Elmore Stoutt High School students applaud during their graduation last Thursday at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex. (Photo: ALLISON VAUGHN)

After each Elmore Stoutt High School graduate walked across the stage to receive a diploma last Thursday at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex, valedictorian J’Quela Callwood took the microphone.

“We adapted and shined through the darkness,” Ms. Callwood said, referring to the school’s motto, “In the midst of darkness, the brightest star shines on us all.”

That motto was appropriate for the graduates’ time at ESHS, which was fraught with unusual challenges. After hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the students attended class on shift schedules in temporary facilities. Less than three years later, they found themselves logging on to their classes remotely as the Covid-19 pandemic reached the territory in early 2020.

The ESHS ceremony was the largest of eight high school graduations held across three islands in recent days.

All told, 305 students from public and private high schools celebrated their accomplishments and received their diplomas. On Tortola, 165 graduated from ESHS; 38 from BVI Seventh-day Adventist School; 30 from the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies; 22 from St. George’s Secondary School; and 22 from Cedar International School. On Virgin Gorda, 19 graduated from Bregado Flax Educational Centre and six from the Ciboney Centre for Excellence.

And on Anegada, three graduated from the Claudia Creque Educational Centre.

Mortarboard messages
ESHS ceremony

Dressed in blue caps and gowns last Thursday, the ESHS Class of 2024 — which included 75 men and 90 women — was honoured during a ceremony that lasted more than two hours. Juanita George, a 2004 ESHS graduate, delivered the keynote address before students collected their diplomas.

In addition to being valedictorian, Ms. Callwood graduated second in the VI among the territory’s public schools, and salutatorian Alysa Penn graduated fourth.

The ESHS graduates included eight who earned high honours with a GPA of at least 91 percent and 94 who earned honours with a GPA over 76 percent.

Claudia Creque

Before the ESHS ceremony, the first of seven ceremonies held over the past eight days took place June 26 on Anegada, where three students celebrated their graduation from Claudia Creque Educational Centre.

All of them earned honours, with Gorcia Johnson finishing as valedictorian and Rayonah Vanterpool as salutatorian.

Because of the school’s small size, the ceremony for the secondary students was shared with the primary students graduating from grade six.

Veteran educator Tonya Bertie delivered the keynote address.

St. George’s Secondary School students stand during their graduation ceremony. (Photo: PROVIDED). Below, a St. George’s Secondary School graduate celebrates after her ceremony last Thursday at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Road Town. (Photo: ALLISON VAUGHN)


St. George’s, Ciboney

Besides the ESHS graduation held the next day, graduates from St. George’s Secondary School also received their diplomas during a ceremony at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Road Town.

Jonese Samuel was the keynote speaker, with Jadeen Martin as valedictorian and Orrett Kennedy as salutatorian.

During her keynote address, Ms. Samuel advised the graduating class to fully commit to the “journey” of life.

“Dream, make your plans, attack your goals and move toward your desired outcomes,” she said. “But your outcome may not be what you planned. … Your goals are simply markers along life’s journey.”

The same day on Virgin Gorda, six graduates from the Ciboney Centre for Excellence were honoured during a ceremony at the Catholic Community Centre. The four women and two men sat on the stage throughout the event.

Six Ciboney graduates take the stage last Thursday in celebration of their graduation at the Catholic Community Centre on Virgin Gorda. (Photo: PROVIDED)
Technical school

Back on Tortola on Friday, the VI School of Technical Studies held an afternoon ceremony at the New Testament Church of God International Worship Centre in Baughers Bay.

The graduates celebrated completing one of three different programmes: automotive (11); cosmetology (10); or hospitality, culinary and tourism (nine). Twelve of the 30 graduates earned honours. Each student was clad in a grey cap and gown with black-and-gold adornments.

Krystal Ward-Hamer, who completed the hospitality programme, was the valedictorian, and Kalifa Stevens, who studied cosmetology, was the salutatorian.

Keisha Davis-Barnes delivered the keynote address.

Cedar International

The same day, Cedar International School celebrated its largest class to date, of 22 graduates.

An International Baccalaureate school, Cedar uses predicted grades on the IB exams to determine the valedictorian and salutatorian, according to Director Scott Crawford. Based on this system, he said, Sarah Ramdatt would be the valedictorian and Sydney Smith the salutatorian.

The commencement speaker, who was chosen by students, was Cedric Thomas, the senior employee assistance programme counselor for the government.

Cedar was recently re-evaluated for re-accreditation from three different international organisations. It received approval for re-accreditation from the Council of International Schools and the IB Organisation, and the administration expects approval from the Middle States Association in November, according to Mr. Crawford. Such accreditations, he said, make it easier for graduates to matriculate directly to four-year universities around the world.

This year, the graduates have “received offers from more than 40 universities in the [United States], Canada, [United Kingdom], France and around the Caribbean, and have amassed scholarship offers totaling more than $2.3 million,” he told the Beacon.

Twenty-two Cedar International School secondary students, above, sit on the stage at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College auditorium Friday evening for their graduation ceremony. (Photo: PROVIDED)

On Sunday afternoon, the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School finished off the graduation ceremonies for secondary schools in the VI.

Thirty-eight students, all wearing green caps and gowns with gold accents, crossed the stage of their school’s auditorium in Sea Cows Bay. The ceremony lasted about three hours.

D’Aunte Williams was the valedictorian and Kaylin Adams the salutatorian.

“Graduation is a time of reflecting on the past and looking onwards to the future,” Mr. Williams said in his speech. “It is a time that we as graduates gather for one last hurrah before moving on to bigger and better adventures.”

Students of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School sing at their graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon in their school’s auditorium. (Photo: SCREENSHOT)

The 22 BFEC graduates celebrated their success during an earlier ceremony on June 25 at the Jeffery Caines Sports Arena in Virgin Gorda.

See more coverage of the BFEC graduation in last week’s edition of the Beacon.