TVJ's Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz: The final question - Mona Prep, Friendship Primary face off for title again
The battle lines have been drawn. Arch-rivals Mona Preparatory and Friendship Primary schools will square off for the second year straight in the finals of the much-anticipated Television Jamaica's (TVJ) Junior School Challenge Quiz competition.
When The Gleaner visited both schools last Friday, students and school administrators were upbeat about the showdown set for tomorrow at 6 p.m. at TVJ's studios on Lyndhurst Road in St Andrew.
Carol Blanchard, principal at Mona Preparatory School, located on Hope Road in St Andrew, said the spirit in the camp was good as the team was working well together and preparing for the encounter.
"The school has a fairly young team, but I think the spirit of Mona Prep is ingrained in their preparations, which make them fairly comfortable, but a match is played on the day, and there can only be one winner," the educator said.
"I also want to congratulate Friendship Primary School for making it to the finals. Jamaican teachers - both in the public and private sector - have been giving their all to the continued development of our students. Numerous skills are developed through this competition, and it is a serious commitment when you look at all the schools that participate. TVJ has made a phenomenal investment in the future of our nation, which has significant benefits to our education system," she added.
HAPPY TO BE IN FINAL
Lakhranie Suckoo, one of the coaches at Mona Preparatory, said that having won the championships four times, they are doing their best to prepare the team.
"We are very happy to be in the finals once again this year. Our aim and goal was to get to the finals, being that we are defending champions. It's a knockout competition, so if you lose before the finals, you are gone," Suckoo said.
Eleven-year-old Ashley James is the captain of the Mona Prep quiz team. This is her second year on the team, and she is optimistic about their chances in the finals.
"We feel good about our achievement. The team is excited to have made it this year, and we look forward to playing Friendship, and we are going for the win. We have worked hard all year, and the only hurdle we have left is to bring back the championship trophy this year," James said.
The members of the team, including reserve players, are James, Janae Lewis, Courtnegail Rose, Akeelah Hutchinson, Ajani Mighty, Andrew Coleman, Cyenna Taylor, Jazmin Mignott, and Milano Williams.
Nero Christian, another of the coaches at Mona Prep, noted that the composition of the team is primarily female this year, while last year, it was comprised mainly boys.
"The dynamics of the team is different with females. The boys tend to have a natural aggression to competition, while the girls, we have to train them to demonstrate the kind of aggression needed to win a match. We expect stiff competition from Friendship Primary as we were both finalists last year and they have been playing well this year," Christian said.
EXPECTING A TOUGH CHALLENGE
Jo'vonte Witter, captain of the Friendship Primary School team, said they are expecting a tough challenge from Mona Prep.
"We practise every day, and we are ready for the encounter. We have very long days and nights; however, we are all very happy that we are in the finals and extremely confident going up against Mona," Witter said.
Mark Taylor, one of the coaches of Friendship Primary, is elated that they have made it to the finals for the second year in a row.
"This achievement shows that the students are dedicated to the task. This is a big achievement for us, knowing that we have taken a brand-new team into the finals for the second year. This team has character and is not daunted by any deficit. They proved this in the semi-final when they came from six points down - with less than a minute left - to win," Taylor said.
Collington Powell, principal of the Spanish Town, St Catherine-based Friendship Primary, said that he expects his young charges to
take home the championship trophy this year.
"It is not just wishful thinking. This team is twice as good as the team we had last year. The preparation has been intense, and the team is extremely hungry for the win," he said.
Powell said that the team being in the finals has brought pride and joy to the community.
"It has done so much for the school as a brand as well as the wider community. We feel good to be able to pass on this level of pride to our local stakeholders. The students spent a lot of time getting the material in. It won't be the same as last year as this team is more prepared and rounded than the one last year," he said.
The members of the Friendship Primary School quiz team, including reserves, are Witter, Amonique Davey, Malachi Maxwell, Ahmaal Wright, Lianna Williams, Odane Clarke, Tashari Thompson, and Mykalia Peak.
This is the fourth year that Friendship Primary has entered TVJ's Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz and the second year that it has made it to the finals.
Friendship Primary defeated St Richard's Primary School in the semi-final round, 29-25, to book a spot in the finals, while Mona Prep defeated St Jude's Primary School, 23-21, to claim their finals berth.