MAY PEN, Clarendon — Twyla-Haye Bent first grabbed the attention of Junior Ray Stewart, Principal of Denbigh Primary School, when she was just six years old in Grade One.
“Every time I saw her she had a book, and since I am a bookworm it fascinated me; she was always with a book, always reading,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer during a recent visit to Denbigh Primary.
So though he was surprised when word came in mid-year that Twyla had passed CSEC English, scoring a Grade Two, having sat the exam earlier this year when she was 10, Stewart on reflection, was quick to come to terms.
Stewart said that while he wasn’t consulted by the child’s parents about the decision to sit the high school English exam, he would have recommended it had his advice been sought, because of his knowledge of Twyla.
“I would have recommended it and I would recommend others,” said Stewart.
“I think she has opened the gateway now for more (primary school-aged children) to do it. In fact, I think all across Jamaica more (young children) will be going about it,” he said.
Twyla, who turned 11 last October and is preparing for high school entrance exams, GSAT, in March, said she opted to sit the CSEC English paper after being asked to do so by her father. The latter is a Physical Education teacher at Denbigh High.
“My dad asked me and I said, ‘Okay, I will try,’” she told the Observer.
She explained that she had often sat through English class and study sessions at Denbigh High while her father was at work.
Stewart is confident that the 11-year-old will build from strength to strength on the brilliant start.
“She is disciplined; very, very disciplined. Quiet, well-mannered, well brought up,” he said.
Twyla’s class teacher, Kemeila Ewers, is also extremely optimistic, arguing that the youngster’s personality and sense of focus are among her strongest traits . “Twyla is quite serene, does not talk much. She does her work well and socialises well with others,” said Ewers.
She noted that Twyla’s recent achievement had lifted the profile of Denbigh Primary, and was serving as a morale-booster for her class and schoolmates as well as staff members. Located just outside May Pen, close to the Denbigh Showground, Denbigh Primary, with an impressive record in academics, culture and sports, accommodates just over 1,000 students on the two-shift system and an academic staff of 38.
Twyla’s feat has also triggered admiration and encouragement from individuals and leading businesses in Clarendon.
Recently Juici Patties, which has a longstanding relationship with Denbigh Primary, visited the school to formally present Twyla with a $40,000 book grant as well as other gifts in recognition of “her outstanding achievement”.
While taking the accolades in stride, Twyla has set herself short-and long-term goals. She told the Observer that her immediate goal will be to gain placement at either Denbigh High or Glenmuir High.
And for the longer term “if it’s God’s will” she is aspiring “to be a medical scientist, because it is just appealing to me and there is so much more about certain diseases that people need to know about”.
By: Garfield Myers