Our History: Reflections from the present

The B. W. Harris Episcopal School Alumni Association-USA, Inc. emerged in the United States from the concerns and efforts of several alumni to help their alma mater, B.W. Harris Episcopal School, and to foster relationships among alumni. Instrumental in its formation, planning, and implementation were Kwaku Addy and the Class of 1978, Rev. H. Budu Shannon, the late Bob Adighibe and other alumni in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota. The idea was subsequently endorsed and blessed by the Rev. Fr. Edward G. W. King, Jr., the former principal, which resulted in the incorporation of the B. W. Harris Episcopal School Alumni Association-USA, Inc. as a not-for-profit corporation  in the early 1990s.

Below, we share vignettes of our "Our History: Reflections from the present."


The 25th Convention, our "Silver Jubilee" Convention was hosted by Texas State Chapter, with the theme “Twenty-Five Years of Empowering Young Minds Through Education."  The Convention was an election year; National Chair Joanna Hawah Freeman Richards and her corps of National Officers were re-elected.



The 24th Convention was hosted by Tri-State Chapter, with the theme “Bridging the Gap through Unity.” The Convention was the first in the administration of  National Chair Joanna Hawah Freeman Richards and the current National Officers.

During the Convention, the National Financial Officers announced that the Association's Endowment Fund had exceeded the $75,000.00 mark, bringing the Fund closer to the initial $100,000.00 goal. A total of 39 students were funded through the Rev. Fr. E. G. W. King Scholarship Fund, the largest number of students since the inception of the scholarship program in 1998.

The Convention approved a budget of $88,000.00 for the 2016/2017 Fiscal Year, the largest budget in  its history. The Association and  the new principal of B. W. Harris Episcopal School, Rev. Hilary Collins began to work together in developing his priority projects for the school including the science and computer labs, auditorium chairs, the kindergarten and clinic, and intensive teacher training.

A record 180+ persons pre-registered for the 2016 Convention, which generated income of $21, 448.00.


The 23rd Convention was hosted by DC Metro Chapter, with the theme “Beyond Boundaries! Yes! We Make it Happen!” 2015 was also an election year. The following alumni were elected: Joanna Freeman-Richards, National Chair; Angeline Bishop-Oshoko, First Vice National Chair for Program; David G. Moore, Second Vice National Chair for Membership and Public Relations; Charles Coleman, National Secretary; Albertha Gillespie, National Treasurer; Meyartha Perry, National Financial Secretary; and Wanda Gibson-Bropleh, National Chaplain. The National Chair pledged to “continue to improve the educational standard at B.W. Harris School through enhancing technology and teaching for the 21st Century.”

During the school year ending in 2015 the Association granted scholarships to 31 students. Twenty touch-screen Dell computers were sent to the school, 13 of which were funded by DC Metro Chapter. With the Ebola crisis in Liberia members of the Association contributed $2500 plus to purchase Ebola prevention materials and supplies, which were shipped and delivered to the school. In addition, the Association paid a cash bonus and provided funds to purchase a 100-lb bag of rice for all teachers and staff at B. W. Harris School. The Association also provided its allocation for building and infrastructural maintenance to the school.

The 168 pre-registrants for the 2015 Convention were the largest in the Association’s history up to that point and income of the three day events was nearly $24,000.00, making the 2015 Convention the most successful Convention in the Association’s history.


For the 22nd Convention hosted by North Carolina Chapter in 2014, the theme was “Coming together, staying together and working together…is success.” It was reported by National Chair Gudrun Harris that the Association completed a project in all levels of the school (K -12th Grade) in the same school year (1st time in Association’s history). The 22nd Convention amended, repealed and approved several provisions of the Constitution: (a) amended the caption “B. DUTIES OF NATIONAL OFFICERS” to “C. DUTIES OF NATIONAL OFFICERS”; (b) approved proposed Article VI B. Absence, Death, Impeachment, or Resignation of a National Officer; (c) repealed Article VI (B) (3) The First National Vice Chair for Programs; (d) repealed Article VI (B) (3) The Second Vice Chair for Membership and Public Relations; and (e) approved Article VIII (N and O) under Expenditure and Budget.

In furtherance of accountability and transparency, the National Chair Gudrun Harris reported that internal audits have been completed for the last two Conventions and the Association’s Quarterly Financial Reports were current and posted online. In addition, each teacher has to personally sign for his/her incentive in order to eliminate fraud, and all scholarship parents must sign a statement acknowledging that their child’s tuition was paid by the Association in order to eliminate fraud and misinformation. Association’s purchases are made online with direct payments to suppliers and receipted. Members are kept updated through regular Public Relations statements and postings on DAIS. At the time of the 2014 Convention, there were no outstanding Executive Board or Convention Minutes, and all Minutes and other information are disseminated to the Board prior to meetings and Convention.

The Association reported it invested over $30,000 in scholarships and projects in the 2013/2014 school year. All items purchased and delivered to school are labeled/stamped with “BWHESAA-USA, Inc.” Projects that were completed were related to Kindergarten educational materials and supplies, the Clinic, the Library, the Computer and Science Labs, as well as the Girls and Boys Basketball programs and the A Beka Books Teacher Instructional Materials.


