A Class of Miracles: Keystone Sends Off Fifth Graduating Cohort

By Andy Peñafuerte III

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".

Like their counterparts around the world, Keystone's fifth graduating cohort of 77 students has weathered challenges in the past two-and-a-half years. Head of School Malcolm McKenzie, however, pointed out in his speech that the Keystone class "have experienced many minor and major miracles" in this period, which have colored their high school lives.

Class of 2022 representative Wen Yutong followed up Mr. McKenzie's remark with what he considered yet another miracle: the graduation itself. The event was postponed from its original date on May 28 following coronavirus pandemic control measures in Beijing. There was uncertainty until the very day of the ceremony as a thunderstorm hit the city two hours before. But Mr. Wen noted, "Miracles do happen."


"See how the sun shines on us again," he commented, "and this moment characterizes us all: the Keystone Class of 2022 is filled with miracles."

In what is also a serendipitous connection, the stole of the Class of 2022 is accentuated with an "ocean-mountain" motif, with lapping waves against the mountain as the sun rises and clouds lie above the ocean. In her graduation remarks, Grade 12 Level Leader, High School librarian, and Theory of Knowledge teacher Trisha Power emphasized the embroidery's symbolism: it is Keystone's hope that the Class of 2022 courageously "face the waves [with] the protection of auspicious clouds and the chance to rise like the sun."

Head of High School Dr. Régine de Blegiers gave her parting advice to the school's newest graduates: "find your passion, set your goals, and never give up". Reflecting on her childhood experience and professional trajectory in the business world, Dr. de Blegiers reminded students that they could easily find future career paths to lead them to what society considers a successful life, but not many people would realize their passions early on. It took her 35 years, she said, to discover what would give her fulfillment: "being in the classroom with the students is the best thing in the world".


Mr. Wen and his classmates reminisced on the highlights of their Keystone journey ever since they signed the Matriculation Book under the same Archway where they stood for their graduation, saying their "growth in the community will soon become memories", but their "names and impact will forever be engraved in the [school's] history". And what made their class very special, Mr. Wen noted, was the founding Head of School "[was] graduating with us." He and the Class of 2022 led a minute-long standing ovation for Mr. McKenzie to express gratitude for the departing leader's contribution: "Your open-mindedness from interacting with students and dedication towards delineating the ideals of education [have] truly made Keystone a new world school."


The outgoing Head shared the same pleasure with the cohort, saying that he was "honored to graduate with you, as a member of the Class of 2022," and that they would leave behind Keystone an indelible contribution to its "spirit and culture [that] are powerful and pervasive", one which "we all have helped create".

The Class of 2022 graduation also marked the conclusion of Mr. McKenzie's 30 years of principalship in four schools. Before he officially moved toward retirement, he left a powerful and heartfelt reminder to the Keystone community that "By leaves we live". The symbolic phrase, quoted from the late 19th century Scottish biologist, botanist, and urban planner Patrick Geddes, is inscribed on a gray slate hanging on the right-hand column in front of the entrance of the Keystone High School Library, with its equivalent Chinese translation in calligraphy on the opposite side.

The outgoing Head rallied the community to pay heed to "guarding the green"—or the environmental cause and the "most obvious meaning" of the phrase. Its second subtle definition, or the connection to the wonders and pleasures of reading, is one that is "life-giving and life-preserving," he said. The last nuance, or the idea of living by "leave-takings from each other and from places that mean much", held great significance as for Mr. McKenzie it signifies a "consciousness that [seeing each other again] can conceptualize the future". He alluded to the Wen Guan Tree gifted by the Class of 2022 and their families to Keystone in May 2022, saying that it "symbolize[s] all three meanings of these four words", which, for him, was "another minor miracle."

"Be green, keep turning over new leaves of knowledge, and look forward to the lovely day when we will greet each other graciously again, perhaps in the shade of that very tree," Mr. McKenzie concluded.