“Today we celebrate our 153 Grade 12 students who have reached this momentous milestone in their lives and are about to become ISKL graduates. Class of 2022, we celebrate you. In particular, we celebrate every way that each of you is different and unique, and the richness this brings to all our lives. We learn so much from our diversity and culture of inclusion as a school and I want you to hold on to this as you step into the next phase of your learning journey.”
These were the stirring words of Rami Madani, Head of School at The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) in his address at the first in-person Graduation Ceremony to be held at ISKL’s campus in Ampang Hilir since 2019. After two years affected by the pandemic, it was wonderful to see the students joined by their friends, family, teachers, and ISKL’s Administration and Board of Directors for this important celebration. The Ceremony, which was held on June 3, was livestreamed around the world and can be watched here.
The celebration of identity and inclusion was echoed by High School Principal, Jeff Farrington, “You all share the common trait of being in Grade 12, you all will receive the ISKL High School Diploma, and you are all wearing the same outfit today. But that is where the similarity ends. You are each unique. This is an inclusive school and you are a diverse group of individuals; each of you has taken a distinct journey to get here today.”
Serving the differing interests, passions, and aspirations of students is a hallmark of ISKL’s High School program and Jeff paid tribute to the different pathways taken by the Class of 2022, “Many students graduating today will also receive the IB Diploma. We also have our first cohort of students receiving certificates for completing our innovative Pursuits 2-year program. Also graduating is the young woman who initiated what is now known as ISKL’s Life Centered Education program. We are humbled and proud, of how our students have enriched our school and taken full advantage of every opportunity.”
In her address, the Class of 2022’s student-elected representative, Evelynn Schorr spoke about the challenges the cohort had overcome and also touched on how, regardless of whether on campus or online, students had made the most of every opportunity, “We started off our senior year separated, with classes and clubs all online, wondering if we would be able to have graduation in person. Now, almost 10 months later, we are here together, on campus, with friends and family, to reflect on all that we have accomplished. Collectively, we have studied rigorously, joined sports teams, played in concerts, organized clubs, served our community, and more, but most importantly, planned for our future. It was difficult to imagine, sometimes, that we would ever make it to graduation, but here we are.”
Evelynn continued, “We persevered through a pandemic and subsequent shifts in our modes of learning. We learned new languages and improved English as a first, second, or third language. We organized impactful projects, like delivering cookies during lockdown to raise money for charity, or organizing the ISKL Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. We excelled in athletics, both individually and as a team. … Our efforts have made a positive impact on ourselves and our community, and we have the opportunity to make a more positive impact in the future.”
Also selected by the Class of 2022 to give an address was High School Social Studies teacher Paul Hengstler. As noted by Jeff Farrington “Above all his other strengths, Mr. Hengstler forges caring relationships with students. Students know they are valued, that they belong and that his classroom is a safe space to take risks, extend their intellectual boundaries, and challenge thought. It is due to the connectedness students feel in his presence that the Senior class chose him to be their speaker today.”
In a funny and poignant address that demonstrated the close connection he has with the students, Paul encapsulated the themes raised throughout the ceremony – resilience, gratitude, and the importance of being true to oneself:
“Class of 2022, no one can say about you that you don’t have grit and determination. You faced the incredible challenge of learning online, being separated from your friends, and not being able to see your families back home, and you did it. You faced down a pandemic.
“I think we all learned a few things from that experience. We learned that we can do hard things, and we learned just how much we need each other. I hope that you’ve spent these last few days relishing these people around you. I hope you hugged them tight and said “thank-you for being a friend”. Thanks for being on my team. Thanks for helping me get through when the going was tough.”
Paul continued, “So here you go Class of 2022 this is my advice: just be yourself. When we say: ‘Be All You Are’ let’s put some heavy emphasis on the YOU. You need to be who YOU are. Be yourself. You are the only you you’ve got. You’re good enough just the way you are and you deserve to be loved and respected just the way you are.”
Student-led musical performances included the High School Chamber Ensemble, Senior Choir Ensemble, and the Class of 2022’s rendition of “The Climb” as well as a beautiful solo by Grade 12 student, Chelsea Choong of the Malaysian National Anthem, Negaraku.
The ceremony concluded with the moment the students had been waiting for – moving their graduation cap tassel from the right side to the left, hearing the words, “I now present the ISKL graduating Class of 2022!” and making the celebratory toss of their caps. It was a magical moment, made all the sweeter for finally being able to celebrate together in person!
ISKL wishes our graduates every success in the future as they head to universities across the globe and look forward to hearing about their contribution to creating a better world. We are #ISKLproud of our newest Alumni!