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Story Highlights

  • This suggestion comes from Westwood High School’s seventh grader, 12-year-old Toni-Ann Williams.
  • Toni-Ann Williams copped first place in the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2012 annual Heritage Essay Competition.

The high ideals, principles and accomplishments of the National Heroes and Heroine, should form the foundation on which the country is governed and built.

This suggestion comes from Westwood High School’s seventh grader, 12-year-old Toni-Ann Williams, who copped first place in the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 2012 annual Heritage Essay Competition.

The competition, which was held for the first time in 2011, now forms part of the JIS Heritage activities during the month of October. The topic then was: ‘Who is your favourite National Hero or Heroine? Explain’.   For 2012, the topic was: ‘Fifty years later … Do we still need National Heroes?’

A very confident and beaming Toni-Ann, who participated in the competition while still a student at the Mount Alvernia Preparatory and Kindergarten School in Montego Bay, tells JIS News that the country’s leaders must be mindful of what the National Heroes and Heroine stood for and believed in, in order for them to lead the country in the right way.

“I agreed with the topic, we do need the National Heroes, because with all that is happening in society today, I believe that we need our Heroes, we need their guidance. I agree that we have our Prime Minister and other Parliamentarians and Senators, but we can also take a little from our National Heroes, in that we can all benefit in some way, including our Prime Minister, who will be in a better position to run the country,” Toni-Ann says.

She informs that she was encouraged by her former teachers at Mount Alvernia Preparatory School, to enter the competition, as she “had it in her to win.”

“I entered the competition because my teachers have always told me what a great writer I am. I thought that it would be interesting for me to participate in something where I could get to express myself on the topic.  I believe it was important for me to give my opinion, based on the topic,” she tells JIS News.

This aspiring and focused student, who came out of the recently held Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) examination with a 98.6 per cent average, which won her a Government scholarship to Westwood High School in Trelawny, says her participation in the competition has enhanced her writing skills and broaden her knowledge on Jamaica’s National Heroes.

Toni-Ann is encouraging other students to participate in the competition, which has a deadline of October 25 this year.

“I would advise and encourage all students to get involved in the competition because it has given me such a different outlook on our National Heroes and has enabled me to appreciate them more. Children should therefore ensure that they grasp every opportunity to get involved in this very worthwhile activity,” she says.

“Our National Heroes sacrificed much, so that we all can be free today.  They all dedicated their lives to us and gave us all lasting legacies and I just think that it is important for all Jamaicans to appreciate our heroes and to celebrate and reflect on how they have sacrificed themselves to make Jamaica what it is today,” Toni-Ann adds.

Principal of  Mount Alvernia Preparatory School, Mrs. Angella McPherson, tells JIS News that the entire staff of the institution is proud of Toni-Ann and  her  achievements at the school.

“Toni-Ann can be easily described as ‘the perfect student,’ one who is focused and will never give up easily.  She consistently strives to achieve her goals and is seen as a role model to her fellow students. She exemplifies dedication and hard work, and we wish her the very best as she continues on her journey towards excellence,” the Principal says.

Mother of Toni-Ann, Mrs. Stacy-Ann Lindsay, informs JIS News that she is an only child who is industrious, obedient and carries out her chores reasonably well.

“Toni-Ann has always been an outstanding and exceptional child and is totally in love with public speaking, anything to represent herself or her school. Any task she has been assigned to accomplish, she puts her heart into it and does it to the best of her ability.  She is also well-rounded and is able to hold any conversation on any subject area,” Mrs. Lindsay says.

“She is a natural speaker and likes to speak for others, especially her peers. As parents, we have leant over the years to expect the best from her … as far as she is willing to go is where we are willing to take her,” she adds.

The objective of the essay competition is to stimulate the creativity and literary skills of children in the nine to twelve age group, as the agency continues to engage children in nationally relevant issues of history and governance, in an effort to engender a spirit of pride in the younger generation.

The JIS, which is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary as the information arm of the government, has invited students to have a go at the question, ‘What makes our Jamaican heritage special?’ in 400 to 500 words.

The application form and guidelines are to be found on the JIS website at: www.jis.gov.jm. Essays must be submitted using this application form. Students may email: heritageessay@jis.gov.jm,for further details.