Taylor Cargill’s strong command of the English language, use of descriptive language and her ability to turn a phrase earned her the awards for writing the best essay on the 2019 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) English language exam, which followed her taking the same award for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam.
Taylor, a 2019 St. Augustine’s College (SAC) graduate, said she cared more about the story than the time limit and the exam itself.
“I genuinely enjoyed writing it and I remember wishing I could take my paper with me so I could finish it,” said Cargill, who is studying biology at York University in Canada. “By that point, I had stopped focusing on getting a good grade and just wanted to get the rest of the story out of my head and on paper, which is why I was pretty shocked when I found out that I got the highest BGCSE mark,” she said.
Taylor’s essay, which she named “Canary”, was written in response to this prompt: Write a story which includes the following sentence – “Although he was a tower of a man with huge hands, the rock did not budge when he attempted to move it.”
Cargill, who also won best performance in English Literature and Combined Science, credits her development as a writer to the English teachers at SAC, writing for the school yearbook and the encouragement received from family.
Not many students can say they received awards for writing the best essay on both the BGCSE and BJC English language national exams. Taylor can.
Terrance Pratt, SAC’s English Department head and Cargill’s 12th grade teacher, said it helps that literature is compulsory at the school.
“Students write well when they read good writing. Taylor internalized the techniques of good writing and added her own creativity to produce outstanding pieces,” said Pratt.
As a child, Taylor was always an avid reader, which helped her develop her writing skills. When she entered SAC, she impressed her English teacher with her descriptive ability and her strong command of the English language.
“She was a very keen student who was able to maintain a high standard,” said Christa Beckford, Cargill’s seventh grade teacher.
Susan George, Taylor’s eighth grade teacher, said even though she worked slowly, Taylor was a skilled and talented writer.
Her ninth-grade teacher, Brittany Basden-Edwards, said the moment she began reading Taylor’s first assignment for her class she knew she wasn’t reading the work of a typical high school student.
“As the term progressed, I had no doubt that I had one of the best high school writers in The Bahamas in my class. When I found out that she had won best BJC English Language essay in 2016, I have to say that I was not the least bit surprised. She’s a natural. The only aspect we had to work on was time management while writing.”
Although she’s majoring in science in college, Taylor continues to take English courses which encourage her write constantly. Her advice to students is to turn their essays and assignments into passion projects and make them opportunities for learning and exploring and having fun with writing.
“Write for the love of writing and worry less about the grade,” said Taylor.
SAC’s English department has consistently produced skilled writers.
In 2012, Shabethany Sawyer wrote the best essay on the BJC exam.
In 2014, Sherina Abdool wrote the best essay on the BJC exam.
In 2016 Taylor and Brianna Tinker wrote the best essays on the BJC and BGCSE exams respectively.
In 2018, Alyssa Forbes and Celeisha Elebute wrote the best essays on the BJC and BGCSE exams, respectively.
In 2019, Taylor Cargill wrote the best essay on the BGCSE exam.
Within the past decade, SAC students have won more than 10 BJC and BGCSE English language and literature national awards.