Axyahn Smithen of the Washington Archibald High School in St Kitts and Nevis won the top prize at the US Embassy’s Annual Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition.
The competition is held every February in recognition of Black History Month. This year, secondary school students from across Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean were invited to give outstanding speeches on how leaders today can harness modern technology to promote a more just, prosperous, and equitable society as well how Eastern Caribbean countries can memorialise the past, while confronting the difficult issues that are a part of it. The format of this year’s competition was again affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and students were invited to submit recorded videos of their speeches.
From a competitive pool of entries from seven countries, fifth form student Axyahn Smithen’s speech scored top marks. Second place went to Phoebe Smith from Saint Joseph’s Convent Secondary School in St Lucia, while Jovanna Ifill of The St Michael Secondary School in Barbados, and Tariq Miller of Presentation Brothers College in Grenada tied for third place. Axyahn took home a prize package valued at US$2,000 comprising a tech suite including a laptop, printer, Bluetooth speaker, trophy, and books. She also won a desktop computer for her school. The contest honoured Black History Month and supported the Embassy’s commitment to education as a means to drive sustainable economic growth, foster innovation, and empower youth.