Good news for Dontae Orlando WhitelySunday, June 20, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD Dontae Orlando Whitely learnt that he placed eighth in the Caribbean for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) industrial technology (electrical) when a friend sent him the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) 2020 regional merit list with his name imprinted. Soaking up the achievement, the Calabar High School student was overcome with a mixture of both joy and shock because of what he described as a fatiguing COVID-19-influenced school year.
“A friend had sent me the good news when the list was published and to be honest, I was shocked because I didn't expect it at all considering the change of teachers and online class fatigue. My parents couldn't stop expressing how proud they felt. They shared the news with other family members and friends who all encouraged me to continue on this path while praying for God's continued guidance over my life,” Whitely told Career & Education.
Whitely is currently enrolled in Calabar's sixth-form programme, and will be sitting his Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects in the coming weeks.
“I was in shock and I thought this must be fake because I didn't expect it at all. I mean, I expected a good grade, but never such a high achievement. I told my friend group from school on WhatsApp, and they began to congratulate me.”
However, when the results were released back in September 2020, the Passagefort, St Catherine, resident wasn't astonished at the fact that he had got a straight A profile.
“I got a distinction. It was no surprise because my teacher had guided all of us on a path that would ensure that we would get the highest grade possible. He was excited to have placed a student on the regional list and he followed up on his excitement by congratulating me,” he added.
“I am grateful to have had the support of my family, friends, teacher, and God's continued guidance which allowed me to achieve this.”
Whitely, an aspiring computer engineer, further spoke of the preparation process leading up to the examination.
“The SBA [School Based Assessment] was very long, and it didn't help that we had to change teachers three times. But, my last teacher, Mr Thaxter, gave a detailed explanation of the SBA. He guided me throughout the full components of the SBA, both practical and theory.”
“With electrical technology, we had to construct and test circuits. To get this done, my teacher formed us into groups and he guided us along the entire path to ensure our safety and to ensure that we would get the highest grade possible. Luckily, we never experienced any struggles with COVID as it relates to circuit constructions as Calabar had foreseen the issues ahead.”
Added Whitely: “My goal in life is to become a computer engineer. And with electrical technology, it will help me to better understand how exactly the circuits are powered.”
He pointed to the constant delaying of the exams, noting that this caused him to lose focus to some extent.
“As a result of COVID, I had more free time to prepare for my exams, but with them being continuously delayed, I began to procrastinate,” Whitely admitted. “Also, the start of online classes made me feel disengaged from learning on a whole, due to it being new to me and riddled with challenges. However, with the help of my friends, we became our sources of motivation and formed study groups to go over the material for the exams.”
His mother, Sandra Simmonds Whitely, who is currently in the United Sates, told Career & Education that she is especially proud that her son has excelled despite her being away amid the pandemic.
“I am very elated. But I know his potential and I know that with God in the midst, he will be able to do great things. I'm not in Jamaica with him, so he really made me proud. I've always encouraged him and have been there for him in whatever way I can. He held his head high. He is a guy that is not of many words. He's very focused on what he's doing, so sometimes when I call him, he's like, 'Mommy, I can't talk to you now,' ” Simmonds Whitely said laughing.
“I am really proud of him. Oh gosh! When I lay down and remember his achievements, I'm like, at least I can actually have something to hold on to in terms of happiness... a happy feeling.”
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