LCIS students earn Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition awards

Julia Silva claims Silver Award; Alexandra Moore and Aarav Krishna earn Bronze Awards

Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) elementary students Julia Silva, Alexandria Moore, and Aarav Krishna have earned awards for their essay submissions into the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (2020-21), which had a record-breaking 26,000 submissions from young people across 54 Commonwealth nations.

Julia earned a Silver Award. Alexandria and Aarav both earned Bronze Awards for the competition in which they were encouraged to share their ideas, celebrate their story and write for a better world.

Junior category participants were able to choose from one of four issues on which to write their essays: The year is 2050 and you’ve been asked to write about the coronavirus pandemic for a museum. What story would you tell?; Tell a story of how you, or someone you know, helped others during the pandemic.; ‘We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.’ – Queen Elizabeth II. After the pandemic, you are seeing a friend for the first time. What new hobbies would you share with them?; What did you miss most during the pandemic?

Julia described learning of getting the award as “unexpected”.

“I thought that they wouldn’t even notice or care about my story. I was so happy, and my parents were happy for me. My mom went crazy. This award really impacted my life because I’ve never participated in or won an international competition before. I had happy tears. I am thankful for Mrs. [Katina] Seymour for entering us in the competition,” she said.

Alexandra said she thought she was only being recognized in The Bahamas, but that when she saw how many people entered the competition, she was shocked.

“I couldn’t believe that I made the top three. I had no words. I am glad that I challenged myself to write. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m feeling really proud of myself.”

Aarav said when his parents heard of his award win, they were happy.

“They congratulated me, and made my favorite dinner. I felt very proud of this global achievement. I’m thankful to my teacher, Mrs. Seymour, (Primary Years Programme (PYP) coordinator and assistant head of Lower School/Commonwealth Essay participation organizer).”

One winner and runner-up were chosen from each category; a number of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards were given in the senior and junior categories, rewarding excellence in writing. All successful entries received a certificate of participation.

The trio entered their submissions in fourth grade. They are now fifth-grade students.

Seymour said she is always delighted when her students’ work is recognized globally.

“It’s a confidence booster for me and them,” said Seymour. “It is the confirmation I look forward to hearing. I say to my students that there is a global audience anxiously awaiting to hear or read their words, ideas, and messages. I remind them that they shouldn’t deny readers that opportunity.”

The PYP coordinator said she believes it is important for young writers to share their work as, she said, it has a distinct way of “touching the heart” of adults.

“Their voices oftentimes become the catalyst to enact change or remind readers that there are others around the world with similar experiences,” said Seymour.

She was also pleased with the topics chosen as they presented the young writers with an outlet to share their feelings and thoughts about the pandemic.

“Children have been equally impacted by the pandemic and as I read and judged [Seymour is also a judge for the competition] more than 150 essays, I learned so much from and about them. They shared how they continue to ‘weather’ the pandemic, they talked about the great initiatives they began to help others less fortunate than themselves, and I became privy to some of the things they treasured and missed sorely during the lockdowns.”

The LCIS students also received support in preparing their submissions. The process that is followed includes:

• Exploration of and unpacking the topics – students and teacher.

• Soliciting students’ final choice and interest in specific topics – student writers.

• Brainstorming sessions – all writers sharing ideas – student writers.

• Planning – what is the message we want to convey? – students and teacher.

• Generating strong ideas that could be developed sufficiently – student writers.

• Sharing methods of how to craft their ideas in a creative way – student and teacher.

• Writing the first draft – student writers.

• Peer review and feedback on the first draft – student writers.

• Rewriting the draft with peer feedback in mind – student writers.

• Reading the second draft to parents and/or siblings for feedback – student writers.

• Presenting the second draft for feedback – from the teacher.

• Rewriting the final draft.


TOPIC: What I missed most during the pandemic

Lots of people are relieved. The Corona Virus that took control of our lives, that caused chaos and desperation, is almost over. Here in The Bahamas, COVID cases HAVE gone down, but unfortunately, it went back up. Today, people are not as scared as they were since they already went through a chaotic pandemic. The biggest tragedy was that my mom almost lost her best friend because of this. My dad almost lost his grandma because of this. Me? I have barely seen my best friends, Peyton and Bruno. I don’t want this tragedy to go on forever! Who knows what I’ll do if it will?

My biggest loss was not being able to go to school, and working at home. The things I mostly miss or even missed were being able to go to school, especially on school field trips! One field trip I remember going on before the pandemic was to the fire station. Now that I think about it, I realize, it was like the teachers were giving us a secret lesson, it was so fun!

