High School Graduation 2024

On May 31st, we honored the outstanding achievements of our Grade 12 students at their graduation ceremony. It was an afternoon filled with pride, happiness, and memories.

From the heartwarming speeches to the touching musical performances, every moment of the graduation ceremony was a testament to the dedication and hard work of our graduates. Parents, teachers, and fellow students gathered to celebrate their accomplishments and wish them well on their future journey.

Following the ceremony, the seniors enjoyed a memorable dinner at Intercontinental Hanoi Hotel. Surrounded by friends, parents, and faculty, they talked about their time at St. Paul School and looked forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.

Congratulations, Class of 2024! As our graduates embark on their next chapter, we are confident that they will continue to excel and make a positive impact wherever they go. We are proud of each and every one of them, and we can’t wait to see the incredible things they will achieve in the future.

Congratulations to the Class of 2024! We are incredibly proud of your achievements and excited for the amazing paths you will forge ahead.

SENIOR WALK

The Graduation Ceremony marked not just an end, but a glorious new beginning for our students, as they step confidently into the world beyond.

GRADUATION CEREMONY

Our high school principal gave a speech to all students

HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: MR. TJ SHIERS

Mr. TJ Graduation Ceremony Speech

” Hello distinguished faculty and staff, parents, family, friends, and of course, St. Paul graduates. 

On behalf of the St Paul Board of Management, I am honored to be here today to celebrate the class of 2024. When I started writing this speech for last year’s ceremony, I was struck by the short amount of time I had to get to know those students. Thankfully, I have had two full school years to get to know the class of 2024. While I have not had the pleasure to see you all grow, change, and mature from adolescents into young adults like Mr. North has:), I can say with certainty, you are an impressive group of young people.

For most of you, this is the start of a new great adventure. You are planning to go to university in the United States, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Some of you will study in your home country here in Vietnam, while many of you plan to go back to your home country of Korea. A smaller number of you are considering Canada, or Europe. While I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, I wanted to offer a few quick bits of advice. I collect quotes on a regular basis, and one characteristic of being a nerd like me, is that you regularly find gems of wisdom and wish to share them with others. This speech gives me a chance to do so:). 

First, all of us here, wish every one of you a lifetime of happiness. While you will all have innumerable ups and downs throughout your life, Harvard Business Professor Arthur Brooks lays out his research findings on happiness this way: 

There are 4 things your brain is telling you to chase that WON’T bring you happiness. 

  1. Money
  2. Power
  3. Pleasure
  4. Fame (prestige or admiration of others) – basically everything you see on social media. 

There are 4 things you SHOULD BE focused on for Happiness

  1. Faith
  2. Family
  3. Friendships
  4. Work that serves others and where you can earn your success. 

As the technology around AI continues to evolve rapidly, I encourage you all to stay rooted in reality and only occasionally look to technology for fun or comfort. In the book Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s main character comes to this realization, “… as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

Moving on to how you treat people:

I started reading Harry Potter books during the Covid lockdowns, and they are wonderful. So wonderful, I started reading them again a couple of weeks ago. My favorite quote from the whole series by J.K Rowling is from Professor Albus Dumbledore:

“Words are in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” This is an easy one to mess up, especially if you are like me and have a temper that took me years to learn to keep in check (with occasional failures nowadays as I am sure you seniors can attest to). 

This ties in perfectly to the following from the Christian bible, the book of James chapter 1 verse 19: “… let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” If I could have followed this one rule, it would have eliminated 90-95% of the conflicts I have had in my entire life.

The last quote I want to share comes again from Ernest Cline, and may be apropos to your current emotions regarding the next few months and years. “I know the future is scary at times, sweetheart. But there’s just no escaping it.” Having a healthy fear is a good thing. Use it, to prepare, to challenge yourself, and to push yourself to ever greater heights!

Please know that I am very proud of all of you and the work you have done during your time at St. Paul, and for the fine young adults you have become in the process. I know you will go on to accomplish great things in university, the work force, in the military, and in your personal lives. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and hope we cross paths in the future. Go Eagles! “

Our Stuco President give her emotional speech.

