John Gray graduates told to broaden horizons to achieve

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.” 

JGHS Grads

Graduates from John Gray High School’s class of 2012.

JGHS Grads 2

John Gray High School’s top-10 graduates, from left, are Jeremy Morain, Head Boy Brandon Johnson, Head Girl Alexandra Johnson, Erica Lopez, Shana Linwood-Mclaughlin, Nordania Stewart, Sean-Anna Thompson, Diana Tibbetts and Setwart Watt. – Photo: Scott Swing


  1. So we are encouraged to go overseas to get exposure to other cultures and a good education and when we get back we are told go overseas to work because others will be given priority.

    WIth due respect to Mr Connolly and others with similar views regarding ‘relocation’, when will Caymanians like him have the guts to say being Caymanian means being opportunities first. That persons on work permits were offered an opportunity to work it was not a ‘qualification’ for life-time employment and/or citizenship?

    Young people only have to look around or listen and THEY are aware that being a native Caymanian will not allow them to be given the same opportunities…..the unemployment and underemployment is obvious.

    Is Mr. Connolly with all his education truly believes that in a country where half the workforce is on work permits WE SHOUDL BE THE PEOPLE LEAVING? I challenge him and his family to pack up and leave then to give up the opportunities here.

  2. So, high school students are now able to replace people with bachelors and masters degrees with 10 more years of experience.
    hmmmm. interesting.

  3. Dreamer…allow me to explain the foolishness you spout. There are positions here that demand a world-class education, with very specialised instruction needed. Cayman is too small to be able to offer these things. So what he is saying is, if you want to be a doctor, veterinarian, accountant, electrical engineer, civil engineer etc. you HAVE to go abroad.

    Face up to the modern way of life. In Europe, you are competing against a few more people than here, same in North America…why should Cayman be an exception to the rest of the world? Be thankful you’re not from China.

  4. You are truly dreaming if you think that just graduating from High school and being born Caymanian qualifies you for any specialized position. Telling young folks this only helps to spread the disillusion of entitlement. People that travel abroad and get real world experience as well as a higher education are usually more qualified for higher end positions.

    These young people need to open themselves up to the world and be willing to go outside of their comfort zone to succeed. Those that don’t will fail. Sitting around and waiting for a great job to be handed to you or for someone to get rolled over so you will get their job will get you nowhere. Unless your aspirations are changing bed linens waiting tables or being a cashier.

    If you want more out of life, you have to put more into life.

  5. For all of you who didn’t understand my comments, I was not referring to the fact that going overseas to get an education is a great opportunity.


    @NJ2Cay I would never say graduating from high school qualifies a person for specialised positions.

    Obviously you believe being born in a foreign country ‘qualifies’ a person to be hired over a CAymanian with education and experience form overseas.

    I have studied and lived in 3 different countries and have a 2 undergraduate degrees (economics and law) and a masters degree, and yes that makes me ‘entitled’ to opportunities here for which I have the suitable experience and relevant degrees.

    Sorry, you can’t use semantics to make me fall for that line that we shouldn’t feel entitled.

    Guess I should demand citizenship and jobs from those countries where I studied and ‘invested money in their economy’, since foreigners step off the plane here and feel that work permits mean citizenship.

  6. @pattieman and NJ2Cay……… see the unemployment statistics, and not the number of persons with degrees who have registered and there are many that have not even registered. These people include Caymanians who have sacrificed time money to obtain ‘qualifications’ and can’t get work. When you all start defending the unfairness that exists here and preference for others when Caymanian families are suffering, maybe God will allow you all to suffer similar fate and hardship.

    It’s really a shame how so many can stand back and justify the lack of control and blame it on lack of ambition or feelings of entitlement. But I hear karma can be great teacher and once again will have you guys in my prayers to experience what these persons have to endure.

    You all have let greed and fear that your friends family will not continue to do well if respect and fairness is not given to native Caymanians so you twist what we say and demand from us what you should be demanding from yourselves. For examples, stating that I even implied school leavers should be put in positions for which not qualified. The point was clearly stated that we should have to be forced to look for jobs overseas when half the workforce are foreigners and refuse to accept they were invited for a certain period.

  7. Welcome to the real world Dreamer, I have suffered my own set of hardships and discrimination over the years more than what currently exists in Cayman I worked for IBM for 15 years only to be replaced by cheap offshore workers in India. There were several times when I was practically offered a job based on my skillset and my resume only to be turned away when I met the people face to face and they saw the color on my skin.

    The point about going overseas to work was that it shouldn’t be discouraged. There are qualified people out of work everywhere in the world so don’t make it seem like Caymanians are the only people suffering.

    The point I am trying to make is that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes and go wherever you need to go to reach your goals in life. No one is downplaying peoples hardships we are actually trying to make people understand that it is not isolated to you, and if you keep trying there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Sorry you can’t see that.

  8. NJ2Cay, I do understand that but you also have to consider that certain people only ask Caymanians to consider their sense of entitlement. I am tired of hearing this one sided view and accept that there will always be hardships……including having to leave a country after work permit is not renewed because a ‘local’ can fill the position!

    Do you think young graduates (from high school) in any country would like to be told they should be considering looking for work overseas when there are thousands of people in their country on work visas?

    Which developing country claiming to be ‘nation building’ will at the same time be supporting brain drain in their countries? Sure makes a lot of sense if foreign workers are the persons who feel entitled, I guess.

  9. A degree, masters or otherwise, still doesn’t entitle you to a job. Attitude and desire are still needed.

    Err this ‘God’ you speak of, and the things he or she can do to make me feel what poor Caymanian families are going through – too late, my brother, father and myself have already been unemployed or redundant. My family went without at times of little money. Not bitter, it happens, so quit moaning.

  10. Dreamer, I think you’re reading into this the wrong way, the reason you hear so many people asking Caymanians to consider their sense of entitlement is because this is a Caymanian newspaper where most of the articles are regarding Caymanians, so obviously most of the comments you hear will be focused on people in the Cayman Islands. The possibility of Expats having to leave Cayman once their work permit is up because there’s a qualified Caymanian that can now fill the position is not a hardship it’s a reality and they were aware of when they took the job.

    As far as High School graduates from any country. I personally think they should be considering a higher education. Nowadays a High School Diploma is considered to be the least amount of education an individual can have and it doesn’t get you very far on its own. I do however think young College Graduates from any country should be open to opportunities anywhere in the world. With so much unemployment all over young graduates are competing for the same positions against people that have years of experience as well as degrees.

    A good example is my neighbors son, he completed a 5 year Engineering program at Drexel which happens to be one of the best schools in the US. He Graduate with a Degree in Civil Engineering and had a really hard time finding a job. He eventually considered other options and took a job in Singapore where he worked on a project for a year. When he came back home he found a great job in a matter of weeks because employers were impressed by his experience.

    Guess what, there are not thousands but millions of people in the US on Work Visas and Millions of people unemployed.

    The one thing I would like to point out that is self-destructive in Caymans economic situation is that with the lack of Income Taxes, it’s more lucrative for the Government to have a lot of expats employed than a lot of Caymanians, because they rely on the money that comes in from Work Permits. I’ve said it before and I will say it again with a small income tax Cayman wouldn’t be so reliant on income from work permits and maybe the board would be more willing to decline unnecessary permits. Truth of the matter is that if the board rejected half of the permits they approve it would cost the government millions.

    I wonder if people would be willing to pay a small income tax to turn the tables.

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