Thanks to Sarah Downes, Hillaby Turner’s Hall Primary has earned a place at the top of the island’s education map.
The 11-year-old prefect is one of the top performers in English in this year’s Common Entrance Examination.
Her raw scores of 98 in English and 91 in Mathematics translated into 246.48 overall and assured her a place at Queen’s College.
A reserved Sarah told Barbados TODAY she was not sure what career path she wanted to pursue. However, the St Thomas resident, who enjoys drawing and reading in her spare time and who is also actively involved in athletics and netball, said she always tried to give of her best.
“I knew that if I tried my best I would make my school proud,” she said.
Sarah’s mother, Shameeza Bacchus, said she was at home doing her “normal chores” when she heard the news about her daughter’s performance on the radio.
“I stopped what I was doing. I called the school and I realized something big was going on here,” the proud mother said.
She described her daughter as a very disciplined child, who works very hard and gives her best at all times.
“At this moment I am very proud. Not only for her, but for Hillaby Turner’s Hall School because when she goes to camp and children ask, ‘where do you go to school?’, a lot of people want to know where is that. Some people don’t even know that there is a school by the name of Hillaby Turner’s Hall, so at least she has put Hillaby on the map for a little while,” added Bacchus.
Principal Angela Edwards agreed that the school should get some welcomed recognition due to Sarah’s performance in English.
“She will be an example for the others to come. She will be motivation because once we have got the school on the map we will have to keep it on the map. So definitely Sarah will be motivation for the others [to come],” the principal said.
Describing Sarah as a hardworking, ambitious and focused student, Edwards said she knows exactly what she wants and is prepared to go after it. Edwards went on to highlight her outstanding performances in school quizzes and other extracurricular activities, including playing of the steel pan.
Overall, she said the school had seen some improvement this year when compared to last year, pointing out that even though the Mathematics Paper was said to be challenging generally, her charges at that St Andrew learning institution “still managed it pretty well”.
“I am very happy for these students. I know the amount of work that they put in along with their teachers and I believe they have reaped success. I know some of them might not be pleased with their results, but I am pleased with the results because they have worked for whatever positions they have gotten,” she added.
Still the principal acknowledged the need for greater consistency in the performance of her Class 3 and Class 4 students and she is already thinking in terms of the adjustments needed to get her the desired results.
“I am going to make sure the person who teaches them in Class 3 carries them to Class 4, because I think that person would have enough time to know the students and really pull out the stops,” said Edwards, who has been principal at the rural school for the past two years.
Sarah’s teacher Eve Corbin, who has taught Class 4 for the past two years, described her as “a fantastic student”.
“You cannot find a student more determined, with more drive and with more will to succeed. I think I am perhaps just a vessel, because, on her own, she gets it done. She has it. And it has always been her dream to be at the top, so this is where she has always wanted to be and she worked for it,” said Corbin, who has been teaching at the school for the past ten years.
The elated teacher did not hold back her emotions over her student’s success.
“I felt like it was me. I know her and I know that is what she wants and she has worked for it. I think I am as equally excited or even a little more than she is,” she told Barbados TODAY, revealing that Sarah was aiming to be the top performer in the island.
“I think Queen’s College better brace themselves. Here comes Sarah Downes,” added Corbin.
Meantime, head boy Josiah Grannum is headed to Harrison College. He received a total score of 235.37 with a B in Composition, contributing to the school’s overall pride.
The aspiring engineer, who lives in Christ Church, said he was very happy, while joining with Sarah in encouraging all students to do their best at all times.
A total of 51 students at Hillaby Turner’s Hall sat this year’s exam.