“Today, we are celebrating one hundred and thirty-three graduates. 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 was welcoming the graduating Class of 2020 in his opening remarks while hosting ISKL’s first-ever virtual Graduation Ceremony held via live stream at the Robert B. Gaw Theatre on May 29, 2020.
This year the Grade 12 student body comprised of 29 different nationalities from Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Spain, India, USA, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Netherlands, China, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Egypt, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Qatar, Iran, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, 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 sung by the Senior Choral Ensemble and arrangements by Middle School faculty Kevin Christensen.
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. The ceremony itself might be symbolic, but 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’ leadership was making an unmistakable impact on the community listing examples such as:
12 active Service and Sustainability Community Partnership Teams with an average participation of 300 students per season
Dozens of CAS projects, partnering with refugees, animal organizations, hospitals, and advocacy groups
Countless club meetings with 39 different clubs with over 380 participants, including innumerable drama, music, and speaking performances on campus and externally
Participation in 11 sports over three seasons with over 50% of Grade 12 students participating in a sport
Success in multiple IASAS competitions and activities
Jeff continued, “You are no longer the wide-eyed Grade 9 students you were when we first met. You have matured, and you have led your younger peers by example. You have had to not only endure but architect your success in a situation that we have not seen in 100 years. You will wake up one day, having emerged from this experience, and will see yourself differently. Others, too, will see you differently.”
Following Jeff’s opening remarks, the Head of School, Rami Madani, was invited to the podium to deliver his address to the Class of 2020.
“We have 133 amazing global citizens who are about to graduate from ISKL in a Graduation Ceremony that none of us will ever forget. But Life is like that, full of the unexpected and presenting challenges along the way.”
Rami described how the Class of 2020 had risen to the occasion, demonstrating resilience, adaptability, and positivity in many ways. “You have managed the unexpected and led the way as role models for our school. We believe that the world truly needs your skills and talents, passions and potential, energy, and enthusiasm like never before,” he said.
Rami’s powerful message encouraged the students to think of the current time as a time of meaningful transformation. “We know you are ready for the world and all that it has to offer. You are exactly what the world needs right now. Kind, caring, intelligent, thoughtful global thinkers who will make a difference and help transform lives and all those around you.”
Following Rami’s heartfelt speech, a musical selection titled “Foreign Lander” was performed by students Rebecca Chan, Yasi Khan, and Wen Li Yau with mastering by Rebecca Chan and Yasi Khan.
Next in the ceremony were speeches by the two heads of the HS Student Leadership Team (SLT), Isabella Jokela, and Ryan Lim, who were chosen by their classmates and peers to address the graduating class.
Isabella began her speech by thanking all of the faculty, staff, and parents for all their fantastic support and dedication in their growing years.
She shared with parents, “You’ve all shaped our lives from the beginning, celebrating our tiny milestones as a toddler. You are still with us and supporting us as we went through teen angst. You are with us now or even after a long day if we went through something. You just hug us and say – it is ok, you’ll get through it.”
Isabella also mentioned how she had two hopes for the Senior Class. The first being that her classmates make the most of their time after ISKL and that they look for the goals they can achieve. “The second is to find your voice – don’t settle for what other people tell you. Make your mind about how you feel and what you believe. By examining what we think, we can defend them, and we can have clear discussions beyond the walls of ISKL,” said Isabella.
After Isabella’s speech, student Ryan Lim shared his feelings on the future ahead. He said, “Life in itself is unpredictable as much as you want or are planning your life. It always has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that may or may not seem to be for the better.”
He also mentioned to his classmates about overcoming the negative. “I urge you to set your perspective right to face the unexpected that lies in the path ahead of you – because unforeseen events can set you back or set you up. Have courage, adapt, and navigate.” Ryan enthused.
Following Isabella and Ryan’s delightful speech came a compelling oration by Michael Ortiz, ISKL’s IB/AP and IB Math Teacher, who was chosen as the 2020 Graduation speaker by the graduating students.
Michael’s speech was an excellent summary of how the ISKL spirit was embodied in all the graduating students – giving marvelous personal anecdotes of each student in Grade 12.
He addressed every single student by name as if they were there in the theatre with him succinctly stating, “You are all right here with me – in spirit. You are all here in the spirit of the class of 2020. Today is not about COVID 19 – today is about you.”
Michael went on to explain how he wished so much for the students and their future.
“My hope for you is that all that spirit, collaboration, inclusion, leadership, self-expression – don’t leave it here. Take it with you. Rise to the occasion of your life and in your world with conviction, confidence, and contribution. Find out what you love to do and do it well. Keep these ISKL spirits with you and serve to make the world a better place as you go forth into your extraordinary unknown and unprecedented world, your future. With the ISKL spirit, I promise you – you can do this!”
Following Michael’s speech was another delightful musical selection, “Castle on the Hill,” sung by student Giulia Aranols Garrote, and accompanied by her brother on the guitar.
After the performance, Jeff Farrington went on to present the Lifer Awards to students who have attended ISKL for 12 consecutive years, from Grade 1 to Grade 12. They are Ishita Arora, Yannik Blackburn, Tim Chee Sheng Chua, Tanmay Gupta, Arezu Karimzadeh, Nava Saylany, and Putri Avantika Sood, Anna Thorne, Bryce Vesel, and Reeve Woodward.
The ceremony then continued with a slideshow honoring each graduate for the Class of 2020 alongside a personal quote. 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.
The final Musical Selection “Waiting on the World to Change,” was performed virtually by Sebastien Langlois-Fortier and the ISKL Jazz Combo.
Jeff ended with a final speech 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 2020!”
The ceremony ended with a final video of Grade 12’s amazing HS Lip Dub performance of “We’re all in this together” inspired by the High School Musical movie.
ISKL would like to wish our graduates every success for the future and look forward to welcoming you back to our campus as Alumni.
To see more bonus features, check out this exclusive video with tributes from the faculty, an exceptional performance by Erik Custer performing a unique COVID-19 song, and a heartwarming slideshow by Grade 12 students Zoe Frazer and Sarah Balsamo.