Nineteen Eighth Graders Graduate at JESS Promotional Exercises


The JESS 2012 eighth grade graduates, above. First honor student Khaleila Krall is second from left (front row).

Family members and friends of Julius E. Sprauve School eighth graders packed the ballroom at the Westin Resort and Villas on Wednesday evening, June 13, for the school’s 46th annual promotional exercises.

Island dignitaries including Lieutenant Governor Greg Francis and his wife Cheryl, Senator Patrick Sprauve, Senator at Large Craig Barshinger and St. John Administrator Leona Smith also attended last week’s eighth grade graduation.

Welcoming the crowd, JESS Principal Dionne Wells told the graduates that hard work pays off in the end.

“You are a testimony that hard work pays off,” said Wells. “You all have made my homecoming to JESS after six years one I will always remember.”

A new coat of paint and inspirational murals painted across the JESS campus are just the beginning of changes for the school, Wells added.

“Things have just begun to change at JESS,” she said. “Be informed that JESS is back.”
As the eighth graders look ahead to high school, the graduates should know that the entire community of St. John is behind them, Wells explained.

“This is a momentous occasion tonight and I am truly proud of you,” said the JESS Principal. “You are off to high school and you will benefit from encouragement. Know that we are all deeply committed to supporting you.”

Wells read the poem “Don’t You Quit” which encouraged students to do their best and never give up on any problem.

“When the funds are low and the debts are high and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,” recited Wells. “When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don’t you quit.”

Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Joseph Sibilly told graduates that their principal is a tireless champion of all students at JESS.

“Your principal and vice principal are relentless to be sure that they get everything they can for the students at JESS,” said Sibilly.

The best way to thank their parents for all they have done, would be for the students to continue to excel at school, Sibilly told the graduates.

“The most meaningful gift you can give your parents is to continue with school and your education,” he said.

The 19 eighth graders heading off to high school represent more than just the future of St. John, explained Board of Education member Oswin Sewer.

“Continue to make us all proud,” Sewer said. “We all share your happiness. You are the future and not just the future of St. John, but the future of the Virgin Islands and the future of the world.”

Successful people stay focused on their goals, St. John Administrator Leona Smith told the graduates.

“Do all you can to embrace every opportunity,” said Smith. “Stay confident in your abilities and remain focused on your goals.”

As the JESS students prepare to enter a larger school next year, they should not be intimidated, Lt. Gov. Francis explained.

“You will be going through a transition from a small school to a large school, but don’t be intimidated,” said Francis. “You have been prepared for this. Make your teachers and parents proud.”

“Respect yourself and respect others,” he said. “Don’t settle for second best and always be truthful. There is no such thing as second best.”

As a transfer student, second honor student Raven Phillips had a lot to get used to as she adjusted to school in the Virgin Islands.

“As a transfer student, I struggled at first, but I learned to accept my name ‘Yankee,’” said Phillips. “I also learned that there is no such thing as holding your tongue and that is better to be seen than heard. As teens we are not always easy to deal with, but we are the future.”

While it is sad to leave the school they have known for years, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas will only offer more opportunities, First honor student Khaleila Krall told her fellow graduates.

“It’s almost impossible to believe that we will be high school students the next time we step into a classroom,” said Krall. “Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by new teachers and new classrooms. I was worried at first to leave JESS, but I am confident that Kean High will provide new experiences for us.”

Pastor Clinton Liburd was the guest speaker of the evening, JESS Assistant Principal Brenda Dalmida recognized supporters and Jah’Haile Bruce delivered closing remarks. 

Graduating from JESS were Amani Belizaire, Kareem Browne, Jr., Jah’Haile Bruce, Sokotto Clendinen, LaKeisha Hendrickson, Elisha Howe, LaTiah Jackson, J’eminee Jacobs, Jamel James, Khaleila Krall, Zaria Longueville, Joseph Moses, Raven Phillips, Escarlet Reynoso, A’Feyah Smith, Shevon Sprauve, Kassahun Stapleton-Harris, Ja’Leah Stephens and Jovanie Stephenson.