Sat | Aug 8, 2020

PEP delight! - Ten-year-old aces exams to secure place at Calabar High

Published:Saturday | June 27, 2020 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Students of St Michaels Primary School jump for joy (from left) Deshawn Daley, Nyheesha Barrett, Ricquan Wright and Tishawna McKain, moments after receiving their Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam results yesterday at the school.

TEN-YEAR-OLD RICQUAN Wright never sat in a grade-five class at St Michael’s Primary School.

He exuded confidence and displayed a brilliant work ethic that propelled his teacher to recommend that he sit the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams, a year earlier.

“I said to Mrs McPherson, the principal, ‘Let us allow him to do the exams. If he stays, he’s gonna be wasted’,” his teacher, Camecia Vassell, recounted.

With an almost perfect score in the Ability Test, Ricquan earned a place at Calabar High School.

“It was nerve racking. We were studying and doing a lot of work from the start so to see that I have made it, I am glad,” the elated student shared.

Owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, all components of PEP were not administered.

Sixth-graders were assessed using the Grade Four Numeracy and Literacy exams sat in 2018, the grade-five Performance Task exams of 2019, and the Ability Test done in February this year.

Students were placed based on a weighting of 30 per cent for grade four, 20 per cent for grade five while 50 per cent was attributed to grade six.

The youngster was not perturbed when he learnt of that development. “I knew that if I did a good job [on the Ability Test], I would make up for missing that school term.”

“My family is a smart family because all of my siblings went to their school of choice, so I get the smartness from them,” he remarked.

He credited his success partly to his parents who limited his time on electronic devices and helped him to balance academics and the wide range of extracurricular activities he was involved in.

Wright’s grade-six teacher was overwhelmed with tears when she received the results of her 45 students, 80 per cent of whom were placed in the ranks of highly proficient and proficient.

“I run a very tight programme, so we are here seven days and we begin at seven o’ clock in the morning. There is a charge for extra classes but I don’t normally get paid because these children cannot afford it,” she said of the sacrifices she made for the students.

Vassell recalled how the students often said she was hard on them and she would always affirm them by saying:“When you’re poor, this is what is going to take you out – education,” she said before breaking down in tears.

Expected top choice

With a placement at Immaculate Conception High School, Grace-Ann Bailey emerged the top-performing female student at Vaz Preparatory School.

“I was very excited. I felt I did fairly well in the exam, so I expected to get my top choice,” she told The Gleaner.

The education ministry reported that eighty per cent of the 39,689 grade-six students exiting the primary-school system were placed in one of their preferred high schools.

Bailey said exam preparations were challenging but as the time drew closer, she got more comfortable.

“I studied hard, practised and did things in between to relax and calm myself. I love to draw and sometimes I would dance and sometimes I would just lie down,” she recalled.

Bailey hopes to settle in well at Immaculate Conception and produce academic excellence throughout her high school years.

Vaz Preparatory principal, Karlene Bisnott, said she anticipated that Bailey and Tehran Powell would emerge top female and male, respectively.

“They just proved us true. We’ve identified our top 10 and the 10 students are students who have over the years been steadily working well so we are not surprised,” she shared.