Thursday, November 22, 2012

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night....

Today is Thanksgiving, and tomorrow I fly back to California.

I will miss many things about St. Kitts and Nevis, and of course, many things about my 28 months of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. 

Mavis, Vicki, Theodora, Michelle, Diane, the two Siana's or Siene's, Pierre, Ian, Kristen, K'neesh, Maluska, Rudell, Daryl Lloyd, Elveza Cuffy, Mrs. Issac, Lisa Pistana, Diana Pemberton, Kayanda, Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Lewis, Honorable Minister Glenn Phillip, Honorable Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor, Honorable Parliamentary Representative Nevis Vance Amory, Mrs. Liburd from the Printery and all the women who work there, Miss Matthew from Maurice Hillier and my third grade creative writing students, Laurie, Roy, Max, and Mr. Hull, Gloria, King Socrates, Jedidiah, Dwight, Allison from Ballyhoo, the Smoothie King and the Coconut Man, and many, many more. 

But mostly, I will miss the kids.  All 50 who were selected as Remarkable Teens since the program was implemented in 2011, all 230 who were nominated and interviewed for consideration, and all the SKNYPA members who helped with whatever I asked for along the way. I will miss you!

And I will especially miss the first 25 Remarkable Teen honorees, young people I have worked with and mentored for the past year. Desi, Davon, Zaiesha, Pernelle, Raheem, Patrick. Zahir, Aldeen, Josiah, Kayla, Dylan, Shazill, Delonte, Rae Dawn, Sheldon, Taveda, Trevaun, Jacintha, Kailah, Leahcim, Tishanna, Glenston, N'Kosi, Shaquille, and Renicia.  Thank you for sharing your lives with me, even for this short time.  As I leave your beautiful island, I will take with me more than I had when I came because I was able to know each of you.

On this day of thanks, from my country to yours, I am most grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to teach, to learn, and to share our cultures, our experiences, and our many life lessons.  Tomorrow, I will be homeward bound.

And so it goes, Thanksgiving Day 2012, on my third and last Thanksgiving in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Final Five Remakable Teens...


Stayfield Pryce was born with webbed fingers, a fusion of the digits. The scientific name for this condition is syndactyly, and it occurs between six and eight weeks of gestation when “programmed cell death” is absent or incomplete. There is about a one in 10,000 chance that a child will be born with this abnormality of the newborn hand.Stayfield was also born without legs, a “sporadic birth defect” he was told; which is basically doctors saying they don’t know why it happened.

People stare at him; some bully, some are afraid, and most make up their own narrative about who he is, but usually when they get to know him, that narrative changes. Stayfield believes that people need to be able to tell their own story, to place you in a context within their own world, before they can understand and accept those who are different.

“I was born without legs,” explained Stayfield matter-of-factly. “This is all I’ve known, and to me, it’s not really a big deal.”

When Stayfield was six and about to enter kindergarten, he was fit for prosthesis and has worn them ever since. With the aid of the prosthesis, Stayfield found he could run and have fun like other children.

He began to believe he could do whatever he put his mind to.

“Not everyone is born perfect,” Stayfield said. “I have been given an opportunity to teach people to be more accepting. By living a full and productive life, and not letting my disability hold me back, I can be a positive role model for others.”

Stayfield is an active young man who enjoys skateboarding by balancing his torso on the skateboard and moving expertly through the streets. He also likes to play cricket with his friends and plays the position of bowler.

Passionate about singing, Stayfield competed in the “Talent Explosion” at Cayon High School and placed third. He also holds the lead position in the Cayon High School Choir and sings in the church choir. Love songs are his favorite.

Stayfield believes that love is more important than anything else in the world, and feels fortunate to have experienced the unconditional love of his family. Stayfield credits his mom for giving him the freedom and independence which has inspired his determination to challenge limitations, and his friend Sylvester Moses, for supporting his optimism and confidence.

Stayfield Pryce is a 16-year old fifth form student at Cayon High School. He receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Courage to Overcome: Physical Limitation.


Kishona Pemberton was born to create style.  She is passionate about fashion and style, and truly believes that by helping people discover their unique beauty, she is advancing a positive step towards building self esteem.  “When you look good, you feel good,” she said, quoting Vidal Sassoon, world renowned hairdresser and entrepreneur.

As a little girl, Kishona would sew clothes for her dolls, dress them up, style their hair, and pretend they were on a runway doing a fashion show, and that she was the designer.  Today, she uses the internet to follow fashion and style trends around the world, but sets her own trends, and uses her special creativity to help others express themselves.

Kishona especially enjoys hair design and is expert at styles, including braids, weaves, and locks. At the age of 10, Kishona started experimenting with her own hair, involving her mom, or “practice head” as she jokingly calls her, to try out new techniques and styles.  By the age of 13, Kishona was designing hairstyles for other people and began to develop a clientele.  When Kishona was 15, she met Esmie, a local hairdresser, who taught her more advanced techniques in braiding and weaving.   Kishona now has a regular clientele of 60, including friends, family, and people who came to her by “word of mouth”.  She operates this “business” mostly out of her home, but is happy to go to her clients if the need arises.  Kishona uses the money she earns from hairdressing for school and to help her family. 

