Senior High School graduation ceremonies took place across Eleuthera during the final half of June, completing a school year that again began virtually for public schools in Eleuthera during September of 2021, transitioning early in 2022 to a mixture of hybrid and full face-to-face modalities, to finish out the 2021-2022 school year.
With very low case numbers of COVID-19 on the island, and many other indoor events seeing some return to normality, with the exception of masks still being worn and hand sanitizing encouraged, education officials took the ‘abundance of caution’ route, requiring evidence of a negative COVID-19 test, or proof of vaccination from all who would attend high school graduation ceremonies in The Eleutheras during the 2022 commencement season.
Ceremonies from Spanish Wells and Harbour Island to Rock Sound all took place in indoor church venue settings this year, a departure from last year’s need for the creative use of gazebos, tents, school porches, and community parks, however, graduates were still allowed to enjoy the accolades of waiting audiences of family members and supportive friends, as they paraded into the various church venues for the ceremonial receipt of their hard-earned Bahamas National High School Diplomas, and a plethora of other awards.
Key words of ‘transformation’, ‘overcomers’, ‘resilience’, ‘inspired’, and ‘choices’ resounded from this year’s themes chosen for the various commencements. The 2022 round of high school graduations began on Tuesday, June 14th in Harbour Island at the Harbour Island All Age School (HIAAS) with twenty students participating in graduation or completion certificate exercises which began at 6pm that evening. Led by principal Kenneth Roberts, the theme in Harbour Island spoke to the graduates looking forward, with graduation as the beginning of the next chapter of their lives – saying, ‘The flight to success is now boarding’.
Graduating at the top of the class at the Harbour Island All Age School as Valedictorian this year was Aloa Higgs, followed up by Salutatorian, Amelia Grant. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Sabria Davis, Trishell Major, Sa’de Oliver, Angelo Hudson, Asia Butler, Sarahann Davis, Lanay Woodside, James Eugene, Lorwendy Claude, Solomon Saunders, Walken Esty, Hope Bryan, Cleberson Pierre, Delvano Dieque, Alexander Whylly, Neil Quarrie, Jermaine Thompson, and Lakeira Barry.
Along with receiving their Bahamas National High School Diplomas, school-leaving certificates as well as trophies for requisite academic, sport and community service achievements – top performing graduates were also rewarded with various scholarship awards from corporate sponsors within the Harbour Island community.
On Friday, June 17th, two ceremonies took place at opposite ends of the island. Beginning with Windermere High School (WHS) on Friday morning, three graduates walked the aisle at the Methodist Church at 10am in Savannah Sound, led by principal Myrtle McPhee and her compliment of staff, who welcomed supportive family members and friends. Top graduate of the class at Windermere High School as Valedictorian this year was Eric Carey, followed by Salutatorian, Cameron Rolle, and graduate Ashnah Culmer.
Later the same Friday evening, North Eleuthera High School (NEHS) in Lower Bogue, with principal Chardel Brown-Gibson, celebrated commencement exercises which began at 6pm at Trinity City of Praise. A proud audience of family, friends and well-wishers filled the church for a capacity audience. Nineteen students took part in the graduation ceremony, with eight of them receiving Bahamas National High School Diplomas.
In their Co-Valedictorian speech, delivered together on-stage, Valedictorians Cilnus Meteze (National Honours Society Inductee) and Arianna Dean, expressed the bitter-sweet of saying goodbye to their high school days, as well as the excitement of saying hello to their future dreams, stating, “We are equipped and ready, because we are the resilient Class of 2022. With God on our side, who can stop us? For we have overcome so much.” Special guest speaker that evening was, Mitthayo Barry, an alumnus of the school, who emphasized the importance of graduates looking to elevate themselves to the next level, staying focused on their goals, and being thankful in all that they do.
Valedictorians for North Eleuthera High School this year, Cilnus Meteze and Arianna Dean were joined by their peers also celebrating as graduates including; Kendal Gibson Jr., Pedria Burrows, Ervensca Dany, Annechika Charles, Eric Hudson, and Antwone Neely, as well as completion certificate holders – Jadin Cash, Jonathan Deveaux, Claranique Gibson, Loven Jean-Francois, Don Johnson Jr., Hodnee Joseph Jr., Rony Laguerre, Arianna McCartney, April Neilly, Jayda Rolle, and Sheen Saunders.
