Marking the passage of students and graduates to the next phase of their life, the Middle School and High School Graduation Ceremonies took place on Friday, June 14, 2019, at the ACS Athens Theater. These two special and traditional events, not only celebrate the graduates’ achievements but also provide the opportunity to reflect on the past academic year and the students’ future goals. ACS Athens views young individuals holistically and as architects of their own learning. That’s why faculty, administration, leadership and the distinguished guest speakers who participated in the ceremonies had one common idea in mind: how the young men and women have been educated to fulfill their role as citizens and make a positive impact on tomorrow's world. That direction goes beyond any academic achievement they have accomplished.

Middle School Commencement

The Middle School Commencement ceremony marked the promotion of 8th graders to the Academy and celebrated their continuation to the last phase of K-12 education. Mr. Suheil Sabbagh, Chairman of the ACS Athens Board of Trustees, congratulated the students, their families and also ACS Athens faculty who "impacted each of students' life greatly in a positive way, providing them the knowledge they need to further progress." Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, ACS Athens President, invited the students to consider how they became leaders when they actively participated in social initiatives and the Youth-to-Youth program, and advised them: "Keep up your values, stay strong with your principles, your love, and kindness. Open your heart and help others. The more you give, the more you get back".

The commencement speaker, Mr. Rob Palm, Founder & CEO, RxP International and Senior Vice President at Sylipsis Corporation in his speech highlighted the importance of living with Ethos in everyday life: "Be respectful, be responsible, be ready. To be respectful means to treat others as you want to be treated in family, school, and especially on the internet. If you can't say something nice to someone on social media, then please don't say it. 

You have the advantage of being with all these different cultures, so learn to get along with these people, and you will be excellent global citizens for the rest of your lives. Let's all strive to be civil civilians." The students' distinctions in various academic and extracurricular fields were acknowledged with the presentation of individual awards, showcasing the creative course of life they are on, shaped with intentional excellence. The ACS Athens community was there to celebrate and wish them to keep it up in the future.

 

The Academy Commencement

The Commencement Ceremony of the Class of 2019 felt like a family celebration. Graduates' life paths are now leading them to various directions, so friends, family, faculty, and the whole ACS Athens community were there to commemorate this unique life milestone. The ACS Athens President, Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, expressed his pride in the Class of 2019 and reflected on the shocking world statistics regarding education: in today's 7.5 billion population, 781 million people are illiterate from whom 63% are women. ACS Athens assumes its responsibility in that direction by offering, through a generous donation from the Shapiro Foundation, full-time scholarships to 18 refugees, and in leading by example with its Youth-to-Youth Programs, involving its students in active citizenship. He urged the graduates not to forget how privileged they are and to "do good in every aspect of their lives."

Mr. James K. Stiegler, Chargι d' Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Athens, was called to the stage to deliver the introductory speech and congratulated the Class of 2019 that is embarking into a life of success and reward, pointing out: "You have had the opportunity to learn in an environment that emphasizes cooperation, belonging and trust.  In this setting with fellow students of 62 nationalities, you have gained an understanding of the richness of other cultures and are open to the diverse perspectives, values, and traditions of other individuals and communities. You have gained a strong sense of civic responsibility."

Mr. Suheil Sabbagh, Chairman of the ACS Athens Board of Trustees, invited the graduates to stand up and recognize their gratitude to their teachers and prompted them: "Continue with success in your future endeavors. You have received an excellent education that has prepared you for college and beyond. Do not give up on your dreams. Have faith!" 

In his commencement address, the guest speaker Dr. Kevin J. Ruth, Executive Director of ECIS, highlighted the importance of little decisions that shape a greater result and concluded meaningfully: "Decide what you stand for and stand for it all the time!" 

Dr. Peggy Pelonis, ACS Athens Vice President and Dean of Academics, addressed the students and the audience as a professional but also as a parent herself expressing her heartfelt gratitude towards the dedicated teachers of ACS Athens. Instead of a piece of advice, she shared a thought and a wish: "I believe in your wisdom, your energy, and your Ethos, because I have heard you recognize those who taught you well. I've watched you take care of one another when trouble lurked, I've seen the innocence in your eyes, and skill in your actions. You are certainly capable of living peacefully and compassionately with others, in harmony with our environment so that we might have a chance of saving this planet. I only have one wish, that as you move ahead, you use that wisdom to do just that and that you take the time to look back and guide the rest of us. I am certainly willing to follow your lead."

Before the awarding of Diplomas, students performed musical pieces while nominated faculty and PTO members were recognized for their contribution during this academic year. Awards, honorary distinctions, and special scholarships were presented to individual students, showcasing not only the importance of recognition but also the full range of talents, academic and non-academic interests as well as distinguished leadership and civic initiatives of the Class of 2019! The student speakers who offered the Salutatory address and Valedictorian speech shared their certainty that ACS Athens is and will remain their home at heart and that they are on their way towards somewhere special!

Enjoy the photo gallery below.