“Hard work reaps rewards.”
This is one thing the principals of the Buccoo Government and Signal Hill Government primary schools agree on.
This year, both schools copped two places each in the top ten performers on the island at the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA).
Tobago’s top performer Sebastian Rampersad is a student of the Buccoo Government Primary School. His former schoolmate Adanna Rodriguez took the tenth spot.
Speaking to Newsday on Monday, school principal Corine Smith-Rochford attributed this success to hard work.
“I think it’s all about hard work and I think the teachers really applied themselves diligently in terms of teacher competence, but I also think that we had a supportive bunch of parents and if you put all that into the mix, then you have what we call success.”
Smith-Rochford said Sebastian’s success came as no surprise to her.
“I expected Sebastian to do well and the teachers would tell you I would go down to the classroom and sometimes when I meet them just relaxing, I’ll say to them, ‘If Sebastian don’t do well, I would blame you all.’ He has always been a focused child, Sebastian has never been to the office for anything negative, his parents never complained about anything. He was a model child.”
She had some advice for those entering Standard Five.
“My advice to them is that they apply themselves diligently; they come to school every day – because Sebastian never missed school, never was absent; and they stay focused while teachers are teaching. Because SEA is no long drills, it’s the interactions you have during the class time when the teachers teach and the children relating with what the teacher is doing and at the same time being able to think things through for themselves. It's no longer about drilling, but more about the child’s willingness to think critically, solve the problems that are in front of them and to do it with very good reasoning.”
The principal said her aim is to keep Buccoo Government churning out top students.
“Firstly, we have to go back to the drawing board and see what we did to get this kind of success and do it, and maybe do it a different way too, so that we can at least achieve the success again. You know once you give somebody something and they did well with it, you expect them to do well again."
Principal of Signal Hill Government Primary School Trisha DesVignes said her aim is now to produce students at the national level.
“We’re looking at Signal Hill as a premier institution, we’re looking at producing children at the national level. Tthe Tobago level – we have gone past that, producing children at the national level, this is what we are working towards.
“Signal Hill has remained consistent, this is something that we have been working towards. Of course, as well this is not the be-all and end-all, in that, there is lots more for us to continue to achieve,” she said.
Des Vignes attributed the school's success to teamwork. In 2018 Signal Hill copped the first, third and fourth Tobago spots in the SEA.
“I believe it is a collaborative effort – a collaborative effort with teachers, students and parents; that is critical, persons working together for the common goal.”
This year’s third-placed Archelle Melville and seventh-placed Xhane Gray are both from the Signal Hill Government Primary School.
“Having Archelle Melville placing 103 nationally is an achievement and that is something we would want to further capitalise on. So, in future, we would want to continue (producing) students of a particular calibre, students no matter where they go, you would know that that student came from Signal Hill.”
Her advice to those preparing for the exam in 2020 was: “It is not a one-shot wonder, and I would always encourage them to do their best and God will do the rest. It’s hard work, you have to make a lot of sacrifices – hard work, hard work, hard work. As our motto says, striving for excellence through hard work."
Other students who placed in the top ten are Brianna McPherson of -Belle Garden Anglican, Jaden Roberts and Brandon-Mark Browne, both of Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation, Kaelan Bynoe of St Nicholas Private, and Jade Llanos of the Tobago International Academy.
The ten will begin at Bishop's High School in September.