Seven sixth grade scholars graduated from the Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School (GBS) in a moving ceremony on Wednesday morning, June 14, at the small Coral Bay school.
Although the festivities occurred in the schools lunch room due to inclement weather which made their outdoor gymnasium unusable, the event inspired pride for the children and hope for their futures.
Elders Lead School
I have termed this group of sixth graders our elders at the school, said GBS principal Dr. Margaret Bowers. They are the elders because they are true leaders. We truly love our seven scholars.
The seven graduates from GBS are Kristal Anthony, Savannah Lyons Anthony, Jhelisa Krigger, Ohene Lambertis, Khadijah Lee, Franklyn Perez and Micquan Wilkinson.
Third honor student Krigger read an emotional poem about keeping true to oneself and letting ones heart lead the way before the Department of Educations Superintendent for the St. John and St. Thomas District, Dr. Emily Carter, shared remarks about the unique qualities of the school.
You are moving from one small setting to a setting that is a little larger, she said. Treasure this, and know that your peers on your sister islands are often in much larger classes and schools.
The sixth graders should take advantage of upper classmates knowledge, Carter explained.
Make friends with upperclassmen, she said. They have a lot of guidance and wisdom to share. Try to learn from them.
New Beginning As the students say goodbye to one school, they face a new chapter in their lives, Carter continued.
This is a new beginning, she said. You are really the class of 2012. I look forward to seeing your names in a high school roster. I hope and dream for you to be graduates in 2012.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley took advantage of his speaking time to acknowledge on-going problems at GBS.
Every time I come down to this school, I feel the special bonds that have formed between students and teachers, he said. But I am also disappointed when I come here because there are things wrong. When it rains the students must eat in this room filled with puddles.
Problems Not Priority
The powers that be know this is happening, Harley continued. Its not a priority for them. We all say that the kids are our future, but we must stop playing this game.
Parents should use the upcoming V.I. election time to make educational reform a priority, Harley explained.
Vote for Right Reasons
This is an election year, he said. Dont vote for people because they gave you a free T-shirt, vote for the right reasons. Do things for change.
Students should take what they learned at GBS with them to their new schools in the fall, Harley said.
As you move to the seventh grade, take the manners, respect and determination that you learned here with you, he said. Set your goals and aim for them now. Always believe in yourselves.
Parents should remain involved in their childrens lives also, Harley continued.
Parents, become more involved, he said. Study with your children, visit their schools and meet their teachers. But most importantly, be an asset to your children and be an asset to their schools.
Board of Education member Oswin Sewer reminded the students that their actions reflect on the community.
Actions Reflect on All
When you go anywhere, you do not just represent yourselves, you represent all of us, he said. When you do something good, we all do something good, and when you do something bad it reflects on all of us as well. Keep good company, work hard and do the right thing.
Second honor student Savannah Lyons Anthony shared a story about her own personal growth at GBS.
Although I have only been here one year, I feel like I have been here my whole life, she said. I have made life-long friends, gained confidence and self-assurance.
Learning More than Math
This school doesnt just teach math and english, but it teaches you what you need to know to go on in life, Anthony continued. I can be what I want to be and do what I want to do if I work hard and believe in myself.
Delroy Ital Anthony performed an a capella song about the importance of parents to be there for their children.
Show them that you care, he sang. Teach by example and take time to listen to their opinions.
First honor student Krystal Anthony told about the hard work that got her to where she is now during her speech.
I will carry all that I have learned here on with me, she said. Always believe in yourself and your dreams. Only you can make your dreams come true.
Flanked by family, friends and community members, the GBS sixth graders were handed their graduation certificates as well as a number of other awards for outstanding achievement in a variety of subjects.