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Speyside High: The Best of the Best

Sunday, 22 March 2015 06:03 Written by 

Speyside High School sits at the citadel of artistic grandeur among secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Evidence of this emerged this week, when Coryse Wright made international news after her painting was hand delivered to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in New York.

Although in existence for just ten years, the school has acquired many accolades which has cast this institution as a beacon of artistic prowess. Its signature programme, Art Appreciation week is revered by all and sets the stage for futuristic educational artistic ambitions.

The instructional programme of art is nurtured by a dynamic trio of artistic professionals: Avion Orr, Chris Thomas and the Visual Arts subject leader Tomley Roberts. Together, they have created a unique pool of motivation, design, techniques and art fundamentals to foster the development of protégés in various artistic genres. The charismatic and stern Orr is directly responsible for the motivation and artistic foundation of all the pupils while Thomas, a design specialist and the schools Art and Design “A level” teacher is responsible for maintaining design fundamentals. Roberts nurtures the development of artistic fundamentals and techniques and provides guidance in maintaining the ascension of the unit.

This triple-prong approach ensures that pupils are successful in the specific course of discipline and also ensures that the school competes and dominate in all major art competitions. History reveals that Speyside High School produced Hasani Beckles, the most outstanding student in printmaking in the Caribbean in 2011. Beckles developed under the tutelage of reductionist Roberts to perfect the very ancient and difficult reduction method of Printing.

Last year, Speyside High trumpeted its might when Toukoma. Charles’  Reduction print, “market crab” propelled the school for the second time, to first place in the Office of the Chief Secretary’s Art Competition .The other outstanding pupils who distinguished themselves in art at Speyside High are: Ryan Hercules the  first Visual Art student; Hakeem Charles was the first Art and Design student; Chanelle Fletcher a meticulous printmaker; Joshua Chaimi ,the only Tobago student whose piece was exhibited on Petrotrin’s mural wall project in Port of Spain 2015 . Also, T’sion Wilson, Howard Hamilton, Minley Franklyn,Tyrell Solomom,Shaquille Sargeant were all finalists in major competitions.

Today’s celebration is of Coryse Wright who, under the mentoring of Thomas, placed third in the second leg of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Art competition  2013,with her piece “Generation gap” and then later went on last year to be champion  of the same competition with her rendition of the piece “Solar power”. Wright’s resilience bore fruit and she also won the Chief Secretary’s Art Competition in 2013 and is the only student to win the two most prestigious art competitions for secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Her pieces are at diplomatic locations around the globe. It is today lodged at the office of Ban Ki Moon- Secretary General of the United Nations.

Coryse, a 6th form student is now poised for matriculation into University to pursue a career in the Arts. Her successes are testimonies to the quality of the art programmeme at Speyside High. She is the result of working with established artists such as Leroy Clarke and Armstrong. She is otherwise a strong academic student and pioneering member of the school’s steel orchestra. She gathers inspiration from the rural environment around her and projects it on canvas.

Speyside High School remains the only school that exposes pupils to the widest range of artistic possibilities. These areas include Drawing, graphic and communication design, printmaking, sculpture, embroidery, leather craft, fibre arts, textiles and ceramics. The school’s motto bellows, that diligence creates excellence and the school vows to continuously improve its instructional programmeme and further exhibit genuine renderings of authentic learning and assessment.

Few people will understand the pleasure that Speyside High School takes in boasting about the achievements of pupils like Coryse. However, ten years ago many doubted that the school was a good idea. Many parents felt the need to withdraw their pupils from the institution. Being located in remote Speyside is in itself a challenge. The pupils are by overwhelming majority, from working class families. The odds are often stacked high against the school. Notwithstanding, the institution is keen on proving its worth and so far it is giving a lot of bang for the ‘Bucks’ invested in it.

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