Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School graduates 25


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ST. THOMAS - Family and friends filled the house at the 63rd annual Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School commencement ceremony Thursday night at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.

Amid cheers and applause, each student was individually introduced in a heartwarming video presentation with best wishes from their family at the beginning of the ceremony. And, Gov. John deJongh Jr., one of the opening speakers, wished them well for a bright future.

Principal Samuel Belmar expressed pride in the accomplishments of the class of 2014, which boasts 15 honor students out of 25 and was offered more than $1 million in scholarships.

"The future of this island lives in the schoolbags of the children," he said. "This class did extremely well academically. I want them to go out there and be the light of the world and salt of the earth, and exercise what they have learned."

Commencement speaker Austin Callwood, an alumnus of the class of 1974, sees quite a difference between students in his graduating class and the ones of today.

"The kids seem a lot more vocal than I remember, and they are energetic and purposeful," he said. "I'm hoping to see a lot of good things from them in the very near future. This is a critical transition point for them. They need to be envisioning now what that future needs to be."

Valedictorian Rodney Querrard Jr., who will attend the University of the Virgin Islands to study mechanical or computer engineering, feels his class was a particularly close group. Many of them are "lifers," having attended Ss. Peter and Paul since pre-kindergarten.

"My class is very interesting and keeps everything funny and lively," he said. "We're like a family. We need to keep in touch. Once we leave, we'll start a new life, but we should always remember where we came from."

Salutatorian Maribel Okiye plans to attend the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a concentration on international studies and foreign languages.

"My ultimate goal is to become an ambassador and learn 30 languages by the time I'm 30," she said. "I have two down, so I'm almost there."

Both Querrard and Okiye found challenges and fond memories in their senior year. The best memory for Okiye was a recent one, Sunday's baccalaureate service, when the valedictorian and salutatorian were announced.

Both agree that procrastination was the major hurdle.

"With all the different occasions happening, it was a little hard to keep up," Querrard said.

To future graduates, he advised, "No procrastination. Keep focused, even though sometimes that's really hard."

Querrard's mother, Cathy Querrard, also offered wise advice for the future.

"Keep your heads on and keep positive," she said. "The road is rough and it's hard ahead, but as long as you keep your faith and values, you'll get along."

Okiye foresees success and happiness for the graduating class of 2014.

"I know they'll be successful and they have what it takes to go far," she said.Number of students graduating: 25

Number of graduates going to college: 25

Number of students going to work: 0

Number of students going into the military: 0

Valedictorian: Rodney Querrard Jr.

Salutatorian: Maribel Okiye

Colleges Attending: Catholic University of America, Gannon University, Kansas State University, La Roche University, New England College, Nova Southeastern University, Pace University, Seton Hill University, St. Bonaventure University, St. Johns University, University of Minnesota, University of the Virgin Islands,

Scholarships awarded: $1,033,994

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