Careers & Education

Perfect score for St John the Baptist girl

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Career and Education writer

Sunday, June 29, 2014    

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THOUGH small in number, the outgoing grade six students from St John the Baptist Preparatory School have performed exceptionally well in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), with one of the candidates gaining a perfect average.

When Career & Education visited the Harrad Crescent, St Andrew school last week, little or no noise was heard, as the school has a population of roughly 80 students.

The grade six cohort has eight students who were all placed in traditional high schools.

But one girl, Rianna Blake, surprised herself and her teachers when she gained an average of 100 per cent in the exams, earning her a place at Immaculate Conception High -- her first choice.

Blake, who is also the head girl, said when she saw her results, words could not describe what she felt as she had worked towards it for the entire school year.

"I feel elated. The day before GSAT I told myself I was going to be the top girl. I had my rosary with me and I prayed and asked for God's guidance in the exam, so when I saw that I got perfect scores in everything, I was happy and thankful," Blake said.

For Blake, her greatest motivation was her family as she said they helped her to be more confident.

"My mom and dad always motivate me and tell me not to let anyone put me down. They usually say, 'do what you have to do and if you set your dreams now, you achieve it when you get older'," she said.

Class teacher Julian Gregory described the set as a unique and disciplined group who would set goals and work together to accomplish them without her having to dictate to them.

"We try our best to build their confidence and it's a disciplined group, and for a set of children they work with me and I have the support from their parents. Whatever they tell you they're going to do, they do it, and as their facilitator I don't have to tell them do this, do that. They come with their ideas, we have discussions, and we work towards goals," Gregory said.

Gregory said the students foster a sense of team spirit and help each other to grow.

"The stronger ones help the weaker ones. Selfishness is not displayed and they all want to learn," she said.

Moreover, the preparation process for the exams, according to Gregory, required the group to be at school between the hours of 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, an expansion of their usual 8:00 to 2:00 pm day.

But Gregory said the students did not mind because they have now reaped the benefits.

"Some were not scoring 90s and they had to be given extra help on a Friday. When the results came, six got full marks in communication tasks. I like to see children achieve and I made sure to go the extra mile with them. We would revise the grade four and five syllabus as that's part of the GSAT syllabus, and go all out on the grade six syllabus especially the communication tasks which can be challenging," Gregory said.

Blake added that apart from having a revision book for these classes, they would form small groups and study while incorporating educational games, research, book reports and book reviews to help with the communication tasks.

Cecile Jarrett, principal, said she expected good results from the students as she has always told them that they can do well.

"The concept of getting 100 per cent was always enkindled in them. They know they could go beyond excellence and whatever their best turned out to be, that's what we would laud," Jarrett said.

The principal added that this year's cohort was disciplined and mature in their thinking, and served as good role models for the rest of the school.

Blake, like Jarrett, said she has no limits on her life.

"My mom says the sky is the limit, but my principal says there is no limit, therefore I don't plan to limit myself," said Blake.

St John the Baptist Preparatory School last year earned a spot in the top 64 preparatory schools in Jamaica in a study done by think tank, Educate Jamaica.

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