Students from several primary schools across the island will gather over the weekend to witness their peers receive awards for outstanding performances over the past year.
The National Primary School Awards ceremony has become one of the most anticipated events of the academic year for some educational institutions since its inception by parent Ricardo Marshall.
“It was through the success of my daughter some four years ago – she would have obtained three scholarships all in medicine – I thought that I could have inspired [others],” he told Barbados TODAY.
Marshall coordinates the awards in collaboration with a team of five principals, and students are judged in a number of categories, which comprise academia as well as other areas such as the environment and spirituality.
Principal of the Lawrence T. Gay Primary School Beverley Parris, who is on the planning committee, said the awards have served as a morale booster for the students. At her school, only Class Four students are eligible to participate.
“The very first year that we took part, the school won at least two of the general awards…and once we have something like that we ‘big it up’,” she said.
“It has done a lot. We find that persons are looking forward to it, because even yesterday a young man came and asked me to remind me when it is…and he’s not even a Class Four student.”
Parris had high praise for Marshall’s initiative, which she said was critical for the development of young minds.
“I like the fact that someone who is not an educator, who recognizes the relevance of education, is giving back. Because he could have well said ‘my daughter has succeeded, so who cares? I don’t have to care about anybody else’. That selfless attitude, I think something like that should be applauded,” she said.
The awards started with only four schools, and now into its fifth year, 60 primary institutions are participating in the event. Marshall is also hoping that even more institutions will sign up.
“I must say that the principals have accepted me so much that I really feel a part of [them]… and I am very thankful for that, and I will continue to put my best foot forward in terms of this programme to make sure the children are exposed to something like this, that in my opinion will only enhance them, make them feel good about themselves.
“In my opinion, there is nothing like a child feeling good about what they’re doing, and encouraging a child through things that you do….Then they could also encourage their peers,” Marshall said.
In one example of how children encourage their peers, Parris shared the story of a former student who was awarded for his contribution to preserving the environment at the school last year, which led to students creating environment “police”.
“This boy actually did up the list and they would come on mornings, he would come and get the gloves and they would go around the school and pick up every piece of garbage. They had a team for morning, there was one for break and there was one for lunch,” the principal explained.
“And then they started fining people. When they saw people dropping [garbage] they started fining people for dirtying the environment. He was really keen. At the time it started he was in Class One, and he did that from Class One to Class Four.”
The National Primary School Awards will be held at Kensington Oval on Sunday.