South Florida Annual JIS Independence Essay Competition Winners


Two South Florida students have come out on top in the annual Jamaica Independence Essay Competition in Florida.
They are 14 year-old, Diamond Cunningham, a student at Pembroke Pines Charter High School; and nine year old Deianeira Hoffenden, who attends
St. Bartholomew Catholic School, both residents of South Florida.
The winners were selected from a group of 25 entries, each detailing their experiences from a wide range of topics relating to the history and culture of Jamaica, and its Diaspora.
The annual Independence Essay competition was organised by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in Miami, and was part of the annual festivities celebrating Jamaica’s Independence in Florida.
Both winners will be awarded a plaque from Jamaica’s Consul General, Mrs. Sandra Grant Griffiths and also a gift certificate from the Partners for Youth Foundation, Incorporated, a non-profit association committed to the advancement of youth in the Diaspora, through its involvement in programmes in education and the arts.
The annual competition is open to first, second and third generation Jamaican students residing in Florida, and received responses from a large number of students.
Deianeira, now a fifth grade student, creatively described the significance of Jamaica’s six national symbols, earning her first place in the nine to 12 year old category.
She enjoys reading, travelling and learning about other cultures. This she said augured well for her entry. “I was excited to write the essay because of my recent visit to Jamaica earlier this year and the wonderful experience I had,” she added.
Meanwhile, in her essay, Diamond penned an endearing story of a known Jamaican individual who had made an outstanding contribution to the local community. Her grandmother, Grandma Valrie, aptly fit that role as the person who had influenced her life and that of the wider community.
Diamond actively participates in youth activities at her church, the Pines Seventh Day Adventist Church, and also at her school where she is a student leader and former secretary of the Future Educators Association.
Expressing pride in her entry, the 14 year old spoke of the unconditional love and affection she had received from her siblings, grandmother, and community.

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