By Simeon Mpamugoh
The race for a new dawn recently starred in the faces of 128 students of St Francis Catholic Secondary School (SFCSS), Idimu, Lagos, when the class of 2020 graduated from the institution. The graduation ceremony, the 23rd in the life of the school was initially billed for July. But for the outbreak of Coronavirus which disrupted social activities, it was delayed till November.
Administrator of SFCSS, Rev. Fr. Maduabuchi Leo Muoneme expressed gratitude to God for the event, adding that it was an interesting rite because it was the climax of the school’s academic calendar. “Normally it was supposed to take place before the new academic year commences but it is happening in the first term of a new academic calendar, overlapping with the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic session.”
He described the set as a dynamic group because the students performed excellent well in the May/June 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), stressing “it was actually in this class of 2020 we had one of the highest scores in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
“The top ten score in UTME this year had one of our students from this set and he is Akakabota Fejiro Simeon, who made 352 in UTME, thus making the top ten lists of 1.9 million candidates that wrote the exam. He also made eight A1s. Akakabota was offered a five years scholarship to read Mechanical Engineering Obafemi at Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife Osun State by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
“Jesuit education is not just about academics, it is a wholistic formation. We use Latin term to describe it ‘Cura Personalis,’ which is a wholistic care for the individual. It is a place we care for the soul, heart, mind and body. We believe we have to train different types of multiple intelligences, whether it is artistic, linguistic or bodily kinesthetic, sports, and logical mathematics, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, which are more of reflection.
“We also teach our students to learn to reflect on experience. SFCSS is populated by talented students who have potential in Nollywood and Hollywood, visual art, journalism entrepreneurship and engineering. We have seen our future actors and actresses perform during Jesuit Annual Festivals. So the school is a goldmine of spiritual, intellectual honesty and integrity.”
On the education system, he said: “It is questionable; from primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Even universities students are also questionable. So, what do we do? We must give them quality education from secondary level. We want them to become the catalyst like other schools are doing so that one day will turn things around from within.
An actress and guest speaker, Mrs. Taiwo Ajayi Lycett, charged the graduating students to walk the road that was intended for them, stating “if graduating from St Francis isn’t already one of the wisest decisions your parents have ever made in your life, let me at this exact moment confirm that you are at the right path as you continue to walk the road that was truly intended for you.
She tasked the graduating students to go set the world on fire because they were trained for excellence, stating “I’m certain that your education at SFCSS will help you further succeed in the university and bring the true you, transformed for your alma mater, parent, Nigeria and the world.”
Seventeen-year-old best science student, Akakabota attributed his success to prayer, continuous reading and personal relationship with the school authorities. “I also appreciate the efforts of the administrator who stimulated us by telling us that anybody who made above 345 in UTME and 9A1s will get a car while anyone above 300 and 9A1s will get a laptop. For me it helped me because I believe in goal setting. Sometimes I read and get tired but once I imagined myself in a car, I woke up and continue to read. So always having goal in mind would help one get what he/she wants in life.”
Outgone Head Boy of the set, Osemeke Chidara in his valedictory speech shared some of the challenges the class 2020. He said in spite of Coronavirus pandemic and EndSARS protests, the set stood strong and emerged the best in the history of the school.
He commended the teachers for showing love to the graduating students; pushing and monitoring their activities in class and off class to ensure “we didn’t go astray and this impacted on our brilliant UTME and WASSCE results.