Dear class of 2020,

Congratulations!

What a year we have had! I saw a meme the other day that said that no one who answered the question in 2015, “Where do you see yourself in five years” got it right. The events that have transpired over the past few months have been unprecedented in so many ways. No one could have ever predicted that there would come a time when schools and businesses would shut down for several months because of something so small that we can’t even see.

And probably no one could have predicted how quickly we would all respond and adapt to the new situation. When you think about it, it is quite remarkable how quickly we have all shifted gears and tried to make the best of the hand we have been dealt.

But maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. When the Class of 2020 were in Grade 3, we experienced the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and shortly after that, the death of our second principal, Mr. Kano. Our problems seemed pretty unsurmountable at the time, just as they may do now, but with a bit of human ingenuity, we were able to push through the noise and confusion, and keep our community on its path, although perhaps a different path from what we would have predicted back in 2008.

I mention 2008, because that is when one of our graduates, Student A (names have been removed for privacy), joined the school. And, in fact, that is also when I joined the school. So, technically, she and I are “doukyuusei”, or “of the same year”. Students B and C joined one year later, when the West Building was first built. Student D joined in the 2013-14 school year, when our school first gained authorization for the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. Students E, F, and G joined in the 2017-18 year, which is the year after we gained authorization for the Diploma Programme and the year when we gained CIS accreditation. And then, Students H and I joined in 2018-19 when we had our first DP exams and graduates.

When you look at the history of our school since 2008, you can see a remarkable display of human tenacity and our pioneering spirit. You can knock us down, but we will soon find a way to get back up.

To the class of 2020, I hope that you will remember your years at TIS, whether you were here for two years or twelve, with that in mind. There is a Japanese proverb that roughly translates to “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” When you look back at your school years, you might remember some of the times that you fell. But you got up again, and now here you are, graduating. And when you go out in the world beyond TIS, you are going to fall some more. Sometimes you will fall spectacularly. And when you do, just remember to get back up again. And maybe, when you get up, you might just decide that the path that you were on, the one that made you fall, wasn’t the right path anyway, and it took a faceplant in some mud to get you to see that. Falling, and failing, are just signs that you are moving, and thinking, and feeling. In other words, signs that you are human.

So, class of 2020, the first graduating class with three students who have spent the entire twelve years of their education at our school, I congratulate you on your graduation today. I say this whenever anyone leaves our community. You are a part of a very special family, and you will always have a home at TIS. And, wherever your heart takes you from here, I hope you will take a little bit of us with you.