The 21st Convention was hosted by our Penn-Del Chapter in 2013, with the theme “Come Together Spartans, make a Difference.”

For the Rev. Fr. E. G. W. King Scholarship Program in 2012 - 2013 the total Scholarship Expenditure was $12,695.00 for 30 Students. The National Chair Gudrun Harris reported on her visit to B. W. Harris is late 2012, where she worked daily with Principal Lurleen King Falla, met with some members of the Board of Trustees, met scholarship students and parents, and teachers. She addressed the student body, interfaced with BWHESAA-Liberia, and completed and assessment of the needs of the school.

Tri-Sate Chapter continued its Kindergarten and Clinic projects by donating clothing, pens and pencil cases, paper, learning books, backpacks, and tote bags to the Kindergarten students, and clinic supplies (bandages, alcohol, cotton, etc., and medications (pain killers, cough syrup) for use in the Clinic. The school implemented the B. W. Harris School Records Digitization Project in January 2013 using the dedicated computer, two automatic document feeder scanners, a backup hard drive and a UPS surge protector donated by the Association.


In 2012, the 20th Convention was held in Detroit, Michigan with the theme “20 Years of Building Blocks for the Future.” The Audit Committee and Financial Control Board were established. The Association approved increasing the Convention registration fee from $70.00 t0 $100.00. The school’s Smart Tech curriculum integrating “smart technology” into the curriculum for grades 7 – 12 was endorsed by the Association. Texas Chapter pledged $1200 to support the computer lab. On the recommendation of the National Chair and in collaboration with the principal, the annual teacher subsidy funded by the Association was changed into an incentive program based on merit. An Infrastructure Development Initiative to raise $200,000 over 5 years to add to the school’s physical plant was launched. In September 2012, National Chair Gudrun Harris conducted a successful two-week working visit to the school. During the visit, she personally donated funds to purchase ceiling fans for the classrooms following a personal appeal by students.

In 2012, the Association supplied 650 new books for the school library funded by Metro Chapter in the amount of $2800.00. Tri-State Chapter provided $1500.00 to upgrade the school’s clinic and its members donated goods and supplies for the Kindergarten Class. The Association provided three sewing machines and assorted supplies to the Home Economics Program at the school. The Association also purchased and installed an advanced battery backup and automatic voltage regulation system to protect computers in the school lab from damaging surges and spikes, some of which had previously been damaged by power surges. The Association purchased and shipped 15 replacement power supplies to repair previously damaged computers at the school. Working in collaboration with the principal to digitize all the records of the school, going back to its very early days, the Association initiated the B. W. Harris School Records Digitization Project by shipping a dedicated computer, two automatic document feeder scanners, a backup hard drive and a UPS surge protector to the school. The digitization project is scheduled to start in January 2013. At the request of the principal, the Association is considering providing assistance for the school to adopt the A Beka Book curriculum system.


In 2011, the 19th Convention was held in Providence, Rhode Island with the theme “Educate for the Future.” The largest number of registrants for a Convention occurred when over 250 persons registered for the 2011 Convention. Gudrun Harris became the first post 1970 graduate, and second female elected National Chair. The Association approved $17,790 funding for Smart Tech, the largest amount to date. An Academic and Scholarship Committee to oversee the Rev. Fr. E. G. W. King Scholarship Program and to work with the school to raise its academic standards was established. The Association’s Endowment Fund with an initial 5-year goal of $50,000.00 was implemented. The Digital Archives Information System (DAIS) was instituted to preserve the records of the Association and permit full access over the Internet to members of the Association.


In 2010, the 18th Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia with the theme “Stepping into the Future.” The new PennDel Chapter was officially established by the Convention. The Capital Campaign’s “Lifetime Membership” category was instituted. The Association approved a “Smart Board” Project for the installation of pull down screens for mobile classrooms. In addition $3500 was approved for Smart Tech, including a technology “Boot Camp” for teachers. Tri-State and Metro Chapters respectively donated $600 and $330 to Smart Tech.


In 2009, the 17th Convention was hosted by Tri-State Chapter in Staten Island, New York. The theme for the Convention was Restoring the Pride of Sparta: “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” Convention registration of over 100 members was again achieved. The Association approved and commenced a $22,000.00 renovation of the school building, but had also taken the unprecedented step of withholding further teacher subsidy until a full time principal was hired. The Class of ’84 celebrated its 25th anniversary and donated $700.00 to the Association


In 2008, the 16th Convention was held in Silver Spring, Maryland, hosted by the DC Metro Chapter. The theme was "A New Beginning." The highlights of Convention 2008 were: A record-breaking 100+ Spartans registered for Convention; the Association approved $17,000.00 for BWHES Teachers Salary Project and $13,000 for Smart Tech. The number of awarded scholarships was increased from 10 to 15 students. The Capital Campaign’s Hall of Fame was launched and the first 10 “Hall of Famers” was inducted. The Class of '83 celebrated its 25th anniversary and donated $1500 to the Association.


