All five members of the 2020 Graduating Class of the Red Cross’ Centre for the Deaf graduated with Honours from the school Friday (July 24) a feat, school officials called a “smashing success.” The five graduates were: Jevonny Allen (who received the Principal’s Award for recording the highest G.P.A), Wilfrenique Belizaire, Waydesha Lewis, Patrick Pierre and Chinvia Saunders. Allen, Pierre and Saunders also received awards for attaining Honour Roll status during their accumulative High School years (Grades 10-12). The Centre utilizes the same curriculum as any other public high school in The Bahamas.
The group will enroll at the Bahamas Technical Vocational Institute during the next phase of their academic pursuits. Their goals are to become business owners at the conclusion of their studies at B.T.V.I. Minister. of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell said the students’ success was yet another example of the
abilities of the community of persons with disabilities and of the possibilities that can exist when access and inclusion for all is fortified, and when the focus is on a person’s abilities as opposed to any disability with which they may live.
Min. Campbell told the graduates, their teachers and parents, that the Government of The Bahamas remains committed to ensuring access and inclusion for all of its citizens. Access and inclusion was the common message delivered by Minister Campbell and Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, during the Graduation Ceremony held on the school’s campus.
“I want to state the commitment of the Government of The Bahamas to providing access and inclusion for all Bahamians and so when the government speaks about free tuition to U.B, we are speaking to you; when the Government speaks about free tuition to BTVI, we are talking about you (and) when the Government talks about $55Million available for persons who want to become entrepreneurs, we are also talking about you,” Minister Campbell said.
“From the time I took office as the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development (Disability Affairs falls under the remit of the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development), I made it clear that my focus was on the abilities of the community of persons with disabilities as opposed to their disabilities. Our presence here today is evidence of the great things this community of persons can accomplish if society was to focus on their abilities as opposed to their disabilities. I have seen their grades, I have witnessed their perseverance, and so I know that they will do well in their new environment at BTVI,” Minister Campbell added.
Minister Campbell applauded the graduates for their steadfastness and for being “wonderful examples for all.” He also thanked faculty and staff for their efforts in mentoring the graduating class and all of the other students who attend the school. (Twenty-nine students were enrolled at the Red Cross Centre for the Deaf for the past school year.)
“Class of 2020, you are special because you faced your challenges and you went above and beyond. You are special because when it would have been easy to give up, you persevered; you are special because you know that your abilities are stronger and more superior than any disability with which you may live; you are special because this country is relying on you to push the doors open even further for other persons within the community of persons with disabilities. I thank God for you; I thank God for this Institution.” Minister Campbell acknowledged and applauded the parents of the graduates for the roles they played in the students’ success.
“We are here today because this group of parents decided that they would not do what some other parents have done in the past, and continue to do, which is to keep their children who live with a disability at home. These special parents saw in their children, even from infancy, all of their abilities as opposed to any disability. I applaud you for your efforts, for your guidance and support,” Minister Campbell added.