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A graduation speech for the Class of 2021, by Aryan A.

On May 1, 2021, EF Academy New York senior Aryan A. gave the following speech on behalf of the Class of 2021 at their graduation ceremony in New York.

Good morning respected teachers, administrators, parents and the amazing Class of 2021. Before I start, I would like to thank all the teachers for coming through for us this year and therefore I ask all the graduates to stand up and join me in giving all the teachers a round of applause.

Congratulations! We’ve done it, all the hard work has finally paid off and we’re all ready to take the next big step in life beyond high school. I was lucky enough to be chosen to speak today before all of you and reflect on our collective journey in this school, and if I were to think of one word to describe this journey, it would be: Unprecedented

Unprecedented is defined as never done or known before, and I’m sure all of you have heard this word countless times over the last year, being normalised into a word that correlates directly with COVID-19. But here, my intention is to connect this word with all of you; you are unprecedented, you are a high school class that has done something never known before. You see, all of us have had a roller coaster ride; from week-long quarantines to distance learning, masked classes to countless pending Google Classroom assignments, brunch check-ins to Monster-fuelled all-nighters and numerous other things.

All of our crazy roller coaster rides have been unprecedented, never seen before in the history of education, let alone at EF Academy, because let’s be honest, every batch that graduates from EF Academy is a special one. Maybe not the underclassmen we so lovingly dislike.

Living in such unprecedented times made us cherish the small yet important aspects in life. Leaving the campus for field trips felt like freedom to us; and somehow breathing the polluted Manhattan air felt unusually fresh. Snow days felt like gifts from heaven since the term snow day apparently doesn’t exist in Dr. K’s dictionary. We love you Dr. K.

Countless Uber Eats orders were the closest glimpses to tasting the outside world, but we arguably valued such glimpses higher than our own IAs. Most importantly, we formed relationships with the people we love, people we care about, people that went on this crazy journey along with us, the journey without any exams, yet being stressed out over countless deadlines and mock exams. Unprecedented.

We have now learnt how to foster relationships through these tough times, quite literally finding the meaning behind the saying “through thick and thin” at a much younger age than other older folks, like the teachers here. Unprecedented. We were thrown into this thunderstorm of uncertainty and irregularities throughout the year, but we fought through it through ways we could’ve never imagined; be it through Vietnamese cooking sessions in the lounges or the Spanish and Russian parties with insanely loud music that we claimed to hate but never actually stopped tapping our feet or bopping our heads to. Unprecedented.

Learning from these experiences, I’m sure all of us will remember the families of friends we created amongst ourselves that looked out for each other at every step of the way. If there is one sentiment I want you to take away from this speech, it’s this: You are all capable of taking on any obstacle that may lie in your life in any country in the world at any time of the year. You have all faced a challenging high school experience that has never happened before, and you overcame it, made it worthwhile . . . something that I would like to call: Unprecedented.

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