An emotional graduation ceremony at the BHS
July 6, 2007
An emotional graduation ceremony at the BHS

The Kleenex tissue box passed around as tears flowed at the Bethel High School graduation ceremony last Tuesday. But it wasn’t because the students were leaving their Alma Mater, but because valedictorian Bertram Edwards humbly apologized to his teachers for the disrespect he showed them while he attended school.

The inspirational ceremony, which took place at the Campden Park Apostolic Faith Church was the perfect example of how teachers who never give up on unruly students could help them change their lives for the better.{{more}}

Edwards thanked teachers David Arthur and Miriam Pompey, but in particular Principal Sylvia Findlay for never giving up on him although he disrupted lessons, used obscene language, skipped classes and defied the school’s dress code. The once delinquent now turned valedictorian, broke down as he described his head teacher as a “woman of class”, who would remain calm under pressure, was of outstanding character and nobility” and was a female who “could one day run the country.”

The principal, who was overwhelmed by the expression of gratitude however admitted that guiding the students was a challenge because there were many students, parents and even members of the public who would try to frustrate her efforts. Findlay however admitted that she was viewed as evil because of her proactive disciplinary approach but said that she would remain undaunted because it was crucial to create a harmonious learning environment.

Wearing a Bethel High School neck tie that was given to him years ago when the school, which was once privately owned, shifted into government management, was former Education Minister John Horne. The persuasive speaker, who used many popular youthful expressions to encourage the students, advised them to “check themselves before they wrecked themselves”, and to refrain from the “live fast die young” syndrome.

Horne pointed out that many students instead of developing themselves honestly desired the huge palaces and fancy cars that people involved in illegal activities possessed, but warned that there were risks associated with such lifestyles such as kidnappings, gang wars, ransom and protection money that had to be allocated.

He cautioned, “You do not want to be caught in the war or in the cross fire and end up a pretty teenage corpse in a sparkling casket. You have the capacity for greater heights and the success of your efforts depends on you.

Of the 92 students who graduated from the Bethel High School, several special awards were given for outstanding performances.

Founder of the Bethel High School Cornelius Anderson, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, was honoured with a plaque which was received by his wife.