Cloudy skies and scattered raindrops couldn’t dampen spirits at King’s Academy’s Convocation and Induction ceremony, held on Commencement Lawn early Tuesday evening.
Marking a new chapter for the school with the induction of Peter Nilsson as the third head of school, the ceremony also looked back at the origins and early days of King’s. Founding Headmaster Dr. Eric Widmer and his wife and former Dean of the Faculty Dr. Meera Viswanathan jointly gave a preliminary address.
“It was nine years ago that we were on this stage together, along with His Majesty, bidding goodbye to the Class of 2010 — our first graduating class — and graduating ourselves,” said Widmer.
“Now we are here again,” continued Viswanathan. “Full of nostalgia, but this time helping to induct your new head of school and his family.”
Viswanathan drew “a wonderful convergence of parallels” between Jordan, King’s Academy and its newest head of school. “All are relatively young, all are hitting their prime, all are fiercely determined yet animated by family, joy in their daily life and a sense of play…and finally, all are intensely curious about the larger global world and the technologies that help us navigate it.”
Reviving an early King’s tradition, Widmer closed the address with a stirring rendition of the unofficial school song, composed by Widmer himself (lyrics below).
Chairman of the Board of Trustees H.E. Mr. Bassem Al-Salem, who formally inducted Nilsson as King’s Academy’s third head of school, said: “In Peter, we have found a thoughtful and driven leader who will undoubtedly continue the tradition of carrying out His Majesty’s vision for King’s Academy and lead it to greater excellence.”
Symbolizing old traditions under new leadership was the faculty-student procession that carried the King’s community to Commencement Lawn. Nilsson and Al-Salem led the march, followed closely behind by Viswanathan and Widmer, who introduced the processional tradition to King’s 13 years ago.
In his address to the attending students, faculty, staff, parents, board members and friends of King’s including Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali, Nilsson extended his gratitude to everyone who played a role in the establishment of the school, especially His Majesty King Abdullah II.
“The founding of King’s Academy,” said Nilsson, “has been an ongoing act of extraordinary creativity. Something is being made and remade here that hadn’t been made here before.”
Nilsson emphasized the importance of creativity as both an academic discipline and a necessary component of problem-solving work on the local and global scales.
This creativity is imparted through the unique nature of King’s not only as a global leader in academic excellence, but also as an international boarding school. “It is in the evenings and on the weekends, in the dorms and on campus, that students build the deepest and most diverse connections with each other, and with their teachers, and with the staff that support them,” he said. “These connections across difference are what lead to deeper and more creative thinking.”
Nilsson invited all in the King’s community to think together creatively about the future of the school and beyond the campus gates.
“The story of King’s Academy is still being written; we are in but the first chapters,” he said. “But we are writing them now. You are writing them. You are the main characters.”
This call to action echoed the theme for the year, XII: Excel, Improve and Inspire, which was presented by Student Leadership Council Presidents Hannah Szeto ’20 and Salam Karadsheh ’20, who emceed the ceremony.
In between speakers, other members of the student body took to the stage to share their creative talents.
An Arabic music troupe performed traditional songs, with oud players Leen Alshabsough ’20, Fawzi Al-Jawhari ’20 and Tala Salman ’20; tableh players Faisal Razoug ’23 and Odai Zoubi ’20, Jouna Hasan ’21 as the vocalist and Karadsheh on the qanoon.
Zaid Al Zoubi ’20 captivated with a Flamenco acoustic performance of “Farruca” by Juan Martín, and the final performance brought members of the community to their feet in an original rendition of “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, performed by Dongmin Kang ’20 and Elea-Maria Abisamra ’21 on vocals, Tala Hammad ’23 on guitar, Jiaqi Xu ’23 on cello, and Seokhyeon Hong ’20 on violin.
The ceremony was followed by a reception and barbeque dinner on Refectory Square.
To King’s we will be ever true,
For our teams, we will always have a cheer.
We’re Lions all, gold, red and blue,
And we roar when our rivals reappear.
Within our Pride, we’re magnanimously proud
We purr at the fame that vict’ry brings.
Defeated, yet our heads remain unbowed,
Of beasts, we truly are the kings.