So, I finally made it into a church for something besides a funeral. On Friday, June 27th, I attended the New Testament Church of God for the graduation ceremony for the Berkeley Institute’s Class of 2014.
Such was the turnout that it almost seemed as if it were the Pearly Gates themselves that the masses were attempting to enter.
Between students, faculty, friends and family, there were easily over 1,000 persons in attendance.
The service started off with a prayer and then singing the Negro National Anthem of Lift Every Voice and Sing.
The MC of the day was none other than Deputy Principal Mr Quincy Paynter, who clearly has become the Robert Horton of the new Berkeley; disciplinarian, educator, life coach, mentor, and father figure to hundreds.
The keynote speakers were twins Nadir and Nasir Wade of the Somerset Wade clan. Their theme was taken from a song by Drake, “You weren’t with me shooting in the gym”, during which they spoke of setting goals and putting in the time, effort and diligence to achieve those goals. Then came the certificates. For what seemed like an eternity, 115 students walked to the stage to receive their just rewards, cheered on by excited family members, faculty, and fellow graduates.
Following that was the announcement of scholarships and award recipients.
To be truthful, I lost count of how many awards were given out. I was more grateful to see the amount of organizations that are contributing to the further education of Bermudian students.
The amount of the scholarships and awards had to have totalled near $100,000.
Green and Gold we will ever uphold
The programme closed with the singing of the school song. This is where the true Berkeleyite spirit comes to fruition and house rivalries come to a head.
For over 100 years, each house attempts to out sing the other during certain parts of the song.
So, between the graduates, the faculty, and the Berkeleyites in the audience, it seems Gold House, as usual, won that battle.
I write all this not solely in the context as a Berkeleyite or someone who merely attended a graduation. I write this as a proud father who witnessed his son walk down the aisle and collect his diploma.
Many nights I wondered if he would see this day and achieve this milestone in his life.
Focusing on males
For most young men, including myself, high school seems, at times, an inconvenient disruption of our teenage years.
We fool around, literally and figuratively, and get failing grades quicker than we collect speeding tickets.
Then, somewhere during the last year of high school, we realize we better buck up or the school will buck us up.
My son Joshua seems to follow me in those footsteps, in more ways than one, and really put in the effort to graduate this year.
Between tutoring at Oxford Learning Centre and forsaking football practice to finish an assignment, he has shown that with proper focus, and support, anyone can achieve their goals.
My overriding message today is that we all need to give our children, especially the males, the support and guidance they need to get them through every challenge facing them.
Today, it is primary school. Tomorrow it is middle school, high school, university, job-seeking, then life itself.
Each graduation is a graduation for us as parents as well.
To my fellow Berkeleyites: “oft as we can we’ll go back again”. Let us always support our school, the students and faculty, however we can.
To my son Joshua...I am so proud of you. To the Class of 2014: respice finem — especially Gold House.