DETERMINATION AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS AT ST. PETERS, The Belize Times
San Pedro- 19th June, 2004
In 1996, Nazira Santos graduated from primary school full of zeal and love for education. But her dreams to go to High School in San Pedro Town were crushed by the mere
fact that her family was poor and could not afford her a high school education. Yet, she knew that getting an education was important.
Five years later, 17 year old Nazira finally began to work as a hotel maid to pay for her education. At the time, St. Peter's College was opened to offer evening classes. Cleaning countless bedrooms, bathrooms, mopping floors and washing sheets and towels, she slowly began to pay her way through school. Each year, her conditions improved and she became adjusted to working and going to night classes.
"1 wanted a diploma badly and 1 was making sure that 1 wasn't left out of this opportunity," Nazira said. After four years of hard work, Nazira not only made it to her graduation, but she became the valedictorian for her class of 2004.
St. Peter's Elementary and College opened in 1997 to provide quality education for many students like Nazira. School administrator/principal, Mr. Frank Nunez, J.P., explained that the school was established to provide for working class students and low-income families on San Pedro Ambergris Caye with equal opportunity to education. "Most of the students who come here, may have had bad track records in school but have been able to turn around and become successful," said Nunez. "I don't know if it's because they feel it's their last hope or they really want to come here. Either way, we make sure we provide a serious educational program because we just don't believe in selling diplomas."
Starting with only four classrooms and about 45 students, the school now boasts an enrollment of l05 students. Today, the is in the process of modifying the computer and chemis1ry labs, expand with more classrooms and offer improved evening programs.
During graduation ceremonies a total of thirty-five students graduated from both St Peter's Elementary and High School at the newly built "Ralph Fonseca Convention Hall".
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Hon. Francis Fonseca presented primary school certificates and high school diplomas to the two groups during their commencement exercises, following the inauguration of the new hall. The BZ$125,OOO Ferro-concrete building, last night, served to accommodate more than 150 guests, friends and family members celebratingthe achievements of the graduates.
Following the Minister's cutting of the ribbon that signaled the opening of the hall, the first group of graduates comprising of nineteen primary school leavers marched up for their certificates. The majority of the students are expected to continue their studies at the St Peter's Secondary school night division. Later, the remaining, sixteen students of St. Peter's College commemorated the completion of their secondary studies.
Minister Fonseca congratulated the graduates for their hard work and dedication, noting the challenges most students faced. He acknowledged the need for programs such as these and pledged the Ministry's commitment to help equip the school with the necessary tools to provide quality education. He added that, with the growing tourism market, families need to continue to prioritize education.
Minister Fonseca said that he encouraged young people who may have dropped out of school or were unable to get higher education, to see Nazira as an example that it can be done. Taking advantage of schools such as St. Peter's, he said, could open many doors of opportunity.
In her remarks, valedictorian Nazira Santos said that pursuing her education allowed her to grow intellectually, spiritually, and as a person. "I'm finally able to find strength within myself, instead of depending on others," shared Nazira.
In encouraging others to continue their studies and never giving up their dreams, Nazira noted how her determination paid off, landing her on the honor-roll for the past four years, valedictorian of class 2004 and a new job. Holding her diploma in her hand, she said, "I learned that 1 could accomplish anything if I'm determined enough."