In their blazers, with bright gazes, the Harrow sixth formers look like they are ready to take on what the world has to offer them at the Leaver’s Ball.
Throughout the month of June we have captured the graduation ceremonies of more than a dozen international high schools in Beijing. To review the ones we’ve covered so far, click here. We still have a few more to go, so check in each weekday at 10am for more.
Following English tradition, Harrow does not have a graduation ceremony per se, but their Speech Day and Leaver’s Ball are their equivalent.
Harrow celebrated the sixth form leaves with Speech Day on Saturday morning June 25 with formal speeches delivered by Head Boy Saikiran Adapa and Head Girl Aurelie Babey. They also celebrated with the Leaver’s Ball on Wednesday evening June 29 at the Swiss Hotel, where fellow Head Boy and Head Girl gave informal speeches and prefects, the graduates received their Leaver’s certificates, while celebrating with classmates, friends, and teachers.
Photos of Thursday’s ball can be found in our online gallery here.
Head Girl Aurelie Babey and Head Boy Saikiran Adapa
Saikiran Adapa is originally from Visakhapatnam, India and has been in Beijing for 2 years. He will study engineering at Cambridge University and plans to pursue aeronautical engineering or mechanical engineering in the future.
Aurelie Babey was born in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France and has spent 6 years in Beijing. She plans to study for a Bachelor of Exercise Science: Athletic Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
Here is the speech delivered by Saikiran:
Good morning Honoured Guests, Staff, Parents and fellow students I would like to take a slightly unusual approach to this speech. Next year I am going to university to study Engineering and in thinking back over my time at Harrow I have tried to analyse what makes this school special in Engineering terms: what are the inputs, processes and outputs of Harrow International School Beijing?
Let’s start with the inputs. The raw materials are the students, the staff and the school site.
First the students: there are not that many of us but this isn’t a weakness, it’s more of a strength. It is possible to know everyone’s name, the atmosphere is more like a family and teachers are able to give more attention to each individual.
A feature of Harrow is the close relationships with teachers, who not only teach us the subject, but share their life experiences both of university and beyond. The teaching is excellent and often pushes us beyond the exam specifications.
The new site will no doubt be wonderful but even the current school provides us smart boards, laptops, a new 6th form study room and excellent resources for independent study in the library.
Once you have your inputs you can start processing and the most important process happening in any school is learning. I guess most of you are immediately thinking of academic subjects, and the prizes we have awarded today show that Harrow values excellence across a whole range of disciplines.
I know for a fact that my parents believe academic work to be the most important part of school life, but at Harrow the learning does not stop at ten past three. The tutor system puts emphasis on the whole person, and the student is able to share his problems with the tutor. The leadership in action co-curricular activities, expeditions and house events all add an extra dimension to our learning, building character, experience and social awareness – these can not be taught inside the four walls of a classroom.
For me personally this has been really important. I have learned far more than my academic subjects. Being head boy has developed my leadership, time management, negotiation and team working skills while facing numerous challenges and I would like to thank Mr. Murchie and the prefect team for all I have learned from you. Anna showed amazing strength of character when she took the initiative to carry out fund raisers after the Japan earthquake. Simon’s commitment and dedication have been flawless and it is not surprising that he is the first person at Harrow to complete the International Award at Silver level. Aurelie’s consistency in enforcing the rules around school is amazing and she has been utterly reliable, keeping us on track and reminding us of impending events.
I would like to encourage all my fellow students to learn all you can from each other and to make the most of the tutorial and co-curricular opportunities given to you. Do your best in your academic studies but learn and develop in all your other dimensions as well.
Harrow has a stringent quality control system, which includes the parent-teacher conferences and those reports that teachers hate writing, students hate receiving but parents love reading. I would like to thank all the parents here for your patience and guidance. Thank you for supporting us, both when we do well and when we have bad days – and for baking cakes again and again for every fundraiser without any complaints.
And so we come to the final stage: the outputs. These are the Harrovians you see before you today, whose achievements we have celebrated together. My peers display fantastic qualities: confidence, academic success, global awareness, leadership skills and a strong sense of community.
However as an engineer, this excellence presents something of a challenge. As well as the stages we have considered, there must be some other unquantifiable, almost magical ingredient that somehow transforms the whole so it is greater than the sum of its parts. While I cannot claim to fully understand what this is, as a Harrovian I am very grateful for all that this school has given me.
Here is the speech delivered by Aurelie:
Parents, Teachers, Family, Friends, Governors and Headmaster; Good morning.
I’d like to begin this speech with a quote by Winston Churchill, that reflects my time spent in Harrow. “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
When I first came to this school I could not speak a word of English. I struggled to follow classes, especially Science, which was the subject I wanted to pursue. The first few months were difficult but I was determined, and by December I was confident enough to talk comfortably with my classmates and teachers. Getting involved in class discussions and even taking exams became much easier. This was the first challenge that I needed to overcome at Harrow but as some of you know, learning English is simply the first step.
Success is not final.
Going into the Lower Sixth was a big change, with Mr Murchie fighting a losing battle against our love of technology. Apparently watching movies in your free periods will not help you to achieve high marks in your A Levels – I won’t mention names (*cough*), year 12s. We had Mr Murchie on our backs the whole time about absolutely everything – academics, English, being a role model (repeat the words 3 times).
However, despite the nagging and all of his constant reminders, you realize that the legendary Mr. Murchie is simply trying to help and support you. And we always appreciate that at the end of the day!
Failure is not fatal.
When I had to repeat Year 12 it made me grow even more and want to become a leader within the school! I would not have been Head Girl now if it weren’t for that retake year. The fact that I went for the position has made me the person I am today – determined, strong and committed In French you say “Prendre son courage a deux mains”, take your courage in both hands and you keep going.
Harrow has taught me to be a leader. But what makes a great leader? To me, a great leader has Pride, passion and purpose. Pride the very second you wear that school uniform and walking through the corridors; the passion to lead by example and be a role model for younger students. The passion and the desire to improve, to develop and to grow stronger every day. And finally, purpose. My purpose is to get far in life and to achieve every single one of my goals.
Furthermore, behind a great leader there is a great team. A leader can only be great by communicating well with their team and by delegating to, organizing and managing that team effectively. Without communication you can’t do anything. A team succeeds together.
Most important of all, Harrow has taught me to give to others, whether this be to the survivors of the earthquake in Japan or to a small charity that just needs some blankets and winter clothes. Harrow is a great school in which every student contributes and learns that sometimes it is worth giving up your favorite things to put a smile on an orphan’s face. Even though you have to take different paths in life you will get to your goal one way or another and you cannot give up. Even broken thumbs shouldn’t stop you.
No matter where I end up in life, no matter where I go, I know that I will always be relying on my skills learned at Harrow and am proud to call myself a Harrovian!
To conclude this final year, I would like to thank our families, friends and teachers for supporting and encouraging us through our A Levels without even thinking of giving up on us. A special thanks to this year’s prefect’s team: Sai, Anna and Simon. We have done an amazing job this year, raising tons of money for the sixth form and charity, and we still managed to sort out University stuff and keep up with our final exam studies. So, CONGRATS!
To the new prefect’s team – good luck! We set the bar so high that it is doubtful you’ll do better. Oh well, keep trying. To all the other students, whether you are in Year 5 or coming in to the Lower Sixth, fight all the way for what you believe in and want to achieve, and do not give up. Otherwise I’ll come back here and tell you off. To my fellow Upper Sixth mates, good luck in your new studies, this is not end, just the beginning.
FAREWELL. Thank you and have a great day!