- Twenty-four students from 22 non-traditional high schools were recognised for their outstanding achievement at the National Child Month Committee (NCMC) inaugural Youth Academic Achievement Awards ceremony.
- The recipients must attain five or more subjects and also be involved in community service.
- Eighteen-year-old Jaffet McDonald, formerly of Guys Hill High School in St. Catherine was adjudged the top student.
Twenty-four students from 22 non-traditional high schools, the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Lister Mair Gilby High School were recognised for their outstanding achievement at the National Child Month Committee (NCMC) inaugural Youth Academic Achievement Awards ceremony.
The ceremony, which was held on Friday May 9, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, is one of the many activities hosted by the NCMC in observance of Child Month.
Chairman of the NCMC, Dr. Pauline Mullings explained that, “today for the first time we will be honouring selected students from non-traditional high schools who have overcome great odds and achieved outstanding results in their CSEC Examinations”.
The recipients must attain five or more subjects and also be involved in community service, Dr. Mullings noted.
Addressing the students, guest speaker, Principal of Jamaica College, Senator Ruel Reid, praised the recipients and urged them to be agents of change.
“I want to congratulate you for persevering amidst the challenges that we have in our country and in our society and as we celebrate your success I want you to understand that you are very privileged. Those of you who have gained five CXCs or more are now part of the cohort that has matriculated to attend tertiary institutions,” Senator Reid said.
Meanwhile, Director of Children and Family Programmes at the Child Development Agency (CDA), Audrey Budhi who brought greetings on behalf of the Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, lauded the NCMC for conceptualising this initiative to recognise children for their academic achievements.
Education she said remains a great equalizer in the society, giving young people the opportunity to achieve social mobility and attain their highest potential.
Eighteen-year-old Jaffet McDonald, formerly of Guys Hill High School in St. Catherine was adjudged the top student. Jaffet attained 10 subjects with nine distinctions at the 2013 sitting of the CSEC examinations. He is currently in lower sixth form at St. Mary High School.
Responding on behalf of the other recipients, Jaffet stated that the determination to do well was the guiding principle for the students, who wanted to break the cycle of poverty.
“Our priorities were set…some of us never saw ourselves as high achievers, as we were sent to non-traditional high schools. We were never deemed the ‘cream of the crop’ but this placement also served to prove to the rest of society that no matter where you come from or which school you are sent to, you can make the best use of the available resources,” the top awardee noted.
The other recipients were: Ralisa Dawkins from the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Shana-Kay Gooden, who attended the Lister Mair Gilby High School; Alex Henry from Denham Town High; Derrick Hoffenden who attended Kingston High; Nicole Williams, of Papine High; Bilton Mills, of Tarrant High; and Courtney Harris of Penwood High.
Also receiving awards were: Sasha-Gay Williams, of St. Mary’s College; Orville Lee Levy, of Old Harbour High; Abagail Atkins, of Maud McLeod High; Akeem Whithead, of Godfrey Stewart High; Teresa Perkins, of Merlene Ottey High; Zariea Gilfillian, of Porus High; Keano Green, of Winston Jones High; Joseann Plummer, of Albert Town High; Creighton Solomon, of William Knibb Memorial High; Jarret McCleary, of Port Antonio High; Sheldon Daley, of Balaclavia High; Jevoi Jackson, of Newell High; Malik McPherson, of Claude McKay High; Romario Brown, of Spalding High; Solomon Leslie, of Robert Lightbourne High; and Chad Edwards, of Spot Valley High.
The students represented non-traditional high schools from all parishes except St. Ann, and St. Mary.