Tue | May 30, 2023

Sterling surprise

Former New Forest High student creates history, secures CSEC merit for the region

Published:Thursday | May 27, 2021 | 12:15 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

NEW FOREST, Manchester:

THE NEW Forest High School, commissioned only five years ago with 36 students, is strengthening its resolve to solidify its mark among the greatest educational institutions in the country, following a former student’s placement on the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) merit list for the region.

Eighteen-year-old Sharday Sterling, who graduated from the institution in 2020 with eight CSEC subjects in grades ones and twos and a City and Guilds course in customer service, was pleasantly surprised recently when she learnt that she was the only student from Jamaica who ranked on the merit list for social studies.

“I never expected this at all. I always heard about the merit list, but I didn’t know I could be on it. I was sleeping on Saturday, and this girl from Trinidad that I studied with texted me and said my name is on the list, and from there the texts and calls kept coming in … I can’t explain my excitement. I am even more excited than when I got my CSEC passes.”

The youngster, who said she worked hard and took responsibility for her learning by engaging other students across the Caribbean in free study groups across various platforms, attributes her success to the teachers at the institution and her parents, who value the importance of education.

“I got most of the subjects with a straight A and AB profile and that could not have been possible without all the people that surround me and motivate me. One of my main motivator is my former principal, Mr Allen. From grade nine, he looked at me and told me that I am going to be a star in Alligator Pond and I am going to make history.”

She added: “I see how my parents struggle and I made up my mind that I am going to be the very best that I can be. When I did the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) I passed for another school, but my mother said she wasn’t sending me there because she always believed in New Forest and Mr Allen. I didn’t like the idea, because I went to the primary school and felt I needed a new environment. But after my first year in high school, I realised New Forest was the best place for me.”

Value of education

Sterling’s mother, Kimisha Pusey, said having gone to the then New Forest Primary and Junior High School and dropped out early due to teenage pregnancy, her goal has always been to give her children the gift of education,

“I always tell my children to take their books because it is the only thing that can move them up. My son has his seven subjects and reaching his goal, and now Sharday has her eight subjects and is going back to school … there is value in a good education.”

Principal of the institution, Arnaldo Allen, told The Gleaner that, like most of the students who started the high school, Sterling’s overall average was not the highest, but her average for social studies was over 70.

“…This would have been the first time we are doing CSEC. Our teachers had never taught the CSESC syllabus and we had 33 students sitting the exams; and out of that group we have Sharday, who is not only being given an award for the region, but she is the only Jamaican on that list for social studies. Little New Forest, with students who were averaging 40 per cent and over, is ready to offer quality high-school education to our children, and our parents can be confident that we will deliver….”

According to Allen, the school’s existence was as a result of the vision of former Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites and has received extensive support from the Ministry of Education, a committed chairman, teachers and other members of staff.

“… Of the 33 students who sat CSEC, 19 of them sat five or more subjects; and of that 19, 14 got five or more subjects. I have a child who left with 10 subjects, as she started from grade eight. But Sharday’s success is huge for us and there are no words to describe the feeling. New Forest will be a school to be reckoned with.”

Sterling, who is now enrolled in the associate degree programme in allied health occupational in with an emphasis in geriatric care at the University College of the Caribbean, said her wish is that she will be able to overcome her financial struggles and enrol in the medical technology programme at the Northern Caribbean University.