“What we do is so important. The ongoing relationships that we make are impactful, the opportunities we have to enrich young people’s lives are immense. I am thankful for each opportunity that I have had, and I encourage you to rejoice in these opportunities.”
Friday 9th April marked the official last day of school for our Grade 12 students, and they were farewelled in style, with a final assembly that took place via Zoom.
“Ordinarily” is a word that we have all used a lot over the last 12 months. Ordinarily, we would be together in the Black Box Theatre for this assembly, connecting about our leavers’ journey of schooling. Ordinarily, this assembly would involve a lot of live performances from our talented cohort. It would be held in front of our whole Secondary family, and it would include being able to witness a smile, a glance, a human connection.
But as you know, we were not able to do that. Like so many of the disruptions that have taken place in the world of our Grade 12 students over the past year, they took it in their stride and sought to make the best lemonade out of the lemons they had. It is worth highlighting this collective fortitude as this cohort will go down in the history of ISPP as one of the most courageous and resilient.
Students and loved ones near and far attended the assembly and were entertained by Theavy, Vortey and Chay’s outrageous musical talents. Every year, Grade 12 students vote for a teacher to provide the keynote farewell speech. This year, hearing from Mr van Olst who combined a History and Latin lesson once again to highlight our learners’ courage and resilience. We heard from Mr Jones, who gave us his take on the Grade 12 journey using the term “bounce-back-ability” to describe how our students have dealt with the various challenges during their final years. Lastly, we paid tribute to the whole cohort through a farewell video montage put together by Anouk and Gillian on behalf of the Grade 12 students.
To our Grade 12 students, congratulations, I salute you. Know that your teachers feel a sense of loss for every cohort that moves on from our school even though you leave us. There is an immense sense of pride in them, knowing that they were part of your journey and in the relationships they have built with you. This sentiment is probably best summarised by the words of Mr Polglase, who sent this message to the Faculty in November:
What we do is so important. The ongoing relationships that we make are impactful, the opportunities we have to enrich young people’s lives are immense. I am thankful for each opportunity that I have had, and I encourage you to rejoice in these opportunities.
I hope that you will look back on your opportunities at ISPP with pride and remember your time here with fondness.
Remember us, once a Falcon, always a Falcon.
Jonathan Smedes | Acting Secondary Principal
Each year, Grade 12 students nominate a teacher to represent and make a speech on behalf of the faculty at the final assembly on their last day of school. This year’s assembly was held online, and the speech, made by Mr van Olst, is reproduced here as a memento for our leaving students.
Farewell speech to Grade 12
Friday 9 April 2021
The sun was setting on a dying world order when on the 8th day of the 8th month in 1914 the ship Endurance left the safe harbour of Plymouth, England, and Ernest Shackleton’s team set sail for a grand adventure: the first crossing of the South Pole. Yet it was everything but smooth sailing: by December the ship was surrounded by loose pack ice, by February it was out of control, packed in by the ice and therefore dependent on the forces of nature. It was adrift. On 27th October the order was given to abandon ship when the force of the ice cracked the Endurance. On the 21st of November, the men who camped out on the ice sheet saw the ship go down in the icy waters. The ship Endurance may have sunk, not the spirit of endurance of these 28 men. While the war raged in Europe they waged their own battle, the fight for survival, trapped in the Antarctic wilderness. About the length of the DP programme, these men had to rough it, tapping into their ingenuity, creativity and collaborative spirit. In the end, 25 out of the 28 men survived the ordeal because of their resilience.
Resilience is the nexus between you and Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition. When you embarked on your Trans-DP Expedition 105 years later, the waters seemed calm and the sky blue. Yet soon the storm clouds of Covid gathered and you found yourselves stranded online. Then the exam ship sank. But because of your resilience, you weathered the storm.
Resilience, from Latin re back and salire to jump, to bounce back. To maintain an adaptive attitude in adverse circumstances, to stay positive in times of turmoil… Whatever definition, you have displayed these qualities and as Faculty we want to pay tribute to that: thank you for being such a positive and collaborative cohort!
We recognise that it was difficult to be physically cut off from peers and friends, from the normal daily routines and to have to do much of the schooling alone from home. As if times were not tough enough there was the tragic loss of two of our valued community members, Mr Polglase and Mr Jacobs. Our thoughts are with their families.
Yet despite all this you persevered and (maybe unwittingly) adopted some of the protective strategies of resilience like focus on schooling and intellectual endeavour, family and community. You tried to give these events a place in your young life, tried to give meaning to them and tried to find meaning in the future. Luctor et Emergo reads the motto of the sea-bound province of Zeeland, “I struggle and will rise”, the coat of arms a defiant lion emerging from the waves. Or in the more mundane words of the famous Dutch philosopher and amateur footballer, Johan Cruijff: “Every disadvantage has its advantage.” You have no doubt grown (together) stronger, each playing your own individual role on this stage. One of the assets you will take with you leaving High School is that you can put on your cv that you lived through the Covid times. Employers don’t simply look at what knowledge candidates have, they want a diverse, skilful and resilient employee. The future is full of new and exciting opportunities. From the old world order, a better one can arise and you have the chance to be one of its engineers. Hence, aspire to your dreams and put your potential into practice.
There may still be some anxiety about the IBO calculation of your grades and what impact that may have on your university and/or college applications. Please rest assured that ISPP is on the case, that we have your best interests at heart and that we are here to help you move forward in the best possible way. Support you where you have supported us by being the kind and warm-hearted young ladies and gentlemen you are.
Now, Cherubs, it is your turn to spread your wings, leave the safe parental harbour and sail on your new adventure towards the sunrise. As Faculty we wish you all the very, very best; stay in touch; take care and stay healthy.
Rave on, Cherubs!
Edwin van Olst | IB DP History/Psychology/Theory of Knowledge/IB MYP Individuals & Societies