Kishona believes in the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, and feels that everyone has a responsibility to contribute something to a child’s life; to building a solid foundation toward healthy development and future success. Kishona volunteers as a substitute Sunday School teacher at the Church of Christ in Basseterre, and helps the teacher at her neighborhood school with marking papers when she is needed.  Kishona is always open to lending a hand.

Kishona enjoys sports too, and plays football and netball.  In 2009, Kishona was a member of the U16 National Netball Team. 

Kishona plans to pursue a career in cosmetology and hopes to open a hair salon and cosmetics store in St. Kitts. 

Kishona Pemberton is an 18-year old student at Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College enrolled in the general studies program.  She receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Fashion and Style. 

Dennisia Clarke approaches photography as an art.  She believes that when you bring emotion to a photograph, or any work of art, it helps the viewer connect to the intent of the artist – happiness and joy, sorrow and despair, hope and expectation, universal emotions all weaving together the fabric of life. In photography, Dennisia has found a way to share how she experiences the world.

“A photograph should create visual tension to trigger emotions,” she said.  Dennisia feels that in photos showing nature for example, it can be both the fragility and beauty, or the power and force; in portraits, the soul as seen through the eyes and the hands: different people connect to each photo depending on what they are experiencing, what they’re looking for.  These experiences are what bring that photo to life. 

Dennisia began taking pictures at the age of eight, an interest she acquired from spending time in her aunt’s photography studio where she used to help out after school.  Now she sees photography as a way to express her creativity.  Dennisia volunteers as the school photographer.

Dennisia enrolled in the Lyn Jeffers School in 2009 because her mother felt that she should repeat third form to improve her performance, and she was not allowed to do this at her previous school.  Dennisia is glad she repeated a grade, believing that the experience has made her a more confident person. “I’m a diligent student,” she said. “And I always give 100% effort to do my best, not just enough to get the work done.”

In 2011, Dennisia suffered a severe head trauma and was hospitalized and out of school for three weeks.  It was feared she would suffer permanent damage and be unable to read or write again.  “I was scared,” Dennisia said, “but by the power of God’s hands, there was no permanent damage.  I am grateful for God’s healing.”

Dennisia was President of her graduating class at the Lyn Jeffers School where she organized fundraisers and other school activities. She was also involved in the Young Leader program, meeting weekly, and participating in various fundraising and community service projects.

Dennisia especially enjoyed her experience in Junior Achievers.  As Vice-President of her team in her second year, Dennisia was actively involved in all areas of planning and implementation, and remembers the excitement she felt going to St. Kitts to participate in the Junior Achievers Exhibition where the Lyn Jeffers team sold their “all natural ingredients recipe book”.

Dennisia Clarke is a 17-year old recent graduate of the Lyn Jeffers School.  She receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Photography. 

Jeffvancia Matthew always looks for ways she can contribute to her school, her church, and her community.  She understands that “we are all in this together” and she is dedicated to the spirit of community. Jeffvancia believes that each committed person can change a piece of the world.

From achieving “Best Test of Standards” results in 2008, to placing on the Principal’s Honor Roll since first form, and leading her team at the 2012 “Best in Class” St. Christopher Aviation and Sea Port Authority Quiz Competition, Jeffvancia has consistently demonstrated academic excellence. 

Jeffvancia is involved in a variety of extracurricular activities at Saddler Secondary School where she is a member of the Science Club, Leadership Club, and Netball Club.  She also volunteers as a peer mentor and tutor.   Jeffvancia is an aspiring youth leader and a valued member of the student body.

Jeffvancia is also an accomplished athlete, receiving the “Most Valuable Player” award for two consecutive years as part of the netball team at Edgar T. Morris Primary School, and again at Saddler’s Secondary School in 2010 where she plays goal shoot, wing defense, and goal defense.

Jeffvancia loves to dance and has performed at Rotary Club, Independence Day, school, and church events. She is an active member of both the Wesleyan Holiness Dance New Covenant Ministry Dance Groups.  At New Covenant, Jeffvancia coordinates the dance group, meeting twice a week with team members for practice and fun.  She also sings in her school and church choirs. 

Jeffvancia is a congregant of the New Covenant Ministries Church where she attends weekly services and spends an average of ten hours a week as a youth activities volunteer.

When asked for her reaction to being selected as a Remarkable Teen, Jeffvancia said, “I am ecstatic about being selected, especially in the category of community involvement.  I don’t look at being involved as a duty, but as an opportunity to give back and to make a difference.  I hope to represent my school, my community, and my country with grace and dignity.”

Jeffvancia especially enjoys the study of biology and plans to pursue a career as a pathologist.

Jeffvancia Matthew is a 15-year old student at Saddlers Secondary School.  She is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Community Involvement. 

Hollywood Here They Come!

Singer, songwriter Dejour Alexander loves music; it is his passion. 

