Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School and Babonneau Primary School captured the top spots at the Schools Choir Competition last week, walking away with $1,000 each.
The competition returned last Friday at the National Cultural Center after it was discontinued for a number of years and was replaced with the Schools Music Festival.
According to title sponsor Sagicor, this was mainly because it was felt that a handful of schools continuously dominated the competition at the time, while other schools felt that they never stood a chance.
The music festival on the other hand, has allowed all schools to participate without the added stress of competition, and has been giving each school the opportunity to shine in their particular area of strength.
The reintroduction of the choir competition is not a replacement for the festival, Sagicor noted, but an addition to the calendar of events. The Schools Choir Competition was once an established event on the Curriculum and Materials Development Unit’s (CAMDU) calendar.
The main objective of the competition is to create an avenue where the highest level of excellence in choral singing can be experienced and witnessed, Sagicor noted. Also, “to reward teachers and students who are committed and devoted to the art of proper choral singing” and “to provide a performance standard for other school choirs and music teachers to aspire to.”
“My superiors have not hidden their readiness to stand with the Ministry of Education after we were approached to partner for this event. For us it was an automatic ‘yes’. As a group we continue to stand proudly with initiatives such as these that let our children know that they have a partner in their quest to be wise and outstanding citizens,” Sherlon DeLeon, Sales Manager, Sagicor Life (Eastern Caribbean) Inc., said at a virtual media launch last week.
“Sagicor has been visibly supporting worthy causes in St Lucia over the years, focusing on youth development, sports for youth inclusive of tennis, football and cricket; more recently we introduced the Adopt-A-School programme for primary schools, and we are currently working with the Boguis Primary School in support of infrastructural improvements and much more. We see the benefit of our continued participation in events and activities such as these, which contribute to the sense of national security, community spirit and safety in St. Lucia,” DeLeon added.
Sagicor will support the Schools Choir Competition as title sponsor in 2023, 2024 and 2025. The company will be contributing over US$10,000 to the Ministry of Education over that period.
Sagicor is hoping that there will be increased public interest in the final event and also hopes to inspire other members of the private sector to lend support to the Schools Music Festival which takes place in October each year.
“I would like to encourage parents to keep their children involved in social activities as it goes a long way in developing key social skills and emotional intelligence, both essential to their success in adulthood,” DeLeon noted.
According to him, “it is important that responsible companies such as ours partner with the government to achieve our developmental goals. Choir membership helps with more than just exercising the vocal cords, it encourages confidence, develops leadership qualities, builds teamwork and team dynamics.”
DeLeon encouraged educators to continue promoting “non-sporting and non-academic extracurricular activities.”
“Many students who do not excel in sports or academics may have an opportunity to build their self-worth and image in area where they are truly talented. The spillover effect can be exponential and should never be overlooked,” he added.
Six schools participated in the Schools Choir Competition this year, namely, Augier Combined, Babonneau Primary, Canon Laurie Anglican Primary, Gros Islet Primary, St Mary’s College and Sir Ira Simmons Secondary. St Mary’s College and Gros Islet Primary both came in second place.
Assistant Manager (Eastern Caribbean Operations) of Sagicor General Insurance Inc. Deborah Raoul in her opening remarks at the press launch commended “the minister, permanent secretary and team at the Ministry of Education for not only restoring this competition to its former glory, but for building and improving on it as we re-orient ourselves to coming out of a significant period of isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“You are creating an avenue to help develop important skills, discipline and character in these students who are the future of St Lucia,” Raoul observed, adding “since my very first job as an afterschool program teacher at 18, Sagicor has showcased its genuine commitment to undertaking and supporting efforts geared towards improving the lives of our fellow St. Lucian citizens and students. This approach has not changed over the years, growing to reflect the long-term legacy of the company and the brand here in St. Lucia.”