Ato Boldon gets face to face with a Hillview College student at the schools hall on Thursday. In the foreground are students of Tunapuna Government Secondary, who, along with El Dorado Secondary students, also attended Atos stop on the Guardian in Educations Making a Difference school tour.
Photo: Lester Forde
By Lisa Allen-Agostini
He wasnt tall enough to reach the mic on the stand, but a Hillview College student had the whole school hall rocking with laughter on Thursday, when he asked Ato Boldon in a small voice, I want to know if girls have ever affected your school work.
Why? asked Boldon.
Are girls currently affecting your school work? Boldon asked.
The slight young man shrugged.
It was a light moment in the midday session at the Tunapuna school, where Boldon was the feature speaker in the Trinidad Guardians Making a Difference school tour.
Hillview, El Dorado Secondary and Tunapuna Government Secondary students listened as the former Olympic sprinter told his life stories of struggle and triumph.
His message of the day was for the students to keep things in perspective.
Often times, as a young person, things that seem like they may be a big thing could be changed by altering your perspective, he said.
There are very few times in your life that you would make a step from which you cannot recover.
He urged them to stay in school and appreciate it, despite the fact that most of the students who packed the hall raised their hands to show they hated school.
There are millions of children who would say, Oh, you dont like school? Great! Get up, give me your uniform and go so. Boldon said.
You all are required to make the best of this opportunity while you can. Do not take it for granted.
Boldon, cyclist/promoter and painter Michael Phillips and Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam have been making the rounds of secondary schools throughout Trinidad on the tour, which is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education.
West Indies cricketer Brian Lara and Olympic medallist George Bovell III are also scheduled to join the tour later on.
Other sponsors include RBTT, National Gas Co, BG T&T, Guardian Holdings and Yara Trinidad.
The tour is part of the Guardian in Education project, an essay-writing competition started in 2000.
Students are asked to use the celebrities speeches for not only writing essays, but inspiration for changing their own value systems.
Boldon told the students he was a skinny and unattractive boy at 14, in no danger of any girl being interested in me.
He admitted he was a nerd.
You all selling yourself short if you believe that the people you should aspire to are Fifty Cent and Jessica Simpson, Boldon admonished the students.
Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson, two multi-millionaires, were better role models, he said.
Gates, who created the Microsoft empire, must have laughed at the people who laughed at him for being a nerd, Boldon said.
Gates may have said, I will be here with my pocket protector and my glasses, working on Microsoft. And now he controls it all, Boldon said.
Phillips was at the school in spirit, since he sent hundreds of tickets for the West Indies versus the World cycling tournament he is now running.
The event started on Wednesday and is scheduled to run until May 8.
Guardian circulation and marketing manager Cyntra Achong announced that students who attended the cycling series and wrote a story on it had a chance to win a bike and protective gear.
Phillips is offering the prize to the student who writes the best article, which will be published in the Trinidad Guardians Sports Arena magazine.