GBS sixth grade graduates, above.
Friends and family members of Guy Benjamin School sixth graders gathered at the Emmaus Moravian Church on Wednesday morning, June 13, to celebrate the school’s annual promotional exercises.
GBS Acting Principal Brenda Dalmida, who recently stepped in when Principal Whitman Browne took time off for medical reasons, welcomed the crowd to the exciting and heart-warming event.
Dalmida, who has been the assistant principal at Julius E. Sprauve School for several years, was careful not say “JESS” instead of “GBS” during her speech, and she nearly succeeded, only slipping once to understanding laughter.
“Today is a day for joy and celebration,” said Dalmida. “We’re celebrating all that you have learned and achieved here and I extend major kudos to all of the promotees.”
Dalmida’s welcoming speech set the stage for an entertaining and intimate graduation for the Coral Bay public elementary school, with speeches by Department of Education’s Deputy Superintendent Michael Harrigan and Senator at Large Craig Barshinger. The guest speaker was Savannah Lyons-Anthony, who graduated from GBS herself just six years ago.
Harrigan presented top honor student Khalid Smith with a gift certificate to Dockside Bookshop and a plaque proclaiming his achievement. Sharing a poem written by a middle school student, Harrigan tried to ease GBS graduates’ fears about going to a larger school next year.
“Next year these students are going to be heading off to middle school and they will grow from kids to teens,” said Harrigan. “It can be a scary time, but maybe we can unlock some of the mysteries of middle school.”
The poem “What are Middle Schoolers” detailed the often contradictory experience of being teenagers, with futures unfolding each day. Harrigan also shared some hard-earned advice with the GBS graduates.
“Celebrate this day,” he said. “You are all smart and motivated to do your best. Keep your love for learning and you will be outstanding middle schoolers.”
Board of Education member Oswin Sewer urged graduates to make their families and their community proud.
“You’ve made us proud so far and you need to continue to represent your family, your school and your community,” said Sewer. “GBS teachers and the community like to show off, so give them reason to. We’ll be watching.”
Despite various rumors, DOE officials have no intention of closing GBS, Senator Barshinger assured the crowd.
“Despite all the great work that goes on at GBS, there is always talk about the school closing,” said Barshinger. “I asked DOE if they had any considerations of closing the school and I’m happy to report that they said ‘No.’ GBS is too precious to lose.”
Second honor student Jenekia Magras thanked her parents for her success, as they were the people who motivated her to achieve good grades.
“I didn’t always realize the importance of reaching for the stars,” said Magras. “I love basketball and that is all I wanted to do. I was just passing in classes until they called my mother in to school.”
“She told me I had to pull up my grades or give up basketball,” Magras said. “I couldn’t give it up, so I pulled up those grades. I want to thank my parents for pushing me to achieve and for my teachers for knowing my potential.”
First honor student Khalid Smith urged his classmates to keep their positive attitudes as they continue in school next year.
“We are the future and we must keep our positive attitudes and our strong spirit,” said Smith.
V.I. Carnival Queen and recent Charlotte Amalie High School graduate Savannah Lyons-Anthony, who is heading off to Bard College in the fall, told the graduates to remain determined and always work hard towards their goals.
“Success is a journey, not a destination,” said Lyons-Anthony. “You have begun this journey and every journey is different. It’s important to have high expectations for yourself and always work on being your very best.”
The entire sixth grade class entertained the crowd with a rendition of “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” and Coral Bay Community Council president Sharon Coldren distributed books to each class member before the graduates filed out of the church and posed for pictures with family members and friends.
Graduating from GBS were Khalid Smith, Jenekia Magras, D’Moi Martin, JahNyah Dalmida-McCain, Naiquan Frett, Tyreke Morton, Shanika Clendinen, Keegan Bertrand, Lion’Ess Bruce, Caliyah Stephenson and K’Lan Thomas.