“We are celebrating one hundred and seventy-two graduates today – the largest graduating class of ISKL. This year, seniors are not seated together as a graduating class on stage. Instead, they are seated with their loved ones – the many people who have supported them throughout the years, helping in one way or another to get them to this event today,” said Jeff Farrington, the High School Principal of ISKL.
Jeff welcomed the graduating Class of 2021 in his opening remarks while hosting ISKL’s virtual Graduation Ceremony held via Livestream at the Robert B. Gaw Theatre on May 25, 2021.
This year the Grade 12 student body comprised of 29 different nationalities from Malaysia, Colombia, India, USA, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Thailand, Singapore, Netherlands, China, Poland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Portugal, Egypt, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Maldives, Qatar, Spain, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brazil.
The ceremony viewed by the seniors, their families, and the rest of the ISKL community began with a heartwarming rendition of the Malaysian national anthem, “Negaraku.” The musical piece was arranged by Middle School faculty, Kevin Christensen and was sung by the Senior Choral Ensemble.
Jeff explained that graduation was a formal, public acknowledgment of the successful completion of a High School’s academic and extracurricular criteria. “It is a symbolic event that recognizes a major life transition, the observation of the crossing of a threshold – a true coming of age moment for young adults. While the ceremony itself is celebratory, it is synchronous to a real-life separation for many families; that of adolescents from their parents,” said Jeff.
He also spoke of how the students made significant contributions to ISKL by engaging in the school community and participating in various events throughout their high school years.
Jeff continued, “As difficult as this past year has been, you have been able to achieve success. Not without frustration and disappointment, of course, but success nonetheless. I am most proud of how you have supported each other and how you have preserved your connectedness with your teachers and the school. And due to this, I stand before you today, proud of your actions, your guidance, and your leadership. You will be missed dearly by the faculty, the staff, the administration, and your peers. Thank you, Class of 2021.”
Following Jeff’s opening remarks, the Head of School, Rami Madani, was invited to the podium to deliver his address to the Class of 2021.
“Class of 2021, we have had the great privilege and honor of watching you learn and grow during your time with us. Today we celebrate your achievements and aspirations, and even more importantly, we are here to celebrate you.”
Rami highlighted that the Class of 2021 had spent their Senior year exposed and focused on the themes of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ), which has been a focus of the ISKL community throughout the year. He mentioned how these values that are a part of ISKL’s culture have helped the seniors cultivate and nurture empathy and caring qualities within them and reminded them to bring these qualities with them wherever they go.
He also gave some words on the importance of critical thinking and advocacy. “Amidst this world of misinformation, reason critically and inform your perspective with the facts and differing viewpoints. Hold onto everything that you have learned about the importance of taking action, however small and advocating for change in a way that promotes harmony, compassion, and justice,” said Rami.
Rami continued by sharing his wisdom pertaining to making choices and navigating life, mentioning that “Life is not a linear experience; it is a process of self-discovery and exploration that takes each of us in unique directions and continues throughout our lives.” He further emphasized that it is important to stay true to oneself and that personal growth and self-acceptance would be the most valuable journey to be traveled.
He then ended his speech with an empowering message that encouraged students to be righteous, stand up for what is right, and use their voices for themselves and those around them. “Do your best to make your voice heard and count. Do your best to help others find their voices. Be bold, have courageous conversations, be vulnerable and find strength in doing the right thing rather than being right. Be an advocate and an activist for positive change in the world and focus on finding solutions.”
Following Rami’s impactful speech, a musical selection titled “I Was Here” was performed by Hina Singh, Jeong Heon I’m, Yik Khai Yew, and Ho Lee.
Next in the ceremony was a speech by the Senior Leader of the HS Student Leadership Team (SLT), Jasmine Ng, who her classmates and peers chose to address the graduating class.
Jasmine began her speech by thanking all of the faculty, staff, and families to attend the ceremony to celebrate the seniors’ hard work and congratulate the graduating class for persevering through their tough year with dignity and grace. She addressed the challenges and impact the pandemic had brought onto their senior year, noting that the senior year they all had envisioned for themselves did not become a reality. Nonetheless, she reminded the seniors that despite how bleak the situation was, there was always another way to see things.
“Sure, we lost a lot of events that mattered a lot to us, but we can choose to let the pandemic bring us down, or we can embrace it and become better people from it,” Jasmine said.
Jasmine continued by highlighting the accomplishments that did take place, such as IASAS Cross Country, IASAS Cultural Convention, and Jazz Night. She believed that all of these achievements and more made the Class of 2021 stronger, more resilient, and powerful to create positive changes in the future.
She also touched on the fears and anxieties that the seniors were going through as they transitioned out of high school but left them some words of encouragement. “Now I know the future is scary. But as we embark on this new chapter of our lives, know that you’re all individuals well-equipped with so many skills whether you’re pursuing higher education or other interests. This year has shown your strength and grit, which will help you overcome the many more challenges you will face down the road.”
Finally, Jasmine left behind an important message for the graduating class, “One thing I ask from you all is to follow your dreams and do what makes you happy. Strive to be the best version of yourself and create the life you want to live, not anyone else’s. And if there’s one thing we can learn from our Senior year, it is always to embrace the uncertainty and be kind.”
Following Jasmine’s eloquent speech came a compelling oration by Thomas Musk, a founding teacher of ISKL’s PRAXIS program and Theory of Knowledge teacher in the IB program, chosen as the 2021 Graduation speaker.
Thomas’ speech was captivating and deeply thought out. He explained to the seniors how, despite their situation, they had received an excellent education holistically without discounting the struggles that the seniors had faced over the last two years.
He shared his empathy and acknowledgment in the seniors’ efforts for pushing through such turbulent years while also sharing thought-provoking wisdom from philosopher Victor Frankl:
“We had to learn to ourselves that it did not matter what we expected from life but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who are being questioned by life.”
Thomas enlightened the seniors with information, declaring that they were in a generation with the most opportunities to be explored. “Your generation has the unique opportunity to be both inheritors of some of the greatest challenges in human history, yet you’re simultaneously being armed with the highest IQs, the greatest education, and the most powerful leverage points to affect positive change in history. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings in a greater upside than now.”
He then reminded and reaffirmed the graduating seniors that they had accomplished extraordinary things while at ISKL and encouraged them to truly have the skills and character to go forth and face the world. Delicately, he ended his speech with, “Your success is our [the teachers] success, and it has been an incredibly successful year. You have gotten a great education.”
After the speech, a touching musical selection titled “We’re Going to Be Friends” was performed by students Lisa Jesudas, Ann Gaither, Amy Olivia Loftin, Youngkyung Yun, and Su Ah Lee.
The ceremony continued with a slideshow honoring each graduate alongside their personalized well wishes. Some were messages of gratitude, thanking their families or teachers for helping them along the way. Others were dedications or hopes and dreams the graduates had for the future.
Jeff Farrington ended the ceremony by asking graduates to perform the symbolic yet highly essential act of moving their graduation cap tassel from the right side to the left, proclaiming, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you the ISKL graduating Class of 2021!”
ISKL would like to wish our graduates every success for the future and look forward to welcoming you back to our campus as #ISKLproud Alumni!