Even after many years in the job, seeing students leave school for any reason is hard for us as professionals. Whenever a student leaves, it is like a wave rushing through BBIS asking who, why, what will he/she do, will they get on well, and more.
Seeing our Class of 2017 leave today is less dramatic but rather a fully enjoyable experience. We know they are (in some cases more than) ready to go on, embark on a new journey and look where the grass is greener than on the Seeberg.
It is easy to let them go because we prepared them well for the next step… but still: BBIS is an 800+ piece puzzle with each holding a particular place, and removing 82 parts will make us a different place. We wish them well for the future – and have put them straight onto our list of alumni.
Congratulations to our graduating students and their families.
Today, BBIS held its Graduation Ceremony for 2107. The graduating class comprising 82 students, their guests, faculty and administration filled the Sports Hall to capacity and the bleachers were taken up by many of the boarders who supported their peers enthusiastically.
Graduation is a rite of passage and this afternoon was a time for celebration. It is a time for recollections, for looking on our students’ lives at BBIS, and forward to their lives and unbound potential beyond BBIS.
As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.
Many words of wisdom were spoken during the ceremony beginning with these from the Secondary Principal, IBDP / IBCP: “Dr Martin Luther King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Writing in the campus newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, he asserted … The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education. While you (the graduating students) have invested an awful lot in the education of your mind and that is as it should be at a school, I hope that BBIS as a community has also been responsible, in some part at least, for the formation of your character; through leadership opportunities, through extra-curricular opportunities and simply through being part of a vibrant, diverse community we trust that King’s suggested goal has been reached; that BBIS has enhanced your character so that you will become responsible and compassionate contributors to positive change both at home and on an international scale.”
Darya and Justinus shared the podium to speak on behalf of the graduates. Their CVs are prodigious and very impressive covering the academic, leadership and extra-curricular realms comprehensively. They both epitomise what the school values. In closing, they said:
“In his book Outlier, Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes around 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a certain task. We have been in school for 12 years, 180 days a year, 7 hours a day to reach this point. We have spent 15,120 hours in our schooling career, so by that definition of mastery, we have mastered the skills of procrastination, watching Netflix and staring at blank word documents hoping that essays will write themselves. In all seriousness though, going through school has not just taught us what to know, but how to know. We are by no means masters in trigonometry, Carol Ann Duffy Poems or Keynesian economics. But we are, to some extent, masters of learning. Learning how to succeed, learning how to fail, learning how to fit in a solid 4 hours of sleep in between school and homework. So, in 20 years, we might not remember how to apply Newton’s Law of Gravitation or describe the propagation of a nerve impulse, but we will remember the methods used to overcome the adversities ahead of us. Dear High School, you gave us the fishing rod, you taught us how to fish, now it’s time for us to head into open waters and provide for ourselves.”
In his graduation speech, the BBIS Director / CEO, referred to the work of Todd Rose from Harvard who has declared the End of Average. Based on this, he encouraged the graduates to not keep referring their personal, achievements to the average instead of valuing what and how they are, and will be, as individuals. “We have learned that an average career does not exist any more (if it ever has), and employers are looking for your unique contributions, not someone above an obscure average. You will not be looking for a partner “above average” but someone who fulfills your dreams and needs. The word ‘individual’ says it all, actually. Going back to the Latin root, it means indivisible or undividable. You are whole, a complete person who has the human duty of taking the opportunity to live your life to the fullest potential. We hope that we have equipped you with the self-confidence to go into the world and do this: follow your own dream, make your own contributions and live your own happy life.”
The guest speaker on this occasion was a graduate of BBIS who represents our values well as well as the aspirations we have for our graduates. She dispensed several pieces of advice including these: “Don’t ever stop trying out new things. Don’t see uncertainty or insecurity as a burden but rather as a challenge. Take risks and have faith in yourselves. Especially if you are still unsure about your future plans - stay curious. You don’t have to submit to the compulsion of having to know what you want in life. And trust me - for most people a process of finding starts now - you are not alone. My next piece of advice is the following: Nothing that you start has to be forever. You are free to make a new first step at any time. At any point in your life. So, whether you already have your whole life figured out or are still searching for your calling, give yourself the chance and space to try out new things without putting any pressure on yourselves.”
The BBIS graduation orchestra, made up of students from Grade 6 to Grade 12, enhanced the programme delightfully with musical interludes. While a couple of the pieces performed were commercial standards, as has been the tradition, most were original compositions by our own music students.
For the second year in a row, one of our graduating students was presented with the ECIS Award for International Understanding. The citation on the award reads; Awarded to a student who is a good representative of their own country, with a positive attitude toward the life and culture of others, able to converse in at least two languages, a contributing force in the life of the school, with the ability to bring different people together into a sense of community, thus furthering the cause of international understanding.
The recipient of the award receives a letter from the ECIS which reads, in part, …"This award carries with it not only our acknowledgement of your achievements to date, but our sincere hope that your future will continue to be marked by a commitment to good will and understanding amongst all peoples. We are proud of you as a product of one of our own international schools and we are happy to have had the opportunity to offer this recognition. We are counting on you for the future."
This year’s recipient, a popular choice from across the school, was Jonja. Anyone who has had the privilege of knowing Jonja will appreciate that he goes far beyond meeting all the criteria for receipt of the award. He is a thoroughly nice person, who is always willing to put others before himself. Apart from everything else, he is a very talented musician, though humble with it, and BBIS has benefited greatly over the years from his dedication to this area of school life and witnessed how he is able bring people together through this international language. He has worked studiously at his craft including spending last summer attending the Conducting Programme at the Ingenium Academy, Winchester. Fittingly, the piece for the recessional was composed by Jonja. and he conducted its performance. We are all sure that Jonja will find his place in the world of music and we will watch for his name, possibly in lights, in the future.
In his closing remarks, the Secondary Principal, IBDP / IBCP, by way of reference to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, mused that while it might be true that not everyone can be great and do great things we all do good things and encouraged the graduates to do just that wherever it is they find themselves in the future.
An important chapter in the lives of our Year 12s closed today but a very exciting one opened. While some of us have seen this scenario played out annually for decades, each graduation remains unique because of the individual students that make it so.