The best and brightest and well-rounded

BPSSYF president and founder on selection process for primary school student of the year

Jerlea Adderley has certainly shone in her role as Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year (BPSSY), but it’s a title that will pass on to the 27th pre-teen in short order, and Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation (BPSSYF) president and founder, Ricardo Deveaux, is making it clear that the foundation and judges are not looking for the student with the best grade point average (GPA), but rather a “well-rounded” student.

He said when schools nominate a representative, they should take into account a student with outstanding academic record; commitment which goes beyond the call of duty, and firm character; sociable and well-behaved on campus and in life; campus, community and civic activities; church or sporting activities; awards, honors and recognitions; and service/citizenship.

“Nominees will be judged on the following criteria – contribution to school life, academic achievement, extracurricular achievement, community involvement, and overall quality of portfolio submitted,” said Deveaux.

He stressed that for the next program, student nominees will not be allowed to submit portfolios with any mechanical apparatus. They must also not be three-dimensional, and will be subjected to a 10-pound weight restriction. Pop-ups and pull-outs he said are absolutely not allowed.

“Any deviation from the guidelines, the portfolio will be returned and the nominee disqualified from the competition,” said the BPSSYF president and founder.

There is also a limit to the number of pages that can be submitted. The maximum is 50 pages; using both sides will be considered as one page.

Deadline for submission of the 2023 student of the year portfolio is Friday, February 3, 2023.

The person who is named BPSSY is awarded a $7,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s institution of choice, and a laptop.

In selecting the ultimate winner, the judging panel takes an all-encompassing approach to candidates – scrutinizing everything from the child’s academics, to leadership, and community involvement from as far back as third grade. The award is also not meted out necessarily on what the nominee might have started doing in their sixth-grade year and year of their nomination.

“[Judges] are looking for a child who has been consistent. This child didn’t just start to pick up academically in sixth grade, nor did they in their final year of primary school, develop or start a program. This was something they would have done for over a period of time – and they are well-versed in it.”

The ultimate winner’s portfolio reflects a child who was engaged in their project/platform from as early as third or fourth grade.

And he said the student that each school is allowed to nominate from the approximate 125 public and private sector schools around the country should be a student that embodies the characteristics the foundation seeks, from as early as the child’s third-grade year.

After their child’s nominations, many parents find themselves scrambling to give their child a project or platform, after receiving their school’s nomination. But ideally, Deveaux said that is not how the process works.

“For us [BPSSYF], what we have a concern with is schools waiting until they get an application to identify a student. What we would like to encourage primary schools to do on an annual basis is have an internal competition in school, looking over what a student has done from grades three, four and five, so that in grade six, that person could begin working on presenting a portfolio. If you identify this child who has been doing this over this three to three-and-a-half-year period, when the application comes out in October or November [of their final primary school year], the child doesn’t have to be rushing.”

The title winner is a national brand ambassador and a spokesperson for students.

BPSSY is a title that has been meted out for 24 years, and Deveaux said the foundation has had some very good winners. One that stands out for him is Anna Albury, the 2011 winner, and the first blind student to win.

She went on to study interdisciplinary business, history, and missions and ministry at university.

Deveaux said what he also enjoys most about the program is seeing a past primary school student of the year title holder do well.

Vashti Darling, the first title holder (1997), is now a doctor.

The second title holder, Andrea Moultrie (1998), is now an attorney.

“When you can see former winners impacting the community, that is powerful,” said Deveaux.

Tiffany Moncur, the third title holder (1999), is now a senior associate at Mass General Brigham.

Kenny Roberts (2001) is a senior pastor at Missionway Church, Jacksonville, Florida.

Khes Adderley (2009) is a business developer at Wecasa, Lille, Hauts-de-France in France.

“I believe that while the student of the year awards program is truly an excellent form of motivation for our students, we look forward to students performing and demonstrating that their actions are in preparation for a successful future rather than successful participation in the awards program.”

Parents grooming their children for the student of the year title, he said, is something they have also seen become “a thing”. And he said in some instances, when the child is not selected by their school for nomination, the child and parents are devastated. However, Deveaux believes this should not be a thing that should be devastating to them, because the child’s project or platform is something they would be doing regardless of whether they receive a nomination or not.

The foundation president said over the years, they have also seen situations where school officials get upset when a student may not win or place higher in the ranking.

