There was an air of excitement and anticipation at King’s Academy on Wednesday, May 24 as the school community prepared itself to celebrate the 14th King’s Academy Commencement, held under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah.
As throngs of cheerful parents, family and friends of the graduates filled up the rows of chairs on Commencement Lawn, and faculty donned their ceremonial robes before taking their places for the procession led by the royal bagpipers, every King’s student in grades 7 to 11 lined up on either side of Commencement Walk ready to cheer the seniors on as they took their final walk as students across campus.
Head of School Penny Townsend began her Commencement address with words of thanks to those assembled. Addressing the 134 seniors, she said: “You have enriched our lives and enriched our school. You will matriculate in the finest institutions of higher education in Jordan, in the region and abroad. You have given back to your communities; you have brought innovation to King’s. You have gazed at the stars through the best telescope in Jordan which is one of the most powerful in the region. You have dreamt big. Your actions and achievements have helped to write the history of this young school.”
“We are in the region where the three great religions began,” continued Townsend. “We have expansive deserts that stretch beyond our imagination and seem to go on forever. We have serious water issues that influence our thinking about the future. Our diversity is unique, and we are a young school that invites creativity and flexibility and has the kind of energizing energy that something new should have. You are graduating today from a school of the future.”
In their joint Arabic Oration, Rajaie Asbah ’23 and Humayd Dada ’23, from Palestine and South Africa respectively, reflected on the unique journeys that led them to King’s Academy as well as the challenges, joys and memories made along the way.
Speaking of their gratitude for King’s Academy and its close-knit, supportive community, they said: “It has instilled in us knowledge and virtues and inspired in us a love of learning and discovery, and taught us to respect differences.”
After thanking parents, teachers and mentors for “clearing the thorns from our path,” Asbah and Dada poetically compared the Class of 2023’s journey over the past year to a ship on stormy seas. “We set out on our last voyage, we unfurled our sails, sharpened our resolve, and cut through the waves. We put our faces to the wind, and stayed the course no matter what storms were thrown at us, we remained steadfast and determined, standing tall like mountains.”
In her English oration, Yasmeen Abuelezam ’23 likened the challenges faced by the Class of 2023 to those faced by Shahrazad, the main character in the famous Arabian collection of tales known as One Thousand and One Nights.
“Like Shahrazad, we too will go against the current and it will try to sweep us away,” said Abuelezam. “But let me tell you, those forces will not succeed because no matter where we are, we will remain grounded in the beliefs and values that King’s rooted in us which will allow us to weather every storm.”
“As we have left our marks on King’s, so has King’s left its mark on us,” continued Abuelezam. Because we are lions, we will dazzle in every encounter, leaving our mark on people and the world with compassion, charisma and ingenuity. That is King’s gift to us.”
Townsend then presented the two most prestigious awards given during Commencement: The Academy Cup, which was awarded to Nermeen AlOmari ’23 for being a “leading scholar whose academic work has been characterized by deep scholarship, curiosity, and a love of learning,” and the King Abdullah II Award, which went to Karim Nabilsi ’23 for “fully embodying the ethos, spirit and guiding principles of the Academy.”
Next to take the floor to give the Commencement address was Faher El Fayez ’12, a King’s Academy alumna who currently works in Washington D.C. as a communications officer at the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Sharing with graduates the steps that led to her joining the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at King’s Academy before being awarded a scholarship to join the school and, upon graduation four years later, another scholarship to attend Georgetown University, El Fayez said: “Life is a series of doors — many of which have yet to present themselves. The paths to these doors vary but with curiosity, big dreams, and purpose, you can open any door you want.”
“Whether you realize it or not, today — as you walk across the stage — a door stands before you,” she continued. “It’s up to you to decide which direction you take from here but let me assure you are already at a great starting point being a King’s Academy graduate.”
Leaving the graduates with some encouraging advice, El Fayez concluded: “I am standing here today, honored to be speaking on behalf of our alumni, to tell you that you are about to walk through a very exciting door. A door that I hope is the beginning of a journey that lets you do three things; be curious, dream big, and give back. So, grab your bike and enjoy the ride.”
This year’s graduates are off to some of the most reputable colleges and universities around the world, where they will be studying all kinds of programs, including art history, international relations and politics, engineering, business, psychology, health sciences and computer science. The institutions they will be matriculating to include the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Yale University, Columbia University, Wellesley University, McGill University, University of Toronto, Waterloo University, McMaster University, King's College London, University of St. Andrews, the University of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Amsterdam.
In addition to receiving a wide range of acceptances from top institutions, seniors also earned an impressive amount of financial aid awards and scholarships, totaling around US $4.1 million to be used during their four-year matriculations.