With the end of the academic year overlapping with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the annual senior parents dinner — this year an iftar — was a doubly festive occasion. The unseasonably warm weather was matched only by the warmth of feeling felt by the proud parents, faculty, seniors and juniors who gathered in Refectory Square to celebrate the school’s ninth graduating class on the eve of Commencement.
The evening began with Headmaster John Austin’s heartfelt welcome to the parents of the Class of 2018, many who had travelled from all over the world to celebrate their children’s graduation. The evening’s festivities, Austin noted, was intended not only as a recognition of the Class of 2018 and its many accomplishments, but also as a celebration of the strength and spirit of the King’s community.
Members of the school orchestra*, teachers and the Class of 2018 provided guests with entertainment, performing a selection of classical arrangements and pop songs to the delight of those gathered.
Austin then handed the floor over to Rayan AlShathri ’18, Tulein Hamdan ’18, Nasser Gammoh ’18 and Laith Kassisieh ’18 to deliver a multilingual welcome in the four world languages taught at King’s, speaking in Chinese, Arabic, French and Spanish respectively.
Each year, the senior class selects a faculty member to make the valedictory address at the senior dinner. This year, they selected Head of the Department of Mathematics and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dragana Babic Al-Mahasneh, for whom the honor was particularly poignant as her son Daniel Al-Mahasneh ’18 was one of the graduates.
Babic Al-Mahasneh’s valedictory address, full of inspiring words and amusing anecdotes about her students, ended with this reminder: “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.”
Next up was the presentation of the Commencement Awards**, an annual tradition recognizing excellence in learning and leadership among students of the graduating class.
“A great senior class literally carries the school on their shoulders,” said Austin. “It is to our students that our younger students look for models of engagement, responsibility and scholarship; it is to the seniors that the faculty look for poise, maturity, and most importantly, leadership.”
This year, for the first time, the recently established King’s Academy Alumni Association (KAAA) took the floor to congratulate the seniors and share a few words of wisdom. KAAA President Hayat Abu Samra ’10 and King’s history teacher Ghassan Gammoh ’10 jointly welcomed the seniors to the alumni family and reminded them that they will always be ambassadors of the school and of the region.
“Over the next four years, you will have the luxury and space to really figure out who you are. What you love. What moves you. What you believe in and how to fight for it. As you move on to this next chapter, know that the alumni association is here for you — always. We’re here to give you a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose and a space to connect with each other and with our beloved school,” they said.
To conclude the evening, after guests had tucked into the delicious iftar served by 65 student waiters from the junior class — another senior dinner tradition, Talal Kolaghassi ’18, Rafé Zoubi ’18, Joud Al Daaja ’18 and Nour Al Karadsheh ’18 unveiled the senior class gift and latest addition to the school’s Commencement Walk, a mosaic replica of the “Two Lions” mosaic originally constructed circa 600 CE and recently discovered in Um Al Rasas.
“The colored stones that make up our mosaic were gathered from the very same hills leading to the Dead Sea that artists 1,500 years ago surely mined,” said Kolaghassi. “Roman artists frequently chose lions as their subjects because they convey strength, courage and power. We like to think that those same attributes apply to our class as well.”
*Orchestra: Abdullah Abuomar ’18, Ahmad Al-Daoud ’20, Ahmad Ismail ’21, Ahmad Zoubi ’21, Chao Shang ’19, Cyan Brady ’18, Elias Tannira ’20, Fuad Khoury ’21, Geena Baber ’19, Hadeel Shawwa ’19, Hani Karrain ’22, Hannah Szeto ’20, Hanqi Yang ’20, Hongxiang Fu ’19, Jamileh Awamleh ’21, Jianqiao Gao ’21, Jiwoong Jeon ’19, Josephine Koehring ’22, Jude Dakkuri ’19, Jude Hajhamad ’20, Jungho Park ’20, areem Fanous ’20, Kenda Ahmad ’19, Laith Kassisieh ’18, Lara Yousef ’21, Leen Alshabsough ’20, Letong Qian ’20, Marym Younes ’21, Minjeong Kim ’19, Mira Haddad ’21, Mohamad AbuGhazaleh ’20, Mohammad Chen ’21, Nidal Morrison ’19, Nofe AlBakhit ’21, Qingyi Lou ’18, Raghda Obeidat ’20, Ramez Dababneh ’18, Raseel Haddadin ’21, Rui Wen ’20, Ruofei Shang ’21, Saed Manasrah ’20, Salina Haddadin ’21, Samar Hamidi ’19, Seif Ariqat ’18, Celine Kishek ’18, Seokhyeon Hong ’20, Seung Hyeon Oh ’19, Seyoung Jang ’19, Sham Kassisieh ’21, Shuo Chen ’19, Sihan Shen ’20, Tala Salman ’20, Yanlin Wu ’20, Yujung Park ’18, Yuxuan Cao ’18, Zaid Zoubi ’20, Zeena Al-Fayez ’19, Zhengyu Su ’21, Ziming Li ’18, Carolyn Jean Cunningham, Haley Kost
The Arabic Award: Balqees Al Shorman, Anaise Amer
The Arabic as a Foreign Language Award: Gunhwi Roh
The Arabic as a Second Language Award: Anais Amer
The Capstone Award: Anaise Amer, Rafé Zoubi
The Chinese Award: Ayham Fakhouri
The Choral Award: Yuxuan Cao
The Computer Science Award: Karam Imjali, Ramzi Dajani
The Creative Writing Award: Eliana Al Kunsol
The Dance Award: Aya Arafat
The Ethics, Philosophy and Religion Award: Rand Al Harahsheh
The French Award: Noor Tamari
The Historian Award: Hadeel Abu Ktaish
The Social Scientist Award: Faisal Alkhalili
The Instructional Music Award: Celine Kishek, Qingyi Lou
The Mathematics Award: Qingyi Lou
The Peter Greer English Award: Yuxuan Cao, Noor Tamari
The Physical and Life Sciences Award: Laith Al Hadeed, Meran Manasrah
The Purchase Prize in the Fine Arts: Sara Nahhas
The Spanish Award: Gunhwi Roh
The Theater Award: Eliana Konsul, Khalid Abdulaziz
The Visual Arts Award: Nuo lu
The Asad Al-Malek Award: Noor Tamari, Yazan Aryan
His Majesty King Constantine Award: Balqees Al Shorman
The Perseverance Award: Ziming Lu
The Samar Khader Award: Balqees Al Shorman
The Respect Award: Amr Mecca, Noor Karadsheh
The Responsibility Award: Mona Matouq, Omar Abdelaal
The Eric Widmer Award for an Integrated Life: Rafé Zoubi, Eliana Konsul
The Global Citizenship Award: Hanan Dudin, Laith Kassasieh
The Viswanathan Award for Love of Learning: Farah Hanandeh, Ramzi Dajani
Headmaster’s Awards: Balqees Al Shorman, Mohammad Shdaifat, Yuxuan Cao, Anaise Amer, Osama Gedeon, Rafe Naber