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81 Students Graduate During Abaco District Graduation Ceremony

The Ministry of Education’s Abaco District held its 2018 Bahamas National High School Diploma Graduation Ceremony under the theme: “Understanding the Whole Picture and Imaging the Finished Results.” The graduation ceremony was held at Full Gospel Assembly of God in Treasure Cay.

Following the seating of dignitaries and platform guests, a processional of 81 high school graduates – 52 graduates from Patrick J. Bethel High School (PJBHS) and 29 from Sherlin C. Bootle High School (SCBHS) – commenced.

Cadidra Thomas was recognized as the valedictorian for S. C. Bootle and the Abaco district with a cumulative GPA of 3.62, while Twanesha Lightbourn secured a 3.36 GPA to become the valedictorian for Patrick J. Bethel. Charmiqua Cornish scored a 3.60 as salutatorian and head girl for S.C. Bootle, and Amelia Gomez, a 3.35 GPA as salutatorian at Patrick J. Bethel.

Led by Moderators Dikembe Wilkinson of Patrick J. Bethel and Chelsea Cooper of S. C. Bootle, the singing of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the invocation by Pastor Rudolph McKinney, host pastor, took place.

Principal Ricardo Ferguson of Patrick J. Bethel was the one to welcome all in attendance. He invited them to “sit back, cheer and be thankful to God for bringing them this far.”

During her district Valedictorian remarks, Cadidra Thomas focused on the illustrious accomplishments of her fellow graduates. She noted that the pursuit of excellence is an everlasting journey as she recalled graduating as the valedictorian of Fox Town Primary School, to again become the valedictorian for her school and for the Abaco district.

Thomas also thanked administrators, teachers, facility managers, and parents and guardians for their support throughout the years. She did not end without giving thanks to the Almighty God.

Moreover, she shared how she made the decision early on to put her best foot forward by following a model of success, something she could not have accomplished without the support and sacrifice of her parents – Carlton and Sharon Thomas – and her older sister Caldeisha Thomas.

Thomas was confident that better is yet to come for S.C. Bootle, which she described as her training ground. She also saluted Patrick J. Bethel as an institution that has achieved great success based on the amount of graduates that sat before her that day.

“Graduates, as we depart from this ceremony today, we will embark on different journeys, and some of us will be separated. However, I encourage you to always remember that no matter the distance or the circumstances, a true friendship is a bond that can never be broken,” she expressed.

“In short, to the graduating class of 2018, as I look upon your faces today, I don’t just see a group of students moving into the real world as some may say, but I see a group of students that have the ability to change the real world and mold it into something greater.”

While S.C. Bootle’s graduates sang “I’m the World’s Greatest,” graduates of Patrick J. Bethel sang chose “I Will Get There” as their musical selection

District Superintendent Dominique Russell introduced Deputy Director of Education Eulease Beneby, who brought greetings on behalf of the Minister of Education, Jeffrey L. Lloyd, and the Ministry of Education.

In her remarks, Beneby explained that this year’s graduating class is the second cohort to receive the Bahamas National Diploma, giving a history of how this objective came about during the tenure of Minister of Education Dame Ivy Dumont. She shared several priority areas that the Ministry of Education is focused on overall, which includes increasing the number of 3 and 4-year-old students enrolled in pre-school, equipping all students with internet access, and increasing the number of students earning high school diplomas.

Approximately, 6,000 students completed high school this year, she informed the audience.

Beneby ended her remarks by thanking administrators, teachers, parents and community stakeholders for all that they do.  She also left the graduates with a charge to: “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow.”

Twanesha Lightbourne, valedictorian for PJBH, introduced the Hon. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as the commencement speaker.

Quoting the late Dr. Myles Munroe before and at the conclusion of his address, Henfield made four main points to the graduates. In his first point, Henfield told them that without God directing their paths, they would never reach their full potential. The second point was to always have manners and respect and the right attitude wherever they go. Thirdly, the graduates were informed that nothing comes to sleepers but a dream. He explained that success doesn’t just happen, and that it takes hard work to reach your potential.

His fourth point centered on failure.

“Failure is never final.”

He went on to tell how Thomas Edison, described as America’s greatest inventor, never considered having failed with his inventions. Instead, the famous inventor of the light bulb concluded that he simply found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

Min. Henfield said that the fear of failure will paralyze you, so even if there were any graduates who felt as though they didn’t do as good as they should have in high school, tomorrow is a new day to get up, dust themselves off, and try again.

Min. Henfield’s address was followed by the presentation of diplomas along with specials presentations, awards, cash prizes and scholarships to top students. Several of the students were recognized as National Honors Society Award Recipients by Sophia Miller and Sandradee Parker.

Among those receiving certificates of excellence as inductees into the Honor Society: Stephanie Cartwright, Amelia Gomez (salutatorian), Jackline Jean-Jacques (head girl), Twanesha Lightbourn (valedictorian), Hanisha Russell, Jordan Vilma (deputy head boy), and Alexis Williams (deputy head girl) of PJBHS; and Quinto Charlton, Charmiqua Cornish, Keishon Daziel, Eulian Degregory, Vesi Ernest, Torrin Miller, Jade Newbold, Brianna Russell, Jaquay Sands and Cadidra Thomas of SCBHS.

Additionally, Ivan Curry was declared head boy and Dremiko McIntosh, deputy head boy, for PJBHS, and Teon Russell was named head boy for SCBHS. Torrin Miller was deputy head girl for SCBHS.

A prayer for the graduates was given by Pastor Silbert Mills, and District Superintendent Russell and District Education Officer Huel Moss presented the graduating class to the public.

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About Canishka Alexander

Canishka Alexander

Canishka Alexander was born in New Providence, but spent most of her childhood years on Abaco. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Abilene Christian University.

Although she has accomplished many things in life, her greatest accomplishment is being a mother to her four children. She loves God, her country and people of all cultures.

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