The newly minted “This is JamaicaThe scholarship competition was a resounding success in its first year, as ten students from eight parishes were awarded for their poetic skills in a poem about their country.
Created to help students explore poetry as an educational building block, the scholarship competition is the brainchild of Peter Gracey, who wanted Jamaican students to “express themselves freely through poetry”. The competition was open to applicants aged 6-18, attending elementary or secondary school in Jamaica. Students were asked to recite the poem “This is Jamaica,” written by Mr. Gracey.
Over 200 entries were received, with 79 students submitting their own creative video interpretations of the poem. The judges then chose the top ten from which the bottom three received the main prize of US $ 1,000.00 and tablets to help with the school. The first place received $ 500.00, while the second and third were awarded $ 300.00 and $ 200.00 respectively. Each of the other ten finalists received $ 50.00 each.
Courtney Greaves of Jessie Ripoll Elementary School took first place, Gabrielle Buckley of Balaclava Elementary School finished second and Shadecia Dinnall of Central Village High School took third.
Greaves, in a written statement to Caribbean National Weekly, said, “This is Jamaica, and the Peter Gracey Foundation has changed my life. With this, I will continue to do my best to represent the foundation as an ambassador. This scholarship gave me the encouragement and motivation to pursue my goals as a pediatrician and ultimately Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Gabrielle Buckley was also grateful and kind. “It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the This is Jamaica Scholarship Organization for giving us children the chance to show our love for Jamaica and to express ourselves by performing this beautiful poem.”
Scholarship Ambassador Dr Oliver Samuels, King of Comedy of Jamaica, praised the program’s creation, students and execution. “I have met some amazing people and I want to congratulate everyone who participated. It was an incredible competition. Some say it should be the national poem. It is national and I hope the schools will take care of it and give the children a sense of pride. The comedian said: “It is a great, a great pleasure to recite this poem and I feel great pride.” Continuing in his natural “Jamaican language” he said, “Look over here Jamaica I know I’m sick and it’s easy to heal, and if you speak this poem it will be something that will completely change your mind. . “
Consul General Oliver Mair, in his endorsement of the scholarship competition, said: “It is the Jamaican Poetry Scholarship that is very important as we want to make sure we have the next Fae Ellington, Blakka Ellis, Oliver Samuels, Chris Daley and Maas Ron. We have so many shining examples of excellence in theater.
With this year’s success, the organizers and sponsors have pledged to increase the cash prize from $ 1,350.00 to $ 6,500.00 for the 2022 edition. This would make it one of the top schools contests. in Jamaica with direct benefits for students.
The competition was supported by the Kiwanis Club of Lauderhill, the Jamaican Diaspora Task Force (JDTAN) Action Network, the Dr Andrea Thorpe Foundation, The Real Credit Deal (title sponsor) and the Jamaica Teachers Association.