Tuesday, 18 June 2013
To ensure higher level of service… $158.4M Polic... » COMMANDER-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President ...
FAO recognises Guyana for meeting anti-hunger targ... » GUYANA is among 18 countries recognised at a speci...
State-of-the-art forensic lab to open soon - Rohee... » CONTRACTORS have requested one more week to finish...
Pomeroon farmers to export coconut water to Trinid... » COUNCILLOR of the Region 2 Regional Democratic Cou...
‘Terrorist’ Colin Jones convicted of Health M... » COLIN Jones, charged with the 2009 burning of the ...
Alleged woman beating… No place for rogue cops i... » THE Ministry of Home Affairs said, yesterday, that...
President Ramotar urges emulation of Enmore Martyr... » PRESIDENT Donald Ramotar yesterday called upon tho...
|It’s graduation time again!|
|Written by Angela Lewis|
|Saturday, 04 August 2012 12:51|
THE season of graduation is here, and many of you have had fond memories of graduation day! Whether you have graduated from nursery to primary, or from secondary to university, you have all remembered graduating more than once in your lifetime.
I myself have graduated on several occasions, and no doubt, many more will come; but I particularly remember those of my children in 2005, when I had to travel to the United States to attend Candida’s, who graduated with her Masters in Business Administration; to Trinidad for Stephen’s Counsel of Legal Education; to Guyana for Omar’s in Management; and I had secured my post-graduate Diploma in International Studies at the same time.
Four graduations in one year! But as exciting as that may seem, the one that brought back all the feelings of nostalgia was the recent graduation of my grandson Stephen (jnr.) from primary to secondary.
As I reflected on graduation, I sought to give two definitions for it. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree, or the ceremony that is sometimes associated, where students become graduates. Before the graduation, candidates are referred to as graduands. The date of graduation is often called graduation day. The graduation itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation.”
The World Book Encyclopedia puts it this way: “Schools and colleges usually award a diploma or certificate in recognition of achievement to students who satisfactorily complete a regular course. Most institutions present their diplomas at special ceremonies, called graduation exercises.”
Graduation exercises date back to the Middle Ages, and were first held by Europeans. Later, the American educational institutions adopted some of those customs. There were two types of ceremonies: The ‘Baccalaureate’, a religious service which was held before graduation to mark the beginning of the ‘Rite of passage’; and the ‘graduation commencement ceremony’, which began with speeches from faculty or special speakers, and included a programme by the actual students, and music. Afterwards, the graduates’ names are called one by one as "pomp and circumstance" are traditionally played.
Academic gowns and caps were worn in most colleges and universities. The gowns are long and black. The caps were tasseled, flat-backed, and were called mortarboards. The colour of the tassel demonstrated the kind of degree the graduate was receiving. Graduates also wore coloured hoods on their backs to show the highest degree they already hold, and the institution which conferred it. Most of these practices still obtain today.
Whether we graduate from kindergarten, primary, secondary, college, university, or special course, we can finally describe it as a revered event, where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns, or in some form of uniform, that "individuality" is the key to success.
But quite a lot goes into making graduation a success. Teachers, students and parents are involved in either planning the programme; practising for the parade; preparing skits, songs and poems; and/or engraving certificates, awards and medals. Parents are also involved in seeing that their children attend, and that they contribute financially to the academic dress.
It is also a custom at some high schools, colleges and universities for the valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class to make a speech. The valedictorian is the graduate with the highest marks; the salutatorian is the graduate with the second highest marks.
I once read this speech by a valedictorian. She said: “For many of you, the last few years have been the most different and difficult from anything you have ever known. For some of you, university was not what you always dreamed it would be. For some, it was your parents’ dream; for others, it started out as a random venture in place of a ‘plan’, and turned into something you became passionate about. But regardless of your original inclination towards ‘higher education’, you alone have accomplished what all of us whom you are leaving behind are striving toward. You have graduated; you have finished. Even for those who are going on to achieve their masters or a doctorate, scholastically speaking, you have closed this chapter of your life successfully. You will never have to do it again. Scraping pennies to buy textbooks is a thing of the past. Bravo!”
Stephen (Jnr.), my grandson, was given the task of delivering the Charge to the graduating kindergarteners at the National Cultural Centre the other day. I sat there listening while he spoke:
“My name is Stephen, and my first day at school was on January 5, 2004.
“Early that morning,” he continued, “I remembered my mother and father getting me dressed in my new pants, shirt, white socks and black shoes. Everything was new. I had a new lunch bag and water bottle, another bag with pencils, books, a ruler, colouring pencils, play dough and my favourite toy, a brown teddy. How on earth was I going to carry all this into school and remember what was mine!
“My parents took so many pictures of me that morning that I thought that I would not be able to start school. They kept telling me to smile, and then turn this way and that way; and they brushed my hair on numerous occasions, and kept telling me that they would come back for me at lunchtime, and that I should not worry. I was three years old; I didn’t know what time lunchtime was!!!
“My father drove us to school. As we approached the gates, I could hear screaming and crying. As I looked around, I could see children crying, as well as their parents, but I didn’t feel sad at all, because, as I walked into a small classroom, I could see little chairs and desks and pictures on the wall.
