Tamia Knowles, a young 5th grader of Emma E Cooper Primary in Palmetto Point, traveled to New Providence to represent the island of Eleuthera in the 2019 National Religious Studies Speech Competition, on Friday, November 22nd, 2019 and put forth her very best. She did not place in the top three this year, but her powerful speech, made its mark.
This was her second appearance in the national competition, having won at the Eleuthera District level in 2018, then placing 2nd overall in the Nationals during November 2018. As an intelligent young girl, with an indomitable spirit – not allowing a battle with physical disabilities to limit her potential – Tamia embodies courage and tenacity.
She had to go through a tough set of peers this year to get to her final spot in New Providence, as, fresh off of the mid-term break, students in grades four through six, throughout primary schools in Eleuthera participated in school-based religious studies speech competitions, with each school’s winner going on to represent at the district level at the end of the first week in November.
The theme for this year‘s hotly contested district competition was, “Together we are better; together we can.” The students were expected to present a persuavise message about the power of unity, sharing real life examples of how working together can bring about positive changes in their homes, schools and their communities. Also, in keeping with the event concept, scriptural references were required to be used throughout the speech to support the ideas presented.
The 2019 Eleuthera District Religious Studies speech competition began shortly after 10am on Friday morning November 8th, 2019 at the Ministry of Education’s Resource Center in Savannah Sound, Central Eleuthera. Nine students from primary schools across the island, including; Tamia Knowles of Emma E. Cooper primary (EEC); Delena Rolle of Tarpum Bay primary (TBP); Carson Charlow of Emily G. Petty primary (EGPP); Geniyaa Scavella of Samuel Guy Pinder All Age (SGPAA); Deshante Cooper of Deep Creek primary (DCP); Nacassiah Armbrister of Rock Sound primary (RSP); Joel Kemp of Laura L. Anderson primary (LLAP); Breanna Thompson of P. A. Gibson primary (PAGP); and Kelisha Rolle of Wemyss Bight primary (WBP), presented high quality and well-researched speeches which were required to be between 5 and 7 minutes in length.
Before the competition got underway, duing a brief opening ceremony, District Education Superintendent for Eleuthera, Mr. Michael Culmer, encouraged the young competitors to do their best, saying, “You have already distinguished yourselves at your schools, you are Eleuthera’s Winners”, referring to the fact that each student representing their school had already won their school-based speech competitions to be there that morning. Mr. Culmer also thanked all the parents, teachers, and coaches who were out to support the students.
Last year’s Eleuthera winner, who also placed 2nd overall in the 2018 National Religious Studies Speech Competition, Tamia Knowles of EEC primary, was the first presenter on Friday morning in front of the panel of judges. She came out even stronger this year, with a compelling message about Bahamians coming together after the tragedy of the monster Hurricane Dorian. Not only was her speech well delivered and emotionally charged, pulling in her audience, it was also presented from memory, with no reading aids. A very hard act to follow, however, the remaining eight competitors gave it their all.
Students speeches, like Delena Rolle of Tarpum Bay, explored through scripture, how working together as one body was the best way to get things done. Carson Charlow of Governor’s Harbour, used a creative puzzle prop to illustrate how coming together towards a shared vision results in achieving that common goal. Geniyaa Scavella of Spanish Wells, highlighted the family unit as a prime example of individuals with distinct roles, working together in unity, and used her voice in song to highlight her message. Deshante Cooper of Deep Creek highlighted the concept of ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, while Nacassiah Armbrister of Rock Sound stressed that ‘with unity there is power’. Joel Kemp of Laura Anderson primary and Breanna Thompson of Hatchet Bay also spoke of making things happen by being united rather than divided. Kelisha Rolle of Wemyss Bight, who rounded out the presentations, highlighted the concept of coming together being a positive action, staying together as an example of progress, and working together embodying success.
Mr. Kirkwood Cleare, with the District Education Office, following all the speeches, thanked and commended the students on the quality of their presentations, and thanked the teachers and parents for the work done with the children. The panel of judges, who included; Father John Johnson; Mrs. Bekera Taylor, and Mrs. Elmena Bethell, then retired to another area to discuss who they thought were the top presenters that morning, and to choose the overall winner, who would go on to represent the island of Eleuthera in the National Religious Studies Speech Competition in New Providence.
With deliberations completed, the judging panel returned and announced the final results to the expectant audience – beginning with third place, which went to Nacassiah Armbrister of Rock Sound primary (RSP). Delena Rolle of Tarpum Bay primary (TBP) was announced as the second place finisher, and for the second year in a row, Tamia Knowles of Emma E. Cooper primary (EEC), now a 5th grader, was chosen as the WINNER in the 2019 Eleuthera District Religious Studies speech competition.