Friday after school we attended a Scholarship Ceremony at the school. We didn’t know what to expect nor the extent of our role. The event was on the school sports field, which is a football field with a track and bleachers (the students and teachers here refer to it as the playground). The students were carrying over their classroom chairs when we were walking over, and when we arrived there was a large stage, music, and many of the students’ parents already finding their seats. The scene was celebratory and much more grand than what we had anticipated.
Although I am unable to explain it fully, students take several important tests that are taken very seriously throughout the year. This was a ceremony to recognize students who had scored very high on their recent tests and for students who were communicating in English at high levels. However, it was much more than recognition of academic excellence. There were students who performed dances, sang songs, delivered speeches, and interviewed Principal Bai on the stage. A parent gave a speech. Students in the audience cheered for their classmates. Leah and I were able to hand out some of the awards even though we have had nothing to do with why the students earned them. It was a community of people coming together to celebrate, motivate, encourage, support, and show love for one another. It was delightful.
At the end of his speech, Principal Bai announced that starting next year they will include a new category of scholarships, Student Leadership…and the crowd erupted with cheers. What a great addition, and what a difficult time they will have choosing which students from this abundant pool of qualified candidates will be the recipients.