David Reid, JCDC's regional manager, and Festival Queen chairperson Grace-Ann Scarlett Duncan, the contestants, elegantly attired, returned to introduce themselves. Their backgrounds span a gamut of the educational scale, high school and university students, graduates and practising professionals.
Subsequently, each was sashed by a representative of the respective company: Althea Young, Miss Solid Life and General Insurance Brokers; Shauna Kay Battick, Miss St William Grant Park; Aquila Mattison, Miss Jamaica Electrical Technologies Limited; Rashelle Muir, Miss FMA Customs Brokers; Michelle Thomas, Miss National Security Employees Cooperative Credit Union Limited; Jahan Myrie, Miss Quest Security Services Limited; Aaliyah Young, Miss Melloy Distributors; Melissa Williams, PTG Electrical Building Solutions; and Georgia May Campbell, Miss Dream Weddings.
In his remarks, on behalf of Mayor Angela Brown Burke, patron of Miss KSA Competition, Swaby saluted the contestants and sponsors. To the sponsors, he said their generous support "is a demonstration of confidence in young people and their development". He told the contestants that whatever the outcome of the competition, they are all winners in their own rights. "Take hold of this great learning experience," he advised them.
One of the longest-serving sponsors that has demonstrated commitment to the KSA Festival Queen Competition is FMA Customs Brokers. They have done so for 30 years. Before moving to the rank of sponsoring a contestant, the company sponsored the award for Most Culturally Aware, "because we know how important the award is for the festival queen competition. The competition is unearthing young talents, giving them confidence and building future leaders. I do not have a problem putting my money where that is concerned," FMA manager Dermott Morrison said.
National Finals coming up
Kingston and St Andrew (KSA) have always done well at the National finals. And Salmon, who is also the chairman, told The Gleaner why. "Adjudicators look for girls who will do their best at the finals. All are trained with the one goal in mind. At KSA, our training is like you are doing a course," he said.
By way of explaining the list of finalists, Salmon said, "We had quite a number (of entrants), but persons have dropped out for various reasons. There are questions we ask (in the interview), 'are you prepared to go through rigorous training? Are you able to come to rehearsal, whichever day it is called'?"
The MC was Anjell Bryan, Miss Kingston and St Andrew 2014, and entertainment came from JCDC's gold medallist Shaday Afflick and Excelsior Community College student Shanice Sewell. They sang, respectively, Lioness and I am not Afraid.