And so, after what was an unconventional end to year 13, the 2020 graduating class of Wellington College International Tianjin were finally able to come together with their friends, family and teachers to celebrate their achievements in school and their achievements to come as they head off to universities around the world.
The media has been full of images of graduation ceremonies from around the world; those utilizing webcams, social distancing and even robots. As the health restrictions in Tianjin begin to relax a little we were extremely grateful to be able to hold a small celebration where we came together as a group for what will probably be the last time.
Though transplanted from the grand occasion we have become used to in the Sir Anthony Seldon Theatre, some of our traditions were maintained, some were adapted and some entirely new ones were tried for the first time.
The evening began, as always with an affectionate welcome from our Head of 6th Form Mrs Jayne Sabio which led into a heartwarming video compilation charting the journeys of these young Wellingtonians, some of whom have been with us since as early as Year 6.
The first of our innovations this year brought on by the travel restrictions was the video message from our founder and Chairman, Mrs Joy Qiao, in Shanghai.
It was with an evident sense of pride that she recounted the achievements of this group of graduates as well as asking them to think about their responsibilities for the future as cross-cultural inhabitants of a world where international relationships grow ever more strained. She asked them to remember that they would always be graduates of the first Wellington College in China and passed her gratitude to the teachers who have worked so hard to not only keep them on track, but to flourish over this challenging time.
Housemistresses Miss Rogic, Miss Pulchna and Mrs Kim were then on hand to present graduation certificates to members of the Anglesey, Blucher and Orange house respectively before a rousing speech by Head of Senior School Mrs Popovic.
A brief break in proceedings allowed for a violin performance by Willy Kim (Tartini: Variations on a theme by Corelli) who will soon depart for Seoul to study International Relations at Yonsei University. Willy has been a stalwart of musical and drama productions as well as a lively presence around the school over the past seven years and he leaves with our best wishes.
The business of graduation certificates was then brought to an end by Mrs Iddison, Housemistress of the Stanley and Mr Sabio, Housemaster of the Wellesley which led directly into the commencement address by the Master, Mr Julian Jeffrey where he was able to share some wisdom with the graduates as they depart onto the next phase of their lives.
The final speech of the evening was reserved for our departing Head and Deputy Heads of College. Through sheer coincidence, the destinations of these three young people are a snapshot of the breadth of opportunity available to graduates of Wellington College in Tianjin. Head of College Elliot Lee is off to read Chemistry with Mathematics at University College London, Deputy Head Cindy Zhang heads to the University of Virginia to study Commerce and Deputy Head Bruno Li will take up his place at Glasgow School of Art where he intends to develop a career in the fashion industry. The theme of their speech was past, present and future; who they were when they arrived at Wellington, how they developed and who they hope to become – a worthwhile reflection for all of us at any stage in our lives.
With the formal elements of the evening over, the outgoing year 13 were left with a little time to enjoy some food and drink with their friends, parents and teachers. The comments written by the pupils in the programme for the evening over and over again referenced the sense of family in this year group and the wider school community; feelings of pride in a school which promotes kindness, responsibility, hard work and fair play. The evening and the successes of all of our graduating year group were the result of cooperation between supportive parents, hardworking and motivated pupils and inspirational teachers who are never less than generous with their time and their expertise. In a year which has continually delivered in terms of challenge, a few hours together in celebration was a cherished and valuable commodity indeed.
Click the picture below to check the “Top 100 University Offers” this year