ARDENNE High School, the prominent St Andrew co-educational institution, is today basking in the glory of being pronounced the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) School of the Year for 2013 in the region, and also for producing the top Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) CAPE student this year — Dea Thomas.
"We got a call this morning from Barbados, CXC's head office, indicating that Dea Thomas, as the top CXC CAPE student for Jamaica, is also the top one for the region," an elated Nadine Molloy, principal of Ardenne, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Molloy said that subsequent to the call she received a letter indicating that Ardenne, by having the most outstanding candidate overall, becomes the CAPE School of the Year. "So of course Ardenne is quite excited, because Ardenne is indeed the CAPE School of the Year for 2013 in the region," she said.
"The award will be presented in December in Guyana and both Dea and myself — I'm not sure if one of her parents will be invited to attend — will be in attendance. I will make remarks and Dea will give the vote of thanks at that ceremony," Molloy explained.
The Math and Science student, who hopes to pursue a career in medical research was, by some weird stroke of faith, able to hear the good news from the CXC herself yesterday.
"She was actually here today getting recommendations from teachers. So it was rather nice, I was able to let her speak with the people from CXC herself," the principal said.
Last night, Thomas, who just turned 18, told the Observer that she scored grade 1 in all 12 units that she sat at CAPE.
"I was very shocked actually. I really wasn't expecting it. I went to school to get my transcript and stuff and then I was called into the principal's office and Miss Molloy told me," Thomas said, adding that her shock turned to delight after she spoke to the CXC representative on the phone.
Thomas entered Ardenne sixth form in 2011 after attending Edwin Allen High and Morant Bay High schools.
She moved to Jamaica from India in 2007 and gained Jamaican citizenship in September this year.
Her hope now is to gain a scholarship to either the University of the West Indies or to a university overseas and, as such, will be filing applications in February next year.
Yesterday, students at the more than 80-year-old school were riding high on the wave of the news of their success.
"Everybody is quite excited, we made the announcement in two parts, first that Dea is indeed the top CAPE student in the region and then, of course, we made the announcement that Ardenne will now be the CAPE School of the Year and, of course, it was pandemonium in terms of the shouts that I could hear from all over the school and the excitement and text messages going all around amongst the teachers and so on," Molloy shared.
"It's quite a nice atmosphere right now. I just walked outside and you can see that the children are in good spirits. They feel good about it. We have very bright children, they do a lot of work, and it's just nice to see them rewarded in this way," she added.
The principal pointed out that Ardenne is no stranger to success.
"We have [had] very outstanding results at the CAPE level at Ardenne. In many instances we have 100 per cent passes in many of the subjects, and where we don't have a hundred per cent it's probably one or two students not making it. The performances are usually very good, we get a lot of grade ones, twos and threes and those are the higher grades," she said.
Molloy, who is a year and two months into her tenure at the school, also had high praises for the students.
"They are a very bright set, they are very enquiring, they ask questions, and it's always so engaging to have a conversation with them on just about anything. We usually expect the students to do very well at Ardenne," she said.
Molloy noted that experienced and dedicated teachers also account for the school's excellent standing.
"We are not a perfect school, but we are a great school, and I am comfortable that no student would need to leave Ardenne to do a subject that is offered at Ardenne somewhere else because they did not feel comfortable with the quality of the delivery and the programme at Ardenne," she pointed out.
"As a matter of fact, we hardly have enough spaces for our sixth form students, let alone other students coming from outside. We can take very few students from outside for our sixth form programme, that's the case for many other schools as well, but the reality is the students just do very well and they are proud of what they can do," she added.
In the meantime, she said Ardenne plans to honour Thomas's achievement.
"We wouldn't allow something like this to go unnoticed. I wouldn't want to pre-empt anything right now, because we would want to discuss it further at the board level with some of the senior persons and, of course, with her parents to see how we best acknowledge what she has done," Molloy said.
Some 150 students from Ardenne sat the CAPE this year.
"I know we have done well, we are receiving some awards next year, but the final list (total passes) has not come to us yet," Molloy told the Observer.
"We are just proud of the very rounded programme that is offered here at Ardenne. We really just try to impart good values and attitudes to them, and it pays off every time. We just want to say congratulations to Dea and her family and to those other students who will continue to keep the tradition that we set at Ardenne alive," she added.