NOT so long ago, San Fernando was dubbed the industrial capital. With the changing dynamics of the economy, the focus has shifted to education and culture to shape this city.
Consistently, the youth have recorded excellence in academics, sports and culture. Using the criterion of examinations, San Fernando schools have achieved the pinnacle of success in every sphere from the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) at primary level, the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) at secondary level.
One of the two 2018 President's Medal winners is Sadhana Balladin, a former student of St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, who got nine grade ones at CSEC and eight grade ones at CAPE.
Balladin was among several enterprising young people singled out by Mayor Junia Regrello for special honour at a civic reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of San Fernando's city status.
So was Mikhaili Toney, an Open Scholarship winner from Presentation College, San Fernando, who copped the CXC top award for the most outstanding candidate in the humanities. Toney received grade ones in ten units at CAPE 1 and 2 and will receive the Hodder Education CAPE Humanities Award. He is also a young entrepreneur, having founded the Junzi clothing line.
Cecile Hinds, who has distinguished herself in sports, also received the mayor’s award. Hinds, a trailblazer and exemplar for women in football, is a referee with the TT Football Association and FIFA, showing off her skills at matches around the globe.
The city is also has some of the top performing schools within its boundaries: St Joseph’s Convent, Presentation College, Naparima College, Naparima Girls’ High School, ASJA Boys and Girls, and San Fernando Government Secondary among other schools which annually win the majority of scholarships.
For 2018, Naparima College also distinguished itself by winning the 2018 Secondary Schools Football League, and Pleasantville Secondary School by winning the SSFL Girls Big 5 championship.
Presentation College was named winner of the National Secondary Schools Entrepreneurship competition and Pleasantville Secondary student Thair Alexander was the country’s top Youth MP at the 16th National Youth Parliament 2018, which debated the decriminalisation of marijuana.
Regrello said, “When you look at our achievement this year, we are strong in the educational aspect. We also continue to dominate in sports and culture. Our results are very positive.
“In culture, we had young Rondell Donowa who placed third in the National Calypso Monarch competition. We were outstanding in the National Panorama competition, winning in almost all the categories.”
In the small band category, Golden Hands Steel Orchestra won, as did Pan Elders in the medium band category. CAL Skiffle also achieved its highest standing among the large bands, placing second to BPTT Renegades. In the school bands category, the Naparima Combined team placed second in the finals.
“South is very strong and because of our focus on youth and youth development in terms of our sustainability we have changed the approach to how we celebrate City Day," Regrello said.
“This year we have made the city auditorium available for all the cultural events, instead of just having free shows on the streets –mas, pan, J’Ouvert – where only the bars benefit. In making the venue available, organisations can come in hold their show and the revenue goes back to them.”
During the commemoration of city month, Golden Hands held its 25th anniversary celebration at the auditorium. The event honoured celebrated master pan builder and tuner Bertrand “Birch” Kelman, and pan icons Ray Holman and Len “Boogsie” Sharpe.
PRO of the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (TUCO) Ras Kommanda commended Regrello for his new approach to culture. The TUCO South/Central Zone also used the venue for its Alive concert, last month.
Regrello said the corporation has also emphasised educational and development projects and seminars to develop the young people.
“The objective is to get them away from the dependency syndrome as we try to encourage entrepreneurship, so we can sustain development and instil a sense of independence at the same time,” Regrello said.
San Fernando celebrated its 30th anniversary of city status on November 18. The celebrations ended with Mistah Shak in concert on Friday at the city auditorium.