The best and brightest nominees

Countdown on to identifying the 2023 top primary school student

In a little over a month, the next person to be selected Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year will be known. And the judges will have a difficult time selecting from the 123-strong field of sixth-grade students due to the outstanding candidates from around the country that have been nominated.

The top student will come from the largest field ever, with the most nominations since 2018 when the foundation had 121 nominations.

There are 65 students from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands in this year’s pool, including for the first time in a long time, a nominee from every island except Ragged Island and Rum Cay.

Last year, there were 102 nominees. In 2001, there were 100 nominees; in 2000, there were 105 nominees.

This year, $246,000 will be presented in scholarships and over $50,000 in prizes, including paying for all travel for Family Island nominees, trophies and medals for all nominees; 27 students will also walk away with laptops and gift certificates for school supplies, according to Ricardo P. Deveaux, BPSSYF president and founder.

The 2023 Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation (BPSSYF) award ceremony will take place at Evangelistic Temple on Collins Avenue on Saturday, June 10, at 5 p.m.

The medal presentation ceremony returns this year on Friday, June 9, at which time the nominees will receive their medal of academic excellence.

“This is the 27th consecutive year of hosting this awards program and the foundation is excited to once again salute the achievements of the primary school scholars,” Deveaux. “We are pleased that the support has made it possible to award some $2.5 million in scholarships and prizes between 1997 and 2023.”

The BPSSYF Board of Directors and the executive board of the Nassau, Bahamas Pan-Hellenic Council engaged in a three-month nationwide search to identify the best and brightest primary school students in The Bahamas, with the end result, 123 students nominated to represent their respective schools in the annual awards program.

“There is not just one student that stands out,” said Deveaux. “So, the judges will have a very difficult time this year – including some extremely good candidates from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. These students are impacting communities and doing things with regards to the environment. These students have not just picked up a cause for the student of the year, they have been engaged in these activities since second grade and impacting their various communities.”

One of the overarching goals of the foundation in selecting the primary school student of the year is to choose a student who is not engaged in an activity simply for an award, but one who has always impacted and will continue to impact their communities.

Even though every student in the program has their eye on the top prize – the $7,000 scholarship – since 2018, the BBSPYF has offered every nominee at least a $1,000 scholarship.

In 1987, the first year of the awards program, 31 students representing all New Providence schools were nominated. Their prizes were trophies with Vashti Darling, that year’s winner, receiving a $100 book voucher and a trophy.

In 1988, Andrea Moultrie, the second winner, received a $1,000 scholarship. An anonymous benefactor from Lyford Cay afforded the foundation the opportunity to present the first runner-up with a $500 scholarship.

With sponsors buying in to the vision of the program, in order to be fair to Darling, the foundation directors revisited the initial result, six years later, and awarded Darling a $1,000 scholarship which she was able to use while in 12th grade.

Over the years, the scholarship award has gradually increased. In 1999, the top student, Tiffany Moncur, received $1,500.

In 2001, Kenny Roberts received $2,000.

George Zonicle received $5,000 in 2006.

Taran Carey and James Boyce, top students in 2007 and 2008, respectively, received $10,000 each, the most awarded ever.

After those years, in 2009, the foundation made the decision to cap the top award at $7,000 moving forward, as they did not know if they could sustain an annual $10,000 top prize.

Deveaux said they also do not want people to just view the program as a means to a scholarship and only want to enter for the scholarship – but as an awards recognition program.

“This is why we prefer to recognize all students with at least $1,000,” he said.

All scholarship awards must be used for secondary school only. And if a child isn’t going to a private school for secondary education, the scholarship funds can be used to purchase school books, a computer, or tools needed for school. Each awardee has up to three years to use the funds, according to Deveaux.

Each primary school is eligible to nominate one sixth-grade student for the awards program.

In selecting the ultimate winner, the judging panel making the decision 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 not meted out necessarily on what the nominee might have started doing in their sixth-grade year and year of their nomination.

According to Deveaux, the nominee should be a well-rounded, standout student, and doesn’t necessarily have to be the smartest student with the 4.00 grade point average (GPA).

“It’s about the child being well-rounded, involved in the community – and the child does not have to be involved in 100 activities, but some activities, demonstrating that they’re not just book smart.”

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

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

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

“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.”

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.

The 2023 Title Sponsor is REV/Cable Bahamas which has invested over $75,000 in scholarship and travel sponsorship and over $25,000 of in-kind donation over the past five years.

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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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