Jamaica Gleaner / Their resounding success and dominance of the Youth Gambling Prevention All-Island Poster Competition 2017 caught the Denham Town Primary School team by surprise, the members admitted in an interview at their 10 North Street, downtown Kingston, premises during a break from summer school on Thursday.
Two days earlier, they copped seven of the top 10 awards, sharing one with Immaculate Conception High School.
Patrick Frater and Shantae Dyer tied for first place with two separate entries, while Orane Forest took second place, and Sanshane White was fourth.
Guidance counsellor Mahalia Dennis-Edwards and her charges were still on a high after receiving their trophies and cash prizes at the awards ceremony at RISE Life Management Services, 57 East Street, Kingston.
“I was shocked, sir,” Patrick admitted in the presence of his schoolmates, who, for the most part, endorsed this sentiment.
“Ecstatic!” was Shantae’s response.
CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC Patrick went on to explain that while he was confident about the potential impact of his poster, there was still good reason to be cautiously optimistic.
“I do my work well enough, but so many schools entered, and I think someone else could have got first. So I am very surprised, sir,” he said.
The irony is that Dennis-Edwards had decided not to enter the competition this year based on the time constraints, as well as the pressure from graduation and end-of-year examination preparation. Still, they were able to beat back the entries from 12 schools – which submitted a total of 37 posters – from St James, St Catherine, Kingston, St Andrew, and St Ann.
“Along with the help of God, we did our research, and it came together in three weeks. I had said to my principal we not going to enter because we were kind of challenged because now, more than ever, things are happening, and so we have to deal with a lot of stuff,” Dennis-Edwards told The Gleaner .
“I actually went to a workshop, and I just heard the spirit say, ‘Why don’t you give the children a chance?’ And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And then I heard the voice again, and then it resonated in my head. So the next day, I said to the principal, ‘I am just going to get a few students and see where we go,’ and she said fine, and I said we would need material, and she said just tell her how much.”
…Teachers at inner-city schools work hard – guidance counsellor
Denham Primary School topping the Youth Gambling Prevention All-Island Poster Competition 2017 was quite surreal for guidance counsellor Mahalia Dennis-Edwards.
The value of the inner-city school’s victory was driven home by a comment Dennis-Edwards heard at the awards ceremony.
“Somebody asked you, how do you feel to know that a school from down there came first?” Dennis-Edwards recalled, sharing the fired-up response she did not offer at the time.
“It is important that we did win because people on the outside looking in, they don’t understand that we work really hard. As teachers, we work. Right now we have parents who, two evenings they were here with us until after seven the night working on posters. So we have parents who will chip in. We have other teachers who will. And the students, they will work very hard. So when we come against other schools, and they see that we come first, it is our hope that they’ll understand,” she told The Gleaner on Thursday at its 10 North Street, downtown Kingston, premises.
The lessons from the posters will be shared with others when they become part of a travelling exhibition hosted by the Jamaican Library Service, which will display them in some of its branches across the island.
FAILURE AND ACHIEVEMENTS Patrick Frater, who tied for first place with Shantae Dyer with two separate entries, summed up his poster this way: “My poster is about failure and achievements. On my poster, I have someone stealing, and then afterwards, the consequences come, and now he is in jail. And family guidance, it can lead to a better future.”
His teacher offered a little more insight into the poster, which was modelled off the popular Snakes & Ladder board game. “When it comes on to gambling and its effects, whatever you do that is related to gambling, the snake would give a bite and send you backwards. When you do the right thing – non-gambling related stuff – the ladder sends you upwards,” Dennis-Edwards said.
Shantae also explained her entry: “My poster was on gambling and its consequences and how good parenting can help to achieve doing the right thing. The sky’s the limit.”
Throughout the interview, though, it was the words of 10-year-old Shania Clemetson, whose entry copped the ninth-place award, that really resonated.
“Children must not gamble at all,” she said with serious conviction well beyond her years and in stark contrast to the gentleness of her voice.
This is the ninth year of the competition, which is sponsored by Supreme Ventures Ltd in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Host of the competition, RISE Life Management Services, operates the only Gambling Prevention, Treatment, Research and Responsible Gaming Programme in the Caribbean, which is sponsored by the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission.
TOP 10 PLACING 1. Patrick Frater and Shantae Dyer – Denham Town Primary
2. Orane Forrest – Denham Town Primary
3. Daijah-Leigh Wyatt – Immaculate Conception High
4. Sanshane White – Denham Town Primary
5. Odain Bryan – Bridgeport High
6. Candice Garwood, Soleil Graham – Immaculate Conception High
7. Kamryn Auld – Immaculate Conception High
8. Lianna Hylton – Denham Town Primary
9. Shania Clemetson – Denham Town Primary
10. Danielle Delgardo, Re-Anna Barclay, Mercedes Heywood – Immaculate Conception High; and Altino Standburey – Denham Town Primary