A queen in town
A queen overcomes Garvey's curse of Borobridge, heads to university to study international relations
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
BOROBRIDGE, St Ann:ACCORDING TO a little-known story, national hero Marcus Garvey had cursed Borobridge, a town on the St Ann-Clarendon border, after a member of the community had offended him when he was travelling through.
As the story goes, because of the offence (which might have taken the form of a verbal abuse), Garvey stated that no one from the community would come to any good.
Seventy-four years after Garvey's death in London in 1940, one resident believes that she has indeed risen from the community to become 'something good', with much further for her to rise.
The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) St Ann Festival Queen for 2014, Sharlene Codner, hails from the community that hardly anything happens for or in.
But at just 18 years old, her résumé speaks volumes.
From Borobridge, Codner rose to become head girl at Knox College, from which she graduated earlier this year.
Codner was on the Knox College team that won the 38th United Nations Model Assembly last year, from a field of 25 participating schools, which debated the issue of debt crisis and indebtedness.
In 11th grade, Codner sat 10 subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level and gained six grade one and four grade two passes.
At the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations level, she sat four subjects and emerged with two grade one and two grade two passes.
Codner entered the JCDC St Ann Festival Queen contest 2014 and was duly crowned queen, and at 18 years old, was the youngest entrant in the national finals. She finished first runner-up in the final competition.
"I was most culturally aware, and that was my strong area at parish level and also going into the national finals because it consists of 40 per cent of the total marks," Codner told Rural Xpress.
She attributes this to, among other things, her reading a great deal, her interest in journalism and international relations; her time spent in the debating club and also the journalism club, of which she was president.
Later this year, Codner will head to the University of the West Indies to study international relations.
"So yes, I believe that I have defied the curse," Codner said. "I like to tell people that it's no longer true because I'm from Borobridge."
Looking back at her last major achievement - her runner-up position in the national festival queen finals - Codner described the experience as positive.
"It was very good," she said. "It was enlightening for me, especially that I'm so young, because it exposed me to a lot. It was a learning experience."
Codner was one of three students on the Knox debating team encouraged by their coach to enter festival queen competitions and she emerged the best placed.
"He encouraged all three of us, but only two of us were old enough. My teammate was second runner-up in Manchester, while I won in St Ann and was first runner-up in the national finals."
"I had exams, so I wasn't sure I wanted to enter at first, and it was really hard at the beginning," she added. "But after I won, I realised it was probably one of the best decisions I had ever made."
Codner also had kind words for the contest itself.
"Before I entered, I knew that the competition, in my opinion, was kind of better than the other pageants because it allowed for cultural expressions and was not only about how you look. It allowed intellectual expressions and appreciation for Jamaica."
Her second-place finish in Kingston represented a continuation of good results for the parish of St Ann in the contest and was good news for JCDC parish organiser Wentlin Mantle.
"It definitely made us proud," Mantle admitted. "We're very proud of her achievement, and we were looking forward to her in the top three. I told her that she should be in the top three, no less than the top three, and for her to do so well, we are very proud of her, and I know that her school is proud of her, her parents also, not to mention the JCDC."
St Ann won the title in 2009 and again in 2012 and Mantle attributed the good showing to the trainers who, he said, always do a good job of grooming the young ladies for the national finals.