He is only 9 years old but young Josiah Dicarlo has already aced the Caribbean College entrance exam – and he’s done it twice, starting at age 7 when he became the youngest person ever to take and pass the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (SEC), equivalent to the United States’ Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). Although already academically qualified for college, Dicarlo is not yet in high school but this young prodigy and multi-gifted student is active in his crusade to garner support and bring attention to this school in Kingston, Jamaica.
Kingsway High and Preparatory School is less than a mile from New Kingston and has been developing young minds since its formation back in 1943 when a small group of educators saw the need to establish the institution to educate and empower the growing number of Christian (Seventh-day Adventist) youths. The school had a strong academic start when every student in its first graduating class passed the Senior Cambridge University Exam which qualified all of the graduates for college. Today, that small private elementary and high school continues to shape minds like Dicarlo and has produced great leaders and pioneers in a diversity of disciplines, including health care, education, business, communications and, of course, religion.
Former academic dean Dr. Ouida Westney from Howard University, Houston’s dental surgeon Dr. Edison Dewar, Albany realtor Donna Clanton, and New York’s activist and award-winning journalist Rev. Dennis Dillon are all graduates of Kingsway. Current students like Dicarlo represent Kingsway’s future, and young Josiah Dicarlo is only one on a list of students that are setting new academic trends, according to the school’s principal and chief education officer Alethia Williams.
Dicarlo is in the 6th grade, and science is his favorite subject. Beyond his academic excellence, Dicarlo plays soccer and chess, and plays the piano for children’s church at his local church in Kingston. He reports early for church each week as a member of the communications ministry and preaches to his peers. Dicarlo has memorized the books of the Bible, has command over hundreds of scriptures, and loves to explain the Bible. “I love explaining the Bible and I love to help people develop their knowledge,” Dicarlo told The Christian Times.
While children his age are watching cartoons and playing video games, Dicarlo is reading his Bible and watching science shows. He has already spent 5 years at Kingsway Prep, and as he gets ready for his next level of education, he is encouraging everyone who will listen to him to support what is helping to shape him and thousands of others.
The coronavirus has greatly impacted Kingsway, and a lot of children are dropping out due to loss of employment and other challenges that their parents face. Well over 100 children lack the necessary devices and Wi-Fi for remote learning, and Josiah has joined a crusade with his principal, teachers, and hundreds of alumni to raise support to assist the students and improve the school’s computer lab and technology.
“This is a difficult time for everyone, and our children face some serious challenges. Income has dropped, costs are fixed, and yet education must continue,” shared Keith Nugent, the Director of Financial and Operational Audit at Bank of Jamaica and a graduate of Kingsway High School. Nugent leads the SupportKingswayJamaica.com initiative, which kicked off in late November with a worldwide mediathon. Supporters can visit SupportKingswayJamaica.com to donate and for additional information.
“Kingsway is a powerful little institution that is imparting knowledge. Now we must together help build capacity, particularly in this virtual education environment,” Nugent contends.