Forest Heights Academy’s Twenty Fifth Year Anniversary Celebration – Falcon Fest – was held during the evening of April 2. It was a fun and jolly affair that brought together alumni, teachers (past and present) and many parents and family members of attending students.
The mouth-watering smell of grilled meat wafted and greeted guests as they entered the schoolyard. Tables set with games such as Tic Tac Toe or Bunny Ball Toss enticed the young ones to take their chances at prizes. They were also enthused with fire crackers and flashing goggles and toys which allowed them to play in a safe environment while giving their parents the freedom to socialize and enjoy the presentations. A table of baked goods was quickly depleted of its display, as people immediately bought cookies, candies and pies.
A stage was set in the outdoor cafeteria and decorated with trophies won and uniform styles worn by students over the years. There was also a display of items reserved for the silent auction. People could inspect them and place their bid in containers set in front of each lot.
While the children played, parents and guests had the opportunity to answer trivia questions about the school. Dexter Russell (alumnus) and Alana Carroll (current teacher) led the trivia session.
Former teacher, Joy Chaplin, narrated the school’s history. She explained that
the school opened in the present location in September 1998 after sharing the St Francis de Sales Catholic School’s campus for seven years. She praised the achievements of people involved in the school, a lot of them still there, during that twenty five year period.
Leslie Kennedy, who presently teaches literature, also reminisced on the nineteen years she spent at FHA as a teacher, saying that she was originally a week late starting her job and thought she would only be there for one a school year. Nineteen years later, she is still teaching. They both praised the family atmosphere they found there.
“This school has a heart,” said Kennedy, “that’s why I am still here.”
Throughout the evening people enjoyed the grilled steak or chicken dinners and checked their raffle tickets as Principal James Richard announced the winning numbers. After every winner had claimed their prizes, Principal Richard thanked everyone present and announced the Junkanoo Parade was to conclude the celebration.
Accompanied by drums and brass, the rushers made their entrance – slowly parading in front of the visitors who had gathered to watch the fabulous costumes made and worn by the students. The parade’s organizer, Lori Thompson, marched proudly with them as they came to the school’s yard.
Each costume was decorated with different masks and shapes; some had feathers, some had sequins and all were beautiful.
As in all Junkanoo parades, the band followed last. The beat of drums and blasts of brass instruments vibrated the evening air. Musicians from Abaco Central High School’s band had joined Forest Heights Academy’s to offer a truly special musical performance.