By Samuel G. Dweh (Email: [email protected])
A three-year-old, Kindergarten-2 student literally stole the show during the Seventh Day Adventist Reform School’s graduation ceremony and closing program, when she recited the entire list of Presidents of Liberia from Joseph Jenkins Roberts to George Manneh Weah.
The question is, can you?
Little Reina Sumo was on the program among other students to do various presentations, including reciting of Bible verses reading poetry, and reciting the names of all the Presidents of Liberia.
When her part was announced, she marched from the row of students on stage, toward to the microphone being held by an adult female official of the school. Her straight posture revealed her confidence and she looked above the microphone, toward the audience, throughout her delivery.
“My name is Reina Sumo,” she announced to the audience. “I am going to give you the names of the 24 Presidents of Liberia.”
“Joseph Jenkins Roberts,” she began, her shrill, childish voice reverberating in the hall, being amplified by the microphone held to her mouth.
Her voice rose higher at her mention of the final four Presidents: “Moses Blah, Charles McAuthur Taylor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and George Manneh Weah,” Sumo concluded, maintaining the level of her voice.
The response from the audience was more than what they gave other students who spoke before and after her.
Reina’s biological father, Joseph Binda, age 30, said “She took the cleverness from me and her mother.”
However, Reina’s parents are separated, leading the mother to have Raina bear a surname different from her biological father’s.
“The surname she’s bearing now is her maternal grandfather’s. When her mother was pregnant with her, she went to live with him, and she put his name on her,” Binda replied to this reporter’s question of a different surname for his biological daughter.
Little Reina will bear “Binda”, as her new surname, beginning from the next academic year in the current school, her father disclosed.
“I told her grandfather, since I’m the person paying her school fees, my name should be the one she must use in school. He agreed, but said it should begin from next school year.”
Keeping Ms. Sumo was always a Herculean task for her father Joseph Binda.
“I was paying two persons’ school fees at the same time in this school, from one hundred U.S. dollars as my salary,” Mr. Binda disclosed.
Father works as a security guard at the Margibi County branch of the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, where he is given the US$100 as his monthly take-home pay.
There were other interesting activities at the closing program.
One was a debate by students Michelle Kollie, Silver Samson, Justina Fahnbulleh, Dorris Sieh, and Georgeline Koryan, on the topic: “The Brain Behind the Word ‘Prosperity’”. Four of the students argued on ‘Tailor’, ‘Carpenter’, ‘Doctor’, and ‘Farmer’ as the Brain behind ‘Prosperity’.
While each of the four students was chanting on his or her chosen profession, as the The Brain Behind the Word ‘Prosperity’, the ‘teacher’ arrived, represented by a female student.
“Why are you all arguing about who is the brain behind the word, ‘prosperity’?” the ‘Teacher’ screamed at the other ‘professions’. “Who taught the farmer?” she asked the other debaters on the last ‘profession’ being chanted.
“The teacher!” the other debaters responded on chorus.
‘Teacher’ asked similar question to the other ‘professions’, who replied the same.
The guests graded the kids’ intellectual contest with wild cheers.
The First Dux of the School for academic year 2017/2018 was Hannah Freeman of the 3rd grade class, who introduced the program.
Giving his Speech on ‘Early Childhood Education’, the School’s 2nd Dux, Kwayeaker Ben, II, of the K-2 class, stated: “Parents, allow your children the time to study their school lessons at home.”
Mr. Samuel G. Dweh, president of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW), served as Guest Speaker, representing the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Charles B. Coffey, Jr.
“The students’ performances here today testify to the quality information imparted into them by the School’s teaching staff and the Principal, and these performances are telling everyone of us to them and support the school, especially in the area of Early Childhood Education,” Dweh said.
“Parents, you have seen, today, what your kids have been learning here,” the school’s principal, Mr. Peter N. Ben, said, beginning his remarks on the closing program. “What you saw the students do here today tells you the need to prioritize Early Childhood Education.”
He lamented on the shortage of female teachers in the school. “We desperately need female teachers. If you have ‘C’ certificate…if you have ‘B’ certificate, we will accept you,” he pleaded.