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The UAE has always been known for not doing things by halves and graduation time is no exception. As the class of 2023 prepares to graduate around the Emirates, the celebrations at various schools are getting underway, and they promise to be showstoppers. Whether it is a party at some of the best hotels in the country, or life-size banners of students, the local schools, as well as parents and students are busy ensuring that everything is perfect for an unforgettable graduation.

So, what can students expect this year? “To celebrate the remarkable students of the class of 2023, American Community School (ACS) has a unique meld of long-standing traditions mixed with new ones birthed from the pandemic. We are excited to see the return of the time-honoured Senior Salute where graduates take their final walk through the campus as they are cheered on by students from KG1-Grade 11, faculty and parents,” says Amy Greene, High School Principal at ACS in Abu Dhabi.

Amy Greene, High School Principal at ACS in Abu Dhab

“We spotlight our graduates with larger-than-life banners of each student in their graduation gown mounted along the school’s exterior wall, starting with the nine students who have spent their entire academic career at ACS. Our celebrations will culminate with a graduation ceremony at Emirates Palace Hotel on June 2 — a landmark location to mark a landmark event.”

A celebration at the lavish Emirates Palace is certainly something to relish and, as the students of ACS get ready to celebrate, students at other schools will also be upholding time-honoured traditions in various locations.

Kristine Stamp-Jerabek, High School Principal of the American School of Dubai (ASD), says, “This week, a total of 175 students of the Class of 2023 will celebrate their high school successes at the 30th graduation ceremony of the American School of Dubai. ASD has a number of traditions to celebrate our graduating seniors that we honour each year.”

Kristine Stamp-Jerabek, High School Principal of the American School of Dubai (ASD)

Some of the traditions for ASD students include a Senior Awards Ceremony where outstanding contributions that seniors have made in the areas of arts, athletics, service, science, business, technology, diplomacy, and international understanding, are acknowledged. There is also a celebration called the Final 50.

Stamp-Jerabek, explains, “Students mark the final 50 days of school with a celebratory evening to acknowledge the many contributions of the graduating class and also to remind them of the opportunities to leave a positive legacy at ASD.”

Indeed, many of the aspects of UAE graduations promote positivity, as well as being a time for reflection. At ASD, one of the rather poignant moments of graduating is the uplifting Red Envelope Ceremony.

“[For the Red Envelope Ceremony], senior students collectively read heartfelt letters of encouragement and advice from their past teachers — some of whom they’ve known their entire school career. This is a special reflective time where seniors get the opportunity to relive the meaningful moments and those important relationships that helped shape them into who they are today,” says Stamp-Jerabek.

At ASD, there are many parts to their graduation. To make it even more remarkable, some of the events involve the whole school community.

Stamp-Jerabek says, “The class of 2023 had the opportunity to be recognised by the entire student body for the traditional Senior Parade. Senior parents joined their children for an on-campus Senior Breakfast, followed by the Red Envelope Ceremony and Senior Awards Ceremony. Grouped by advisory, our senior class took one final pass through the halls of ASD before graduation.”

Moments like this are certainly memorable for all involved. Thus, for those graduating in the coming weeks, and for their family and friends, this precious moment is sure to stay with them for many years to come. Congratulations, class of 2023! ■