More than 140 students were presented with awards in recognition of their outstanding performances in the 2011 Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) examinations, during a ceremony at St. George’s College, in Kingston, on March 9.
Among the top students were: Miltonia Thompson of the Mannings School, who received the award for the Best Overall Performance in CSEC; Chevano Baker, Manchester High School, who walked away with the top award for business subjects; Shanique Richards, Wolmer’s Girls School, received the best grades for the Humanities; Dea Thomas, Morant Bay High School, came out on top for the Sciences; and Krystal Thomas of the Hampton School, was awarded first prize for Technical Vocational subjects.
Campion College received the award for the Top School in both CSEC and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Education Minister, Rev. Hon. Ronald Thwaites, commended the students on their exceptional performances, pointing out that their achievements were a testimony of their drive and determination to succeed, but also of the goodness of the education system.
Pointing to the list of students recognised at the awards ceremony, Rev. Thwaites said that there were students representing almost all secondary schools across the island, and noted that students from non-traditional high schools, as well as those from traditional high schools were doing well.
“The good thing is that many of the newer high schools are doing as well or better than the traditional high schools, and so I’m asking the society as a whole to stop its prejudice. And, when the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results come out, I am saying to those students who are assigned to the new secondary schools, go where you are planted, do well as your colleagues are doing now in these examinations,” he urged.
The Minister said he hoped that one day the entire age cohort for CSEC and CAPE would be able to sit those examinations. He encouraged all stakeholders to do what they could to improve the learning conditions, both in the homes and schools, so that all students, not just some, would be in a position to sit the required examinations.
He congratulated the parents, guardians and teachers of the students who have done well, noting that it was their guidance and dedication that contributed to their outstanding achievements.
“I am sure that most of the awardees have parents or at least some other person in their lives who really (cares) for them and who has made sure that they do well during their formative years in school,” the Minister said. “I am also sure that all of these students had a good pre-primary education, where they were ready for primary and secondary schools and where they got the basics of the cognitive, social and spiritual skills which now show their evidence in the CXC and CAPE results,” he added.
The Minister said it was critical to emphasise quality early childhood education and good parenting for all children in Jamaica and not just a privileged few.
Addressing the parents present at the function, Rev. Thwaites told them that, “being a good parent is more important than being Prime Minister or even Usain Bolt (world sprinter), it’s the greatest task that anyone can do.”
He further saluted Jamaica’s teachers, emphasising that the quality of the teaching profession was the single most important ingredient of a good education system.
In his remarks, Secretary General, Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Dr. Adolph Cameron, said it was very important to recognise students when they do well.
“Sometimes when we listen to the reports, we think that nothing is happening in the schools, but we need to celebrate children who are doing well. We need to recognise performance at the highest level,” he said.
President, Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (JAPPS), Sharon Reid, said the organisation remained committed to the task of lifting the levels of student achievement, not only in academics, but in all areas of their lives.
“There’s much to be done and we are determined to work together to ensure that Jamaica will take its place as one of the premier providers of secondary education in the Caribbean and the world, because we are convinced that we have the potential so to do,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of her colleagues, top student, Miltonia Thompson, who received 11 distinctions in 11 subjects, extended her appreciation to the teachers and parents who dedicated their time and efforts in enabling their success.
“Although we vary in our experiences, we have something in common – we have excelled and we share a feeling of profound pride,” she said.
“It was through our diligence, discipline, dedication and determination that we have attained success. Our journey to this point was a fusion of the efforts of our parents, guardians, families, and the sustaining grace of God,” Miltonia added.
The awards ceremony is an initiative of JAPPS. Students from over 60 high schools across the island are recognised for their outstanding performances, not only in the CSEC exams, but also in the CAPE and Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) tests.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter