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Businessman tells top primary students to use their education to give back

Published: Jun 26, 2013

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For the past seven years, graduating sixth grade students at northwestern district public primary schools have had their high academic achievements rewarded by Paul Smith, proprietor of Electro Telecom Ltd. — and this year was no different as Smith gave laptop computers to outstanding students in the district.

Each of the students given laptops was either first or second in their respective schools, many of them served as head boys or head girls, prefects or Primary School Student of the Year nominees or finalists.

The top performing primary school students awarded laptops were: Christa Petty and Khjzan Taylor from Oakes Field Primary; Samantha Modestin and Terry St. Louis from Mabel Walker Primary School; Prianna Smith and Monique Ferguson from T.G. Glover Primary School; Carmetta Barry and Kencha Toussaint from Albury Sayles Primary School; Kisha King and Jahzmalique Davis from Stephen Dillett Primary School; Maia Bodie and Carliel Moss from Gambier Primary School and Berkell Sturrup and Walter Fox from Woodcock Primary School.

During this year’s presentation, Smith challenged the students to use their education to uplift other students that may not be as smart as they are. And he told the youngsters stories to illustrate the benefits of giving back which impacted him during his life.

He told them about his niece who wanted to attend the College of The Bahamas (COB) after graduating from high school, and who approached him and asked him to pay her school fee. He told the primary school children that as he passed COB one day he saw his niece with a male student chatting under a tree. He thought she was engaged in idle chatter rather than studying and told her mother that she had been “rapping” rather than studying. Smith told the kids he felt anger towards his niece because he thought she was wasting his money. When he confronted his niece about what he had seen, he said he was surprised to learn that she was involved in peer tutoring in Mathematics, and that because of it her grades went from 3.00 in Math to a perfect 4.00.

The second story he shared was that of a race he witnessed as a student many years ago at the Stapledon School. Smith was invited to the meet by the late Hugh Bowleg, an advocate of special students. He said at first he didn’t know why Bowleg was excited about seeing the students run. He said the athletes started the race and as they ran towards the finish line, one fell, the others stopped and picked him up and together they all ran to the finish line.

Smith’s message to the outstanding students was that they use their talents to assist other students who aren’t as bright as they are to make it to the top.

“It makes no sense for some of us to succeed while others fail,” said Smith, a reserve police officer, who also had a message for the parents and encouraged them to monitor their children’s activities on the computer as cyber crime is rampant.

“Technology can be good and it can be bad. As a police officer, I see too many incidents of cyber crime in The Bahamas,” he said. He encouraged parents to visit the cyber crime unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to find out more about the subject and how to protect their children from the dangers of the Internet.

Smith’s tradition of giving back started at his alma mater, Oakes Field Primary School. Each year he hosted teachers and staff to a thanksgiving luncheon. He also assisted the school with donations of technology equipment, school supplies and repair services. His philanthropy has expanded to other schools including Centreville Primary School.

Minister of National Security, Bernard Nottage, applauded Smith for giving back to the community from which he originated. He said that too often people look for the negative they can say about young people but that there is more good in them, than there is bad.

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