EDUCATION Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh turned up at the Canaan Presbyterian School in Duncan Village, near San Fernando, yesterday and named 11-year-old pupil Rebecca-Ann Jattan as the top performing Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) pupil for 2012.
Jattan will attend Naparima Girls' High School in September. Girls also took the second and third top places.
The second highest mark went to Shemiah Grant, a pupil of Atwell's Educational Centre in Tacarigua.
The Freeport Presbyterian School also recorded a first-time success, with 12-year-old Nishtha Mohan scoring third highest in the examination.
And at the Avocat Vedic Primary School, near Fyzabad, 12-year-old Victoria Maharaj tied for the third highest.
The girls were among 17,916 pupils who sat the SEA examination in May.
Canaan Presbyterian School principal Daniel Sahadeo described Jattan as a "model student" who worked hard to achieve her goals.
Sahadeo said: "We knew she would do well. But we didn't know she had topped the island. When the minister and his entourage came this morning we knew we did well, but we didn't know it was the top place.
"He made the announcement and the children were elated. They couldn't contain themselves."
Sahadeo said two other pupils were among the top 100 places.
"Pupils from our school have been in the top 200 places consistently over the past two years. But this is the first time ever we had a top place," he said.
Sahadeo said although there were a few disappointments, 95 per cent of the 42 pupils who wrote the exam in May passed for their first-choice school.
Father of the top pupil, Robin Basdeo Jattan, said he was overwhelmed by his daughter's success.
"This is feeling like a dream. I knew she will do well. I just can't believe my child topped the island," he said.
Jattan, a contractor, said his only child worked hard to succeed.
"My wife, Stacey, worked really hard with her as well. We tried really hard and she excelled," he said.
Jattan, of Church Street, Rambert Village, La Romaine, said his daughter began extra lessons last year, in preparation for the SEA examination.
He thanked the teachers at Canaan Presbyterian School, especially her fifth-standard teacher Wesley Ramnath, for their determination and hard work.
Jattan said his daughter is a member of the Susamachar Presbyterian Church, San Fernando, a ballet dancer and plays the violin.
The Jattans are travelling to the United States to celebrate Rebecca-Ann's success during the July/August vacation.
Rebecca-Ann spent the day playing with her friends at school yesterday.
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