STUCO PRESIDENT: PARK DAUN

Park Daun Graduation Ceremony Speech

” It is an HONOR to be standing here in front of our teachers, parents, students, and fellow graduates, Class of 2024! Well, WE DID IT! We’ve ALL been waiting for this day to be on this stage celebrating our accomplishments over the past four years of high school. And, I have to say, being in this wonderful community for seven years was a priceless pleasure in my life! We laughed together and we cried together… Well, hopefully we LAUGHED a little bit more than we CRIED, right? Ultimately, though, we triumphed together and now? Here we are. We’ve shared so many memories and lessons in this community, lessons that we will be carrying throughout our lives. 

Before I go on, I want to thank ALL of our parents for supporting us through our high school journey. Without their support, we definitely could not have reached this day. 

Standing here today makes me look back on our high school years. Do you guys remember our freshman and sophomore years? We were BARELY on campus due to COVID, but even so, we always found ways to hang out. I remember going to Bohyun’s house – in the same apartment building as mine – during our asynchronous classes just because it was the ONLY place I COULD go during that time! We used to send private chats to each other during class time asking what was happening, and now those crazy, lockdown years are nothing but weird memories. During our junior year, we were finally released from COVID restrictions and had much more time to be with each other. One thing to pick out from junior year would definitely be the St. Paul Sound music competition in New York City. I will NEVER forget Nayeong sleeping through the loudest alarm EVER after saying she will wake up in 15 minutes to study for her APs. I will also always remember Ailey asking me, “Why do I feel sleepy even though I am almost done with this energy drink?” and then CRYING when she realized she bought a decaffeinated one! The neverending fight we all had against sleeping (so we could study!) in New York is now a legendary subject of our daily talks. Finally, going into senior year, we all found ourselves grown up and greatly changed since we were freshmen, at last wrapping up our 12-year journey.

There is a special person I would like to sincerely show my gratitude to, James Cha, who came to our graduation today. He is a teacher of a lot of graduates who are sitting here today (myself included!) who always encouraged us on our next steps in this journey of life.

You know, there is one thing that I MUST mention, because it is an enormous part of my St. Paul life. I could never leave this stage without shouting out the Eagles Band! Ms. Stacey Perez is the person who I can certainly say changed my life. I believe that most of you know I was NEVER looking into a music major or moving to the US until my senior year. To be honest, I couldn’t really see myself anywhere before this year. However, Ms. P ALWAYS encouraged me to pursue what I really found myself enjoying into my future… and music was IT! She taught me SO many life lessons, and I knew I could always walk into her office whenever I had something going on in my life, even if it was outside of music. I guess you could say everyone has that ONE teacher who they rely on. However, to me, Ms. P is much more than JUST that teacher. And yes, I know Sua always reminds me that I’m Ms. P’s fangirl, but I honestly can’t say no to her and I WILL say she is my role model in life. If you have ever been in St. Paul Sound, you WILL have heard this: “No must haves, could haves, or should haves.” Ms. P says this every time and anytime she needs to. And so, to Ms. P I say: I did NOT and NEVER will have “must haves, could haves, or should haves” in my life! 

Eagles Band, It was a pleasure to be your student director this year. I might not have been the perfect leader that suited our band but we made it to the end together. Thank you all for your hard work, Eagles Band. 

Once again, thank you parents for supporting us through our high school journey, to teachers for your wisdom that we will carry with us, and to the class of 2024 for making my high school years so special! And last, but certainly NOT least, congratulations Class of 2024 on making it through to our future! “

 

Khuat Minh Hoi Tran delivered the Valedictorian Graduation Speech

STUDENT CHOICE & VALEDICTORIAN GRADUATION SPEECH

Khuat Minh Hoi Tran Graduation Ceremony Speech

” Ladies and gentlemen,  faculty members, proud parents, and, most importantly, the incredible graduates of St. Paul American School Hanoi.

