L to R: Valedictorian Wentworth Gumbs and Salutatorian Dionara Alibocas of the CHS Class of 2017
The 49th Commencement Ceremony of the St. Croix Central High School on Wednesday, June 21 brought hundreds of family, friends and supporters together at the Central High Ronald Charles Gymnasium to celebrate the 224 graduates of the "Indomitable, Diverse Class of 2017."
Amid the festive atmosphere, Principal Janasee Sinclair took a moment to remember 2017 Carib Devon Daniels, who passed away during the course of the school year.
Thandi Masilela, keynote speaker and class of 2010 alumna, implored the graduates to believe in themselves. “Be a champion for yourself, do great for yourself," she began, adding, "your brilliance will be a threat [and] your accent will be a threat."
Valedictorian Wentworth Gumbs and Salutatorian Dionara Alibocas both expressed gratitude to teachers, staff and administrators for their guidance and support.
Alibocas told her classmates to strive to accomplish their goals. “We’ve made it this far, but let’s not stop here,” she said.
Gumbs, who aspires to be a mechanical engineer, declared that he and his peers are the architects of their future.
The Class of 2017 boasted 117 male graduates and 107 female graduates, making Central High the only public high school in the territory to graduate more boys than girls this school year, along with the proud distinction of having the most graduates in the territory. Additionally, more than $6 million in scholarships and awards were received by the class.
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp, a 1973 alumnus, praised the graduates for achieving this milestone and expressed his confidence in their readiness to navigate the world beyond high school. “Your class motto, the ‘indomitable, diverse’ class of twenty-seventeen', is a bold and fitting statement for the times we live in,” he said. “You are strong and ready to face the challenges life will bring you, and you are diverse, a testament to the beautiful mix of people who live in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
The concert band performed several upbeat selections throughout the ceremony; however, it was the class song that rocked the gymnasium. The jubilant graduates poured into the aisle to perform a West Indian-inspired medley featuring songs “We Pray”, “Born to Win” and “Far From Finished” by Jamaica’s Popcaan and Alaine, and Trinidad’s Voice.
This year’s golden anniversary Class of 1967 marked the last graduating class from the Christiansted High School in St. Croix's Richmond neighborhood. Central High's current Clifton Hill campus was opened in the fall of 1967, which resulted in the school changing its name to represent its central location on island.
Platform guests also included Lieutenant Governor Osbert E. Potter; Education Commissioner Sharon Ann McCollum, Ph.D.; Education Assistant Commissioner Chermaine Hobson; Senate President Myron Jackson; University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall; CHS Assistant Principals Henry Mark, Vincent Gordon, Jr., Ph.D., Lili Cornelius and Marine Joseph, Ph. D.; Board of Education Chair Winona Hendricks; St. Croix District Insular Superintendent Colleen Mae Williams; and Deputy Superintendents Vaughn Hewitt and Faith Dane George-Boone.