OCHO RIOS, St Ann — First Regional Co-operative Credit Union recently celebrated the outstanding achievement of four students in this parish and neighbouring St Mary by awarding them scholarships based on their Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) performance.
The four — Lamoi Williston, Raldo Henry, Zavoy Hayles and Matthew Logan, who will each receive $30,000 for each of the five years they will spend in secondary school — are among 17 students the institution has awarded.
"I feel really good. I worked very hard and now my hard work has paid off," a soft-spoken Williston told the Jamaica Observer North East after she was presented with the Leyland Walker scholarship.
Another recipient, Raldo Henry, who will be attending Ardenne High in St Andrew and whose average of 94.4 per cent earned him the First Regional Co-op Credit Union scholarship, was also pleased with his achievement.
Hayles received the Reynold Smith scholarship, while Matthew Logan received the Herman Ming award.
The credit union also gave book grants valued at $10,000 each to several other GSAT students — Ricardo Burnett, Shamara Harvey, Obberlee Sulton, Abigay Hall, Tyrese Rose, Alecia Sewell and Jhanelle Thames. Tertiary-level students Tiffany McCook and Zornette Kelly also received book grants.
In addition to them, four students pursuing studies at the tertiary level — O'Shane McHugh, Neil Bolt, Deborah Goode and Ronette Edwards — were awarded one-off bursaries valued at $250,000 each.
Chief executive officer at First Regional, Patricia Smith, challenged the recipients to cherish the opportunity they have received to pursue studies at the secondary and tertiary levels.
"I want you to recognise that some children who now worry about which high schools they will attend could never grace the hallways of high schools 50 years ago. Cherish what you have today; our forefathers had to fight for it," she said.
Smith also urged parents and guardians to make sacrifices for their children and suggested that they continue focusing on having their children do homework, study and watch less television so that they may do as well at external exams as they did at GSAT.
Also speaking at the ceremony, held at Hibiscus Lodge Hotel, was Education Minister Reverend Ronald Thwaites. He commended First Regional for its investment in education in the north-eastern parishes and challenged the scholarship recipients to pay keen attention to mathematics and English, two subject areas in which Jamaican students continue to perform poorly.
"I urge you young people to make sure that you excel as best you can. Give premium attention to those subjects; I urge your parents to liaise with the schools and to make sure that there is a proper link between home and school," he said.
"Parents of these scholarship winners, please assist by joining parent teachers associations. Whether you have money to contribute is not a major issue, what is important is the covenant between home and school," the minister said.