Please find below, the text of the Valedictorian 2014, Mr. Lyndell Byer.
Co-Chairman of NorthGate College, Dr. Marlon Jameson, Director, Ms. Yolande La Pierre, Feature speaker, Mr. Ernest King, Past director of NGC, Mrs. Cecile Taylor, NorthGate College Staff members, Family, friends, well-wishers, and fellow graduates.
Before I begin, let me take the opportunity to let you all know that if you see any water works it is not because I’m emotional; it’s just that it’s so cold it’s affecting my tear ducts.
Is there a group, a body, a team unlike any other? A team where there are no “beh beh, third world, cunumunus”? A team that beats the odds and leaves onlookers in amazement? Yes there is such! And we sit here before you tonight. Team NGC – graduating class of 2014.
A benevolent group, we entered NorthGate’s training camp unaware of what to expect but knowing that our destination was World Cup 2014. Statements such as, “We are part of a global, borderless, kingdom community” and “Grace has been given to build and perfect” gave us a pathway forward and taught us to believe that we have been given what we need to engage with and overcome the challenges which lie ahead.
Looking back from where we stand now – in the tunnels, rearing and ready to go – there were some things we may not have expected. For instance, who would have thought Luc Bertrand would be tall one day. Back then Sarah Olowe was a drama queen and now, well, she is still a drama queen. I think we all expected that. I remember the first time I saw Zezura Nurse I thought, “Wow that girl is so tiny!” When I see her now I think, “Wow that girl is still tiny!”
Like any great team there was a time when we were small and young and lacked maturity and muscle mass. But also like any great team there was an even greater management team who taught, who mentored and who trained us every step of the way. We had the best management team we could have hoped for: They were not only concerned about the results but they cared about our holistic development as human beings.
Each year different persons from the management team imparted new life skills to us – each one placing emphasis on different characteristics. From the stale joke master, Mr. Williams, straight up to the calm but stern Ms. La Pierre, each of them was integral in our development. They had many varied tools which they used to help us grow both internally and externally.
One such key tool was the NorthGate College Sports Day. What was disguised as an event for fun and friendly competition, which was mainly dominated by Team Purpose of course, was really an opportunity to develop and enhance skills in different areas. Yes sir, yes miss, we understand now what you were doing.
We were divided into four teams and the responsibility was on us, the 5th and 6th formers, to ensure that each team was organized. We learned to lead a mass of people and motivate them to participate to the best of their capabilities. We had to think critically on a theme and perform a dramatic piece which relayed a message. And we got in touch with our inner artists. Or at least, for persons like me, for persons like me, we tried to!
We also put into practice community mindedness as teams helped one another wherever a hand was needed. This community, respect and sacrifice were the 9/10ths that made the 1/10th of competition enjoyable, beneficial and healthy.
These are just some of the many skills we added to our arsenal from interacting willingly with the event at hand.
Perhaps what is most unique about the group of people you see here is that togetherness aspect that makes any team strong. Different backgrounds, cultural practices and personal preferences were all subject to a clearly defined standard set by NorthGate – these were the non-negotiable terms of our contract.
Throughout the years every addition to the team had his/her position and contributed different skills and talents. Even those who newly joined like a Romario Ragoobar, a Simone Hagley, a Mathew Ali, a Sarra-Kezia Adams – if you look at how we interact with each other you wouldn’t be able to tell newcomers from those who were here from inception.
This togetherness extended beyond just the team members to form a lasting bond between team and management. And management extended beyond academic staff to all who have guided us.
How could I not mention the persons who were responsible for keeping the NorthGate environment looking pristine and suitable for us to work in? Most importantly, they kept the field well-trimmed. After all, a football team needs a proper field to practice on!
How could I not mention Ms Battersby and Ms Mills? After some of those training sessions it was straight to the office to get a Panadol or two or three for those headaches we were left with.
And really, how could I not mention Ms. Marva aka Ms. Marvelous, Ms. Natasha aka Aunty Tash and the rest of the cafeteria staff who ensured that we were well nourished to continue training rigorously towards our goal. I can still remember those mouthwatering ham and cheese sandwiches. And don’t mention on an evening when the geera neck appeared! It was like a stampede towards the café to get a cup before it all vanished.
If there is one thing I will never forget about this group it is our ability to make anything fun. Text book organisation turned into pizza limes, clearing the hall of tables and chairs usually turned into an intense football ‘sweat’ and a seemingly boring lunch time turned into rhythm sections and musicals. I think for most of the journey we went by the philosophy ‘work hard, play hard’.
In the earlier years every afternoon after classes was football, table tennis, basketball or some other activity which ended with Ms. Morris who was much, much more than just a security officer prompting us to go home.
But for this past year I think we worked harder and definitely played less. Group studies took the place of limes and sports, text books replaced television and video games and past papers were of greater priority than our cell phones. Well, we used the cell phones to check friends for answers of course.
Seriously though, this year was the most challenging as we sought to qualify for the next stage of our lives. Staying persistent to the end and not letting the thought of giving up overwhelm us. Keeping those goal posts in our sight and pressing through the pain of yet another drill, another muscle cramp, another killer practice session.
And today, here we stand! We are walking out of the tunnel and onto the field. We see the lights of dozens of cameras, we hear the cheers of hordes of fans looking on in anticipation of what we will bring to the game.
We hear strains of our anthem playing: we accept no limitations except those designated by God; we can build and perfect; we won’t say that we can’t when we know we can!
We stand with our hands on our hearts, pledging internally to God, to our managers and to our team mates, to play with unwavering adherence to the standards and values we have learned. We pledge to lead by example and to impact the nations near and far.
We will not play like Spain, relying on our own abilities and getting annihilated before our feet touch the ground. We will be like the Costa Ricans, playing with humility but at the same time not fearing what the future has in store, and one by one defeating the giants in our way! This is our time. This is our World Cup.
The future is ours. What do you see? I can tell you what I see. I see an Ariel Ramoutar accountant extraordinaire and eventually having impact into the running of the World Bank. I see Makalah Goodridge, pioneering Trinidad and Tobago’s tennis into Wimbeldon. I see a Daniel Byer, a key figure in international relations. I see an Akil Dacon, the future Messi who will bring joy to billions. I see a Joshua Thomas, the future President of our twin island state. I see that each of us has an important role to fulfill on the field of life and we are ready!
The game is on! Keep your eyes fixed on us… or else you may miss our winning goal.
By: Lyndell Byer