Ten Saint Lucian students were recognized this week at an awards ceremony for participating in the 2022 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools.
The event was held as part of this year’s Nobel Laureate Festival celebrations under the theme “Celebrating Excellence: Nurturing Our Creativity, Consolidating Our Legacy”.
According to the Royal Commonwealth Society, the competition is an opportunity for young Commonwealth citizens to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on key global issues.
Students from Saint Lucia were rewarded with certificates and prizes for their thoughtful contributions.
“We at Songtry are happy to partner again with SLUDTERA (a private social enterprise and entrepreneurship support organization) to host the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Contest Awards. We encourage our young awardees to keep up the good work and to be among the youth who will always help shine a light on Fair Helen,” Perlina Murray, author and co-founder of Songtry (an organization that focuses on giving young people exposure in the arts) said.
“We are challenging you today to continue to let your voices be heard and we hope that one day the spotlight will be on you as distinguished Nobel Laureates of Saint Lucia,” she added.
Michelle Samuel, junior judge for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) lauded students for their efforts; she also discussed the aim of the competition.
“The QCEC seeks to introduce young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, underrepresented demographics and remote communities to the idea of writing for fun, developing key literacy skills and working to increase academic attainment. Each year young people write on a theme that stems from the Commonwealth, the values and its principles. Last year, that was only a few weeks ago, the theme was ‘The Commonwealth’ which received a record breaking 26,300 entries, ten of which came from these young students seated before me. This is the largest contingency of Saint Lucia’s participation to date since 1883,” Samuel noted.
“As a junior judge, I was faced with the enormous task of grading students under the age of 14 evaluating their imagination and originality, development of their idea, adherence to the theme, structure and style,” she added.
Students who participated in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2021 were also recognized at the event. Participants also got the opportunity to read their essays before an audience and embraced it fully. Their contributions were relevant and captivating.
“We could not have an event like this one (in 2021) and that prevented us from really recognizing all of the students who participated. (In) 2021 we had four persons who participated and they are joining us this morning because we cannot take this moment away from them,” Samuel said.
She added: “In case you’re wondering some of the 2021 and the 2022 (participants) are the same people.”
The Ministry of Education also showed its support to students and described the competition as a wonderful opportunity for them; one that will allow them to grow in several areas.
“We listened to your pieces this morning and they were all fantastic. One of the beauties of this competition is that you get to freely explore your imagination without boundaries. Additionally, it is these kinds of activities that provide engaging opportunities that are enjoyable. We at the Ministry appreciate the value of these kinds of experiences. We encourage it because these are learning experiences that occurs outside the walls of the classroom and we know that they are memorable and meaningful. Therefore, the Ministry of Education endorses and fully supports this activity,” Giannetti George, Deputy Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education said.
Further, “we would like to acknowledge the enormous efforts and dedication of Michelle Samuel founder and president to award recipients of the top awards of the Saint Lucia Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.”