On July 16, the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Academy (Secondary) burst forth with emotion as 33 final-year students bid farewell to the beautiful campus and the people who have nurtured them in the past six years.
It was also a day to celebrate success as the best students were greeted with resounding applause inside the Community Hall. The star of the day was Ashraf Salihu Bakari, 17, who emerged as the Best Graduating Student, acing all others in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. He also had the highest score in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and was the overall best at a Chemistry Olympiad for Nigeria’s North-East zone.
“My Dad told me that the key to every success, no matter how big it is, is always hard work, perseverance, and patience,” said the teenager.
There were many proud parents present who could not contain their joy at seeing their children graduate. After six long years, this was their moment to celebrate.
“My daughter is graduating and I am so excited,” Alhaji Alilo Wakil, father of the outgoing Head Girl, Rahinatu Wakil, said. “I have spent a lot of money and she did very well. As you can see, there are lots of awards in her hand. She won about six awards. She’s one of the best students and as far as I know, since she has been here, she is either getting a first position or a second position, until she finished to the end. I am a very proud parent.”
“It gives me joy to see my twins graduate from this prestigious secondary school today,” said another proud parent, Mathias Sendave. “I give God the glory that my children passed through a school like this. Their performance has been very good and that has been a source of pride. The administration of the school is so wonderful. I pray that others coming behind will also get to enjoy what we are enjoying today.”
“I feel accomplished,” said Senator Abubakar Kyari from Borno State, whose two children were also graduating. “Those are my last two children. Three others have gone through AUN. I feel highly about the kind of education being imparted here. My relationship with AUN started over 10 years ago. And I have had children who went through AUN Academy and also the University. So it’s family to me. I feel very great about the school.”
Anuoluwapo Bankole, an AUN graduate whose sister was among those who graduated from the Academy, said: “I feel really good, because this was a young girl who was brought into the American track when she did not really know anything. But if you see her now, you will like the way she has turned out. I am really proud of her.”
The Executive Director of AUN Schools, Mrs. Nkem Uzowulu, was overjoyed as the graduation ended, and her thrill at seeing the children progress was matched by her sadness at letting them go.
“I feel excited,” she said. “The joy in my heart cannot be quantified. These students have spent six years of their lives in the secondary school. We are celebrating them today and their passage into another phase of their lives. I will miss seeing their faces. I love these children. They are wonderful.”
The graduating students were clearly moved by the day’s events. “I feel so happy and excited,” said Yerwang Polycarp Shambo. “It’s been really a journey of six years and I am so happy. I am going to miss all my fellow students. The journey has been so exciting.
“AUN has really changed me. It has helped me to become a better person and know what to pursue in the future. It has taught me a lot in life. I want to become a chemical engineer and an international business woman and AUN Academy has given me a good foundation.”
Outgoing Head Boy, Abba Leneke, was equally emotional. “My six years in this school has been great, having had mixed memories, stories that I can always fall back to as lessons. I have had friends who become like brothers, teachers who became like relatives, and the school principal who is now mother to us. I want to thank each and every one of them.”