Recorded at Island Soul Entertainment, his song, “Take a Ride”, won the ZIZ Song Competition for 2011 and continues to be played on both ZIZ and Freedom Radio stations.  “Don’t Love Me” and “Get on the Floor” are two other original songs written by Dejour, and are selections he performs regularly at concerts and other national events, including the opening of the 2012 Music Festival.  Dejour has been signed to the IREP SKN music label, a local music production company in St. Kitts. 

Dejour is part of a very close family and feels that he has been especially influenced by his father who has consistently shown him how to be the best man he can be.  He is also a positive young man believing that you can achieve anything you put your mind to; it is a philosophy that keeps him strong and focused.

Dejour is a congregant at Antioch Baptist Church. Though he explained there was a time when he didn’t attend church regularly – he feels he had not really developed his spiritual side yet – once invited to sing at Antioch Baptist by Pastor Lincoln Connor, Dejour discovered a deeper faith and decided to commit to regular Sunday attendance where he not only sings in the church choir, but plays the bells.  Dejour also volunteers as a Vacation Bible School leader for two weeks each summer.

Dejour faces life with a delightful sense of humor. Believing that laughter is contagious, he uses his sense of humor to bring joy to others.  “Laughter can relieve stress and conflict,” he said. “Nothing works faster to lift your spirits than a good laugh.”

When asked how he felt about being selected as a Remarkable Teen, Dejour said, “I am grateful for the recognition and humbled by the opportunity to represent the positive accomplishments of youth in the Federation.”  He said he may even write a song about it.

While Dejour plans to pursue his options as a musician: writing, singing and producing his own records, he is also focused on his academic accomplishments and plans to continue his post secondary school education with the goal of attending medical school to become a surgeon.

DeJour Alexander is a 16-year old fifth form student at Washington Archibald High School.  He is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Songwriting.

Tehya Fleming loves to dance.  “Dancing is very emotional for me,” she said.  “When I’m experiencing a strong feeling, dance is the language I use to express myself; my whole body becomes part of the message.”

Tehya has been dancing for five years.  She is a member of the Charles E. Mills Secondary School Dance Group and the Evangelistic Faith Church Mime Group.  She loves hip-hop best, though her school group does mostly contemporary dance, leaving hip-hop practice for home. 

Tehya also enjoys the art form of mime dance, and believes mime enhances dance performances by using facial features and gestures to tell a story, making it even more dramatic.  Tehya said she spends about eight hours a week practicing dance for both groups and is always learning new skills and techniques.

Tehya has performed at church, school, and community events. In April 2012, Tehya danced at the Sandy Point Annual Black-San-Bang-A-Lange cultural event and at the Basseterre High School Queen Show.  In 2010, as part of the Majorettes Troupe representing Sandy Point, she and others from her community danced at Carnival.

Tehya is also focused on academics and has been on the Charles E. Mills Secondary School Honor Roll every year.  Representing her school with a classmate, the girls won first place in the 2011 Saint Christopher’s Air and Seaport Authority Quiz Competition. 

Tehya is a school leader and has been class monitor each year of high school, keeping students in order when the teacher is out of the classroom.  “I enjoy the responsibility,” she said.  “The kids are all my friends and they listen to me.  It’s not a hard job.”

Tehya enjoys athletics and competes in Charles E. Mills Secondary School Sports Day in three events: the 4x400m relay, 4x100m relay, and the 400m.  In the 2012 Sports Day, both relay teams placed second and third respectively.  Tehya is also a member of the Charles E. Mills Cheerleading Squad and has competed with her team at the Interschool Cheerleading Competition, placing second for the past two years.

Tehya plays steel pan too. As a member of the Sandy Point Sparks Steel Pan group for three years, Tehya has played for the Charles E. Mills Speech Day, and for Panorama, the all-secondary school competition, where her group placed third in 2011.

Tehya understands the importance of community service.  As part of the Evangelistic Faith Church Youth Group she visits people in the community who are in need, and offers both her support and assistance.  Tehya also participated with the Youth Volunteer Corps at their 2012 Bay Front Clean-Up and is looking forward to being a member of that group as a Remarkable Teen. 

 Tehya plans to attend university in Canada where she will pursue a career in law or medicine.

Tehya Fleming is a 15-year old fifth form student at Charles E. Mills Secondary School.  She is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Dance.

For most teens, music is considered a hobby, or even a medium of recreation, but for Christian Nathaniel, music is life.  Discovering the antique piano in his grandparents’ home at the age of two, Christian began his journey as a musician.

Christian is a multi-instrumentalist: playing piano, fife, drums, keyboard, guitar, steel pan, recorder, and organ.  He is also a talented singer.  

Christian comes from a family of musical talents: his father Nathaniel is a noted pianist, his grandfather Samuel plays the steel pan, his mother Aslyn and grandmother Ellinitta both sing.

Christian is enrolled at the Hulda Lawrence School of Music and has received several Merits and Distinctions from the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music: Piano Exams.  In April 2012, Christian completed his basic musical studies passing grade 8 Level.  He plans to participate in the Caribbean Examinations Council Music Exams next year at the advanced level. 

