Inner-city teens help power St Jago to SCQ title
Two members of St Jago High School's triumphant 2022 Schools' Challenge Quiz team, Joshua Wallen and Jermaine Miller, say that growing up in two of the Corporate Area's most gritty environments has been a major source of inspiration for them.
Both teens played a key role in their school's 28 -16 victory over Calabar High School inside Television Jamaica's studio last night. Immediately following the St Catherine-based team's triumph, there were reports of pandemonium in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew, from which Miller hails.
"It feels good because growing up in my community has always been difficult with the violence," said a beaming Miller. At the final buzzer, residents took to the streets to knock pot covers in jubilation. The reaction, according to Miller, who lives there with his mother and two siblings, gives him a sense of satisfaction and belief that other children in his area can also lift themselves out of the slump through education.
"It is true that you can become anything you desire to be regardless of where you come from," he said. Wallen, who lives in Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston, said he has found it difficult to ignore the violence in his community which has had a tremendous impact on his studies.
"I live with my grandmother and uncle and there are times when I have to find creative ways to keep up with my studies because of the violence. I don't allow it to affect me that much because I want to ensure that I keep my focus on my schoolwork," said Wallen, who hopes to one day become an accountant.
St Jago, who was playing in its fourth final in five years, and 11th overall, entered the match as favourites, and the school's rich history paid dividends from the get-go.
St Jago raced to a four-point lead inside the first three minutes as the nervy-looking Calabar team failed to keep up with St Jago. The winning team members punched the air at the final whistle as quiz master Jean Paul-Menou signalled the end to the contest that somewhat lacked the pre-match intensity displayed by travelling supporters from both schools in the makeshift stands. With a sixth title, the St Jago principal, Collette Fuertado-Pryce, said she was dedicating the victory to everyone who supported the school during a rigid preparation process caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is just the motivation for all the things we have faced during the pandemic. Preparing for examinations, preparations for the competition in such a limited time and in such drastic circumstances. This one is for those who are feeling hopeless and not sure of their purpose. I want to thank everyone for their support, especially those from the community of Rivoli where our blessed school is located. Together we have all made this possible after a difficult period of preparation," she said.
Her counterpart, Albert Corcho, principal of Calabar High, conceded that his school lost to a better outfit but pledged that his boys will bounce back.
"I think tonight's match was pretty good. We lost to a very good team in St Jago. However, I am very proud of them. They will be back next year and I will be supporting them 100 per cent as they seek to use the lessons gained from this experience here tonight," he said.