Most of us standing here today have spent the 3 years of high school together......My experience with them tells me to give myself at least 3 years time to be persistent with something I intend to do, because time and composure bring us wealth that I cannot articulate today.”
Student Speaker, Class of 2023
Graduation Speech Script: “3”
Dear teachers, families and distinguished guests: I am very honored to speak on behalf of Keystone’s Class of 2023 today.
“3” is an interesting number, in general.
Triangular structures are deemed stable; a triangle has 3 sides.
A minimum of 3 notes is required to determine the function of a chord in classical music.
The “rule of 3” in language and literature, states that any ideas, thoughts, events, characters or sentences that are presented in threes are more effective and memorable.
The number “3” is also important to Keystone.
“Ding” as in “Ding Shi” refers to the 3-legged Chinese cauldrons.
We need a score of 3 to pass any IB SL courses.
More importantly, our education is also centered over the 3 “Keystones”: Character and Community, Chinese and English, as well as China and the World. Over the years studying and living here, we have acquainted ourselves with these 3 ideas, and began embodying, learning to coexist with the Keystones in our everyday lives.
Besides, however, please allow me, in the next 3 minutes or so, share 3 things Keystone may have brought us; those we want to remember.
The first begins when I attended World Civilizations class under Ms. Dorothy, whom we adore as our grade level leader with Ms. Helen, and wrote my first take-home essay on the history and lifestyles of Early Humans. In which assessment, I got a 3, out of 8. Regardless of how clueless I was, as someone who barely used English in his life prior to my arrival at Keystone, I was still perfectly aware that 3 was not a very good score. I remember looking at my paper with confusion, but soon gathered myself as I realized how little work I put into the assignment. “I think I can do better”, I told Ms. Dorothy in a resolute and determined matter. She said: “I trust you.” Today, history is one of my favorite subjects. I am unsure if every classmate has gotten a 3 in an exam before, but I am positive that our teachers here have said the same 3 words Ms. Dorothy told me: “I trust you”, at the times when we struggled. We grow under the umbrella of trust and encouragement, and such an environment makes us confident, composed and courageous. “Life is a summative assessment”, as my advisor Mr. Pienaar would always say. When we receive another 3 in an exam, or if we approach a score of 3 in life, I am certain that the 3 words Ms. Dorothy told us would echo in our heads, as we take the next steps, to rise up from where we fell.
The second point comes from the Student Life department, where 3 is “the magic number”. To put that in context: whenever we break the same rule for 3 times, things get a bit serious for us in the office on the 3rd floor. I will not reveal if I have personally been in this situation, but some of us may have bitter-sweet memories in relation to this practice. Mr. Olwande, Ms. Shen and Ms. Hopkins often tell us: “we do this because we love you”, though I personally do not think that “love” is the ideal verb. For me, and I think for many of us, rules become habits. The magic number of 3, ergo, becomes a principal we uphold. Making bad choices is often a characteristic of risk-takers, those willing to challenge themselves and the environment, and this philosophy marks a fine line before going too far. We should recall that mistakes are permitted, as long as they are under the magic limit of 3 times, to keep ourselves accountable and safe under any circumstance.
Thirdly, last but not the least, is a garbled, general, yet genuine remark. Most of us standing here today have spent the 3 years of high school together. During this time, we have met each other: From utter strangers, some become friends, some move further, and become touchstones for the future. I have met some of the most amazing people whom I cannot be more grateful for. The DP course takes at least 2 years to complete, and us becoming friends takes even longer. My experience with them tells me to give myself at least 3 years’ time to be persistent with something I intend to do, because time and composure bring us wealth that I cannot articulate today.
3 words, 3 times, 3 years. I hope the number “3” stays with us as we walk out of Keystone to the wider world.
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I hope you will remember that Keystone is not a place; it is not where you are or where you have been. It is who you are, it is the hero and heroine you can become, and it is the choices that will make this happen."
Dr. Edward Shanahan
Valedictory, Keystone Academy Commencement
Dear men and women of the Class of 2023. The long-awaited day has arrived – the culmination of years of intense academic preparation for living and for learning beyond Keystone Academy. Welcome, everyone, to this blessed day in which we celebrate you the graduates of Keystone Academy, and you the parents, faculty, staff and friends who have helped make this happen.
Yes, a “blessed” day indeed!
I have been recently struck by the true "beatitudes" that comprise this school and fill the lives of those of you deeply privileged to live and work here along with your children. I think you know many of them.
