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Berkeley students told: ‘Dare to dream big’

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The Berkeley Institute class of 2013 danced till the early hours at Fairmont Southampton last night following a standing-room only graduation ceremony at the New Testament Church of God.

And, for outgoing Principal Michelle Simmons it was the last commencement ceremony, and ball, for her as head of the school. Ms Simmons retired at the end of the school year after 20 years of service.

“It has been a very memorable graduation day,” she said yesterday, “we are pleased that the ceremony went so well, and looking forward to tonight’s very special Graduation Ball, with the cotillion.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing of late about the past 21 graduations, and cotillions, as well as all those students who graduated under my tenure,” said Ms Simmons.

“But of course it’s sad to be leaving, but I’m not really leaving, I’m just stepping away from the principalship, and looking forward to spending more time with my family, travelling and life in general.”

At the graduation ceremony, former student Kamal Worrell, who is now a lawyer, told graduates that whatever it is they aspire to be, their education will give them authority.

“Authority has on the flip side of it a responsibility,” he told them. “Because, with that authority, you will be able to command certain things. You are now becoming leaders among men and women.”

He challenged the graduates to dare to dream big, like the founders of the school, “who set about a manifesto of vision not for themselves 116 years ago”. He noted that 11 men who founded the school dared to establish the school in the 1800s, when Bermuda was a different place.

“If they hadn’t there would have been no Berkeley, there would have been no institution called the Berkeley Institute. You wouldn’t be here today, and this is just one class that’s graduated in all those years.

“We know their names, we have their legacy, we have a school, we have Founder’s Day. All these things stand as a testament to those who dared to think big, and beyond themselves.

“So, class of 2013, you now have been passed the baton, it is now in your hands. You now are coming into a world full of challenges and opportunities.

“It is your vision, your purpose that is going to determine how this world is going to be in the future and what people will say about you 116, 200 years or 300 years from now,” he said.

“The purpose of education, especially higher education, is what needs to be focused upon, not just the mere acquisition of the papers.

“Not the mere acquisition of a job which is going to bring a good remuneration, because while that’s going to benefit you, that’s where it’s going to stop. And the world is filled with more than enough people who are concerned to benefit themselves. Where does that leave the rest of us? What effect does that have on the rest of us?”

He recalled the recent episode and scandal involving Bernard Madoff.

“That is an example of how selfishness, notwithstanding brilliance, but it was selfishness,” he said. “And what happened in the end, it all came to naught and to shame.

“So, if you compare that to the founding fathers of this institution, what they have done, has served as a contribution to the betterment of all.

“I would implore you as you go forward in life, wherever life may take you, whatever opportunities you may follow, whatever challenges come your way; you are being fixed on a solid purpose. A purpose guided by compassion, consideration, community, knowing that it’s the community that has contributed and caused you realise the success that you enjoy today.

“None of us will make it solely on our own and none of you have made it solely on your own. And now because you have been given much, now much will be required of you.”

The vote of thanks was given by Deputy Head Girl D’Kiyah Evans. Whitney Riley, a Prefect was the Valedictorian this year. Other students involved in the ceremony included Sidney Mello, the Head Boy, and Head Girl Tamae Clarke.

Out going Berkeley Instittute Principal Michelle Simmons

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Published June 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 29, 2013 at 8:07 am)

Berkeley students told: ‘Dare to dream big’

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