Eleven-year-old Merci Pierre has not yet stepped foot into The Alexandra School but has already lived up to its motto – ‘through difficulties to the stars’.
Pierre emerged as one of the top students at the All Saints Primary School in the May 8 Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, commonly referred to as the 11-plus. She scored 88 in English and 89 in Mathematics, with an ‘A’ in Composition.
However, the road to success wasn’t an easy one for Merci. Exactly six months before she took the 11-plus, her world turned upside down after she tragically lost her father.
In November 2017, Merci’s dad, 38-year-old police constable Wallace Greenidge, disappeared from the sea rocks in the area of the Animal Flower Cave, St Lucy after fishing with a friend. Greenidge’s lifeless body was recovered a few days later, but up to now his fishing partner has never been found.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, Merci said her father’s death had a huge impact on her life, especially in the lead up to the most important exam in primary school.
“Losing my dad was entirely difficult for me. My dad attended all my events at school and he tried to do everything for me and be a big part of my life. I got most of my help from my mum and I am really thankful for her. Since my father died, it was really hard for me to catch up with my school work. After he died, I missed an entire week of school, so then my teachers and friends at school also helped me,” she explained.
Pierre will follow in her father’s and aunt’s footsteps come September when she enters the gates of the Queen’s Street institution.
“At first I felt sad because I wanted to go to another school, but then I felt happier because my marks were good. I want to join the girls’ football or basketball team and drama club. I think of being a lawyer or forensic scientist because I’m good at getting people to tell the truth,” she remarked.
The ambitious 11-year-old enjoys the support of her two aunts, Ashley and Charlene Garnes, who are proud of her achievements to date.
“Merci is very dear to us and that would have increased more so as our brother passed away. We want her to feel a part of us because she is our blood. Merci is a gem. Pride is the only real word that I can find to use when I look at Merci because it cannot be easy. When I look at her and I see that she is still excelling in school and doing her best, I feel great. I think her mum is doing a wonderful job,” Ashley said.
For Charlene, being a huge support system for her niece is simply honouring her brother’s final wish.
“Before my brother passed, he said to me, ‘I want you and Ashley to play more of a role in Merci’s life.’ At the time. I didn’t think much of it and we didn’t have much of a relationship because we didn’t see each other a lot. But it meant a lot to me that he asked me that. I shared it with my sister and since then we started to spend more time together. We see her as a daughter so we try to do our best to make him proud and do what he would have wanted for her if he were here,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org