Blessed is this magnificent campus that graces our work and informs, sometimes without our ever noticing it, our aesthetic sensibilities; including our sumptuously rolling lawns, our open spaces interrupted by the occasional bench inviting us to stop, look, listen, and learn.
Blessed are the devoted faculty of men and women who have committed their lives, and their families' lives, to teaching, nurturing, and guiding young students, generation after generation. Priceless!
Blessed are the 108 students in this year’s Class of 2023, from a myriad of countries and regions, who have brought their knowledge, talents, and joys to enlighten and lighten our days with them.
Blessed are the men and women who, behind the scenes, prepare and serve our food, clean our homes and classrooms, repair our buildings, mow our lawns, administer our daily routines, and who themselves often lend a visible hand to our nurturing responsibility.
Blessed is our ability, as a community, to care for each other, to converse with each other, to question each other, and at times to compete with each other, but always to celebrate each other.
And, above all, blessed are you the parents of our children: you who have given them so very much!
And so now it is time for you to leave this nurturing place – your “alma mater.” And we (your family and your school) will shortly be left behind—and you will move on to exciting opportunities that will better prepare you to do well—and to do good in a world that needs you!!
How then should we say goodbye to this wonderful class, a class that has, I am told, distinguished itself in so many ways over the last several years--and longer for many among you? Well, we say goodbye with a heartfelt prayer - a prayer that I know your teachers and your loved ones share. It is a prayer for you, it is a prayer for them, and it is a prayer for the lives that you will touch and affect in the years to come. Simply put we all want you to stand for something good, something noble; and we want you to translate that standing into an enriched life for yourselves and for others.
Put another way, we pray that you will choose to be the heroes and heroines of your own individual stories; that you will imagine, in some detail, the heroic person you deep down will want to be. And that you will - today and tomorrow and tomorrow - choose to be that hero, that heroine.
We know that you know the difference between right and wrong, the good and the bad, the noble and the ignoble, the generous and the selfish. What we do not know, is what you will choose to stand for in your life, and whether it will be the more honorable and noble choices. But let me caution you: these will certainly take both moral courage and a willingness from time to time, to leave a little of your own personal blood on the floor. And if you do, you will in turn be dazzled by the good you will have done in a world that desperately needs you. In preparation for that challenge, it might not be a bad idea at the end of each day for you to ask yourselves two questions: not, "What did I get?” but, "What did I learn?" "Whom did I help?" We expect you to be able to answer both.
Several years ago, when I was a younger man, I remember reading a memoir of Wallace Stegner, describing the last words his dying mother said to him. As if coming out of a deep sleep, she opened her eyes, looked at him and said, "You are a good boy, Wallace." Then she died. "You are a good boy, Wallace."
He never forgot that the last word she spoke in life was - his name. He took this as a reflection of the enormity of her love for him. And the second thing he remembered, and remembered, and remembered, was: "You are a good boy." Her faith in him, her love for him, lived long after she had died. From that day forward, he said he never got over "trying to be what [she] thought he was," and would be. In other words, her faith in his choosing the good sustained him and shaped him for the rest of his life.
So, on this your final day at Keystone Academy, remember this. You are a good boy YEUNG, EUGENE TAK, ALEX, AND JUNYANG!
You are a good girl YANZHI, KAYLA, JIAQI, AND ANNA!
And all the rest of you as well!!! You are all good boys and good girls!
And therefore, from this day forward I hope you will remember that Keystone is not a place; it is not where you are or where you have been. It is who you are, it is the hero and heroine you can become, and it is the choices that will make this happen. Good luck to you all in becoming the best heroes and heroines you can be. And Godspeed!
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You have learned that with your opportunities comes tremendous responsibility. That responsibility is leaning into the hard work that needs to be done, for your communities, for your nations, for our fragile planet."
Dr. Emily McCarren
Executive Head of School
Da Jia Hao! Greetings to members of our Board of Trustees and special guests, families, colleagues, and members of the class of 2023!
As we move through this meaningful ceremony, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on the many people who have contributed to the growth and learning of these treasured students. To both reflect on your time at Keystone and look forward to your future, let us reflect on the words of poet Mary Oliver in her poem entitled Invitation. These words are a way for us to orient to the meaning of each moment in our lives, especially important ones like this:
“It could mean something
it could mean everything”
In the poem, the “it” she is reflecting on is the awe-inspiring magic of the natural world; she invites us to take time to delight in the small and abundant joys in nature. Let’s expand this “it” to include all our interactions with our world, and the people with whom we inhabit it. Each of these relationships, as Oliver describes, could mean something, or could mean everything. In this invitation, we consider the infinite possibilities that are ahead of us at any given moment, limitless vectors pointing in all directions.