High school graduation for the Central Eleuthera High School (CEHS), with principal Kevin Hepburn, was held on Monday evening, June 20th, at the Methodist Church in James’ Cistern, getting started shortly after 6pm, under the theme, “Powered by dreams; Inspired to Action.” The audience of family, friends and well-wishers filled the large church – where the thirty-nine graduates were called out to take their celebratory entrance walk to receive their Bahamas National High School Diplomas and completion certificates.
District Superintendent of Education, Mr. Michael Culmer, who was in attendance at each of the graduation ceremonies, in his message to the students about to enter the world beyond high school he emphasized that life going forward was all about them becoming their best selves. “God has placed within each of us talents while making each one of us unique. Those hidden talents are of no benefit to you or the world unless you develop and use them… I want each of you to see today not as an end, but as a new beginning.”
Valedictorian this year for the Central Eleuthera High School was, Vonzell Fox. She was joined at the top of the class by Co-Salutatorians, Wallace Sineus, Jr. and Jahzara Taylor. Recipients of special Leadership Excellence Awards were graduates, Ricardo Belle, and Savannah Munroe. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Torii Knowles, Tonique Cash, Kiara Farquharson, Daniella Canigon, Rosemellie Clofa, Valiyah Fernander, Christian Carey, Philena Culmer, Joell Gibson, Addis Johnson, Samuel Hanna, Enoch Rolle, Kaitya Jean, Rolaysia Maycock, Toccara Sands, Keavano Harris, Shammah Thompson, Wayne Weinburger, Alyssa Rolle, Jadon Lightbourne, Marcus Saintilmond, Angelisha Bethel, Jamae hanna, Omarion Davis, Camia Bethel, Lavette Cartwright, Ronel Francis, Serenald Meme, Tahj Thomas, Wisca Julien, Shaki Pinder, Tyasha Johnson, Zion Bain, Alaycia Bethel, Ranique Kemp, Jermaine Hall, Robin Munroe, Juliassa Pierre, Tyese Pinder, and Ragia McQueen.
Preston H. Albury High School’s (PHAHS) graduation service, under the theme, “Transforming Adversities Into Opportunities”, with new principal Ms. Sharon Scott, took place at Fountain of Life Kingdom Ministries in Rock Sound at 10am on Tuesday morning, June 21st, 2022. Thirty-seven graduates marked the successful end of high school, and the beginning of their foray into young adulthood.
Principal Scott in her message to the PHAHS graduates, congratulated them for having successfully reached this milestone, and encouraged them to make good decisions and to continue to dream, saying, “Dream, pen your dreams, as you accomplish each dream, set new goals and do your best to achieve them. Remember that there is no limit to what you can do, if you continue to believe in yourself.”
Graduating at the top of the class at the Preston Albury High School as Valedictorian this year was Shawnice Lighbourne, followed up by co-Salutatorians, Sheanna Hall and Shicara Knowles. Their peers also celebrating as honours graduates included; Micquel Cartwright, Jodi Oldham, Vonyce Munnings, and Deonique Ambrister. Other graduates were: Anaya Coleby, Kailey Culmer, Tearra Davis, Dennis Delancy, Keneisha Deveaux, Wayne Douglas, Jasmine Falconer, Ethan Forbes, Sanvano Francis, Donnay Hall, Jean Hall, Travon Horton, Kristen Ingraham, Ameya Johnson, Jadon Johnson, Geniqua Kemp, Lael Knowles, Shicardo Knowles, Javin Leary, Rhandi Mackey, Vinteerie Murphy, Adrienne Poitier, Cohan Stubbs, Kevaughn Stubbs, Clement Thompson, Malaya Thompson, Antonique Wallace, Ceirra Ward, Alvanno Winder, and Alex Young.
The final high school commencement for Eleuthera’s Class of 2022 took place at the Methodist Church in Spanish Wells, held on Wednesday evening, June 22nd, beginning at 6pm sharp, showcasing nine Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School (SGPAAS) graduates, with principal Navidia Mills, and supporting family and friend groupings sitting together, ready to cheer on their student.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs – Member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera – as well as a former graduate of the Spanish Wells All Age School twelve years ago, the Hon. Clay Sweeting was the special guest speaker on the evening. He expounded on the evening’s theme of, “We Are Overcomers”, sharing a bit of his own personal experience and his ‘bumpy’ journey towards his political career by overcoming challenges and not giving up on his dreams.
Graduating at the top of the class at the Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School as Valedictorian this year was Roan Ricks, followed by Salutatorian, Caurthney Noel. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Jacob Cates, Rasia Russell, Diamond Roberts, Kervinson Julien, Nathan Sweeting, Shantal Oscar, and Evan Sweeting.