Some of my peers have wandered their entire lives in want of that intangible assurance of safety, of belonging. Though I cannot speak for all upon this stage, I am blessed to know home. My hearth is not an Even Yehuda street, not a state of Stars and Stripes. My hearth smolders at AIS.

This campus is more than an institution to me, and, I believe, to my fellow seniors. Our wander-weary hearts quieted for a beat when we nestled into the art room, a library bean bag. Our solitude dissolved while losing Janga to an underclassman, while screaming support for a fellow Falcon. In a blizzard of passion and sincerity, our teachers transformed us into true scholars, athletes, men and women. We found Hestia in those groan-inducing puns and the murmurs that stemmed the tears. We found a home in this school because we found a home in each other.

In the years overseas, we have struggled for definition. Post-graduation, we will discover that identity ebbs, and what defines us morphs as new people and places settle into our hearts.

For now, though, the class of 2015 shares an identity. Hestia is fittingly our symbol for she represents the oldest values that are yet new to us, the uprooted. As time unwinds and the miles float farther, this campus will retreat in our minds. Such is the natural course of events. But the core of AIS - those ideas of the hearth that latched on to us here - will remain. For we leave here knowing love, knowing home.

Excerpted from Valedictorian Fiona Whalen's Graduation Speech, Class of 2015


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