Which way will we go? With each interaction with another person or a natural phenomenon, the possible pathways of our lives expand and multiply. Each moment could mean something or could mean everything!
With gratitude for this never-ending creation of infinite possibility, let us honor some of the people who have transformed these graduates through their relationships and interactions with them.
First the faculty and staff of Keystone Academy. This moment is a celebration of your relentless pursuit of the well-being of these young people. These students here have been shaped by your words and deeds. In the months, years, and decades to come, they will recount a conversation with you, or an experience you made possible, as the moment they discovered something life altering about themselves. Or perhaps they will credit you for the first time they saw a new pathway before them. What you have done for them, as individuals and a group, could mean something, and could mean everything.
Would the employees of Keystone Academy please stand and be recognized.
Also, let us take a moment to honor the first teachers of these students, their family members here, and those watching from home. You have given everything to the young people before us. You have placed your hopes and dreams in them and are now ready to watch them soar. Since their first breath, you have been there for them, loving them when it was easy and even more when it was hard. This unconditional love that you have given them could mean something and it could mean everything.
Parents and family members, as you are able, please stand and be honored with our warm appreciation.
Our dear graduates: tonight, we, your teachers, and parents, take a deep breath and with humility and gratitude, hope we have done enough. We have entrusted you with knowledge, we have worked to strengthen not only your minds, but your hands and your hearts too.
In this age of rapidly changing technology, where a chatbot could write a pretty good paper, or complete a problem set for you, perhaps the most important thing we, your parents and teachers have given you is concentrated time with the people sitting beside you. There may have been times in history when access to books and brilliant teachers was enough to ensure a strong education, but that is no longer the case. It is now meaningful human community that is of the highest value in education.
Don’t get me wrong, as you have experienced, we have books! We have world-class facilities and resources! But it is YOU that matter most—your peers are the single most important ingredient in the education you and your classmates received here. The same will likely be true in college. It is people and shared moments in purposeful community that will shape your lives. Graduates, look around, look at the person beside you, and behind you. Look them in the eyes. They are a gift to you. You have been here, together, and that has made all the difference.
It could mean something
it could mean everything
Your future will hold moments of joy, heartache, crisis, success, victory and loss, and in each of those moments, your Keystone classmates will be there for you.
You will be there for each other in ways you can’t even imagine now. You might marry a classmate you aren’t even in love with yet. You might broker an industry changing deal together with trust and care. You might come together years from now to negotiate peace between nations. Your lives will continue to intersect in large and small ways. You are forever part of each other’s stories— stories that are still in the first chapters.
As the world gets increasingly complicated and we ponder the impacts of technology, global climate change and political divisions which can seem insurmountable, remember what you have learned here: that the simple and seemingly small things can make the biggest differences, and at every moment, your possibilities, your vectors forward, are infinite.
So, from this point on, for the rest of your life, you must pay attention to the small wonders in the world, in your relationships, in your interactions. Guided by our shared values, you must find the beauty, meaning, and satisfaction in taking on great challenges. You have learned that with your opportunities comes tremendous responsibility. That responsibility is leaning into the hard work that needs to be done, for your communities, for your nations, for our fragile planet. Your lives roll out before us with promise and hope, and how you choose to use them, well…
It could mean something, it could mean everything.
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You possess a remarkable opportunity to make a substantial impact in your respective communities. By volunteering your time, donating resources, and extending support to those struggling during these trying times, you can actively contribute to positive change. Additionally, you can advocate for transformation and forge a better future for all."
Dr. Régine de Blegiers
Head of High School
Good evening graduates, parents, faculty, and board members. Today, we gather to recognize your remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication throughout your educational journey. Undoubtedly, the past few years have presented unparalleled challenges, as we collectively navigated the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, amidst the difficulties, we have also witnessed profound transformations within our communities and families.
First and foremost, you should acknowledge an overwhelming sense of pride. I see in each of you the embodiment of kindness, compassion, and unwavering strength. You have triumphed over the pandemic’s obstacles and emerged as warriors of resilience. I had initially planned to refer to you as Jedi/Stormtrooper warriors in this speech. I wanted to build this image of protecting your communities, families, and friends during challenging times; this was supposed to be a talk about noble educational warriors! However, I think we need to look closer to home when building our metaphor. I just have to look at the design of your class sash. I can see the powerful representation of a giant who cares deeply for others—the Li Shi totem. This emblem is a much better symbol of your collective strength, courage, and the robustness of this community.
