Twelve students enrolled in Adult Secondary Education classes and six in General Educational Development classes received high school diplomas at the St. Croix Adult Education Program’s 2018 commencement exercises, held June 26 at the Educational Complex High School auditorium.
Family, friends, education officials, and adult education faculty and staff assembled to celebrate the students’ milestone. Students Maria Ramos and Raelene Henry were class valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Adult Education Acting Principal Avion James greeted attendees.
“It is with pleasure that as acting principal I have the honor of welcoming you to this year’s secondary education program commencement exercise,” she said. “I would like to applaud you for making it this far, Class of 2018.”
Education Commissioner Dr. Sharon Ann McCollum offered warm words to the graduates.
“Continuing your education after two category five hurricanes speaks to your ability to stick with it and the true determination you have to succeed … that push you against all odds,” she said. “I want to encourage you to continue to move forward.”
In her salutatory remarks, Ms. Henry expressed the real-world struggles she faced that prompted her to obtain her high school diploma.
“Jobs weren’t accepting me, struggling on a minimum wage paycheck, thinking I was going to be okay,” she said. “I then knew that I had no choice but to go back to school.”
Valedictorian Maria Ramos also shared the hardships she encountered and her desire to be an example for her son.
“As time went by, I realized the importance of a high school diploma and a higher education,” she said. “As a parent, I needed to set that example for my son. I always emphasized the importance of education, so I know I needed to complete mine.”
“To my fellow classmates,” she continued, “I know our races and stories are all different, but one thing that we all have in common is that we made it and we became graduates of the Class of 2018.”
Both students plan to attend the University of the Virgin Islands, where Ms. Henry will pursue a degree in nursing and Ms. Ramos will pursue an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
Guest speaker Dr. Denis Griffith praised the graduates for their tenacity and implored them to keep succeeding.
“Despite the many challenges you may have faced, you persevered,” he said. “You have demonstrated that you can succeed. You must be determined to continue to succeed. And you must make the effort and sacrifices that are needed to continue to succeed.”
The students sang R. Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest” as their class song to conclude the joyous occasion.
Insular Superintendent Coleen Mae Williams, Deputy Superintendent Faith Dane George-Boone, Deputy Superintendent Vaughn Hewitt, and State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Nancy Callwood, attended the ceremony.