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Valedictory Speech: Ms. Dragana Babic Al-Mahasneh

Dear guests and parents, my family, dear faculty and Class of 2018,

I am proud and humbled to be selected by the seniors to give a speech in front of all of you tonight. One would think that it is probably easier to come up with something smart and funny, something memorable this time compared to six years ago, but believe me it is not. It’s actually harder as I am addressing you tonight as a both teacher and a mum, fully aware that it is impossible to share with you all my thoughts and feelings before you leave King’s Academy.

I feel strongly connected to this class, not only because Daniel is a part of you, but because I know each one of you. For the past four years you discussed with me your course selections, schedules, and graduation requirements, or came to my office to complain about your math teachers. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to teach a quarter, or to be precise 27.211 percent, of this class. And some of you — Qingyi, Yuxuan, Osama, Ziming, Gunhwi, and Yunfeng — were my students for two consecutive years.

Even with all the holidays and breaks that we have, teaching is not an easy job, and the Class of 2018 — especially its male population — has certainly been a handful. But each time I walked into my classroom, I felt energized and happy, and there was no other place I would rather be. I enjoyed every single moment I spent with you.

I often remember the beginning of this school year. My AB students were oddly quiet, so only later did I realize that while pretending to be scared of me, they had kept assessing the situation. And after a few weeks, my lessons turned into comedy shows. Many times, I felt like babysitting some of my students instead of teaching them cool calculus stuff. In my C block, almost every day, I had to remind Ayham to get his pencil and take notes, which was difficult since he rarely had a pencil; Seif to stop playing with his hair and focus; and Omar to not flex his upper chest muscles while solving questions on the board. In the other class there was Wael, who usually came to class late and would immediately start complaining because he had to sit in a wooden desk chair. Of course, he refused to see the connection between being the last to arrive to class and having the worst seat in the classroom. After dealing with Wael, I would turn to Rafé, a.k.a. Mr. President, who would, with Zaid’s support, hold at least one press conference daily in my class. And then there was Carl, who graduated himself in December and enjoyed drawing comic books on his exam papers. And last but not least, Osama with his so-called jokes. The famous one goes like this: “Ms., are you cold? If you are, stand in the corner, it’s 90 degrees.”

Looking at you, guys, tonight, wearing suits and looking mature, it’s hard to believe that this was really happening. I did not mention any girls, you probably noticed, because the girls in this class are mature, independent, and composed. Nours, Talas, Balqees, Dina, Tuleen, Sara, Celine, and the other young ladies, are the true strength of this class — no offense to the guys.

Here at King’s, we love graduating senior classes. Knowing that your prefrontal cortexes have not been fully developed — as this happens by age of 25, and in some cases never — we started graduating you immediately after winter break. We hoped that you would not do anything reckless or impulsive and force us to intervene (you know what I mean).

The nice thing about this group of seniors is that it wasn’t really difficult to handle them since they never agreed on anything. They could not even organize a decent senior prank. They had one though, where they planned to hide from their teachers in seven groups around campus, but of course, this never happened and they ended up running to the stadium together, and stayed there singing and shouting until Mr. Ryuji came to pick them up. 

Well, the journey that lasted four years came to an end so quickly. It was a true pleasure watching you grow, transform and become the persons you are today. You are now eager to leave King’s and your homes, taking with you your goals, hopes, and ideas. You are planning to become successful people and make your dreams come true.

There are so many things that you will need on your next journey, but there are three I consider very important: a love of learning, determination and self-belief. To be successful and achieve excellence, you need to love what you are doing, and learning is what you are going to do for next three, four, or more years. When I think about my students and their love of learning, I see Dareen, Ramzi, Nour, Rafi, Farah and so many others. And then I think about Dina, Zena, Rasha, and my other students who had faced difficulties studying calculus concepts, but did not give up, and stayed with me till the end of the school year. This determination to overcome obstacles and see it through to the end will help you pick yourself up when you stumble. And stumble you will. You also must believe in yourself and believe that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

While I was writing this, I suddenly remembered the words Martin Luther King used to address a group of students at one high school in Philadelphia six months before he was assassinated. Those words of wisdom are highly inspirational and they speak to all of us, and not only to our graduating students, so let me share them with you now.

“You’re going to be deciding as the days and the years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. Once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and to do it well. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star, for it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.”

“In your life’s blueprint must be a commitment to the eternal principals of beauty, love and justice. Well life for none of us has been a crystal stair, but we must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”

This is indeed very powerful.

There is one more thing to add. You should never forget, my dear son and my dear seniors, that when you spread your wings, we, your parents, wish you to fly high. If you miscalculate your moves, if you forget how to find the derivative of your trajectory, and lose altitude, we will be here for you, to support you and encourage you to continue. Because we believe in you deeply and we love you unconditionally.

Congratulations to all of you, the Class of 2018.

Last updated
June 12, 2018