POINT, Hanover — With the self-awareness to recognise that he "wasn't born naturally smart", 12-year-old Tariq-Maxwell Anderson decided he would put in the work needed to become an engineer. His diligence has paid off do far, performing brilliantly in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations.
Tariq-Maxwell outperformed 98 per cent of all test takers on the ability test, and was deemed highly proficient on all four curriculum-based tests, copped the Hanover Western Constituency Top Achiever Award for social studies, science, the ability test as well as the overall award for top PEP student in the constituency.
He knew he would do well, he said, because that was the goal he set for himself.
"I felt accomplished. I did my duty that I set out to do… overall I knew that I performed well," the class monitor, prefect and head boy at Esher Primary School told the Jamaica Observer.
Come September, Tariq-Maxwell will be moving on to his parents' alma mater, Rusea's High School, which was his first choice.
"You have to focus on your work — which is usually what someone would say — but focus on it and kinda know what you want to do in the future; and then you work hard for what you want to do," he said, when asked if he had any advice for other students.
His parents have seen his intense focus over the years.
"Let me tell you, there are many nights that he fell asleep on the floor [while studying]. Tariq is the kind of student that keeps me accountable. Accountable in such a way that when I get home, he would say, 'I have homework and I need for you to check it'," said his mother Tova Trench Anderson.
The parish manager for the Social Development Commission in Hanover said her son is humble, respectful to all, and a consistently high performer.
She pointed to the importance of parents playing a role in their children's education.
"As a parent, you really have to equip your child with all the tools that they need. You get the books. You spend time. You have to be committed. Put in the hours to help them revise; not just to do with the book part of it but to ensure that they are well-rounded and well-balanced. And then showing that they have the necessary self-confidence to know that they can do this and whatever comes their way; [that] they have whatever it takes to stay in power and to conquer," she said.
Her husband, tour bus operator Ralston Anderson, is just as dedicated to providing his son with the tools, skills and support he needs to succeed at whatever he does.
"When he comes with homework, I have to get on it because he keeps nagging you saying, 'Come, I need it!'. That's how he stays. Even if his mummy says, 'One moment', he keeps nagging, 'I want to do it now, I need the help'. And from that, we observed that that little guy is going to achieve a lot because he puts much interest in his schoolwork," stated Anderson.
He is urging other fathers to be just as involved in their children's lives.
"Stand up to your responsibilities whether you are with the mother or not. Sending a million dollars for the child is not good enough. It is better you are seeing the child more than bringing in a million dollars and not seeing the child, because as a father the child needs your guidance. He needs your presence in everything that you do. Do not be absent from school because education is the key," encouraged Anderson, who is convinced that a child who does not have a father's love and guidance is easier to be led astray.
In addition to the role she and her husband played in his success, Tariq-Maxwell's mother spoke of the importance of educators.
"The teachers did deliver. I really have to say thanks to the teachers of Esher Primary. They went above and beyond to make sure that the students were ready for the exam," said Trench Anderson.
"He did very well and as a parent, I am excited and elated. I am extremely proud not just for my son but for all the students who are here this evening," she added.
She was speaking with the Observer during the second annual PEP top achievers awards ceremony hosted at the Grand Palladium Hotel and Spa by the Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, Tamika Davis.
The guests of honour were 19 primary and preparatory school students from the constituency. This year, boys outnumbered girls by a ratio of 11:8, unlike last year when there were more girls among the top achievers.
"I am elated that my school is at the top of Hanover Western schools. I am very proud of my student Tariq-Maxwell Anderson who scored a 391.4 placement score in the paper exam," said vice principal and grade six teacher at Esher Primary, Dervan Dinham.
"We were expecting it. He has always been a humble student from grade one. Very humble, dedicated, and hard-working and he is the person to eat a teacher on their feet: he will ask questions and do extensive research. He's the type of student that we know once he is committed, we know that we are expecting good results," she said.
Jovane Allen of Upper Rock Spring Primary and Infant, Niara Sanderson of Clifton Primary and Infant, Crystal Atkinson of Pell River Primary, Chad Blair of Riverside Primary, Anastracia Campbell of Hanover Pre and Preparatory, Kamila Brown of Cove Primary, Khloe Frame of Orange Bay Preparatory, Kenese Henry of Green Island Primary and Shavon Leslie of Chambers Pen Primary were among the awardees.
Others include Raheem Mangol of St Simon Primary and Infant, Rajae McKellop of Cacoon Primary and Infant, Nikora Miller of Church Hill Primary, Krishmar Moodie of Lucea Primary, Dakari Patterson of Middlesex Corner Primary, Shevon Pinnock of Kendal Primary, Alessandra Reynolds of March Town SDA Preparatory, Othneil Robinson from Cave Valley Primary and Owen Spence of Askenish Primary.
The awardees received $15,000 each to assist with purchasing books for secondary school. Those who performed best in subject areas were presented with plaques.
Among those in attendance at the awards ceremony were officer at the Ministry of Education, Susan Simms who told the awardees that they can achieve anything they put their minds to; and Senior Parish Judge for Hanover Natesha Fairclough Hylton who encouraged them to focus on their goals and ignore detractors.