Today marks a significant milestone in our lives. We gather here not only to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work but also to embark on a new journey filled with endless possibilities. As we stand on the precipice of the future, it’s essential to reflect on the lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the experiences that have shaped us into the individuals we are today.

When I was small, to satisfy my curiosity whenever my dad opened a bottle of wine, he used to let me take a small sip. Every time I did, I winced at the bitter taste, questioning what was so good about it that adults (including Mr. Sean) seemed to love so much. Although all I tasted was bitterness, I remember how my dad would compliment a good bottle of wine on its sweetness and its age–the older the better.

They say, “Wine and memories intertwine.” Before, I didn’t understand the saying. Now, as I stand here in front of you all, I finally grasp the meaning behind it. 

We entered high school full of enthusiasm, curiosity, and a zest for life, where anything felt possible, much the same way a fresh grape is vibrant, plump, and full of life. During this time, we can be tender and fragile like a delicate grape. It’s a phase of life where we may feel vulnerable navigating the uncertainties of adolescence and young adulthood while still developing a sense of identity and purpose. Just as grape juice will ferment and turn into wine only under the right conditions, we too require a nurturing environment to blossom. We benefited from support, guidance, and mentorship from parents and teachers. We had Ms. P who viewed us like her own children and taught us to always stand up for ourselves, Mr. Sean who enlightened us about the dangers inherent in society, Mr. La Roi who taught us to reason and think logically through The Kite Runners final essay, Ms. Oshida who provided us with emotional support no matter how tiring it was carrying all the hair for all the other English Department teachers, Coach Pop who reminded us to constantly strive to be better but not be too harsh on ourselves, Ms. D who we went to for questions about Chemistry, Biology, Economics, and English, Mr. Ethan who spent his time over the summer break organizing open gyms, bringing us to basketball games, and coaching us at local basketball tournaments, Mr. Jesse who was always so passionate about Statistics and Physics that he made us just as passionate about them as himself, Ms. Shannon who seemed tough but offered a comforting embrace in moments of vulnerability, Mr. Shiers who always tried to get to know each and every one of us better, and Mr. Gus who constantly reassured us that our university acceptances do not determine our worth. Whether directly or indirectly, each and every one of the teachers at St. Paul has contributed to providing a supportive environment that allowed us to reach our full potential.

Like the intricate flavors that wines develop during the fermentation and aging process, growing older adds depth and character to individuals. With each passing year, life experiences, challenges, and successes shape our personalities, values, and perspectives. These life experiences go beyond the classroom. It was Bao Linh letting me cry on her shoulder for 10 minutes at 8 in the morning and buying me my first ever makeup products; it was Yen waking up with me at 2 am every day during the SPS New York Trip to study for AP exams; and Jill having to share a shower with me in Hoi An during the VISA tournament – it is these memories that flavor our class in a way similar to a well-balanced wine. Much like the complex flavors that develop in a well-aged wine, it was sitting with Julie in every class we had together since 6th grade when Mr. LaPlante put us next to each other, having Xiao Xian to cheer me up when I got Covid while being all by myself in the UK, finding out that Eun Ho was incredibly good at singing on the last day of the 11th grade trip, and Jaden drawing a picture of me in Olaf form, which he named “Holaf,” that gave me such a sense of wonder and joy.

Just as winemakers carefully monitor the aging process to ensure optimal results, growing older fosters an appreciation for the passage of time. As the end of our high school chapter approached, I started to cherish the times when Ha Linh and I would walk down the C-building staircase which we (still) call the “losers’ path” to get to the bus, the time when Bomi braided my hair during a lockdown drill, and the time Daun, Seyeon, Ailey, and I gossiped about high school romances while coloring the marshmallows for an AP Environmental Science lab. For four years together, we were there for each other in both sunshine and rain, sharing everything from similar struggles to the same kind of humor. Going to university is exciting, but will anyone call me their “pookie” like Khue Anh always did? Will I have anyone to beg to go to cat cafes, like I did with Linh and Minh Anh? Will I be able to find someone who gives me hugs as big and warm as Nayeong did? Will anyone be willing to dance with me to Rasputin and Timber like Minh did?

