A Stellar Online Batch

[Address.  SHS Graduation.  22 April 2022.]

It is a privilege for me to finally be able to address you, if not face to face, online.  When you enrolled for the ADDU Senior High School (SHS) two years ago, the pandemic had already begun.  We had a spanking new stand-alone SHS campus in Bangkal dedicated to the special pedagogical purposes of the K-12 reform.  This campus was built for you.  But you are now graduating from the ADDU SHS without ever having used the campus.  Indeed, your limited enjoyment of it shall be just throughout the month of May when you go to Bangkal in order to take selfies and batch pictures.  Your entire ADDU SHS experience was online, and your experience of one another virtual.  So when you go to the Bangkal, for most of you it shall be the first time that you meet your class- and batchmates face to face, see the sizes and shapes of their physiques, hear the sounds of their natural voices, catch the joy in their laughter, see brightness of their eyes and the warmth of  their smiles.

The remarkable thing however is when that day comes, you shall not be strangers.  In fact, you shall share a bondedness with one another that comes from two whole years of online learning and interaction with one another that have distinguished you as a stellar batch.  From the hour of your enrollment you knew that your ADDU SHS  experience would be online. You did not complain about this.  The pandemic was getting people very sick, then even taking lives.  You did not whine.  Instead you embraced your online education as a matter of choosing what was necessary to continue your education.  Online you met teachers who worked hard on appropriate coarseware to make your online learning experience productive, if not even enjoyable; you met formators who attended to your spirit, to your moods, to your ups but also to your downs, in respectful conversation, in recollections, in retreats.  They worked so that as your knowledge increased, you also grew stronger in the faith.  But online you also met your classmates – in strands, in sections, in clusters, in shared subjects, in clubs.  All was online, but you drew maximum fruit from the platforms in creativity, so that the bonding among yourselves was strong.  With one another, you shared your talents and your skills by actively participating in class and in SHS celebrations and programs.    Today you recall the orientation programs, the fiestas, the IGNITE intramurals, the Christmas parties, Teachers’ Day, Strand days, the research disseminations, the competitions both inside and outside ADDU.  Through your Pulsong Atenista Student Government Officers you remember how a harmonious relationship between learners and teachers, and formators was cultivated.  Remarkably, online, you developed a powerful sense of belongingness to your batch – a sense of quiet triumph in shared achievement.

You are a batch of 1,392 graduates.  But of your batch 705 or 51% have graduated with academic honors.  In your batch, for the first time ever, there are ten of you who have graduated with highest honors, that is, with an average of 98% or above over four consecutive semesters.  Happily, your strengths have been developed coming not only from private but from public schools.  Your valedictorian, Mr. Hyram Yusico, comes from a public high school;  your salutatorian, Mr. Zaidamin Haron, hails from a private school. 

You are a stellar batch.  You have learned much.  But in humility you also know you have much yet to learn, even as many of you continue to cope with financial challenges brought about by the pandemic, or with mental stresses as you tackle multiple challenges coming at you from different directions all at the same time.  Challenges notwithstanding, you have gone through Senior High School with a dream – a dream to be able to give back to your families who have sacrificed much that you may go through ADDU’s SHS, a dream that through your successes in this SHS you may move on to college, there to prepare yourselves for life.  Hopefully in the SHS, as I mentioned earlier today in our Baccalaureate Mass, part of your life dream emerges from your experience of being truly loved – loved by your families and friends, loved by your faith community, loved by your school community.  But also loved by your Father, loved by Jesus, your brother and redeemer, and loved by the Spirit of Love.  Love, love, love!  Love received, love appreciated, love shared – especially with the least, the lost and the lonely in Mindanao.    Hopefully, your life dream includes them.  That in the special competencies you acquire, you may be able to lead them to a more humane life. 

Congratulations, graduates of ADDU SHS, graduates of basic education at ADDU.  In the ardor of this Love, Love, Love, go now and set the world on fire!       

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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