Friday, June 25, 2010


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On Wednesday, June 23, fifteen students graduated from Crooked Tree Village Primary School. Mr. John Gillett II was the guest speaker. Mr. Gillett told the graduates that there are great possibilities for their future, but they must remember to be determined, and study hard in order to excel. Mrs.Verla Jex, Principal, and E. Jahmoor Lopez, Local Manager for Primary Schools also had praise for the graduates and words of wisdom. The Mistress of Ceremonies was Ms. Janine Tillett, and Anna Gillett presented the diploma.
Mr. John Gillett II 

Mr. E. Jahmoor Lopez-Local Manager for Primary Schools
Janine Tillett-Mistress of Ceremonies
Diploma Presentation by AnnaMarie Gillett 
Daniella Lightburn delivered the Valedictory address. The other top students for the 2009-2010 graduating class were Jaaziniah Wade, Jasmine Lauriano and Jessica Gillett.

Nine students received scholarships that will allow them to attend high school. Three of the scholarships were funded through a very generous donation from Mr. John Gillett to Jaaiziniah Wade, Zipphorah Taylor, and Starlee Gillett. Daniella Lightburn was sponsored by the Belize Audubon Society, Micha Flores by Lloyd Allen Scholarship Foundation, Ragee Gillett by Linda Elul, Roshanie Tillett by L & R Imports and a book grant to Jasmine Lauriano from the Belize Audubon. All students were given a BZ$500.00 four year scholarship towards books and tuition. Representatives from the sponsors were on hand to meet the graduates and to present the scholarships.
Valedictorian-Daniella Lightburn
Jessica Gillett- Top Student
Jasmine Lauriano-Top Student
Jaaziniah Wade-Top Student
 The graduation ceremony included tributes to the Class of 2010 in music, songs and dance by the children in each class at the Crooked Tree Village School. Prizes and certificates were awarded to the top ten students in the school.

At the conclusion of the festivities, all the children of Crooked Tree School and their families were treated to cakes and refreshments, provided by parents of Crooked Tree Village.

Two students are awaiting a decision for scholarships from the Belize Social Security and National Sports Council.

If anyone would like to sponsor a child for high school for this year or next year, please contact: 
Verla Jex, Principal
Crooked Tree Village School, Crooked Tree Village, Belize, C.A.

Congratulations to all the graduates!!

Music by the Recorder Team

Address to the Graduating Class of Crooked Tree School by John Gillett II

Mr. E. Jahmoor Lopez (Local Manager for Primary Schools), Mr. George Guest (Chairman Crooked Tree Village Council), other distinguished guests, parents, teachers, family and friends of the graduates, and you the graduates, a very pleasant good morning.

I am honored to speak to you on this very important day. Being here brought back many great memories to me. I see some familiar faces and while some students may have seen me around the village and a few know me personally, for those who do not, I was once a student of this school and also completed my primary school education right here at the Crooked Tree Government School. 

My primary school experience was remarkable and indeed a memorable one.  In those days there were no pre-school and my mother sent me to school at the age of three to the beginner’s class, which normally accepted children from ages 4-5 years old.  Many days the teacher would send me back home because I was too young, but because of crying to go back to school, my mom would send me again and my teacher would just send me back home again. It was a back and forth situation until my teacher realized that he could not keep me away, so he finally decided to accept me in the class.  I stayed in Infant II for only one day and was promoted to Standard I. I can recall doing a problem three times, getting the same answer on all occasions, being lashed on two occasions only to learn that it was correct all the time. 

Maybe that prompted me to be determined and studied hard. I was in Standard VI (middle school) at the tender age of 10, but was too young to sit the Scholarship examination at that time. I had to stay in Standard VI for an additional year, until I was old enough to take the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination and the scholarship examination, of which I passed both.    

Back in those days, much more than it is today, there were hardships for everyone and unless a student was talented enough to pass the scholarship examination, their schooldays would be more or less over, unless they choose to take up the teaching career which was also so limited. To tell you how few opportunities existed, out of a class of 26, only 4 of us passed the scholarship examination and moved on, as our parents could not afford to send us to high school without any assistance. 

For those who did not move on, the other avenues would include taking up the role as a farmer or wait until you reached the age of 18 yrs and join the Belize Police Force, in the case of a male. 

