Ms. Shanya Taylor, valedictorian for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in the Charlestown Secondary School’s (CSS) Graduating Class of 2019, delivering here valedictory speech during the Charlestown Secondary School and Nevis Sixth Form College Graduation and Prize-giving Ceremony at the Nevis Cultural Village on Nov. 13.

Ms. Shanya Taylor, valedictorian for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in the Charlestown Secondary School’s (CSS) Graduating Class of 2019, told fellow graduands their graduation from high school should serve as a reminder that anything is possible while delivering her valedictory speech at the Charlestown Secondary School and Nevis Sixth Form College Graduation and Prize-giving Ceremony for the 173-member graduating class of 2019 held at the Nevis Cultural Village on Nov. 13.

“Life is about growing and having new opportunities to continue to grow and to learn new skills that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. This accomplishment should serve as a launching point projecting us to wherever our futures are meant to take us, whether we land ourselves a career, take up a trade or continue our education at college or vocational or technical school,” she said.“This graduation has already shown us how we are all capable of accomplishing our goals when we commit ourselves to them. I hope all of us here today can take this personal accomplishment as an example of how anything is truly possible when we put our minds to it.”

The top CSEC student urged her fellow graduands to be confident when tackling problems, they would face moving forward as they begin to build their future, and reminded them they now have the tools necessary to do so.

“As we all continue on in our lives, let us take each new problem on with confidence knowing that we have all achieved great heights, and are equipped with the necessary tools to tackle our futures. We’ve made it this far. Why should we back out now?  Nothing worthwhile is easy, and that includes making the most out of our futures but that does not mean we give up on ourselves. We will keep pushing because we know we can achieve our dreams and because we are worth it,” she said.“Let us believe in ourselves so we may reach our goal and fulfil our dreams. Let us be the best that we can be so that we may fill our lives and the lives of those closest to us with happiness and with pride. We’ve already taken the first step by making it to this ceremony today. Now it’s time to take it to the next steps in the journey that is our lives and begin to build our futures.”

Ms. Taylor also had some advice for education authorities, urging them to ensure everything is in place to achieve students’ transformation while reflecting on the theme for the graduation ceremony.

“As I speak of our future endeavours and reflect on the theme of this graduation ‘Transforming minds, enriching the future!’ I must say that I am elated that we are moving with the new era where we are not just stuck in the norm. However, with all of that being said, and all that is hoped for, I hope that this is not just the same but in reality, measures are put in place to achieve this goal,” she said.“In order for students’ minds to be transformed, school and by extension teachers need to be equipped with the necessary tools needed to do this. Too many times I can recall teachers saying they cannot do this or that because they do not have this or that. Who are left to suffer? The students. Congratulations class of 2019.”

Ms. Taylor also had kind words for their teachers and other staff members at CSS for their passion and dedication shown to them as students. She told they had contributed to their successful completion of their high school years, and they appreciated the endless work they had put in to get them to complete their SBAs (School Based Assessments) and prepare for exams.

She also thanked parents, family, friends and well-wishers on behalf of the graduating class for their contributions to their success.

“Parents, we would like to thank you for your overwhelming support – financially, emotionally, physically, socially and the list goes on. Thank you for putting up with us from our nose picking days to raging hormonal break downs. Through it all you have been our rocks…,” she said.“My peers and I have all accomplished one of the major early milestones of our lives — high school. This is a major step in the journey of our lives, one that should be recognised for its immense significance as we have put much effort for the last five years — a third of our lives thus far, and to being able to stand here today and say that we’ve earned the right to be here.  It was by no means easy and there were many times where we thought that we would not have reached the finishing line, but those struggles have only made this moment sweeter,” she said.