In moments of crisis, we often witness the extraordinary power of unity and resilience. At Keystone, we have witnessed firsthand how small acts of kindness, unwavering dedication, and unyielding determination have rippled outward and shaped the trajectory of our lives… and those around us. This brings to mind the wise words of Li Jing, who once proclaimed, "Great results can be achieved with small forces."
The pandemic has compelled us all to cultivate resilience within ourselves. The sudden shift to on-line learning, the uncertainty looming in our lives, and the fear of the virus have undoubtedly tested our mettle. However, you, the graduates, have showcased remarkable resilience in the face of these challenges. You adapted to on-line learning, practiced social distancing, and confronted the unknown with unwavering determination. Despite these challenges, you heroically rejected defeat. You advocated for your continuing education, such as insisting on completing the May 2022 exams despite concerns for your well-being. You determinedly resolved to carry on. More importantly, you have taken care of your mental and emotional well-being throughout this demanding period. You have exhibited resilience that will undoubtedly serve you well in your future endeavors.
This pandemic has underscored the importance of community. We rely on our communities for support, friendship, and a profound sense of belonging. By joining forces as a united community, we can achieve extraordinary feats and bring about tangible change in the world.
Nevertheless, the pandemic has also revealed the work that lies ahead. It is our collective responsibility to continue supporting one another and collaborating to surmount the challenges we face. We must ensure that everyone has equitable access to resources and the support necessary to thrive. No one should be left behind.
As high school graduates, you possess a remarkable opportunity to make a substantial impact in your respective communities. By volunteering your time, donating resources, and extending support to those struggling during these trying times, you can actively contribute to positive change. Additionally, you can advocate for transformation and forge a better future for all.
Throughout these trying years, we have witnessed the bonding of parents and children through homeschooling, the increased quality time grandparents have spent with their grandchildren, and couples finding strength through their relationships. Families have engaged in collective cooking endeavors, embraced board games, and cherished each other's company. In many ways, this pandemic has allowed families to slow down and reconnect in profound ways that may not have been conceivable before.
Undeniably, this experience has taught us that our capacity for growth extends far beyond our preconceived limits. It has taught us to treasure the importance of community and family.
Congratulations, graduates. You have accomplished so much, and I have no doubt that you will continue to make a positive impact in the world.
Best of luck to you all.
Read her full remarks
You have proven that resilience is key to achieving goals in the face of adversity. Class of 2023, you are a remarkable, unforgettable group of individuals......Although it felt unfathomable you have outdone yourselves and you have ‘soared beyond the new horizons’. "
Ms. Dorothy Mubweka
IB DP Economics Teacher and Grade Level Leader, Class of 2023
Congratulations Class of 2023!
Today you have made history by being the first graduating class under the leadership of Dr Emily McCarren. Today also marks the end of a chapter in your lives and the beginning of a significant one.
I want to first acknowledge and commend each one of you for your resilience during the numerous events that brought about disruption to our lives. Yet despite all the challenges and obstacles, you were always meant to excel because you are special.
You became special the moment you matriculated right on this very ground we are standing on. As a cohort of 65 sixth grade students, you were delicately placed under the care of Ms Kalian Wang, the current Dean of Middle School students who chaperoned you as your grade level leader in your most formative life of Middle school. You went ahead and made history by doubling the class size to 130 seventh graders. You were too many at the time OR maybe too energetic to be handled by one grade level leader, Ms Haiyan Li. This necessitated Mr Cory Cheng to join Ms Haiyan in grade level leadership. You pioneered Grade level dual leadership which has since been practiced in other grade levels including your very own Class of 2023. As you progressed to grade 8 under the care of Ms Eider Suso, who has since left the school you continued to soar, leaving no surprises behind. You became the first-grade level at Keystone and hopefully the only one to have a student mistakenly left behind while on ELP trip at Dunhuang. I bet some of you have no recollection about that. The beautiful ending to the story is that the student was found and is here sitting in your midst.