Much like a fine wine leaves a lasting impression on those who savor it, we leave behind a legacy shaped by our actions, relationships, and contributions to society as we grow older.  After we walk down the aisle today, we will continue to pursue our passions of becoming engineers, fashion icons, business managers, musicians, architects, lawyers, and so many more, and we’ll endeavor to make a meaningful impact on the world.

When a wine is first made, the tannins give it a bitter taste, just as when, in high school, the homework, the exams, and the peer pressure made us stressed and sleep-deprived. Over time, the tannins dissipate to give the wine a smoother texture and more complex flavor. Similarly, after today, when we look back on our high school years while sipping a glass of wine (when we are legal, of course), I hope you can remember the fruitful experiences and sweet memories we’ve created together and embrace the journey of growing older by recognizing the beauty and complexity that come with each passing year.

As we bid farewell to this chapter of our lives, let us do so with a sense of gratitude and optimism. We may not know what the future holds, but we do know that we are prepared to face it head-on, armed with the knowledge, skills, and determination gained during our time here.

So, to the graduating class of 2024, I say this: Congratulations! Be proud of how far you’ve come, and excited for the journey that lies ahead. Just as a fine wine matures with time, may you too evolve and enrich the world with your unique mark, the flavor you will add to the world as you make your way through it. 

Oh! And before I go, I want to say one more thing. As my mom always says, “Your high school friends always hold a special place in your heart.” Let’s resist the passage of time and the distance that will separate us. Please don’t be a stranger! Text me often. Visit me when you travel to London. Call me when you need someone to talk to. Send me Tiktoks or reels that remind you of me. Invite me to your weddings and baby showers. We won’t be seeing each other five days a week anymore, but I hope I will still see you again in the years to come. 

Thank you guys for everything. I love you, and once again, congratulations! “

Mr. Ethan Blonder made an inspiring faculty speech.

FACULTY SPEAKER: MR. ETHAN BLONDER

Mr. Ethan Blonder Graduation Ceremony Speech

” Alright graduates, I’m gonna be straight up with you – the only thing I remember about my own high school graduation was not wanting to go because I didn’t really get why it mattered. I don’t remember the actual ceremony at all. And, honestly, years down the road, you probably won’t remember much of this either. Reality is, this whole thing isn’t even really for you.

So…who is this all for then? Your families. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your parents, or how mature you are, I promise you can never truly understand just how much your parents have sacrificed for you. As a new dad, I’m really just now beginning to get how much you have to completely transform your life to raise a child. You can’t imagine the career opportunities given up, the free time lost, and the financial burden taken on, just so your parents could bring you to this point. For them, today represents a massive accomplishment, and a recognition of the enormous sacrifices they’ve made to get you here. So, even if you come from a family where things haven’t always been perfect – where it’s not always easy to say things like “thank you” and “I love you,” take time today, in your own way, whatever that is, to show some appreciation for the things your parents have done for you.

But, hey, let’s just pretend for a few minutes that this ceremony is about you. Even if it is, it’s still not really going to be a key moment in your life. That’s because you are going to have so many more meaningful accomplishments than wearing a really peculiar hat while sitting through a ceremony that’s mostly copy-pasted from last year’s script. And that’s especially true for this particularly amazing group of people. I already knew when I met most of you back in Grade 9 that so many of you would be ridiculously successful. Given that, I don’t think you really need any sage advice from me about how to “succeed” because most of you already work way harder than I do.

