King’s Academy, May 26, 2016 — Despite the biting cold, hearts were warmed on Monday night when King’s Academy celebrated and honored its seventh graduating class during the annual senior dinner, which took place in the company of proud parents and teachers in Refectory Square.
The senior band entertained guests as they enjoyed a three-course meal served by diligent student waiters from the junior class, and HyeRee Roh, Imam Imam, Rami Ayesh and Sarah Pain delivered a multilingual welcome in the four world languages offered at King’s—Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish.
Headmaster John Austin kicked off the night’s program by thanking the teachers in attendance for their hard work and dedication over the years.
“Great teachers transform and inspire a love of learning—they give young people those capacities and habits that allow for success and confidence, help them to identify their passions, leverage their strengths, and realize their promise.”
Austin also recognized three of the school’s long-serving faculty members who are leaving at the end of the year: Ryuji Yamaguchi, Wafa Al-Sawaftah and Christopher Bossie.
The floor was then given to the evening’s valedictory speaker selected by the senior class, Faculty Member Philip Carr-Harris, whom Austin described as “a man of unusual warmth and caring who connects effortlessly with his students, brings out the best in them and generously offers his time and wisdom.”
In an equally quirky and thoughtful address, Carr-Harris took his students on a proverbial “boat ride” during which he began by drawing from Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Homer’s Odyssey—two narratives that explore “a classical hero’s journey.”
“[A hero’s journey] is never about getting something or going somewhere, but always of becoming something … it’s about allowing life experience to shape, to guide and to invent us,” he said.
Carr-Harris then moved on to the “simple wisdom” behind the story of Abraham, the revered prophet better known in the Islamic tradition as Khalilullah.
“Khalilullah denotes the dearest and the highest of mutual trust and affection,” he said. “The big idea from the story of Abraham is that mutual trust and affection unleashes enormous potential and creates new worlds.”
Steering his figurative boat “against the current, moving towards home,” Carr-Harris ended his speech by offering some of his own words of wisdom.
“As you push off from shore again and negotiate the currents of the great river, remember to leave space in your bags to gather what you will find there.”
Adding extra “sweetness” to the festivities was the hot chocolate provided courtesy of the Dining Hall staff to keep guests warm during the presentation of the night’s Commencement awards.
Seniors Kamaldeen Adisa, Laura Jonsson and Huthaifa Aladwan brought the event to a close when they unveiled the senior class gift and newest addition to the school’s Commencement Walk, a mosaic replica of the ancient map of Jerusalem, towards which the class contributed a total of 2,915 JD. With 100 percent class participation this year, the amount will also serve as the first installment to the Class of 2016 Endowed Financial Aid Fund.
“The gifts of the mosaic and the endowed fund are symbolic of our enduring gratitude towards our beloved school as they are both permanent and everlasting,” explained Jonsson.
Parents of the Class of 2016 also achieved 100 percent participation this year in their contributions towards the Senior Parent Gift — the first time in King’s history — raising over US $283,700 for the school’s financial aid program.
“This achievement stands as a tangible measure and visible symbol of your belief in the school and it allows us to obtain — and make the case for — additional support from foundations and other sources of funding,” Austin said.
The Arabic Award: Monya Twaissi
The Arabic as a Foreign Language Award: Laura Jonsson
The Capstone Award: Rami Rustom
The Chinese Award: Imsong Jeon
The Choral Award: Whitney Anderson
The Computer Science Award: Jun Beum Cho and Karim Itani
The Dance Award: Jianing Zhao
The Ethics, Philosophy and Religion Award: Adham Abu-Abaileh
The French Award: Jianing Zhao
The Historian Award: William Watkins
The Social Scientist Award: Jamal Al Hourani
The Instructional Music Award: Ning Bao and Seok Hyeon Oh
The Mathematics Award: Seok Hyeon Oh
The Peter Greer English Award: Rami Rustom and Jianing Zhao
The Physical and Life Sciences Award: Ahmad AlMbaidin
The Purchase Prize in the Fine Arts: Suhail Nahhas
The Spanish Award: Sarah Madanat
The Theater Award: Ahmad Freihat and Jouman Barakat
The Visual Arts Award: Jouman Barakat and Monya Twaissi
The Asad Al-Malek Award: Aziza Hamidi and Rayan Badrie
The Founders’ Award: Wasan Al-Dalabeeh and Ahmad Freihat
The Hannay-Palmer Award: Amin Janjua and Kinda Abu Hawash
His Majesty King Constantine Award: Faiza Al Bahrani
The Masri Award: Kamaldeen Adisa and Jae Mahn Surh
The Perseverance Award: Fuad Abu Zayyad and Lamisse Abu-Najem
The Samar Khader Award: Monya Twaissi and William Watkins
The Respect Award: Mariam Alsoudi and Ramiz Kardan
The Responsibility Award: Laura Jonsson and Karim Itani
The Eric Widmer Award for an Integrated Life: Jouman Barakat and Huthaifa Aladwan
The Global Citizenship Award: Hamza Siraj and Ning Bao
The Viswanathan Award for Love of Learning: Rami Rustom and Whitney Anderson
Headmaster’s Awards: Saif Kabariti, HyeRee Roh, Imam Imam, William Watkins