Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
TITCHFIELD, Port Antonio:THE QUARTET comprising three males and a female has distinguished itself among the ranks of past academic achievers at Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, Portland, and based on the students' 'swagga', they are destined for greater things.
Eighteen-year-old upper-sixth-form student, Kimone Vassell, her compatriots of same age, Henkel Valentine, Nedley Campbell, and head boy and captain of the historic Schools' Challenge Quiz team, Trevaughn Walker, have excelled in academia and co-curricular activities.
Their act of determination and bravery propelled Titchfield to the final of the TVJ's 2011 Schools' Challenge Quiz, surpassing the school's previous best finish where it was knocked out at the semi-final round in 2009.
"Our friendship is undying. We are so close it is like we are a family closely knitted together," said Walker. "Kimone is the perfect blend, and she adapted well to the pressure and the rugged training sessions without complaining. Today, we are like heroes in our communities, and the respect and tributes are heart-warming. I believe we are a positive influence on youngsters, other students, and the underprivileged," added Walker.
Walker's comments come against the background of Titchfield's runner-up position in this year's Schools' Challenge Quiz final against Kingston College.
The students, who equipped themselves through rigorous training sessions with coach, Alpha Sparkes, starting training during the summer of 2010, are also grateful for the support from their parents, the school community, past students, and the various communities.
"We simply defied the odds. With limited resources, we still managed to make it to the final, and it goes to show that hard work is the key to success," said Sparkes. "Yes, there were many challenges, but the guys stuck it out through the intense training, which was compounded by the long hours. They had the entire school behind them, and as time went by, the support increased. I have no predictions for next year; however I must commend this (quiz) team," he continued.
And Principal Richard Thompson was quick to point out that the team members deserved all the accolades they received. He explained that a lack of adequate sponsorship might have hampered Titchfield's chances of claiming the coveted title, which would have been a first for Region 2.
"The way to the final was rugged," he said. "Yes, we had some practice games with other schools prior to the start of the quiz, so we knew exactly where we were, and how to pace ourselves. The difficulty, however, was the lack of sponsorship."
The principal said while there was good support from past students, support from the business community in Portland was limited.
"We are, however, proud to be the only school from this region to have achieved a runner-up spot," said Thompson.
Since the high-level performance from the quartet, residents of Buff Bay, Port Antonio, Saint Margaret's Bay, and Annotto Bay (in St Mary) have had high praises and commendations for their hometown heroes and achievers, who have been praised and referred to as "sirs", and "miss", with many youngsters wanting to idolise them.
"We are the heroes of our communities," said Campbell. "Just about every young person wants to be like us, and to appear on television. I am happy to have brought joy to their hearts."
Campbell, who acquired high grades in the 2009-2010 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) including grade 2 in biology, physics, and chemistry, along with grade 1 in building construction, grade 2 in architectural drawing, and grade 2 in biology in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams, is aspiring to be a forensic scientist in architecture.
The charming Vassell is thankful for the experience, which will go a far way in helping her in future endeavours. She boasts grade 1 in biology, English language, and human and social biology at CSEC, along with grade 1 in communication studies and grade 2 in biology at the CAPE level.
Head boy and team captain, Walker, secured grade 1 in math, English, chemistry, physics, and biology at CSEC, along with distinctions in chemistry, math, biology, communication studies, and physics in CAPE. His ambition is to become a medical doctor.
And Valentine, who acquired grade 1 in math, English, and human and social biology, information technology, and food and nutrition at CSEC - along with distinctions in chemistry, biology, and physics in CAPE - is pursuing a career as a biophysicist.
Together, the four have written their names into the pages of the history book at the Portland-based school, which is celebrating its 225th anniversary.