Alternative graduates ready for UCCI

Nine boys and one girl from the Alternative Education Centre have made educators proud.

At their graduation ceremony held at the centre on Friday, attendees and graduates learned they had all passed the entrance examination to the University College of the Cayman Islands.

Arriving at the Alternative Centre with a bad reputation but with one shared goal, the students showed they had what it takes to make it in the working world.

In a heart-felt address graduate Ronaldo Garcia said, ‘One year ago, we were sentenced to do hard time at the Transition Unit. We were heart-broken and devastated. Transition represented a place of condemnation, where we would spend the last year of our school life, separated from the friends that we grew up with since the time of our primary school education.’

‘We arrived at the Transition Unit with a bad reputation. But we all shared a common goal – the opportunity to work would give us dollars in our pockets, and provide us with ammunition for boasting to our friends what we left behind at John Gray High School.’

Ronaldo said at the beginning they were a bunch of frustrated and noisy kids with bad attitudes, but with the passage of time they were taught the virtue of mutual respect, and to make correct choices and take advantage of second chances.

‘As we got to understand the Transition programme was a programme designed for success and not for failure, our attitudes changed, our way of thinking changed and our lives changed.’

Ronaldo took the opportunity to thank staff on behalf of the graduating class for giving them another chance when they messed up, to employers for treating them as adults, for the opportunity to work full time and for parents who believed in them.

‘The class of 2006 achieved much considering when they first entered these doors it was with much anxiety,’ said Principal Raphael Daniel.

‘All the students have been successful on work experience, some even offered permanent jobs while other have been exposed to computer programmes and have gained certificates in C.P.R. and Food handling.’

Principal Raphael Daniel said over the school year the Suspension Unit had supervised 166 suspensions. For the second year boys were serving twice the number of suspension than girls. Suspensions served by boy totalled 107 and girls, 59. The most prevalent reason for suspension was being disrespectful to teachers and peers, 69, followed by fighting, 45.

The greatest number of referrals he said came from George Hicks High School, 97, followed by John Gray, 69.

In her message to students, guardian Ann Marie Morrison said, ‘I have seen how the programme builds self esteem, respect and discipline. I was happy that I was able to encourage my brother through the system. To the graduates she said, ‘Make good use of what you have gained here today, be the best you can be. You have been given a second chance.’

Special awards went to Romario Davis, Ronaldo Garcia, Wilfred Myles and Ryan Manderson for outstanding record on work experience.

Best Attendance Records went to Ricardo Jackson and Roland Welcome. The Most Improved Student award went to Aaron Hydes; Class Peer Counsellor, Jermeil Hydes. Youngest Student in Graduating Class, Daniel Kelly; Barrington Rose and Lina Jefford were named Students of the Year.