Graduation: Student Voice

Sagar Chetan Kumar and Sean Jamieson

Unforeseen circumstances – a phrase that I and, most certainly, the class of 2022 know far too much about. Acting as an accessory to our daily lives amidst (and hopefully nearing the end) of a pandemic, “unforeseen circumstances” has been more than a fleeting phrase thrown around: it is one that sums up High School’s end for the class of 2022 at the FIS and beyond.

As our journey at the FIS comes to its conclusion we wish to share our experience through the highs and lows of our years here. Both of us joined the FIS in EY5, just over 12 years ago and we still remember my first day as if it was yesterday. We had two very contrasting first days, Sagar sitting in his seat ready and excited to learn. Meanwhile, Sean was running out of the classroom crying and chasing down his mum in hopes that she would take him home.

Thankfully, from there on out it was uphill. Moving onto Elementary School, a time in which the priorities were clear, break time and golden time – the two times where chaos reigned. Playing outside on the red top where there was a sea of children running wild with 20 kids playing football on one goal with seven balls and about six goalkeepers and no one with any clue of what the teams were, was nothing short of monumental in an otherwise monochromatic day. Games of basketball and four-square in the middle of the redtop constantly getting interrupted by one of the football games at either side. These games were and are truly where friendships were made that would last for the rest of our time at the FIS; regardless of your ability anyone could take part and have fun.

Then came along Middle School, where most of the people sitting behind me today started to join. Joining during middle school can be a tough experience but thankfully it was overcome by the field trips organized by the school, which created many lasting memories. From space camp, where we learned to spacewalk, to camp adventure which built a bond between Mr. Kennedy and Daniel as he had to rush him to the hospital for cutting his leg on some barbed wire. These field trips taught us skills that aren’t just school-related, and the memories made through the experience of having to sleep at a hostel with the friends in your grade and spending five days straight with them, will never be forgotten.

Next up was High School, a time in which we were warned that we would need to start prioritizing school work and begin to take things more seriously. And in fairness it was one of the biggest changes many of us were yet to make. Standardized exams, dedicated homework slots, and never-ending deadlines were all challenges waiting to haunt us for the next four years of our education. Gratefully, however, this was mostly short-lived. Through the aid of our teachers, students, and FIS staff this transition – although very nerve-wracking at the time – was made much more manageable. However, this is not to say the beginning of a very long high school journey was flawless, mistakes were made and lessons were learned that many of us carry with us to this day. From the IGCSE Geography’s section-by-section exams teaching us to read the examination scripts very carefully to the math class divisions already preparing us for the demise of IB math, with the FIS, the fearful high school transition truly had become feasible.

Then we had to head into the dreaded IB Diploma Programme in possibly the worst circumstances conceivable. As we all know COVID was a terrible time, but thankfully our school managed to ensure our learning was still possible and set up zoom calls to make sure our education didn’t suffer heavily. Even though it was a terrible time it did bring positives and we think it helped a lot of people grow and mature. We became more independent learners, who had to balance their learning and their life and we got the perfect amount of support from the school who set up individual check-ins with students to make sure we were handling things well, and offering to support in any way they could. It also allowed us to adapt and learn new ways to procrastinate or get out of work, such as the classic “Oh, sorry my mic doesn’t work” or “Oops, my internet just crashed”.

Although a naive attempt at the time to escape the awkwardness of conversation, the adaptability, perseverance, and determination we invested in the acts made it so that we could persist in even the most difficult situations. Thankfully we made it through in one piece and managed to sit the exams thanks to the fantastic support from our families, friends, and of course everyone at this school. So now as we come to a conclusion we would like to thank everyone here for making the experiences at the FIS incredible and unforgettable, and we wish everyone luck with their results and future endeavors.

Femke Oudega

I’m honored to be one of the students making a speech here today. Here we are. Our final moments as High School students. We made it through mandatory schooling! Our lives can finally begin tomorrow.

Over the years of being at this school, I got to learn a lot of great life lessons. For example, the many reminders of Mrs. Smith of making sure we stay organized because if we fall behind, we end up in a world of stress. And of course Ms. Oliver who reminds us that life is too short to drink cheap wine and spend time with annoying people. Looking back, I would say that some lessons were tougher than others but that’s part of the ‘growing up’ experience.

I also got to meet a lot of great people, who without a doubt, will get very far in life. I think one of the most important lessons I can take away from the FIS is that “getting far in life” isn’t necessarily defined by money or recognition, but rather by the impact we can make on whoever we cross paths with.

Some of us know our next steps involving university or other aspirations and goals we wish to achieve in life. When thinking about my future I find myself getting excited but honestly a little bit nervous as well. I’ve found that I’ve started to reflect on how familiar and comfortable Erlangen and the FIS have become to me. We’ve had a couple of weeks away from school now and I think many including myself realized that our lives actually start now. This means we have to call the doctor ourselves and we can’t get our parents to do it anymore. School was a routine, five days a week, almost every week. School helped us find our goals, and what we enjoy doing most. It also helped us discover the things we really don’t have an interest in. Graduating High School is beginning a journey for all of us. We’re entering a new stage of life and we carry the life lessons we’ve learned so far with us.

So right now I would like to thank the teachers on behalf of the students for supporting us through this first journey and giving us some important tips on the way. I want to congratulate my fellow peers on succeeding in this first obstacle. I am nervous about the next steps since I’m leaving the familiar, but I also hope I remember this feeling every time I enter a new stage of my life because at the end of the day it will be worth going out of our comfort zone since it’s an opportunity to meet so many amazing people and learn so many new things. Thank you.

Isabella Hehl

A good friend of mine who goes to a German school, once sent me a TikTok where a girl is lying in a hospital bed and says “today, my dream as an IB student came true. I was hit by a bus”. And I remember watching that and remembering how before we left for the Christmas holidays, Mrs. Smith told us in advisory class that we should be careful if we wanted to go skiing or snowboarding in the holidays because we shouldn’t injure ourselves before the mock exams. I also remember how when one week later I was in the mountains skiing, I genuinely considered for a split of a second if I should aim for the trees.

Now that I finished my exams and feel bonded with every current or past IB Diploma student for our shared fleeting thoughts on endangering ourselves to escape the pressure of deadlines, I’m still grateful to have gone through it… and especially grateful that it’s over.

In all seriousness though, today I was hoping to share a few of my thoughts concerning my excitement for the future. I’ve been to six schools since first grade and can really say that there’s nothing better than a fresh start. I feel like these last few years every one of us is at a point in our life where we’re trying to figure out who we are, what kind of person we want to be, what our priorities are and what makes us happy. Even though I’m sure that many of us are still far from being fully secure in who we are, we’re now a few steps closer than we were several years ago.

The wonderful thing about a new beginning, whether it is going to a university, or an Ausbildung, or traveling, is that your life is suddenly full of new people who only see the person you have grown to become, and have no idea about your past mistakes.

In the next few years, we’re all going to be able to have a fresh start, and with full independence, go after the things we want. If we want to change priorities, we can. If we want a different social life, we can. If we want to completely reinvent ourselves in the next year, we can. And if we feel content with exactly who we are now, the new people we meet will see that, and will have no recollection of who we might have been before. With every person sitting here today with their own problems subconsciously weighing them down, the next few months are going to be a clean slate, and will truly be liberating.

So on that note, let’s enjoy these last few hours where we’re all together, cherish the memories that we’ve built together, and enthusiastically look forward to what the future holds for us.

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