St. John Students Graduate at Top of Seventh Day Adventist School

When the St. Thomas/St. John Seventh Day Adventist School held its promotional exercises on Sunday, June 11, two St. John students were at the top of the class.

Valedictorian Dennis Powell II

Salutatorian Kenneth Small

Dennis Powell II graduated as the 10-student class’s valedictorian and Kenneth Small Jr. was the salutatorian.

Powell got some interesting motivation to do well in school from his mother.

Mom’s Special Motivation
“My mom used to tell me that she didn’t have any money to pay for college for me,” he said. “So if I wanted to go, I had to get a scholarship and that meant doing my best. Of course she was kidding, but it made me do well anyway.”

Whatever mom said must have worked, because Powell received a four-year scholarship to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). On a more serious note, the valedictorian attributed attending classes as a key to his success.

“I wanted to strive for success to always do my best,” he said. “Paying attention in class is important. Studying always came easy to me, but I also didn’t miss one class all year and I think that was a main thing.”

Mechanical Engineering Dreams
The dedicated student will study mechanical engineering at UVI in hopes of pursuing a career in the automobile industry.

“I want to become a leading engineer at the Ford Motor Company,” said Powell. “Math is my favorite subject and I look forward to working in the engineering field.”

It is no surprise that the future engineer’s favorite subject is math, but his favorite teacher was also his math teacher, Powell explained.

“By far, my favorite teacher was my math teacher because he made everything seem simple even though it really wasn’t,” said Powell. “And that is not an easy thing to do.”

Youth Role Model
In addition to having the highest marks in his class, Powell was also chosen as an Upward Bound Youth Role Model.

“The group honored the top selected seniors from the various high schools,” he said. “We received a lap top computer. Also, for those of us who were going to UVI, we got a one-year book scholarship.”

As the class valedictorian, Powell gave a speech in front of parents, classmates and teachers.

“I was very nervous to give my speech,” he said. “I was kind of hyperventilating beforehand, but once I got up there it was all right. I spoke about a number of different experiences that I had at the school.”

Benefits of Small School
With only 10 students in his class, Powell was able to speak about each of his fellow students.

“I really liked going to a small school,” he said. “You know everyone and you can talk to all of them. You know who has the same interests as you, which is nice.”

Salutatorian Small also enjoyed attending a small school.

“I like the size of our class because the teachers get to take more personal time with you,” he said. “You are not just a number. You get individual attention.”

“I think that is one of the reasons that I did so well in school,” Small continued.

Small, who also obtained a four-year scholarship to UVI, will study criminal justice and hopes to eventually become a forensic scientist.

Making a Difference
“I enjoy watching the T.V. shows about forensics,” he said. “I also want to make a difference in my community and I think criminal justice can help me do that.”

Small is not dwelling on the past.

“I am looking forward to the future,” he said. “I enjoyed high school, but I am ready to put it behind me and look ahead.”

A key to scholarly success is determination, Small explained.

“It’s very important to study hard and to do your homework,” he said. “You have to be determined to succeed.”