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Mentoring graduates urged to set goals and make sacrifices

The first set of all-male student graduates from Sandys Secondary Middle School selected to participate in a three-year Male Mentoring Programme were honoured yesterday.

At a special ‘Closing out Ceremony’ the 38 teenaged boys were urged to set goals, make sacrifices and to stay away from the thug appeal of gang life.

The Male Mentoring Programme is a joint school venture with Sandys 360 that adopted the students in their first year.

The purpose was to encourage them “to look outside of themselves to the future, as college students, graduates, and future successful men”.

The ceremony was led by Sandys 360 Education Officer Beverley Daniels. Motivational speaker Mychal Wynn, who assisted with the overall development of the programme, was the first speaker.

The noted US author challenged the young men to rise to the level of their responsibilities as men. He also challenged parents to raise their level of expectations.

“You have had three years of interacting with people who care about you,” he said. “To the parents, sometimes what happens is we don’t have high enough expectations and demands on our young people.

“It’s not their fault, that’s our fault. It’s our fault if we don’t demand that our young people return the us the support from what we give to them,” he said.

“No matter where you go from here, you have had three years to bind you together. This programme has given you a foundation. There is a debt that all of us owe to the people whose shoulders we stand on.”

He asked the young men to stand up to acknowledge their teachers, parents and all those who have been instrumental in their success.

“If you know that there have been times when you could’ve failed if you didn’t have if you didn’t have someone to lean on say their name,” he said. “If you know that you would not be where you are today without someone, if you are committed to being successful no matter what your friends or relatives do say your name.

“Before you leave here today it’s important for you to understand that you did not get here by yourself.”

Former principal Dr Melvyn Bassett said the programme was all about “trying to make a difference in the lives of the 38 boys selected three years ago”.

He reminded the audience that the decision to mentor boys only was challenged and labelled unfair in the initial stages.

“We’re trying to make sure the young ladies, or whoever these young men choose to marry, become good husbands, good leaders in the community, leaders for the country. The people who will have to make a difference are sitting right here in this assembly — particularly our young men,” said Dr Bassett.

He commended Lancashire Insurance for sponsoring the programme not just with funding but with the employees who volunteered as mentors.

“The students met accountants, actuaries, managers and a host of professionals,” he said.

The company also covered the costs for the entire group to travel to Atlanta to visit colleges last year.

He also acknowledged principal Dr Timothy Jackson for his “unstinting support” given “without hesitation” over the past three years.

Pastor Kenneth Manders, a former student, gave the keynote address.

Jokingly, he said: “I don’t remember graduating from Sandys. I think they just excused me and allowed me to leave.” And he admitted that he decided to do illegal trading as a teenager.

“I figured that if they could sell alcohol, which killed my grandfather, which is legal, then I could do something that was not so legal. That was my rationale. I was into a rebellious mode like many young men.”

With those days behind him he was grateful that he was “able to fly under the radar”. “I never got caught by the police who used to chase me with the ganja. Now I chase them with the gospel,” he said. “When you understand your purpose in life it gets you back on track.”

As a pastor he said he has buried 11 young black men who lost their lives to gang violence.

“I’ve sat with the grieving families, and some of the families are related and connected. My plea to this generation is that you will not go in that direction.

“You were created for a higher purpose, you may be irritated by the negative behaviour around you but you don’t have to be in that mix; you don’t have to go that way.

“Some of my friends cannot get out of this Island, some are buried, some of them are in jail. They’re not the tough guys they used to be on the streets in jail. They are weeping people who wish that they had another chance.

“You’ve got to break that. You have relatives all over this Island and it’s foolish that in 21 square miles you can’t leave a parish.”

And he recounted the Bible story of Joseph who lost his coat but not his character. “Character is what really matters in the end, identify your goals, make the sacrifice and the effort, maintain direction and you will meet your goal.”

Graduates from the male mentoring programme a joint project by the Sandys 360 Center and Sandys Middle School. The aim of the project was to encourage young men to look outside themselves to the future.
Where they go from here

The majority of the 38 young men graduating who completed the three-year mentoring programme at Sandy Secondary Middle School will move on to CedarBridge Academy and Berkeley Institute.

Others expressed plans to pursue higher learning abroad in the new school year and future career plans ranged from becoming qualified actuaries, restaurant owners to marine biologists.

Students were asked to address the audience to discuss their personal goals and plans for the future and thank their parents and teachers for their help and support along the way.

A selection of young men made presentations to the audience of fellow students, parents and grandparents. Some were shy while others had no problem expressing their goals and future plans.

Presentations were made by Kyle Packwood who introduced the keynote speaker, and Solomon Thomas who was asked to thank the speaker.

Other students who addressed the audience included Tahzeiko Harris, Jomari Gooden, Najeé Lambert, Niekwan Christopher-Smith, Dzahari Tucker, Isaiah Todd, Alizay Furbert, Nathan Rego, Jade Morrissey, Evan Heyliger, Jean-Pierre Lucas, Tariq Thomas and Nathaniel Fubler.

Jomari Gooden said he plans to become a smart phone app designer. He thanked his friends, siblings, parents and teachers for all their support. Najeé Lambert will be going abroad to attend school in the UK in September.

Nathan Rego is bound for CedarBridge with plans to become a marine biologist. Evan Heyliger told the audience that he plans to own his own gym in Bermuda and in the US once he graduates from CedarBridge. Nathaniel Fubler has plans to become an actuary.

For more information on this programme, persons can contact Dr Melvyn Bassett at Sandys 360 Centre, or visit the website www.sandys360.bm.

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Published June 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 21, 2013 at 12:26 am)

Mentoring graduates urged to set goals and make sacrifices

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