Pomp and Circumstance rendered by their school’s band accompanied seven seniors of the St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School on Sunday, June 17, 2018 during an impressive ceremony witnessed by faculty, parents, special guests and well-wishers at the St. Croix Educational Complex. The Commencement Exercises ended a weekend of celebration for the Class of 2018 which chose as its aim, Not At The Top But Still Climbing.
“The North Caribbean Conference congratulates you, the graduates, and commends you for the hard work to the end of the journey,” said Pastor Desmond James, President of the North Caribbean Conference.In her remarks to the graduates, Mrs. Gerene Joseph, Education Director of the North Caribbean Conference, stated: “I wish to congratulate you, graduates, on your successful completion of high school. You have demonstrated a degree of perseverance and resilience which is noteworthy. There were obstacles in your path; for example, two nerve-wracking hurricanes and the dreadful aftermath – no electricity, no running water, no internet and other conveniences. Yet your teachers and parents demanded excellence. Thankfully, Irma and Maria did not significantly inhibit your progress, for you had the confidence that the Lord of Hosts was with you and the God of Jacob was and still is your refuge. I am extremely proud of this group (and I am sure your parents are too), for although the journey was difficult, you kept forging ahead and today all of you are graduating! You all made it to the finish line! Congratulations! Therefore, as you step out from the shelter of a Christian school into a complicated, confusing, crisis-filled world, allow the values you learnt at this institution to inform every decision you make, and allow your faith in God to dictate every choice you make.”
The principal, Dr. Hamil Tobias, reflected that the challenge of educating was compounded by the devastating hurricanes of 2017. The upper floor of the building which housed high school students lost its roof and classes were moved to other areas on campus. He expressed gratitude to his staff, parents and other members of the school community for their support throughout the school year. Dr. Tobias commended the resilience of parents and students: “I thank you all. Maria, the hurricane, sought to interfere with schooling but she was unable to knock us down. We were up and running less than 2 weeks after the disaster. Through difficulties, we were made stronger and came through shining. Parents of students in the Class of 2018, you persevered; you never veered off the wise decision you made in the investment in your boys and girls at the St. Croix SDA School. For your wisdom and sound decision-making, we salute you.”
The guest speaker, Dr. Clyde Vanterpool, inspired the graduates with a thought-provoking challenge, “Make yourself be counted! Be counted in making a difference. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. When I graduated in 1979 there were 40 graduates; today, you are only 7. Remember that whatever the number, you can do all and be all that God has for you. Determination and perseverance count.”
Dr. Vanterpool paid tribute to his past principal, Dr. Edward Griffin, for the latter’s sterling contribution to his success in life. Dr. Vanterpool, whose nephew Jamell Christian was among the seven graduates, is a medical doctor at Florida Hospital. As a surgeon, he has contributed significantly to the lives of hundreds of people. He is passionate about the development of students who attend the St. Croix SDA School and disclosed his intention to start a scholarship fund to assist students.
The graduating class’ tempo of thanksgiving was high. During their discourses, the valedictorians, Delva Daniel and Steffie Vidal (class president), highlighted the perseverance of fellow classmates in the wake of Hurricane Irma. They both acknowledged that the school year started off with a literal bang which the havoc of Hurricane Maria brought in September, 2017. They expressed thanks to God for helping them through uncertain times. The salutatorian, Danyel Boyd, shared, “This school has taught me to take advantage of any opportunity given to me. I know I can work hard and accomplish anything.” Delva Daniel’s mother was ecstatic about her daughter’s academic milestone, “I feel great that she has achieved a good level of education at the Adventist School. Now that she is moving on to college, I am satisfied that she is ready to take on all that lies ahead.”
Dr. Tobias communicated his intention to retire at the end of the school year. During his distinguished career as an Adventist Educator he served in Tobago, Trinidad, Michigan (USA), and the US Virgin Islands. Dr. Tobias has demonstrated dedication to: A support system that encourages the success of all students; the advancement of the school; the professional development of teachers; and, several related programs, including music.
Pastor Desmond James thanked Dr. Tobias for his eight years of service to the school. The school’s Business Manager, Mrs. La Verne Mike stated, “Dr. Tobias has been not only a blessing to the school, but to me personally. I wouldn’t be the administrator I am today without his influence.”
Dr. Tobias reminders resonated with all parents in the audience: “The St. Croix SDA School is open for business. It is a light beaming in a world of darkness. It is a strong tower. It is the hope for our boys and girls. It is a place that turns out outstanding, quality graduates. Let us stand up with the St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School. Let’s graduate our boys and girls!”
The St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School is a private K-12 denominational entity with a teacher-student ratio that fosters the spiritual, mental, and physical well-being of all students.