Final results are now out for the nationwide E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival with the Abaco’s own St. Francis de Sales School topping the slate of national winners. Judging in this prestigious competition began in January and continued throughout the islands of The Bahamas until June.
Adjudications were held on Abaco from April 1-4 by the same highly qualified panel of judges in music, drama and dance who adjudicated throughout all of the islands. Participants were judged against others throughout the entire country so to win is indeed an extreme honour.
The judges praised the amount of talent on Abaco and awarded some extremely high marks. Sandy Edwards, Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Abaco, was pleased at the increase in number of entries this year and following some exceptional performances had high hopes that there would be several national winners.
Her hopes have certainly come to fruition.
St. Francis de Sales came out tops with 5 national first place winners and one second place winner. Mr. Sarmiento, music teacher at the school, was overjoyed at the result. This is his fifth year as music teacher at the school.
“During my first year we had one national winner and the number has increased each year. This year is the highest number ever and I am overwhelmed,” he stated. “The children at St. Francis are given rigorous training in music which gives them self-esteem and assists in character development and it is pure joy for me to teach them. Before the competition they give up their time before school , after school and during their lunch hour to practice.”
Four male teachers on the staff, including the music teacher, formed their own quartet a few years ago and since entering the festival three years ago they have been national winners each year. They also joined with a group of senior students to sing in the Pop Group category and won with the highest honour mark of 94%.
St. Francis de Sales National First Place Winners:
Allaire Johnson and Savion Bethel – Gospel Duet 13-15 years
Ashanti Duncanson – Pop Solo 13-15 years
Senior Students and staff – Pop Group
Senior Students – Gospel Choir
Male staff quartet – Male gospel group.
The James A. Pinder Primary School also did very well producing two National Winners with their ‘Shining Stars’ dance groups. Antonia Rolle and Breanna Pinder received extremely high praise from dance judge, Lawrence Carrol, for their modern dance and the under-12 Junkanoo group also came out tops.
J.A. Pinder Primary Scool’s Cultural Co-ordinator, Valeria Hepburn, was awarded the Hubert Farrington Choreography Award of Excellence for her work in dance.
The Crossing Rocks Primary School took first place nationally in the choral verse speaking class.
Fifteen year old Ronell Escarment, a student at the Every Child Counts School, was a national winner for the second year in a row in the Tenor Solo Class with a 91% honour win. Lyn Major, Principal of the school, says that Ronell has exceptional talent and it is felt that he could go a long way in a musical career. Many people try to help him develop his talents including Bill Gallo, music professor from Rollins College who is a second home owner volunteer at the school, Kenneth Gayle, a professional opera tenor who is a member of the ‘Music Doining Good ‘group which performs a benefit concert once a year for the school and Mr. Sarmiento, music teacher at St. Francis de Sales School.
Other national first place winners:
The Been Sister’s Glow Garden School in the Family Group category and Basil Been in the Solo singing for Bass, community class. Mr. Been’s amazingly rich bass voice makes him an annual winner in this category.
All of these national first place prizewinners will be invited into Nassau later this year to perform in the National Prizewinners’ concert.