It is my great honor to welcome you this evening as we mark King’s Academy's first decade, as we celebrate His Majesty King Abdullah’s inspired vision for this school, and as we honor all of you who have embraced, supported and realized this vision. For the building of this school is the expression of many hands and many hearts, so many of which are here this evening.
As parents, as civic and business leaders, and as citizens, we know that there is no greater gift than the gift of an education. We know that our future — and our children’s future — depends upon schools. They are not simply engines of positive change; they embody, through the lives of young people, hope and optimism and goodness.
To create a school like this you have to be certain of who you are and of what you hope to be. Since its early, heroic years — as its founders and architects planned, designed and built the campus and welcomed King’s first 112 students (a story so beautifully captured by my friend and predecessor Dr. Eric Widmer in his memoir The Founding of King’s Academy) — since those early years up until today this school has always kept faith with its mission. And its mission has always been about one thing: opportunity.
We know that talent and ability are to be found in every sector of society, every town, every city and every village. We know that throughout Jordan, and across the region, there are young people of potential and ambition crying out for an education like this one.
King’s was inspired by them, created for them, and it was founded on a set of simple, yet radical, ideas:
That a single school, dedicated to excellence in teaching and learning and drawing on the finest traditions of education — embodied by such schools as Victoria College and Deerfield Academy — can make a transformative difference in the world;
That Jordan needs a school open to all young people of promise, irrespective of wealth or background, faith or nationality;
That this kind of diversity — REAL diversity — so rare in schools and yet so precious, is itself the most powerful, life-altering form of education;
That leadership and character and service and virtue matter more now, than ever before.
And, most importantly of all, that KING's should be that school – today, tomorrow and for future generations of Jordanians.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein – graduate of the Class of 2012 – captured the essence of our hopes in his speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations just a few weeks ago when he celebrated those he called “the young dreamers,” and “the fearless idealists” — a phrase I wish could be inscribed above the door of every classroom in every school across the kingdom.
Tonight, we stand together in solidarity with these young fearless idealists: the 670 King's students here now, and the almost 1,000 more who have graduated from here over the course of the school's first decade.
They have come to King’s from almost 50 countries and six continents — curious, adventurous, eager to learn about this region, its language, history and traditions, ready for challenge.
They have come to King’s in flight from the wars of extremism that have engulfed the region and displaced so many, in search of learning and affirmation: from Aleppo and Hama, from Qarabagh and Kabul, from Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
And they have come from towns and villages throughout Jordan: from Karak, Zarqa and Mafraq, Salt and Wadi Musa, Irbid and Maan, Tafila and Madaba.
Almost a full generation of students has now passed through our gates, graduated, and fanned out from this campus to the most distinguished universities and colleges across the world. They leave this campus ready to shake things up, challenge the status quo, create, innovate and make change. They are ambassadors from the east to the west, strengthened by their experience here, armed, uniquely prepared, and eager to face the challenges of the 21st century. And in this process, they have already put King's squarely on the international map, as one of the most interesting and innovative schools in the world.
And this is happening because of you. Because you made it possible for these boys and girls to join this school. Because you have made it possible for them to make a difference in the world — as they are doing even as we gather tonight.
This evening is about Their Majesties’ vision for education. It’s about the power of schools to bring down barriers, to create new paradigms of thought and understanding and, quite simply, transform the world.
This evening is about renewal: renewing that noble cycle of generosity, goodness, hope, optimism and resiliency that have always been at the core of the kingdom and that was reaffirmed when each of you stepped forward and said, YES, we want to be a part of this bold experiment, this new story of a better, more inclusive future for all; when you said: YES, we will build this school.
Your Majesties, thank you for inspiring us with such a generous and bold vision of education. Thank you for challenging us to dream bigger than we ever thought we could. And thanks to each one of you here for standing beside us. With your support we greet this next decade ahead with optimism, a new sense of possibility and unbounded hope.