Shanya Hill | How I overcame the ‘non-traditional’ stigma

I remember the day I was told that I would be placed at B. B. Coke High, a ‘non-traditional’ high school in St Elizabeth.

Tears flooded my eyes, and I felt as though I was the biggest disappointment in my family.

Some of my immediate thoughts were:

“What am I gonna tell my mommy who worked so hard for me?”

“The whole community agoh laugh afta me when mi walk out September inna mi big ole yellow uniform.”

“Everybody agoh seh mi a guh dat school because mi dunce.”

I told my mother the news with pain in my heart and I decided that I wanted a transfer to another school.

I was granted a transfer to St. Elizabeth Technical High.

I was elated, but then my mom had a change of heart, and we had a talk.

She told me that it doesn’t matter where I am placed, if I want to shine beyond the criticisms, doubts and rumours I would.

I went to B.B.Coke High.

I stepped into that school with a mindset that I wasn’t going to be a failure, and I worked overtime to show it.

My average was always in the 90’s and top of my class. However, my attitude towards my work pumped up some competition.

Throughout 8th grade, I became a bit complacent. My average fell to the 80s and I was now behind three students.

I got a proper warning from my mother.

Ninth grade could never be the same. My main aim was to be at the top.

In 10th grade, I got into the class of my choice, which was the business group.

I was driven to work harder because I was now doing my favourite subjects, and was reaping the benefits of it.

I was stressed in 11th grade. I hardly ate; I stayed up late at nights; and my weekends were used for studying at the library with Shakera Gayle. We were both hungry for success.

I was scared. I thought about all the money spent to push me through high school, and I was about to face my first external examination since the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

I was prepared to do my best

I sat 8 CSEC subjects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council, as well as one NCTVET.

I received 4 Grade Ones (including three distinctions) and 3 Twos in CSEC, as well as a Grade Four in Mathematics. I also passed my NCTVET examination.

Who was I to be disappointed… I ran up, down and around the house screaming at midnight when I saw the results.

I enrolled in the sixth form programme at school the following year, and I sat 3 CAPE subjects. I got 2 Grade Ones (including one distinction), and 1 Grade Three.

Once again, I was in my yard on my head-top celebrating.

I am currently awaiting results for my 4 CAPE subjects and 1 CSEC. I m confident that I did well in those exams.

Shanya Hill

I proudly delivered the Valedictory Speech at my graduation a few days ago.

To all students who passed GSAT for non-traditional high schools such as B.B.Coke High, do not feel downhearted.

I am all that I am because of my experiences, including the exposure I got from participating in extra-curricular activitites. I also had some of the best teachers in Jamaica.

I have been prepared to take on the world of work; I feel no less than any student who attended one of the top traditional high schools.

Wherever you are planted, you can always BLOOM WITH GRACE!

Related posts

PHOTO: Young people getting on-the-job training at ODPEM

Horace Mills

MURDER: Cops want help to identify body with ‘Sophia’ tattoo

Horace Mills

From childhood abuse to peace-building | Juleus Ghunta launching book

Horace Mills

Leave a Comment