Despite of the numerous challenges it faced during the course of the 2014 academic year, St Stephen’s Community College Pamua in Makira/Ulawa province celebrated an important day in the school calendar last Friday, that was the prize giving and graduation ceremony.
Parents, relatives, friends and members of the surrounding communities flocked to the relocation site of the College’s Rural Training Centre (RTC), to witness the graduation of 266 students from all three strands within the College,the primary, secondary and vocational.
The ceremony was staged based on the 2014 graduation theme ‘Empowering students for God’s Glory’.
Speaking at the occasion, Pamua acting School Principal, Fr Job Tozaka said this year 2014 has been a challenging year for both staff and students at the College.
“Not only with the change of administration […at the College] but there are challenges that individual members of the staff as well as students have experienced through-out the course of this year,” Fr Tozaka said.
Fr Tozaka maintained that 2014 is one of the challenging year experienced in the history of this College since it began the academic strand in 1993.
“This has raised many questions for I cannot deny the fact that such institution with higher expectation and is recognised by all be administered by someone you do not expect.
“People have all the right to express their critics and make comparison, but St Stephen will continue to fly its banner higher despite all these challenges and it will remain St Stephen’s Community College in years to come.
“I acknowledge the staff and students for their patients in travelling through these challenges when the College had gone through a transitional period,” he said.
Owned by the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), Pamua has had a change of administration during the second semester of 2014 following the removal from office of the school’s Principal and his deputy.
Facing financial difficulties as one of the major challenges this year, Pamua is currently under the administration of an interim committee headed by Fr Tozaka, who has assured to make every effort to keep the operations of the College functioning up to the closure of the 2014 academic year.
Fr Tozaka, in congratulating the graduating students, said being a final year student at the College does not mean that its the end.
“You are just passing through another stage in our education system, which will determine your capability to continue your studies or to find an opportunity and earn a living.
“You will soon prove yourselves in the coming exams on what you have been doing as a student at St Stephen’s Community College.
“All throughout the year, students have been encouraged to take the initiative and be responsible not only in their academic studies, but in the different aspects of the school life such as their behaviour, attitudes, boarding, cultural activities and social entertainments,” he said.
Fr Tozaka told the students that while “short fall in finance” made it impossible for more to receive prizes, “it’s not how many prizes or qualifications we get that matters, rather it’s how best we use the knowledge.”
Guest of Honour and ACOM’s assistant education secretary, Desmond Waita reminded students that much of the successes in life requires hard work and perspiration.
“You cannot do it any other way. You cannot do away with working hard and working smart.
“Those of us who think we can coast along doing very little and hope to succeed academically might wish to reconsider our behaviour,” Mr Waita said.
He said many of us fail to achieve notable achievements in life because we create fear in our heads.
“We create a mindset prone to failing. You see our brains are an interesting organ, it believes what you tell it, if you keep reminding yourself that Maths is difficult and hard, eventually your brain believes it and obviously you will find Maths difficult,” he added.
Mr Waita told the graduating students that they have successfully completed the required academic work for 2014 and the graduating certificates are rightfully theirs.
“But the truth is some of you may be pushed out of the education system and may not proceed to the next level.
“For those of you who may not make it to the next level, this is not the end of the world.
“Many of the successful people in life did not complete high school and they were committed to their goal and stayed focus.
“They were able to excel through their commitment and this made them successful,” Mr Waita encouraged the graduates.
Last Friday’s graduation started with a Holy Eucharist service at the College Chapel in the morning before graduates, staff, parents and visitors made a 15 minutes parade to the RTC relocation site where certificates and prizes were awarded.
The day’s events ended with a traditional island feast at the College main campus followed by cultural entertainments into the night.
BY PHILIP LILOMO