Berkeley students graduate after ‘roller-coaster year’
The Berkeley Institute’s 139 students of the graduating class of 2021 celebrated their commencement yesterday in the wake of a gruelling and “unprecedented” pandemic year.
Keisha Douglas, the school principal, welcomed parents, faculty and students to the National Sports Centre in Devonshire – telling graduates: “These past 15 months have been a roller-coaster.”
She added: “Your senior year was nothing like we expected or imagined.
“However you have risen above it all, and because of the hard work and dedication of every single graduate here today, we are now here at this moment.”
Noting that students had to adapt swiftly to the pandemic, Ms Douglas told them: “The class of 2021 has faced many trials, and we will never truly know the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its correlation to our students’ ultimate success.
“Notwithstanding this, our graduates remained resilient.
“They adapted to the restrictions and overcame the challenges of being senior students during a pandemic.
“For every single one of you who walks across this stage today, enjoy the moment. Because on this day, you all have earned it, something that no matter what happens next, nobody can ever take away from you.”
She added: “I often say, Covid has actually been a blessing and a curse.
“The blessing comes from doing things differently, anew, for the first time and actually creating new and in some cases better traditions.
“Above all, class of 2021, you have made history. You lived and worked through a global pandemic which in most cases will not happen for another 100-plus years.”
⋅ For more pictures of the ceremony, click here.
Zayne Sinclair, the deputy head boy, wished fellow students “all success and happiness”.
Egypt Cann, prefect, told the gathering: “I stand poised on the threshold of tomorrow.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance. It’s a matter of choice.”
Gabrielle Romaine, the deputy head girl and valedictorian, said: “While we could not experience senior year the traditional way, I am happy we made the most of our last high school moment together.”
Andreaz Glasgow, the head boy, introduced the guest speaker, alumna Dominique Richardson, a senior underwriter at the insurance firm Markel Bermuda.
“You guys did it – you made it. Period,” Ms Richardson told them.
“Let that sink in for a moment and think about that past year, and how you made it onto this stage, in arguably the most disruptive and challenging times we have seen.”
She added: “I know it was not easy, but I also know it was not by accident.”
The ceremony heard that 40 graduates have been accepted at colleges and universities abroad.
A further 26 plan on attending Bermuda College, and ten are joining the workforce.
Seven graduated last month from Bermuda College with Associate Degrees: Ms Romaine with distinction; Ethan Figureido, Ms Cann and Owenea Roberts with merit, and Raina deFontes, Andrew Cheeseman, and Armari Maybury.
A further five graduated from Bermuda College with Applied Technology Certificates: Kaelin Paynter, Nasyde Guerrero, Aiden Lopes, Keyahjae Simons and Te’juan Phillips.
Three students have graduated with Nursing Assistant Certifications: Carla Encarnacion De Leon, Britney Outerbridge and Mya Peets.
Seven others will complete their certifications over the summer: Se-Lah Bean, Aaliyah Benjamin, Tyzayah DeSilva, Mya Furbert-Jacobs, Azaria Richardson, Kimora Rubaine and Aaliyah Strachan.
Eleven graduated with a collective $3,500 Berkeley Panther Pride Award scholarship funds, and 22 students received scholarships and awards at the school’s fourth annual scholarships and award ceremony over the weekend, totalling $60,000.
The school’s first cohort of students with autism also celebrated their graduations.