Christian is currently the official organist for the Zion, Bethesda, and New Dawn Moravian Churches.  He has served as guest organist in other churches both locally and internationally, and at community events such as the National Independence Day Service, and other dignitary and public affairs.  Christian accompanies choral groups as well, including the Moravian Conference Choir, Zion Moravian Junior, Youth and Senior Choirs, Boys Brigade Singers, Teen Challenge Club Band, and the St. Kitts and Nevis Independence Choir.  Christian is a member of the Basseterre High School Symphonic Orchestra, the Teen Challenge Club Band, and the SugaStix Steel Orchestra.

Christian also has a passion for dance and drama.  He is part of his church dance team and the Basseterre High School Storm Cheerleading Squad.  In addition to directing and acting, Christian writes his own dramas and musicals.

Christian uses his talent to give back to the community.  As a newly registered member of Project YEDA (Youth Empower Development through Arts and Entertainment), Christian participates in planning and organizing fundraisers for local charities and community causes.  He also serves as a leader and music teacher at his church’s three-week summer camp, “Zion Youth Fest”, and participates in community service projects through his membership in Boys Brigade.

Christian plans to continue his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England.  His dream career is to build, manage, and operate a Performing Arts School in St. Kitts.

Christian Nathaniel is a 15-year old fourth form student at Basseterre High School.  He is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Music.

Growing up, Sasha Herbert knew that she did not want to be a person with a typical career dream of becoming a doctor, lawyer, accountant, shopkeeper, or stay at home mom; she wanted to follow a different path, something creative, something bold.  Sasha has always loved art and dreamed of becoming an artist one day.  And she is well on her way!

In 2009, Sasha entered a logo and slogan contest sponsored by the Federal National Development Bank Credit Union.  Her logo was selected and is still being used by the bank as their official logo.  Sasha also won $1000 in prize money for her entry: $500 for Basseterre High School and $500 for her personal use.

Again in 2009, Sasha entered an art contest sponsored by the Marriott.  Organizers of the contest wanted to find the nation’s best young artists portraying the theme, “What St. Kitts Means to Me”.   Sasha’s submission won first place in the Under 16 Senior Division for a beautiful piece displaying a sunset from one of the St. Kitts peaks. The picture can still be viewed at the Marriott’s Hall of Fame.

In 2009, 2010, and 2012, Sasha’s art was selected again; this time as a winner of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association local art competition.  Her pieces denoting ways to protect the environment won second place in 2009, first place in 2010, with award placements for 2012 still pending.

Most recently Sasha’s art was on exhibit for five days at the CXC Art Exhibition at Porte Zante. 

Sasha was the only student in St. Kitts to receive a CXC Distinction in Art in 2012.

When learning that she was a recipient of the Remarkable Teen award for 2012, Sasha said, “Most of my passion is channeled through ‘art’, and for me to be recognized as a Remarkable Teen in this category fills me with joy.  Art is everything I am.”

A merit award winner for “Most Outstanding Performance” at Basseterre High School in 2012, Sasha was also Captain of the school’s netball team and a recipient of the TDC Scholarship program.

Sasha Herbert is 17-year old recent graduate of Basseterre High School.  She currently attends Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College and is enrolled in the general studies division.  Sasha is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Art.


Warren Hazel is both an artist and a musician. A talented young man with an infectious spirit, he has been playing piano and electric guitar since he was eight years old.   “Music like many other arts is not something that can be held back,” he said. “It comes from my soul, and when I connect with my audience, I want it to speak to their soul too.  Music is my passion.”

Warren credits his guitar teacher, Stanley Edwards Jr., with helping him to find his musical voice, and to translate his passion into melodies and rhythms that will both entertain and stir emotion.

Warren has played scores of performances throughout his career, both nationally and internationally, traveling to Tortola in 2010 to play for Camp Abraham, a Christian choir from St. Kitts.  Warren has played the National Anthem for the 2011 Verchilds Queen Show, and at the 2012 graduations for Tyrell Williams Primary School and Verchilds Secondary School.

Warren is not a member of a regular band, but instead plays with many groups around the island.  “I’m a roadrunner,” he said. “Whenever someone calls and asks me to play with them, I do it.”

Warren is a generous musician too, volunteering his time to play for Sunday services at Grace Gospel Hall, school assemblies, and other community events.  He also works at Fruit Loops Studio in St. Kitts, helping lay R&B and Hip-Hop tracks.

Warren enjoys athletics, especially running, and has competed in the 100m, 200m, and 400m events as a member of the Verchilds Secondary School Track Team, 2008 St. Kitts and Nevis National Team, and the 2010 Leeward Team.  Warren placed second in the 400m U17 Boys category at the 2012 Interschool Competition.

Warren’s favorite quote comes from his role model, Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  Warren takes his life philosophy from this quote, embracing every opportunity that comes his way, and he wants to inspire other young people to do the same.  Warren hopes the recognition he is receiving as a Remarkable Teen will encourage others to find their passion and have faith in their dreams.

Warren’s career goal is to study science and become a physician.

Warren Hazel is a 16-year old fifth form student at Verchilds High School.  He is being honored as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Performing Artist.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teens Rock the World Right Here from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis


Samuel Oyebefun is both an athlete and a scholar; and a genuinely kind-hearted and thoughtful young man.

