Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, family, friends, students, alumni and, most especially, graduating Class of 2012:
It is my great honor to welcome all of you to King’s Academy’s third Commencement.
As I look out at the Class of 2012 – and all of us gathered here today – I feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratitude:
We are grateful for the inspired leadership of Their Majesties and their deep commitment to education, opportunity and the social welfare of children;
For the dedication and support of the King’s Academy Board of Trustees, past and present, and its chairman, His Excellency Karim Kawar;
For all of you who have believed in us and who have supported the Academy with such generosity;
We are grateful for your families and your parents, and for the faith and trust that they have placed in the Academy by sharing these precious years with us;
We are grateful for our staff, whose commitment and hard work has made this beautiful occasion possible;
And of course for our faculty, who have advised you, coached you, taught you, lived with you and prepared you for the challenges that await you beyond King’s.
One of your parents, who is here today, once said to me after watching his daughter debut in one of our plays: “It is amazing to watch one of your children grow up and then do something that you never dreamed they would be able to do.” Doing the unimaginable – how beautifully that statement captures the idealism and the mission of this school. How beautifully it captures the transformative power of a great education; how it can awaken and discover in young people unknown potentials. How beautifully it captures how you have exceeded even what we, your teachers and parents, imagined for you.
Like that proud father, we are humbled by what you have accomplished. Throughout your time here, you have taken risks – not something, I am afraid, schools always encourage – and embraced the discomfort that comes with real learning. No doubt, it would have been easier for you to remain at your old school, but you made a different choice – a bolder and more adventurous one – by coming here, and you have fully embraced the opportunities you have been given. You have trekked the Himalayas and the Wadis of Jordan, and created our first adventure club. You have led service trips to Gambia, Swaziland, Palestine and throughout Jordan. You led us to full membership in Round Square in Thailand last year and, because of your commitment to the values embodied in this school’s mission, have made it possible for us to host the International Round Square Conference in October of 2014 – a tremendous honor for the school and for the Kingdom. As ambassadors for the school and the region, you have traveled throughout the world – to the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, to Korea, to Kenya and to schools on five continents – representing your country and this region with grace and pride.
You have played more games and won more athletic tournaments and competitions than any previous class, competing with grace and sportsmanship. In your theater and musical performances, declamations, fine arts and dance showcases, you have moved us and affirmed the transforming power of art and creative expression. You have helped create enduring traditions – Spirit Week, our first day of thanks and appreciation devoted to our staff and, on the occasion of Ms. Ruba and Mr. Chris’s coming wedding, our first real zeffeh. You organized our first TEDx conference. You were among the first students to take courses through the Global Online Academy – a pioneering effort in global online education. You have brought imagination, curiosity and engagement to our classrooms.
Perhaps most importantly, you have helped build a more enduring and more powerful sense of community. Great residential schools are welcoming and radically inclusive. Arriving here from throughout the world, you have forged friendships across the boundaries of nation, creed and differences in language and background, and in that way you have helped us glimpse a different kind of future – one more just, more caring and meritocratic. At school meetings, in the Rexonian, with your many campaigns, school partnerships and civic initiatives, you have deepened conversation at the school about the most pressing issues facing your generation. With a burning sense of justice and in the spirit of solidarity, you have sought to give voice to the invisible or forgotten and you have challenged us to think differently about the world – about war and social justice; about environmental sustainability and water conversation; about the rights of women, the homeless and the stateless. You have rallied support for disaster relief in Somalia and Japan, for cancer research and cerebral palsy. And because of you some families now have homes through Habitat builds, some who are hungry have been fed by turning SATs into bites and the many children you have mentored and taught here on campus, in Madaba and throughout Jordan, feel a renewed sense of hope. Because of you and your leadership these efforts have been strengthened here and across Jordan, and they will continue – and that is a great and lasting legacy.
The only thing that remains, really, is for you to keep going – to take the spirit and values of King’s with you as you leave and to continue the work you have begun here. As I said to you in September, you are tremendously powerful – much more powerful than you know. This is not the power of wealth or position. It’s the power – symbolized in that diploma you are about to receive – that a great education confers upon you; the power to use what you have learned in the service of something greater than yourself and to serve it with passion and integrity. We know that you will use this power well – and not simply for yourself but for your families, your community, your country, your sovereign and the world. You are ready to leave and as you do, know that we believe in you and that you, the Class of 2012, will always be a part of us and of this school. We will miss you.