In addition we also had our chores to do at home. For my brother and me, it ranged from getting up in the morning at 5:00 am, milking up to a dozen cows, beating rice and then fetching water for the home. In the evenings it would be shelling corn for the animals, feeding them and cutting firewood, then study.  To top it all off on Saturdays we would have to go to the farm to help my dad, and then church on Sundays before we could call it a week. It was tough but if I had to live life all over again I would not want to change my past.  It has taught me to trust in God, lean on his divine love and appreciate his guidance through our parents, teachers and fellow brothers and sisters of this community.
The memories of this school are not limited to studying alone but we also had fun, and great fun I must add. From playing cricket, football, track and field, top, marbles and of course the excitements of Friday evenings fights - when someone did you wrong in the week and a bout was set for Friday evenings. Taking the school teams on trips were events to look forward to, as we traveled to places like Lemonal and Rancho Dolores in a boat and barge for hours. When this school had to go to the Rogers Stadium and defend its title in the Primary School Softball competition, in those days it would take three days and requires much preparation. Today, we can return home on the same day.  

I personally want to applaud the principal, teachers and students for bringing back the honors to the Crooked Tree Government School and to the village. You need to be applauded and be recognized for the outstanding accomplishments.

Let us take a moment to congratulate our students - You have made us all proud of you. 
Now let us look to the future of the 2010 Graduating Class of the Crooked Tree Government School as you embrace the way forward. This institution has prepared you firmly to face the many challenges that will certainly come your way. Similarly as in the construction of a house, a proper foundation is needed. I know that this school has prepared a solid foundation beneath you; a foundation where you can emphatically and impartially embrace your future and make our nation proud of the men and women you will become tomorrow.  

This is evident by the encouraging results this school has been achieving in the PSE over the last few years. From the very disappointing result of 13% pass-rate back in 1998 to the exceptional performance of 100% passes in three consecutive years in 2005/6/7 and now again in 2010 speaks significantly for the high standard of education that this institution offers. This school ranked 7th in the Belize District out of 65 schools and 17th out of the 282 schools countrywide, with 92% being the highest PSE result in the village.

Again, we must applaud the principal and teachers of this school that made it possible, with the cooperation of you the parents and by all means the students. 

Many people in prestigious positions of this country today share the same values of quality primary education right here at this school. Many years from now I know some of you will continue to make this school a shining example in Belize by holding key positions and contributing significantly to our nation’s continuous growth and development. 

As you sit in front of me today, I know what many of you are thinking about at the moment: There are those who are already pondering about what high school life will be like; those who are debating which high school must they attend or if they made the right choice; some simply want to get out of here, but let’s not make haste; the future depends on what you do in the present. 

As a little boy right here in this school, we had to memorize many things, and one of the things that I learn here and continue to be guided by it in my life and I quote:
There are four things that cannot come back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past life and the neglected opportunities. 

If I may just comment on each a little, when you say something, be careful of what you say, who you say it to and often remember to ask yourself the question, “is what I am saying fair or in my best interest?” Whatever you have said cannot be unsaid and some people may distort what you have said and may place you in an uncomfortable position.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak and this will take you a long way in life. 

Secondly, when you do something, think before you do it; examine the positives and the negatives, the consequences before doing what you set out to do. If what you do hits the target you may rejoice, if it does not it could come back to haunt you and others for the rest of your lives. Be careful! Use the golden rule: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. 

Thirdly, we only have one life to live, so live it in a way that is productive, exemplifying one without limits and one without regrets. None of us here knows the length of our days that we will live, but at the end of our days aim to be able to prove that you have fought a good fight, you have finished the course and you have kept the faith as you await your crown of righteousness that is laid up for you. 

Fourthly and so very importantly are the neglected opportunities. Today you are at that point in your lives where you have so many opportunities. If you neglect the opportunities today most likely they will not come back, but the consequences of such neglected opportunities may come back to haunt you. You are at that point in your lives when some of you may be inclined to have your own way, heeding very little advice from others. Don’t do that, listen to the sound advises, analyze them and make the best decision for yourself. Life is not a sprint but a period that can be a long journey for many of us and we all need guidance and opportunities in our lives. For some it may come in one form while for others in many different ways.
Accomplishing an education prepares and guides us towards a successful life. In our society today, it’s not easy, but you can make a difference by the choices you make. I am aware of what you are going through today as I was once a student. I too experienced the hardships that come with getting a good education. A good education aims at nurturing the mind, fostering individuality and developing one’s personality. It is the result of many elements that when combined, produce an individual who is ready to take on the world, and not just to exist within it. It takes hard work and determination to accomplish certain goals in life. Keep in mind that great things in life are not easily achieved, and it may take many sleepless nights in order to achieve life’s fruitful goals.

