During a long, but exciting, ceremony held in front of a full audience, the graduates of Abaco Central High School, class of 2013, were recognized for their achievements during the school year.
On the morning of June 18, 51 graduates belonging to the largest public high school on the island, perfectly dressed in their school uniforms, made a solemn entrance through the aisles of New Vision Ministries to claim their seats in front of the stage.
The ceremony unrolled according to the usual graduation ceremony protocol with prayer, the National Anthem and a welcome address by the Salutatorian, Payton Stubbs. She bid goodbye to her classmates with a few words of recommendation, “No matter what,” she said, “you must always follow your instincts. Be true to what you are, be your own person.” She told her parents that, “a thank you will never be sufficient.”
During his address, the Principal, Ricardo Ferguson, highlighted what was achieved during the school year since he took office in September 2012. He said that under the new administration of Vice Principal Sophia Miller, Vincent Coakley, Ethelyn McIntosh, and a crew of 48 teachers, many goals were attained in the academic and discipline fields.
He recognized that many students performed at their best, placing among the top three in spelling, mathematics and arts in various competitions, not only locally, but nationally. He acknowledged the graduates who had been accepted to colleges on scholarships, mentioning the Valedictorian, Olujimi Scott who will be going to Howard University to study mechanical engineering, Alcindor McIntosh who will study marine biology and Payton Stubbs who will attend the College of The Bahamas to study biochemistry, with the goal of becoming a doctor. He also mentioned the sports accomplishments of several students.
Moreover, he thanked the business community for the support given to the school in the form of equipment donations, and reiterated the challenge he had undertaken at the beginning of the school year in erasing the bad reputation of the school regarding discipline, saying that he has made progress.
Some of his goals for next year will be to bring the school to new heights, by introducing career apprenticeship and skill training. Classes such as cosmetology, crafts, baking and carpentry will be offered.
He reminded the parents of the importance of their interaction with their children and the school. Congratulating the graduates, he left them with the following quote:
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.”
The graduates showed their appreciation for their parents and their teachers by distributing gifts and flowers to all of them.
After an impressive introduction by the Deputy Head Girl and Head Boy, the guest speaker Ethelyn McIntosh took the stage to deliver an energetic and powerful speech. With the graduation theme, “Making Our Dreams a Reality,” she defined the meaning of, “dream,” as a strong desire or purpose that to some people may seem impossible to achieve. But with determination and passion, any dream becomes possible, she said, citing the example of freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, who in spite of all odds managed to reach her goals.
She urged the graduates to face the past without regrets and to keep faith. She left them with the following quote: “May you soar like an eagle and may your dreams become reality.”
Following a musical performance by the school band, it was the turn of Valedictorian, Olujimi Scott, to address his fellow classmates, advising them to, “set goals that are easy to accomplish.” He reminisced about the highlights and the downsides of the past school year, addressing each of his teachers with anecdotes. He thanked his friends for being at his side and his parents, his aunt and his teachers for their support.
Before the distribution of the awards and trophies, the Head Boy and the Head Girl of 2012-13, Olujimi Scott and Payton Stubbs passed the torch to the Head Boy and Head Girl of 2013-14, Conrad Cornish and Jessica Pierre, during a brief but solemn ceremony.
Each student was then called to the stage while their respective achievements were enumerated. A special placque was handed out by the Principal to the student who was the most overall improved, Cloder Saint Fleur. In an emotional confession that brought tears to his eyes as well as to the eyes of many in the audience, he recognized that when he entered Grade Seven, he had been a rude person. But thanks to the support and recognition of his teachers, he was able to recognize what he was capable of and achieve it.
Grade 12 teachers were also recognized with a placque, including Laverne Cooper and Philippa Farrington, two former teachers who had left the school for Nassau. Recognition placques also went to the Principal and the guidance counselor, Kimberley Rahming.
Dr. Lenora Black came to the stage, stating that she had to personally recognize the gifts of the graduates who had realized that hard work was the order of the day. Announcing that 76% of the graduating class of 2013 had achieved a 2.0 GPA or higher, she acknowledged the Principal’s success and let it be known that some of the graduates had given up their Saturdays as well as their Easter Holiday to take extra classes.
More gift exchanges and photos of the graduates with parents and teachers ended the ceremony.