by Richelle Taylor
Wednesday, at the Ivan Hardwood Centre in Church Hill, 89 graduates of the Christ Church Girls’ School marked the official completion of their primary education.
Featured speaker Cherita Howard-O’Dell grabbed and kept the attention of the graduates with her interactive delivery. In her concise address on the theme All Things Are Possible, she extended a question to her audience.
“How many believe the chairs which they are sitting in would support them till the end of the ceremony?”
As many hands were raised in the belief they would, Howard-O’Dell asserted: “The joke is, most of you will trust in the chairs’ ability to support you faster than you would trust in the God who created you –– in the skills, talents and abilities that he gave you.
“Your life at your new school will not be without challenges. There will be difficult assignments not to mention difficult people,” she informed the graduates.
“My life at school wasn’t always easy,” she humbly recalled –– as there were times she too felt the judgement of others because of her tall slender physique.
Howard-O’Dell pointed to the diversity in beauty, which societal standards try to conflict with.
“Listen, ladies, by societies standards we are either too tall, too black, too fat, too red, too short, too thin.”
She also highlighted to graduates that throughout their transitional journey to secondary school, they would at times be on the receiving end of negative comments.
“You’re the new kids on the block. However, don’t let what people say about you define who you are,” she stressed.
“Your Creator made you and he finds your uniqueness beautiful.”
Howard-O’Dell also assured the graduates that when they embraced who God made them to be, they would tap into a world of greatness and reach their maximum potential.
Top student and head girl Elena Scantlebury was an exemplar of such greatness, as she intelligibly and confidently delivered her valedictorian speech.
Elena commended her “outstanding experience” at the school.
“Christ Church Girls’ allowed us to be children, but never permitted us to compromise the quality of our education, as every girl was seen as a potential leader,” she affirmed.
“The well-trained staff looked after us, encouraged us and, yes, reprimanded us when necessary,” she said. “I would also remember former principal Mrs Bryan saying that where you come from does not determine who you are or who you become.
The school’s current principal Sharon Knight, Elena added, “often tells us she expects great things from all of us”.
Placing a special emphasis on the role of teachers, she extended gratitude on behalf of the graduates as well.
“Teachers, thank you for encouraging us to reach for the stars and not be contented with the moon.
“And despite judgement of society today, know that many still appreciate you for who you are and what you do,” Elena added.