Thu | Nov 15, 2018

A mother's choice rewarded - Wolmer's Prep student beats heart surgery to get Gleaner GSAT county award

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Christopher Barnes (centre), managing director of the Gleaner Company (Media) Limited; Robert Hart (second left), acting editor-in-chief and Nordia Craig (second right) manager, business development and marketing celebrate with The Gleaner's 2018 GSAT scholars. From left are: Sevaun McKenzie of Maverley Primary and Junior High, Jamie Crooks of Bethel Primary and Junior High, and Ashleigh Jarrett of Wolmer's Preparatory; and Shereen Ridgard (right), mother of Justin Ridgard of Tomlinson's Christian Academy, who was unable to attend awards luncheon at The Gleaner's North Street offices in downtown Kingston yesterday.

At five months old, doctors had limited hope that Ashleigh Jarrett would stay alive. She was, however, fortunate to have been able to visit Florida to have open heart surgery. Today, she is among The Gleaner's Spelling Bee 2018 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) County Scholarship recipients.

Jarrett is the recipient for the county of Surrey after receiving an average of 99.6 per cent and gaining a place at the Immaculate Conception High School in St Andrew.

Speaking at the scholarship ceremony, which was held at The Gleaner's head offices in downtown Kingston, yesterday, Jarrett said that a huge part of why she works so hard is because her future ambition is to become a cardiologist.

"When I was young, I had to do a heart surgery, and I don't think I would be here if it wasn't for a cardiologist," she said.

Her mother, Andrea Jarrett, indicated that she had to choose between losing her child and finding the resources to take her to Florida.

"She did an open heart surgery at five months old. The doctors actually thought that she would not make it. The surgery wasn't available in Jamaica at that time, so we had to take her to Florida," Jarrett's mother recounted.

"Somehow, she ended up not getting on the list (at Bustamante Children's Hospital). So, it was either not make it, or go to Florida. She's good now. We do a [regular] check-up [and] we are now down to every two years."

Jamie Crooks, the recipient from Cornwall, showed the audience that he was not only a 'bookworm', but that he rapped and sang while speaking about his GSAT experience at the luncheon. He will be moving on to the Herbert Morrison Technical High School in St James with an average of 97.9 per cent.

Crooks indicated that he was very happy that he received the school of his choice.

"Herbert Morrison is a good school as it has all the resources that I need to accomplish my goals," he told the gathering.

Justin Ridgard, the recipient from Middlesex, was unable to attend the luncheon as he was taking part in his graduation exercise. He moves on to the Wolmer's Boys School in Kingston with an average of 92. 7 per cent.

The Editor's Scholarship went to Sevaun McKenzie, who will attend Kingston College. A lover of history, he has his eyes set on becoming an archaeologist. McKenzie's average was 91 per cent.

Sasha Kaye Kemble contributed to this story.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com