Head of College Mr Anthony Coles and Head of Senior School Mrs Rachel Edwards shared some meaningful final advice with the new graduates during their graduation ceremony to send them off on their onward journey into adulthood. Please enjoy both their graduation speeches below.
Graduation speech from Head of Senior School Rachel Edwards
“Good afternoon Year 13 students, parents, family and staff here in the theatre with us and those tuning in live. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the graduation ceremony for the class of 2021!
All graduations mark a significant accomplishment, but this year even more so when we reflect on the past 18 months and in fact the majority of the IB programme for these students. In unprecedented times, our Year 13’s have navigated unchartered territory, with constant changes, learning on and off campus. Whilst they and we all have been challenged, we have seen them and our community at its absolute best and we are extremely proud of each and every one of them.
I would like to thank the teachers, tutors, counsellors, the leaders of learning and student support, Senior School and College leadership, past and present, for their dedication, coaching and care. The DCB team are a formidable and unstoppable force even during a pandemic, such is their passion for the College and commitment to students. To the IB team, Kieran Burgess, Stephen Hurworth, Cassandra Davis, thank you on behalf of the students for your outstanding contribution to their progress and well-being.
Thank you to all our Year 13 parents for your trust in us and support. Know that your sons and daughters, have arrived at this moment because of your love, care and encouragement in all its forms…
Before us, we have a unique, rightly ambitious, highly motivated and talented group of students. But perhaps above all, they have shown time and again that they are good people who go above and beyond in supporting not each other and all members of our community. There are countless examples of inspirational initiatives and projects they have led. This has been humbling to witness and confirmation that values are lived here. Three students have been at DCB since the beginning and in our 15th anniversary year, it is very appropriate to recognise them, Sophie P, Jessica T and Mink L.
And so, to my advice to the class of 2021 and friends:
· Be yourselves, know that you are more than enough and deserving of everything. You are not a point score.
· You will be successful in your chosen career paths. You are in the driving seat of your lives, choose wisely and love what you do.
· Work hard: not for a title nor a reward, but to play your part.
· Use your voice, be the person who stands up for others and someone others will turn to.
· Have integrity: Always strive do the right thing, even though it will always be the most difficult path to take.
· Remain connected, this is not the end, but the beginning.
Congratulations to all, enjoy this celebration!”
Graduation speech from Head of College Anthony Coles
“Good afternoon, Class of 2021, Parents, Students and Staff!
It is wonderful to have you all here in the Wodehouse Theatre to mark the end of the formal years of schooling for our 81 graduates, representing 16 countries.
It’s been a rocky road that has led you to today. Those around you have watched you persist through unprecedented challenging times. We are proud of all of you and wish only the best for you as you make the transition from school to adulthood.
Today I want to talk about character.
Recently, I read a book called The Road to Character by David Brooks. Different chapters struck me as the perfect focus for your graduation.
Around this time of graduation, graduates are traditionally told to reflect and to discover themselves define what’s really important to them, what their priorities are, or what stirs their deepest passions. Big questions are thrown up, like: ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ Or ‘What do I want from life?’
Brooks aligns this type of thinking with the organization of a business plan. You take an inventory of your talents, you set your goals and then you decide the metrics of your own success. We live in an age of individual autonomy and this life planning is how most people go about living their lives. It is a process that starts with self and ends with self; from self-investigation to self-fulfilment. So, what if you asked a different set of questions? Instead of what do I want from life, ask yourself ‘What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do’?
All of us are given gifts, aptitudes, capacities, talents, and traits that we did not earn. All of us are put in circumstances that call out for action, whether they involve suffering, the needs of family, or the opportunity to communicate some sort of message. These circumstances give us the chance to justify our gifts and talents.
Brooks writes that we can describe human qualities in two different ways:
1. Resume/CV virtues - ones that contribute to external success and are valued in the job market and,
2. Eulogy virtues - these are deeper, ones that exist at the core of your being and are spoken of at a funeral.
That we need two separate lists speaks to our modern society and values, especially as most of us would say that eulogy virtues are more important, but we (including our educational systems) probably spend more time focusing on resume virtues.
Society encourages us to think more about our career rather than to cultivate ourselves. The competition to succeed and to win admiration is so fierce that it becomes overbearing. I am sure this is something that you the graduates have experienced here at DCB-competition. Across many cultures, we are taught to promote ourselves and to focus on the skills of success, but this gives little encouragement to virtues such as humility, sympathy and honest self-reflection which is necessary for building character.
In the coming years you will meet people of great character. And when you do, they will stick in your mind forever.
· You will notice that they are calm, settled and grounded.
· Their virtues are not advertised, and often these people are not even that noticeable.
· They are kind and cheerful and humble. They perform acts of sacrifice with modesty like it is routine, recognizing something needs to be done and they do it.
· These people make you feel smart when you speak with them. They have cross-cultural skills meaning they can speak to anyone, regardless of culture or position.
· They are not boastful, nor seek glory.
These people have built strong inner-character and they you will never forget them. You will look up to them.
Our collective wish for each of you, is to be a good person, to care about others and to carry yourself well. Continue to think of others, maintain friendships and make more, as it is proven that connections to community and commitment to others are a path to true happiness and contentment. Think deeply, live honourably, constantly engage your curiosity and allow the world to embrace you. Holding on to our DCB values of resilience, confidence, respect, integrity, responsibility, open-mindedness, and kindness is a great starting point for monitoring your own moral compass
There will always something new to be learned, explored, and experienced. All you need to do is go out and look for it.
To our special Class of 2021, we wish you well!”