Congratulations Class of 2015: BCIS Valedictorian Imparts Words of Wisdom

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The last bell tolls as Beijing international schools come to the end of another academic year. Though graduates worldwide celebrate the milestone of receiving their hard-earned high school diplomas, the accomplishment is perhaps no greater felt than global cities like Beijing where the transient nature of the international school community often means kids form fast and long lasting bonds with students and teachers from all over the world. The time has come, however, to say goodbye as the class of 2015 begins their ascent into adulthood.

Beijing City International School welcomed their graduating class of 2015 on Saturday, May 30 with graduation held in the BCIS Theatre. Over 300 family and BCIS community members attended the event. BCIS grads received acceptances to prominent schools in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. Class valedictorian, Devon Hsiao delivered the following speech at the ceremony:

Graduates, parents, esteemed faculty and administration, good morning, and congratulations to the Beijing City International School class of 2015. Before I begin my speech, on behalf of the graduating class of 2015, I’d like to thank Mrs.Colleen Drisner, the BCIS DP coordinator, and our grade 12 advisors Mr. Kevin Bradley, Mr. Richard Todd, Ms. Olivia Chen, Ms. Selina Zeng, and Ms. Friedman. You helped us navigate this stressful last year of high school, and kept us on track throughout all the deadlines and forms. I’d also like to thank our subject teachers for their guidance and support, and for always pushing us to do better. Finally, I’d like to thank all of the parents here today for your unwavering belief in us. It’s been rough I’m sure you’ve all witnessed plenty of tears and frustration. I myself have had a few epic meltdowns where I was convinced that I would fail everything. Without our parents at home to comfort us when we were most vulnerable and encourage us when we felt defeated, it would have been so much harder for all of us to be here today on this stage. I’d also like to thank the sofas in the senior lounge for always being there for me.The DP program is like a fuzzy woolen sweater, pre-washed in the tears of past students. Sometimes unbearably annoying and uncomfortable, yet sometimes exactly what you need on a cold day to stay toasty. Like a sweater that is two sizes too small, at times the supervision and rules we had to follow felt restrictive. However, the guidance from our teachers provided a senseof security that we will all miss, although some of us might not fully appreciate it till now. To theBCIS diploma students, I haven’t forgotten you. You might not have had to endure the full IBDPprogram, but you’re still an integral part of the senior community. Each of you has been given the opportunity to pursue your own goals and challenges. What we have in common is the hard work and effort we’ve all put into achieving our goals and overcoming challenges. Over the past two years, we’ve experienced many ups and downs. We’ve achieved great things, such as the successes of senior-led events such as the 2015 Dance Battle and our second ever BCIS Teacher Idol. We’ve taken on leadership roles in the community by establishing the Banana Art Festival and the Aquapulse photography club. From involvement in math competitions at Harvard, creating instruments out of fruit in physics, and eyeball dissections in biology to music concerts and art exhibits, the class of 2015 possesses a full range of abilities and talents. Although we probably need to improve our hotpot cooking skills to avoid setting off fire alarms in the future. We’ve had to face the dreaded May exams, and all of the stress that comes with them. We’ve conquered pre-exam jitters, TOK presentations and sleepless all-nighters before EE and IA deadlines, and have all emerged with valuable knowledge and skills that we will definitely put to good use in whatever we choose to do following high school. Now, it’s time to focus on the future. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m terrified of starting college. I’m terrified because decisions are scary. I’m not that good at making them, and in about three months I’m going to have to start making a lot of decisions on my own. At college I’ll probably gain 20 pounds in the first six months, and will have to spend the next two years figuring out how to balance my diet and exercise. No matter what we all do after graduation, be it going to college or taking time off, we will all have to start making decisions; decisions about our diets, our careers, our education, and our social lives, to name a few. No pressure. However, this fear that I feel, that I’m sure all of you feel to a certain degree, is good. It will keep us on our toes. Decisions are scary, but they’re also exciting. We will get to control how we live our lives. Although we will all without a doubt make many, many mistakes, I have faith that we will be able to solve whatever problems we encounter, and to learn from our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. BCIS has given us the safety to make mistakes and learn from them so we can successfully navigate and solve future problems we will face. We are all so incredibly privileged to have had access to an amazing education and opportunities. BCIS has empowered us to achieve great things by challenging us, and now, it’s our turn to put the compassion and determination that we have learned here to good use. I would like to share some wisdom from the rapper and philosopher Kanye West with my fellow graduates. In his song “Brand New” he says “They say your attitude determines your latitude.” My attitude is still a work in progress. Some days it’s harder to stay focused on the positive and to stay motivated. However, I believe that the skills and hard work ethic we’ve developed here at BCIS as well as the international mindset with which we embrace the world, will help us in developing an attitude that allows us to succeed in whatever we set our minds to. I wish the class of 2015 all the best in their future endeavors. Thank you.

Photos: Courtesy of BCIS

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