PRESENTATION COLLEGE, San Fernando, and St Augustine Girls’ High School (SAGHS), lead the list of this country’s top secondary schools, producing the most national scholarship winners and consistently maintaining top academic rankings over several decades.
Presentation College, which counts among its graduates Prime Minister Patrick Manning and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, has produced 250 scholarship winners. SAGHS follows with an impressive track record of 223 schol winners.
In the case of Presentation College, the 59-year-old school secured its first national scholarship back in 1959 and followed a few years later with the Jerningham Gold Medal in 1963. Last year students of the school represented Trinidad and Tobago at the International Math Olympiad in Vietnam.
“Presentation College has always had a rich academic tradition,” principal Errol Jaikaransingh told Sunday Newsday, adding that over the years students had been exposed to activities aimed at developing team and leadership skills.
“Presentation has always recognized that individuals have different talents and noteworthy skills. We allow our boys to find their true potential in areas that are not restricted to academics alone. The result is that Pres boys leave the school with the capacity to take charge and be innovative. They also have a sense of nationhood and are spirited.
“We also actively encourage students to challenge authority and learn negotiation skills,” he said.
SAGHS, which has been enjoying academic success throughout its 56-year history, counts among its graduates current principal Kathleen Anderson who graduated from the school in 1968.
According to Anderson, a “strong spiritual base, an emphasis on an all-round education and the importance of community charity”, are keys to the school’s success.
She said SAGHS promotes social conscience by encouraging students to get involved in community outreach programmes.
“At the start of each year, each class chooses a charity to support such as the Cyril Ross Home, Mount Hope Pediatric Ward and Charis Works that works with autistic children and the girls use their leisure time to do volunteer work.”
Holy Name Convent has 150 scholarships to its name. Last year, the school received 17 scholarships.
Principal Wendy Aqui insisted however that the school’s success should not be measured by scholarships but by the number of students who under normal conditions would not pass exams.
“We have a 100 percent pass rate because we work with each child’s individual potential,” said Aqui who explained that Holy Name aims at having happy girls and sociable students.
“We at Holy Name get into our students and provide support so they can concentrate on their academics”, she said. Hillview College in Tunapuna has received about 125 scholarships since 1980. Acting Principal Leslie Mahase said “a foundation built on spirituality” gave students “a sense of guidance, love, appreciation, discipline and, most importantly, faith in one’s self”.
“It is this faith that promotes overall performance and personal growth,” he said.
Also getting a high ranking among TT’s secondary schools is Presentation College, Chaguanas, where, according to principal Simon Rostant, there is a strong focus on academics.
“No one can achieve success without hard work. Success only comes after doing the work. So its simple our students do well because we give them work and they do it,” he said.
So far the school has earned a total of 50 scholarships.
St Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, is another secondary school where students are regularly awarded scholarships for outstanding academic performance.
A staff member said in aiming for the holistic development of students, the school benefits from “a very strong support system with a vibrant PTA, Church Synod, Administration and Old Boys Association”.
Naparima Boys College Vice Principal, David Sammy said the school had 15 national scholarships to its credit.
He told Sunday Newsday “For over a decade Naps has consistently earned national awards, particularly, in the subject areas of Math and Science. Over the last four years, Naps has won the gold medal twice. Kevin Singh won it in 2003 and has gone on to pursue studies in Actuarial Science at Waterloo University, Canada and Dennis Ramnath who won it in 2004 is now attending the prestigious MIT.”
According to Sammy, Naparima places emphasis on passes at O’Level and A’Levels.
“Our main thrust is ensuring that all our boys pass and we have a 100 percent pass rate.”
Source: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday
Sunday September 9, 2007.