Congratulations must go out to the winners of this year’s National Junior Panorama competition.
At the end of hours of performances by some 33 young bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain on Sunday, Guaico Presbyterian Primary School emerged winners in the Primary School Division, Naparima Combined (a combination of Naparima Girls’ High School and Naparima College) took the Secondary Schools title and T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps Youth Steel Orchestra copped the Under-21 title.
Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore went on to note that record crowds turned out for the final and that the body was pleased with its success.
There were also some milestones for the winners.
Guaico Presbyterian, playing a Triston Marcano arrangement of the late Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart’s Same Way, continued their sterling run with a third title. They started their run of excellence with victories in 2019 and 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic force a disruption in the competition. They also won the title for the Most Supportive Band.
The school administration naturally celebrated the pupils’ achievement with a special assembly yesterday. Most notably, however, was Principal Margaret Gopaul Mohammed’s revelation that the band was made up of mostly pupils from Standards Three to Five, with the majority of them being new to the activity.
But Guaico’s success is no overnight one. The pupils had the support of the teachers, parents and the community, including sponsors in Brand Source and the Eastern Business Merchants Association, in their effort, since funding a steelband is a costly endeavour, as even the most popular senior bands in the country will attest to.
The formula for success was the same for Naparima Combined, who returned to winner’s row, after success in 2019, playing an arrangement of Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez’s Big Bad Soca. They too had a strong support base behind their drive to the title through the Old Boys and Alumni bodies.
Indeed, it is the behind the scenes support for these activities which make the difference each year, since the Ministry of Education’s Pan in Schools programme has been allowed to fall into abeyance over the last couple years.
Luckily for the Ministry, several of the schools featured in the weekend’s activities have kept their steelband programmes going through the efforts of music teachers and supporting parenting groups. Unfortunately, several schools in impoverished communities or who lack that kind support fall by the wayside. An example of this was Pleasantville Secondary School, whose campaign this year was in jeopardy due to a lack of finances until JMMB Express came to their rescue with a $20,000 sponsorship. We also had the scenario of Pan Trinbago having to send the primary school entrants straight to the final due to the drop in the number of entrants.
Needless to say, this newspaper is certain that there continues to be a keen interest in the country’s national instrument within schools. However, the ministry must do all in its power to ensure that programmes to facilitate the activity are maintained, since financing is a critical aspect of its continued survival.
For now, however, we urge all stakeholders to reach out and support these youngsters in their effort to keep this aspect of T&T’s Carnival culture alive, since we are sure it is in good hands.