By Patrice Beersingh
The John Gray High School (JGHS) bid farewell to its graduating class of 2020 last week. The school gymnasium was transformed into a prestigious affair and was attended by hundreds of well-wishers, including government officials, educators, sponsors, family and friends of the 195 students who successfully graduated secondary school. This year’s ceremony theme was “Imagine If”, to encourage active aspirations to reject limiting beliefs and to continuously reach higher in all aspects of life.
In keeping with the theme, Ms. Lyneth Monteith, the Acting Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education, delivered a special message on behalf of Minister of Education, Honourable Juliana O’Connor Connolly. Minister O’Connor-Connolly’s message encouraged graduates to hold on to their dreams and to continue to imagine the endless possibilities. “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,” she shared.
The evening saw the delivery of other compelling speeches by both the guest speaker of the evening, Reverend Doctor Christopher Rose and most notably, student graduates Aliyah Meyers and Lebron McLean who delivered the graduate’s address. Reverend Rose lifted spirits and declared that greatness lied within the JGHS Class of 2020.
Outgoing Head Girl Myers, also a current ‘Proud of Them’ honouree, was joined virtually by fellow outgoing Head Boy Lebron McLean who was unable to attend due to his enrollment at the Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts in Jamaica. Both students gave a riveting joint graduate’s address that received a strong reception from all in attendance. “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,” Aliyah Myers vibrantly expressed, as she challenged her fellow graduates to let their imaginations run wild, while also pausing to face the current reality. Lebron James added his sentiments of how JGHS provided many world-class opportunities. He went on to close out singing his rendition of the song, ‘Lockdown’ by Grammy-award winning singer Koffee.
The evening saw another virtual cameo by ‘Musician of the Year’ awardee, Dequan Smith who performed a captivating musical item on the classical cello. Dequan who is currently away studying music at the prestigious Wells Cathedral School in the United Kingdom, had also received the award for Community and School Service.
In his address, Principal Jonathan Clark acknowledged the unique challenges that this graduating class faced this year, asserting that no one in their family had ever lived through anything like this and so there could be no script to truly account for their historic experience. He first praised all staff across Government, parents and guardians for their hard work in keeping his school’s staff and students safe amidst the pandemic. Principal Clark commended his graduates for their resilience and further challenged them to set their self-expectations even higher, considering the times.
He gave a special mention of the commitment of his teaching staff and asked all educators to stand for special acknowledgement.
He also made special mention of the achievement of students in their exam results, reporting that the number of CSEC passes and the quality of the passes had improved, citing that many of the employers in the room would be impressed by the students’ performance.
"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,” Principal Clark expressed with pride.