Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Cynthia: 'Cooke-d' on Camperdown

Published:Saturday | November 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Coach Glen Mills and Cynthia Cooke at the Jamaica Charity Gala in Miami, Florida, last year.
Cynthia Cooke making one of her many presentations at The Gleaner's Youthlink CSEC seminar in March 2010.
Cynthia Cooke (left), chairperson of the organising committee for the Camperdown Classic, in discussion with Olympian Grace Jackson, guest speaker at the event's 2010 launch. -File photo
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High school love affair leads to Hall of Fame

Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

Experts say relationships are never easy because we all make mistakes, particularly in our love lives. Cynthia Cooke fell in love with Camperdown High School in her teen years. At the time, some may have argued if she had made the right choice.

Time, however, has mastered over a telling relationship that even the experts will agree has blossomed into a true love affair.

Not surprisingly, it's an affair for which Cooke has no regrets as, along its course, she has excelled in the fields of education and sports, contributing tremendously to nation-building and, by extension, the Caribbean region. That growth has gone global with her service to country as an administrator of the world's top track and field club, Racers, which is run by her high-school classmate and world-renowned coach, Glen Mills.

That club is home to one of the world's most recognisable personalities, athletics icon Usain Bolt, the Olympic and World sprint double and sprint relay champion.

Cooke is also chairperson of a development meet crafted in the school's own name, the Camperdown Classic, which caters to the island's top high-school and tertiary-level athletes.

Tonight, Cooke will be recognised for all the accolades earned in a distinguished career, as she will be among three persons to be inducted into the Camperdown High School Hall of Fame at a ceremony that is scheduled for the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston - a salutation of the Camperdown Alumni St Andrew Chapter.

STARTED IN 1961

Her journey at Camperdown High began in 1961 as a grade seven student, and when she graduated, Cooke returned under the watchful eyes of the then principal, Jeff Brown, to contribute in a community-service programme.

"During that time I was there, I got several attractive job offers which I turned down," Cooke reminisced. "At one stage, I was earning $17,000 per annum and refused a job offer of $75,000 per annum. I gave up a lot when I decided to remain at Camperdown."

Her long and illustrious career in the field of sports began while representing the school's track team every year, competing in the 100 metres, the sprint hurdles and the long jump. She also represented Santos Football Club (female team) in the 1970s.

Cooke's ability to multitask and excel in many areas at one and the same time foreshadowed her outstanding teaching career, which would see her eventually elevated to the esteemed position of principal of Camperdown High in 1993.

During that period, Cooke climbed the ladder of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, serving as chairman.

Born into a family of nine and inspired by her parents, Cooke, from very early in life, developed the work ethic and moral compass that would guide her through her adventures in giving back in education, sports and the credit union movement.

A long-standing member on the executive of the Mathematics Association of Jamaica, she became a regular marker of mathematics papers for the Caribbean Examinations Council, and eventually table leader, before taking up the position of chief examiner.

Cooke has also been a presenter at many workshops and seminars in maths, an equation which grew out of her distinguished love affair with Camperdown.