Students recognised for top essays
"There couldn't be a more perfect day to recognise the winners of the second annual Rita Marley Foundation (RMF) Essay Competition than International Reggae Day," said Amina Blackwood-Meeks as she welcomed guests to the awards ceremony held at the multifunctional room at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, on Wednesday morning.
Several students from five high schools across the island, along with their teachers, attended the ceremony, and although they gathered to hear the announcements, they were treated to much more. The teenagers were celebrated for their academic excellence, the judges beaming with pride as they spoke about the quality of work produced by the 2015 entrants.
In their essays, the students responded to the question, "If you are selected to address world leaders on behalf of the youth, what would be your message and why?"
Expressing how difficult the judging was this year Dr Donna Hope, cultural analyst, senior lecturer and director of the Institute of Caribbean studies and the Reggae Studies Unit at the UWI, said she was proud of how well the students were able to express themselves.
"The youth are doing well," she said. "So many issues came up in these essays and it shows that the youth are not only aware of what is happening in society, but are able to articulate it as well."
The entries were judged by an experienced panel comprising Hope, Beverley Lashley, Vernon Derby, and Rita Marley. Wolmer's Boys' School, William Knibb High, York Castle High, Marcus Garvey High and Haile Selassie High were the schools represented in the competition.
When the announcements were made, Nastassia Grossett of William Knibb High emerged the winner. Her schoolmate, Nasstassia Linton, accepted on her behalf. Grossett's essay will be published in the Rita Marley Foundation newsletter, Harambe.
Antonio Hall and Shakera Duncan from York Castle High came second and third, respectively. Aldaine Walters of Wolmer's Boys School was awarded fourth place. They received trophies and medals for their efforts.
Semi-finalists Shenelle Dias and Swayne Josephs of Marcus Garvey High, Takeen Evens of Haile Selassie, and Keanu Solan, and Mickhail Williams of Wolmer's Boys were also recognised.
Rita Marley, who participated in the ceremony via Skype, shared how much literacy means to her organisation.
"The RMF is committed to working with the youth to make them strong, to empower them, and writing empowers," she said. "Without education, there will be no liberation, and we need to be a liberated race, and that can only be obtained through education."
She thanked her daughters and the manager at the RMF, Rosemary Duncan, for their work within the organisation.