Senior High School graduation ceremonies took place across Eleuthera during the final half of June, completing a school year that was the first complete year with students back in the classrooms – full-time, face-to-face with their teachers, from September to June, since the beginning of the pandemic.
The 2022 graduation season last year saw most of the high schools on the island return to indoor church venues, and the end of the 2022-2023 school year witnessed that trend continue, with just one school – Central Eleuthera High School, opting for an outdoor space. However, with the largest graduating class of nearly sixty students, accommodating the numerous proud family and well-wishing community members, likely factored into the school’s return to the huge park space in Savannah Sound, with it’s convenient pavilion. Methodist church venues in multiple townships were the space of choice for graduates of Samuel Guy Pinder All Age, Harbour Island All Age, Windermere High, as well as Preston Albury High School. North Eleuthera High School graduates celebrated their final ceremony together at Trinity City of Praise in Lower Bogue.
As witness to the full variety of commencements held across the island, this year’s ‘awards segment’ of the different graduation programs, could be described as – especially emotional, as graduates enjoyed the accolades of audiences of family members and supportive friends – both as they paraded into the various venues, as well as during the individual presentations for the ceremonial receipt of their hard-earned Bahamas National High School Diplomas, and a plethora of other awards.
Key words of ‘success’, ‘boldness’, ’embracing’, ‘inspired’, and ‘bright futures’ resounded from this year’s themes chosen for the various ceremonies. The 2023 round of high school graduations began on Tuesday, June 13th in Harbour Island at the Harbour Island All Age School (HIAAS) with eighteen 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,’Striving for a Secure and Successful Future’.
Graduating at the top of the class at the Harbour Island All Age School as Valedictorian this year was Andrea Seddembe – who was recognized for achieving the Principal’s List, and as the school’s Most Outstanding Female Athlete. She was followed by Salutatorian, Ellania Johnson – who also achieved the Principal’s List. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Alexia Mather (Graduate with Honours), Samantha Rock, Alvina Saunders (Senior Mistress Award), Henrekia Solomon, Cornelius Cash (Principal’s Award), Leslie Cleare (Top Academic Male), Chericka Fortunis, and Gizari Higgs (Most Outstanding Male Athlete), as well as completion certificate holders – Deontae Kelly, Gerard Miller, Ricquel Penn, Tyler Fleurimon, Shantelay Barry, Matthew Delcine, Lucienne Joseph, and Scrimeri Julien.
Andrea, in her Valedictorian speech, sought to inspire her high school classmates to reach high as they moved forward into adulthood, saying, “Today is a milestone. A testimony of how far you have come. Keep learning, keep trying, keep accomplishing, and keep venturing on your jouney. Not everyone will understand your journey, and that’s fine. It’s not their’s to make sense of – it’s yours. Be bold enough to use your voice, be brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you have always imagined.”
High school graduation for the Central Eleuthera High School (CEHS), with principal Kevin Hepburn, was held on Thursday evening, June 15th, on the sprawling Longley Newberry Park in Savannah Sound, getting started at 6pm, under the theme, “Embracing a Bright Future.” The large audience of family, friends, well-wishers and community leaders sat under tents and spilled out onto surrounding picnic tables, side standing areas and other park seating as the sun faded into late evening – where the fifty-seven students celebrating the completion of their secondary schooling were called out to take their celebratory walks to receive their Bahamas National High School Diplomas, awards 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, saying, “Whether or not you attained or achieved what you thought you were going to do, your song says ‘today my life begins’. There are some keys I want you to take with you as you leave this place and go to tertiary education, employment or training… Your word is your bond… I also want to say to you that good, better and best should never rest, until your good is your better, and your better is your best!”
Valedictorian this year for the Central Eleuthera High School was, Carleah Culmer, who was also recognized as the Most Outstanding Female Athlete. She was joined at the top of the class by Salutatorian, Asia Jonassaint. Both Carleah and Asia had achieved a cumulative Principal’s List grade point average. They were joined by their peer, Alexandria Culmer, who also achieved a cumulative Principal’s List grade point average, with the third top results in the class. Recipient of a special Leadership Excellence Award was graduate Rushae Stubbs. Their peers also celebrating as graduates and completion certificate recipients included; Omarrion Dean, Kamia Darville (Humanitarian Award), Chervano Wood, Geordia Neely, Waldina Alcime, Mia Smith, Alysha Michel, Jaamal Isaacs, Cameron Moss, Jaedin Farrington, A’merie Fernander, Ishmail Exantus, Faron Carey, Laron Carey, Romeo Cash, Dominic Collins, Touraj Curtis, Jaedin Farrington, Jamieca Isaacs, Corshera Johnson, Hannah Nottage, Regnisha Pierre, Caiden Spence, Jarrelle Stubbs, Eliana Cooper, Diana Dorvilus, Camron Elisee, Colendar Fenelus, Levanyah Fernander, Sha’myah Hall, Rayiland Johnson, Salathiel Lewis (Humanitarian Award), Darren Mackey, Charm McCardy (Overall Most Improved Female), Sean Minns (Overall Most Improved Male, Most Outstanding Male Athlete), Calesha Munroe, Navia Rolle, Tianna Rose, Shametrio Sands, Tarvan Symonette, Deonecia Taylor, Michael Taylor, Cameron Williams, Machi Cleare, Jada Cleare, Alexander Cooper, Nesley Delhomme, Alexander Johnson, Lavonte Knowles, Shania Petty, Gersianna Pierre, Ojay Roach, Samuel Rolle, and Grawill Sands.