Enjoying myself was always the hardest thing to do when I was in lockdown. The things I really enjoyed then were playing video games all day and sleeping at my uncle’s house. That was hard, but not as hard as not being more interactive with people. If we were about to “accidentally” touch someone, people would be watching over you like hawks and giving you strange looks. So we couldn’t do anything with our friends.

Oh, how much I miss breathing real fresh air! Masks are horrible and I just hate them so much! But the worst of all, COVID tests! They hurt so bad! If you think I’m exaggerating, try a COVID test without closing your eyes! And with all this going on, we couldn’t go on road and boat trips! Being outdoors was not the same during the pandemic. Life seemed so unfair. There is a bright light – things seem to be getting better and lots of people are relieved. I know I am.



TOPIC: After the pandemic, you are seeing a friend for the first time. What new hobbies would you share with them?

Bored. COVID-19 has made us all bored, because we weren’t able to see friends and family, travel, attend school in person, and do fun activities outside of home. But out of boredom came new hobbies. Some people only looked at the negative during COVID-19, but I looked for the positive and got positive back. I started horseback riding, baking, and fidget collecting. All of these things I have come to love.

One of my favorites is horseback riding. The horse I ride is Opti. He is very tall and sweet. I enjoy riding horses. It teaches me patience, how to take care of animals, and how to be focused.

Another hobby I have started is baking. The pandemic gave us more time to bake and more recipes to try. Together, my sister and I baked pretzels, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and brownies. We have enjoyed baking since we were younger. I also like baking with my sister because we get to bond. It also shows teamwork.

This hobby, I only started a couple months ago. The hobby I’m talking about is fidget collecting. Not many people have heard of it, but they are little toys that help you focus. Some of the names are pop its, infinity cubes, orbeez stress balls, and so much more. Fidgets really help me focus. You can buy them on Amazon. I also like trading fidgets with my friends. Outside of fidgets helping me focus, I also like the sound they make. All of the fidgets I mentioned earlier make different sounds. As an example, the pop it makes a popping sound. The orbeez stress ball sounds like a heartbeat. The infinity cube sounds like typing on a laptop.

COVID-19 made me bored so I started new hobbies. They helped me focus, keep calm, and bond with friends and family. What hobbies have you started or tried? If you’re thinking of starting a hobby, you should do it. You will develop new skills, have less regrets, and it will take up time so you won’t be bored. COVID-19 brought a lot of negative things, but it also brought positive things too. Learning something new is always a positive thing – Thanks COVID-19.


TOPIC: The year is 2050 and you’ve been asked to write about the coronavirus pandemic for a museum. What story would you tell?

*Ring Ring* The phone was going off like a fire alarm. I picked it up and it was Mrs. Seymour! She said, “Hi, is this Mr. Krishna?”

“Yes this is Aarav. Who is this?” I said in confusion.

“This is Mrs. Seymour from LCIS!” She exclaimed. “I work for the Seymour Museum and we want to know what happened during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The reason why we chose you is because you were very influential back in your day and gave people hope during the dark years of COVID-19.”

My story. I was only eight years of age when the dark days of the CoronaVirus started. People died and they were stuck in their houses like me. Kids couldn’t go to school, it was torture. We felt lonely inside BUT there was a bright side to COVID. It was not all doom and gloom. We found new hobbies. We became happy again. There were days we walked around in terror and people kept dying because they didn’t listen to the government’s requests. It was a tragedy for some people and now in 2050, the COVID crisis has been averted because the vaccine came out. People took it and things got a whole lot better. But enough about whatever happened about the world, let’s talk about what happened to me and how I got over the COVID pandemic.

I didn’t want COVID to take over my life, so I decided to find some new hobbies. One of the hobbies I discovered was football (not American just letting you know). Since playing this at school before COVID, I just fell in love with football all over again. Since I was nine years old, I wanted to make a living out of football, so I thought now was a good time to keep practicing, even if I was at home. Those times were good. I learnt how to ride a bike during the lockdowns. It was a good learning experience and once the pandemic was over, I could go on bike rides with my friends.

Then online school started and it is a new school year and back in those days, there was this app called ZOOM. For some kids it was like they created fire. It was a new addition for meeting friends or classes. I loved arts and crafts and painting and it was one of my favorite subjects. I took the time to do a lot of drawing and painting to pass the time. I must say I got pretty good at it. At least my parents thought so.

And there is one last hobby I forgot to mention: I wanted to become a chef. I wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps and be like him. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my dad making pizza, sandwiches, and some of his special dishes.

My story is not all about how bad COVID was or how many people died. This all happened, but some good things happened as well. I want my readers to remember that there are two sides to every story and I want them to hear that I gained some new hobbies during that time. Those hobbies have helped me become a better person and I am proud to share that I have grown in many ways.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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