I enjoyed graduation, the annual commencement ceremony at the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino with 24 graduates who are all heading out to colleges and universities around the globe. This was the largest group of graduates ever; and judging from what we saw and heard at the ceremony Saturday night, they are all a bunch of accomplished, eloquent and creative kids, ok goofy at times, but nevertheless ready to take the future and all its challenges on.

Mirugia de Cuba who is a music teacher at the school sang the Aruba Dushi Tera anthem at the beginning of the evening, it was a special occasion for her, seeing her daughter Naomi graduate.

I know many of the kids via their parents and grandparents, Fleur Calame, Tyler Cavallaro-Buser, Jean Luc Harms, Shivani Lalwani, Rachel Maduro, Elias Mansur, Quinten Martis, some grew up on my street, or in the neighborhood, some tagged along their parents at social occasions, and over the years I watched them evolve from short and bashful to tall and charismatic.

Now they stand on their own, and it’s rather shocking to think that Bruce Harms, a neighborhood kid who graduated ISA “not that long ago,” saw his own son walk in the processional all grown up.

The island community owes a debt of gratitude to headmaster Denis Willeford, teacher Leigh Ann Vanderheyden and the faculty for their labor of love. While it is true that it takes a village to raise a kid, it helps when the village is blessed with supportive and caring teaching professionals ready to nurture a fresh crop of well-grounded and well-rounded graduates each year.

I thought Joshua Lacle was an out of the box key note speaker, a graduate of the school just 4 years ago, he recently graduated a top NY art school, his notes were quirky, and peppered with matter of fact advice, best of all, he continues to make his mom, Milly Lacle, swoon.   

And now that we’re already talking, two little paragraphs of advice:

Stand up Straight. Pull your shoulders back, and you instantly look successful, feel more confident, in command of your environment, in charge; check yourself now and then, slouched over your tablet or phone, and know that posture is everything. I am asking you to have mercy for your internal organs. But if the state of your liver/pancreas doesn’t move you, believe me if you stand up straight, you already look the boss, avoiding all future health complications.

Also: Say YES to opportunity. Recognize it when it comes your way and snatch it. There is no such thing as too busy, too tired, too preoccupied, or too bored. You should know that only boring people are bored.

Conclusion: What I really appreciate about ISA is its sense of community and the involvement of parents, grandparents, and family friends. Somehow ISA manages to instill a community spirit, also getting the once-removed members of the family involved, to help support the faculty and the kids. They spend money, they show up, they care about the curriculum and its needs, and it’s been like that since 1929. I remember being a super involved parent myself, when I had a student attending ISA, it was great for me, and it was good for the school.

Why can’t the other local school systems foster that involvement with their schools in their communities? Just asking.

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June 11, 2018
Rona Coster