 A sprinter who competes for his school and his country, Samuel holds the record in the 400m U15 Boys at 54.80, and is rated the fastest runner in that same category for both the 100m at 11.87, and 200m at 23.9.

Part of the St. Kitts National Team in 2010, Samuel competed in the Leeward Islands Youth Games in Anguilla, and received the Gold Medal in the U13 Boys 800m, and the Silver Medal for the 400m.

A groin injury sidelined Samuel in 2011, but his passion for the sport, and his exemplary work ethic, brought him back in six months. When Samuel returned, Timothy Morton, Samuel’s coach and the man Samuel credits with his athletic excellence, decided to work on Samuel’s speed as part of his comeback routine, and entered him in the 100m and 200m events at the 2012 Washington Archibald Sports Day; and again in the SKNAAA Interschool Competitions, where Samuel won Gold Medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m, and 4x400m events.  Earning five Gold Medals in this competition, Samuel was presented with the U15 Male Champion Honor for his achievement.

A fourth form student at Washington Archibald High School, Samuel has been on the Principal’s Honor Roll for three years straight. Samuel said that his role as Vice-President of Production for the WAHS Junior Achievers project in 2012 was an experience that taught him a lot about business, and an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

Samuel is also committed to helping others.  He mentors young children who want to get involved in track and field, and tutors classmates who need help with their studies.  Samuel is an Usher at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, too.

Samuel hopes one day to become a computer software engineer.  Not surprisingly, based on his career dream, his role model is Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer.  Samuel looks up to Jobs both for his innovation and his inspiration in encouraging others to “Think Different”.

Samuel invests 100% in everything he does, and believes that others should too.  “Giving everything your best effort is the key to being successful.”  He hopes to change the computer world one day, and through his work, find real solutions to human problems.  It is an ambitious and admirable goal.

Samuel Oyebefun is a 14-year old fourth form student at Washington Archibald High School.  He receives the Remarkable Teen honor as a Scholar Athlete for his combined academic and athletic ability.


Nekhaila Tyson is intelligent and creative, focused and committed, an exemplary leader and an involved citizen; but equally important, she is kindhearted and selfless, a humble and inspiring young lady.

Valedictorian of her primary school, Nekhaila represented her school at every quiz competition and remains unsurpassed academically for her age, winning “Best Female” in the 2010 “Best of Standards” competition.  Nekhaila continues to place first in class as a high school student, in all terms, and most recently earned 100% on eight of eleven subjects.

Nekhaila has been an active member of the Shekhinah Dance Theatre for the past five years, performing at special community events such as the Maureen Adams and Dillon Claxton Benefits, and the Blind, Light and Visually Impaired Society.

Nekhaila is also an aspiring poet and has been writing poetry and performing recitations publicly for the past five years.  Some of her dramatizations have been heard at the Tribute to the Elderly, Social Security 30th Anniversary, Church of God Regional Conference 2010, and the Renal Society.  Nekhaila earned first place at the CSS Poetry Competition, and third place at the Island Xpression Poetry Competition for her submissions.

Nekhaila is also a caring person, and committed to making her community a better place. She gives of her time generously, tutoring her peers in math and other subjects, and sharing her positive attitude.   Nekhaila has adopted two elderly people in her village, and does her best to enrich their lives by bringing them food baskets and visiting with them regularly.

During her school break this summer, Nekhaila volunteered for two weeks at the Flamboyant House, a local home for the elderly.  Nekhaila said that working with the elderly is one of her most gratifying experiences.  “Older people have so much history to share,” she said.  “So much to teach us; so many lessons for us to learn.”

Nekhaila is also a school leader, and served as Student Council President at Maude Crosse Preparatory Primary School where she led a school fundraiser earning $4,000 for the school.  A role model for her peers, Nekhaila is serious about her responsibilities.

Nekhaila is passionate about many things.  When asked what she is most passionate about, Nekhaila said, “Life”. 

Nekhaila plans to attend medical school after completing college and would like to become an obstetrician, hoping one day to find a cure for endometriosis. 

Nekhaila Tyson is a 14-year old third form student at Charlestown Secondary School.  She is being recognized as the Most Promising Teen for her combined abilities in leadership, academics, performing arts, and community service.
K’Shanta Reid is the kind of leader with the ability to unite her peers toward a common purpose, a positive attitude that builds trust, and the character that inspires confidence.

K’Shanta is President of the Washington Archibald High School Student Council. In 2010 she was elected and served as Treasurer, and in 2011 she was elected Vice-President. K’Shanta explained that in 2012 the elected President had to step down, and she then assumed that position. As President, K’Shanta committed to representing all students, and believes that she has worked hard to accomplish this goal.  K’Shanta brings an inclusive leadership style to her position as Student Council President, making certain that she is approachable, and once approached, that she is a good listener.  

Some of the activities K’Shanta and the other council members organized and led throughout the year were: Spirit Week, Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week, and Word of the Week.

