St. Joseph High School Class of 2014 St. Joseph High School graduates 14 students

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ST. CROIX - The time has come for students of St. Joseph High School Class of 2014 to move on to the next stage of their lives.

The14 students completed their high school careers in a ceremony Sunday at St. Joseph Catholic Church filled with musical tributes, inspirational speeches and warm expressions of love.

Kedisha Charles, 17, achieved the class's highest honor - valedictorian. Charles said being successful has to do with setting high goals for oneself.

"Before I came to high school, I wanted to become the valedictorian," she said. "So ever since then, I've been working hard. For success, you always have to work hard and work smart, too."

However, Charles, who said she is "ecstatic" about attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., this fall to study computer engineering, also admitted experiencing "senioritis" during the months before graduation.

"I just kept trying," she said. "You have to be optimistic. If you're pessimistic, you're not going to get anywhere with succeeding."

Salutatorian Meliniqua Francis, 17, said her success was gained by studying hard, good time management and reliance on her faith.

"I have to pray. I like praying. I was taught that at St. Joseph Catholic High School," she said.

In order to get to this point, the soft-spoken teen persevered through a family tragedy.

"I lost my father when I was 1, so I grew up without him," she shared, tearfully. "All I had was my mother, and she always pushed me and my sisters to do our best."

An important part of Francis' best was to study at school, as well as to put in additional study hours at home following her after-school activities.

"I'm so proud of her," Yvette Lynch said of her daughter's accomplishments. "I raised her as a single parent, but with the help of my mom and two older daughters, we did it for her. I always tell her to put God first in anything she does, and everything else will fall into place."

Charles' parents - John and Judy Charles - also expressed sentiments of pride in their daughter's accomplishments.

"I am very proud and happy," Judy Charles said. Kedisha "has had struggles in her life with her health or education, but I'm happy to see she worked hard and overcame all obstacles. Parent involvement shows the proof of what the children eventually become."

Francis will attend Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa., this fall and plans to major in pre-professional health. She offered some advice to her fellow graduates.

"Hard work and optimism will always lead to success," she said.

In addition, Charles advised students to not procrastinate, something with which she has struggled.

"Procrastinating gets you nowhere," she said. "Start early in high school. If you don't slack off, you could graduate with nice honors."

Charles is the recipient of a scholarship from the Rotary Club Mid-Island and from Community Methodist Church. Both she and Francis have received financial aid and scholarship awards from their universities.

Valedictorian: Kedisha Charles

Salutatorian: Meleniqua Francis

Number of graduates: 14

Number of graduates going to college: 14

Number of graduates going to workforce: 0

Number of graduates going to military: 0

Colleges attending: Ferrum College, Florida State University, George Washington University, Howard University, Johnson and Wales University, La Roche College, Rider University, Seton Hill University, University of the Virgin Islands.

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