Sunday, 14 July 2013


THEMED CELEBRATION: The writer graduates after three years of high school in Ireland

IT was the final day of school in my life — the last time I had to wear a uniform and walk past the school gates.
The night before, I tossed and turned in bed as I pictured the day and my graduation ceremony in the evening. Would it go smoothly? Would I meet my former classmates later in life? Would I trip and fall upon receiving my certificate?
My handphone rang at an ungodly hour the next morning. My classmate urgently asked: ”Audrey, where are you?“ I only realised then that I was a half-hour late for our final graduation rehearsal at school.
With a surge of adrenaline flowing through my veins, I jumped out of bed. In the order I have done for the past three years, I put on my light blue shirt, navy skirt, blue striped tie and navy sweater.
I sprinted out the front door to find it a sunny day, a rare occurrence in the Emerald Isle. As I entered the school hall, my principal beamed at me with an understanding smile and said nothing even though I was late for school.
I was welcomed with a thunderous applause from the choir. As I was the absent pianist, the choir was unable to begin practice.
We only began practising 10 days before graduation. The programme included three group songs filled with vocal harmonies, solos and duets. After rehearsing to our hearts’ content, we returned home to get ready for the night.
The girls went to get their hair and tan done, whereas the boys headed to the local barber.
At 7 o’clock sharp, we arrived at the school once again. This time, all my classmates were dressed to the nines. Excited parents and family members armed with cameras were in the hall.
Three of my classmates and I delivered the opening address. On behalf of the graduating students, I thanked our parents, teachers and school staff, giving a personal touch to each group. I was confident that my speech was going to be perfect but unfortunately that was not the case.
Everything was going spectacularly well until I had to thank two teachers who were diagnosed with cancer during the school year and had to leave. As I was sharing events which impacted my life, I realised they were in the audience.
Tears began to well up in my eyes and I began to choke. Thankfully, after forcing myself to regain composure, I finished the speech.
Our musical performances included High Hopes by Irish rock band Kodaline. Its lyrics tell our graduation theme. ”High hopes, it takes me back to when we started, high hopes, when you let it go, go out and start again.“
As I left the school after the event, I recalled the people who played a large part in my life, especially my closest friend, Anna Marie Bourke. When I thought that I would never find a friend with whom I could truly be myself in a foreign land, she proved me wrong.
All in all, I had a phenomenal night.

The writer will enter university in September and loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: High hopes - You - New Straits Times

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