Junior Soca Monarch in the primary school category, Sekel Mc Intosh was elated when he was announced winner, at the end of the competition held at the Government Campus Plaza auditorium in Port of Spain on Thursday.
He told Newsday afterwards: “I feel very excited because I was hoping on winning back the crown and I did. This is a win for me, my family and my school Arima Boys' Government.”
Apart from the winner’s trophy, Mc Intosh takes home $12,000 – an increase from last year. That was announced by Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis in his earlier remark.
Asked what will he do with the money, ten-year-old Sekel said he plans to put it towards tertiary education.
Sekel came on stage in darkness and, as the music started, his face mask lit up. He gave a high-energy performance, twice, because he had microphone problems on the first take.
His performance of Level Up earned him 237 points.
Placing second with 212 points and third with 197 points were Jayda Celestine of St Michael's Anglican, Princes Town who sang Save the Children, and Shasmeen "Sugar Princess" Mohammed of Exchange Presbyterian who sang Pollution of the Mind. They walked away each with a trophy along with $7,000 and $4,000 respectively.
In the secondary schools category, there was a straight fight between Sherissa Redhead of St Joseph Convent, Port of Spain and Shakir "Sackie D Artiste" Harewood of St Anthony's College.
They both gave polished performances.
Redhead’s song Together as One saw flags waving all around the auditorium by her schoolmates, who loudly applauded at the end of her performance.
Harewood declared himself the minister of Broken N Frustrated, which was quite comical. He too had loud vocal support from his peers.
In the end, one point separated the two. Redhead won with 251 points while Harewood got 250 points.
After taking the crown, the winner’s trophy and $15,000, Redhead said she felt relieved because she was a bit nervous going into the competition.
She said of her prize money, “Basically I want to invest it in myself, but I don’t want to go all willy nilly spending it. I would like to use it to build on my production for next year, and I’d also like to put it towards myself for college purposes.”
Harewood second place earned him a trophy and $9,000.
Third place Adriana John of Rio Claro East Secondary School took home $5,000, and $2,500 went to Shane Shallow of St Anthony's College in fourth place.
Addressing the audience, Francis said he was only exposed to books during his time in school.
“But over time, the philosophy changed and if you want children to develop properly you have to not just educate them in the narrow sense, but educate them in a broader sense where you allow them to develop their talents.”
He spoke of soca artiste Machel Montano being paid US$250,000 per performance, and told the children present that becoming a soca artiste can be a lucrative career.
But even if they didn’t become a soca star, Francis said, having that well-rounded development is going to be better for all of them and that’s the reason his ministry is supporting them and the competition.