V.I. Montessori School graduates 13 V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy Class of 2014

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ST. THOMAS - The outdoor gymnasium was packed with proud family and friends during the V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy graduation ceremony Monday night.

The school adheres to the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, a rigorous academic, cultural and linguistic course of study aimed at preparing students with global skills.

Valedictorian Kayla Clendinen graduated with a 4.44 grade point average. Clendinen plans to attend Harvard University in the fall and is contemplating a career in medicine.

"I'm interested in a lot of different fields and I'm looking forward to exploring different subjects before really deciding on a major," she said. "I'm super excited to go off to college. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intimidated by the amazing school I'll be going to, but I'm looking forward to meeting all the new people up there."

Salutatorian Portia Norkaitis was honored with an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy with a full commission, equivalent to a four-year scholarship. With the help of V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Norkaitis received the sole nomination given by Vice President Joe Biden this year. She plans to obtain a degree in aeronautic or systems engineering. Her ultimate goal, however, is to become a stateswoman, and she dreams of one day becoming the president of the United States.

"I'm very patriotic and my whole life, I wanted to dedicate myself to service. I've always had a desire to serve my parents, my community and my country," Norkaitis said. "What I feel mostly is honor."

To sum up her valedictorian speech, Clendinen quoted T.S. Elliott: "Please dare to disturb the universe."

"We all have such radiant smiles," added Norkaitis. "Remember to smile, remember to be polite and remember to be positive. With our radiant smiles, we'll make the world a better and happier place."

Proud parents had fond wishes for the new graduates.

"I give all of them my best for the future," said Michaelrose Ravalier, mother of graduate LeslieAnn Ravalier. "Remember what you've learned and take all the wisdom you've earned in the last few years with you into the future."

Erika Romo's daughter, Maria Fernanda Ferro, is the first international student to graduate from the Peter Gruber International Academy. She transferred to the academy two years ago from Mexico.

"I'm very proud, especially knowing her challenge, which was English," Romo said. "These are all intelligent kids, nice kids. I hope they continue with their dreams and remember how far they can go with determination." Valedictorian: Kayla Clendinen

Salutatorian: Portia Norkaitis

Number of graduates: 13

Number going to college: 11

Number going to the military: 1

Colleges attending: Assumption College, Harvard University, Rider University, University of the Virgin Islands, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Miami, La Salle University in Mexico, Wesleyan University.

Total scholarships: $108,905

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