Seventh-day Adventist School St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School Graduates 17

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ST. CROIX-Seventeen students were lauded for successfully completing their high school careers at the St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School's 38th annual commencement ceremony held Sunday at St. Croix Educational Complex.

Leading the class was 16-year-old valedictorian Amelle Williams, who said the path to her achievement started with God.

"He is the one that gives me the motivation and the drive to accomplish whatever I need to," she said. "I could never have succeeded in life or gotten to this point … without Him."

In addition to her faith, the scholarly teen credited her study habits, which she describes as "unconventional," to helping her reach this milestone.

"I learned my times table by jumping rope, come up with mnemonic devices for tests and exams, and create pictures of the material in my head," she explained.

But for Williams, who is the youngest among her classmates, success did not come without struggle.

"At the beginning of my high school career, my age seemed to be a hardship," she said. "At first, I felt a need to prove myself. However, I soon realized … the only thing that was truly important was how I felt about myself. That attitude change made my age an asset instead of a liability."

In his salutatory address to the packed auditorium, Shaquan Lewis, 17, praised his peers for "staying the course" through the challenges of their senior year. On any given school night, Lewis could be found studying in a quiet place at home and using the Internet for research. He pointed out that his study routine comprised a three-step process.

"My method is read, write and remember," he said.

Commencement speaker Pastor Clive Dottin of Trinidad challenged the graduates to never forget their humble beginnings while reaching for their goals.

"If you have a will and you strive for excellence, you will be successful," Dottin said.

Both Williams and Lewis said family members provided them with the inspiration they needed to succeed.

"My mother has been my biggest inspiration," Williams said. "She is a very busy woman and still makes time to push me to do the best that I can."

Lewis added, "My big sister, Shamona Lewis, has inspired me throughout my high school career. She has taught me that humility and respect are two main ingredients that will take a person far in life."

Speaking on his behalf and that of his wife, Anne, Pastor Ammaran Williams said of his daughter's accomplishments, "Amelle … has an innate desire to excel and we have seen that from her attitude. But the greatest quality that I believe our daughter has is with all that she has accomplished, she remains grounded and humble, and that is what we are most proud of."

"I am very happy for my son. I am proud of him. It was a job well done," said Myra Tonge, Lewis' mother.

This fall, both Williams and Lewis will attend the University of the Virgin Islands on full scholarships. Williams will study biology and Lewis will major in accounting.

Valedictorian: Amelle Williams

Salutatorian: Shaquan Lewis

Number of Graduates: 17

Number of Graduates going to College: 14

Number of Graduates going to the workforce: 1

Number of Graduates going to the military: 1

Number of Graduates undecided: 1

Institutions attending: Andrews University, Florida Memorial University, Southern Caribbean University and University of the Virgin Islands.

Military branch joining: United States Army

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