MANDEVILLE, Manchester — With the large majority of the 187 students who sat Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects at deCarteret College this year passing at least five subjects, school administrators are counting the performance among the school's success stories.
The school is reporting that 57 students passed seven subjects, 40 passed nine; 33 got eight; 20 bagged six; 18 passed five; three passed 10 and one student got 11 subjects.
Sixteen-year-old Zabrenna Griffiths, with 13 passes, was the top performer in the fifth-form year group.
She received distinctions in mathematics, English language, English literature, information technology, geography, chemistry, physics, biology, social studies, spanish, french and principles of business. She also got a credit in history.
Vice-principal Angela Walker told the Jamaica Observer that while the school has had students with exceptional grades in individual subject areas in the past, as far as she knows it was the first time in the history of the roughly 93-year-old institution that a student at one sitting had achieved 13 CSEC passes.
She said, however, that the school was not surprised by Zabrenna's results.
"We are elated, but we are not surprised. She came in second form and her average has not gone below 90 per cent. It is that kind of consistency why we are not surprised," said Walker.
The vice-principal attributes the teen's success to "proactive parents, proactive teachers" and her being a "self-motivated student". "Sacrifices (were) made," she said.
Regarding the school's performance, Walker said she was particularly pleased with the quality of subject passes, not just the quantity. "In most subject areas students came in with strong passes. We are proud of the overall performance," she said.
Fourteen of deCarteret's students passed fewer than five subjects, and no student failed all subjects sat.
Walker described deCarteret's curriculum as "dynamic", saying it prepared students for the global environment. She pointed out, too,
that the government-funded school,
which has ties with the Anglican Church, has a supportive Parents Teachers' Association.
As for Zabrenna's remarkable success, the teen sang high praises for her teachers who facilitated her in four subjects after regular school hours, at no extra cost.
"The teachers that I had (were) really nice and really caring. They do so much for all of their students, they really went the extra mile," she told the Observer.
Zabrenna's mother Charmane Griffiths, who is also a teacher at deCarteret College, explained that her daughter's succeeded in spite of challenges with her health. Though it did not affect her severely, she had an asthmatic condition in preparatory school and in high school, she had to see the doctor several times for allergies.
The elder Griffiths said her daughter spent a week in hospital last November for what still remains an undiagnosed condition, one which caused her to have high fevers and dizzy spells.
To make matters worse, she dislocated her knee in April, shortly before her Spanish and French oral examinations. She came off crutches in May, but her study routine was disrupted as she had to travel from Mandeville to May Pen on Saturdays for physiotherapy.
Zabrenna discontinued pursuing her 14th subject, Visual Arts, as a result of ill health, Griffiths said.
The teen disclosed that it was sometimes difficult to find the willpower to prepare for the examinations and to deal with her health problems.
"Some nights I was just tired and really wanted to go to bed, but I just pushed through. I didn't want to disappoint everyone and I didn't want to disappoint myself either," she said.
She is now preparing to enrol in the sixth form programme at deCarteret, as a step closer towards her dream of becoming a paediatric surgeon.