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‘Mod Sec’ becomes ‘Top Sec’

By Cecily Asson Friday, October 12 2012

click on pic to zoom in
SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: Kavan Ramnath, National Additional Scholarship winner, receives a trophy fromSan Fernando Central Secondary School Principal, Mrs ...
SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: Kavan Ramnath, National Additional Scholarship winner, receives a trophy fromSan Fernando Central Secondary School Principal, Mrs ...

Principal of San Fernando Central Secondary School, Farial Ali, had much to celebrate yesterday when she honoured five of her students, who won national scholarships, during the school’s 50th anniversary graduation and prize-giving ceremony.

She sang the praises of Apphia Knutt who won an Open scholarship in Modern Studies making her one of only two students in the island to receive the award, and additional scholarship winners Kavan Ramanath (Maths), Shanz Narine (Environmental Science) Navada Ramdass Singh (Science) and Rachael Sookdeo (Science).

It was a far cry from last year when Ali publicly criticised students for lacking discipline during her principal’s report at a graduation ceremony. Back then, in her first year as principal, Ali said the Central Secondary was as bad as a junior secondary school where she once worked, and had seized knives, scissors and weapons.

Speaking to Newsday after yesterday’s ceremony, Ali admitted that within the last academic year, the culture at the school, located at Todd Street, San Fernando, had changed, and students have become more focused on learning, and achieving.

“There has been lots of improvement at the school. There is a change in the culture, there is a focus on teaching and learning. And students are more involved in extra curricular activities. All of this and the change in teaching and learning contributed to the holistic development of the child,” she said.

Ali has become well known for standing up for her convictions. Back in 2002, when she was principal of ASJA Girls’ College, Ali made headlines as a result of her confrontation with members of the ASJA Board. She was among staff locked out of the school by the ASJA board when they protested against problems at the school. In her principal’s report yesterday, she urged other students to emulate the successes of the five scholarship winners.

“We also thank Almighty God for giving you students the opportunity to attend this prestigious school. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, and awarding those who have excelled.

“We wish to inspire and motivate the rest of the student population to achieve excellence in the future.”

Ali went on to tell the scholarship winners, “You have all made us proud in elevating your school to one of the top performing government secondary schools. Our success can be attributed to the hard work and commitment of both staff, and students.”

Other reasons for success, she added, included perseverance, and students applying themselves to the task at hand, and most of all “elevating yourself.”

Ali told the students that gold medals were not really made of gold. “They are made of sweat, determination, concentration, and the will to learn,” she stated.

“Just as Keshorn Walcott brought a gold medal to Trinidad and Tobago in the Olympics, we are proud of Apphia Knutt who brought this school an Open scholarship in Modern Studies category. This is the first time one of our students have attained an Open scholarship in that category.

“Congratulations Apphia for achieving this without extra lessons.”

The school has been attracting students, Ali told Newsday and parents are now rushing to have their children enrolled. This was supported by schools supervisor III Clare Telemaque, who also addressed the students. She said her office was bombarded every day for transfers to the school.

Feature speaker Wendy Nobie called on students to adopt zero tolerance on things that are negative in order to achieve. The theme for yesterday’s function was “Excellence produces diligence.”

Speaking to her attentive audience which included parents and guardians, Nobie said, “Have zero tolerance on negativity, because if you keep on being negative, you are not going to succeed.” It was important to develop such attitude as the system in Trinidad and Tobago was designed for failure, Nobie remarked.

She asked, “Do you know that we have a system that is designed for failure, and I make no apology for saying so. Things come in your way to prevent you from being successful. A lot of us are carrying along with us a lot of baggage from childhood that stops us from being successful, and stops us from loving ourselves.” Nobie then said, “It is important to be okay with yourselves. The biggest thing is fear, fear of not succeeding.”

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