Three South Floridian students were emerged winners of this year’s annual Jamaica Independence Essay Competition in Florida.
They were 15 year-old, Trevon Chambers, nine year-old Janice Colley, and eight year-old Deianeira Hoffenden, all residents of Miami.
The three winners were selected from a group of some 23 entries, each detailing their experiences from a wide range of topics relating to the history and culture of Jamaica and its Diaspora.
Each winner was awarded with a plaque from Jamaica’s Consul General, Mrs. Sandra Grant Griffiths at a presentation ceremony on Monday (Oct. 12) at the Consulate office in Miami. They were also recipients of a monetary gift certificate ($50 each) by the Partners for Youth Foundation, Incorporated, a non-profit association committed to the advancement of youth in the Diaspora. The organizing body of the annual Miss Jamaica Florida Ambassadors now celebrating its twentieth year, is also engaged in youth development programs in education and the arts.
The ninth annual Independence Essay competition was organized by the Jamaica Information Service in Miami and was part of the annual festivities celebrating Jamaica’s Independence in Florida.
Open to first, second and third generation Jamaican students residing in Florida, the competition received a large number of entries.
Little Miss Deianeira Hoffenden, a fourth grade student, wrote an exciting story on her two favorite places in Jamaica, and that earned her first place in the age group category five to eight years (5-8).
In her essay, Miss Druscilla Daley wrote of the “Significance of Jamaica’s Six National symbols,” which also was placed first in the age category thirteen (9-13) years. She explained in her own words what the symbols meant to her talking of her enjoyment of a “well-prepared, mouthwatering breakfast meal of ackee and codfish”.
In his age category, thirteen to eighteen (13-18), Mr. Trevon Chambers, selected and composed an essay about an outstanding Jamaican in the Diaspora and paid tribute to Ms. Jennifer Grant, the director of the Sierra Norwood Church Children’s Choir.
A second generation Jamaican, Little Miss Hoffenden was encouraged to enter the JIS Essay competition by her mother, and added that she was inspired by her love for travel especially the places she visited and enjoyed during her trips to Jamaica.
She actively participates in youth activities at her church and school. Recently she was crowned one of the four reigning ambassadors of the Miss Jamaica Florida pageant 2009, earning the title of Little Miss Jamaica Florida. Since then she has been volunteering with community social programs such as the Kiwanis Club and enjoyed help in the Christmas in July program packing school supplies for the less-fortunate children.
Miss Druscilla Daley was born in Jamaica and only recently migrated to South Florida in April. She was encouraged by her grandmother to enter the Essay contest. Her love for country also inspired her to pen her thoughts about her country’s rich culture and heritage motivating her to write about the significance of the nationals symbols.
A fifth grade honor roll student at the Greynolds Park elementary school in North Miami, young Druscilla expressed her “feeling of pride and joy about my country’s history” although she no longer lives there.
Trevon Chambers is also second generation with an interest in his Jamaican heritage. He is active in his church’s Music Department at the Sierra Norwood Calvary Baptist Church where he works with the music director Ms. Jennifer Grant, the person in his story.
A student at the New World School of the Arts, Miami, Trevon describes his music teacher as his mentor who has also extended herself to the wider South Florida community. Ms. Grant, a director of the Jamaica Folk Revue is actively engaged in leadership programs through membership in community associations, the church youth activities, and interacts regularly with the Jamaican Diaspora through those events.
In congratulating the winners, the Consul General encouraged them to pursue their education goals with the same vigour and enthusiasm that was demonstrated in their individual essays.