- Dr. David Stair – Custos Rotulorum for the Parish of Hanover
- Michelle Pinnock – Regional Director, Ministry of Education
- Hyacinth Shakes-Warren – Chairperson of the School Board, Green Island High
- Maxine Evans – Principal, Green Island High School
- Members of Academic and Administrative Staff
- Ladies and gentlemen
I am here today and I will speak of your accomplishments, for they are many. I remember just a few years after the opening of your doors – the respect, the admiration and the envy of so many persons. Such was the spectacle and wonder, that I myself had to visit and be awed by the creative and artistic venture that you, Green Island started on.
I use this opportunity to congratulate the principal, teachers and students for the steady academic progress of this institution and especially for obtaining 100% passes in the CAPE Performing Arts Examination this year. Congratulations!
This is an institution that has grown tremendously, earning its current position (69) among the top 100 high schools in the nation.
Congratulations are still in order for your performance at the Penn Relays this year (and the fine performances that students continue to give since your debut there in 2013), as well as ISSA Boys and Girls Championship.
As a former high school teacher, principal, university administrator and one who believes in the mentoring of young people, I am aware of the temptations and the challenges society confronts you with.
One of the major challenges young people encounter in Jamaica, especially here in the west, is the issue of lotto scamming. I hear of students dropping out of school to pursue this venture, but I tell you this, there is so much in this world for you to see, to endeavor to become and dare to achieve.
Truth is education truly opens the door to endless possibilities giving each and every one of you a chance to experience so much more than what we have here in Jamaica.
I know that at times, you doubt that you can make a difference in this seemingly confusing world. For many persons, their success is born out of those confusing, low periods.
When you are tired of failing and of not being the best you, your mind and your whole being is ready for success.
Examples of Successful Young People
Let me tell you about Angelica Baker and Celine Loban, two remarkable young people who through challenging circumstances are making great career and academic progress.
They are among the I Believe Initiative (IBI) 2017 Summer of Service Scholarship Highlights. Celine Loban being the first deaf student to receive a scholarship and Angelica Baker being the first medical doctor to have benefited from the programme.
Angelica entered the programme a young lady with a dream. Like many of you she is from a rural community and had little or no financial support to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor. She volunteered with various organizations and with further support from the IBI Summer of Service Scholarship, was able to pursue that dream. Five years later, today, Angelica is a medical doctor working at the May Pen Hospital.
Celine Loban as well, being deaf, has suffered many embarrassments due to her disability. She could have given up, and relegated herself to the fringes of society. She instead persevered putting no limits on herself.
She volunteered as well with the Jamaica School for the Deaf. Now, she creates history as the first member of the deaf community to obtain the IBI Summer of Service Scholarship valued at $1.5 million dollars to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Studies at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
It matters not where you are from, what your disadvantages may be, you all have the ability to play a successful role in our society. You too can be a success and can benefit from the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE).
The Desiderata reminds us that, “Just like the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.”
It reminds us that, “Do not compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Therefore “keep interested in your own career, however humble.”
The Technological Era
Educating of our children is the most delicate work ever entrusted to parents and teachers. In this 21st century, technology, has opened up the world of information and communication to us.
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or WhatsApp can consume much of our time. I know it takes a lot of your time and that is ok, but you need to exert control and some level of discipline to make technology work for you.
Strive to be that person that does so well so that others snap about, tweet about and post pictures of on Instagram because you used technology to become a better you, and not technology using you to become just another face in the crowd.
The greatest danger of this new world is easily humans forgetting to be human. I implore you to not neglect the human connection, the face to face, the one on one. For centuries communication with the elders, have passed on knowledge and traditions, from generation to generation. And I tell you what, for centuries it will continue, for how will you connect with the generation after you?
Students, amongst the greatest gifts that we can give to you our young people, are sound moral values, a strong family base, abiding faith in God, belief in self and pride in their country.
I believe that once these foundations are set, and you, the future of our nation, become more involved, understanding that your every action has consequence, that you bear your very own responsibility in building the life, the community and the country you want, I believe that then will we begin to see our nation being the best it can be.
This is the reason that I created the I Believe Initiative which is a values based programme focused on using what is right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong with Jamaica.
(Introduce IBI Ambassadors)
You Green Islanders are what is right with Jamaica, and I charge you with that of contributing to fix what is wrong with Jamaica.
Safety and the Protecting of Children
As I close my remarks to you, I use the opportunity also to encourage parents, teachers and the wider community to continue upholding our African tradition, where the entire village is involved in raising and protecting our children.
Students, be willing to be guided when you are told to be careful of the taxis and buses you take, human trafficking is real and is a scourge on our society. Stay away from scamming, your dreams are bigger and better! Leave the guns I beg you, already our history is too tragic and sorrowful, it is now time for you, our young men and women to begin telling a new story; of peace, love, success and unity.
I conclude by reminding you that each new day brings new opportunities as well as its challenges. Plan for the future but live in the present. You really are the masters of your own destiny, believe in God for his plans for you are greater than your wildest dreams.