Happy – and grateful – to be commemorating students’ achievements and excellence at the end of a challenging year, ACS Athens celebrated the Class of 2021 during the Academy Commencement Ceremony on Wednesday, June 17.
This year, although the pandemic restrictions did not allow guests at the Academy Commencement Ceremony, everybody worked diligently to provide a memorable on-campus commencement for the graduates along with a live streaming of the event on the ACS Athens YouTube channel with over 1.000 views during its live broadcast.
Commencement Keynote Speaker Sebastien Bellin expressed his gratitude for being present, commenting that "Everything I needed to learn in life, I learned at an International school; I want to give back to the community."
Explaining that it is the mindset that makes the difference in life, Mr. Bellin described how his own challenges taught him not to feel like a victim but as a survivor who experiences and overcomes difficulties, learning the greatest lessons that life can give.
Mr. Bellin added, "I've come up with four themes, pieces of advice, that help me cultivate the feeling of survivor and overcome everyday challenges: Acknowledge fear as an illusion, surround yourself with a solid Team with no ego, always stay focused and don't let obstacles get in the way of your opportunities, and always keep Quality over Quantity: It's hard to have a mindset of growth when you are carrying too much! ACS Athens graduates, always go for the quality in your life!"
Special Guest Speaker U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt congratulated the graduates on reaching this important milestone in their lives, hoping that the challenges of the past year and a half did not diminish the sense of accomplishment they feel today.
"The pandemic has forced your generation to learn difficult life lessons, and I think you should be very proud of your resilience in the face of this unprecedented challenge and all that you have achieved," he added.
Ambassador Pyatt also commented on the shared spirit of innovation between the USA and Greece: "This innovative spirit will be more important than ever as your generation steps up to tackle the challenges we face today. You'll be entering a world that is forever changed, and the deep inequalities that the pandemic has exposed will require your attention and ingenuity. ACS Athens has given you exactly the skills you need for living in an interconnected world, and we will count on your fresh, global perspectives as we work together to build a better future. The world will advance on the strength of your vision and creativity as well as your commitment to our democratic values"!
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of ACS Athens, Mr. Pascal Apostolides congratulated the graduates and wished they all cherish the memories and learnings that took place within ACS Athens: "This is the beginning of a new adventure - you will go out to this world to continue to be architects of your own learning, preparing to become tomorrow's leaders to transform the world. I encourage you to believe and continue dreaming of making a difference in the world by not giving up in front of obstacles that most certainly you will face in your lives"!
ACS Athens President, Dr. Peggy Pelonis, welcomed everyone and expressed her joy in celebrating with the students after a prolonged lockdown for most of the year: "This past year and a half, the world came to a sudden stop with the COVID19 pandemic and with it came a myriad of challenges: learning online, social media frenzy, longing to connect face to face, to play, to just being together. You, young graduates, were called on to be resilient, to pivot to move in different directions, as we all were, and often these directions had no guarantee of positive outcomes".
President Pelonis extended a warm message of appreciation to all staff, faculty and parents for making the students' well-being a priority, and for working to create online schooling the best possible experience for them, and a community of learners as if they were physically on campus.
She added, "Class of 2021, your role models are multiple. Your journey has been disrupted and has evolved in a new way. You have more resources and more technology tools than any other generation, but now you also have the option to discover new skills, new ways of carving your path in life. You know what it means to lose your freedom because of something unpredictable and unmanageable. The greatest risk you are taking is inventing and continuously reinventing your life, and that is what makes you architects of your own learning, your own life, positioned to transform the world."
The entire Academy Commencement Ceremony was recorded, and a final, edited version will be released on the ACS Athens YouTube channel by Friday, June 25 – stay tuned!
Farewell Class of 2021, you are dismissed!
***June 24 update: The 2021 Academy Commencement video is now online and ready to be shared with all of you!
Watch below and enjoy the most memorable event of the year at ACS Athens! ***