The society today demands productivity from everyone; as the young people of the nation, you are the future of this beautiful country of ours. With that in mind, I would like to say that the future is now for each and every one of you.  Now is the time that you as students can contribute to the society by doing your best in whatever endeavors you choose.  All you have to do is to set your minds towards what you want to accomplish, remain focus, work hard for it and I am 100% positive that you will succeed.  I therefore encourage you to make use of, and cherish every moment in whatever field you choose. All of you have different gifts and you need to identify your gifts in this life and build your world around it. Do not think that all of you have to be academically educated. Education is getting to know thoroughly the field that you so chose to venture into, whether it is being a Farmer, a Musician, a Teacher, a Politician ,a Banker, a Manager, a Doctor or whichever field. Never think that all of you have to take on the same career in this life, but whatever career you choose, do it to the very best that you can.

Just the same way our body is comprised of many parts, life must consist of many players to meet our everyday needs in order to have a sustainable world. 

Employers are now very fortunate in that they can select from among trained people, whereby the amount of training required in getting new employees up to the required standard is minimal. Trained employees learn much faster, they are usually disciplined, and they will climb up the corporate ladder faster than those who are not trained. As a matter of fact, employers are rarely hiring anyone with just a primary school education or even if they do, you have to be content with the very basic or laboring jobs. I would like to stress here that those employers, although looking for qualified people to hire; also require people with the right attitude towards work and the organization. In my experience I have seen people with very good qualifications and skills but their attitude prevents them from advancing in the corporation. They then get frustrated, blame everyone except themselves, and eventually find themselves out of the organization. We need to develop positive attitudes, equally as getting a good education. The older folks use to say that manners and respect for others get you through this life, take their advice.  Strive to be punctual and aim to reduce absenteeism to the very minimum when you enter the workforce and be productive as employers are continually ensuring that these characteristics are visible and maintained by workers.

As students, employees or entrepreneurs and even in your personal life, you will face certain challenges as we all do, but remember your hard work will pay off in the end. I encourage you to perform to the best of your abilities not just to get a good education, but to accomplish feats that let you learn new things daily. I stress that whatever you learn and how you utilize that knowledge will be crucial in determining how you embrace and receive what the future holds for you. It might take a while for you to stand up on your feet, after you have completed your formal education and have entered the workforce, but don’t give up because there are always opportunities that await you. Be patient and always have faith in yourself because while there is a will, there will be a way.

It is phenomenal to see such bright students and success in this institution.  Don’t let this chance pass you by; you have the opportunity to take full advantage of it.  

Get a quality education and let it teach you the values and morals of being a role model in our society.  In getting such an education, never forget that we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us, but we need to trust in him with all our heart and lean not on our own understandings, and in all our ways acknowledge him and he shall direct our paths. 

In closing, you’ll never know what a great difference a little encouragement can do for a person and today I encourage you to make maximum use of the foundation that the Crooked Tree Government School has laid for you.  You will make your institution, your teachers and parents proud who have sacrificed so much for you and most importantly - your future secure. 

The sky is the limit, reach for it, always keep on striving for excellence and enjoy your graduation day. 

Thank you,  John Gillett II

Photos by Becky Crawford and Winnie Gillett


Arlette said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for sharing this wonderful event with us. I am glad to hear that all the kids did so well in their entrance exams. Big up Crooked Treeans. I am so proud of u all. This is only the beginning for you guys. Keep up the good work and great things will happen. You must all bear in mind that education is the key to your future. Congrats again kiddos!!!!!

Arlette and Aaliyah

Cherry Cadle said...

As I was reading the main address by Mr. John Gillett, I coouldn't help to think how much he is speaking to so many of us. The numerous advice that he has given to the graduates can so easily work for so many people. Yes this might be a long speech but in my opinion, it was definitely worth the read. It is never too old to learn and for so many of us that came to this country in search of a better life, missed the opportunity of educating ourselves and spent so much time not pursuing our life purposes. Congratulations to the graduates and I hope you were listening and take full advantage of all the opportunities that may come your way.

Julia Crawford-Middleton said...

Congratulations to all the graduates and hoping they continue to pursue their education.

Lisa Gillett Duncan said...

I am so-o proud of my Primary School. Congrats, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

Tessa Westby said...

Thank You Linda,I am so proud of Our Children.This was a pleasure to read.

Aretha Tillett said...

Wow..this is wonderful to see..congrats to all the beautiful children..they are our future.

Pamela Bucknor said...

Linda, the kids did so great! We should all be very proud of them. Thanks for keeping us informed and up to date on everything that's going on.