Feature
Eleven-year-old Steven Bernard of Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James, displays his trophy for winning the essay category of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2019 Heritage Competition.
Photo: Kavanaugh Campbell

Story Highlights

  • There was jubilation at the Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James at the news that grade-six student and head boy, Steven Bernard, had won the essay component of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2019 Heritage Competition.
  • The 11-year-old aspiring writer took home the trophy for his winning easy on the topic of Reparation, at the awards ceremony held on November 25 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, St. Andrew. The essay competition was open to students aged nine to 12, from primary schools across the island.
  • Steven took home $15,000, a book from the Centre for Reparation Research, a tablet, and a weekend for four at FDR Resorts in Runaway Bay, St. Ann.

There was jubilation at the Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James at the news that grade-six student and head boy, Steven Bernard, had won the essay component of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2019 Heritage Competition.

The 11-year-old aspiring writer took home the trophy for his winning easy on the topic of Reparation, at the awards ceremony held on November 25 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, St. Andrew. The essay competition was open to students aged nine to 12, from primary schools across the island.

Steven took home $15,000, a book from the Centre for Reparation Research, a tablet, and a weekend for four at FDR Resorts in Runaway Bay, St. Ann.

“When we got the news that he was the overall champion we were elated here at school,” Principal Glendon Brydson tells JIS News.

“We were so happy. There was jubilation in his class and around the school,” he says.

Mr. Brydson says that Steven’s win was not a surprise, as he is a student who “continues to push for excellence”.

He says the youngster is a leader and actively participates in extracurricular activities.

“Steven is one of our top students. He has been outstanding in a number of areas. Based on his performance and his overall attitude, he was selected to be part of the prefect body and was elected as head boy by his peers,” Mr. Brydson notes.

Class teacher, Rushell Reid Knott, who attended the awards ceremony, tells JIS News that she could not contain her excitement when Steven was announced the winner.

Head boy of Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James, Steven Bernard, shows off his trophy for winning the essay category of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2019 Heritage Competition to class teacher Rushell Reid Knott.

 

“I jumped out of my seat. I ran towards the front of the room. I was taking pictures and I was videoing at the same time,” she laughs.

She notes that students from grades four to six are encouraged to enter the annual JIS Heritage Competition, and Steven was one of the students who decided to enter this year, because he has an interest in the topic of reparation.

Mrs. Reid Knott describes Steven as a hard-working student, who takes pride in his studies and makes the effort to assist his classmates.

She says he is on the Principal’s Honour Roll after attaining an average of over 90 per cent in his end-of-unit examinations in October.

“He never quits. He keeps working harder and harder. He also likes to see his classmates succeed in their academics as well. He strives for excellence and he is not the type to be pushed like a wheelbarrow,” she says.

Steven’s peers also speak highly of him, with head girl and friend, Shaneila Gordon, describing him as a standout student who cares about his friends.

Eleven-year-old Steven Bernard (right) of Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James, gets a high-five from classmate Mario Peterkin for winning the essay category of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2019 Heritage Competition.

 

“He is a sweet boy. He is kind. He is generous and he is a good friend. You can rely on him. He will never let you down. He is funny,” she says.

Steven’s mother, Simone Bernard, tells JIS News that she was overwhelmed with joy when it was announced that her son had copped the top spot in the essay category of the JIS Heritage competition.

“When I heard that he was the winner, I screamed for practically three to four minutes. When I came home my voice was hoarse because I wasn’t expecting him to win. I didn’t doubt him, but I just did not expect it,” she says.

Meanwhile, the youngster credits his accomplishment to his determination and commitment to excellence.

He tells JIS News that he is interested in the topic of reparation and he did extensive research to construct the essay.

“A lot of work went into the essay. I spent nights at home handwriting it and then I sent it my mother for her to type. My teacher helped me to reword it and to see the errors,” he says.

Steven tells JIS News that he wanted to win to make his school and family proud.

The affable youngster says his focus now is on preparing for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) Examinations in 2020.

His dream is to attend the Herbert Morris Technical High School and he is determined to work overtime to achieve that goal.

Steven wants to serve his country through the military and has no intention of giving up his passion for writing.

He says he wants to assist persons to develop their writing skills, as he believes that “the pen is a powerful tool”.

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