Last Friday, our ASH Class of 2021 graduated in a hybrid ceremony, combining traditions we all know and love, whilst also ensuring we keep everyone safe and abide by the current pandemic regulations. Our graduating seniors were able to be in the sportshall with family and friends around the world tuning in to watch virtually via a livestream on our website. There were memorable performances from our high school concert band, the H & E blocks’ choir, the JAKK choir and a special musical selection created by four of the senior students. Plus there were video tributes to the graduating students from both their parents and one from ASH staff too.
In his opening address, high school principal Mr. Munro acknowledged the tumultuous year we have all been through and focused on the positive experiences we still managed to make happen here at ASH, “while we could look back at this year and remember all the things that couldn’t happen, I’d prefer to look at the experiences we were able to share.” Mr. Munro was new to the ASH community this year and he reflected that due to the circumstances of the past year, it actually gave him the opportunity to get to know the senior class better than he may have otherwise. Focusing on a silver lining such as this, demonstrated to our seniors that even when we find ourselves in circumstances that test us, there will always be something good that can come out from this, if we choose to seek that out.
ASH Director Dr. Lowe presented the keynote speech and spoke of how this year’s graduating class have been “through the ringer” and so too have their teachers and their parents. He identified some important lessons that the last two academic years have revealed, how “life is infinitely unpredictable, there are still many things in life we humans have little control over and what truly matters is the way we respond to these challenges.” He emphasized the importance of both learning and unlearning and how both of these will be vital to our graduates moving forward in whatever future pathways they choose. Dr. Lowe concluded with this message to the graduating class of 2021, “You are in the midst of the most important learning journey of your life, it’s a marathon not a sprint, and I know you are all well trained. We wish you all success.”
One of many special moments in the graduation ceremony was an original musical selection that was created by four ASH students, entitled The Other Side. You can listen to this piece by clicking here. Lead melody, words and female vocal: Haidan K., words and male rap: Jorge V. and Ali-ikai K, and production, mixing and editing: Markus C.
Also addressing the graduating class at the ceremony were three of their classmates; Claire, Soumela and Laura. Each shared important moments and reflections with their peers and this passage from Soumela felt particularly reflective of the last year they have all been through and in synergy with Dr. Lowe’s thoughts:
“Our recovery and where we are now just proves to me and everyone watching now, that you are capable of change and you are capable of enduring it. Find that determination within yourself and grow from it, because after high school we are all going to go through some of the biggest changes we have ever been through. Funnily enough quarantine did teach us a bit about ourselves, your mentality resides within yourself and your choices. So don’t forget your strengths, you guys are amazing, I’m not a super soppy person so I genuinely say that with a full heart. Seriously I would say best of luck to you all for next year, but knowing the type of people you all are, I know you’ll be just fine. Thank you.”
Reflecting on the Class of 2021’s ASH Journey and Where to Next
With two years of hybrid learning under their belts, the Class of 2021 has most certainly had a very unique experience when it comes to their academic journey at ASH. Even with the mix of virtual and campus learning, our seniors were still determined to achieve all of their academic goals in our IB and AP programs. Out of the 119 students in the Class of 2021 class, 100 of those students registered for IB or AP examinations; with 87 registering for IB and 23 registering for AP. This year, we had 47 of our IB seniors complete the full IB diploma program, over half of the IB seniors, showcasing the longstanding popularity of the program as a cornerstone in ASH high school academics. From the 100 seniors, 27 of those students registered for a combination of IB and AP course offerings. The opportunity to create a tailored learning experience is something that our students take full advantage of when exploring their academic choices, to enable them as best possible for their futures beyond ASH.
Our seniors continue to choose the path that suits them best post-graduation, by taking a gap year to work, travel, volunteer, explore athletic, artistic or other interest-centered opportunities, or of course in pursuit of academics at college or university. Many stay within the Netherlands and attend schools across the country. Some of our graduates will be attending Leiden University, University of Utrecht, VU Amsterdam, Erasmus, and TU Delft, just to name a few. Those who travel abroad for post secondary education have indicated their top choices for schooling are in the UK, Canada and the USA; such as Virginia Tech, William & Mary, University of Calgary, Imperial College of London, St. Andrews; in a range of others that showcases their diverse interests and talents. Once our IB and AP scores are released in July, those in the Class of 2021 will be able to solidify their school choices and prepare for the next stage of their academic journeys.
Students’ Personal Reflections on their #ASHexperience
Lets not forget to mention the importance of our community that is integral to student learning success, as our graduates reflect on individuals who made an unforgettable impact on their unique #ASHexperience. When asked which person, or which moment, had the biggest impact on your personal ASH Experience, and why, our graduates came back with heartfelt tributes to the peers, friends, staff and loved ones that made a mark on their student life that will never be forgotten.
So many of our students shared positive and powerful sentiments about their teachers. Julian, a new student to ASH this year, had not only the hurdle of joining high school during senior year but also during a pandemic. He shared that one teacher in particular stood out in helping him this year, “Mr. Kremer (HS science teacher) has been an amazing teacher to me, I was a new student at ASH this year and he made me feel like I belonged in class.” David mentions an elementary school teacher that made a lasting impact on his academic pursuits through to graduation “Ms. Heese in 4th and 5th grade, made me realize that I have a passion for math and finance, which has shaped much of my life”. Senior Evdokia tributes her positive experience with Ms. Maaldrink (HS Counselor): “she's extremely kind, empathetic, and accepting, Ms. Maaldrink always supports you especially when you need it. She offers the best advice and she takes on the role of a good friend. She has helped me through many struggles and conflicts in my high school experience and thanks to her I have made it through.“ Another sincere reflection came from Maja, who mentioned two stand out teachers in shaping her positive ASH experience “I had a few teachers that really helped my journey and develop as a student. Including Mr Foley for english, as well as Ms Houston. Both were extremely good teachers, who challenged me and motivated me despite all the chaos this past year. “
Our graduates also recognized the value that friends and family members have on positive school experiences, thanking peers and loved ones for their unconditional support. Andreas thanks his mom in particular, saying “My mom, as she always pushed me to work harder and she is largely responsible for where I am today,” with senior Vladimir reflecting “My close friends who have been at ASH since Elementary or Middle School. They’re the ones that I grew up with, shared experiences with, and learned with. From group projects to sports to parties, I feel that the collective experiences that I’ve had with these people have had the greatest influence on the person that I am today.” Other students consider stand out moments or experiences that are unique to ASH or part of our academic offerings. John shares that “MUN shaped the way I debate and approach issues” with Corin thankful for the “Thailand Global Service Learning Program - incredibly unique, educational, rewarding opportunity that I'm incredibly thankful for." Emma shared that our learning support program had the biggest impact “All my LSC teachers have really had a big impact on my personal ASH Experience because they have really helped me grow and help me learn and grow who I am and see/ realize the things I’m good at.”
A statement from graduate Sarah encapsulates many feelings into one sentence, perfectly summarizing a lifetime of learning at ASH, “All of my teachers in the past 11 years here at ASH. There are still some of my former teachers from elementary, middle and high school who I love to see in the hallway and talk to.” What is clear is that each of our graduates takes away with them a personal and unique learning experience that hopefully has inspired them to live their lives to the fullest as they embark upon their next exciting chapter. Congratulations and thank you to the Class of 2021, for all you have given and shared with the community during your years as ASH students, we are proud to now call you official ASH Alumni!