Hayley Wilson being named the 24th Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year (BPSSY) brought double the pride to her mom, Gillian Wilson. As a mother, Wilson described it as a wonderful feeling to witness firsthand one of her child’s dreams come true. And as principal at Summit Academy, she was doubly proud that her daughter brought the institution its first title in her final year. Hayley, 12, begins seventh grade at Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) today.
Wilson recalled a first grade Hayley who was probably six years old at the time, watching the student of the year on television and saying to her, “Mommy, I want to be student of the year.” She remembered telling her daughter how hard the children who receive the honor work. Since that day, Wilson said, Hayley focused on that goal.
Hayley made her dream a reality.
“When she sets her mind to something, she works incredibly hard until she achieves that goal. So, to see her receive that award, and knowing firsthand how hard she worked, it was just such a wonderful feeling,” said Wilson. She said she and her husband, Michael, were elated for their daughter.
In announcing Hayley as the 2020 primary school student of the year, the board of directors of the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation (BPSSYF) and the Nassau, Bahamas, Pan-Hellenic Council, in conjunction with the judges, described her as “a brave, kind, diligent, adventurous, well-balanced and resilient student”.
The pre-teen was selected from among 111 nominees. Raquell Stuart, a student at Queen’s College, was the first runner-up.
“For me to be primary school student of the year, it meant that out of all those amazing, talented students that I had to go against, they chose me to win, which I think meant that I was well-rounded and had good grades and was an active person in the community,” said Hayley.
She took home $7,000 in scholarship money. This year, the 2020 nominees shared in approximately $70,000 in scholarship and prizes as the BPSSYF saw its prize purse literally cut in half. The foundation usually offers between $140,000 and $190,000 in scholarship and prizes annually.
When Hayley heard her name announced as the newest BPSSY, the first thought she said she had was, “Wow! I won this for Summit Academy – that’s crazy!”, because no one else at Summit Academy had ever won student of the year award before.
At a young age, she has an impressive curriculum vitae.
The pre-teen volunteers with REACH (Resources and Education for Autism and Related Challenges), and established “Hayley’s Beading to Beat Autism” in 2016 as a means for creating awareness about the autism spectrum disorder. She has also worked to raise money for cancer awareness through Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
She’s no slouch academically either, and has been a 4.0 student since first grade and was the 2019/2020 head girl at Summit Academy and active in the institution’s scholastic chess club.
Hayley is active in Early Act Club (sponsored by Rotary Club of East Nassau) and Helping Hands Club (a charter club of Hands for Hunger). She’s a junior volunteer at St. Francis Catholic Church, and a member of the Lawrence Carroll Dance Academy.
She is a member of the 77th Nassau Girl Guides (a former Brownie of the year, Sixer and patrol leader). Throughout her years in Brownies, she achieved over 20 badges.
Additionally, she is involved in other extracurricular activities including art, music, dance, tennis and her church’s CCD program.
In her spare time, Hayley enjoys spending time with her three siblings Sara, Michael Jr. and Ryan, developing business ideas, baking, reading and watching classic movies. She is currently completing her website to launch a new business venture in the fall.
Having made history for Summit Academy, Hayley moves on to seventh grade at LCIS. She starts the new school virtually.
She said she’s excited and looking forward to the challenges in the work field that come with transitioning into a new school, and in a COVID-19 environment.
“Transitioning to Lyford might be a bit hard for me at first, but over time I think I’m going to eventually get into it. But I am really excited that I am able to go to a new school, because Summit is where I’m comfortable, and it’s what I know, and I think it’s time I go somewhere new,” she said.
Her primary school student of the year honor, she said, sets high standards for herself of what she can do and should accomplish as she transitions into seventh grade and going forward. And she said she’s excited to try out virtual learning again in a new school setting.
“I think I found virtual learning a rather easy transition for me, because it’s virtually what we’ve been doing, except we moved it online and [Summit], to not really stress out students, had cut back on hours for school, so instead of going 8:30 a.m. to 3:10, we went from 9 a.m. to the latest I think would be 2 p.m.”
In the new academic year at a new school, she said, the schedule will be different, but she’s excited to try it out and learn new things.
Hayley’s advice to her peers is to not stress themselves out.
“Don’t take on more than you can handle, because doing that is not good for you at all. Focus on your work, and then do whatever else you can. Get involved in extracurriculars that you know you can handle,” said Hayley.
The BPSSY has been recognizing talented sixth-grade students around The Bahamas since 1997. Since its inception, the foundation has presented approximately $1.8 million in scholarship and prizes, and recognized over 2,600 primary school students.
Wilson, a proud mom first, and proud principal, said Hayley’s win proves that Summit, a small school, provides excellent education for students that’s comparable with the more established schools. She said in the past five years, most of Summit’s candidates usually land in the top 10.
“We’ve always come so close, but to know we were actually able to win this year is just a wonderful morale booster,” said Wilson.
Summit is starting the year, September 7, online, virtually, which is something they changed recently. They had planned a staggered reopening at the end of August through the first week of September.
Wilson said their health and safety committee has agreed that they should at least for the first month go online, and then revisit at the end of the month, hoping to be back sometime in October.
PAST PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2019 – Lauren Scriven, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Primary, Abaco
2018 – Remington Minnis, Eva Hilton Primary, New Providence
2017 – Hanna Edomwonyi, Clara Evans Primary, Andros
2016 – Lila Nottage, Lyford Cay International School, New Providence
2015 – Samaiya Lundy, Sunland Baptist School, Grand Bahama
2014 – Donovan Butler, Xavier’s Lower School, New Providence
2013 – Lauryn Rolle, St. Thomas More Catholic Primary, New Providence
2012 – Nadja Simon, Genesis Academy, New Providence
2011 – Anna Albury, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2010 – Jared Fitzgerald, Xavier’s Lower School, New Providence
2009 – Khes Adderley, Temple Christian Schools, New Providence
2008 – James Boyce, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2007 – Taran Carey, Tarpum Bay Primary, Eleuthera
2006 – George Zonicle – Bahamas Academy Elementary, New Providence
2005 – Shirdat Jadoo, Maurice Moore Primary, Grand Bahama
2004 – Saul Salonga, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Grand Bahama
2003 – Tanielle Curtis, Sts. Francis & Joseph Catholic Primary, New Providence
2002 – Zachary Lyons, Queen’s College Primary, New Providence
2001 – Kenny Roberts, Spanish Wells All Age School, Eleuthera
2000 – Sasha Bain, Walter Parker Primary, Grand Bahama
1999 – Tiffany Moncur, Carmichael Primary School, New Providence
1998 – Andrea Moultrie, St. John’s Primary, New Providence
1997 – Vashit Darling, St. John’s Primary, New Providence