‘Forge your own path’ – words of wisdom to the graduating class of 2017.


Let’s hear a “raucous applause” for the graduating class of 2017 were the opening words of Sonia Eastham as the procession of Year 13 teachers and students opened the festive La Châtaigneraie Graduating Ceremony (Graduation Cérémony de Remise des Diplômes), many marching in their national costumes with their representative country flags adorning the converted Jura Sports Hall.

Ms. Eastham, the Head of Year for these students from Years 7 to 12 reflected on IB lessons learned over the last two years and reminded the students of the value of “friendly cheerfulness” and “miles and miles of smiles” – her own memory of this class.

This began a program filled with a spectacular series of musical interludes from students and student bands which included jazz, blues, Motown, a classical violin concerto, and a “shivers up the spine” closing rendition of “Take Me Home” sung by a chorus of talented graduates.

Emma Raven, Finn Boyle and Zilin Wang, chosen by their fellow students, spoke on behalf of the class sharing their perspective of how the IB had prepared them for adulthood and thanking those who had helped along the way.

Pamela Hamamoto, the former US Permanent Representative to United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, was the commencement speaker for the evening. She elaborated on how the Class of 2017 grew up in the 4th Industrial Revolution with advanced robotics, and communications via social media providing even a greater promise of profound change to come.

She offered these words of wisdom:
Forge your own path. The path we choose does not have to be a straight line, explaining her own background as first a civil engineer, then an investment banker, then an international diplomat and now working in international human rights, launching her own organization.
Own your journey. This may require you to reinvent yourself. Accept responsibility for yourself and in society.
Do not stay in your comfort zone.
Keep in touch with your classmates. She reminded us of her own classmate, Barack Obama.
Be inspired to appreciate amazing education.
Collaborate with others. Look for common ground to build on. Understanding and empathy are very important.
Remain hopeful. Be thoughtful, courageous and fueled by hope.

The presentation of Diplomas and Prizes and Awards followed, transforming the “miles and miles of smiles” into a trail of joyful tears and proud graduate moments.

David Woods brought the ceremony to a close by highlighting some of the legacies of the 2017 class:

83 out of 140+ students did their entire Secondary education at La Châtaigneraie.
11 of these students have attended since Primary Reception.
This class achieved record IGCSE results.
They began the successful Update on-line Student Newspaper including student interviews of the speakers who came to La Chât. These interviews have had over 101,000 views with the interview of Germaine Greer alone receiving over 52,000 views.
The Music and Theatre programs as well as the Sports Program have flourished with this class.
The social enterprise dimension was added with this year group.
This class participated in a notable range of different CAS projects.
These students began a new tradition of forming two lines to welcome and applaud the Year 7 students into Secondary. Year 7 students reciprocated this gesture at the end of the academic year for Year 13

Mr. Woods’ final words: Make a difference, offer a message of hope and compassion, be thankful and remember positivity generates positivity.

“And now, I present to you the Class of 2017!”


By: Dede Ogden

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