“The issue is that usually, the nominee is used to being number one out of a field of 20 to 40 students, but now they are in a competition with over 100 students who have similar GPA of 3.75 or higher; involved in about six organizations; participating in church, civic and community organizations; organizing community service projects; and are leaders in their schools, community and churches.”

Each judge reviews and scores each student; scores are then verified by a certified public accountant and students ranked according to their scores.

Deveaux said that the judges are the only people to assess the students and determine what separates each nominee. He said the BPSSYF does not have a role in the decision.

Each primary school nominates one student. If every school puts in a nominee, the program has at least 125 primary school students in the running for the title, annually.

Each nominee also has to submit a portfolio, reflecting their work and demonstrating the nominee’s ability and critical thinking.

Deveaux said the portfolios they have seen over the years morphed from what was really the work of the nominee and their parents putting together, detailing all of their achievements, to where he believes they have parents spending thousands of dollars on a portfolio for submission, which he said speaks volumes.

“The judges aren’t looking at how much money you spend on the portfolio, but for this to be the work of the nominee.”

He also shared that they have seen it all with parents even submitting portfolios that are prototypes or three-dimensional. The BPSSYF rules state that the dimension should not be larger than 12 inches by 12 inches; should be void of any mechanical nature; and limited to one presentation void of any flash drive or CD.

“These pop-ups … all of that is a distraction, and that’s not what a portfolio is – it’s just documentation of your work. The most important thing is your achievements in your work in the portfolio itself.”

The BPSSYF president said they are also not looking to see 100 pictures of a child doing a particular thing in their final primary school year, but rather images of the child engaged in their project over approximately three and a half years, and images of whether the child won an accomplishment for their project.

“But parents want to fill up a portfolio with something their child did in sixth grade, but that does not demonstrate something the child has done over the long haul.”

Since 1997, the foundation has recognized over 3,000 of the best and brightest primary school students in The Bahamas, and awarded over $2.2 million worth of the scholarships and prizes.

“Although we offer one-time scholarship awards to be used for the recipient’s high school education, the awards program is not viewed as a scholarship program, but rather concentrates on the achievement of the nominees in recognition of their work and leadership. The foundation would like to encourage parents and nominees to view the nomination in the competition as a form of recognition rather than concentrating on an awards program placement,” said Deveaux.

“We are proud to be able to continue to help develop the future leaders of our nation – 27 years later.”


1997 – Vashti Darling, St. John’s College, New Providence

1998 – Andrea Moultrie, St. John’s College, New Providence

1999 – Tiffany Moncur, Carmichael Primary School (now Sybil Strachan Primary), New Providence

2000 – Sasha Bain, Walter Parker Primary School, Grand Bahama

2001 – Kenny Roberts, Spanish Wells All Age School (now Samuel Guy All Age School), Eleuthera

2002 – Zachary Lyons, Queen’s College, New Providence

2003 – Tanielle Curtis, Sts. Francis & Joseph, New Providence

2004 – Saul Salonga, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic, Grand Bahama

2005 – Shirdat Jadoo, Maurice Moore Primary School, Grand Bahama

2006 – George Zonicle, Bahamas Academy of SDA, New Providence

2007 – Taran Carey, Tarpum Bay Primary, Eleuthera

2008 – James Boyce, Hope Town Primary, Abaco

2009 – Khes Adderley, Temple Christian School, New Providence

2010 – Jared Fitzgerald, Xavier’s Lower School, New Providence

2011 – Anna Albury, Hope Town Primary, Abaco

2012 – Nadja Simon, Genesis Academy, New Providence

2013 – Lauryn Rolle, St. Thomas More Catholic Primary, New Providence

2014 – Donovan Butler, Xavier’s Lower School, New Providence

2015 – Samaiya Lundy, Sunland Baptist Academy, Grand Bahama

2016 – Lila Nottage, Lyford Cay International School, New Providence

2017 – Hannah Edomwonyi, Clara Evans Primary School, Andros

2018 – Remington Minnis, Eva Hilton Primary (formerly Oakes Field Primary School), New Providence

2019 – Lauren Scriven, St. Francis de Sales Catholic, Abaco

2020 – Hayley Wilson, Summit Academy, New Providence

2021 – Chelsea Smith, Windsor School at Albany

2022 – Jerlea Adderley, Sts. Francis & Joseph Catholic Primary

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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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