ST. CROIX – It was a full house at the St. Croix Educational Complex Wednesday as well-wishers came to celebrate Central High School’s 50th anniversary and the 135 students comprising the L.I.T. Class of 2018.
L.I.T. stands for Legendary Incomparable and Tremendous. And in many ways, their senior year experience has truly been incomparable.
At the start of the school year, students and faculty experienced two consecutive Category 5 hurricanes, costing them at least a month of instruction. Many attended school without running water and electricity in their homes.
Madelin Yousef wasn’t overly concerned about the hurricanes themselves; however, the 18-year-old was more concerned about how she’d balance her senior year responsibilities in a short span of time.
“The scholarships, the colleges, the speeches, making sure I stayed on top – that’s what was going through my mind,” she told The Consortium while preparing for the commencement ceremony.
CHS 2018 graduating class students (Credit: KGP Virgin Islands)
Despite an irregular school year, Miss Yousef still managed to garner the Valedictorian spot, a $3,000 scholarship from the JROTC program, and a partial scholarship of $22,000 for her four years at Iowa State University. While at Iowa State, she plans to pick up creative writing. The school wasn’t her first choice, but the aspiring creative writer and motivational speaker doesn’t believe she’ll end up there by chance.
“In my religion – Islam – the Arabic term ‘Maktoob,’ meaning ‘written,’ serves an important purpose in teaching people that things occur because it is meant to be, and it is written by the hand of God,” she said during her valedictory address.
Her mother, Samira Yousef, believes that the younger Yousef’s destiny for success has already been written.
“At first, she was doubting,” Mrs. Yousef said of her valedictorian. “ ‘The day you were born, I saw success in you. I saw this,’ I told her….She’s gonna go far.”
Supportive messages like these show the significance of strong family bonds. Like Yousef, Taylor Lampkin – the class salutatorian – expressed thanks to her family members for their support on her journey.
But for Miss Lampkin, someone special was missing from the ceremony. Her father.
He died when she was 13, and it still makes the now 17-year-old cry to speak of him. Dealing with his passing, she told The Consortium, has been her biggest challenge. She became emotional when thinking of walking across the Complex stage without seeing his face.
“If my father was here, he would be extremely proud of me and how far I’ve come,” she said during her salutatorian speech. “I love and miss him dearly.”
Despite the blow of her father’s death, Miss Lampkin still has big dreams.
She is an aspiring criminal attorney and plans to major in political science while minoring in psychology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She’ll be receiving close to $18,000 per year to pursue her studies at the historically black university (HBCU).
Taylor Lampkin, Salutatorian (Credit: Wyndi Ambrose, VIC)
The entire 2018 class racked up more than three million in scholarship monies from universities, colleges, and trade schools, according to CHS Principal Janasee Sinclair.
Two scholarships came as a surprise at the end of Keynote Speaker Akeem McIntosh’s address. Mr. McIntosh, a 2008 CHS alumnus, said he and other members of his class had been raising scholarship monies for some time. Denali Nicholas and Darwin Christian III received mega-sized checks in an unexpected conclusion to McIntosh’s speech.
Later in the ceremony, Ayanna Willie was also awarded a scholarship from the CHS Class of ’79.
Alumni representing classes dating back to 1968 were also present to witness the 2018 commencement, which marked the high school’s 50th anniversary.
Scholarships Awarded During the Ceremony
Recipient: Denali Nicholas
Amount: $2,300 (Sheldon Browne Scholarship)
Sponsor: CHS Class of 2008
Recipient: Darwin Christian III
Amount: $2,300 (Zidit Eastman Scholarship)
Sponsor: CHS Class of 2008
Recipient: Ayanna Willie
Sponsor: CHS Class of ’79 Alumni Association
Feature Image: Brenda Rodriguez (left) and Jahneazia Villar (right) pose for a selfie. The two have received softball scholarships to Monroe Collegeand to Universidad Metropolitana, respectively.
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