LAST year August, Jahmarley Jackson suffered a most horrific experience.

The then 12-year-old Linton Park All-Age School student was walking home with his mother, brother, and sister when they were attacked by the mother’s ex-boyfriend. The man, who was armed with a machete, chopped the woman to death, then turned on the two boys, severely wounding Jahmarley and killing his 10-year-old brother.

For some unknown reason their sister was unharmed in the brutal attack which resulted in Jahmarley losing the fingers on his left hand. The boy also has a long scar across the left side of his face.

Fast-forward to June this year when the results for the first cohort of grade six students who sat the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) were released. Among the shining stars was Jahmarley, who emerged as the top boy at his school.

Although the tragic event lingers in the minds of the Jacksons, Jahmarley’s academic success is something they are ecstatic about.

Two weeks ago, at their home in Watt Town, St Ann, the boy’s father, Algreen Jackson, was beside himself with pride and joy.

“It has been rough, but dem did a get counselling and ting, so I think it is getting back into a mood weh dem a try fi overcome it. Mi can’t even describe how mi feel fi know seh him do well and get the top boy position,” the elder Jackson said.

Jahmarley, who will attend Ferncourt High, interjected.

“I got trophies for science, language arts, ability testing, and social studies,” he told the Jamaica Observer. He said that, while he is not yet sure what career he will pursue, he is aware that education is important and will strive to do well at the secondary level.

“The struggles of my life are motivation for me. Sometimes we don’t have the money to go to school or food to eat, but I use that to push me,” he said.

His father agreed, but added that his children are his source of inspiration.

“My children motivate me… and make me stronger. Me haffi live for the two of them and mi haffi strong for them,” he said

“Me wouldn’t mind some assistance fi make them brighter. When mi say brighter, I mean live more comfortably. Or even help for him [Jahmarley] to get rid of the scars in his face. I wish I could do more. I won’t give up though,” the father said.

Linton Park All-Age School Principal Arlene Clarke-Dunbar, too, was pleased with Jahmarley’s performance, and shared with the Observer that he had always been an intelligent child. In fact, she is convinced that he would have done much better had it not been for the tragedy.

“Just to know that he has been through all that and has triumphed is amazing; and, you know it happened around this time last year, so he had to bounce back quickly in order to sit the exams, and he excelled,” Clarke-Dunbar said.

“After it happened he was still interested in coming back to school, and he has participated in activities just as he would have before the incident. I have seen him come back to his normal self basically. He is still jovial,” the principal added.

“When the incident took place we heard that he had died, but then they realised he didn’t, and I am just in awe at his recovery. He was 12 at the time, and some adults wouldn’t even be able to bounce back from that,” she said. “People in the community and his school family had to get counselling. It was tragic. Everybody was just going through this phase when it happened. It was a dark period. However, the church helped, the ministry helped, and others helped too. I am extremely proud of him. I am extremely proud,” she said.

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