Culloden Infant tops Sandals literacy competition
General manager at Sandals South Coast O'Brian Heron (second left, back row) is pleased to share a photo op with the winners of the Inter-Schools' Literacy Competition and some of their teachers.

In its continued support of education and literacy in schools, Sandals South Coast recently hosted more than 30 students from seven institutions within the Whitehouse cluster for an Inter-Schools' Literacy Competition.

The initiative, which assists in instilling a passion for literacy and learning at the earliest stage of the educational journey, saw students from Peterville Basic, Beeston Spring Early Childhood Institute, Bluefields Basic School, Kings Primary and Infant, Whitehouse Early Childhood Institute, Kentucky Primary School, and Culloden Infant School competing in areas such as picture-word association, comprehension, word recognition, letter sound and identification.

Coordinator for the competition Anthony Kennedy said that although this was not its first staging, he has seen tremendous growth as it relates to the diversification of the event with the new competitive areas and the support from the schools and parents.

"I can truly say we have come a long way when it comes to the school involvement and the interest from the students who turn out to compete. The passion for learning and literacy is growing and this has always been the aim since the inception of this competition.

Assistant learning and development manager at Sandals South Coast Tevin Simpson presents an award to a beaming Abbigale Perry of Petersville Basic School, who won the second-place prize for the Letter Sound and Identification Competition.

"I would like to express thanks to the Sandals South Coast team for seeing and joining the vision that we have for the students within the Whitehouse cluster," said Kennedy.

The literacy competition, which is described as an interactive and fun-filled learning initiative, offered students the opportunity to not only put their knowledge to the test, but also a chance to connect with others from neighbouring schools. The day-long event saw Culloden Infant School walking away with the overall win, Whitehouse Early Childhood copping second place, and Peterville Basic School taking third place.

Expressing gratitude to the planning committee and Sandals South Coast for their dedication to fortifying the overall learning experience for the students, coach from the winning school, Romaine Poyser said there has been a struggle with literacy in the schools and the competition has been a vehicle to drive change.

"Literacy has been an area of weakness and a competition like this has enhanced the students' skills in phonics awareness, sight-word vocabulary, reading comprehension and many other areas. With all the work done in preparation for the competition, I can attest that the students have been doing better in their classwork and have walked away more confident as a result of the socialisation aspect that was a major part of this experience," a proud Poyser said.

Teacher from Beeston Spring Early Childhood Sheree Reid playing ring games with the students to shake off any nervousness before their respective competitions.

In the meantime, retired teacher and one of the judges on the day, Claudette Samuels, added that this competition was not just an eye-opener for the students of the potential they have, but also an indication that the teachers are doing the necessary work to build the future generation.

"It was a very productive day, I was impressed with the students who participated and as a teacher myself, I know that the teachers from participating schools have put in a lot of work to get the students ready. I want to say well done to Sandals South Coast for its continued involvement in the development of our nation's children, we are in good hands based on what I've seen here today," said Samuels.

One of the top performers in the letter-sound competition, Maurice Fraser, of Bluefields Basic School, was elated to have placed. "I am happy because I came second in the competition and I got to spend time with my friends and make new ones today," a beaming Fraser said.

The planning committee for the competition along with Sandals South Coast team expressed a desire to ensure the competition remains an annual event, as they believe that this initiative will transcend the competitive level and will have a more direct impact on the schools involved as they seek to broaden its scope.

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