The stars aligned and the weather cooperated on a beautiful breezy spring evening as King’s Academy’s seniors, their proud parents, trustees, faculty, staff and juniors celebrated the school’s 13th graduating class at the annual Senior Parents Dinner on the eve of Commencement.
Taking place in Refectory Square, which was enchantingly decorated for the festivities, the evening began with a warm welcome from Head of School Peter Nilsson to the 138 graduates making up the Class of 2022 and their parents, many of whom travelled from all over the world to celebrate their children’s graduation.
“Tonight and tomorrow celebrate the heart of what we do as educators and as parents,” said Nilsson. “We guide our students and our children through their growth as human beings, mentoring them, helping them develop the character — kindness, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, and intelligence — to lead a meaningful, fulfilling life.”
“Ultimately, our success as parents and as teachers is revealed in how students reach for a more hopeful future, how they pursue opportunity in intentional and thoughtful ways, how they create shared experiences and understandings that build bridges across our differences,” Nilsson continued.
“Moments like tonight and tomorrow ceremonialize this growth. They are opportunities to remind ourselves and each other about what matters most, and to celebrate how your children, our students, are becoming more of the future that we all seek to build together.”
A number of talented seniors then took to the stage to provide the evening’s entertainment — their last time performing as King’s Academy students — including Tia Hammad ’22 who performed “The Swan” on the violin, and Aya Abdallat ’22 who sang a powerful rendition of “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman. On the piano, Hani AlKarrain ’22 played an original piece called “To Dawn” and Omar Arakji ’22 played “Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2.” by Chopin.
Following the performances, five seniors* delivered a multilingual welcome in the five languages taught at King’s, an annual senior dinner tradition, speaking in Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Spanish.
After enjoying a delicious dinner prepared by King’s talented chefs, which was served by 50 student waiters from the junior class, another senior dinner tradition, it was time for the valedictory address.
Each year the senior class selects a faculty member to deliver the valedictory address. This year, the honor was presented to Dean of Academic Affairs Mazen Jarrar, a founding faculty member who leaves King’s Academy this year after having served the school faithfully for the last 15 years.
In a speech full of his characteristic humor, Jarrar reminisced about the earliest days of King’s Academy and noted how much it has flourished since then. He went on to reflect on the school’s diverse community, what he called “the crown jewel of our identity.”
“One can think of this community as a mosaic, one made up of individual pieces spanning the world's different colors, religions, nationalities, and backgrounds,” said Jarrar. “Each and every one of you brings in a unique perspective, outlook, and set of experiences. So, individually, I think you all are great, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this equation; it is when you all combined these backgrounds and experiences that we got this beautiful mosaic that pushed us all to develop further and achieve greater things.”
Next up was the presentation of the Commencement Awards**, an annual tradition recognizing excellence in learning and leadership among students of the graduating class.
A highlight of the senior dinner was the unveiling of the senior class gift, a large-scale replica of a mosaic depicting a camel that was discovered in Amman, which has been laid on Commencement Walk, the pathway where faculty and students start the graduation procession.
Part of a 6th century Byzantine mosaic, the camel carries a basket of stones on its back, indicating that it is hard at work. According to the senior class, camels are known to symbolize journeys, wisdom, endurance, survival, service, self-sufficiency, conservation, and, of course, stamina. The seniors selected this mosaic as it symbolizes the perseverance and resilience of the Class of 2022.
With 77% class participation this year, seniors also contributed a total of 1,518 JD towards the senior class gift which will be donated to the school’s General Student Scholarship Endowment Fund to help future students receive an education at King’s.
To conclude the evening, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Ali Kolaghassi thanked those present and reflected on the challenges of the past few years, remarking on how grateful he is to finally celebrate “together as a community, in person and in relative normalcy.”
“I feel grateful to share this important moment with you all, to recognize and honor our students for their achievements, their resilience and perseverance, their energy and enthusiasm, and their care for each other and those around them,” said Kolaghassi.
*Multilingual Welcome: Chinese: Daria Kuzovkova ’22; Arabic: Madalyn Chapleski ’22; French: Hala Durra ’22; Spanish: Ahmad Sameh Murad; and German: Fadi Massanat ’22
The Arabic Award: Fajer Saraireh
The Arabic as a Foreign Language Award: Yiyao Chen
The Arabic as a Second Language Award: Yanlin Li
The Chinese Award: Fajer Saraireh
The Computer Science Award: Fay Aljasem and Yousef Al Jazzazi
The Creative Writing in Arabic Award: Shahed Ibrahim
The Creative Writing in English Award: Wadei Tadros
The Dance Award: Sara Al Madanat and Yanlin Li
The French Award: Kristina Kantarzis
The German Award: Shahed Ibrahim
The History and Social Studies Historian Award: Kyung Phil Lee and Leen Shadid
The History and Social Studies Social Scientist award: Yuru Wu
The Mathematics Award: Daria Kuzovkova and Yuru Wu
The Music Award: Tia Hammad and Hani Al Karrain
The Peter Greer English Award: Tia Hammad and Najib Abu Nasr
The Physical and Life Sciences Award: Fajer Saraireh and Yousef Al Jazzazi
The Purchase Prize in the Fine Arts Award: Aysha Saar and Yiyao Chen
The Spanish Award: Mays Mehyar
The Theatre Award: Ghalia Zureikat and Wadei Tadros
The Visual Arts Award: Maya Asfour
The Asad Al-Malek Award: Makayla Lawrence and Mohammad Hameed
His Majesty King Constantine Award: Fajer Saraireh
The Middle School Leadership Award: Rashed Al Zoubi
The Perseverance Award: Ahmad Rasheed
The Samar Khader Award: Ian Rossomondo
The King’s Academy Award for Respect: Aya Abdallat and Hani Al Karrain
The King’s Academy Award for Responsibility: Mohammad Al-Labadai and Shahed Ibrahim
The Eric Widmer Award for An Integrated Life: Hala Durra and Kareem Sawalha
The King’s Academy Award for Global Citizenship: Omar Arakji and Yanlin Li
The Viswanathan Award for Love of Learning: Maria Gammoh and Naser Al Bess
Head of School Award - Proudly Jordanian: Sarah Al Madanat and Yousef Al Jazzazi
Head of School Award - International Students: Hanna Kobbs and Mohammad Mushoffa
Head of School Award - Dedication to Residential Life: Fajer Saraireh and Mustafa Al Fadl
Head of School Award - Outstanding Scholarship and Intellectual Engagement: Mais Mehyar
Head of School Award - Outstanding Dedication to the Mission of the School: Layann Wardeh and Wadei Tadros
- Senior Parents Dinner