As the shot to begin the race rang out through the arena and runners took off, their classmates were running alongside the track cheering them on.
“You can do it!” they screamed. “Run! Run! Run!”
Hundreds of children and adults lined the bleachers and sidelines of the A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds during the Division A Inter Primary School Competition last Thursday.
Umbrellas protecting onlookers filled the bleachers as vendors sold food and other items in surrounding areas.
“We have seen some keen competition from all the schools,” meet director Dean Greenaway said on Thursday afternoon. “This is something they look forward to each year.”
The display of sportsmanship, which was part of this year’s Education Week activities, was the first since Hurricane Irma, Mr. Greenaway explained, adding that many students had been eagerly awaiting this year’s competition.
Together with the Department of Education, the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports put the event together.
Althea Scatliffe Primary School took home first place that day, scoring 151 points more than the runner-up, Francis Lettsome Primary. Willard Wheatley Primary finished third, just ahead of Ebenezer Thomas Primary.
Division B schools competed the day before, with Joyce Samuel Primary winning overall with 477 points. The tie for second place was close: Pelican Gate School topped Leonora Delville Primary by just two points. Close behind were Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary and Ivan Dawson Primary.
Other Education Week events included the Talent Extravaganza and Opening Ceremony on March 10 at the H. Lavitty Stout Community College, where Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley — the minister of education, culture, youth affairs, fisheries and agriculture — took the podium.
“Excellence is inherent in us all,” he said. “We all have power and potential to change our prescribed futures.”
The theme of Education Week this year was “Be Disciplined. Achieve Excellence.” This was the main message in Dr. Wheatley’s speech, where he encouraged students to practise good habits of attending school regularly, reviewing notes, completing assignments and keeping up with teachers in each subject by reading ahead.
Dr. Wheatley also called upon teachers to be prepared each day with a full lesson plan to ensure the growth of students.
Also last week, Elmore Stoutt High School students won the Inter Secondary School Debate Finals on March 13 at Althea Scatliffe Primary. The competition began in early February with participation from most secondary schools.
“Debates are an important part of the democratic process and we need much more in our society,” said Dr. Wheatley, who was in attendance. “We need to teach our young people skills such as critical thinking, information literacy skills, and how to deal with conflict. And based on what I see here today, we are on the right track.”
Education Week also included a teacher exchange among primary and secondary schools on March 12, and an open house at all public schools on Friday.