You might excuse high school grads for being less than ecstatic this year. They are now officially stuck with a world full of problems not of their own making. And they know it. Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, also knows the measure of the challenge facing the graduating class of 2016 across the region. Delivering the keynote at the NorthGate College Graduation and Awards Ceremony, Jules told the class of about 60 students, “This graduation marks your entry onto a global stage that is characterised by the most intractable challenges faced by any generation in human history. This is the ‘graduation gift’ from my generation to yours.” He wasn’t throwing shade on their celebration but advising them to hold fast to what they had been taught. “You at NorthGate College have been educated to be leaders. You have been raised to be global citizens of exemplary distinction. You have been trained to be at the cutting edge of innovation, and at the apex of ethical leadership,” he said. The Caribbean statesman looked on approvingly as 17-year-old Brandon Wooding delivered his valedictory on an important element of ethical leadership—personal choice.
“As we step into the future, we can confidently make strong, wise decisions. While others around us collapse into confusion in the face of chaos and crisis, let us be confident in our choices, whether popular or not, whether difficult or not. We are ready. We have been prepared. We are whole. We are wise,” Wooding said. Wooding would later return to the stage to accept the Chairman’s Award, the school’s top accolade for the student demonstrating the highest level of character and integrity, from school co-chairman Dr Marlon Jameson. Jameson explained that, in keeping with the school’s values-based education model, its top awards put a focus on moral character development, not just academic performance.
“Our goal is to create the kind of student that can thrive amidst the challenges of today’s world,” Jameson said. “Our investment in building the character of our students is our deliberate response to global crisis.” Kristin Grant, a Form 5 student, received the NorthGate Award, a prize for embodying the spirit of the College. For her entrepreneurial efforts, Abigail Paul copped the Business Award, and Tsian Deslandes captured the Cecile Taylor Community Enhancement Award for exceptional service.
School Director Yolande La Pierre said described Wooding, Grant, Paul and Deslandes as “just a few shining examples” of the values that the school tries to impart.
“We encourage our students that what people see on the outside—the handsome young man, the pretty face, the star athlete, the academic scholar—must only be the tip of who you are as a person. Beneath the surface you must have a mass of values, attitudes and beliefs that form an operating system which will assist you in building your life for true success,” she said. The night ended on a crescendo of applause from a hall packed with parents, faculty, administration and well-wishers, and a sense of hope among the young graduands of the promise of new beginnings.