It has come time to send some of our MYP students off to their new high schools. When I joined the school in 2008, we only had grades 1 to 5. Since then, we have continued to add one grade per year, in addition to adding three years of preschool. This is our first year to offer all years of the Primary Years Programme and the Middle Years Programme at our school. As such, this feels like a very important ceremony in the history of our school.
In the very recent past, our students would often leave after finishing elementary school, and we sometimes lost track of them after that. We would sometimes be surprised by a visit of an alumni, or we might hear the news of a student who had achieved success in some way, but we didn’t have an official way of connecting with them.
I believe that this year should serve as the launch of our official alumni program. I think that we should start to refer to our classes by their graduating year, and try to keep those year-groups in touch with each other. So, the students we are celebrating today, and anyone else who graduates this year, will be referred to as the TIS Class of 2013. The current Grade 9 class is the Class of 2014, and so on. Students who attend TIS and leave before graduating should also be considered part of a class, as we are all part of the TIS community. So, every member of our current Grade 6 class will be considered part of the Class of 2017, even if they do not stay at TIS until 2017. (Of course, we hope they will!)
I know that you have spent your time at TIS wisely, and that you are now filled with knowledge and understandings of math, English, Japanese, science, and humanities amongst other subjects. I hope you have also benefited from your time at an IB World School by becoming active and well-rounded learners and fair and reasonable people.
I hope that you have learned how to make mistakes, even really big ones, and then recover from them. I believe that mistakes are probably one of the most effective learning tools out there — as long as we recognize them as learning experiences and not final judgments.
I hope that you have learned to tell the difference between right and wrong, but also to notice all the shades in between. The world is not divided into two kinds of people, those who are right and those who are wrong. It doesn’t have to be divided at all if we just take the time to listen to each other and learn to respect our differences, rather than condemning them as wrong. That said, I hope that when you see something that you feel is unfair, unkind, or unjust, you stand up for what you believe in and try to effect change, even if it will make you unpopular.
Finally, I hope you have learned how to find your own happiness, while continuing to respect the right of others to pursue their own joy. I hope that you constantly work at creating your own happiness by seeking the good in people, and finding ways to make yourself, and those around you, happy.
This is a sad day for TIS to be saying goodbye to some of its treasured students. You have contributed a great deal to our school, and we will certainly feel your absence in the days to come. However, we know that you have very bright futures ahead of you, and we are already looking forward to the day when you come back and report on your latest adventures.
So, congratulations to the Class of 2013, and remember that you are now, and always will be, a treasured part of the TIS community.