After a few months of getting used to a new school and teaching 1,000 kids, it was time to celebrate with the grade 9 and 12 graduation ceremonies.
It did feel a little strange celebrating these events in the middle of my contract year, but that’s how it worked out for me.
Any chance to spend time with the kids is great. Being the only Westerner in the school/area really makes me stand out, which is really tiring, but within the confines of the school, it makes me feel special and cared for. And I think it’s important to connect with the students outside of my mere 45 minutes with them.
I knew that I had to wear traditional dress for the events, which meant going shopping for Kebayas (traditional blouses), and skirts or sarongs to wear with them. Over the past 1.5 years my Batik (traditional Indonesian fabric) collection is substantial, but a girl can never have too much. I mean…just look at the high quality of fancy Batik fabrics I’ve been able to accumulate!!!
Grade 12 was first. Early on a Saturday morning, I walked into the hall of the High School to see people bustling around getting ready. I took some photos with my 11th graders who were singing in the choir and playing in the band.
After the parents were seated, the teachers had to leave to make a grand entrance, followed by the students who sat according to their individual classes.
A few underclassmen girls dressed up as traditional dancers for the opening production and then served as servers to hand out the medals (they don’t have caps/gowns or tassels.)
After four hours of awards, medals, speeches, songs and prayers, it was time to congratulate the well-dressed young ladies and gentlemen of the SMAK 7 Cipinang school.
A few weeks later it was time to do it again for the 9th grade. Early on a Wednesday morning, I once again got dressed up and headed to the hall to get ready for the exciting event. The ceremony was very similar to the grade 12 only a little less fancy and a little shorter. We still had awards, medals, speeches, songs and prayers, but this time the entire ceremony took about 3 hours. And, of course, after congratulating everyone, I posed for dozens of pictures. It was great to be there to welcome the grade 9 into the High School and be able to give a nice farewell to the principal, who I’ll miss very much.