Top performers grateful for family and school support

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Three of the top 10 performing students in this year’s Grade Six National Assessment have all credited God, their own dedication to studies and the support of family, teachers and friends for their success.
Stephanie Archibald, who secured 374 marks out of 400 gave details on how she did it.
“I feel thankful that I was able to place top. I would read ahead so that I would have a general idea of the topics before they came so that I could understand them better. I would pay attention in class and complete all my assignments properly” but, she added, the preparation process was challenging “because we would have to study more and sacrifice sleep.”
Nevertheless, the 12-year-old indicated that she worked to maintain balance with her studies and recreation.
“I always had a balance between my school work and the things I enjoy, so I didn’t believe that just because I had
the national assessment I had to give up the fun things. I still enjoyed cooking and playing football,” she revealed.
Stephanie will be continuing her education at Baptist Academy, a private institution, although she earned a scholarship to attend the public Antigua Girls High School.
She said her hope is to continue working hard so that she can attend Cambridge University to major in languages.
As she prepares for the next journey, she is advising the upcoming Grade Six students “make sure they pay attention in class, complete all given assignments, get adequate rest and follow instructions.”
Stephanie’s two classmates, Chelsea Barlow and Tianna Bretney, tied with 370 marks to take the second spot in the rankings.
Eleven-year-old Barlow who describes herself “as a proud student of the Baptist Academy of Antigua,” said, “I have seen for many years the success of the Grade 6 students and I [decided] that I would be the number one student when my turn came. When I was in Grade 5 I told my parents that I wanted to be number one and they told me that I had to start working diligently.”
So, for the past two years, she dedicated her time to studying and now, it “feels amazing.”
She added, “I feel really great that I made my parents proud and my family members and teachers, and even my church members. At nights I would set aside special time just for studying and after that I would complete my homework assignments. I always begin and end my studies with prayers.”
The young student said apart from sacrificing a few hours of sleep, she gave up watching television and reduced her overall leisure time to focus on her goal.
“I felt comfortable a few weeks before the exam that I would reach my goal, and that was after most of the work calmed down and our teacher was reviewing [work] that we needed to know,” Chelsea indicated.
She said she’s “privileged to have the best principal in Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. Hensworth Jonas; the best grade six teacher in the Caribbean, Ms. Nadine Smith and loving and supporting parents.”
But, she’s especially thankful to her eight-year-old brother, Chikaede, who jumped at every opportunity to quiz her as soon as he was finished with his own work.
“When my teacher gave me tests and quizzes, when he was finished with his own he would come over and take the book from me and start reading out some of it and leaving out blanks so I would fill it in and he would say ‘good job’ and motivate me all the time,” Chelsea recalled.
Her parents also played their part in ensuring her schedule wasn’t just all work without play.
“My brother and I rode bikes, I played football and basketball and I read books, which are all my hobbies, and the football and basketball were extracurricular activities at school and
we had tournaments at school,” the young achiever remarked.
She said that along the journey it was important not to “stress” herself, to pray all the time, be grateful and eat a healthy breakfast – all of which she did even on the day of the examination.
And when she got anxious on the first day of the examination, motivation came, “when I went to school and I saw some of the students from the past grade six class, the form one students, they were encouraging us a lot – like Destiny and Zion – they were really encouraging.”
She will be continuing her education at the Baptist Academy.
Meanwhile, her best friend, Tianna Bretney, who is also 11-years-old and a student of Baptist Academy of Antigua, said that her ultimate goal going into the examination was to ace everything.
“To achieve that goal, I had to study very hard and burn the midnight oil. Some of the sacrifices I made to achieve my goal was giving up my phone and television and I reduced the time I spent with friends to study,” Tianna said.
In the end, she also came out second with 370 marks.
Tianna said that she had a core team of supporters that included “my principal, my parents, my teachers, my family and my friends.”
For her, setting a schedule proved useful because it helped her remain committed to the task.
“Apart from studying in school, I studied from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on school nights and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. While studying my school work I took breaks during the week, and proceeded with extra-curricular activities on weekends,” the elated girl told OBSERVER media from New York where she is currently on vacation with an aunt.
 And while juggling studies for the four subjects that students are tested on annually – Social Studies, Mathematics, English and Science – Tianna said she did not miss out on her hobbies.
“I enjoy shopping and baking with my aunt,” she said, when asked what she enjoys doing in her spare time.
Tianna said that she lives by the motto “Stay positive and you will be successful” and she concluded by cautioning that it’s also important for students to always “be attentive in class, complete all assignments given, stay positive, work hard an study.”

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