Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Tall Tee Foundation gives back to the community

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
The recipients of the Tall Tee Sports Foundation Exceptional Academic Achievement Awards, and their presenters. Back from left: Marques Henry, Norvaldo Robert and Richard Cole. Front from left: Karisa Prince, Giovanna McLeary (presenter), Chardae Nugent, Deshanti Waul, Sashianna Spence, Tanique Dunn, Jhada Ricgards (presenter), and Shawntia Daley.
Raymond 'Tall Tee' Smith of the Tall Tee Sports Foundation addresses the audience.

At Tapioca Village, Devon Pen, St Mary, on Saturday, December 29, for the third consecutive year Tall Tee Sports Foundation recognised and awarded former primary school students in southeast St Mary for their 'exceptional academic achievements'.

The selections were based mainly on their GSAT performances.

The awardees, who are now high-school students, are Corey Lawrence and Karisa Prince (formerly of Golden Valley Primary), Chardae Nugent and Marques Henry (formerly of Castleton Primary), Deshanti Waul and Norvaldo Roberts (formerly of Scott's Hall Primary), Sashianna Spence and Raheim Hines (formerly of Rock River Primary), Tanique Dunn and Damian Reid (formerly of Devon Pen Primary), and Shawntia Daley and Richard Cole (formerly of Mahoe Hill Primary).

Other awards given out for the night were the Carlton J. Smith Humanitarian Award to Oswald Ayer; the Man Dawg Excellence Award to Deshanti Waul, and the award for the top school in the region went to Scott's Hall Primary. In addition to the plaques, the recipients received cash awards and exercise books.

In their response, the students recognised the sponsors of their awards, and expressed appreciation for such. In his reply, Marques Henry, now a student at Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, Portland, said, among other things, "To be given this exceptional academic achievement award is a great honour and privilege ... . This has encouraged me to continue to work hard and do my best." Henry's award was sponsored by Gealie's West Indian Restaurant.

The event is the brainchild of Raymond 'Tall Tee' Smith, a United States resident who used to live in Castleton, one of the communities in the region. He said he and his friends "used to run the road in Castleton" until they decided to grow up and be responsible men. He got some opportunities through community efforts, he said, and thus it was his responsibility to give back to the community.

In his address to the gathering, Smith encouraged the recipients to reach for "higher heights". He implored the men in the audience to be careful of what they do and say in front their children, to show them respect, and to demonstrate maturity. Parents were advised to take part in their children's school affairs and give credit to the schools when their children do well.


'Help our own'


The great majority of the funds used to make the annual awards a reality is from private individuals living overseas, the main sponsors being Paul Levy and Joan Kelly. And so Smith has encouraged residents in the region to step up to the plate. He said, "As a people, we need to help each other, to help our own ... I am going to keep this programme going, and I am hoping and praying that someone will pick it up after I get weak."

Also addressing the gathering were Councillor Lenford Danvers of the Castleton division in St Mary; Peter Neil, one of the private sponsors, and master of ceremonies for the evening; Lieutenant Oshane Baugh, executive director of Keep Children Safe Organisation; and Cameka Campbell-Green, the keynote speaker.

In reference to the theme for the evening, 'It's time for greatness', Campbell-Green told the awardees, "Please remember that greatness is not measured by what a man or a woman accomplishes, but it is measured by obstacles that he or she overcomes to reach their goals."