“Turn on the news!”
On Friday evening, June 3, Ervin Marin of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) called his home at Periwinkle Street, Lake Independence, to tell his stay-at-home wife, Marlene, that piece of information, but he was too late.
The news had already spread to the family that Ervin’s daughter, Aliyah, 12, of Holy Redeemer Primary School in Belize City, had finished number one in the 2011 Primary School Examination (PSE), besting over 7,000 students nationwide with a top score of 385 of 400 points.
A little less than one week later, it is only just starting to sink in for young Aliyah.
“I’ve really only just digested it – that I topped the PSE. I think I have accomplished something, and I worked so hard to get what I was aiming for,” she told us today from her family home.
She added that she had expected “top 25, top 10 – but never, never first place. I was watching TV, not the news, but something else I usually watch when dad called and said turn on the news, you topped the PSE. So we turned it on, but we just missed the announcement – I had to stay up and watch it at 10:00. And meanwhile, all the calls started coming in.”
Reflecting back on her preparations for an examination which has earned a reputation in 12 short years for being unpredictable at best, Aliyah told us that she went into the examination “prepared, and positive” – no late and sleepless nights, not after the extensive preparation both at school and during the many extra classes she and her classmates in class 6 Martin took – on Saturdays, during holidays, morning and evening, incurring cost to the family.
Science, which she likes as a subject, proved most difficult come exam time. She recalled being stumped by a question on whether germs are spread by pathogens or vectors, diagramming a ball on a ramp for a question about calculating speed – and even now, she’s not sure if she got those answers right.
Mathematics, particularly the notoriously tough problem-solving portion of the PSE, turned out not to be so hard after all. “I had to learn to like Math this year, so it wasn’t so hard,” Aliyah explained.
After all that preparation and the examination itself, there was the waiting. Up to the end of classes on Friday, the results which had been rumored to be coming out were not yet available, and Aliyah went home to do what she typically does when not being a student – explore the World Wide Web, playing computer games, experimenting with picture-taking, her favorite hobby, and listening to music on the laptop passed down from her older sister.
And then, the call came.
This future St. Catherine Academy (SCA) alumna appears to be taking everything in stride. Her mother, Marlene, told Amandala that while she is proud of her achievement, “it’s just the beginning.”
“I tell her that she must continue to study hard. I have done work with her and with all my kids, and what I try to instill in them is working hard.”
At 12, Aliyah believes her future, and those of most of this generation, will be in computers – in her case, perhaps working with software. “You absolutely have to know how to work the computer – it’s already a valuable asset and I think that eventually, it will become our major form of communication,” she told us, and she already has a head start.
But as to passing the PSE, Aliyah told us that while studying hard won’t hurt, “if you didn’t learn it in eight years, you won’t learn it at the last minute. So do your best and be positive.”
For their support, Aliyah thanks her mom Marlene, Dad Ervin, sisters Ameera and Alyse (also a Holy Redeemer student), school teachers Ms. Alamina (English/homeroom), and Messrs. Cal, Cab and Ayala, in science, math and social studies, as well as her classmates in 6 Martin and the entire graduating class of Holy Redeemer, which, as a school, performed well. Graduation day is June 23, 2011.
Until then, Aliyah hopes Mom and Dad can spring for a top-of-the-line digital camera or an I-Pod, or both. When one has finished atop the nation, second-best is never an option.
Article courtesy Amandala