The day started out deceptively like any other. It was the day of reckoning.

It was the day grade six students, their families and friends had been anxiously awaiting since they started grade six, even longer than that for some. It was the day that would hear the contrasting blend of gales of joyful laughter and sirens of woeful cries. It was the day the GSAT results would be made known.

Parents who had to go to work would be nervous wrecks until they received the news. Children were apprehensive as they made their way to school. Some were more nervous on this day than they had been on the days of the exams. Teachers primed themselves to hear how their students did if they weren’t already privy to the results from the previous night.

short story JamaicaIn primary level schools across Jamaica, an almost palpable tension hung in the air. Those citizens who were not close to a child in or near grade six went about their business blissfully unaware that a storm was about to break. By midday, its effects would rock the country. Some children would drown in tears either because they weren’t placed in their school of choice, were placed in a “dunce” school or were placed in a different school from their special friends.

Some parents would shed tears of either sublime joy or abject sorrow. Some children would be deliriously happy to have been placed in the school they wanted to attend and some would be looking forward to the promised reward from parents, family members or family friends. These would range from new electronic gadgets to trips abroad in the summer. As the day wore on, the storm would build momentum. Social media sites would be set ablaze with various congratulatory updates. Family members and friends near and far would join in the celebrations. Unhappy parents would avoid social media so as to not deepen the wounds of disappointment.

In the aftermath, preparations for graduation would step up and the full force of the impending change would hit many students. Some would welcome it, others would fear it. Forgiveness for “poor performance” would come slowly for some, if at all. Teachers who achieved mostly high scores among their students would feel the overwhelming pride of a job well done. Those whose students were deemed to have done poorly would feel the backlash from administration and irate parents. The maelstrom of emotions would subside eventually and the anti-climax would set in as plans for the next phase and the next cohort would be made. The GSAT results storm passes through annually and leaves in its wake a curious mixture of broken dreams, uncertainty and relief. For now, it has abated…but it lies in wait until next year when it will once again unleash more mayhem.

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The day started out deceptively like any other. It was the day of reckoning. It was the day grade six students, their families and friends had been anxiously awaiting since they started grade six, even longer than that for some. It was the day that would hear the contrasting...

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