King's Academy, June 9, 2011—Last week, the King's Academy community gathered on Commencement Lawn for the graduation of the Class of 2011. Although it was the school's second Commencement ceremony, it marked the first time four year seniors marched across the stage to receive diplomas.
Held in the presence of His Majesty King Abdullah II, this year's event featured the return of Founding Headmaster Eric Widmer and former Dean of the Faculty Meera Viswanathan as the evening's Commencement speakers. Fittingly, the two combined to deliver the Commencement address to many of the same students they welcomed to King's when the Academy opened in 2007.
Widmer's presence also allowed him to take part once again in one of the traditions he brought to King's: the faculty-student procession known as the Widmer Inversion Gauntlet (WIG). His Majesty and Headmaster John Austin took the lead in the march, followed closely by Widmer, Viswanathan and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Karim Kawar. The rest of the faculty filed in according to the number of years they had served at King's.
In his opening remarks, Austin expressed gratitude to all in attendance - students, faculty, staff and parents - for their endless contributions to the growth of the school in its short history. Addressing the seniors in particular, he commended them for what they would leave behind.
"Each of you has succeeded brilliantly and in so many ways," he said, "but it is your spirit and leadership as a class that is your most powerful legacy."
In listing many of their accomplishments during their time at King's, Austin kept his greatest compliment for last.
"As much as anyone, and in many ways much more than anyone, you are the Academy's founders," he said."
Austin then gave way to what he referred to as "one of the Academy's great traditions," the senior orations. This year's orations were delivered by Ali Shajrawi in Arabic and Reed Ghandour in English.
Next came the presentation of the two major senior awards that are reserved for Commencement. Abdullah Khalayleh received the King Abdullah II Award, given to a member of the graduating class who "most fully embodies the ethos, spirit and guiding principles of the Academy." The Academy Cup was presented to Faisal Akkawi as this year's valedictorian.
In the Commencement address, Viswanathan began by congratulating the seniors for "keeping that special faith in the spirit of the Academy," and urged them to consider the unique attributes they would carry out into the world as graduates of King's.
Reflecting back on their four years, Widmer credited the Class of 2011 with "bringing the school to a new level of distinction" on account of the work they had done in all aspects of school life. His parting words referred to a quote from His Majesty back before the school was founded.
"His Majesty said that the school will be "utterly idealistic, utterly progressive, utterly optimistic...and utterly necessary." Now I say to you seniors, that exactly the same can be said of you," he said.