Graduates of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies take the stage to sing the school song during their ceremony on Friday. (Photo: CLAIRE SHEFCHIK)

Graduation season kicked off for the territory’s secondary schools last week with a ceremony at the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies, which saw 17 students receive their diplomas on Friday at the New Testament Church of God in Baughers Bay.

Claudia Creque Educational Centre followed on Monday morning with a ceremony for two graduates in the school’s courtyard in Anegada.
During the VISTS ceremony, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said the students, who are the third cohort to graduate from the school since it was refurbished and rechristened, are finishing at a “crucial time” for the VI.

Their skills, he added, will be needed in all aspects of the working world, from the medical and legal industries to customer service to fishing.

“Your wealth and livelihood could be on the waters,” he said. “Do not be afraid to dream big. … We need entrepreneurs who will come up with unique business ideas and bring the needed diversification to our economy.”

Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley hands out diplomas to the graduates of Claudia Creque Educational Centre during their ceremony on Monday. (Photo: NEVILLE SMITH/FACEBOOK)

Val and sal

The valedictorian at VISTS was Cheryce Todman, who finished with a 3.7 grade point average and also picked up awards from the BVI Tourist Board for being the top student in hospitality, culinary arts and tourism. She emerged the top student in more subjects than any other student, including mathematics, English, biology, food and drink preparation, and industry skills.

Close behind her came salutatorian Rakesheah Young, with a GPA of 3.3, who proved the top student in integrated science and social studies and received the second place award for hospitality, culinary arts and tourism after Ms. Todman.

“It was by no means easy,” she said, acknowledging the parents and teachers who helped them along the way. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Wheatley also acknowledged the former minister of education, Myron Walwyn, who helped found the school and attended the ceremony, and retiring Assistant Principal Clifton Forbes.

Acting Principal Andrew Francis delivered remarks as well. “The technical skills and competencies you now have under your belt is a testament to your dedication and have given you the required tools … to perform your chosen tasks well and will surely assist you tremendously in transitioning [into work],” Mr. Francis said.

Anegada graduation

At CCEC, the valedictorian was Chekada O’Neal and the salutatorian was Kiara Fahie. Businessman Allington “Gumption” Creque was also honoured for raising $10,000 for the school by windsurfing from Virgin Gorda to Anegada.
At the ceremony, Dr. Wheatley and Minister of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Vincent Wheatley (R-D7) both spoke.