We live in a world that is constantly changing and amidst the turbulence, it can be hard to stay grounded and focused. However, you have proven that resilience is key to achieving goals in the face of adversity. Class of 2023, you are a remarkable, unforgettable group of individuals. At the start of the academic year some of you had to deal with changing all your subject teachers including advisors. Although it felt unfathomable you have outdone yourselves and you have ‘soared beyond the new horizons’. Who would forget the December ‘Covid infested exams’?. I use the word infested because majority of the school community succumbed to Covid-19, but business unusual became business as usual. Let us not forget that you made history by being the first and probably the only Keystone class to sit for Mock examinations remotely twice. I remember how your teachers and High school office ‘hawked’ on you like a ‘prey’ demanding a 360 degree view of your examination space. “My people” I hope those times taught us that resilience is not just about bouncing back from adversity but learning how to thrive in the face of it – to see every challenge as an opportunity for growth and perseverance to keep pushing forward.
As you embark on this post Keystone journey, remember to be tenacious in pursuit of your dreams, embrace change like you have always done and never forget the lessons and experiences you went through in this beautiful campus.
Read her full remarks
In the graduates sharing session a month ago, one parent posed the question, ‘what is Keystone in your heart? One of you responded with calm and pride, “Keystone is a harbor where you can come back and rest anytime when you are tired of flying”. Yes, Keystone is always here waiting for you."
Ms. Helen Liu
IB DB Chinese Language and Literature Teacher and Grade Level Leader, Class of 2023
Congratulations Class of 2023!
Today you have made history by being the first graduating class that experienced the entire process of the pandemic from its beginning to its end, while at Keystone. You have completed the entire DP study process under unusual circumstances of the pandemic and post pandemic as IB exams reverted to pre pandemic mode.
Back in 2020 during the sunrise of the pandemic, you returned to school as 9th graders. While other grades continued with online learning, you pioneered and perfected the art of learning while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. You responded to the challenges with positivity and flexibility. In your final year, you actively adjusted your CAS project plans such as changing prepared charity shows to online or canceling field trips that were already planned. The pandemic taught us not to take normal life for granted and to be grateful for what we have. Please think about your classmate Alex Chalyi, who was never able to set foot on the Keystone campus as he had hoped, and imagine how he finished his studies with perseverance and determination in spite of the pandemic, the war, and the unfriendly time zone. Congratulations Alex, you finally made it!
Class of 2023, although the pandemic has brought you all kinds of inconveniences, I am sure that when you recall your life in Keystone, you will not forget those wonderful moments. The sweat on the sports field, the quiet reading time in the bright and spacious high school library, the advisory teamwork in grade level Fun Friday activities, the laughter with your roommates, the lively discussions with your teachers in class, and the roller coaster ride with your classmates in the trip to Universal Studio. I remember in the graduates sharing session a month ago, one parent posed the question, ‘what is Keystone in your heart? One of you responded with calm and pride, “Keystone is a harbor where you can come back and rest anytime when you are tired of flying”. Yes, Keystone is always here waiting for you.
Once again, congratulations on your graduation and the beginning of an incredible journey as the world awaits your contributions.
Read her full remarks
The Keystone Class of 2023 in photos
Keystone’s sixth graduating cohort are a creative, diligent, and diversely talented group. They have triumphed over the pandemic’s obstacles and emerged as warriors of resilience.
Graduate Destinations from 2020 to 2022
2023It could mean something, it could mean everything.
The Keystone Class of 2023 is forged—like iron in the hottest of fires. They have been through what many adults will remember as some of the most difficult years of their lives, and they are strong and capable of doing hard things. They have shown us that they can do the hardest of things and keep their hearts full of purpose, and goodness.
2022A Class of Miracles: Keystone Sends Off Fifth Graduating Cohort
The Keystone Academy Class of 2022 moves forward to the next stage of their academic journeys with their heads held high as they are a cohort “full of miracles”.
2021Keystone Class of 2021 Celebrates Growth, Resilience, and Success Amid Pandemic Challenges
Keystone’s fourth graduating cohort has been described as the “Resilient Class of 2021” who have all persevered throughout the pandemic. The cohort was ready to take on the challenge when they began the Diploma Programme in 2019, but encountered a different reality later on.
2020Keystone Class of 2020 Looks to a Future That Is Worth Waiting For
Every year during fall, thousands of schools around the world welcome new and returning students for a fresh academic year. Keystone Academy has marked the season differently this year, sending its third graduating cohort off to their next journey amid the coronavirus pandemic.
2019An Ode to the Class of 2019
On the 25th of May, Keystone held its 2nd annual graduation ceremony. Faculty, staff, and families of the graduates, alongside Distinguished Guests and Trustees, turned their gaze towards students as they marched in unison towards their seats beneath the Academy’s Archway.
2018This Is Just the Beginning of Your New and Impending Journey into The Next Phase of Your Lives!