Misty-eyed parents, beaming teachers and smiling guests watched as the 2017 graduating class of the Reynold Weekes Primary School received a grand send-off to begin the journey of the next stage of their lives.
Tuesday was the big day of celebration at the Barbados Workers’ Union’s Labour College in St Philip which was beautifully transformed in the school’s colour – royal blue – and eye-catching decorations, creating the perfect ambience for the special occasion.
The school, dubbed the University of St Philip, centred the theme of its graduation on the industrious insect, the ant, as it encouraged students to be fantastic, be awesome, be noble, be tenacious.
The near four-hour ceremony featured thought-provoking speeches, punctuated by delightful performances from the skilled students.
The audience was thoroughly entertained as the graduates delivered thrilling musical renditions – Nothing is Impossible and We are One – and riveting steel pan selections – Let it Be and If We Hold on Together – insightful poetry, and an unforgettable dance by the Class Four boys.
Principal Anderson Bishop could hardly contain his pride as he presented a report outlining sterling performances in sports and various competitions and, of course, the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination.
Before touting his students’ achievements, he underscored that children must be disciplined in their work, conduct and attitude to achieve excellence in education.
And he did not miss the opportunity to weigh in on the debate on corporal punishment, receiving loud applause of approval from the captive audience.
“I believe that corporal punishment as a penalty for unacceptable behavior should be appropriately applied,” he said, warning against accepting foreign practices that rarely work.
That aside, he got down to business of the hour, revealing that his students had performed above the national mean in every area of assessment.
“The national mean in English, 70; Reynold Weekes Primary, 74. Mathematics, 55; Reynold Weekes, 60,” he reported.
Bishop was particularly pleased with the performance of his boys, and rubbished the myth that girls always outperformed boys.
He urged students to build on their solid foundation and embrace the world and all that life offers.
“You have the potential to be all you want to be. You have worked for and deserve your success,” the principal said.
Featured speaker Keith Simmons, a former Government Minister and attorney-at-law, praised the well-behaved, successful students as he stressed the need for the Ministry of Education to introduce a code of discipline and conduct to stem deviant behaviour.
“This code of discipline and conduct can be achieved through consultation with teachers, parents, teacher associations and the Ministry of Education,” he said.
Simmons gave way to one last speech – the unforgettable brief address by valedictorian Trishauna Edgehill. The student, who scored 99 in English and 94 in Mathematics and is now headed to Queen’s College, heaped praises on parents and teachers for leading them to success, and encouraged her peers as they head in different directions to not only remember the Reynold Weekes way outlined in its motto – We Strive for the Best – but to “up de ting” when they reach their new classrooms.