One hundred eighty newly minted John Gray High School graduates closed the doors on high school education Tuesday evening at the Agape Worship Centre, as family, friends and teachers applauded their accomplishments during an awards ceremony.
“During our time as John Gray High School students, life has allowed, and at times forced us, to experience transitions, peer pressure, happiness, success, failure and sadness,” Head Girl Alexandra Franklin said while delivering the graduates’ address along with Head Boy Brandon Johnson.
Mr. Johnson encouraged fellow graduates to see the cup as half full not half empty and to take life experiences and draw strength, knowledge and wisdom to emerge as stronger people.
“If we don’t rise and take our place in society, who will do it for us? The completion of high school signifies that our foundation has been laid, but by no means is our work complete,” he said. “High school graduation is not the end of our journey, it is simply the beginning. Where we go from here, and what choices we make in our lives, will determine and shape our future and the future of our children,” he said.
The two encouraged fellow graduates to avail themselves to the many scholarships Grand Cayman had to offer; to bravely face and conquer life’s challenges, overcome obstacles, reach goals, stand out as good citizens be proud of heritage and make time for God and family.
Principal Lyneth Monteith thanked the Further Education Centre as well as the faculty and staff of John Gray High School.
She also encouraged graduates to work hard and achieve challenging educational goals for themselves.
“In so doing you will act as role models for future students and your peers,” she said. “As you embark on yet another stage in your journey, know that all of us here believe in your ability to be successful and a force for good in the world.”
In closing, she left them with words of advice: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable of rising to any challenge; rely on your inner strength and face challenges head on and cast off fears of the unknown.”
The featured speaker was Winston Connolly, a 1989 graduate of Cayman Islands High School, who went on to university and now serves as director at HighWater Limited.
For the graduating class of 2012, Mr. Connolly offered some words of advice, saying, “[People] can sit on the sidelines if we want to watch others engage, participate and prosper, but where will that get us? We’ll only become cynics and naysayers, disgruntled and angry by doing so. You have to compete in this global economy to get anywhere.
“We cannot be perpetually protected by a government but must make our own change,” he said. “There is nothing preordained that Cayman will remain prosperous. We will have to allow outside firms to come and compete with existing ones to provide true opportunities for our people.”
Mr. Connolly said it was important for graduates to know where they wanted to go and plan how to get there.
“Don’t be afraid to ‘pack your bags’ and leave Cayman for a while,” he said. “Show yourself and potential employers that you have what it takes to succeed in different arenas if they don’t offer placements externally. If you don’t, you are missing a chance to learn about others; their history, their culture and why they see things the way they do.”
Most importantly, he said “Caymanian” is not a qualification.
“You will have to work sometimes twice as hard to get half of as much,” he said. “Be up for the task. Prove yourself each and every day. Figure out the game and play it at all costs. Once you remove every argument against you, then challenge your employers for them to prove you undeserving.”