Dear Eric, friends, proud parents, Class of 2010,
It is a tremendous pleasure to share with you the joy and excitement of this first King’s Academy Commencement. And dear parents, today your children are also my children in my sense of pride in all they have achieved and my admiration for the young adults they have become. King’s Academy, like my alma mater Deerfield, is built on a special idea of what a great school is. Here, students are not products of a system but real participants in the community of learning. From the classrooms to the playing fields, in the service you give others, each one of you contributes to the school’s excellence, ethos and dreams.
Only 10 years ago, King’s Academy was itself a dream, a flash of inspiration during a very energizing conversation I had with Headmaster Widmer at Deerfield. Three years ago, an internationally competitive faculty and staff were on board, ready for students to fill the hallways and classrooms, Dining Hall and Student Union with life, work and lots of noise, and none of this would have been possible without the commitment and efforts of the get-it-done leaders from Jordan and the Deerfield community. Now we gather to celebrate King’s Academy’s first graduating seniors. You are trailblazers helping to make King’s memories and traditions and setting a standard to follow not just in academics but in sports, arts, service and community life. Your friends and families are not the only ones to recognize what you have accomplished. In a very few summer months, members of your class will be opening their books to the world’s finest universities in the US, Canada, the UK and across our region. Every single graduating student is college bound; Harvard, Yale, Columbia, McGill and many, many more distinguished universities. Congratulations, Class of 2010.
My friends, helping young trailblazers has been a mission of King’s Academy from the beginning. We need leaders in the next generation, your generation, to have the knowledge and courage to push ahead – men and women who can focus on the future they want for themselves and their families, their neighbors, and work together for the future we share. And when I say future I don’t mean some distant someday, but starting right now. Here at King’s, you have been living the values and activities that can help fulfill that promise in your hallway spirit, classroom engagement and international dialogue, and there are countless other ways you and other students make your good citizenship real – Ramadan, an everyday outreach, environmental and water concerns, humanitarian crisis relief and more. And it’s not surprising to me how well the Deerfield model has adapted to the rich cultural heritage of Jordan and the Arab world. Both draw on deep respect for human dignity, equality, faith and knowledge. King’s students from different backgrounds experience and countries have come together here to serve, to share, to learn, and last month, to mourn. Ahmed Tarawneh has a place in our hearts on this graduation day. Now this class goes forward and I know that King’s graduates will take with them the cheers of their teachers, coaches and staff; all the people who put their hearts and talent into helping students experience the excitement of achieving and the joy in helping others succeed. And I must say a special word of thanks about your headmaster who leaves this year.
Eric, your spirit is in the very walls of King’s Academy. All the best that King’s stands for you have shown us every day; your concern for others, your love of learning, your personal commitment to making a difference. King’s will miss you more than you know. But in the most important ways, it will never lose you. Thank you. And Meera, we are glad to have you with us today. You have been missed and we will always appreciate the invaluable contributions you have made to King’s Academy.
My friends, in the fourteenth century the wise Ibn Khaldoun said: “Travelling in the pursuit of knowledge is absolutely necessary.” He was referring not only to acquiring new knowledge but engaging with new people from whom we can learn. All of you will be travelling soon. You can’t do better than take the open minds, creative spirits and sense of community you have learned here. And if you remember nothing from today’s speeches, please remember this – we all believe in you. No matter what field is in your heart – art, science, education, public service, business or something entirely new – you will be leaders in the years ahead. Thank you very much.