“I remember the teacher saying to my parents, ‘What is your child’s name, and will he cry?’ My mother said, ‘No. His name is Stephen, but we call him Trey at home.’ She said, ‘Hello, Trey! I am Teacher Jenelle.’ Then she said, ‘Please take a seat.’ She then said to my parents, ‘Go now! Quickly! Please go now, before he starts to cry.’
“My parents walked out of the class backwards. They looked so strange walking backwards, and my mother whispered, ‘I will be back.’
“I didn’t cry; I never cried at all. I just felt very comfortable and excited about this whole new experience they called K3.
“I was taught so many things in a short space of time. I loved singing and praying every morning before the start of classes. I loved colouring, although you had to colour inside the lines. Every day, I heard the teacher say, ‘Trey, colour inside the lines; those lines are there for a purpose.’
“There was Maths, English, and ohhhh! penmanship. The letters had to sit on the lines, and sometimes there were so many lines and dashes and dots!
“What I loved the most were the large ticks and ‘well-done’ stars that the teacher would put on my work, and at the end of the week. I took my folder home to my parents, and they looked through every piece of work and encouraged me to improve every week.
“Let’s not forget the homework!
In K4, my teacher was Teacher Helen. The first thing she said was, ‘We are not going to call you Trey; your name is Stephen, and that is what you will be called from now on.’
“Teacher Helen was firmer than Teacher Jenelle. I remember her saying, ‘Stephen, please practise your memory verses.’ And at four years old, I ensured that my parents asked me to repeat my memory verses before dinner, before bedtime, as soon as I woke up… And on the way to school in the car!
“Teacher Helen encouraged me to read my Bible, and to take my time and concentrate on colouring within those dark borders that surrounded all of my pictures. Teacher Helen was always very particular about how we looked, and she always told me to tuck in my shirt into my school pants to look as presentable as possible.
“She said it didn’t matter if the paint or my snacks were stuck to the front of my shirt. ‘Just tuck in that shirt Stephen!’
“On many occasions, I would lose my way to the classroom and wander upstairs. I could see my parents at the gate looking at me, and the teachers saying to them, ‘Leave him; he will find his classroom soon.’
“I really enjoyed my K4 year. I learnt to read as well, and my writing became a little neater.
“In K5, I met Teacher Tracy. As soon as I met her, I was happy. She had the same name as my mother, and somehow I just knew that K5 was going to be one of my best years in the kindergarten section. I had become more confident, and I knew what I had to do to achieve the marks that made everyone smile and say, ‘Well done!’ I wanted to have a book full of ‘Well done!’ and ‘Good job!’ stickers. I am sure all of you here know what I mean. I worked slowly to ensure that I coloured within those borders, and as you will see from my slide, I was so happy when I coloured in the Eskimo with the rainbow perfectly. I earned a ‘GREAT!’ sticker for that!
“At my graduation in 2007, I earned awards for reading and for Bible studies, and I gained a certificate of achievement in penmanship. As you can see from my picture, I held on to the scroll as tightly as I could. I was so proud of myself and my class of 2006! Some of these classmates continued with me throughout the primary division, and we are still the best of friends!
“My present primary performance was helped by my nursery school teaching, because I was taught to let God be my guide; to always listen to instructions; to take my time when completing my work; and to also check over my work. I learnt many priceless lessons, and took on challenges and persevered. All these skills were necessary as I graduated to primary school.
“I remember on many occasions my teachers asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I went from Spaceman to basketball player, to doctor, to lawyer. With those careers, I was always reminded that I could be anything I wanted to be, but that I had to be eager to learn and enthusiastic in everything I did.
“Looking ahead, I felt that I was very well equipped with lifelong skills to take me on to the next part of my educational life.
“I would like to finish by congratulating each and every one of you today. I know that you are feeling as proud as I did almost seven years ago. You are all incredibly special people today, right now, as you sit here in front of us.
“You have all worked very hard to learn more every day; you have played hard; you have made new friends; and you have all tried to be a good friend too.
“Well done! And congratulations to each and every one of you! You can feel very proud of all you have done over the years.
“Time flies by when you are having fun, and my parents always told me that school days really are the best days of your life! To the proud parents, guardians, caregivers, and especially the hardworking teachers at that school, we salute you; for without your guidance, we would not achieve such proud, memorable and happy moments in our lives.
“Just to let you all know that I wrote my ‘Common Entrance’ examination in April of this year. Thanks to God, my parents, my grandmother and my brothers, and, of course, all the teachers at school. I felt so proud when Teacher Donna told me that I had been awarded Queen’s College as my secondary school. Thank You!”
I sat there, overwhelmed with emotion, and when the entire ceremony was over, and we retired to the auditorium for pictures and goodbyes, I experienced joy unspeakable!
More Lead Stories
- Cane Grove Village : --A thriving agricultural commune, with endless economic possibilities
- Medgar Evers ‘undergrad’ pledges to ‘pay it forward’ : --help fellow young Berbicians realize their dream
- Creolese: A language all of its own
- Enmore Martyrs and… : The advancement of the Working Class Struggle in Guyana
- "Gun Hill Road" for Sidewalk Café tonight