Validictory Address 2017 - D'Jana Wyllis

Published: Sunday, 09 July 2017 Written by D'Jana Wyllis

Validictory Address

2017

D'Jana Wyllis

Oh how time flies. Many years have already passed, in something that resembles a joyful, stressful, and eventful blur. Despite all the challenges we faced, we made sure to soar ever higher, taking our time to flap our wings and navigate every moment, every trial, and every triumph along this journey. I bet none of us here entered the very prestigious Convent High School expecting a smooth flight. We knew that we had to work hard, and work hard we did - look at where we are now. Of course, there was a lot of air resistance trying to keep us back, gravity trying to pull us down, and let’s not forget the times we just glided and didn’t know where we were heading. We experienced countless different moods everyday. Sometimes we were extremely stressed, and two minutes later we’d be filled with laughter at all the memories we were making. If anyone were to analyse our flight’s path, they’d be amused by the the sudden drops and rapid increases in altitude and all the melodrama that accompanied them in true teenage style. For us, it seemed like a lot to deal with, but as CHS students, we never gave up. Yes, we expected challenges along the journey (many of which took us by surprise), but we still fought to fly above them, taking advantage of the gusts of air and the roaming currents to rise high above the occasion. Anything negative was turned by sheer will into something that we could be proud to call our own. Flap by flap, with wings always working, we conquered them as a team, and here we are - the class of 2017!

It has been quite the journey, but we can proudly end this flight and begin a new one knowing that we learned so much, and gained so much, from the Convent High School. Each of us leaves here with strong emotional bonds and at least one friend we can say we’re blessed to have come to know and understand over the years.We bonded especially on our COR weekends - COR 83, COR 85. I can truly say I had an amazing weekend on COR 85 and I left content with the memories that I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to make anywhere else.  After everything, it’s fair to say we learned to truly get along.  The author Oscar Wilde was right when he famously said “Friendship never forgets. That is the wonderful thing about it”.

Today, we stand here, proud graduates of the Convent High School, with mature minds- full of wisdom and knowledge and hearts full of Christ. We are firmly grounded by the principles and morals we were taught. We made it, but it’s certainly not over yet. After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and each one of us, along with the team behind us, made this experience the best we could hope for.

Of course, we had our moments of weakness and our breakdowns - pockets of time when the world seemed too much. We tried to overcome them, and succeeded, but we certainly couldn’t overcome them alone - turning negatives into positives is no easy task. May I say, we had the best support system to give us the acceleration we needed when we decreased in velocity. We simply cannot say enough thank you’s.

First of all, I thank the Almighty Father for blessing us with the lives that we will use, directed in His path, to love, serve and fulfill his mission. I thank you, God, for giving us the strength and guidance we need to take on every challenge, and overcome every obstacle; for your everlasting love and for putting so many positive influences in our lives. You have been there every step of the way, and we are here to serve you.

We especially thank your earthly agents, the Catholic church for playing an active role in the Convent High School ever since its formation, and our august diocesan church leader Bishop Gabriel Malzaire. To Monsignor William John Lewis, our chaplain, we looked forward to seeing you every term, and you never let us down.  You made our school masses so interactive and meaningful. He truly ‘lives in you,’ and you taught us that He lives in us too. It is because of you that religion plays such a huge role in our lives today, and for this, we say thank you.

We are particularly grateful for the institution that nurtured us over the past years - the Convent High School. You not only built upon and fortified our education foundation, you taught us how to coexist, presenting us with 7 wonderful saints we can emulate - Saint Agnes, Saint Ann, Saint Bakhita, Saint Cecilia, Saint Joan, Saint Rita and Saint Theresa. Throughout our years at CHS, we learned to be strong, independent, brave individuals equipped with Faith and well- developed spirituality. A learning institution should not solely be based around academia, but should also include learning about morals, ethics, and other areas of life which we need in the future. In this vein, without the varied co curricular programs we have in place at the Convent High School, we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to explore our individual talents and care so much for the world around us. From the Communications Club, to the Environmental Club to the Speech Chorale - and every other club at CHS, these societies have aided with our self -discovery, and have given us a medium to be who we are, doing what we like in a positive environment and for that, we say thank you. CHS, we know you’ll miss us, but you will forever be in our hearts. We will forever be a part of CHS.

