Your Excellences, Dr. John, parents, colleagues and the Class of 2014,
I am truly honored to be standing here today addressing the Class of 2014 – my very dear class. My relationship with this class goes back to the very first day you joined King’s Academy four years ago. I was your dean for two years, I have taught some of you, I have lived with some of you, I have advised still others of you and most importantly I have connected with a lot of you on a personal level, which was my favorite part of being a teacher.
Let me share a very personal story about me. I never thought I would be a teacher when I was young. I actually did not know what I wanted to be. All I knew is that I never wanted to be a doctor! But looking back at my childhood, teaching and leading was in my blood!
When I was four years old, my family lived in England. Coming from my hometown of Salt, my father wanted me to learn English, so he invited our neighbors’ children to our house to help me learn to speak English. A couple of hours later, my dad checked on us and found to his surprise that all the English kids were speaking Arabic! So I guess my being a teacher was meant to be.
Although many of you would like this evening to be about how awesome I am, I am here to revel in how awesome you are – my dear Class of 2014. So what makes the Class of 2014 special?
Well the answer goes back to Wikipedia. In an article about human emotions, the psychologist Paul Ekman classified six basic feelings or emotions. These are: scared, excited, angry, happy, sad and tender. And you, my dear Class of 2014, managed to make me feel ALL of these basic emotions throughout my journey with you. Oh yes, you made me laugh, you made me cry, you drove me crazy, you made me run in my heels to chase after you. Actually you are the reason I have grey hair.
As I think back on the last four years, I can remember stories that I associate with all of these six emotions. I would like to share some memories with you and I will start with how I was scared of you.
When Ms. Julianne asked to be the freshman dean, I was extremely scared. I imagined that you would be ferocious little people running all around the place, just like the minions in the movie Despicable Me. I have to admit that I spent a couple of sleepless nights that summer worried about who the Class of 2014 would be . . . little did I know that this class would be the dearest to me.
However, my fear turned into excitement the moment I met most of you during orientation four years ago and I just loved your energy. Actually I will never forget that there was a zaffeh group performing on Commencement Lawn, and a lot of you got on stage and danced. Well some of you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Well it is a big deal for the youngest new students and on their very first day of school to have enough courage to go on stage and dance in front of everyone. It really says a lot about the kind of students you are: courageous and energetic!
I think it is beautiful irony that we first greeted you as freshmen on Commencement lawn, and it is the same place we will say goodbye to you as seniors in less than 24 hours.
Now, I need to be honest here and admit that there were so many times that you guys made me angry – well some of you made me angry. I was angry whenever I asked about your uniform and you said: “Oh Ms. It is underneath my hoodie!” Or when I asked about your tie and you said: “Wallah Ms. I have it in my bag!” I was angry because I wanted you to pay attention to details because I believe that for you to be a disciplined person, you should be committed to small things as well as big. I hope some of you take this lesson as you leave King’s and if you still do not understand why I was angry, please see me after this.
But my anger could not last long because you – every one of you – made me happy with your sweet smiles or when you simply said good morning to me. You made me happy every single time we achieved our goals as a class: when we won the declamations and public speaking contests, when we won the garbage disposal [competition], when we won Spirit Week, when you served last year’s seniors at this very same dinner and set the a positive example to the current junior class. And last but not least, when you shared with me very special moments in my personal life by witnessing my marriage to Mr. Chris and the birth of my daughter Jeeda. You are part of my family and will always be.
The last two emotions clarified by Ekman are sad and tender, and at this moment I feel both of them simultaneously. Class of 2014, I want you all to look around, I want you to look at the faces of your classmates, your teachers, your family members. Capture this bittersweet moment and cherish it, a moment that will never happen again. You will never graduate from high school again! This moment brings us all together to honor you, a moment that brings sadness to my heart. Yes, I am sad . . . sad that you will not be with us next year, sad that I will not be harassed about co-curricular add and drop, sad that I will not be harassed to name my baby after you, sad that I will not see your happy faces every day. It is a strange kind of sadness that is mixed with tender feelings and warm-hearted wishes and hopes for each and every one of you.
I wish you fill your hearts with kindness.
I hope you seek wisdom in your lives.
I hope your find your inner peace.
I hope that you keep in touch with all of us.
And finally, remember us, your second family at King’s. We are and will always be here for you.