The newly minted “This is Jamaica” Scholarship Competition was a resounding success in its first year, as ten students from eight parishes were awarded for their poetic skills in a poem about their country.
Created to help students explore poetry as an educational building block, the scholarship competition is the brainchild of Peter Gracey, who wanted Jamaican students to ‘express themselves freely through poetry.” The competition was open to applicants between the ages of 6 and 18, attending a primary or high school in Jamaica. Students were required to recite the poem, “This is Jamaica,” written by Mr. Gracey.
Over 200 applications were received, with 79 students submitting their own creative video renditions of the poem. The judges then chose the top ten from which the final three were awarded the main prize of US$1,000.00 and Tablets to help with school. First place got $500.00, while second and third place finishers received $300.00 and $200.00 respectively. Each of the other ten finalist received $50.00 each.
Courtney Greaves from Jessie Ripoll Primary School took first place, Gabrielle Buckley of Balaclava Primary School was second, and Central Village High School’s Shadecia Dinnall placed third.
Greaves, in a written statement to Caribbean National Weekly, said: “This is Jamaica, and The Peter Gracey Foundation has changed my life. With this, I will continue to do my best to represent the foundation as an ambassador. This scholarship has given me the encouragement and drive to pursue my goals as becoming a pediatrician and ultimately the Prime Minister of Jamaica.”
Gabrielle Buckley was also thankful and gracious. “It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the “This is Jamaica scholarship Organization” for giving us children a chance to showcase our love for Jamaica, and to express ourselves by doing a rendition of this beautiful poem.”
The Top 10
Scholarship Ambassador, Dr. Oliver Samuels, Jamaica’s King of comedy had high praises for the creation, the students and the execution of the program. “I have met some amazing people and I would like to congratulate all the participants. It was an amazing competition. Some people say it should be the national Poem. This is national and I hope that schools will take it on and give children a sense of pride.” The comedian said: “It is a great, great pleasure to recite that poem and I feel a sense of great pride.” Continuing in his natural ‘Jamaican tongue’ he said, “Look here, Jamaica, wi know wi condition and it nuh easy fi cure, and if unu speak this poem, it will be something that changes nuff a unu mind.”
Consul General Oliver Mair in his endorsement of the scholarship competition said: “This is Jamaica Poetry Scholarship is very important as we want to ensure we have the next Fae Ellington, Blakka Ellis, Oliver Samuels, Chris Daley and Maas Ron. We have so many shining examples of excellence in theatre.”
With this year’s success, the organizers and sponsors have committed to increase the prize money from $1,350.00 to $6,500.00 for the 2022 edition. This would make it one of the top schools’ competitions in Jamaica with direct benefits to students.
Support for the competition came from The Kiwanis Club of Lauderhill, The Jamaica Diaspora taskforce Action network (JDTAN), The Dr. Andrea Thorpe Foundation, The Real Credit Deal (title sponsor), and the Jamaica Teachers Association.
This is Jamaica
By Peter Gracey
This is Jamaica!
This is my country.
A son of this island,
A daughter of this land.
Fearless of fear,
I stand in awe.
Only love prevails,
Secured in God’s hands.
This is Jamaica!
Where Joy cometh in the morn.
Surrounded by mystic waters,
Crashing into the shores – Where only heroes are born.
Only if you knew Jamaica as well as I do,
Then you would utter!
I love you Jamaica,
God knows, I Do!
This is Jamaica!
A simple speck in the universe.
Our hearts beat and pulse in every nation,
But only second to The Kingdom of God – We put Jamaica first.
I am Jamaican!
Regardless of where you may find me.
Black, Green and Gold is the marrow in my bones.
So If I die away from my island,
I pray to God, you’ll take me home.