To the administration and staff who helped us get by - Mrs Dublin, Miss Prentice, Mr McAulay and all the teachers. You all put in the extra time and effort to help us even when we got frustrated to the point that we thought we couldn’t keep going. With all the strict SBA deadlines, lab due dates, tests and assignments which seemed to compile perennially... we found it difficult to forgive you then. The philosopher Aristotle once said “The exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching”. And oh how thorough you all are. Now that all the hassle is over, we can say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ because you taught us to deal with all sorts of difficult circumstances we’ll come across in the journey ahead of us.

Thank you to the various benefactors who aided with financing our education, especially the Central Cooperative Credit Union for assisting me over the past five years and the Government of Dominica for providing scholarships and bursaries to several of our students. Our benefactors can look at us proudly and say that they wisely invested in our education, as each one of us is going out into the big world to make invaluable contributions. The potential we’ve developed wouldn’t have been possible without you.

It was Trinidadian cultural icon, Geoffrey Holder who once stated “education begins at home”, and without the building blocks we were given at home, we wouldn’t have such an impressive structure of achievements behind and ahead of us. Thank you, to our parents and guardians for molding us. Especially in our high school journey, we thank you for being the human alarm clocks we needed to always be on top of things, for taking care of our every need ever since we entered this Earth, and for teaching us to grow well enough to take care of ourselves.

To the rest of our families and to our friends, thank you for being there to cheer us on every step of the way; for your support, your guidance, your patience; for understanding when times got rough, and for helping us get through it.

To the graduating class, I urge you to always remember this journey. Never forget the people who helped you to ride out the turbulence on your flight.  Everything we encounter in life is a blessing and even when it may not seem as such, we learn from it and emerge even stronger than we were before. We have turned and are turning our negatives into positives. All our experiences have made us who we are, so I emphasize, NEVER hide or neglect your flight log, instead use it to plan your future itinerary. We can stand strong with God by our side, and tread confidently knowing that the legs which we stand on were built firmly to carry us. Now, it’s up to us to put in the extra effort to achieve, succeed, and take long flights towards where we want to be. Former English Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher said it best when she remarked “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it”.

Admittedly, we are internet children - when we can’t get something now, or when we don’t see the finish line right in front of us, we tend not to put in as much effort as we should. Well, I’ll tell you, the trials may seem countless, the sky may seem too vast, but we can achieve any and everything we put our minds to. There’s a line of pinky promises behind and ahead of us. “I promise to do well this year”, “I promise to do my best”, “I promise to never make this mistake again”.  A well- known proverb states, “promises are only comfort to a fool”, and in this case the fools would only be ourselves. Promises are reassuring frivolities that warm our hearts temporarily, but what is reassurance versus complete satisfaction? Let us actually do - “I will”, “I want to” and “I plan to”. The satisfaction of knowing that we put our effort into a well thought out plan to achieve what we intend to and even more, plus conquer every challenge in our way is the reality we should look for. Like the Sisserou Parrot we should dream big, aim high, and soar across the skies. As the song from the hit show Empire said, ‘I'd rather stand tall than live on my knees, 'cause I am a conqueror, and I won't accept defeat,’ let’s live by that. We are conquerors. To the class of 2017, let us not make empty promises, let us not be all talk without action.

I leave you with the wise words of the renowned world leader, Winston Churchill,
“If you’re going through “difficult times”, keep going. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Tonight this specifically means that “We are turning our negatives into positives and promises into plans”.

I wish everyone every success in the future.

CONGRATULATIONS, CLASS OF 2017!

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