Dozens of students from across the north-east and south-east education districts were rewarded for their brilliance and creativity as the awards ceremony for the BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT) 2019 Schools’ Environmental Awareness Competition was held at the Mayaro Resource Centre on September 12.
As a highly-motivated 16-year old, Rayon Ramoutarsingh of SWAHA Hindu College, explained: “I want to become an ambassador and make everyone aware of the importance of protecting our environment for present and future generations. Our generation, especially, is charged with the responsibility of reversing the damage that has been done and reducing our carbon footprints. We are a key mechanism to achieve this. I am doing my part and if every citizen joins in, BPTT has shown us that we can make a difference.”
Ramoutarsingh took the top prize in the 16-18 age category of the art component of the 2019 edition of the competition that also features debating and essay writing aspects. Held under the theme, ‘Climate Change: Reducing our Carbon Footprint”, 50 schools took part in the 13th run-off of the competition that has been managed by environmental-based non-governmental organisation, The Black Deer Foundation, and sponsored by BPTT. This competition is fully endorsed by the Ministry of Education.
Delivering the keynote address at the function was Janelle Monique Salazar, a Health, Safety and Environmental Consultant with almost 20 years experience in the field. “I applaud the 200-plus students who took part in this competition. They are a shining example to the nation. We all need to become aware of our actions and make every effort to reduce our energy consumption and, and as a result, our carbon footprints. I am proud of your outstanding work and you are part of the new generation of environmental custodians. Take what you have learnt back to your home communities and inspire others to join us as we save the world by changing it,” Salazar urged the students.
The awards ceremony featured a number of dynamic speakers including judges’ remarks by experienced educators Theophilus Nedd, Arleen Sinanan and Andy Paul. The participants were also inspired by spoken word artiste, Zakiya Gill, who urged them to protect the Earth. Giving high praise to the students was Matthew Pierre, Community Liaison Officer, BPTT: “Three of BPTT’s key focus areas are education, the environment and arts and culture and this competition gives students the ability to combine all three in demonstrating their ability. They develop key skills including writing, critical thinking, research and analysis which is utilised in their performance at the SEA, CSEC and CAPE examinations. Further to this, the competition creates a cadre of environmentally conscious citizens who embody the best that our nation can be. I look around this room and I feel good to know that our country’s future is in their safe and capable hands.”
Since its inception in 2006, parents, principals and teachers have noted that the majority of students who take part in the competition tend to perform better academically in addition to being moulded into more all-rounded and participative citizens. Past participants have gone on to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, and even educators themselves, while still maintaining a vested interest in environmental advocacy.
A sterling demonstration of this is Dana Persad who was presented with the prizes for ‘Most Outstanding Speaker’ and ‘Most Consistent Performance’. Persad led her team from Rio Claro West Secondary to victory in the debating competition. Persad also participated in the national and regional Youth Parliament, took part in the Unites States’ Youth Ambassador programme and is the vice-president of the I Believe in Success Foundation which is dedicated to educating young people and eradicating poverty.
“This was a really amazing experience and I enjoyed every moment working with my team to learn about the environment and competing against the other excellent schools. In fact, as soon as I finished my last CAPE exam, I raced to take part in the debating final – I wasn’t going to miss it for the world. I’ve been accepted into the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica. My vision is to study hard, achieve my best and work toward becoming the Minister of Health one day so I can make a positive difference in people’s lives. This competition showed me that there are many young people who want to join forces and forge a better future and that truly inspires me,” Persad explained.
Bringing an emotional close to the 2019 competition was founder and President of the Black Deer Foundation, Arvolon Wilson-Smith: “Each school is a community that involves students, parents, siblings, teachers, the principal, administrative staff, maintenance personnel, Ministry of Education officials, drivers, caterers, Black Deer members and a host of other people. With every school that participates the impact is increased exponentially and we get that much closer to living in balance with the environment. It is my dream that we continue partnering with the Ministry of Education and BPTT to expand the reach of this competition to every corner of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Results of the 2019 BP Trinidad and Tobago Schools’ Environmental Awareness Competition:
7 to 9 Age Group Winner – Andy Abraham, Rio Claro Hindu School
10 to 12 Age Group Winner – Chemera Cauldro, North Oropouche RC School
13 to 15 Age Group Winner – Petrina Francis, Valencia Secondary School
16 to 18 Age Group Winner – Rayon Ramoutarsingh, SWAHA Hindu College
10 to 12 Age Group Winner – Surina Stephanie Satram, Sangre Grande Hindu School
13 to 15 Age Group Winner – Beena Ramdeen, Williamsville Secondary School
16 to 18 Age Group Winner – Vidal Ramdass, Swaha Hindu College
First Place – Rio Claro West Secondary School
Second Place – SWAHA Hindu College
Third Place – Mayaro Secondary SchoolFourth Place – Mathura Secondary School
BPTT Environmental Awareness Competition