On July 23, Grace Emmanuel School held its 5th commencement. Despite the issues that have plagued Haiti over the last few years—pèyi lok, insecurity, COVID-19, and most recently the assassination of the president—the 21 students who comprise the Class of 2021 never gave up on their dreams.
In Haiti, it is customary for each graduating class to choose colors and a name for their class. This year’s class chose Transcendence as their name and pink and white for their colors.
“We all agreed on that name…because after all the years of torment we’ve known in Haiti, we reached the final class and we’ve exceeded our goals,” said Suselyne, class president.
Last Friday’s ceremony began with a processional, as all 21 students made a beautiful entrance donning pink and white. Etienneda led the class in the fifth verse of the Haitian national anthem, and then they welcomed the guests with a welcome song.
The graduates had chosen two of their role models to serve as their “godparents”: Pastor Derson and Dr. Kerline Roger, wife of JiHM’s director of operations. Both gave beautiful speeches with a lot of good advice for the graduates.
Suselyne spoke on behalf of all the students, thanking every person who made it possible for them to get to this day, especially the parents and sponsors who never stopped helping and loving them. She took time to tell each of her classmates how much she loved them, making many of them cry.
Several of the graduates performed a special dance and a skit about Haiti, and then presented the name of their class.
Andris, school director, spoke words of encouragement to the graduates, and Roger, JiHM’s director of operations, awarded a certificate and a medal to each graduate. Iselande, sponsorship director, presented gifts to the students from their sponsors.
To bring the ceremony to a close, the students sang a farewell song, moving many of the graduates to tears. The ceremony was filled with many emotions, fitting for a close-knit group of students who have overcome years of adversity to achieve this goal together.
“What I will miss most about school are my classmates,” said Suselyne. “It’s true we’ve had disagreements, but we’ve developed beautiful friendships through the years. I love them lots and lots. Even when we were going through difficulties, when I’m with them, I felt the best.”
Congratulations, Class of 2021! Take a look at what these students hope to accomplish next.