In 2007, the 15th Convention was held in Detroit, MI, hosted by the Midwest Chapter with its theme "A Proud Legacy and Still Building for the Future". The Association announced National Chair Wilhelmina Wilson's visit to Liberia. She planned to meet with the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia, the Board of Trustees, school officials and students. During her visit, local alumni officers were installed by National Chair Wilson. Scholarship Committee Chair, Joshua Cassell also visited Liberia and awarded the Association's scholarships to deserving students. Alumnus Jimmy Neal was designated the Association's representative on the B.W. Harris School Board of Trustee. The Association elected its 5th National Chair, Handel K.C. Diggs.


In 2006, the 14th Convention was held in Minneapolis, MN and hosted by the Minnesota Chapter. The Association completed shipment of a curriculum set to facilitate a typing program and reading materials for the library. A “Spartan” promotional documentary and “Spartan” brochure were developed to promote the work and projects of the association.


In 2005, the 13th Convention was held in Atlanta, GA, hosted by the Georgia Chapter with its theme "Restoring the Hope: Preserving the Dream". The Association continued ongoing infrastructure improvement at the school, launched the “Spartan Newsletter” for alumni with access on the web, made outreach to the business community and focused on financial accountability and transparency.


In 2004, the 12th Convention was held in Charlotte, NC, hosted by the North Carolina Chapter with its theme "The Future Belongs to the Doer." The Association completed the rehabilitation of the computer lab and acquired more than twenty additional computers. The Association also initiated repair of the school's roof, which was damaged during the civil war.


In 2003, the 11th Convention was held in Staten Island, NY, hosted by the Tri-State Chapter, with the theme "Perseverance & Achievement: The Second Decade." The Association elected its fourth and first female National Chair, Wilhelmina Wilson-Aniteye. The Association’s cafeteria lunch project for students of B.W. Harris School was successfully implemented.


In 2002, the 10th Convention was held in Silver Spring, MD, hosted by Metro Chapter with its theme "Our Pride and Our Promise: The First Decade." The school's biology and chemistry labs provided by the Association were completed.


In 2001, the 9th Convention was held in Houston, TX, hosted by the Texas Chapter with its theme "Looking Beyond the Inevitable." The Association continued to award scholarships to deserving students and shipped books, materials, computers and software, and science laboratory equipment to the school. The Association's first web page was created with Milton Ricks as the architect.


In 2000, the 8th Convention was held in Providence, RI and hosted by the Rhode Island Chapter. The Association’s Capital Campaign designed to fund capital improvements at the school was launched. The North Carolina and Georgia Chapters were revitalized.


In 1999, the 7th Convention was held in Detroit. MI, hosted by the Midwest Chapter with its theme "Our School, Our Country and Still We Rise." Charles Hansford was elected the Association's third National Chair. Numerous supplies ans instructional materials were shipped to the school and a new generator was installed.


In 1998, Metro Chapter (DC, MD, VA) hosted the 6th Convention in Washington, DC with the theme "We Have Made A Difference." The Association completed the renovation of the school's cafeteria, shipment of books and supplies and awarded several scholarships to qualified students. The Association also commenced subsidizing the principal's salary as an incentive to attract and retain a competent principal. In Liberia, local alumni Joseph Brent and Cyril Jones served on the Board of Trustees of B. W. Harris School.


In 1997, the 5th Convention was held in Minneapolis, MN and hosted by the Minnesota Chapter. The theme was “Rebuilding for the Future." Rev. H. Budu Shannon was elected the Association's second National Chair. The Association funded renovation of the physical plant at B.W. Harris School.


The 4th Convention was held in 1996, hosted by the Tri-State Chapter in Staten Island, NY with its theme "Reaching out to make a Difference." As the members convened, a cloud of uncertainty hovered over the future of B.W. Harris School due to renewed outbreak of hostilities in Liberia. This resulted in massive looting of equipment and supplies from the school, most of which were eventually replaced by the Association.


The 3rd Convention was held in 1995, hosted by the Georgia Chapter in Atlanta, GA with its theme "Spartans Making the Difference.” This was in the midst of the Liberian civil war when the country’s infrastructure was seriously damaged. In order to ensure that the school would continue to operate, the Association purchased and installed a power generator at B.W. Harris School, which enabled the school to continue to operate.


The 2nd Convention was held in Raleigh, NC in 1994 and hosted by the North Carolina Chapter. The theme was “Sharing the Vision." During this period, there were five active chapters: Tri-State (CT, NJ, and NY), DC Metro (DC, MD, and VA), North Carolina, Georgia and Minnesota.


The 1st Convention was held in 1993 in White Oak, MD and hosted by the DC Metro Chapter. A constitution was adopted and Kwaku Addy was elected as the Association's first National Chair. Subsequently, the B. W. Harris Episcopal School Alumni Association-USA, Inc. was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Delaware and granted status as a 501 c(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service.