Agape Christian School held a virtual commencement ceremony for its 12 graduating seniors and 27 middle school students last Wednesday.
ACS principal Jimeian Pang said the ACS graduation is usually a grand celebration, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the occasion into a virtual ceremony with just the students and select teachers.
“Our Saipan school’s graduation is very grand, [with] leis, gifts, and flowers and family members’ support, but that was in the past. With COVID-19, we were unable to give out diplomas. We even asked parents not to come so we did Zoom for them,” she said, referring to an online video-conferencing application.
Although it was not the graduation that ACS is known for, Pang said that the school did its best to organize a safe graduation to recognize the achievements of their students. “We still tried to keep up a good spirit. Even though it’s not like before, many of our students were encouraged, especially our new students. We don’t want anything to dampen the spirit of the graduation, the positive spirit and good things that come with graduation. It’s sad about the COVID-19 situation, but we won’t let this get to us, we had a lot of fun,” she said.
Of ACS’ graduating seniors, 10 were international students and two were local residents, so many were not able to have their families participate in the ceremony. However, according to salutatorian Isaiah He Jianan, he is just glad that he was even able to have a graduation at all.
“I am just glad that I was able to participate in a graduation. It’s a ceremony that you remember for a lifetime,” he said.
As an ACS middle school graduate, Jianan said he felt the huge difference between a virtual graduation and a physical graduation. “When I was a middle school graduate, I also graduated from Agape so I can feel the difference between a real graduation and a virtual graduation. Although it’s kind of different, it’s still great. I’ve been here four years,” he said.
As an international student, Jianan said that keeping his health and that of his family has been difficult on him but the pandemic did teach him that life is a treasure. “I was really worried about our life here in the school, because my parents who are in China told me that there is no safe place so I was scared. [The pandemic] taught us a lot, we are a Christian school so when the pandemic hit, I was really thinking about why am I here as a student, my purpose. …This pandemic [also] taught us to treasure our life, because we only have one life. So, treasure everything that is around us and enjoy life because it’s only one,” he said.
ACS valedictorian Joel Du Shouyu said the graduation ceremony was still very special, even without his family to see him march. “This was a virtual graduation and we couldn’t have our parents and family with us, but it was still kind of special. It was memorable because, despite this pandemic, we were still given a graduation. Graduation was happy but it was also kind of sad since there’s still the ongoing pandemic,” he said.
Shouyu said that, although he was at first worried about the state of his health and his family’s as a result of COVID-19, he learned that worrying changes nothing. “…I realized that the more I worried, it [wouldn’t] change anything so I just prayed for them and communicated more and expressed more my care and love for them,” he said.
The valedictorian for the graduating middle school class was Beth Zhang Quihong and the salutatorian was Eunice Xu Juan.