Graduation Day

October 6, 2014 11:19 pm Published by

Anyone who has ever planned an outdoor celebration of any sort shares one fear- rain. And, that’s exactly how our graduation day started. Rain, rain, and more rain. In fact, it was the biggest storm we had seen in months and it didn’t look like it was going to quit anytime soon. But, that didn’t stop our students, staff, and volunteers from making this year’s 7th grade graduation, the fourth since Joseph & Mary Schools opened in 2010, one of the most memorable ones to date.

Markus (pictured below in the yellow-patterned shirt), our assistant campus manager, was the first to arrive at campus for the big day. He was working by 6:30AM after only leaving at 9PM the night before. He had volunteered to be the decorating committee- and boy did he go above and beyond. Long pieces of cloth were draped from the ceilings, hundreds of balloons transformed our spacious school dining hall, and local kangas (brightly colored African cloth) covered the tables where special guests and graduates sat. It should also be mentioned that Markus was so dedicated to making the dining hall look amazing for our graduates, that he donated almost $100 of his own money to the cause- a MAJOR gift.

Mama Maggie, our girls’ home manager, was in charge of the food for the special celebration. And, despite the rain, she had her entire staff were ready to roll by 7AM. Charcoal and firewood lit, these ladies (and Paulo) worked in the pouring rain, not caring as to whether or not they were getting soaked in the process. They served almost every Tanzanian delicacy they could think of- rice, pilau (spiced rice), beans, beef, chicken, fruit salad, and of course, SODA.

And, then, only an hour late (amazing by Tanzanian standards on a normal day), we started the ceremony. The graduates walked into the hall- well, actually, they danced in unison as they processed in front of their classmates, teachers, parents and friends. They took their seats, and the ceremony was on its way.

After an opening prayer, it was time see some special skits prepared for the graduates by their younger classmates. There were some poems- both Swahili and English- encouraging the graduates to always value the education they have received and warning them about stopping their education now. There were some plays, with lots of laughs, warning the graduates to always stay focused in their life or they can lose their way (much of Swahili wisdom is passed down through plays and stories). And, there were some songs and dances- just for a little fun to keep the party going!

Some boring speeches were given (by me), and the certificates where passed out as the graduates walked across the stage. There were 9 graduates in total- 7 of whom where either scholarship students or JBFC girls. While it is our smallest graduating class to date, we are incredibly confident in their academic ability and so happy to continue our tradition of success at Joseph and Mary Schools. One in five Tanzanian children who enroll in primary school don’t make it to graduation (World Bank, 2012) like our Joseph & Mary kids did.

However, as a parent, I was most proud of our JBFC girls for sweeping up some pretty amazing awards! All four of the JBFC girls in the 7th grade picked up an award, and they included:

Leticia (pictured second from right)- Academic Award

Jackie (pictured far left)- Leadership Award

Teddy (pictured second from left)- Cleanliness Award

Happy (pictured on right)- Singer/Musical Award

A closing prayer ended the official ceremony, but the party didn’t stop there. There was about an hour of picture taking, laughing, and congratulations, then food, and then (of course), an all school dance party that lasted for another 4 hours!

All in all, it was a great day, ending with some beautiful weather and some very happy kids!

Blogger Chris Gates is JBFC’s Founder & CEO. He started Joseph & Mary Schools in 2010. This is their fourth 7th grade graduation.

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This post was written by Mainsprings