At 5.30pm on Wednesday evening, 8 August 2012, 48 invited guests came together at Plantation House to honour 5 ex Prince Andrew School (PAS) students, bound for England. His Excellency, Governor Mark Capes and Mrs Tamara Capes, welcomed Leoni Ellick, Jamie Peters, Zedella Young, Neil Francis and Rebecca Lawrence, who have successfully applied to universities and colleges in England.
Once everyone had assembled, the Governor gave a short speech in the presence of students family, friends, teachers and members of the education department. In his speech Capes said, "we should acknowledge and recognise the success of our young people," and saw the 5 students as good role models for others. He encouraged them to return to the island to utilise their skills, "when the airport opens there will be all kinds of opportunities and coming back with qualifications you will be well placed to take full advantage of these new opportunities." Abraham Swart, Head teacher of PAS was also in attendance and gave words of encouragement stating that St Helena had a bright future. "You have been given this opportunity because we believe that you will be a success and there is just one thing I want you to remember; never forget where you come from, never forget the people who have supported you, especially mums and dads."
Kathy Squires, an English teacher at PAS, provided references and was a source of advice for students as they went through the application process. "I'm really proud of their achievements," said Squires. "They worked hard throughout and they deserve this fabulous opportunity. They've done us all proud and have done St Helena proud."
"I'll be doing a Level 3 in vehicle repair and maintenance and a level 2 in auto body repair and paint," said vocational student Jamie Peters, who will attend Barnfield College, Bedfordshire. Having left PAS over a year ago he has since worked for his dad who owns a garage. Jamie told me his choice of study was influenced by his dad.
Although this is the biggest group of students in the same academic year to further their educational pursuits in England, Rebecca Lawrence's scholarship was a little different. She successfully secured a Commonwealth Scholarship Award and will follow in the footsteps of 19,000 individuals who have been scholars of the award since the beginning of the scheme over fifty years ago. Rebecca will undertake a 5 year degree at the university of Nottingham. "The scholarship committee here nominated me to apply for it," said Rebecca, referring to the application process for the Commonwealth Scholarship. "Once I had my A-Level results I completed an online application which goes to the people in the UK. You have to give references, and eventually after a few months I got a provisional offer." The offer becomes permanent on completion of a medical, a criminal records check and acceptance onto a course.
The rest of the evening was spent with guests who took the opportunity to mingle and congratulate the students on their success as they were treated to savouries and drinks.