32 students graduate from All Children Education School

POSTED: 07/5/13 11:55 AM
StudentsSome of the graduates of the All Children Education School. 

St. Maarten – Thirty two pupils graduated from All Children’s Education (Ace) Foundation during an inspirational ceremony themed: “Sowing the good seeds to empower change” on Sunday.

The graduates included a number of pupils who had sat and passed the first ever Foundation Based Education (FBE) exist examinations and a number of pupils who sat the placement exams at St. Maarten Academy. Cherry-Ann Thomas was named valedictorian for topping the graduating batch. She will continue her studies at St. Maarten Academy’s Academic section.

Additionally, some 14 youngsters also said goodbye to their preschool and kindergarten years.

Alluding to the theme of the graduation ceremony Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Patricia Lourens likened pupils to a seed that is planted that needs to be continually watered to grow and blossom in their education journey. She told students that this is just the beginning of their journey in education and reminded parents that they need to continue to nurture their children – the seeds – so that they can blossom and grow.

The minister also encouraged the graduates and gave them some positive advice to use along their educational journey.

Ace Director Claire Elshot spoke about Ace’s history, its journey educating pupils throughout the years and about the Basic Philosophy of Tzu Chi Education and its vision which she said are to promote four noble characters: Compassion, Mercy, Joy and Unconditional Giving; to provide academic education, humanitarian principles and character building simultaneously in the learning process; to cultivate in scholarly education and morality based on humanism culture so that the students become professionals who possess compassion and noble character among other things.

Keynote address speaker Glenny Santos, a former Ace pupil, spoke about how she benefitted from attending the school when she first came to St. Maarten and spoke no English. She said the groundings she received at Ace sustained her during her years as an hour roll student at St. Maarten Academy’s Academic section. She said however, that she did so well in her initial years at Academy that she laid back and faltered in her third year. She however, got back on track and is now back on the honor roll among the top ten students in her class. She urged graduates not to follow negative friends as they will not be beneficial to them. Only follow positive friends, she advised the batch of Ace graduates. She urged them to take their studies and education seriously as they continue their learning process.

Another inspirational story was shared by Penka Petkova, a Bulgarian native, whose daughter, was accepted at Ace school when no other school would accept her when compulsory education was not yet introduced in St. Maarten. Petkova said her daughter received a solid education at Ace and is now doing well thanks to Ace opening the doors of education to her. Petkova said she and her daughter are grateful to Ace and its Director Claire Elshot. Compulsory education was eventually introduced in August 2009.

Valedictorian Cherry-Ann Thomas also delivered an address on behalf of the graduating class.

The graduation ceremony, which was held at Tzu Chi Foundation’s office, started with parents accompanying their children on stage and putting on their graduation caps and the pupils in turn presenting their parents with flowers. This involvement of parents in the graduation ceremony is intended to strengthen the bond between parent and child and to reward both parties for supporting each other during the child’s education.

The curtains closed on the ceremony with teachers and volunteers accompanying pupils on stage and turning the tassel on their graduation caps to signal that they had graduated.

Special graduation photographs were also taken of pupils and presented to them at the end of the ceremony along with gift packages compliments of Tzu Chi.

The graduation ceremony was made possible thanks to the assistance of 35 Tzu Chi volunteers who turned out to assist in various aspects of the graduation. The volunteers were happy to help sow seeds of love during the ceremony. Tzu Chi Foundation, which is assisting Ace in its education mission as well as Ace thanked Education Minister Patricia Lourens for taking time out of her busy schedule to attend the graduation and for offering encouraging words to graduates.

Ace and Tzu Chi also thanked all the parents and volunteers who attended the event and congratulated all pupils as they continue their education journey.


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