Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year (BPSSY) Jerlea R.L. Adderley, who was given sage advice ahead of the 2022-2023 academic school year that she did not want to keep to herself, but rather pay forward, shared the “nuggets of wisdom” with her peers during Youth Sunday service at All Saints Anglican Church.
Shona Knowles, Jerlea’s godmother, who is also the principal at Aquinas College where Jerlea has begun her seventh-grade year, penned a letter to the tween encouraging her to always making excellence a habit, to choose her friends wisely, and to always move and speak with confidence as she entered the new phase in her life.
Knowles also wrote to Jerlea to be a leader and not a follower, to run her own race, and to be the best version of herself that she can be, reminding her that manners and respect will take her places where money never will. Jerlea’s godmother reminded her that procrastination is the thief of all time and, when in doubt, to always ask questions.
The principal reminded Jerlea that everyone is fighting a battle and that there will always be people in her midst with different talents and abilities, but to always express love, respect and kindness to everyone around her; adding to not forget her Christian values, to trust in the Lord with all her heart, and to lean not on her own understanding.
Appreciating her godmother and now principal’s advice, Jerlea opted to share Knowles’ advice.
“We all know that anything worth having takes dedication and hard work. Just as the farmer prepares the field to plant seeds, waters the crop and reaps the harvest, my prayer is that this academic year yields a bountiful harvest for each of you. As we return to the classroom, may we enter to learn and leave to lead,” said Jerlea.
The BPSSY said as she and her peers return to the classroom – some for the first time in more than two years – that many of them could barely contain their excitement.
“I know for me, entering high school for the very first time has me feeling anxious, nervous and a little fearful of what’s to come. But after seeing some of my old friends and meeting a few new friends at orientation last week, I am mostly excited as I chart a new course at Aquinas College.”
The primary school student of the year also spoke to realizing that to whom much is given, much is required. And of her reality as a resident of the Bain and Grants Town community where she said almost nightly, she hears sirens and gun shots.
“The cries of mothers for their sons are just so heartbreaking. Just a few months ago, my neighbor’s son was killed a few streets away from our home. Some days, she just stares blankly and I often wonder just how she makes it every day.”
She also reiterated a statement she made when she won the BPSSY title where she said she wanted to put the rumor to rest that nothing good comes from Over-the-Hill.
“I wanted my neighbors and friends in my and other underserved communities to see that someone who is just like them can accomplish great things and believe that the possibilities are endless.
“I believe with all my heart that it’s not where you start, but it’s how you finish. My present circumstances does not and will not dictate who I am and who I will become. Instead, it pushes me to become all that God has created me to be as I am destined for greatness. Just like the late Dr. Martin Luther King, I, too, have a dream … a dream of living in a Bahamas where all citizens play an active role in building communities of faith, knowledge and service.”
Jerlea, who has engineering aspirations, also said she is a humanitarian at heart, and enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community.
She recognized her late uncle Rashad “Uncle Sharky” Frazier who taught her to bake, which she has been doing since she was five years old. She baked cupcakes and sold them to assist a member of her church who needed financial assistance to pay for chemotherapy treatment. Doing that birthed her idea, “Cupcakes of Love”.
She spoke about having lived in the eye of the storm when Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco in 2019, and of her and her mom returning to New Providence. Her volunteerism did not end. Throughout the pandemic, she sought ways to show appreciation to people and did so with her treats.
“Just a little bite of heaven … a cupcake of love. It was the greatest feeling ever to see the smile on the faces of our heroes as they bit into my delicious cupcakes,” said Jerlea.
She told them that her journey to the moment where she stood before them during the service to speak had not been an easy one. At the same token, she said it had also not been filled with disappointment and failure and that she relied on the Lord to never forsake her, and was grateful for the support and dedication of her family, friends and school community.
“My mom [Leandra Kelly] is my greatest fan, my aunt is my prayer warrior, and my nana is my biggest cheerleader,” said the 26th primary school student of the year.
SHONA KNOWLES’ ADVICE TO JERLEA
• Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3: 5-6.
Even on your darkest days, remember that God is your present help. He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. As soon as you wake, give God your first breath. Offer praise and glory to His name in the stillness of the morning. Strive to be a good person who lovesm the Lord.
• Everyone is fighting a battle. There will always be people in your midst that have different talents and abilities, however, always express love, respect and kindness to everyone around you.
• When in doubt, always ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
• Procrastination is the thief of all time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Make every moment of every day count.
• Run your own race. Be the best version of you that you can be. Popularity is like perfume, it smells good, but eventually it fades away.
• Manners and respect will take you places where money never will. Mind your manners and be respectful at all times to every one you meet.
• You are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. You are a leader and not a follower. Be known for the good that you do. Let your reputation of excellence precede you.
• Always move and speak with confidence. Walk with your head held high. Give eye contact and always wear a smile.
• Choose your friends wisely. Eagles fly to higher heights – they are never on the ground with chickens. Do not be afraid to part ways with people who you have nothing in common with. Level up!
• Always make excellence a habit!