Mount Airy celebrates Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz victory

Observer West writer

Thursday, December 27, 2018

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MOUNT AIRY, Westmoreland — “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” which means 'wonderful,' is the word 12- year-old Mount Airy Primary and Infant School student Andrea Barnes used to describe how she felt when her school emerged the 2018 winners of Television Jamaica's Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz, recently.

The first-time victors from Westmoreland defeated another Westmoreland-based school, Broughton Primary, by 33-26 in the final, and Andrea, member of the winning team, as well as her teammates, could not contain their joy when the Jamaica Observer West visited the school recently.

Team member Marvin Whyte, also 12 years old, said being the champion is an ecstatic feeling for him.

“The feeling of being the champion is ecstatic. After realising that we are the champion school, it is a joy. Basically, it is a once in a lifetime that you get to feel this joy and make this history,” Marvin expressed.

As for 11-year-old Alwain Seaton, another team member, the overwhelming feeling “froze his mind”.

“When I realised that we won, it is like my mind froze. I was so happy. I was just thinking about how my parents were celebrating,” stated Alwain, adding, “I just want to thank everybody for the support they have given us.”

Andrea said it was hard work, fun and sleepless nights, as they prepared for the competition.

“We had a lot of fun together. We had to do some work on our own. We couldn't depend on the teachers to tell us everything. We had sleepless nights. We had to work really hard,” she told the Jamaica Observer West.

Captain of the team, 12-year-old Tianrae Barnes said he is looking forward to join the senior quiz team when he moves on to high school next year.

“I like the whole competition, because it gives me the opportunity to showcase my knowledge to the world.

And, Andrea is encouraging students to work hard, believe in themselves, be confident and always remember that 'you are as good as your last match'.

Head coach, Keen Johnson, said while preparation was challenging, the school was successful in the end because of the research ability of the students.

“It has been a challenge, but the pain is less because these students are a special group. They are not afraid of hard work, and they are not afraid to go and research. Maybe the reason why we are successful is because of the research ability of these students. They do their research, and even when you don't give them, they will do research,” stated Johnson. “They tend to watch the news and research what they see and as a result we were strong in current events. The school has a library and Internet access and they have Internet access at home, too. So research was done here (school) and it was also done at home.”

He said preparation for the competition was mostly done after school between the hours of 2:30pm and 4:00 pm, and longer hours on weekends, closer to matches.

Another coach, Andrea Campbell, who had high commendation for the parents, pointed to the importance of such support.

“I would never leave out our quiz parents, because they were a part of it. We could call them and say to them, 'We need you to do this with the child tonight,' and it would be done. They were an integral part in it, and I would recommend anybody who is having a quiz programme, your parents must be able to work with you, or else you will not succeed, because we would not have success if they were not working along with us,” explained Campbell,

Apart from the staff and community members, the principal of the over 90-year-old institution, Karen Anderson McKenzie, also came in for commendation for her assistance, not only with coaching, but her skills in “making ends meet financially”, to support the team.

For the past five years, the school whose motto is “With Pride and Excellence” has been entering the Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz.

Among the prizes won for winning this year's competition were computers, gift baskets, gift brochures, spa treatment, a $250,000 cash prize from National Commercial Bank, and $100,000 towards the school's breakfast programme.

Anderson McKenzie said the school which dates back to the 1920s has a literacy rate of 100 per cent. She said it is also the top school in Spanish within the western region, and has also done well in sports.

She added that the school is involved in a raft of co-curricular activities, including a culture programme, gymnastics, karate, swimming, Red Cross, 4-H, and Brownies.

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