Linstead Youth Delivers Valedictory Speech In USA Days Before Father’s Funeral

With the ink barely dry on his valedictory speech, Lemar Archer is now preparing the eulogy to deliver at his father’s funeral.

His dad, Clifford Archer, died of natural cause in Jamaica roughly a month before Lemar graduated from Emerson College in Boston, USA, with a Master’s degree in Theatre Education and Applied Theatre.

“I was planning to graduate and take the degree home to my father,” the 28-year-old told The Beacon.

He added: “I really wanted my father to see me graduating because we talked about it for years and he was the one who supported and financed me throughout all levels in school… I know he is proud and so I am using that to stay strong and keep going.”

After all, the elder Archer, who will be laid to rest on Thursday, 12 May 2022, would have wanted it no other way for his son, who hails from Grove Road in Linstead, St Catherine.

Lemar grew up with his father, mother Elizabeth ‘Debbie’ Barnes, and two older sisters. The Linstead City Mission Church also played an integral role in his upbringing, he noted.

Lemar has been a standout since childhood. He was the valedictorian when he graduated from Linstead Primary and Junior High School in 2005. And he was a two-time valedictorian at Charlemont High School, where he also enrolled in the sixth form programme.

His initial dream was to become a medical doctor, but that plan changed in Grade Eight when he came under the influence of his high school Drama teacher, Alston Hemmings.

“Mr Hemmings introduced me to the world of Theatre and I never looked back. I knew I wanted to teach and facilitate Theatre and Drama soon after,” Lemar explained.

In pursuit of his newfound dream, he enrolled at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Drama in Education.

He also taught Drama in the summer at the college while studying there. Before that, Lemar, while still in high school, did summer jobs at the Electoral Office in his hometown.

Those professional stints helped to prepare Lemar for the real world of work. He landed his first full-time job in 2016 as a teacher of Theatre Arts and Drama at Edith Dalton James High School in Kingston. Three years later, he was heading the school’s Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Desirous of higher learning and credentials, Lemar, in 2020, enrolled in a two-year degree programme at Emerson College, which is renowned for the arts, communications and the liberal arts. He did the first year online due to the novel coronavirus disease pandemic, but relocated to the United States for face-to-face classes in 2021.

Lemar, being himself, quickly made his presence felt to the extent that he was selected from among hundreds of students to deliver the valedictory address at his graduation last week.

“Being chosen as the Graduate Student Speaker was a rewarding and gratifying experience, and I am truly grateful that I was selected to share and tell my story,” he said.

He also explained that one becomes Student Speaker by first being nominated by one’s peers. One should also have a strong academic record and the endorsement of one’s Graduate Programme Director.

Lemar’s Graduate Programme Director, Bethany Nelson, said: “Lemar represents all of the traits and values that we hope to cultivate in or Applied Theatre Master of Fine Arts students. He’s a committed theatre practitioner, a talented student who is driven to pursue excellence, a gifted academic writer, a kind collaborative community member, and a dedicated teacher.”

In his address, Lemar spoke about several things, including the challenges he faced studying in a new environment – especially one with a climate that is strikingly different from the tropics where he’s from.

“The remarkable support and compassion that I have received from the Emerson community was what gave me the drive to push through amidst the odds,” Lemar told the gathering.

He is now on the cusp of pursuing a doctorate degree, focusing on Education and Theatre.

He advised people to aim high.

“Being intentional with your goals will make your journey clearer,” Lemar further said. “Go for exactly what you want. With discipline, strength, confidence and ambition you can achieve anything you desire.” 


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