Peacemakers rewarded

Janice
Skeine beamed with pride on Thursday as her son, Zachary, collected a $25,000 bursary towards his continued education at Tivoli Gardens High School during Burger King’s National Scholarship Awards Ceremony at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

“I’m elated, I’m happy, just super proud of my son,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “I grow him to have respect, with discipline and whatever the case may be, for him to control him temper, because being a teenager now it nuh easy on dem, ennuh.”

The presentation of the bursary was the second reward for Zachary Skeine and three of his grade 10 schoolmates — Daeshawn Tate, Shane McIntosh, and Akon Douglas — who in June this year were seen in a video, that went viral, parting a fight between a male student and a teacher at Tivoli Gardens High School in Kingston.

In July, the four peacemakers were honoured at an event entitled ‘An Evening of Lyme, Laughter and Top Class Theatre’ staged by the BECCA Foundation and the Optimist Club of Trench Town.

The club had said each of the four students would be presented with a plaque recognising them as winners of the organisation’s Inaugural Young Peacemaker Award. Additionally, they were rewarded with meal vouchers from Popeyes/Burger King/Little Caesars, and the bursaries.

“After the video went viral, the members of the Optimist Club of Trench Town decided that we wanted to highlight the positive aspect of the encounter that most people were missing — these boys were actively trying to mediate, de-escalate the tension and restore some semblance of order,” Owen “Blakka” Ellis had told the Observer at the time.

That point was made Thursday by Janice Skeine, who lives in Rose Town.

“Most people saw the fight as just a fight, but there was somebody else that looked deeper and saw that persons were there helping the teacher,” she said, adding that she was surprised when she received the call informing her of the Optimist Club’s decision.

“But mi try talk to him bout situations before things escalate. So mi super proud seh at that point in the fight him coulda step in. That mean seh him a listen to mi and him a learn something,” the mother said.

Zachary, who will enter Grade 11 in the new academic year, said that the first thought he had when the fight started was to put an end to it “because I couldn’t stand up there and let that happen”.

The class monitor offered a word of advice for his peers: “Think before you do things and try to stop certain things when you see them getting over the limit.”

The other three students who had helped to de-escalate the conflict were not at Thursday’s ceremony. Their awards, though, were collected by their parents.

— Garfield Robinson

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