Top Twenty students give thanks and tips on their success
By Edlyn Benfield, Andre Haynes and Iana Seales
Stabroek News
July 3, 2003

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St. Margaret’s Primary took top honours at this year’s Secondary School Entrance Examinations (SSEE) securing the first place in the country and eight of the top twelve positions.

Among the twelve are Catherine Gonsalves, this year’s top SSEE student, Teon Loncke, Avinash Jairam, Reaud Hassad, Naresh Poonai, Seon Fedricks, Taralyn Harris, Robo Matheson and Suraiya Ramkissoon, all of St. Margaret’s.

When Stabroek News visited the school an elated Catherine Gonsalves, who secured 557 marks out of a possible 560, initially said she was not aware that she had topped the country. The twelve-year-old of 18 Drysdale Street, Charlestown and an aspiring doctor described the exams as challenging but said her studies had paid off.

Catherine, the younger of two children, said she was shy and spent most of her time reading. She praised her teacher, Gem Moriah, and her parents for their guidance and patience. Catherine said she was looking forward to joining her older sister at Queen’s College when the new school term begins.

An ecstatic Avinash Jairam who placed fourth and gained 550 marks attributed his success to his teacher, parents and disciplined studies. The young resident of Goedverwating, East Coast Demerara said he studied every day of the week leading up to the exams.

Jairam related he was thrilled to learn of his fourth position. He spoke of his obsession with video games and said he planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a chemical engineer. He also plans to attend Queen’s College.

Eleven-year-old, Teon Loncke of John Street Campbellville said he hoped to become a pilot. He placed fourth in the country and said he was overjoyed with his performance and had always dreamed of attending Queen’s College.

Loncke who is an only child said he swims, plays the piano and reads in his spare time. He thanked his parents and his teacher for their encouragement and support.

Naresh Poonai, an aspiring lawyer described the exam as difficult and said he had studied three hours every day leading up to the exam. The eleven-year-old, of Eping Avenue, Bel Air Park said he earned himself a Discman for his ninth place finish.

Poonai gained 548 marks and said the exam column in the weekly Sunday Stabroek helped him tremendously since his father assisted in grading his performance. He said he likes to read and play video games in his spare time.

Seon Fredricks of Regent Road, Bourda, who turned twelve on Monday, said the exam was easy and described his tenth place finish as surprising. He gained 547 marks and said he had studied every other week and was relaxed before the exams.

Fredricks, an aspiring astronomer and lawyer, credited his success to God, his mother, teacher and friends. He said he spends most of his time on the computer. He is an only child and a big fan of the Goosebumps books.

Twelve-year-old Suraiya Ramkissoon, who gained 547 marks, said the results came as a shock to her. She said studying was frustrating and that she had lost hair due to pre-exam stress.

Ramkisson of Bel Air Park said she had hoped to be in the top 20 and thanked her family, teacher and God. She was promised a vacation overseas for her success. An ardent Enid Blyton fan, Ramkissoon said she reads every chance she gets.