Jole St John is Tobago’s top Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) student for 2021.
St John, who attended Scarborough Methodist Primary School, placed 39th nationally and passed for her first choice, Bishop’s High School.
She said: “I am very, very relieved, because I was very anxious this morning and the past few days thinking what the results would be. I am excited, but I’m also humbled at the same time.”
What did she think contributed to this success?
“It definitely was a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment, staying focused and not letting anything hold me back.”
She had advice for other students.
“Put your best foot forward, always do your best, give it your all and once you do that, you have nothing to worry about after.”
Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Marslyn Melville-Jack congratulated St John.
“You have done it amidst a background where you were at home being tutored for an entire year. I want to congratulate you and your parents – the support that you’ve received from your parents and your teachers is something that you must always be grateful for.
"We are proud of you, not only because you are first in Tobago but because you are 39th in the nation – this is no easy feat, because we’re talking about coming up against 16,000 students approximately.”
St John’s mother, Tricilia St John-Small, overcome with emotion, said: “For me it’s a sense of relief, but it also gives me that opportunity now, and it confirms that it is important that we transition to secondary school and get ready for that next phase.”
The second-placed student was St Andrew;s Anglican’s Raeya Charles.
Charles said she was elated.
“I am very happy, and I feel so grateful.”
She hadn't expected to do so well.
“Not really – I expected to go a little lower down, like third or fourth.”
On the transition to online schooling, she said: “It’s not easy but I like it and I am getting used to it now.”
She achieved full marks in mathematics.
“I feel happy, because mathematics is my favourite subject and I feel proud of myself.”
Her mother Kahea Wilson said, “I am just so proud. She worked hard. It was tough, everything being online, but I told her, 'Go out do what you can do, do your best and I’ll always be proud no matter what,' – and today she made me extremely proud.”
She had some advice for other parents.
“It is a task, but it’s a team effort. Once you give the support, support the children, just be there for them, encourage them, because they can do it. You just have to believe in them, and they would do it.”
In third place was Black Rock Government’s Xzehanny Hazel
“I am feeling proud and grateful.”
He described the transition to online schooling as “tiring,” adding, “I had to sacrifice my time, but in the end it was worth it.”
His mother, Tracey McMillan, said: “As a parent, I am elated, I am proud and of course I am relieved.”
Her son’s achievement was no surprise to her.
“Xzehanny is a child who is intrinsically motivated, he is very disciplined. He would have excelled throughout his primary school life, and what happened today came as no surprise to us.”
The fourth and fifth spots were captured by Adiva Ogbeifun and Khymalee Saunders, both students of the Scarborough Methodist School.
Sixth and seventh places went to Eden Jones and Rayel Neptune, both of the Scarborough RRC Primary School, and Zy' rai Celestine of Belle Garden Anglican took the eighth spot, with Jay-van Clarke of Bethesda Government Primary in ninth and Belle Garden Anglican’s Olatunji Taitt in tenth.