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Graduation 2014: Celebrating, Giving Thanks, Saying Goodbye

DSC_0756Everyone walking onto Cohn Campus this past Thursday night could sense the excitement in the air. This feeling only grew upon entering the Rothschild Multipurpose Room, which was lovingly decorated with streamers, stars, banners, and portraits of each member of the graduating class. A large crowd of friends, family, and teachers anxiously awaited the arrival of the stars of the night – the ISTP class of 2014!

DSC_0245When the doors opened and the graduates processed in, dressed in their bright blue caps and gowns, each one of them beamed with pride. The graduates did, indeed, have a lot to be proud of. Each had successfully completed a rigorous ISTP education, and was leaving as a truly bilingual person (or in some cases tri-lingual or more!), a gift they will have with them for the rest of their lives.

The graduation began with a welcome address from Head of School Philippe Dietz. Philippe recognized each of the families with children graduating that night, and thanked them for being part of the ISTP community, in some cases for 15 years or more. ISTP alumna Marianne Levine delivered the keynote speech, followed by a faculty address by Chinese teacher Jingyao Qi.

Speakers CollageNext came the highlight of the night – the student speeches. One of the distinctive features of an ISTP 8th grade graduation is that each of the graduates, not just one or two select students, delivers his or her own speech. These speeches are a fitting way to culminate the ISTP experience, because students deliver their speeches in both English and French or Mandarin Chinese, usually also adding in some sentences in whatever third language they studied in Middle School.

Listening to the speeches, one could not help but be struck by the extraordinary poise and self-possession of the young graduates. One of the central themes students mentioned again and again was their sense of gratitude. Students all recognized the essential role their parents had played in their education thus far, and expressed sincere appreciation for their incredible support.

DSC_0641Many also expressed gratitude to their parents for giving them the opportunity to receive an ISTP education, and clearly recognized how lucky they were to have already mastered two languages at such a young age.

Students thanked their friends for the memorable times they had together, especially on ISTP’s overnight and foreign exchange trips, and expressed their appreciation and care for each other. Many speeches were emotional and bittersweet, because the graduates realized how much they would miss each other next year, as they move on to different high schools.

DSC_0687One got the feeling that the class of 2014 had forged a close-knit community and sense of camaraderie, something most of us were probably not lucky enough to have during our Middle School experience.

Keynote speaker Marianne Levine told the graduates, “You leave ISTP today but you bring with you a community that will be with you for the rest of your life…The people and friends that you’ve met here are as important as the education you have received…my best friends are still my friends from ISTP.” It seems like this will be especially true for the class of 2014.

After the student speeches, in a second faculty address, French teacher Léa Dufourd offered the graduates some advice for the years to come. She urged students to follow Voltaire’s maxim to “cultivate your garden,” to “feed your imagination, and your personality…to think for yourself, to contemplate and discover the world.”

DSC_0704She also reminded the graduates how lucky they were to be bilingual. “These languages are now a part of you; they allow you to think about the same things differently. Never forget them.”

All our graduates have incredibly bright futures ahead of them, and we could not be more proud. We know that ISTP has given them the skills to excel in High School and beyond.

Although we have to say goodbye to the graduates as ISTP students, we would like to warmly welcome them to the wonderful ISTP alumni community. We encourage each of them to come back to visit so we can hear about all their amazing new adventures in high school! See below for a list of the high schools our students will be attending next year.

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Tne ISTP Class of 2014 will be attending the following High Schools in the fall:

Private: Menlo School, Lycée Français de San Francisco, International High School, Sacred Heart Preparatory, Woodside Priory, Bellarmine College Preparatory, St. Francis High School, Castilleja School, Junipero Serra High School, Nueva School.

Public: Menlo-Atherton High School, Los Altos High School, Gunn High School, Palo Alto High School, Mountain View High School, Hillsdale High School, Sequoia High School, Saratoga High School, Carlmont High School.

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