More than 3,300 tassels passed from right to left and thousands of bright blue mortarboards were sent spinning through the air as students from IES schools throughout Sweden graduated from year nine.
The graduation ceremony is a right of passage for students at Internationella Engelska Skolan to mark their achievements over several vital years of education.
The details of the ceremony can vary from school to school; do they sing both Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer and Du Gamla Du Fria? Do they throw their hats? How many student performances are there? What percentage of the teachers feel a lump in their throat and a tear in their eye?
What is the same, at every IES school, is the celebration of the achievements of the students, where each student will receive a certificate marking the years of hard work they have put in.
High-achieving students are recognised for the best performance in a subject or for the leadership and citizenship that they have shown.
At IES Skärholmen, Principal Alexandra Ohlén, said: “All of our year nines have the grades they need to get into gymnasium. Every single one of you has done this. You have pushed yourself to the limit and you have also helped each other when it was feeling a bit rough. Right now some of you might be sitting here feeling ‘I don’t know if I deserve this.’ Well, that’s not true. Some of you are sitting here thinking ‘I kind of deserve it but it is mostly thanks to my teachers’ and of course there is some truth of that, we have excellent teachers, but still mostly this is thanks to you and your efforts, and also because of your families. I know you are all teenagers and maybe your families are not the ones who you are in love with all the time, but today they deserve your hugs.”
The three students from the school with the best results were awarded the right to give a valedictorian’s speech. Together they chose the topic of success to tie their speeches together.
The first of them, Tova Willborg, 9A, said: “Success, in Swedish the word success translates to framgång, and if you translate that back to English it means walking forward. success is just that, walking forward, no matter the direction. I consider all of us to be successful, moving forward is what we all have done and are about to do again.”
Following her, Ali Talib, 9C, said: “I will talk about success and how I perceive success. I don’t think that money and grades are so important, because they won’t help you, they won’t save you from difficult situations without knowledge. Knowledge is important, we need to learn. The most important is experience.”
The third valedictorian My Danvind, 9D, added: “There are three steps to making a society truly successful, the first step we can and should make is tolerance and respect Tolerance of religions other than your own, of cultures other than your own, ethnicities that you perhaps didn’t even know existed.
“One good example of this is pride. People might argue that it is unnecessary and why isn’t there a straight pride? Well, that is simply because pride was born for a need for basic human rights, which straight people have always possessed. LBTQ+ people still don’t have them in many countries today.”
As this year’s grade nine students across Sweden move on to fresh challenges, with the best wishes of the staff at their schools, year eight will now step up and seize the chance to find their own success in their last year of compulsory education.