Dear TIS Class of 2021,
In the year that AM joined our school, we had 9 students in total at the beginning of the school year. When HK joined our school in 2009, we had 44 students, and we were not yet officially an International Baccalaureate World School. We gained authorization for the Primary Years Programme when AM and HK were in Grade 2. By 2013, when FE, MI, ZK, and MY joined in Grade 5, we had 117 students, and in 2014, we gained authorization for the Middle Years Programme, just in time for them to start Grade 6. When KS, MY, KM, and KY joined in Grade 6 and 7, we had around 150 students, and we had made the decision to offer the Diploma Programme, but we still didn’t have enough classrooms to do that. When DF, HN, JS, NN, MT, and ET joined in Grades 8 through 10, we were authorized for the Diploma Programme, but we still hadn’t graduated any students from the DP. Then, MM and BS joined after our first DP students graduated in 2019.
This class has witnessed our school going from nine students to the 285 that we have today, and has experienced our campus growing from one building with 10 classrooms on a small parcel of land to a two-building school with its own forest. The members of this class have been a part of our school’s journey to becoming a full continuum IB World School offering the PYP, MYP, and DP. At this point, I would like to thank all of you for having faith in our school and believing in our shared vision of becoming the school that we are today. It has been my absolute pleasure to share this journey with you, and I hope that you will come back and see how much farther we can get now that we have built such a strong foundation with your help.
I’m trying to keep my speech under three minutes long, so I will leave you today with a quote from Lady Gaga.
You are the seeds that will grow into a new and different forest that is far more beautiful and loving than the one we live in today.
Lady Gaga’s constant message, through her songs and her career, is that it is okay to be you, it’s okay to be different, and it’s okay for other people to be different too. Dear Class of 2021, I hope that your time at TIS has taught you to have the kind of insight and empathy that Lady Gaga wants us all to have. When you leave our school and go out to write the next chapter of your life, you will encounter people who are not just different from you, they might have opinions and views that are actually diametrically opposed to yours. Here’s what I hope that you, as a graduate of Tsukuba International School, will choose to do when that happens: rather than shutting people down, or labelling them or their views as worthless, make the braver choice to take the time to listen to, and learn from, all people that you encounter, and aim to accept and celebrate the full range of human diversity.
The entirety of the TIS community — younger and older students, parents, and teachers — has come together in the forests of Kamigo to help you become the person you are today. Know that we will always be proud of you and we will always want to hear about your successes and your challenges, so please come back and visit us whenever you can. Carry what you have learned at TIS with you, in your heart, no matter how far you roam, and think of all of us whenever you are in a forest.