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Three friends succeed together

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Three friends succeed together

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SIMON KNIGHT, Zachary Gill and Gabriel Muhajiri are buddies in studies, acing this year’s Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, placing among the top ten performers.

Whatever lies ahead, the three 11-year-old former students of St Gabriel’s School say they plan to let nothing break the bond they formed at school and are determined to remain friends for life.

They could be considered a Barbados rainbow coalition – Simon is black, Zachary is white, Gabriel is Indian. When the three small boys entered St Gabriel’s School’s Reception Class at age four, seven years ago, they were complete strangers.

As Zachary explained: “We did not know each other then. The first day we may have seen each other when we were just walking around and just getting familiar with the place but we did not meet.”

In fact Zachary and Simon did not strike up a friendship until they were both age six. “We knew each other’s names but we never really talked too much and one time we started to talk and then we became really close friends,” Zachary said, minutes after they had each received a gift of Montblanc pens from Diamonds International last week.

Zachary, this year’s leading 11-Plus performer, and his two schoolmates were among the 20 top performers in the examination, being feted by Diamonds International at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, in acknowledgement of their hard work and performance.

On this particular evening the excitement among these three was especially noticeable as they giggled and chatted and animatedly they told the SUNDAY SUN why. Their dream had come true. They were indeed among the top ten performers and all three had gained entry to Queen’s College.

Taking the lead as he did at the beginning of the friendship, Zachary said: “When we heard about the 11-Plus exam we all agreed to go to Queen’s College and that we were all going to get into the top ten. We wanted that to happen and we all believed it was going to happen.”

Nodding in agreement, Simon added: “We believed it was very possible,” while Gabriel added: “I felt it was possible.” And Zachary continued: “Without doing any of the work in Class 4, when we were eight we just said we would come in the top ten together and even though there were some splits in different classes we kept that pledge. By then we decided we would all be in the top ten and that is how it happened.”

The three were split up in different classes along the way, with one at times being alone in a class while the other two were assigned to another class. But they continued to hold fast to their pledge.

In Class 4, the final stage at which they were preparing for the examination, Gabriel and Zachary were together and Simon was alone.

The three devised a plan to stay together and work together. Zachary explained: “At lunch time we would say we are going into the library and doing our homework so we won’t have to do it when we get home. In case one of us did not know a topic, we would help each other out, we would talk about it, and not directly give ourselves the answers, but we would help them with the sum and explain how to do it.”

They also came up with a morning ritual which served them well throughout the intense period of study. Assuming the role of lead strategist, Zachary, the smallest in the group, introduced meditation sessions to put them all in the right frame of mind to approach the day’s studies or examinations.

No one had taught Zachary how to do this. “I just came up with it one day and I started doing these rituals.”

Each boy received an “A”, the top grade for their essay in the English paper, and they still beam when they remember first setting sight of the essay topics in the examination paper. Fortuitously, each boy found a topic that for him was a real gift.

Simon wrote about the stray dog he picked up while riding home from school that ended up being a misfit in his home. He chose the essay topic I Wanted To Keep It But I Am Glad I Did Not.

Zachary let his imagination run deep and for the “A” grade he received, he vividly described an imaginary earthquake and a menacingly trembling earth in his chosen essay I Looked Out The Window And Could Not Believe What I Saw.

All-time great Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is Gabriel’s cricketing hero. A lover of cricket himself, Gabriel had been taken by his father on a surprise birthday trip to India to see Tendulkar’s last match. He treasures a photograph taken with himself and the famous cricketer as well as his personal copy of Tendulkar’s autobiography signed by the man himself. Needless to say he had a field day with the essay topic A Place I Had Visited Before.

But in case his cricketing career does not work out he has alternative ideas. “I might help my dad with his restaurant or his oil and tyre company,” he said.

Simon has not yet looked that far. The son of a hotelier said: “I actually don’t know yet.” What he is fairly sure about is his ambition to one day have his own company. 

“I really don’t know what I want to be either, but I am leaning towards something in building, like architecture or town planning and maybe also engineering,” said Zachary.

Simon summed up the current feelings of the three friends when he said: “We are very happy that we all came in the top ten and that we are all still together and going to Queen’s College.”