Queen’s College students sweep national awards top spots

Kamori Sawyer, a student of Queen’s College, is the recipient of the Paul Adderley Award, which is awarded to the Most Outstanding Student in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams.

Sawyer also received the Carol Hanna Award for Best Overall Performance in Independent Schools and best BGCSE results by island for New Providence.

Sawyer earned 13 A grades in the BGCSE and a subject award for literature. She aspires to pursue a career in biomedical engineering.

Chardonnay Garrick, a former C.R. Walker student, received the Marjorie Davis Award for the Best Overall BGCSE Performance in government schools. She earned five A grades, one B grade and one C grade. She presently attends the University of The Bahamas and aspires to become an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Cherkadin Wells, a student of Queen’s College, earned 12 A grades in the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exams. He was recognized for Most Outstanding BJC Performance, Best Overall BJC Performance in Independent Schools and the Best BJC results by island. He received a subject award for mathematics.

Kerrine Simeon, a former student of C.H. Reeves Junior School, received the Best Overall BJC Performance award in government schools with 10 A grades. Simeon is presently a student at R.M. Bailey Senior High School and plans to pursue a career in accounting/business studies.

Stephanardo Rolle, a student of C.R. Walker Senior School, earned the Best Overall BJC Performance Award by a male in government schools with nine A grades and two B grades. The former H.O. Nash Junior School student aspires to become a general surgeon.

Top achievers from public and private institutions throughout the country who excelled in the 2020 national BGCSE and Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations were recognized during the national awards presentations hosted by the Examination and Assessment Division of the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The outstanding students received prizes including plaques, laptops and other incentives.

While the top five performers in the 2020 BJC and BGCSE examinations in private and public schools were recognized at the event, scaled-down due to COVID-19 protocol and held at the Holy Trinity Activities Centre, livestreamed on various social media platforms on Monday, April 26, 2021, during the ceremony, it was noted that three students from S.C. McPherson Junior High attained at least eight A grades in their BJC exams; two students from C.H. Reeves Junior School earned nine A grades and 10 A grades, respectively; and two students from H.O. Nash Junior School received nine A grades and eight A grades, respectively, in their BJCs.

Normally, all awardees would have been in attendance, but because of COVID-19 protocols, and the requirements to adhere to social distancing challenges, the majority of awardees viewed the ceremony via social media and televised platforms.

Although only the top five students were featured during the national awards ceremony, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said there will be ceremonies to honor the highest achievers in their respective districts.

Lloyd expressed his pride to the students that excelled over the past 14 months of the pandemic and persevered despite all of the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Students, through your resilience, you have demonstrated to your peers that it is possible to remain steadfast to your studies and achieve success despite the unprecedented challenges you have had to face. Many of you would have had to engage in additional tutoring classes to put in extra hours studying to ensure that you were prepared to sit these exams – yours is an example worth emulating. I believe that your commitment is evidence to all of us that despite the challenges of this pandemic, we all have the capacity to achieve great success, if we remain committed to the task at hand,” said Lloyd.

The education minister also referenced the exams’ seven-point grading scale, which he said is not a pass/fail scale, but indicates a measure of achievement with grades A to C indicating above average; D denoting average; and grades E, F, and G indicating below average.

According to Lloyd, the 2020 BJC results indicate that 62 percent of students achieved grades from A through D, compared to 65 percent in 2019. While the 2020 figure he said is slightly lower than 2019, he said it is important to note that scores in six subjects improved in the BJC. And that as expected, the overall number of students taking exams decreased in 2020 when compared to the 2019 figures.

Despite the pandemic, Lloyd said there was an improvement in 15 subjects in the 2020 BGCSE exams. And that overall, 68.2 percent of candidates earned grades between A and D compared to 70.1 percent in 2019, which he said was still a remarkable achievement.

During the ceremony, the education minister reminded the students that hard work outweighs talent – every time. And that without studying, preparation and practice, they were leaving the outcome to fate.

He said a lot of people say they want to be great, but are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness.

“Great things come from hard work and perseverance,” said Lloyd. “If we want to be successful, if we want to be great, if we want to be excellent, we have to be laser-focused, dedicated, committed to whatever it takes, every day, every time – no excuses.”

He told them to avoid laziness, excuses, distractions, or anything that takes away from putting in the hard work to be the best they can be.

“If you want it, dear students, you have to go after it. It will be you to make it happen.”

He told the corps group of five high achievers that through their resilience, they demonstrated to their peers that it is possible to remain steadfast to their studies and achieve success despite the unprecedented challenges they had to face.

He said the national awards recognition ceremony singled out those students who showed their resolve and resilience, and overcame, despite the many challenges their families faced during the pandemic.

On March 17, 2020, the pandemic resulted in all schools across the country being forced to close their physical doors.

Due to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco in 2019, by March 2020, the Ministry of Education’s virtual school had an enrollment of over 1,700 students, according to the education minister. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, some 50,000 students needed to continue their learning, meaning the education ministry’s switch to a full virtual operation.

Lloyd said the switch to virtual learning wasn’t easy and wasn’t without its challenges, because it represented a paradigm shift for teachers and students. And students were reminded that although their life had been disrupted severely, they were not on vacation and to remain serious about their schoolwork. Those preparing to sit exams were urged to study and review their coursework because exams were not canceled.

On July 5, 2020, nearly four months after COVID hit The Bahamas, the national exams were held, but they were suspended shortly afterward due to the first wave of COVID-19 cases. Sittings resumed in October and were completed by the end of that month.

Evelyn Sawyer, assistant director of Education, Examination and Assessment Division, said the awardees demonstrated that they have embraced the values of self-discipline, flexibility, perseverance, tolerance, resilience, self-confidence and a zeal for learning.

“The success of the 2020 national exams could not have occurred without such extraordinary strength of character in many who opted to take the examinations,” said Sawyer.

“We celebrate your spirit and the spirit of the people who were behind you – school administrators – teachers, parents, relatives and community leaders. Yes, behind you, beside you and in front of you encouraging you to finish the race. We applaud you.”