The Cayman Islands’ three public secondary schools held commencement ceremonies this month for the graduating Class of 2020.
The closure of schools due to COVID-19, as well as the ensuing economic downturn, tinged the celebratory occasions, which had as a common thread the idea of overcoming challenges in order to succeed.
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Layman E Scott High School
The theme of Layman E Scott High School’s ceremony, ‘Rising Above The Ashes’, was deeply personal to the 18 graduates.
The theme was conceived by Ashlee Walton, a member of the graduating class who died of an illness a few weeks before the 4 Oct. graduation.
Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, “The message she [Ashlee] wanted to leave in ‘rising above the ashes’ tells us that for you to be an ash, you had to go through the fire, you had to be tested, you had to be tried and now tonight is your time to rise above those ashes. This will not be your only challenge. You will face other challenges, but you must rise above it and continue to rise until you have taken your last breath.”
Acting Principal Devon Bowen said, “The same creativity, imagination, passion and drive that got you to this moment will continue to sustain you through whatever situation and circumstances you will face in the future.”
The Class of 2020 valedictorian was Kiara Brown and the salutatorian was Thomas Sevik Jr.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was human resource executive and Layman Scott alumna Melody Martin.
Clifton Hunter High School
A total of 109 graduates crossed the stage during Clifton Hunter High School’s commencement ceremony, under the theme of ‘Oh The Places You Will Go!’
Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, “No one but you can determine your final destination. You have to make up your mind that this will not be the end of your journey. With good manners, excellent education and trust in God, the places that you can go are infinite.”
Principal Richard Wildman commended the Class of 2020 for outstanding achievements on their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations, and singled out students Diamond Chambers, Joshua Peart and Aaliyah Powll, who were among the top 10 in the Caribbean for their performance on Integrated Science, Human & Social Biology and Electronic Document Preparation & Management external examinations.
Student Dena’e Alexander gave the graduates address, saying, “We are ready to conquer the world and turn adversities into opportunities and make our country proud.”
The guest speaker was Department of Children & Family Services Chief Officer Teresa Echenique.
John Gray High School
The new gymnasium at John Gray High School was packed 13 Oct. with officials, family members and supporters of the 195 graduates of the Class of 2020.
The theme of the ceremony was ‘Imagine If’. Speaking on behalf of Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Acting Chief Officer of the Ministry of Education Lyneth Monteith said, “Embrace the changes as they come. Think innovatively and seek opportunities to utilise the resources in your midst for the realisation of your dreams and betterment of our beloved Cayman Islands or the world if you so desire.”
Principal Jonathan Clark acknowledged the challenges that the students and faculty had faced during the pandemic, and stated that the number and quality of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examination passes had improved.
He said, “Class of 2020 you have set the standard for success. You raised the bar and you leave our school in a better way than the way you found it. Thank you.”
Head Girl Aliyah Myers and Head Boy Lebron McLean delivered a joint graduates address, with McLean attending virtually as he is now enrolled at the Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts in Jamaica.
Myers said, “Just imagine the combination of all our lights, all our talents, all our academic achievements firing up and making a difference in our global community.”
The guest speaker was Christopher Rose, senior pastor of West Bay Assembly of God.