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Top class honors at YCIS

DOCTORS, artists, engineers, business leaders and scholars. These are some of the future careers of the newly graduated - and exceptionally talented - class of students from Yew Chung International School of Shanghai.

At the graduation ceremony, Co-principal Dr Christian Barkei said: "We are fortunate to have such a compassionate and talented group of Year 13s. A word that defines you all is camaraderie."

Part of that camaraderie included international trips as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, music tours to Australia, Vienna, Budapest, Prague and London, and hands-on field trips around China.

The class of 2010 was also intensely involved in volunteer activities. Although a required part of the YCIS Shanghai curriculum, the students went far beyond the requirements with an average of 487 volunteer hours per student, with five students exceeding 1,000 hours each. IB Coordinator Daun Yorke awarded each student a "Heart to Heart" teddy bear upon graduation, each bear representing one life-saving heart operation funded by the volunteer service.

Valedictorian Alexia Cohade, in her speech, talked about the surprising challenges of the IB Diploma Program. She quoted Churchill: "Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."

"IB has allowed us to become better learners, thinkers and communicators. YCIS has allowed us to become better leaders, inside and outside the classroom," she said.

Cohade also praised the teaching staff. "About the teachers, they invested themselves passionately during our studies. It's thanks to you that we are prepared." Cohade will attend the University of Pennsylvania's Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, one of the world's most prestigious undergraduate courses of study.

Other acceptances included virtually every prominent art program: Savannah College of Art and Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Parsons The New School of Design, Pratt Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Other well-known schools that sent acceptance letters include Princeton, Dartmouth, National University of Singapore, Georgetown, McGill, University of Hong Kong, University Pierre and Marie Curie-Paris VI, University of Warwick and Keio University.

YCIS Shanghai University Guidance Counselor Karel DeCock talked about the trends in this year's class.

"Always a popular trend is the university ranking. We ask students to focus on the specific programs of the school, the context of the program, the professors, the facilities, to do more in-depth research, not just focus on the name or how famous it is."

With students representing 40 countries and regions - many of them planning to return to their home countries for university - location is also a key factor.

DeCock explained: "Diversity is important at YCIS. Our teachers are all experienced IB teachers from all over the world, so the teachers can give the students their experiences from their countries, and give the students a more in-depth perspective on what it is like to live there. The students also talk to each other."

Commencement keynote speaker Edward J. Larson talked about the challenges in today's race for the top schools.

"Success in exams is not an end, but a means. Never forget the noblest means involve service to others."

He also counseled on one of the core tenets of the YCIS education: "To succeed you will need to think and act globally."


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