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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Maxfield Primary and Junior High School student is the first male to cop the top prize in the three-year history of the contest, beating out more than 70 rivals.
  • A visibly proud Shemar told JIS News that he felt “overwhelmed” at copping the top prize, pointing out that he felt pleased that his hard work has paid off.
  • Chief Executive Officer, JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, said the essay competition is part of the agency’s thrust in educating children on the country’s rich heritage and encouraging them to participate in national life.

It was a moment of sheer pride and utter jubilation for 10-year old Shemar Willis, as he was announced the winner of the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) 2013 Heritage Essay competition during an awards ceremony held today (November 29) at King’s House.

The Maxfield Primary and Junior High School student is the first male to cop the top prize in the three-year history of the contest, beating out more than 70 rivals.

It was his outstanding essay on the topic: ‘What Makes Our Jamaican Heritage Special?’ that placed him ahead of his competitors. He also took the sectional prize for Best Entry in the 10-year old category.

Shemar took home the coveted prizes of a weekend for four at Franklyn D. Resort, St. Ann; book voucher from Sangster’s Book Store; a printer from Royale Computers and Accessories; gift baskets courtesy of Lasco Distributors and GraceKennedy; $15,000 in cash from National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation; a Samsung E2200 mobile phone sponsored by Digicel Jamaica; a Samsung Galaxy tablet from Singer; and a trophy.

A visibly proud Shemar told JIS News that he felt “overwhelmed” at copping the top prize, pointing out that he felt pleased that his hard work has paid off.

Second place went to 11-year-old Tristan Isaacs of Jessie Ripoll Primary School, while nine-year old Mountain View Primary student, Jayla Smith, placed third. They received trophies, gift baskets, cash and other prizes.

Keynote speaker, Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, congratulated the JIS for organising the annual essay competition, which he deemed “an excellent initiative”.

He also commended all those who took part in the contest, pointing out that they are helping to ensure that Jamaica remains firmly rooted in the best of its heritage. “In this, you are all champions,” he stated.

Taking the audience on a journey of Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage, the Governor-General said it is up to all of us to ensure that this is passed on to the younger generation.

“Jamaica’s history, from the Tainos to Spanish colonisation, through to British colonial plantocracy and slavery, from Emancipation to Independence and beyond, forged the rich and diverse cultural heritage of which we boast today,” he stated.

He noted that individuals and groups such as Marcus Garvey, Louise Bennett Coverley “Miss Lou”, Bob Marley, Jamaica Folk Singers, and the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), have done their part in ensuring that this rich heritage not only remains relevant and alive, but is transported across the globe, impacting those near and far.

“For a tiny island such as ours to have such an impact on the world, we are indeed a special people. There is so much that is good about Jamaica and that is what we should be focussing on,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer, JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, said the essay competition is part of the agency’s thrust in educating children on the country’s rich heritage and encouraging them to participate in national life.

She noted that the success of the 2011 and 2012 competitions strengthened the JIS’ resolve to continue to engage the minds of Jamaica’s children to think about the different aspects of their heritage and what it means to them.

“The essay competition is near and dear to our hearts, because it is, for us, a barometer for the teaching, learning and understanding of Jamaican heritage to our children across the nation,” she stated.