Grace Christian Academy hosted its first graduation ceremony to celebrate the academic success of its senior high school students on Tuesday , 23 June at the Wesleyan Holiness Church in West Bay at 7pm.
The Grace Christian Academy graduating class of 2009 comprised Trecika Vernon, Joshua Zimmer, Justin Spencer and Travis McLaughlin, who vice-principal Claire Upperton in her introductory remarks said would in the future be able to say with great pride that they were the first to graduate from the institution.
Lauding the graduates for their hard work and dedication, Mrs. Upperton sought to encourage them to see this milestone not simply as an end, but also as the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, before asking Chairman of the Board of Directors Frazer Lindsay to speak.
Encouraging the graduating quartet to think carefully about their goals and ambitions, Mr. Lindsay said: ‘Each of you are still developing and to simply survive in the workplace today you need to be considering further education. I would actively encourage each of you to seek out those further learning oppurtunities that you believe will stand you in good stead over the years.’
Moving from further education to career choices, Mr. Lindsay said that despite the current economic environment he still believes there are a great number of opportunities available for talented, well qualified, hard working young adults, such as the four that sat before him.
‘What has changed over the years is the quality of young adults chasing jobs has improved greatly,’ said Mr. Lindsay.
On behalf of the Minister of Education Rolston Anglin, who had to attend another graduation ceremony, Deputy Speaker Cline Glidden conveyed his deepest congratulations to the graduates.
Noting that all four graduates have been accepted to tertiary institutions, Mr. Glidden said he was extremely pleased that they all opted to further their education. ‘You are at a crucial point in your lives, it is what you do next with all you have been given that will determine how successful you will be,’ he said.
‘As the youth of today you are also leaders of tomorrow,’ added Mr Glidden. ‘The future prosperity and growth of our beloved Cayman Islands will one day rest on you.’
YCLA recipient Elroy Bryan and Reverend Donavon Myers also addressed the graduates, congratulating and encouraging them to continue on the right path.
With a presentation of Bibles and rings concluded, the four graduates were presented with their diplomas by principal Lenora Mendoza-Hydes, Mr. Glidden and Mr Lindsay.
While each member of the graduating class accepted their diplomas, thunderous applause could be heard from parents, friends and well wishers.
Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Zimmer both received honours, while Mr. Zimmer also received the PTA award for community service.
Mr McLaughlin, in his vote of thanks, expressed his appreciation for the school and its Christian teachings, stating, ‘My last year of high school and first year at Grace Christian Academy was my best.’
During the principals remarks and blessings Mrs. Mendoza-Hydes articulated to the graduates how proud of them she was. And also mentioned that she listened keenly to everything they had to say in their exit interviews, and was pleased that when asked what could be changed to make the institution better all four graduates said ‘nothing’.
This first graduating class of students was of particular significance to Grace Christian Academy since Hurricane Ivan in 2004 left the school devastated and unable to continue with classes for the 2004 – 2005 school year. Since that time the school facilities have undergone major restructuring guided by a very dedicated restoration committee.