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HILLEL ACADEMY'S FIRST IB GRADUATION

July 8, 2010

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The first IB Graduation was held at Hillel on June 3, 2010. Master of Ceremonies
Diane Chambers led the event. Music was provided by Mr. Paul Bennett.
The Guest Speaker
was the Hon. Ronnie Thwaites. The valedictory address was given by Ms. Viva Levee.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE IB STUDENTS WHO ACHIEVED GLOWING EXAMINATION RESULTS!!!


VALEDICTORY SPEECH

Chairman of the Board - Mr. Joseph Matalon and Mrs. Matalon, other Board members present, Honorary Trustee Dr.Marilyn Delavante, the Director - Mrs. Margaret Bleyberg, High School Principal- Mr. Alfredo Bennett, Prep. School Principal- Mrs. Carolyn Lee, our Guest speaker Reverand Ronald Thwaites, members of Staff, Parents, Fellow graduates.... I am truly honoured and grateful to be able to stand here to address you this evening - as a representative of an admirable group of pioneers embarking on a wonderful journey to further explore and to experience what lies ahead. As with every journey, one pursues a quest in order to reach some goal, all the while receiving some form of enlightenment and undoubtedly encountering adversities to test one's true mettle... to test one's physical and mental fortitude. But at the end of the process, one reflects and comes to the conclusion that it really was ALL worth it. These 2 years have been quite a journey. We started off as true pioneers, as the great brave explorers who had the courage to take the risk of doing the IB for the first time ever in Hillel, and moreover in Jamaica. As pioneers we held a great deal of responsibility from the start- people had confidence in us and in our ability to achieve success. As pioneers, we paved the way for others and we set the stage very high. We will go down in history as being the "first to tackle and to conquer the IB". What then, has been our journey ?....Our journey has been long, tedious and tiresome at times, for all of us. There were some low points when we felt like there was no possible way that we could continue. There were those days when we questioned ourselves, our teachers, our parents, and the programme itself..... When the questions at the back of our mind were "is it worth it??" and "what have I gotten myself into??". We could not answer these questions at the time- but now, and later on in our life as we reflect on the journey of these 2 years we come to realize that it was in fact worth it and extremely beneficial to our development as adults. As our journey evolved, so too did the multiplicity of our deadlines and the fact that we had to learn IB's own abbreviated language... how could we forget those unforgettable, unending, unforgiving deadlines -- when the IAs, EEs, IOPs, IOCs and TOK presentations were ALL due, and on top of that ....there were upcoming mock exams). There were also some breakdowns, some of which I take responsibility for some)- after spending nearly 12 hours on my TOK essay and having to re write it YET again, I wanted to quit IB for good and could not hold in the tears. But... we got through it somehow and amidst the chaos there was joy, laughter, and unforgettable memories and friendships being forged each day. We certainly shared many experiences, both good and bad. During the course of these 2 gruelling years we have all grown and matured and we have learnt vital lessons every step of the way that we will hold close in our hearts for life. We learnt a wide range of concepts, from learning statistics and calculus in math class to learning about all the intricate details of seemingly every war known to man in history. We not only learnt knowledge in the classroom, but also vital skills that will help us to cope in the future as we venture into adulthood. We learnt how to manage our time well, how to be well rounded, how to give our time to others and to be more charitable and philanthropic. We developed close, memorable relationships with our teachers (including hours of extra classes and copious emails), who guided us every step of the way. They instilled many values into us whilst also managing to bring us a lot of happiness and laughs during classes. We learnt how to take responsibility for our actions and to have the perseverance to achieve our goals and give something our all. These values will remain with us for our lifetimes and greatly aid us in our prosperous futures. We learnt how to use our minds to empower ourselves and others. And though our journey took us on the same path, our individual destinations differed, for we were charting our own courses- perhaps to convene at a later date or possibly never crossing lines again, but we have all gained a better understanding of ourselves, and by extension, the value of each, unique individual. As we reach the end of this journey in our life, we have reached a major milestone. We have finished high school and must now face adulthood head on. As we reach the end of one journey, we are at the beginning of another. The beginning of this new journey is marked by a fork in the road. We all are forced to make major decisions that will determine our special and unique destinies. Should I continue with school or stop here? What career should I pursue? Which college do I choose to attend? However, all these decisions come down to the fundamental question of "Who will I be???" In other words I have look at what I believe, in order to find out who I will become. Answering this question is crucial because, what I will be, is the foundation upon which I will build myself as I continue to grow. But is the milestone at the end the most important part of the journey or is it the actual duration of the journey? I think it is a combination of both- so it is very important that we reflect on how we got here and the ups and downs that we all went through that made us develop as young adults and moulded us into what we are today. So let us look into ourselves and ask ourselves -- how did we really change in these 2 years? When I look at myself, I see an over worked person who lost her social life. But.....underneath the worn out exterior I see a girl with dedication, tenacity and determination. I see a girl who has learnt what it means to work hard and to manage her time well. I have learnt so much and I know that I have lived up to my name as an "IB pioneer". I have come to embrace the notion according to Norman Vincent Peale, that if you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there... then never, never, never give up ! To the class of 2010, my fellow classmates and my friends- I implore you all to recognize your capabilities, foster your talents to their fullest potential and reap your deserved success in any of your endeavours. I urge you to fully understand and appreciate the power of education and its ability to facilitate achievement in every aspect of life. As said by Nelson Mandela, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' Become true pioneers by being a cause for the future you create, rather than a mere result of the past. Use everything you have learnt during these 2 years and during the course of your lives to guide you on your path into adulthood. May this journey's end bring with it the beginning of a new one- with even more prospects and opportunities to succeed. You hold the key to your destiny and you are the masters of your own fates. You have the power to make a difference in this country and in the world. Exert this power and take action today. Show the world your inner strength and embrace whole-heartedly the triumphs that you will face in your future. In the simple but loaded words of the wise Dr. Seuss. Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. 

Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So.... get on your way.
Thank you and good evening.

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