The Comprehensive School held a graduation ceremony for the class of 2013 at Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside Saturday, writes The Daily Herald. The chosen class motto was, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” a fitting motto for the graduates who, with their drive and excellent academic results, secured a 100 per cent passing rate at Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC’s) examinations.
The graduates’ procession followed the Saba Song rendered by students Bodna Guerrier, Charvella Wilson and Juliness Woods. Teacher Delroy Sinclair was the evening’s master of ceremony. Teacher Tracy Zagers-Johnson held the invocation, followed by the official congratulatory speech of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, who applauded the students for their excellent Dutch language results, noting that “while we are an English speaking island, Dutch is our nationality.” In the absence of Commissioner of Education Chris Johnson, President of Saba Educational Foundation Raquel Granger held a speech imparting her pride in this class and the often underestimated achievements of teachers, principal and students. She recounted her impression of the “climate change” at school with students taking responsibility and giving a special gift to their teachers on Friday’s Teacher Appreciation Day. Director Hemmie Van Xanten remarked about “the breath of fresh air” by students who played a role-reversal Friday, assuming teachers’ roles and giving them the “day off,” but taking their roles seriously. He also mentioned the “genuine shock” the school’s administration experienced upon receiving the excellent CXC results.
Keynote speaker Dr. Ramona Dumitrescu gave her own life experience as a Romania-born American citizen living on Saba. She asked the graduates to search for what is good in everyone, in every culture, circumstance or person, and absorb those good traits in shaping their character and actions. She advised them to keep their identity and know who they are when they leave Saba’s shores to study abroad in a different culture. She encouraged them to seek knowledge, as it will give them the power to change the world around them. She counselled them not to be intimidated by challenges and become victims of circumstance, but to understand that while they may be coming from a tiny island, they come from a community of resilient, resourceful individuals. She quoted Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, telling them that the same qualities that appear to give giants strength are often the sources of great weakness – that knowledge brings unique insights and the power to shift preconceptions of adverse odds. “Being an underdog can change people in ways we often fail to appreciate. It can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable,” Dumitrescu said.
These insights were meant to serve the graduates in their journeys as they are all headed either to Florida or the Netherlands, where they will no longer have the protection of their tightknit community, where they will compete in the academic field as outsiders of the local culture whilst at the same time, trying to lead a balanced lifestyle without knowing whose guidance to follow.
Governor Johnson and Van Xanten presented the diplomas to students Sarah Caines, Monica Johnson, Esmeylyn Solano Garcia and Salutatorian Bianca Johnson, who were all celebrated with an array of special awards. Graduates Joelyn Robinson, Alexander Mateo Tejeda and Valedictorian Alexis Johnson were extended diplomas in absentia, as they have already started their higher education abroad. Their proud parents were called on stage for the many distinctions these students achieved.
Satel N.V. presented the CXC Valedictorian Award to Alexis Johnson’s mother, and similarly, a Salutatorian Award was extended to Bianca Johnson, who held her own address. Van Xanten presented the Principal’s Award to Solano Garcia and teacher Derrick Goffe presented the Most Improved Student Award to Sarah Caines. Zagers-Johnson handed the Excellence in Sports Award to Joelyn Robinson’s father. Many subject awards were handed out to students in earlier forms, who passed their CXC exams years ahead, proving their abilities.