The Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB) class of 2013 were all sporting crimson and white graduation gowns and caps – the colors of both China and Canada – as they marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” on the evening of Tuesday, June 18. 32 students from 9 different nationalities, including Uzbekistan, USA, Canada, and Singapore, were all smiles as the opening addresses were made. 21 students graduated with honors, and many students were accepted into prestigious universities such as New York University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Toronto, and The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
The students were proud yet nervous as they seated themselves in front of the crowd. After the national anthems of Canada and China were sung, Mr. Andy Truong and the parent of a graduate, Dr. Liu, Peng Hui, made addresses to the class. The nerves seemed to disappear once the graduate’s video was played. Hopeful acoustic music played as a slideshow of the graduates from younger years and recent times were displayed. Some pictures caused laughter, others caused cooing.
Following the video was an address to the graduates from Guy Saint-Jacques, the Canadian Ambassador to China and a senior class song, “I Believe I Can Fly,” with solos from two students. Zhiye (Sherry) Jiang then gave her valedictorian address, comparing high school to TV seasons. Awards were then given to outstanding pupils and the diplomas were presented. The graduates then tossed their caps in the air, hugged each other and jumped with enthusiasm as the song “Here’s to the Night” by Eve 6 played.
After the graduation, the students, parents, and friends attended a banquet to celebrate the Class of 2013.
The class valedictorian, Zhuye (Sherry) Jiang, was born in China, but lived in South Africa for most of her life. In 2009, she moved to Beijing to attend CISB. She will go to New York University this fall and will be studying economics. Below is the text from her speech.
Members of the CISB board, His Excellency, Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques, Mr. Prescott, honored guests, administrators, parents/guardians and graduates: Good Evening.
My name is Sherry Jiang and I am honored to be addressing you as the valedictorian of the class of 2013.
You know when a season of a TV show ends? And you are left with those cliffhangers that make you feel needy? Will the characters end up where you think they will? Will unexpected things completely change the course of events? Will new characters come in and disturb the dynamic? There are just so many unanswered questions right now. We’re nervous. We’re sad. We’re nostalgic. But above all, we’re excited for the next season.
This day does not only mark the end of high school, but also, the last 18 years of our lives. The past 4 years have truly been great. But if internal assessments and IB exams made up the best 4 years of our lives, then we have done something wrong.
We have each chosen our own path and no matter where we go, we take a little bit of each other. And the road that led us here was carved by many.
Firstly, parents. I think I can speak on behalf of all the graduates by saying thank you! Your parents are the ones that love you the most and want the best of everything for you. They stood behind you through kindergarten with the colouring books, elementary with the writing books, middle school with the group projects and finally high school with the final exams. Thank you for your love, support and equally important – your encouragement!
Secondly, teachers. They are responsible for teaching the required curriculum but nowhere in the job description does it say that they should become appropriate friends with their students, be passionate with what they teach while making sure each student is comfortable and is living up to their full potential. In the past 4 years, all of my teachers have been great. They have prepared all of us for this moment: The day when we leave high school to face the reality of the world. They have taught us to be open minded, to know when to compromise, to understand others and to communicate with each other. Thank you teachers for your care. I believe that I am and my peers are well prepared to take our place in the global world.
Thirdly, friends. Those crazy ones who create great memories with you and yet still stand by you during tough times. The best of friendships make you feel like you have a second family. Sometimes they are there for you in ways that a family cannot be and that’s what make them special. Over the last 4 years, friendships formed, friendships ended and now new friendships are about to begin. High school is really the time when you realize who your true friends are because they are behind you through every thing and they give you unconditional support. I believe we have made a couple of long-lasting friendships in high school and I sincerely hope we still keep in touch with each other in the future. Maybe one day a couple of us will get together again and discuss all the stupid things we did in high school and all the crazy memories that we created. Thank you grads for building lasting memories for the class of 2013.
Lastly, I would like to end with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”
Thank you, and congratulations to the Class of 2013!
Photos courtesy of CISB. To see more graduation photos, see online gallery.
Emily Thomas is a beijijngkids intern from Indiana, US. She is a junior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Emily enjoys desserts, animals, and writing funny blogs.