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Headmaster's Remarks at Commencement 2018

Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished guests, trustees, family and friends, alumni, students and, most especially, the graduating Class of 2018.

 I am honored, on behalf of the faculty and staff, to welcome all of you to King’s Academy’s 9th Commencement.

First, I congratulate the Class of 2018 – well done. You have brought spirit, energy, initiative, and a hunger for excellence, and we rightly celebrate you and all of your accomplishments. Today is your day. But it is also a moment to thank all of those who have made this day possible. 

As a wise member of the senior class recently wrote to me, “No one attains success on their own. Our lives, our achievements are shaped and aided by others.”

We give thanks to His Majesty, for his vision for this school, for all schools and for the future of the kingdom. We are honored to have His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein with us to celebrate Commencement. Your work on behalf of young people is an inspiration to us and a reflection of our hopes for this graduating class — and of all of the youth of the kingdom.

We thank all of those who keep this country safe and it borders secure, and we are grateful to be in a country that has long been a place of refuge for the disposed and the homeless.  

We are thankful for the leadership of the King’s Academy Board of Trustees, past and present, and its chairman HE Bassem Salem, and for all of our friends who have believed in us and brought this young school to where it is today.

We are thankful for our dedicated staff, who have done so much to make this year, this commencement on this beautiful campus possible. And we are thankful for this faculty, who have taught, mentored and advised you, our students, with such patience, wisdom, and generosity.

Most importantly, we thank your families, your parents and grandparents for their support and trust, for their sacrifice, for the great gift of sharing your lives with us. 

As much as today is a celebration of each of you and of your class, it is also a celebration of this community, and of the power of communities to support and challenge, nurture and transform. We create our communities, and our communities, in turn, make us; and when they are strong and vibrant — as this one is — they give us strength and courage, they enable us to discover our best selves; they sustain us with hope and love; they imbue within us a sense of possibility and optimism.

Not long ago I attended a great class. The teacher announced that they would be having a Harkness discussion. And for 40 minutes the class moved effortlessly from question to question; the insights accumulated; the dialogue, the depth of understanding, was rich and deep. The teacher virtually disappeared, as the students directed the discussion, challenged one another, moved the class from insight to insight. I said to the teacher at the conclusion of the class that I would be reducing his salary — or perhaps replacing him with one of you. I don’t think he was amused by my joke. What I was really thinking, though, was that he had achieved what all great schools — and teachers and parents — strive to do: to make themselves, in the end, unnecessary.  And that class — the rising voices of the students and the gradual disappearance of the teacher — is a metaphor of what we hope for you: to speak in your voices, to take charge, to lead, to forge your own path, to make a difference for others and your communities — even as you pursue individual excellence and challenge yourself to be your best. Today you assume full responsibility for the direction of your education and your lives.

The truth is, you no longer really need us, and some of you, I know, are more than ready to get rid of us: and that is as it should be. But we will of course be with you — all of us — and we hope you will return to what will always be a second home. The collective strength of your families, and of all of us here, is with you. But it is time, and you are ready. So, with great pride and hope, we say to you, Class of 2018, congratulations and God speed. 

At Commencement, two students deliver orations, one in Arabic and one in English. To give this year's oration in Arabic, I'm pleased to present Mohammad Shdaifat. 

To give the English oration, please welcome to the podium Hanan Dudin.

Every Commencement, by a vote of the full faculty, we give two awards: the Academy Cup and the King Abdullah II award. Both of these awards will be presented by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein.

The Academy Cup is given to a leading scholar of the graduating class whose academic work has been characterized by deep scholarship, curiosity, and a love of learning. This year we are pleased to present the Academy Cup to Rand Al-Harahsheh.

Named in honor of his Majesty King Abdallah II Ibn Al Hussein, the founder of King’s Academy, whose leadership serves as an example to all of our students, this award is given to a member of the graduating class who most fully embodies the ethos, spirit and guiding principles of the Academy. This year, we are very pleased to announce the award goes to Omar Abdelaal.

I am delighted to introduce to you our Commencement speaker, Lana Ghanem. Lana is a part of a rising generation of young leaders within the corporate world who are rethinking and recreating in fundamental ways how 21st century business should work. As the director of corporate strategy and development at Hikma Pharmaceuticals, her task is to ensure that Hikma remains innovative, forward-thinking, agile, open to new ideas and fully responsive to a changing technological and economic landscape that is in a state of continual transformation and disruption. We think of schools and businesses as different kinds of entities — but the best of both have cultures that are innovative, collaborative and entrepreneurial. They create cultures where people bring out the best in one another. Promoting those qualities and harnessing the creativity of others has been Lana’s passion and I am delighted that she will be sharing her experience with you, the Class of 2018, as you embark on the next great chapter of your lives. 

Lana is a graduate of McGill University and Harvard Business School. At Hikma, Lana chairs their Innovation and Advisory Board and directs investments in high tech health start-ups. These investments in digital health technologies have the promise of extending access to quality health care and improving the health and wellness throughout the Kingdom and to underserved populations throughout the world. In March, and in recognition of astounding early successes as an investor and leader in a field long dominated by men, Lana was named one of the leading venture capitalists in the MENA region. Lana, welcome to King’s and thank you for speaking with us today.

Now, I would like to invite to the podium our Director of External Affairs Alia Wakileh who will read the names of the Class of 2018 as we award them their diplomas.

Thank you, seniors. Your Royal Highness, parents and guests, I present to you the ninth graduating class of King’s Academy, the Class of 2018. Congratulations!

Last updated
June 12, 2018