On Friday, June 16th, two ceremonies took place at opposite ends of the island. Beginning with Windermere High School on Friday morning, two 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. Graduates of the class at Windermere High School this year were Caleb Pedican, and Jaron Lloyd.
Later the same Friday evening in Spanish Wells, beginning at 6pm sharp, the commencement showcased twelve 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.
District Education Officer for Eleuthera, Mrs. Fontella Knowles was the special guest speaker on the evening. She expounded on the evening’s theme of, “Be Bold, Be Strong, Be Your Best”, highlighting numerous achievements by different student representatives of the school during the year. She encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves, and to take a firm belief of God with them as they forged ahead with their lives.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Local Government and Family Island Affairs – Member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera – as well as a former graduate as valedictorian of the Spanish Wells All Age School in 2003, the Hon. Clay Sweeting, attended, along with Member of Parliament for North Eleuthera, the Hon. Sylvanus Petty. Minister Sweeting in his brief remarks harked back to his graduation, pulling out a phrase from his speech of twenty years ago, to encourage the graduates, saying, “The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream…” He urged the graduates to be bold, strong, and to do their best in going after their goals and dreams.
Graduating at the top of the class at the Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School as Valedictorian this year was Zephon McAndrew, followed by Salutatorian, Cirstie Underwood. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Jasmin Pinder (Senior Mistress Award), Darrianna Bethel, Allyana Henry, Nash Pinder, Cloe Dunnam, Shamaka Cadeau, Sanny St. Phard, Vernae Neilly, Silas Bennett, and Verniece Neilly.
Preston H. Albury High School’s (PHAHS) graduation service, under the theme, “Success is a Journey, not a Destination”, with principal Ms. Sharon Scott, took place at the Methodist Church in Tarpum Bay at 10am on Tuesday morning, June 20th, 2023. Twenty-six graduates marked the successful end of high school, and the beginning of their foray into young adulthood.
Special guest speaker on the morning, Mrs. Lynn Terez Nixon – Cultural Affairs Officer within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, as well as famed visionary of Dynamite Daisy Productions – in her message to the PHAHS graduates, congratulated them for having successfully reached this milestone, and highlighted how God had already given them all a ‘jumpstart’ to successes in their lives, beginning with their very existence. She illustrated the importance of fully experiencing the journey towards successes to come in their lives. She also encouraged the class to envision what their successes looked like, saying, “If you don’t see it, you cannot journey towards it.”
Graduating at the top of the class at the Preston Albury High School as Valedictorian this year was Lynette Farrington – who was also highlighted for achieving a cumulative Principal’s List grade point average, and numerous other awards, including the Head Girl Leadership Award. She was followed up by Salutatorian, Shavana Basden who also received the Senior Prefect Leadership Award. Their peers also celebrating as graduates included; Ashton Butler (Head Boy Leadership Award, Senior Mistress/Citizenship Award), Joshua Cooper, Garinique Delancy, Shauntae Hall, Selena Ingraham, Sarai Lafrance (Deputy Head Girl Leadership Award), Jahnea Seymour, Tashawn Almonor, Tanay Bain, Precious Brown, Howard Cunningham Jr. (Deputy Head Boy Leadership Award), John Deleveaux, Jayden Gibson, Mathias Ingraham, Arrianna Knowles, Deshon Miller, Seanneka Minns, Savannah Munroe, Tarell Pinder, Zachary Smith, Nathan Sweeting, Sherado Sweeting, Tacori Tynes, and Ricarra Wilson.
The final high school commencement for Eleuthera’s Class of 2023 took place at Trinity City of Praise in Lower Bogue, where North Eleuthera High School (NEHS), with principal Chardel Brown-Gibson, celebrated graduate exercises which began at 6pm in the early evening, under the theme, “Embracing Uncharted Waters: Today my life begins.” A proud audience of family, friends and well-wishers filled the church for a capacity audience. Thirty-two students took part in the graduation ceremony.
Special guest speaker on the evening, Pastor and Businessman, Mr. Diallo Ingraham, emphasized the importance of graduates looking to elevate themselves to the next level and staying focused on their goals. He highlighted a number of characteristics to develop as they went forward, including being mindful, as well as forgiving.
Valedictorian for North Eleuthera High School this year, Layla Isaacs, was also rewarded with the Principal’s Award for her academic efforts, and inducted as a National Honour Society Recipient. She was followed by Co-Salutatorians, Jamalieah Russell (Head Girl Leadership Award, Senior Mistress Award, Honours Graduate, National CTE Honour Society Inductee), and Ronika Petit-Homme (Most Outstanding Female Athlete Award, Honours Graduate) at the top of the graduating class of NEHS. They were joined by their peers also celebrating as graduates including; Mark Bullard (Head Boy, Top Male Student, Honours Graduate), Christian Alva (Honours Graduate), Lovedjina Revol (Honours Graduate), Yole Neldjina Revol (Honours Graduate), Nelie Coma (National CTE Honour Society Inductee), Taval Bethel, Emery Brennan, Amelia Burrows, Padira Cash, Galin Charistal, Sherlestina Denave, Therese Evans, Jodly Francique, Raheem Ingraham, Florrena Jean, Shantia Johnson, Ricardo Joseph, Shantavia Joseph, Tasca Kelly, Lorenzo Kemp, Mesha Mather, Lorenzo Neilly, Frandlay Pierre, Sedlan Pierre, Nicholas Rolle, Walna Saintilus, Kenan Saunders, Kendall Saunders II, and Latyra Saunders.