~ 51 graduate, 89 per cent pass rate ~
PHILIPSBURG–While some students can relax and focus on their studies before and after classes, Sundial School student Nikita Bannis has to tend to her ill mother daily, do the grocery shopping for the home, hold down a job to help cover the household bills and take on other responsibilities.
Despite juggling her many responsibilities, she never considered dropping out of school. She hit a stumbling block last year when it was time for her to sit her final exams and her employer did not give her time off from work. She was saddened and cried bitterly, but still did not give up. This year, her school intervened, she was able to get the time off from work to sit her final exams and she passed.
Bannis’ efforts earned her the Perseverance Award, which she received in addition to her high school certificate during Sundial School’s graduation ceremony, which was held at the school Monday evening.
Bannis’ story, which was shared with attendees at the graduation, drew rounds of applause from the audience. She accepted her award in tears.
Bannis’ story of strength is replicated amongst many of the 51 students who graduated from the school in a ceremony themed “Bringing out the genius within.” The Class of 2017 recorded an 89 per cent pass rate.
The top student was D’shayra Josepha, who received the Valedictorian Award as well as several academic awards for her outstanding performance. Also honoured during the ceremony were Marlon Arndell and Rohonia Hill who topped their respective streams, as well as Gert Sabaroche who received the Director’s Award for going above and beyond in school academically, socially and in the area of community service.
In remarks at the ceremony Josepha said her journey at Sundial had been interesting. She said when she was younger she had not thought she was smart. “All I ever did was cry and fight with my teachers and my parents because I did not want to attend school. That behaviour made a lot of people I knew give up on me, but it also made a lot of people push me harder for success. That shows you that just because you think that you’re not smart enough doesn’t mean it’s true.”
Alluding to the theme of the graduation ceremony, Josepha said all the graduating students and teachers are geniuses. “Sundial School is made up of teachers and managers whose goal is to push us to achieve. The genius of Sundial School is love. All I see in this school are geniuses, and I am proud to be part of it.”
She ended her speech saying: “As my classmates and I stand here today we can truly say that we are the products of the genius of Sundial School.”
Sundial Principal Mireille Regales-Peterson told the graduates they had taken heed of the many lessons to which they had been subjected, which proved that education is the key to bring out the genius within them.
“The journey might have been a rough and long one for some of you, for others it was a smooth and enjoyable ride, but despite the process you have prevailed and managed to reach the finish line. This finish line is one of many more that you will have to cross as you pursue higher education or enter the world of work,” Regales-Peterson said.
She said the groundwork had been laid for students with higher academic ambitions and she urged them to continue to build on their experiences and to never give up until they cross new finish lines. “Continuously tap into your genius within and always go from the premise of respect,” she said.
General Director Wim de Visser said graduating from secondary education is just the start of a bright future where study and work join forces. “Becoming successful in these modern ages requires perseverance and endurance. Times are not always easy; however, you students just reached to a point where you can be very proud of yourselves,” De Visser said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was former student and sitting Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard, who delivered the keynote address. She told students that Sundial graduates can be whatever they want to be,
“You see, the truth is the choices we make, is what will determine our future. I look at you all and I see success and I am not just saying this. I am a living testimony that unlike what society thought or thinks, Sundial produces great success,” Leonard said.
Alluding to the graduation theme, she said: “I truly believe that there is a genius in every single one of us, every single one of you, but the key word here is to believe. It does not matter what anyone thinks or what anyone says, as long as you believe you can and you will achieve every goal you set for yourself.”
She urged students to dare to dream big. “Imagine yourself doing the job you want to do, especially those of you heading off to college. During those long nights when homework is due and you are tired, just think about that job you want to do which will not happen if you do not make a choice to sacrifice that sleep and complete your assignments,” she said.
She also advised students to always be accountable for their actions. “Realise that everyone makes mistakes, so own up to your actions. Apologise and learn from your actions and, lastly, regardless of how hard it gets, regardless of how sad life can make you, regardless of heartbreaks, lack of cash, mistakes made, do not ever give up,” Leonard said.
Also present at the Sundial School graduation was Education Minister Silveria Jacobs.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/67397-sundial-student-beat-the-odds-to-graduate