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School leavers at the Gayle Primary School in St Mary were recently motivated to take responsibility for their education and success.

The lesson came from Winsome McNish Ricketts, business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank, Ocho Rios and Port Maria, who was the guest speaker at the school’s graduation, held recently at the United Pentecostal Church in the rural community.

The banker encouraged the students to set high expectations for themselves and to dream big.

“Big dreams require hard work on your part,” Mrs McNish Ricketts charged the approximately 24 students. “Not on your parents’ nor your teachers’ part, but on your part.”

“You could have the most supportive parents and the most dedicated teachers, who will do everything humanly possible to help you to achieve your dreams; but, if there is no effort on your part, do you think you will succeed? No!” she stressed.

Using the story of Damion Lawrence, a dyslexic boy, whose story was published by The Gleaner after he overcame illiteracy at age 12 to pursue an education in law, Mrs McNish Ricketts underscored the value of perseverance to the young school leavers, who represented the rural school’s first cohort to sit the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

Detailing how the young St Ann native struggled with reading prior to emerging to gain 14 subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level by age 17, she impressed on the children that no dream was too big for them to achieve. Damion earned six distinctions, five credits and three passes at grade three.

“There is no reason you should ever give up when you are experiencing challenges on your journey,” she said. “Imagine if Damion had given up. If you give up, you will never know the joy of success; and not only that, you would have missed the opportunity to make your country a better place,” she continued as she also reminded them about their civic duty.


Mrs McNish Ricketts urged the graduates to strive to become role models to their peers at school and in their communities; as well as, to make an impact on the country. However, as they pursue their dreams, she cautioned them:

“Do not be in a hurry to grow up. This is a great time in your life.  Do not rush pass it. You started this school as toddlers and today are leaving as young ladies and gentlemen,” she advised, urging them to enjoy their youth.

“Be determined to make your family and teachers proud of you. Be determined to become role models for other students. Be determined to make a positive contribution to your community and country,” she concluded.


School principal, Susanne Harris Calvert, disclosed that several of the students had done well in the recent PEP exams. Two students scored more than 300 out of the maximum 400 points on the exam and 28 scored more than 200.

“70 per cent of the students performed at the developing and proficient level,” she disclosed. “Two students scored highly proficient in more than one subject.”

Mrs Harris Calvert said that although the school had experienced various challenges, it was working to become the primary school of choice for St Mary residents. She urged the school leavers to become ambassadors for Gayle Primary.

“As you exit this institution, I want to encourage you to shine. Remember there is no substitute for hard work,” she told the children.

Quoting Civil Rights Activist Malcolm X, she also reminded the graduates that: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who plan for it.”

JN Bank- Gayle 02

Winsome McNish Ricketts, business relationship and sales manager, JN Bank Ocho Rios and Port Maria, gives words of encouragement to Tishauna Stephenson (second from right) and Daniel Douglas (second from left), ahead of their school leaving ceremony on Monday, July 1, while their principal, Susanne Harris Calvert, listens keenly.

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