Students Honour National Heroes through Writing
TSTT Corporate Communications
Secondary School students from all corners of Trinidad and Tobago had the opportunity to meet some of their favourite national heroes courtesy communications solution provider bmobile at the company’s corporate box at the Queen’s Park Oval recently.
Celebrating the winners of the inaugural Wired868 Write Start essay writing competition, attendees included bmobile endorsees like international cricket legend Brian Lara and Olympic Gold Medalist and national javelin athlete Keshorn Walcott. Both sporting heroes were mentioned by two of the shortlisted winners. Shara Balkaran of Parvati Girls’ Hindu College used the platform to highlight the reality girls love and play cricket as much as boys do. Amaiyah Joseph of Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain, recalled the triumph of Walcott’s Olympic Gold and her real-world encounter with the star athlete as they crossed paths at the Piarco International airport. Both athletes are also ambassadors for the bmobile brand and joined the Minister of Education, Dr. The Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, author and writer Lisa Allen-Agostini, Wired868 Managing Director Lasana Liburd and US-based businessman Sean Powder who contributed the cash prizes allocated for the winners.
Shara Balkaran’s fictional piece on Lara won the Category 11-15 top prize, won a special bmobile prize and was also the Most Shared in her Category with over 4200 shares. “My sister inspired me to write this story - she loved writing, and I wanted to be as good as her. And of course, Brian Lara is one of my cricket inspirations as well. I love him, and I love cricket, so I was very inspired to write this story and share it with everyone,” she noted. Balkaran plans to continue writing and hopes to have a career in the field ahead of her. She personally received her prize from the cricket legend himself.
Amaiyah Joseph reenacted her sighting of gold medalist, Keshorn Walcott at the airport, where she could not contain her excitement in meeting and greeting the javelin athlete. “I briefly met him around 2013, we were on the same flight and I remember telling my mom, ‘Mommy, look the man!’ which I just got to reenact for him! I didn’t get a photo at that time but I wrote the story based on that short meeting with him,” Joseph highlighted. She is passionate about the creative arts as she emphasised, “I always read at lunch time during school and also enjoy writing stories too.” Many of her stories are based on cartoons she also enjoys viewing, and she also dabbles in
drawing anime. Her mother, Cassandra, credits Mrs. Blanc-Peters of Newton Girls RC School, who first drew attention to Amaiyah’s writing talents. “When I took a look at the stories, I realised, wow, these are good!” She was also impressed that many entrants wrote about national heroes and mentors not traditionally highlighted in the media. “We need more positive mentors in society and to honour them while they are alive, I hope we see more competitions like this too,” Mrs. Joseph added.
Speaking briefly to the students, bmobile endorsee, Brian Lara called on the winners to save their winnings and to educate themselves in other areas such as financial literacy aside from their schooling.
Gerard Cooper, General Manager Shared Services, TSTT commented, “We are happy to see that writing is alive and well through the young people in T&T given that we do have a rich cultural heritage and world-famous writers from our shores. To be able to express oneself particularly through writing is one of the best personal assets in the world. And the only way to be a good writer is to read. It’s why we actively support other programs in reading like our Book Buddies program and other initiatives. We encourage everyone to read more, learn more. And we also thank our endorsees Brian and Keshorn of whom we are always proud, for joining us today and sharing in this love for the writing craft,” he added.
Dr. The Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Education shared her latest venture, a published book with parents of the winning students and called on students to create, write and explore the critical areas of creativity as a core essence of life. Lasana Liburd, Managing Director of Wired868, recalled how the competition originated, “Sean Powder, a reader and occasional writer for Wired868, brought this idea to us and also contributed the initial cash winnings. We wanted to get topics that adults would be curious to see and read too so that it could appeal to a wider audience. In the end, we were very pleased with the quality of stories that we got. We absolutely are going to have another competition and at the suggestion of one of the judges, Lisa Allen Agostini, we may consider writing workshops for entrants so we can also allow them to learn from professionals in the field and better develop the mechanics of writing,” he noted.
Other sponsors of the Wired868 Essay Competition included CinemaOne (IMAX), RBC, Massy Stores and Customised Health Solutions.
26 students were rewarded for their essays as follows:
Group I: Category 16-18
1st Aastha Kumar (San Fernando Central Secondary)
2nd Ogechi Uche Nweze (St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain)
3rd Malique Auguste (Naparima College)
Most Shared: Tsai-Ann Lewis (Arima North Secondary) – 11k shares
Shortlisted writers: (presented with a Massy Stores gift card)
Tsai-Ann Lewis (Arima North Secondary)
Kyla-Marie Singh (Holy Faith Convent, Couva)
Sade Hinkson (St George’s College)
Kadar Mohammed (St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain)
Alicia Dipchan (St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando)
Shirley Prescott (Bishop Anstey High School East)
Malika Coutain (San Fernando Central Secondary)
Additional prizes: ($500 each)
Best analysis: Aastha Kumar (San Fernando Government Secondary)
Best descriptive: Malique Auguste (Naparima College)
Best researched: Malika Coutain (San Fernando Government Secondary)
Best plot twist: Kadar Mohammed (St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain)
Honourable mention: Tsai-Ann Lewis (Arima North Secondary)
Group II: Category 11-15
1st Shara Balkaran (Parvati Girls’ Hindu College) – Brian Lara
2nd Kassidy Gaulteau (St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain) – Earl Lovelace
3rd Nishka Basdeo (Naparima Girls ’High School) – Sunil Narine
Most shared: Shara Balkaran (Parvati Girls ’Hindu College) – 4.2k shares
Jalisa Charles (St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain) – Destra Garcia
Ranissa Lochan (Bishop Anstey High School East) – Wendy Fitzwilliam
Surayya Carrington (St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain) – Shalini Seereeram
Amayiah Joseph (Holy Name Convent, Port-of-Spain) – Keshorn Walcott
Gabriella Mohammed (San Fernando Central Secondary) – Lisa Allen-Agostini
J’Leise Sealey (St Charles High School) – Keshorn Walcott
Kristen Smith (Naparima Girls ’High School) – Machel Montano
Best dialogue: Amayiah Joseph (Holy Name Convent, Port-of-Spain) – Keshorn Walcott
Best entertainer story: Lian-Devi Indar (ASJA) – Raymond Ramnarine
Funniest: Shantelle Williams (St Stephen’s College, Princes Town) – Gerard Besson
Most original: Josse Franco (Fatima College) – Kes
Best on national icon: Kassidy Gaulteau (St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain) – Earl Lovelace
Best story on artist: Surayya Carrington (St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain) – Shalini Seereeram
Best sport story: Nishka Basdeo (Naparima Girls ’High School) – Sunil Narine
Youngest Entrant: Durrell Mitchell (Sacred Heart Boys RC) – born 5 June 2010
Moriscia Jairam (San Fernando West Secondary) – Gary Griffith
Sekaye Campbell (Arima Central Secondary) – Heather Headley
Jael Reyes (St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain) – My mom