Trench Town high achiever - Inner-city youth passes seven CSEC before grade 11

April 21, 2021
High achiever Derue Burton.
High achiever Derue Burton.

When he was in grade five at Denham Town Primary, Derue Burton was disheartened when he didn't make the high achievers' list, but that encounter started his quest for success.

Derue, who hails from Trench Town, St Andrew, vowed to be a scholar, and he has been doing just that ever since. Derue, now 17, has already passed seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, which he did while in grades nine and 10 at Excelsior High School. He will be sitting another five in short order. Derue told THE STAR that he has always been focused on making himself and his family proud.

"I always had my mind set on greatness and I know school can be a way out, so I always take my lessons serious. Even when other kids want fancy stuff I always just satisfy with what my mother can give me and know that things will be better one day," he said. "The crime and violence in the community sometimes is terrible but I don't let it stop me from doing great. I always stay inside and study hard."

His mother, Taneisha Gordon, is confident that he will pass the other five subjects because of how hard he pushes with his schoolwork.

"Him is not the child that you have to tell to take up a book. He is always on the ball, him know wah him want so him go for it," she told THE STAR. The family has faced many struggles, from a cramped living situation to occasionally not having food.

Never make money stop him

"Even though most times me never have it, my son never make money stop him from go school, him always a push out, don't matter what," said Gordon. "More while me have to call teacher and tell them to give him a $500 until me can give them back because me don't have it. Sometimes when me nuh have no money a just father God me talk to or me ask my sister for a little money to give him. But at all times me just trust the process and say one day we will have it."

In grade eight, Derue was granted a $200,000 scholarship, which eased the burden on Gordon, who occasionally does janitorial work to care for Derue and his sister. The focused youngster decided to leap the CSEC hurdle from as early as age 14, first gaining success in mathematics and religious education. A year later he challenged himself to sit five additional exams.

"He did the five CXC at Half-Way Tree Primary School. A man name Mr Blackstock did classes there and him say him want to go, so me send him not even knowing where the money would come from to pay it," said Gordon. "When him use to go class at Half-Way Tree Primary some nights him would walk to Trench Town when me don't have any money and him never make it bother him. Me remember one night as him reach home me hear them kill a man right where him just walk and me cry because me a say look what me child have to go through and me can't help." On the cusp of more success, Derue makes it a part of his duty to follow up with his teachers on topics he hasn't mastered, in an attempt to stay ahead in his studies.

"When me deh a school and me come home with work and if I get it incorrect, I revise the topic and when I go back to school I ensure to go over it with the teacher," he said.

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