Special provisions had to be made for them, including fitting an oxygen machine inside their exam room, but five students who last week completed their Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) while hospitalised at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston remained optimistic after the highly anticipated event.
“It was good because I got good encouragement from my mom and the nurses, the doctors and teacher who helped me,” gloated 11-year-old J’quani Chung, a student of Santa Cruz Primary School in St Elizabeth.
Young J’quani had been hospitalised since January 5, after she was diagnosed with leukaemia.
She went into the final of the two-day GSAT exams last Friday with a healthy smile buoyed by her mother, who she described as her ultimate support.
J’quani hopes to attend Hampton High School where she plans to start her studies to become a doctor.
“Her name means blessings, and she has been admitted for leukaemia. The leukaemia is in remission but she is still continuing the treatment because those cells can sometimes reappear. We are hoping it doesn’t come back,” said Amy Cassanova, J’quani’s mother, who has been at her daughter’s bedside since January.
DIFFICULT BUT MANAGEABLE
“It’s a very difficult situation but it has been manageable, considering that she is getting the healing and the good medication that she needs,” Cassanova shared about her daughter’s preparation leading up to GSAT.
“I was feeling a little nervous about the exams but she said ‘Don’t worry, Mom, I’m ready’, and she had been communicating with her teacher at primary school, too, so that helped.
“I am hoping for Hampton; that is her first choice,” continued Cassanova, thanking the team of doctors and nurses who pulled out all the stops to ensure J’quani was fully prepared for the exam.
J’quani said she wants to become a doctor primarily because she is in love with the sciences.
Meanwhile, Jahnia Johnson, another 11-year-old student who sat GSAT from the hospital last week, said she, too, wants to become a doctor because she saw how much effort doctors put into making them feel better at the children’s hospital.
“The exams were OK because I got past papers from most of my neighbours,” said the resident of Portmore, St Catherine.
“My sister helped me to go through them, and most of the questions that I did on the past papers, they came back. Math, however, was kind of hard. I didn’t get some of the questions on the math paper.”
WILLING TO LEARN IN SPITE OF ILLNESS
Jahnia’s sister, Kasian Huie, was filled with encouraging words as she hugged and boasted about her sister on Friday.
“We were very confident because I drilled her with the past papers, and she got good grades in them,” said Huie, noting that her younger sister wants to attend Ardenne High School but that she would prefer if Kasian should attend Wolmer’s High School for Girls.
Ann Marie Thomas, teacher at the Activity and Learning Centre at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, described the GSAT preparation process as a tedious but fulfilling one. She started working at the hospital in January but has been a trained teacher for 17 years.
“Working at the hospital is quite different from the classroom setting. I have to be working with children who are sometimes unable to come to the centre, so I have to go to the ward and sit there and work with them,” she said, adding that sometimes the children become depressed.
“The children here, although they are sick, they are still willing to learn, and it really touches my heart to see children who are ill but still want to learn. That encourages me to go the extra mile for them.”
By: Corey Robinson