The 2017 graduation exercise of the Elmore Stoutt High School was described as a red letter day as it was the first cohort of 12th graders to graduate from the institution as they did not have a graduation ceremony last year because of the addition of the extra school year.
The atmosphere at the ceremony can at best be described as regal as parents and well-wishers went all out to celebrate the students. The celebration was indeed warranted as it was declared that of the 159 students that graduated on 22 June — approximately 75 students made the honor roll, amongst them were four students who received high honors.
In noting the significance of the achievement of the class of 2017 Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn announced that this year’s Elmore Stoutt High graduates are “the most qualified set of students to graduate from secondary education.”
In further touting the success of the Class, Hon. Walwyn stated: “ESHS earned a 98 percent pass rate. Of the 162 students, 159 were successful in achieving all the graduation requirements — of those students, four received high honours, and 71 received honours. I want to make special mention of Kelliann Freeman who placed second in the Territory [and first at ESHS]with a Grade Point Average of 4.07.”
It was also announced that the decision of the Goverment to link the students successful attaining of five or more Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects to a government scholarship paid off as a number of students qualified on that basis. During the graduation the Minister mentioned that already 32 of the students attained enough CXC subjects to earn a scholarship from the government. While another 28 of the graduates are expected to qualify for scholarship soon.
“It was important for us to make the five CSEC examinations compulsory for receiving a Government scholarship at this level, because it helps to give more credibility to our local education system. If our system is to be considered a strong educational system, then it must follow that our students should be able to sit and pass regional examinations,” Hon. Walwyn added.
Principal of the Elmore Stoutt High School Sandy Underhill, also sang the praises of the class as she spoke favourably of their success: “Our students did exceptionally well, considering the various challenges they faced – having to relocate to a new campus, coupled with the rigour of the curriculum they were exposed to this year – which included the demands of CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations) and college credit courses, in addition to being involved in extra-curricular activities.”
The Principal stated that the student’s journey was long, and she thanked them for their perseverance: “It has been a long six years and a very challenging journey, we can all agree. You have experienced some of life’s steep mountains and rough seas, but you learned to climb and you learned to swim. You adapted, you persevered, and you are victorious today.”
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith urged the graduating class to choose their path well: “Know that the journey towards achieving your ultimate goal has just begun…It is what happens after that will determine the type of future you choose for yourselves,” Hon. Smith advised.
The BVI Leader especially urged that the class of 2017 consider the global atmosphere and strive to be productive global citizens: “Become familiar with what is going on globally, pay attention to the news, and I assure you that you will become well-rounded young people who will be able to dialogue with anyone, even at the highest levels.”
In further admonishing the graduates to think carefully about their future Hon. Smith likened the matter to the use of the popular social media platform Snapchat: “I am aware that one of your favorite past time is communicating via different social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. I know users on Snapchat have a unique snapcode. Consider your identity as your unique snapcode.”
“Unlike Snapchat where you can use filters to decorate your snaps, life’s journey will not come with filters. You will be faced with many obstacles and challenges. I encourage you to reflect on your perseverance throughout the implementation of the Sixth Form, and let that be encouragement for you during any future challenges you may face,” the Premier added.
The keynote speaker at the graduation Ashaala Shanae Jenkins used her personal experience and journey in her address to the Class of 2017. Ms. Jenkins told the graduates: “I just want to say to you class of 2017, don’t forget the three most important F’s in your life – your Faith, your Family, and your Friends.”
The perseverance of the class of 2017 was eloquently alluded to by Validictorian and student responder Kelliann Freeman as she noted that the ceremony was a bittersweet occasion. In driving the point home she told her classmates: “Guys, we are finally out; and I know that our emotions are fluctuating.”
“Despite the many, many, many, many challenges we faced in our last year, we managed to be successful with a 98 percent pass rate,” noting that the cohort of students are on to great things: “Class of 2017, we will keep moving forward and pushing beyond our expectations. Congratulations to this class,” the Valedictorian added.