Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Your Highnesses, Prime Minister, Your Excellencies; distinguished guests, family, friends, students, alumni and, most especially, graduating Class of 2013 – it is my great honor to welcome all of you to Kings Academy's fourth Commencement.
Commencement is many things: it is a moment to pause and, with hope and optimism, look to your future; a celebration of you and your families; it’s an opportunity to say farewell; but it is also a time to express our gratitude – to everyone who has made this day possible. As all of us gather here today to mark your graduation, we are reminded that your education was not an accident. That you are here today is the result not only of your determination and spirit but also of the imagination and sacrifice, the care and hard work of many, many other people – parents, staff, faculty, trustees – working together in support of your aspirations and the mission of this school.
King’s stands not only for educational excellence; it stands for opportunity and inclusivity, welcoming students from across the globe and from many backgrounds. We are grateful to His Majesty for the founding of this school and for a vision of education that is inspiring and noble, and we are humbled to be a part of it.
We thank all of you who have supported this vision and helped make it a reality: the King’s Academy Board of Trustees and its Chairman, His Excellency Karim Kawar, and to all of our friends who have given so generously to the school.
We are deeply grateful for the beauty and grandeur of this campus and to those who work, day in and day out, to maintain it, and we are thankful to all of our staff whose dedication has helped make Commencement possible.
I wanted to thank all of our parents, grandparents and extended families for the faith and trust that you have placed in the Academy and for sharing with us these precious years.
A wise colleague of mine once said that children do not learn subjects – they learn teachers. This is particularly true of King’s, where our faculty act not only as classroom teachers but as advisors, mentors, coaches and dorm parents and where they model the virtues of patience, humility and generosity. The work of a teacher at King’s cannot be timetabled, it cannot be measured. I am deeply grateful to this faculty – for their commitment to the unique mission of this school, their love of young people and for the care they have shown towards your children.
Every headmaster knows that the success of the school year depends upon the character, imagination and the leadership of the senior class: each fall we ask the senior class to reinvent the school anew, affirm its guiding values and establish a culture at the school that is uplifting, challenging, vibrant, kind and inspiring. Each fall we ask ourselves: will they rise to the challenge of the senior year, with all of its pressures? How will our seniors manage the competing demands of friendship, leadership and the quest for individual excellence and university acceptance? Will they come together, in the way great teams and orchestras do, and create something more inspiring and stronger than the individuals who compose it? Will they embrace the responsibility to lead?
I say from my heart that you have been an amazing class, and we are deeply proud of you – of the way you have led the school, of the way you have come together as a class and of the graceful, spirited way you have finished the year.
We are proud of the generous way you – and your families – have welcomed students from across the globe to the Kingdom, including our first group of intrepid Arabic Year students and exchange students from schools in India, South Africa and Australia; of the way you have forged friendships across differences of language, background and nationality, and created a powerful sense of community.
We are proud of the curiosity and spirit of inquiry you have brought to the classroom; how you have made the campus a place where the civic virtues of dialogue and debate can flourish, demonstrating the powerful relationship between learning and citizenship – in symposiums, in student-led conferences and at school meeting where you regularly engage our guest speakers with questions that are searching and acute.
There have been many firsts this year; the first bi-lingual debate tournament; the first youth musicians orchestra; the first celebration of Peace Day. You brought King’s Academy Model United Nations conference to campus for the first time. You have paved the way for King’s becoming an eco-school. You have strengthened the school’s commitment to service and community engagement with your work with Round Square, Reclaimed Childhood, Habitat for Humanity and with your support of medical research and refugee relief.
Your declamations seem more powerful and moving with each passing year. With you, Spirit Week seemed more spirited and, as so many of your teachers have said to me, the days leading up to Commencement have been more joyful than ever before. The last weeks of school have seen a flurry of performances – in music, theater, improvisational comedy, film-making, dance – a celebration of the spirit, energy and creativity of this class, and your deep feelings of affection for one another, for your teachers and for this school – a fitting culmination to your time here.
We know that you are ready – ready for the challenges and independence that university will offer, ready, as ambassadors of this Kingdom and the region, to take out into the world what you have learned here, ready to make a difference – as you have done here. As you leave today, know that this, the King’s family, will always be your family and we will always be there for you, the Class of 2013.