Last night marked the end of an era. It was a celebration of nine months of intensity: intense learning, intense partying, intense loving, and intense laughing. The AY students were finally graduating. The soft glow of the candles placed on the staircase led us slowly into the lecture hall, packed with smartly-dressed people.
Hors d’oeuvres were laid out on the tables: cheese & ham and egg mayonnaise sandwiches, samoosas, mini cheese pies, and more. Students and teachers were mingling in their evening wear, enjoying the opportunity to simply socialize at the end of their academic year.
Sitting with the other staff members a short while later, I took a good look at the students’ faces. It was hard to believe that students who had been in my level four class—the first class I taught at the school—were now departing. They had developed so much since then on so many levels.
We had created awards in the vein of an Oscar ceremony: the Most Hardworking, Laziest, Best Laugh, Most Improved, and Most Talented.ï¿½Their faces shone as they came up to the podium and gave a short acceptance speech. It was a good feeling to recognize their accomplishments, and I was especially glad to publicly acknowledge my talented Krygz student for his invaluable technological expertise in producing our monthly school newspaper. The surprise of the night came when the Laziest appeared to receive his award!
Next were the awards students had invented for the staff. Enthusiastic cheers rang out as the Craziest Staff member was picked up and spun around by a Frenchman who could definitely be described as one of the crazier students. The Teacher of the Year smiled in a way that left no question as to how much of her heart was invested in her profession, expressing her gratitude to the students stating, “it takes two to tango.” I felt my own gratitude being able to work with a team of colorful characters who manage to be professional but so much fun at the same time.
Three groups of students showed videos they made of their eight months in Cape Town. The music on the final video blended scenes seamlessly into each other.ï¿½The captions made me laugh and brought me close to tears. I saw in those videos just how much this experience had meant to these people, how it had changed their lives in so many ways, and how they would carry it with them always. And I felt them being added to the memories I already carry of all the special students I have taught over the years, an experience that can never be replaced.