King's Academy, June 10, 2012 — Seniors were in good company on the evening of May 28 as they gathered in Refectory Square for the Third Annual Senior Dinner with their proud parents, faculty members and very special guests Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah.
Faculty Member John Leistler led the King's Academy Choir in a moving rendition of Jonathan Larson's "Seasons of Love" before Headmaster John Austin officially welcomed the attendees in their celebration of the Class of 2012 and "its many, many accomplishments."
Ziad Lababdeh '12, Majd Masannat '12 and Sumaya Awad '12 joined Austin in his welcome by extending their greetings in the three world languages taught at King's — French, Spanish and Chinese — a tradition started at King's two years ago.
After dinner, guests were treated to another choral performance, this time of Don Besig and Steve Kupferschmid's "Take These Wings," before Austin introduced the night's valedictory speaker chosen earlier by the senior class. This year's selection was founding faculty member and current Head of the Department of Mathematics Dragana Babic Al-Mahasneh.
"If you asked them (Dragana's students) what makes her a great teacher and school person, they will tell you that she is brilliant and inspiring," Austin said. "That she has an uncanny ability to communicate the underlying beauty and complexity of mathematics, and that she cares deeply and unconditionally about her students."
Babic Al-Mahasneh then took to the podium to deliver a heartfelt speech in which she expressed her awe and appreciation of the Class of 2012.
"There is one thing that really makes you different from the classes that graduated before you," she said. "And that is your strong determination to learn and earn high grades."
Impressed by the hard work and perseverance demonstrated by her students throughout the year and touched by the bonds they inevitably formed, Babic Al-Mahasneh had no trouble displaying her confidence in the success of the graduating class.
"I do not have to worry about your future — your determination will lead you through your lives and help you in fulfilling your dreams."
The remainder of the evening was dedicated to the presentation of the Commencement awards (see list of award winners at the end of this article).
"These awards celebrate much more than academic and artistic excellence," Austin said. "They also honor the values and the qualities of character that make the Academy distinctive: service to others; civic, community and global engagement; leadership and initiative; the spirit of teamwork and collaboration."
Senior class representatives Khalook Al-Yassin, Noor Masannat, Mohammed Al Sawaf and Yasmine Abuzeid then presented Dean of Students Julianne Puente and Senior Class Dean Chris Bossie with the Senior Gift. Ninety-nine percent of the class contributed to four locally crafted, handmade benches allotted to the King's Academy Peace Garden and intended to "allow people to absorb and appreciate the magnificent and serene landscape." The token of appreciation is also meant to provide a place for community members to reflect quietly, engage in conversation and recall fond memories.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees HE Karim Kawar ended the night by offering the graduates a few final thoughts on global citizenship and new beginnings, reminding them that as they go on to bigger steps in life, King's Academy will always be home and they will "always be connected to this place."
Class of 2012 Commencement awards
The Arabic Award: Noor-Eddin Amer, Jooho Shin
The Computer Science Award: Noor-Eddin Amer
The Dance Award: Lubna Faraj
The Ethics, Philosophy and Religion Award: Tarik Al-Bahrani
The Peter Greer (English) Award: Omar Halawa
The Fine Arts Award: Nadine Zaza
The History Award: Dima Saad
The Math Award: Jooho Shin
The Music Award: Dima Alhourani
The Science Award: Noor-Eddin Amer, Hamzeh Naghawi
The Theater Award: Giulia Abdel Latif
The King's Academy Purchase Prize in the Fine Arts: Abla Kawar
The World Languages Award: Dima Saad
The Eric Widmer Award: Mounir Ennenbach
The Samar Khader Award: Zeyna Tabbaa
The Founders' Award: Nadine Zaza, Mutasem Al Dmour
The Hannay-Palmer Award: Zain El-Jazara
The Masri Award: Jumana Sha'aban, Osama Sbeitan
The Perseverance Award: Bashar Abu Al Ghanam
The Round Square Award: Hunter Bell
The Rubicon Empowerment Award: Anwar Abu Shugair
The Asad Al-Malek Award: Zeid Morcos, Maria Garzon-Ruiz
The Viswanathan Award in Love of Learning: Divij Mehra, Fakher Elfayez
The Viswanathan Award in Respect: Hussein Abdullah, Maheera Hussain
The Viswanathan Award in Responsibility: Mohammad Sarhan, Juman Tabbalat
The Viswanathan Award in Integrated Life: Sumaya Awad, Omar Halawa
The Viswanathan Award in Global Citizenship: Henry Reynolds, Dima Alhourani
The Headmaster's Award: Ziad Lababdeh, Azzam Fakhoury, Zarifa Hamidi, Ayman Barghash, Anvisha Azmat, Noor Masannat