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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

Guess Who Just Graduated?!

It feels like the past few weeks have been more eventful than ever. Though I won't list out everything that happened (you can read my other post if you're curious), yesterday was such a wonderful way to finish everything off.


The day started with graduation (or as our school likes to call it, the Valedictory ceremony). I put my graduation gown on and got ready to take hundreds of photos. I've been to a few of these graduations but it was strange to be at my own ceremony.


For the past 10 years, I knew which school I was going to come back to at the end of the summer holiday. And I never doubted that my place was anywhere other than this school in Jeju. I've grown accustomed to the beauty of the town I lived in — saw it grow in both size and importance. So I guess it isn't weird for me to feel a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I'm not only going to a new school but a whole new country at that. But I'll have my memories at NLCS to use as an anchor to help me step into that new chapter.


 

Rather gratefully, I was amongst one of the academic scholars (there were around thirteen of us) in our year group. We received a yellow stole for distinction and I must say, it really made the pictures pop, so that was another perk. I received mine in two different subjects: English and Psychology. These were the two subjects that I was most passionate about during my IB course, so I was thrilled to get acknowledged for them.


When it was our tutor group's turn to go up the stage to get receive the graduation certificate, my tutor gave a wonderfully humorous speech, summarizing each of us as emojis. Mine was this emoji → 🗣, which my tutor explained was the spokesperson emoji. He said that having me as his tutee made it easy to know what was happening around the school without having to consult multiple teachers, mostly because I was involved in almost all of those 'events' as the Big 8. The video below is a short clip of me receiving my certificate!



One of the responsibilities of the Head Boy and Girl of the school is to write the valedictory speech. I always imagined what it would be like to give out this speech but I didn't know it would actually come true until last year when I was told that I was the Head Girl. I was quite sentimental when I started writing out what I would say, including a short list of the ones I feel thankful for, what I learned during my time at NLCS, the precious memories I hold, and what we can look forward to. But I think it's better to hear it rather than read this explanation — it's meant to be a speech, after all!



Here's a transcript of the speech! (click on the arrow to expand)

First of all, I would like to give all glory to God for giving me the strength to be who I am today and eternal gratitude to my mom, who was there for me every step of the way. I also thank my grandma for being a tireless supporter and my dad, who was doing more than just persevering at this point.


I could not have gone through school without the teachers who looked out for me, and to be honest, the main reason for coming to school was to see my friends — so I thank all of them for such a remarkable school life.


(I swear this isn’t an Oscar acceptance speech, though it’s starting to sound like one!)


We’ve reached a milestone in our lives — high school graduation. It might be everything you’ve hoped for, or it might feel like a passing event. But I know that everyone sitting here will have a different story to tell when they’re off to college. At NLCS, we’ve made countless choices that changed the course of our lives. These decisions shaped us to be who we are today.


I’ve changed so much in so many different ways. I remember dreading cross-country, and I thought I hated Mr. Long’s training, but now I do laps around the GEC by choice. Also, I couldn’t have been a shyer person when I first came here in Year 4, but the times I spent performing in school productions and student-led musicals were the best ever. You have to give it to NLCS for coming up with the most niche opportunities that spark your interest in one way or another!


And I think it’s incredible how we all found our places in the end. I, for one, hadn’t the slightest idea that I’d be going to a liberal arts college in the US. If you asked me where I was going to apply, at the beginning of Year 12, I would have confidently told you I was going for the UK — and only the UK at that. This just shows that often in life, there is no ‘set way’ of doing things. And those new doors that you unlock might lead you to an even better path.


Up until now, we very much knew what our future would hold. Finish the IB, get our diploma, go to a college of our liking. Pretty straightforward. But now the opportunities are going to triple, maybe even quadruple! We could mix and match our courses, major in what truly interests us, and decide if we want to take our education further to graduate school or get a job at the end of the four years. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Before I get too carried away with imagining what the future holds, I would like to come back to the sound grounds of the PAC and remind us how amazing we are as a year group.


People say that we’re a resilient group of students because we went through the IB during COVID times, but that’s just a portion of our success. The root of our accomplishments goes deeper than just the IB program. What we’ve done in Year 7, in IGCSE, and outside of school have all accumulated to help us shine amongst the crowd.


So, yeah, of course, I have a reason to believe that we’re the best year group ever!? Resilience, knowledge, and whatever word the IB uses in their Learner Profile, Class of 2022, we have Got. It. All.


I thought we were at the finish line, but the more I thought about it, this finish line is also a starting line for a bigger, brighter future. So cherish the memories you’ve made here because those moments won’t come again. But be open to making new ones when you’re at college. And with that, let’s take the world by storm!


Thank you :)


I had a number of friends, teachers, and parents come to me to tell me that they were touched by my speech. It made me overjoyed by the fact that my words were enough to move someone.


There was a moment of surprise during the ceremony, and I'm not talking about someone doing a cartwheel across the stage. There was a section in the graduation ceremony for APA awards. This was for a 'select group of students' whose 'contribution to the school should be recognized' (their words, not mine). No one really knew what this was for or who was going to receive it because we weren't told during the rehearsal. But my name got called up for Peer Volunteer Service Award. I wasn't prepared for this so I practically ran as fast as my feet-in-pointy-heels could carry me. Apparently, upon receiving this award, a scholarship is given to the student. I was very pleasantly surprised!


After the formal ceremony was over, we all went out to take a group photo and to take photos with friends and families. Everyone was buzzing with excitement. Even the weather wasn't too hot or too cloudy (the past few years, it was scorching hot every time the students came out to take photos). And the fact that we could roam around without our masks on was the best feeling ever. I was once again feeling very thankful because we were the first year group in a while to be able to have parents come into the school ground to join us in the valedictory ceremony as well as take photos in and out of school. Below are just a few of the photos I took — if I listed all of them, this page would take forever to load (and I would die trying to cover up the faces of my friends for privacy).

 

If one grand event wasn't enough for a day, I had another one planned. PROM! As I was a part of the Prom Committee, I was there every step of the way, from creating surveys in order to collect the names of students who wished to come, to choosing the color of the balloons and fonts for the banners. We even had to change venues at one point because the one that we originally planned to use was going under construction (which we were not told when we were trying to sign a contract). But Jeju had more than enough beautiful places to host a party, so we settled for a lovely hotel ballroom.


We had two students as the MC, carrying forth the games and programs we had planned. I was thankfully seated most of the time, but the prom committee had to gather for a few emergency meetings. There was everything a student could ever ask for at a prom party — drinks (since we're all officially adults), a delicious buffet, a photobooth, crazy lighting, songs to dance to, and so much more. Needless to say, I was proud of what we, the Prom Committee, were able to pull off in such a short time.



 

I'm writing all of this a day after it happened and I still can't believe these two big events were squeezed into one day. If someone told me that this was all a dream and I still have a few more weeks until graduation and prom, I would believe them. This long chapter in my life is coming to a close and at the moment, I don't know what I can do with that information!


But I pride myself on being a meticulous planner. I have other events and appointments coming my way for the summer! I still have an excuse to go to school a few more times, mostly due to my participation in our school's annual Arts Festival Week. I still have to get a few forms done for my entry to the US and Swarthmore, too. I'm looking forward to getting to know more of the friends I'm going to meet at Swarthmore, who will join me in the new chapter that I'm transitioning to. And before I leave Jeju, I'm going to try and squeeze in as much exploring as I can on this beautiful island!


So there's still a lot in store for me. It seems like the adventures will never stop :)


But for now... Adieu, NLCS Jeju!

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