Posted 05/30/2019 11:30AM



As the evening dusk began to descend upon Shunyi, the heat rays of the impending summer slowly enveloped all those members of the community at Keystone Academy who had congregated on the Academy’s central quad to celebrate the accomplishments of the forty-seven-member group of graduating students that comprise the Class of 2019. Students, adorned in ubiquitous black commencement gowns, and accessorized with traditional Chinese embroidered stoles, marched anxiously towards their seats. Their faces glistened in the dusk of the sunset, and light tears descended upon the cheeks of the young adults as they prepared for the last day of their lives as secondary school students.   


On the 25th of May, Keystone held its 2nd annual graduation ceremony. Faculty, staff, and families of the graduates, alongside Distinguished Guests and Trustees, turned their gaze towards students as they marched in unison towards their seats beneath the Academy’s Archway.




“I predict that, in years to come, your abiding memory of this graduation ceremony will be simply a feeling,” said Head of School Malcolm McKenzie. “The messages will fade. I am sure that this will be a delectable feeling, bright with delight, one that will nourish you as you go back to it again and again in future years. That is as it should be. You have worked, served, and played hard to get to this point, and we are working, serving, and playing hard to etch these two days in your memories with joy. Cherish the crystal feelings… I ask you now, as graduates of our new world school, to live your lives by our Big Five, those five shared values.”


Mr. McKenzie made reference to the poem “Ozymandias” by the English Romantic poet, Shelley.  He described this sonnet as being “about the measurement of success, about achievement false and real, and about what lasts over time….an ironic and eccentric meditation on the ravages of time, on how would-be great rulers are reduced in the end to rubble.”  After reading “Ozymandias”, Mr. McKenzie read his own revised version of the poem, which was given to all the graduates along with their Keystone Diplomas.  Retitled “Ding Shi”, Mr. McKenzie’s rendition inspires our young graduates to not fall victim to arrogance or naivete, but instead to allow their good deeds to outlive their physical lives on earth.



《 Ding Shi 》

I met a graduate from a new world school

Who said: “In Houshayu, we built our brand:

‘From the world, for the world’, will no doubt stand

The test of time. Confucian values cool,

Show that a junzi is more than a tool.

Here there’s no wrinkled lip, nor cold command:

Character true, community kind, these lead

Our hands to act, our hearts to service need.

And on our chop, Chinese, these words we stamp:

Our name, Ding Shi, Keystone, school among schools.

Look on our values shared with joy, reflect.

We term them compassion, justice, respect,

Wisdom, honesty: both springboard and ramp.

All else will fade.  Our deeds will light a lamp.”


The audience warmly welcomed Mr. McKenzie’s revised rendition of the 19th century work, enthusiastically nodding in agreement and sharing the sentiments of the author.


As his speech drew to a close, Mr. McKenzie introduced Keystone’s Distinguished Guest Speaker and new friend of Keystone to the podium, Professor Scott Rozelle. Professor Rozelle is a member of the faculty of Stanford University who works extensively in China and is fluent in both Chinese and English, our Keystone languages.   He is the Director of the Rural Education Action Project (REAP), the Helen Farnsworth Endowed Professor, and the Senior Fellow and Professor in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, all at Stanford University. He also serves as an adjunct professor in eight Chinese universities and was awarded the Friendship Award in 2008, the Chinese award of highest honor that can be bestowed on a foreign citizen, by then Premier Wen Jiabao.







Our world is changing, and changing at an accelerating pace. And you are getting ready to move out of this safe haven - called Keystone - from a district of China, Shunyi -  that rivals all others across Asia for its specialness. These have been your homes and sources of inspiration and instruction. Pack your bags for the new world that is coming. I hope your luggage has three compartments: one for your future education/ human capital; one for building and developing your social responsibility; and one that will need to be filled for your own personal satisfaction and happiness. 





Mr. Rozelle continued his speech to the graduates with the poignancy of his own personal tale of loss and triumph, especially citing the importance living with intention and daily joy, and fulfilling all human desires, no matter how big or small.


He concluded his address to the graduates with simple instructions for a life well lived. “My graduation hope for you is that you pack your bags with a good education and life experiences; live with a feeling for others and willingness to sacrifice and express generosity to the those in your home, your communities, nation, and the world; and to do so with a smile, knowing that the world is wondrous…and awesome!”  


Prior to the conferral of the degrees, student performances served as a musical intermission during the ceremony, before welcoming the Class of 2019 Student Speaker, Steven Shi.



’Art’ is exactly the one English word that summarizes all the education we received at Keystone Academy,” said Steven Shi as he addressed the audience. He continued to explain various forms of “art” that the outgoing seniors embodied during their four years at Keystone



“The art of being a student is about being curious,” Steven began. “The courage of this class to dive deep and to dig in into knowledge...The art of being a student is also about being a good friend; learning how to be passionate and grateful; and finally, knowing ourselves. At Keystone, we learned to know ourselves, our passion, our goals, and our values. No matter where our next stop in this world is, knowing ourselves would be the most powerful tool which we can wield to solve problems, face challenges, and to win battles – to win all battles.”



As the evening ceremony drew to a close, Faculty Speaker and Chinese Teacher, Pei Lu, gave final words of encouragement to the young graduates, speaking on the breadth of diversity all members of the Class of 2019 possess. “Each of you in the Class of 2019 are exceptional graduates in your own rights. You have discovered the beauty of mathematics, excelled in the sciences, written original novels and plays, produced theatrical productions that rival world stages, and you are in possession of strong leadership qualities. You are each uniquely individual, and part of a strong collective. Now, as you prepare to travel with your luggage to the next stage of your lives, I hope you remember to utilize your unique gifts in the world as well as your strengths. Follow the road that ignites a fire in you!”


Splendid melodies directed by Ms. Jasmine Yang from the Pipa and Keyboard concluded the ceremony. The evening air, vehement with the sounds of footprints as the young graduates and their families walked out of Keystone’s sprawling campus one final time, marked another milestone occasion for Keystone Academy. 


Please click here to watch the graduation highlights from the Class of 2019. 






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