Graduation ceremonies are typically a flurry of flash photos, spontaneous celebrations and smiling selfies. But when NorthGate College’s graduating fifth and sixth formers gathered for their annual send-off, it was anything but. The group of about 80 graduands listened intently as Dr Noel Woodroffe, founder and chairman of the college, urged them to look soberly at the crises confronting the world around them, and consider their responsibility as future leaders. “It’s a chaotic time and things are falling apart at an alarming rate. But NorthGate College is a system where young people can be put on a track of development, and have the best opportunity to emerge as leaders in their respective spheres,” he said.
NorthGate College Director Yolande La Pierre outlined the strides taken over the academic year. She cited the school’s achievements in academics, sports, extra-curricular activities and national competitions. Her advice to the graduates put the achievements in context. She reminded them that true success lay within their determination to pursue core values and become the leaders of tomorrow.
Values-based leadership was a recurring theme throughout the ceremony. Barbados-based entrepreneur Richard Mark, in his keynote address, shared from his personal experience in the Caribbean business realm. He admonished the young graduates to focus on character, purpose and social responsibility, not just academic achievement. “The hardest experiences in life offer the greatest opportunity for learning. Therefore, we should not seek to run from difficult circumstances, but always try to draw life-lessons from them,” he said.
The students also had their own pearls of wisdom to share with their peers and with the parents, teachers and well-wishers assembled at the Learning Resource Centre of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine for the graduation ceremony. “Strength is the mental force that allows us to learn from challenges and losses, to stand firm through the process and stay true no matter what,” said Head Girl Rebekka Wooding and Andrew Dookhoo, valedictorians from sixth and fifth form respectively, in their jointly presented Valedictory Address. “We must remember that our strength comes from decisions that comes from principles and values. We will not let go! We will not give up. The world needs us,” they proclaimed.
The evening ended with presentations and special awards to deserving student. The school’s first Director, Cecile Taylor, was present to hand the Cecile Taylor Community Enhancement Award to Justin Edwards and Deborah Thomas. Karl-Johann Bailey received the Chairman’s award for embodying the spirit of the College. Head Girl Rebekka Wooding captured the esteemed NorthGate Award.