On the sixth of February 2021, teachers, staff and students from the Form 5 batch of 2020 gathered together in the heart of St Joseph’s Private School to celebrate the students’ long time in coming graduation. As it has become commonplace everywhere else in the world, everyone involved found themselves physically distanced from each other and with masks on their faces, but even so the soon to be graduates found themselves excited for the event to start. The whole event was telecast on YouTube and Facebook for the benefit of parents and family members who were not allowed to attend because of the pandemic.
The students didn’t find themselves waiting long, as the ceremony began with a video pieced together with the graduates’ most notable memories from their last five years of schooling put together by the teachers who guided them along the way. This included memories from camps of past years to field trips and sports days to special events and concerts, and everything in between, even memories from a challenging 2020! Although the video was merely a collection of photos of the graduating batch throughout their secondary school years, the fact that it easily surpasses ten minutes perhaps highlights how many meaningful experiences the students will find themselves taking away with them as they graduate.
Then, Ms Vivien formally welcomed every attendee to the graduation ceremony. Afterwards, she took the time to thank God for the opportunity to celebrate the graduation of St Joseph’s class of 2020 Form 5 and invited the principal, Fr Francis Lim, SJ, the CEO, Mr Chua and the teachers to make their entrance into the ceremony. Mr Chua then proceeded to give his address and talked about how graduation is not simply an end but also a beginning of the graduates’ lives. He thanked all the people who have helped the students on their journey to graduation. He hoped the students could draw courage from their school lives and apply the lessons learnt in their future. Lastly, he welcomed all the graduates to return to the school one day as proud and successful alumni and help the school just like the alumni that came before them.
Moving on, the school distributed awards to the students to celebrate their academic achievements during the past year. The awards celebrated the best students in each individual subject and in their classes with a generous prize pool of RM4000 sponsored by Naim Foundation. Then, Fr Francis gave his address to the graduates. He thanked everyone for attending and talked about the growth of the students as people. He also emphasised that while students may not be able to remember all the things learned in their syllabus but at least they would remember the memories made along the way with fellow students and teachers alike. Then, he prayed for the students both for their upcoming examinations and in everything they do in the future.
After that, the valedictorian, Chong Jia Chern of Form 5 Phi went up and gave his speech. He thanked all the teachers and staff for going beyond all expectations to guide students both in academics and in character. He also thanked all his peers who had journeyed together for the past 5 years, and reminisced about the many memories made along the way and said that it is those valuable memories that would remain in our hearts for years to come and serve as reminders that we are part of the Josephian family. Lastly, he congratulated everyone for making it in the last 5 years and wished everyone the best in their future endeavours and ended his speech asking his peers to be bold when taking the jump and not to fear the fall.
Then came a St Joseph special, the Ceremony of Light. The Light of Wisdom which represents the guidance of teachers, of Purity which represents the support of parents, of Memory which represents the juniors who mirror our past and of Faith which represents our connection to God were all lit symbolically during this ceremony. However, in truth it has been lit and cared for since the graduates started their secondary school lives.
Then, at long last the students came up on stage one by one to receive their certificates. Each student thanked their class teacher (and sanitised their hands!) before receiving the certificate from the principal.
Finally, representatives from each of the five graduating classes came together as a band to perform the song ‘I lived’ and all the graduates joined together to sing as a batch. It was a song about living life to the fullest, and on that note the graduates certainly did. The teachers then returned the favour with a hymn of their own to bless their students one last time. As a last remembrance, the school came together to sing the school rally to cap off the graduation ceremony followed by a once a year applause befitting the graduating classes.
• Alexander Liew