The graduation ceremony on Friday was a blast. Unlike at elite schools where the graduation ceremonies tend to be serious affairs, the one at Andre's school was noisy, fun and well, downright celebratory.
The students went up on stage to collect their testimonials, to loud cheers from their friends. I kid you not when I tell you that at least a couple of students took selfies with their teachers right there on stage! To me, it was such a joy to see the abundance of spontaneity and merriment.
But more than the fun and laughter, what came through during the ceremony was how much the teachers of this school cared for their students. A long video was played, featuring messages from many form and subject teachers wishing their classes all the best. Most of the messages were not generic ones. For instance, Andre's form teacher (also his geography teacher) created a powerpoint that inserted all sorts of funny puns using geography terms that the students had learnt. A literature teacher read out some of the inspiring poems written by the students in her class.
Then another video montage was played which featured photos of the graduating cohort, not just in 2016 but all the way back to 2013 during the sec1 orientation. The hall was in an uproar as the students would whoop whenever one of their friends appeared on the screen. It's amazing how much some of the chubby, cherubic kids have changed over four years, especially the boys!
Later, Andre showed me the cards he's received. One was a personalised note of encouragement from a teacher who was his form teacher for only a short while in sec2. Yet, she took the time to write to everyone who was in her class then. This same teacher had made them write a note to their future self. She had kept the notes and returned them on graduation day. One of the goals Andre had written was "Must learn more about Minecraft", next to "Must listen more in class" :)) It was a wonderful way for the students to see how far they've come.
Neighbourhood school, champion teachers. I couldn't have asked for a better school for Andre to grow in his secondary school years. Here, the teachers always looked beyond academics to see and care for the whole child. Even when he was failing badly, they never quashed his spirit and always looked to encourage him in other ways. The response of the students during the graduating ceremony was testament to what the teachers have accomplished.
More challenges ahead? Probably...but I'm ready! Armed with old flower eye glasses and glucosamine cream for creaky knees, I'm looking forward to the journey.