K’Shanta maintains high standards for herself and others.  She feels that part of her life purpose is to motivate her peers and younger children to move toward the positive things in life; to prepare themselves so that they will be able to make valuable contributions in their communities, schools, and to their country.  It is easy to see that she takes her role as a campus leader seriously.

Committed to academic excellence, K’Shanta has been on the school Honor Roll since first form.  K’Shanta earned the title of Valedictorian at the Seventh Day Adventist Primary School.

K’Shanta enjoys sports, including netball, basketball, football, and cricket, and continues to play on the school teams. K’Shanta was team Captain for the 2011 Open Netball Tournament. 

She sings at both school and church events, and since K’Shanta is educated in music, helps to prepare the other students by teaching and directing their music practices.

K’Shanta is a member of the Caribbean Healthy Life Style Club, a group that focuses on healthy living, encouraging abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and sex.  She also participates as a volunteer for the St. Christopher Outreach Centre, serving lunch to the homeless and hungry.

After high school graduation, K’Shanta plans to attend college where she will study criminal science and forensic pathology.

K’Shanta Reid is a 16-year old fifth form student at Washington Archibald High School.  She is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Campus Leadership.

To Khyla Brown, being a good citizen means being an involved citizen.  It means being aware of what is happening in your country, your community, and your school – and making the commitment to do whatever you can do to help. “A good citizen thinks not only of himself, but of his country,” Khyla said.  “I live by my country’s motto, ‘Country above self’.”

When asked to sing for CARICOM at the Heads of Government Conference held in St. Kitts on July 3, 2011, Khyla accepted without hesitation and with a great sense of honor; the same for the Labor Congress Conventions in 2010 and 2011, and again as one of six people representing St. Kitts at the 2012 World Expo held in South Korea.

Khyla loves to sing and dance and has been a member of the dance group “LEAP” for the past two years.  She was also a two-year member of the Basseterre High School Cheerleading Team, serving as Captain of the squad in her second year. As part of the cheerleading team, Khyla led her squad to receive second place in the 2011 Interschool Cheer Competition. Khyla was also a member of the Basseterre High Team that was awarded “Best High School” for their song and dance routine in the 2011 Clash of the High Schools Competition.  

President of the 2012 Prom Committee for Basseterre High School, Khyla led the planning committee, including selecting the venue at the Firehouse Restaurant, and organizing school fundraisers to support this very successful event.

Khyla is an active volunteer, serving as a tutor and mentor for both peers and younger children experiencing academic challenges and other problems.  Last year, she was invited to speak to the sixth grade class at Tucker Clarke Primary School about preparing for the high school “Test of Standards” exams. Khyla enjoys her position as a role model for young people.

Khyla is also a young entrepreneur and the founder of “Cuchi’s Nail Creations”, an acrylic nail design business she started six years ago and manages from her mother’s shop, “First Class” at Port Zante.  Khyla saves much of the money she earns from her work, planning to use it to pay for college.

Khyla was on the Principal’s Honor Roll at Basseterre first through fifth form and earned six Distinctions in 2012.

Khyla Brown is a 17-year old recent graduate of Basseterre High School.  She is currently enrolled in science courses at Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College. Khyla receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Citizenship.

Wricherley Gumbs is a doer; an active and informed young man, always willing to stand up for what he believes in and committed to the healthy and successful development of young people throughout the Federation.

President of the Washington Archibald High School Student Government Association in 2010, Wricherley was also elected President of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College Student Government Association in both 2011 and 2012.  Wricherley is an outstanding public speaker, and especially enjoys debating and effective speaking competitions, consistently participating in these activities through church and school.  

Wricherley graduated from Washington Archibald High School in 2012 having attained eight subject passes and three grade ones.  However, like all teenagers, he faced a number of challenges in high school.  Wricherley explained: “In the first two years of high school negative peer pressure led me to drift from my goals, and in my third year I was demoted as a result of poor grades. I was devastated by the failure and made the commitment right then, despite the struggles I faced, that I would seize the opportunity of second chances, refocus my efforts, and strive for excellence.”

The setback of a demotion was Wricherley’s wake-up call, and his positive attitude when faced with this setback was critical to his present success.  It is a story that should serve as a model for all teenagers to use good judgment and to say no to risk taking behavior, and a story that Wricherley wants to share with other youth. “No influence in life is greater than peer pressure,” he said. “While positive peer pressure is a strong motivating force, the opposite can be said of negative peer pressure.”  Wricherley believes that a vibrant and resilient community fosters the successful development of children, and he plans to use his experience to help other teens avoid the consequences of making bad decisions.

Wricherley enjoys writing and has written many notable poems. His poems on education and the environment earned first place awards in the UNESCO 2010 Poetry Competition. Of poetry, Wricherley said, “Poetry is me.  It’s the medium I use to express my thoughts, where I find true solace.”  Proud of his culture, Wricherley also uses his talent as a writer to write and sing Calypso and has competed in Junior Calypso competitions for the past five years.

Wricherley Gumbs is 18 years old and a recent graduate of Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College.  He has just started his first year as an English teacher at his alma mater, Washington Archibald High School.  Wricherley receives the Remarkable Teen award for Youth Activism.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Teens Rising Above Adversity...

