Rashauna comes out on top against odds
Rashauna Lashley’s stature and shy personality belie her inner strength.
The top student of Sharon Primary School in the Barbados Secondary School’s Entrance Examination, who scored 87 in English, 96 in mathematics and earned a B in composition, had to overcome the loss of her mother and brother while preparing for that exam, which determined the next phase of her education. She will be attending The St Michael School, which was her school of choice.
The reserved ten-year-old told the DAILY NATION that when her loved ones passed away two years ago, she had to find ways to move on, and did so with the support of her father.
Following a presentation to Lashley for her outstanding work, her dad, Dennis Small, said the death of his partner, Maxine Lashley, and a few months earlier that of his 20-year-old son, Romario Lashley, under tragic circumstances, was a painful time for the family, adding that he had to step up to take on the role of father and mother.
Small, a porter, explained that his girlfriend was the one who usually helped Rashauna with her schoolwork and projects and her death meant that he had to find extra time to help Rashauna.
“I didn’t really take away any privileges,” said Small. “I had to keep her happy and that was my main focus.
“With those circumstances, you had to treat the situation as fragile, so any restrictions or anything too harsh would have carried her into a state of depression. So I just used to take her places like the beach; we would take part in all sorts of activities and I had to have those one on one conversations with her.”
Small said he also had to teach his pre-teen daughter about becoming an adolescent, though it could be awkward at times.
Small said he constantly tells Rashauna how important she is in order to maintain her self-worth.
The proud father said that when the results for the examination, commonly referred to as the 11-plus, were disclosed last Thursday he had no doubt that Rashauna was the top student.
“When her class teacher called me and told me to come down to the school and when I got here, I saw the headmistress had her holding and Rashauna was crying, I knew she had done it.
“I had to hold back my tears that day, ‘cause she gets over-emotional at times. It is so phenomenal to see how the Lord restored her and kept her on the right path,” the elated dad said.
Rashauna’s brother passed away in June and her mother died eight days before her ninth birthday on Wednesday, August 24. During that year, she underwent surgery for her eyes after a glass bottle broke and pieces of glass were found in both eyes.
Moved by her story, the founders of Youth Spotlight Development Project Charitable Trust, Randy Eastmond and Kevin Watson, who is also an alumnus of the St Thomas school, decided to collaborate with members of other organisations to surprise Rashauna.
Yesterday, she was given two certificates of excellence and donations. Later, she will receive uniforms compliments of the Parkinson Memorial School, while The Eden Lodge Youth Charitable Trust will also donate school supplies and pay any associated school fees.
On graduation day she will be given a special plaque from the Youth Spotlight Development Project Charitable Trust, which, in association with the operations manager of Blue Horizon Hotel, is granting her and 17 classmates free passes for a day at the poolside of the Christ church resort. (SB)