To all of our special guests, faculty, staff, administration, parents, friends, and family members, whether here or online watching live – I offer you my thanks for your pride and presence as we come toward the close of this, our 29th commencement exercises for the class of 2022.
Our special gratitude to our board members who are present here and watching online today, led by Board Chair Kay LaBanca. Thank you for your courage and leadership through difficult times. You represent and defend the needs of the community with honor and capability! It is a pleasure serving with you all!
Ambassador Brzezinski. I offer special thanks for your message today. Our bonds with the Embassy are always strong. Today you refresh this partnership with your presence and your words, not just as a wise diplomat and friend, but also as an ASW parent with similar hopes and dreams for your own in the years ahead.
Can and Nina, thank you for representing your classmates so well. You both bring a unique and thoughtful perspective — born for both of you through spirit, dedication, and enthusiasm. You have represented your classmates well and we thank you for your service to the greater good, a model for us all!
Ms. Hassan, your message will long be cherished by the students seated before you who both respect and appreciate you for all that you have done, and continue to do, in service to teaching and learning each day. You are a fine choice as a representative of a world class teaching faculty that can only be revered and honored for their commitment and dedication under the most difficult of circumstances.
Whether here in the auditorium or watching from home, we thank you all, the staff of ASW, for your unwavering dedication. Faculty, counselors, administration, and support staff have all been the beacons of hope and resilience for students and parents during the darkest of days. I thank you all for your continued demonstration and modeling of the core values we all hold in highest regard.
We know as an international community that many of our graduates have had other schooling experiences before joining us here in Warsaw. Some even stay with us for a time, leave for a bit, and then return. It is part of being an international school that we embrace this regular flux of change and transition. Over twenty nationalities sit on this stage tonight. But, as has been our tradition, I’d like to recognize some Warriors, nurtured at ASW from the beginning of their schooling experience all the way to this graduation. As I call these names, would you please rise and remain standing so that we can recognize all of you as a group:
12 Students have been identified as having been at ASW since either Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten:
Pre-Kindergarten – Age 4:
- Hung Dung
Pre-Kindergarten – Age 3:
Please recognize these students and their families as this year’s Warriors of longest standing.
I offer a simple message of closure today, punctuating a splendid return to our favorite venue and leaving behind the bumpers and headlights in hopes that they can be fond memories, but never again a reality. Many thanks to Mr. Sheehan and his team as they dusted off their memories and brought back all but a few of our traditions in short order as it became clearer each day that this would be possible.
I’m inspired tonight by a quote that I think may resonate despite the challenges that seem to surround us. This class is the first to have run the full course of our most recent challenge. As you entered your final two years in the Diploma Programme, we had just emerged from lockdown and you are now experiencing life as we emerge from a long and winding, and often daunting, tunnel. So, here’s the quote I bring today:
From past American President John F. Kennedy – “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
While I value that we all believe that there are lessons that we have learned in recent years — and that silver linings should be plowed into new realities, I would ask you to challenge yourself and consider for a moment the unknowns rather than the knowns. While we should all celebrate that we have survived, or will survive, it can unfortunately leave us short-sighted and often too busy in the moment to be inspired by imagination and possibility.
While tired at times, at my core, I’m an optimist. In the darkness, I still seek light. In despair, I look for threads of opportunity. And even in success, I seek aspiration and vision looking toward the next horizon.
I want you to embrace this with me – this optimism and excitement. Like every educator and parent in this room, I wanted to give you a better world, empowering you to embrace it – our legacy is your hearts and minds engaged in finding what has not yet been tried, what has not been considered, what you can bestow upon the next generation.
Look around at the faces in the audience, filled with pride and inspired by your growing. When you greet your family and friends at the reception, see the joy in their eyes that is inspired by your journey, incomplete, but full of promise and potential.
Embrace your parents today in a new way. Thank them for all that they have done to support you, but more importantly just make sure they know that you love them and always will. That’s the only thing that is truly important on this day and in this moment as you prepare for what comes next.
Let’s embrace this with smiles and pride as you cross in front of us. All sins are forgiven, officially for the school at least, and may you always look to the future rather than the past, embracing the optimism that is life.
Class of 2022 and your parents, thank you for letting ASW be part of your lives. We love you and wish you nothing but the best in all that you seek and do!