Ariann Maynard is a resilient young woman, and her story is a story of strength.

Young girls often grow up with fairy tales and dreams of princes and princesses.  “Once upon a time” is the beginning; a promise for a life of romance and adventure, where good overcomes evil and everyone lives happily ever after. Ariann had such dreams, and then she made a mistake.

At the age of 13, Ariann discovered she was pregnant.  A child herself, Ariann was frightened and ashamed, and went to her mother for help.  Though upset and disappointed, her mother stood by her and helped her navigate the difficult journey of pregnancy and child birth.  Adrian dropped out of school and sports, and faced the ridicule and criticism of classmates and community, but she had the support of her family, and that made all the difference.

At age 14, Ariann delivered healthy twin boys, K’vanj and Ticarj.  But the birth of her children was not the end of her story, it was yet another beginning. 

It is the reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself that determines the direction of one’s life; in overcoming difficult challenges, there is also opportunity to experience personal growth.  Those who triumph all share the need to overcome, and Ariann found the strength and courage to do just that. 

During her pregnancy, Ariann had kept up with her studies and was able to return to school after the birth of her children.  She graduated from Gingerland Secondary School in 2011 on par with the rest of her classmates, sitting eight CXC exams, and earning seven passes and one Distinction.  Ariann is currently enrolled in Nevis Sixth Form and plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue a career in nursing.

Three years-old now, K’vanj and Ticarj are enrolled in pre-school, attending during the day while Ariann is at school.  The boys also enjoy spending weekly visits with their father, Ervin, who continues to contribute to their support.

Ariann’s eyes light up when speaking of her sons.  “I am amazed when I look at them,” she said.  “The special connection they share as twins, the way they communicate with each other.  I love watching them discover new things each and every day.  I love that they are so happy.”

Ariann is a 17-year old student in Nevis Sixth Form College.  She is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Courage to Overcome: Personal Decision.

Shaquille Gumbs did not start out life as most children do.  Before reaching the age of one, Shaquille was abandoned by his birth mother; left at Joseph N. France hospital following an illness, forgotten and alone, until Trudella Davis found him and adopted him. Shaquille is passionate when speaking about Trudella Davis and what she means to him. In relating his early beginnings, Shaquille explained, “I feel blessed to have been adopted by a mother who is a devoted Christian; being brought into this family has made me strong both spiritually and personally.”

Shaquille has never met his birth father, but incredibly, he found him on Facebook last year.  It was an emotional discovery that Shaquille said he is very happy to have made.

Shaquille enjoys both singing and songwriting, especially Gospel music.  He has written eight Gospel songs, his favorite entitled “Moving Forward”.  Shaquille was a member of the Basseterre High School Choir for five years and is now a member of the AVEC school choir.

Shaquille attended Basseterre High School from 2006 – 2011 where he received the award for “Most Respectful Student” from first through fifth form.  Shaquille is especially proud of this honor.  Being recognized as the most helpful and respectful student did not bring Shaquille esteem from his peers however, and he often found himself the victim of bullying for choosing this path.  Shaquille credits his strong sense of values for remaining positive in spite of the taunting and intimidation by classmates.

Shaquille attends the New Testament Church of God and is a member of the Youth Inspiration Fellowship. He also volunteers at the church, helping out with the young children, and serving as a church worship leader with the Pastor. 

Shaquille is a busy young man, working as a courtesy clerk at Valu-Mart to earn money for school while at the same time following his other interests.  Shaquille especially loves to bake and plans to pursue a career as a pastry chef.  He hopes to open his own restaurant one day.

Shaquille Gumbs is an 18-year old student at AVEC, the Advanced Vocational Education Centre, where he is enrolled in hospitality courses.  He receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Commitment to Personal Excellence.

Shani Reid is committed to community service.  She believes that taking part in volunteerism teaches compassion and understanding, and that it should be an integral part of life skills development for all teens.

“Not everything is about being paid or earning money,” she said, “Volunteering is about taking an active role and connecting to one another.  It can have positive and long term benefits that affect each and every member of the community.”

A class leader at Charles E. Mills Secondary School, Shani has served on the Student Council Executive Committee from first through fourth form: first as Treasurer, then Public Relations Officer, and finally, Vice-President.   She is also on the Honor Roll and earned three CXC Distinctions in 2012.

Shani has been a volunteer at the Red Cross Society for three years, donating seven hours a week of her time to this service based community organization.  Shani also assists the Sandy Point Young Football Association with medical tips at their Saturday morning training sessions, and the Sandy Point Co-Operative Farming Society to harvest and help maintain their farm. In addition, Shani works with three students from CEMSS at her home for two hours a day, every day, year round, as a tutor and mentor.

A congregant of the Sandy Point Methodist Church, Shani enjoys volunteering in the Vacation Bible School too, leading the younger children in camp disciplines, Bible stories, and other fun activities.

Shani believes the greatest barrier to success is fear of failure.  “When you think you can’t do something,” she said, “reach up and try harder and you will find you can do it eventually.”

