Girls living their motto
By Natasha Beckles | Sun, September 16, 2012 - 12:34 PM
Young people are often told that they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it.
And while this may seem like a cliche, especially when it comes from older people, a group of Garrison Secondary School students believe it is a motto to live by.
During the last school year, 17 girls from the Paddock Road, St Michael school opted to take the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) religious education examination while they were in second and third forms.
Of that number, 14 passed, with then 12-year-olds Nareesa Lynch and Gabriella Headley attaining Grade 2s, while the others received Grade 3s.
The successful two were joined by Nikita Millar and Ashley Lashley last Friday as they chatted with the SUNDAY SUN about their experiences.
One element they each stressed in their own way was the link between dedication and success.
They agreed that the preparation process was hard but that it was worth it to know that they received a CXC certificate.
Nikita noted that they had to limit their social and sporting activities and give up Saturdays and public holidays as they put in intensive work under the watchful eye of former religious education teacher Reverend Esther Willoughby, who is now retired.
Even though some of their peers thought they were trying to show off by doing the exam at such a young age, and some senior students wondered if they would really pass, the girls said they leaned on their support systems and put in the necessary work.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something like this,” Nareesa said.
Gabriella chimed in: “It actually makes you feel like you accomplished something. It is going to motivate people to know that no matter how old or young they are, they can do anything they put their mind to.”
They credited their families, classmates and teachers for helping to motivate them.
“I had support from everyone in my life and from my friends who were doing it with me. Through it all, I was praying that whether they got Grades 1, 2 or 3, everyone would pass,” Gabriella said.
Nareesa noted that Rev. Willoughby was very dedicated.
“Some days, before she would eat, she would make sure that we had everything covered. I’m glad to know that we have made her proud,” she said.
Gabriella indicated that she used her success as a tool to motivate others.
“Some of my friends would be like: ‘You passed a CXC; you’re so smart’. I tell them, ‘Yes, I may be smart but you could do it too, because I didn’t just wake up and say I’m going to go in the room and do it. I had to work hard for it and I got back what I worked for’,” she said.
The students said their study of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Rastafarianism opened their eyes and challenged some of their preconceptions.
For Ashley, it was a visit to the home of a Jewish couple that stood out in her mind since she learnt about many of their practices and traditions for the first time.
However, Nareesa was most interested in an interview conducted with a Muslim, which helped to challenge many widely held, media-driven beliefs about the faith of Islam.
The girls suggested that more young people should study religious education up to the CXC level.
“It is a learning experience. Some of the things that you see going on [in other religions], you would know what they are and you wouldn’t have to be wondering,” Nareesa indicated.
At least one student, Gabriella, said the knowledge she gained in the class would be useful in her career.
“I want to be an event planner when I grow up. I want to do all kinds of events, including weddings and birthday parties.
“With the religious studies [knowledge], if I have to do something for someone who practises a different religion from Christianity, at least I would know something about them that would help me to get the job done well,” she explained.
Even as the students enjoyed their success, they had some concerns about other young people in Barbados.
They highlighted violence, theft, drug use and a lack of interest in education as significant problems but urged their peers to grasp every opportunity for positive development and growth.
• Positive Youth is a series highlighting the efforts of some of the youth who are engaging in positive pursuits.
- Editor's Choice