One hundred thirty-seven Dynamite Rays graduated in the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School’s 45th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 23 in the Digna Maria Wheatley Gymnasium.
Sixty male students and 77 female students of the “Resilient, Revolutionary Class of 2018” celebrated the close of a challenging year in a festive ceremony among their family, friends, teachers and well-wishers.
Principal Stefan Jürgen first acknowledged former students in the audience who relocated to the mainland following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. He congratulated them on their achievements and maintained that they are “Rays for Life.”
Though the last few months proved to be challenging for the seniors, Principal Jürgen commended the class’ commitment to their studies.
“Students in this school have proven that they have the ability to set goals, stay focused and keep their head in the game," he said."These graduates that sit before me are warriors, conquerors and overcomers."
Of the 137 graduates, 68 were honor students. One hundred three students will enroll in colleges and universities upon graduation—58 of whom will attend the University of the Virgin Islands. Nine students will enter the U.S. Armed Services, 14 plan to attend trade schools, and 11 students will enter the workforce.
Salutatorian Hezekiah George encouraged his classmates to tap into their talents and abilities, and to remain as motivated and empowered as they are today.
“Don’t allow your lives to become planes that don’t fly, cars that don’t drive and ships that don’t float,” George said. He further pleaded with his classmates to “really think about what purpose you’ll fulfill in this world.”
Jalen Francis, the class valedictorian, expressed the ways his peers have inspired him. “No amount of words can describe the magnitude of power each of you hold," he said. “The success of the class itself speaks to my belief in how great each of you are, and that success is represented by contributions you made to make this school great.”
Twelfth grade Assistant Principal Sally Petty was recognized for her outstanding leadership in the past year. Ms. Petty led the Red Hook-area school during its reopening following the hurricanes last September. Moreover, as Lieutenant Colonel in the Virgin Islands National Guard, Ms. Petty was called for duty and led a unit in response to the storms. The graduates displayed volumes of affection for their administrator as she introduced the commencement speaker, Teshanne Phillip, a 1999 Kean graduate.
Phillip, a motivational speaker and founder of the I am Hope Foundation, urged graduates to set the bar for success high and stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
Following brief remarks from Governor Mapp, senior musicians serenaded the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School community one last time with a jazz medley.