But I do wish for all of you something better than going to elite schools, or being high-level executives, or having fat bank accounts, or whatever. So many of you are such high achievers, that I mostly worry about your pursuit of that achievement at the sacrifice of what makes life – and work – awesome. You’re about to move on to a stage of your life where your career takes center stage, and it is easy to become single-minded about achieving success, whatever that might look like to you. Because of that, I do want to take today to share 5 pieces of advice for achieving success that is also personally fulfilling. So here we go:

  1. Don’t compare your success to the success of others – you’ll never see their whole truth, and you’ll always find someone who has more than you. If you are incredibly successful and earn $100,000 a year, already well into the global top 1% of income earners, you’ll start to work with people who earn half a million dollars a year, and soon enough you’ll start to think they’re the successful ones, not you. But what you don’t see is that those people earning half a million dollars look at their boss’s bosses earning $3 million and say, ‘now those people are successful, not me!’ Unless you become literally the wealthiest person on Earth, if you base your success on comparing yourself to those around you, you will never be done chasing, and you’ll never feel content with your accomplishments. Judge your success – and your wealth – based on whether it has brought you happiness, not by whether it’s as much as someone else’s.
  2. Look up the ladder before you climb it – The farther in life you go, the less is prescribed for you. Most of you knew by the time you reached middle school that you would end up going to high school, and then on to university. After that, though, things get a bit more murky, and, without really thinking, it can be easy to just start taking the highest status job offer possible or accepting every promotion because…we assume that…going up is good. But not every promotion or opportunity is a good one. Be open-minded to every new opportunity that comes your way; check out every ladder you have a chance to climb; but do so with a critical eye. Not every ladder goes up to a place that actually makes your life better.
  3. Make your personal goals known. Say them loudly and proudly whenever you get the chance; people who believe in you will want to help you achieve them, but how can they know to help you if you don’t tell them what you want? 4 years ago, when I interviewed for a job at St. Paul, it was for a SPELL position. I told Dr. Hidalgo that I’d love to join the St. Paul community and was willing to do pretty much whatever they needed me to do, but that my real passions were Business, Economics, and Athletics. When opportunities in each of those areas opened up, people thought of me because I had continued to say this to everyone who would listen – but how would they have ever known to think of me if I hadn’t told them
  4. Connect online with people who you think do good work, and with people who think you do good work. You’re not going to stay best friends with everyone here in this room, so use LinkedIn or whatever apps you young folks are using to keep in touch and keep an eye on what those people are up to. Many great opportunities in life come from people who know you and will vouch for what you can do. I mean, that’s why there are two members of the W.T. Woodson High School graduating class of 2011 in the room today – what up, Ms. Oshida?
  5. Cultivate an identity beyond just your career. Most of you know me as a business and economics guy, or as an Athletics guy, but a lot of you also know that I am a husband, a dad, a public transportation advocate, a street food lover, and…let’s call it “someone who appreciates a good discount.” These things all make me who I am. And that’s so important because, when things aren’t going well at work, if your career is your whole identity, your entire self-image suffers. When you have an identity beyond work, you retain these other meaningful parts of who you are, even on the bad days. So prioritize your personal interests and your valued relationships, even as you pursue your career goals.

So, hey, that’s my advice – take it or leave it.

But I do want to finish today not with advice but by saying thank you to the entire Class of 2024. Having kind of come up through high school with you, to me, you guys are St. Paul. I think some of you know that this graduating class is pretty special to me because, a few months ago, Krystal stared me dead in the eyes and asked, “Mr. Ethan, what are you going to do when we’re gone?” Honestly, I don’t know. Because it has been such a joy to work together with so many of you on exciting stuff like developing our Athletic program and creating a new senior class trip, but also just as much of a joy to just to mess around in open gyms and at Senior Nights. So many of you have been really meaningfully engaged in building our school’s community and culture over the last 4 years, and I cannot thank you enough for what you have given to this place. With you all gone, we honestly lose so much, but you’ve also left this school in a much better place than you found it. I’m sure you’ll continue to do the same everywhere else you go. Thank you, and congratulations, guys! “

Behind every diploma is a story of love, sacrifice, and endless encouragement.

PARENTS AND STUDENTS MOMENTS

A grand dinner, where teachers, students, families, and local staff enjoyed delicious food, laughter, and created memories that will last a lifetime

DINNER AT INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI LANMARK HOTEL

Watch the year go by in a video made by students

Student Video: Senior Moments