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Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says it is important that today’s children understand their heritage and appreciate the value system derived from it, especially in light of the numerous other cultural influences to which they are exposed.

“That is one of the reasons I am pleased that civics will be restored to the school curriculum. We want our students to be proud of their roots, of who we are as a people, how we are governed, and to believe in the capacity of our people to excel. We want all our young people to be inspired to realise their full potential in the security of caring communities,” the Governor-General stated.

He was delivering the keynote address today (December 5), at the awards ceremony for the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Heritage Essay Competition held at King’s House. The competition was held as part of activities by the agency to mark Heritage Week and celebrate Jamaica’s golden jubilee. Students from primary schools across the island were asked to write on the topic: ‘Fifty years later…Do we still need National Heroes?’

The Governor-General told the students that they too could be heroes and encouraged them to stand up for justice. “When you stand up for the rights of those being bullied at school, and when you yourself refuse to bully anyone, you stand in the tradition of the heroes. You must show respect to all persons, even to those with whom you disagree; in fact, especially to those with whom you disagree. Be kind to everyone. Jamaica needs heroes like that,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, said that the essays were very thoughtful and in general, well-researched and creatively presented.

She encouraged the students to make full use of the JIS website for research related to the country’s history and culture. This, she said, will be especially important  with the re-introduction of civics to the school curriculum this term.

Meanwhile, 11- year- old Toni-Ann Williams of Mount Alvernia Preparatory School in St. James, emerged winner of the competition. She also took the sectional prizes of‘Best Entry’ in the 11-year-old category;‘Best Researched Entry’ and ‘Most Creative Entry’.

She took home the coveted prizes of a weekend for four atFranklyn D. Resort, St. Ann;book voucher from Sangster’s Book Store; a printer from Royale Computers and Accessories; gift basket courtesy of Lasco Distributors; $10,000 in cash from JIS; a desktop computer sponsored by LIME; and two trophies.

Nine year-old Joseph Snowball of Foundation Preparatory School in Clarendon placed second, while 11-year old Jhonalee Gardner of Inverness Primary and Infant School in St. Ann placed third. They received trophies, gift baskets, and other prizes.

In addition to top three finishers, there were also winner in various categories.

Best Entry in 10-year old category went to Kadeeja Stanley of Inverness Primary and Infant School, St. Ann; BestEntry in 12-year-old category was awarded to Daniel Pottinger of Randolph Lopez School of Hope, Kingston; Best Use of Language went to Danae Brown, nine-year-old student of Somerton All Age and Infant School, St. James.

There were three Judge’s Special Awards that went to Jevaughn Dickson of Corinaldi Avenue Primary, St. James; Kori Ann Hermitt of St. Richard’s Primary,

St. Andrew and Shamari Ricketts, of McIntosh Memorial Primary in Manchester.