Cayman academy’s 2017 graduating class in a musical item to close their Commencement ceremony.

At graduation time, the quality that is perhaps most on everyone’s minds is “success,” and one recent graduate, Cayman Academy’s 2017 Salutatorian Joelyn Scott, gave her own take on this attribute in her parting words to graduates at the school’s Commencement exercise. And it was definitely not fancy cars or big houses, or a big bank account.

 

“It is quite the opposite,” said the student with the second highest GPA in her class: “It is inward riches, not outward prosperity, achieved through educating ourselves on what it takes to make us whole.”  She appealed to her classmates to “put on the helmet of confidence, bravery, and determination” to face the future and to follow their “unique drummer.”

 

Cayman Academy, the Islands’ only Adventist-owned high school, graduated 20 students, compared to 18 in 2016, at a ceremony attended by some 350 parents, guardians, and well wishers on Sunday, 25 June, 2017, at the Marriott Hotel.

 

The small school ended the school year with an enrollment of 329 for both its high and primary divisions and a waiting list of 110. Notably, the school has historically enjoyed an enviable 95% pass rate in external examinations, with the recently announced results for the 2016 class being no exception.

 

The 107 total exam entries for the 17 CXC subjects sat by the 2016 class resulted in 35 passes at grade 1 and 41 at grade 2.  This high-flying performance includes English, which had 100% passes, at grades 2 and 3.  Mathematics had a 71% pass rate, with the seven students sitting the exam gaining one grade 1 pass, two at grade 2, and three at grade three. In the sciences—biology, chemistry, human and social biology, and integrated science—pass rates were also at the 100% mark, with physics coming in at 80%. Overall, twelve of the 17 exam subjects showed a 100% pass rate at grades 1, 2 and 3.

 

Exam results are, however, only one area of emphasis at the school, and the equal weight placed on personal attributes, service and the definition of the elements of true success were evident in speeches and awards.

 

The keynote speaker for the Commencement ceremony was Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith. The Valedictorian, the student with the highest GPA, was Nickayla Graham.

Valedictorian Nickayla Graham addresses her graduating class at the Commencement ceremony.

 

Valedictorian Graham encouraged graduates to stick to achieving their dreams: “We will not always succeed immediately, but that doesn’t matter, because a lack of success only becomes failure when you give up without trying—it is natural that our dreams shift and change with time, but we are always better for having pursued them.”

 

Miss Graham encouraged graduates to carve out their own route to their goals: “Graduates, never follow anyone else’s path, because you create your own destiny.”

 

Meanwhile, Salutatorian Scott, rounding out her advice to her classmates, quoted the late Nelson Mandella: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” adding that was not just in a formal sense, but that “…life itself becomes an education.”

Salutatorian Joelyn Scott speaks at the Commencement ceremony.

In her message to graduates, Chief Education Officer Monteith emphasized the three D’s—Discipline, Dedication, and Determination—during which presentation she mentioned some interesting approaches by world famous personalities.

 

In the first D, for Discipline, she said that Olympian Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, surprisingly “did not prioritize sprint training or good nutrition.”  What was his formula for success? Enough sleep she said, which enabled his body to repair itself after a hard day’s training.

 

World famous netball shooter Eugenia Jean Pierre practiced 250 shots each in the morning and evening, irrespective of the weather.  Winston Churchill, known for his oratory, “practiced his speeches compulsively,” she said.

 

She told students that this level of application would require a great deal of self discipline: This may mean “balancing WhatsApp texting time or Snapchat and studying time, or avoiding procrastination.”

 

The keynote speaker depicted her next D, for Dedication, as an output of commitment: “The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for its unswervingly”, despite inevitable disappointments.

 

The last D, for Determination, was exemplified, she said, by maintaining focus and holding on to courage to “keep going in difficult times.”  In the words of Zig Ziglar, she said, “I believe that success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination.”

 

The Commencement Ceremony ended with presentation of awards, with Valedictorian Graham copping a total of eight academic and other awards.  Salutatorian Scott’s similar dedication, hard work, sportsmanship and involvement in the school community brought her recognition in the form of eleven awards.

Pastor Eric Dannie Clarke speaking at the Consecration ceremony.

 

School administrators Jewel Meikle and Alicia Timothy thanked all the companies who presented or contributed to awards.  These included the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Foster’s Supermarket, AMF Partners Limited, Barnes Construction, JN Cayman, Mendez Upholstery, Cayman National Bank, Brown’s Esso, Solomon Harris Attorneys-at-Law, Le Blue, Value Med, and a host of other organisations and individuals.

 

The school’s commencement ceremony was preceded on Saturday (June 24) by a Consecration Service, at which the keynote was delivered by Pastor Eric Dannie Clarke, President of the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

 

 

 

Pastor Clarke encouraged graduates not to feel unworthy regardless of the challenges, drawing on Biblical examples of lowly persons selected for challenging missions.  “God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called,” Pastor Clarke said.

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