Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 17th 2016 Contents A11
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When petite and shy Dianna Sophia Lopez walked
into the Chaguanas North Secondary School (CNSS)
in 2014 to pursue her A-levels, she was faced with
a culture shock.
Having studied in a non-disruptive and nurturing
environment at the San Juan South Secondary School
for five years, Lopez, 18, never expected she would
have encountered indiscipline and unruly and disre-
spectful behaviour by students during her two-year
stay at CNSS.
Student captures scholarship, school gets award
Chaguanas North excels:
In February, while Lopez was studying for
Unit Two of her Caribbean Advanced Pro-
ficiency Examination, the school grabbed
headline news when police were alerted to
a planned gun attack by students.
This led to 24 students, who had behav-
ioural issues, being removed and sent to the
old Couva West Secondary School, where a
programme was conducted by the Student
Support Services Division to rehabilitate
them. A number of the students were also
identified as having criminal records, with
many of them having pending matters before
Lopez, of Enterprise, said the incident s
negativity pained her to no end. However
on Wednesday, the bad image the school
had attained in the last four months was
overshadowed by two success stories---Lopez
captured second place in the Lucille S Antoine
Leadership Scholarship, while the school was
credited for placing second in the RBC s
Judges Award for outstanding service to the
These two achievements were celebrated
at the school by students and teachers with
much fanfare. Following the awards, the
school s acting vice-principal, Rajandaye
Thanoo, said teachers and administrative
staff have seen an improvement in the behav-
iour of students since the incident.
"These awards are testimonies that good
and positive things can come of our school,"
Thanoo said. The financial scholarship was
established by Dr Gerard Antoine, who is
the founder and medical director of the
Caribbean Medical Providers Practicing
Addressing students, Antoine, a Trinida-
dian, who travelled from Hawaii to present
Lopez with her award, told the students that
with hard work come great rewards.
He urged the students to follow in Lopez s
footsteps because of her academic accom-
plishments and mentoring and leadership
skills. After collecting her US$500 prize,
Lopez said she never expected to win.
"I took a gamble by writing an essay about
myself and my leadership qualities. I was
surprised when I found out that I was the
recipient of a financial scholarship," she said.
She admitted that the environment, atti-
tudes and behaviour of students at the school
were totally different to where she studied
before. "I really enjoyed going to school at
San Juan South Secondary. The students
were ambitious and had self-respect. Here
was quite different." One of the eye-openers
for Lopez was students having low morale.
"There was also disrespect to the highest
degree. It was disrespect to the principal and
teachers. I was not accustomed to this so it
was really a culture shock for me. We are
trying to change this in the school."
Since joining the school, Lopez has served
as student representative on the local school
board, chairman and vice president of the
school s student council, and as a prefect in
Lower Six and Upper Six.
She was also a member of the school s
Environmental Club and the Sixth Form
Association Services, who mentored Form
Lopez said she planned to spend the
US$500 on her mother Sita Lopez, who has
to undergo a series of blood tests, since her
health was not the best.
ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP
The Lucille S Antoine Leadership Scholarship
encourages secondary school students to develop
and their leadership abilities through practical
experience, personal reflection and community
involvement with mentors and peers. The
scholarship, which is in its sixth year, serves as a
vehicle to advance higher education to secondary
school students between ages 11 to 18 in T&T.
Dr Gerard Antoine presents Chaguanas
North Secondary School's Dianna Lopez
with the Lucille Antoine leadership
scholarship on Wednesday.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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