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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Twelve-year-old Shannel* is looking forward to the new school year, when she will embark on a new chapter of her life at Mount Alvernia High School in St. James.
  • “I feel great…and I am looking forward to keeping up the good performance throughout high school,” she tells JIS News in an interview.
  • She believes Shannel’s biological family should also be proud of her, as she is a symbol of hope to help the family out of poverty.

Twelve-year-old Shannel* is looking forward to the new school year, when she will embark on a new chapter of her life at Mount Alvernia High School in St. James.

She is determined to maintain the same level of focus and motivation that allowed her to excel at her Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) examinations, which she sat in March.

“I feel great…and I am looking forward to keeping up the good performance throughout high school,” she tells JIS News in an interview.

Shannel is one of 120 children in State care who sat and received passes in the GSAT, when the results were released last month.

When she was two years old, Shannel was placed with a foster parent through the Living In Family Environment (L.I.F.E) programme of the Child Development Agency (CDA).

Shannel says her foster family was the main source of support in her preparation for the examinations. Along with after-school lessons and the help of a family friend, she scored 87 per cent in Mathematics, 96 per cent in English Language and Social Studies, 95 per cent in Science and 8 of 12 in Communication Task.

The youngster, who enjoys singing and dancing, hopes to one day become a veterinarian.

Her foster parent, Ms. Maud, expresses pride at Shannel’s success, noting that her hope is to see her consistently perform well to the university level.

She believes Shannel’s biological family should also be proud of her, as she is a symbol of hope to help the family out of poverty.

Another child in State care, Shauna*, says she too is excited about high school. She will be starting Mount St. Josephs Catholic High School in Manchester, at the start of the new academic year in September.

A past student of Bellefield Primary in the parish, Shanna says she was at the state-run facility that she calls home, when she received news of her GSAT success.

“I just feel really good about how I did,” she tells JIS News, noting that she spent a lot of time at the library and using the Internet to prepare for the exams.

Like Shannel, Shauna too loves to sing and dance and also aspires to be a veterinarian.

Her personal mantra for continuing on a successful path is to “look high and believe in myself”.

Children in State care who are sitting the GSAT receive support from the CDA through Children’s Officers who assist with homework exercises and studying, as well as through in-facility programmes that facilitate preparation sessions for GSAT and other external examinations.

The agency is reporting a high level of success in the performance of the children in the GSAT this year, with a number of passes for traditional high schools.

*Names changed.