During a class meeting with both parents and students in attendance – a meeting called by the school Principal to address behavior problems among classmates – Shani spoke out about the divisive environment that existed among her classmates because “putting the class back together was important” to her. As a result of taking a stand, Shani became the victim of bullying by her peers.  “Classmates cursed me and alienated me,” she explained.  “It was a difficult time.”

Learning about the ongoing negativity of students, the school guidance counselor spoke to the class, and planned two activities off campus, hoping that if students spent time together in a social environment, that they would bond.  Shani said the plan worked, and during the Beach Day get together, a few of her classmates even apologized to her.  The apology wasn’t important though – to Shani, it was the change the class experienced when they connected to one another as a group that made her know she had done the right thing.

Shani plans to pursue a career as a dentist.

Shani Reid is a 17-year old recent graduate of Charles E. Mills Secondary School. She is currently enrolled at Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College taking courses in natural science. Shani receives the Remarkable Teen award in the category of Community Service.
Akeem Omah Huggins developed his love for cooking as a young boy watching his mother prepare food for family gatherings and community events.  He started preparing simple dishes like Macaroni and Cheese and White Rice before advancing to more complex dishes like Macaroni Pie and Scalloped Potatoes. 

In 2010, Akeem worked part time at Marshall’s Restaurant where he was able to add technique to his culinary talent.  In March 2012, through a program supported by Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, Akeem worked as an intern at the Montpelier Plantation, and later trained at Carambola Restaurant in Friars Bay with Executive Pastry Chef Cameron Steele, further developing his skills.  Akeem continues to assist Lionel Isaac of Chef’s Place with special event catering jobs, and prepares meals for his church and for other community events.

Andre enjoys cooking Italian food the most.  “Italian recipes are all about simple foods made with authentic, high quality ingredients,” he said. “The ingredients add to the richness and flavor of the food and the fresh herbs and spices make it taste delicious.”

Akeem is committed to helping others and serves as a mentor for the “Diamonds in the Rough” Program.  He has participated as a volunteer in the Youth Department Summer Camp Program, both as a cook and as a mentor, using his experience and his love for cooking to teach younger children. Akeem is also a member of the Rivers of Living Water Christian Center Youth Outreach Program.

Akeem said he experiences “genuine joy when helping people”.  He hopes that his selection as a Remarkable Teen will motivate and inspire others to believe in themselves in spite of challenges and setbacks.

Academic success does not come easily to Akeem.  He found the block scheduling of classes in high school too intense, and at times found it difficult to concentrate and keep up.  But with the support of dedicated teachers, and his tenacious spirit, Akeem prevailed, and in 2010 he received a Certificate of Exemplary Performance for his school work during fifth form.

Akeem plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Monroe College, a culinary school in New York. When he is finished with his degree, Akeem wants to use his culinary talent to support himself while he expands his awareness and explores the world; traveling everywhere and learning firsthand about different people and cultures.

Akeem Omah Huggins is a 19-year old second year student at Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College enrolled in culinary studies courses.  He is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Culinary Arts. 



Jaleel Huggins didn’t need to be convinced that agriculture was the career path for him; he knew it was what he wanted to do the first time he planted a seed. “I love everything about agriculture,” he said, “the feel of the land, using my hands instead of a “machine” to create something that can nourish, taking the product to market, tasting the food my mother cooks from the seeds I plant.  I am proud when I see the results of my work.”

Jaleel has been tending a plot of land for three years now: buying the seeds, preparing the soil, watering, weeding, and caring for the plot, harvesting the vegetables when they are ripe, and selling to a regular customer base of stores, teachers, and friends.

Jaleel has learned everything he knows about growing vegetables by hands-on experience and hard work; and he has learned from both his failures and his successes.  “Even when something is hard to do, I figure out how to do it,” Jaleel said. “I don’t stop until I get it perfect.”

Sharing one of the lessons he has learned, Jaleel talks about the importance of reconditioning the soil after each crop.  “Planning ahead is important,” he said. “You have to prepare a garden bed before you plant. It’s called reconditioning the soil, and it improves the health of whatever you’re trying to grow. It means turning the ground and adding manure and other organic materials to the soil, and rotating what crops you grow.”

Jaleel grows herbs, lettuce, green onions, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes.  He uses some of the money he earns from selling vegetables to reinvest in his business, buying more seeds and whatever else he needs, and the rest of the money he puts in the bank planning to use it to start his own farm, “Farmer J’s”, one day. 

Jaleel enjoys landscaping too, and already has one yard he tends twice a month: weeding, watering, and cutting the grass. He plans to make landscaping services part of his future business.

Jaleel likes to keep himself busy.  He attends Shiloh Baptist Church for Sunday services, and Zion Chapel on Thursday evenings where he is a member of the Zion Chapel Youth Group and participates in activities such as cooking and Bible study.  Jaleel also enjoys fishing and makes his own fishing nets.  His favorite school subjects are agriculture, integrated science, and woodwork classes.

Jaleel Huggins is a 15-year old fourth form student at Gingerland Secondary School.  He is being recognized as a Remarkable Teen in the category of Young Entrepreneur: Agriculture.