Six Grade 6 students from Abaco schools won a total of $12,000 in high school scholarship money at the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in Nassau recently. Every primary school in the Bahamas is invited to enter their top Grade 6 student in this competition each year. Students must not only excel in grade point average but leadership, church activities, community service, sports and extracurricular activities as well.
Their activities and required essays, from Grade 3 through 6, are chronicled in a portfolio that is presented to the selection committee in early February. This panel of professors, statesmen and retired education officials pours through the approximately 120 portfolios and makes decisions on winners for the awards ceremony held in May. Portfolios can be up to 50 pages and these talented students easily achieve this amount of pages reporting on their activities which must all be certified by Principals.
This foundation has been awarding scholarships for the past 17 years and it is an exciting weekend for candidates who are constantly told over and over throughout the weekend that they are all winners. This uplifting weekend began on Friday night where students, parents and Principals attend the formal medal ceremony in the Government House ballroom. The Governor General placed a medal around the neck of each student as they bow before him to receive this honour.
Saturday was a fun day of bowling so that the students can meet the other honourees and relax before the ceremony Saturday night. All entered students receive a beautiful trophy at the beginning of the Saturday night program.
The awards ceremony features former winners helping committee members and scholarship donators announce and present trophies to the approximately 30 top finalists. Nervous students and their audience try hard to sit still and hope they hear their name announced as a winner. This year 6 fortunate Abaco students heard their names called and came forward to receive another trophy and their prize money.
Kenedee Romer from Agape School won a $1,000 scholarship, Malia Sweeting from St. Francis de Sales won a $1,500 scholarship as did Ashley Newell from Angel’s Academy. Rayvyn McKinney who hails from Amy Roberts School in Green Turtle Cay won a $2,000 scholarship.
Then the top 5 finalists were announced: Brittany Weatherford from Man-O-War School was the 5th place finalist and won a $3,000 scholarship. The top Abaco winner was Bessie Lowe of Hope Town Primary, who was chosen as the 2nd Runner up and was presented a $3,000 scholarship and a laptop computer.
Hope Town Primary has produced the most top winners in this competition of any school in the Bahamas. Two Hope Town Primary students have won the top title, James Boyce and Anna Albury, and Albury Higgs was a second runner up. All of this school’s entrants have won scholarships as finalists.
Dr. Ricardo Deveaux, CEO and President of the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation, states that this competition is much more than just who has the top grades since 85% of entrants have at least a 3.5 GPA. It is a best all-around student competition.
Once a student has been entered as a candidate they become a part of this “family” and the Foundation follows their progress through high school and college. Each year former winners and entrants are featured in the catalogue along with what they are accomplishing.