First and Second Honors students Sanaii Oscar and Dunya Ritter are congratulated by Arthur A. Richards Assistant Principal Cheru Ross and Principal Kent Moorehead at the junior high school's promotional exercise on June 22, 2017.
Arthur A. Richards Junior High (AARJH) School auditorium stage sparkled with bright blue-and-white decorations, and glaring smiles from about 127 students who were present to be awarded their promotional certificates at the school’s 40th Promotional Exercise on Thursday, June 22. The xx ceremony had as its theme: “Nothing Can Stop Me … Technologically and Academically Ready.”
Family, friends and other well-wishers enhanced the pomp at the ceremony by cheering on their loved ones as they took to the stage to be honored for successfully acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary for promotion to the 9th grade at the St. Croix Educational Complex.
The youthful and energetic keynote speaker, Jeremiah Jenkins, a senior at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School and the Commander of the JROTC Honor Guard, described his transition from being a disruptive student in elementary and junior high schools to now earning “A’s” and “B’s” in high school. As an exemplary student, he credited his membership in organizations, such as JROTC, for turning his life around. “Promotees forget everything that happened negative in junior high, listen to your parents and enter high school with a positive goal,” he said. “Be mature and be willing to go through challenges, and don’t allow friends to lead you a stray.”
Second Honors student Dunya Ritter energized her classmates and the audience when she announced that First Honors student, Sanaii Oscar, was her best friend and asked her to stand. “You are in charge," Dunya said. "Today is your day, but twelfth grade is mines." The quip generated laughter and applause from the audience. Ritter went on to recognize her other friends and staff members who were instrumental in her successful completion of junior high school.
“We strived and did our best as a result we are sitting here full of anxiety and pride to get our certificate,” she told her fellow promotees. “Go ahead and give yourselves a tap on the back because we did it. After today, no matter where you go and what you do or who you become you must continue to shine. But remember, only you can determine how much you shine.”
When it was her turn at the mic, Sanaii also gave her fellow honorees some words of advice. “Never settle for anything less than the best,” she began. “Never give up on your dreams. Respect you elders, parents and yourselves. Dream big and put your mind to work. Never be afraid of failure, rather use it as a stepping stone to get to the top.”
St. Croix Deputy Superintendent Faith Dane George, representing the leadership of the school district, excited the honorees and audience by identifying Arthur A. Richards as one of the top schools in the district. “Let it be known that despite the struggles and challenges we had this school year, we have had several successes,” George said. "But in the St. Croix District, Arthur A. Richards Jr. High School eighth graders beat out all the eighth graders in the district. They did tremendously well. They had the most gains in the math portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. So don’t tell me that our students cannot do it. They can do it. Nothing can stop them. They are technologically and academically ready for what is to come.”
Employee of the Year Bernard John Alexis and Teacher of the Year Dona Brown Jones were also recognized.
Other platform guests included master of ceremony and promotee Ashton Heyliger; Mary L. Moorehead, chairman of the V.I. Board of Education; Guidance Counselor Merle Durand; Senator Kurt Vialet; Jamiliah Russell of the Office of the Governor; and Kent Moorehead and Cheru Ross, AARJH principal and assistant principal, respectively.