Friendly competition leads to ultimate success
It was some friendly competition that kept 12-year-old Kamoya Russell and Shaneya Freebon at the top of their classes while at the Providence Preparatory School in Lyssons, St Thomas, and later secured their places at their schools of choice.
Come September, Kamoya, with an average of 97.2 per cent, will be attending the St Hugh's High School, and Shaneya, 95.3 per cent, will be attend Ardenne High.
Comfortably seated under a tree in the schoolyard and reminiscing on more challenging times, the girls giggled at how they remained friends despite the obvious competition.
"When classes were separate, my other friend and I would always compete for the top, but when the classes were combined, Shaneya came in and started just ruling over everything. So we were competing with her, but she didn't know yet," Kamoya said, making Shaneya laugh.
Continuing, she said: "In grade six, we started to make friends with her and told her about the whole competition and how we were racing her for the spot of valedictorian. We would compare our exam grades. Sometimes we even made bets!"
Sharing her side of the story, Shaneya told The Gleaner that when she first heard of their plot to outshine her, she was a bit scared because she knew that they were smart.
"But after a while, I started talking to them, hanging with them, and they weren't that bad, actually, so we became friends," she said.
The two girls admitted that they motivated each other to work harder and always do their best.
"And finally, in GSAT, I beat Shaneya! I was so excited! My mother was literally screaming in my ears when I called to tell her that I'm valedictorian. She knew of Shaneya because I would always talk about her, but she would encourage me not to compare myself to others and focus on my grades, and this year, I get to carry the torch!" Kamoya exclaimed.
In noting that the girls, who have been attending the institution since kindergarten, consistently exemplify the school's motto, 'Doing our Best to be the Best', Principal Franklyn Holness explained that the 'torch' is actually a founder's trophy that is passed on from the top-performing GSAT student to the most outstanding grade-five achiever each year.
Shaneya received the coveted trophy while in grade five and will be handing it to Kamoya to carry into this year's graduation.
"To me, the torch signifies always doing our best and keeping our flames burning bright. I felt really happy for her when she got valedictorian because I knew she really wanted to be on top and that she worked very hard. I got a chance to bring the torch in grade five. I got the experience, and now, it's her time to shine," Shaneya said as she smiled at her friend.