Of all the students graduating in 2007, perhaps none have overcome greater odds to achieve than students nurtured by the CAYS foundation.
The foundation works with and provides residential care to at-risk youth aged 10 to 19 who are deemed in need of safe shelter and protection.
On Wednesday, the foundation hosted its first Academic and Incentives Programme Awards Ceremony, at Mary Miller Hall, Red Bay; the theme for the evening – achieving against the odds.
KAYS Foundation acting CEO Angela Sealy said every child that walked across the stage throughout the evening was a success story for the foundation.
Guest Speaker Clifton Gayle, a youth worker with the foundation, said the children had not allowed circumstance to dictate what they could or could not achieve.
“Your positive attitude has propelled you upon the winds of success. You allowed your positive attitude to roar you towards the shores of success and I commend you for that,” he said.
“You have not let another person’s opinion of you become your own.”
As the students passed into a new phase of their life, Mr. Gayle reminded them that much was expected of them, because much had been given to them.
CAYS Foundation Education Coordinator Michael Stewart said the foundation was happy to report there were no expulsions for the year and that all students had remained in school and improved their academic performance. There has also been a significant reduction in the number of suspensions, referrals and detentions, he said.
“Our residents have made us proud; they too can be proud of themselves as they have proved they can achieve against the odds.”
Melissa Dilbert and Lorenzo Wright were awarded outstanding academic achievement awards on the night.
Ms Dilbert successfully sat nine final-year exams throughout the year, including CEC exams. She won the Governors Award for the most academically improved student at the recent John Grey High School graduation, and is now working with the Public Works Department. She hopes to continue her education at a tertiary institution in September.
Mr. Wright, a year 10 student, was presented awards for academic achievement in Social Science and English by John Grey High School, and has worked hard to maintain an impressive grade average, Mr. Stewart said.
Most merits in school: Jassarah McKenzie, Aaron Crawford;
Most disciplined students: Melissa Dilbert, Aaron Crawford;
Most improved in academic: Jassarah McKenzie, John Smith;
Students who successfully completed work experience: Adrien Bush, Aaron Hydes, Monica Boothe and Athena Miralda;
Excellent performance in sports: Mika Manderson, Jordan Thompson;
Outstanding academic achievement; Melissa Dilbert, Lorenzo Wright.