4) 頒「總統服務獎」，給做過一百小時以上社區服務者。南韓籍的Kim Vinh Ta以最優良的品行，得到今年的「黃任祥獎學金」。
The graduation ceremony for the Boys Schools was held on the evening of June 16. This year’s graduation began with a brief opening address by the Abbot of the City of 10,000 Buddhas, Dharma Master Heng Lyu and was followed by a brief speech by the principal of the school, Mr. Lewis Bostick. Mr. Bostick exclaimed how happy and proud he was of all the students in the school this year. Jim Tsai, who recently acquired his B.A. at the University of Washington, spoke as the alumni representative. Jim gave much brotherly advice on what the graduates should and should not do once they enter the alien country of the college campus next school year. Jim and his brother Richard, who graduated from the school three years ago, as well as Irving Hu who graduated the same year as Jim and recently acquired his B.A. at Stanford University, each served the school as volunteer teachers this year. Their help, as well as the assistance of another volunteer teacher, John Grant, was greatly appreciated.
After Jim’s speech, Mr. Tsai, the father of George Tsai, gave a brief talk that emphasized the importance of hard work and discipline in order to be a successful student. Then Professor William Herbrechtsmeier delivered the keynote address. Professor Herbrechtsmeier is a classically trained Hebrew scholar who has been teaching at Humboldt State University for over ten years. He gave a wonderful talk on how gaining an advanced education with altruistic aspirations can bring much benefit to society, whereas pursuing advanced learning with selfish intentions can actually cause harm to society. In his reflections on the qualities that are most essential to being a person who truly benefits society, he said that he had reduced them to two: compassion and introspection, meaning wise inner reflection. This reminded everyone of the twin virtues of compassion and transcendent wisdom that is of paramount importance to the Bodhisattva path. Professor Herbrechtsmeier told a couple of moving stories to illustrate the principle that our good deeds have an imperceptible and often very profound effect on others— like ripples that spread over a large span of both space and time.
After the professor’s speech Dharma Masters Jin Yan and Jin Fan gave out various awards. These awards included: 1) our students coming in third place in the 2004 National Chinese Culture Competition, 2) receiving acknowledgement from the California Math League that our 7-8th grade students are ranked second in Math amongst all junior high schools in the region that includes Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties, 3) a new team of 7-12th graders coming in fourth place in the 2005 Northern California Chinese Culture Competition, and 4) the Presidential Service Awards for doing over 100 hours of community service. Kim Vinh Ta was given the Jerry Huang Award for the student with the best ethical behavior and most wholesome attitude in the Boys School.
This year the Boys School had two graduates from the high school and seven graduates from the elementary school. George Tsai excelled in all of his academic courses. He also showed much prowess as a flutist for the Chinese orchestra, not to mention his skill as a Taiko drummer, performer of the Lion Dance, and his contribution as a representative for the Associated Student Council (ASB). George will be attending University of California-Davis this coming fall. The other graduate, Grover Chen, had “hopped” over to Taiwan a few months earlier. Due to the fact that he will be attending college in Taiwan he has been studying at a so-called “cram school” there in preparation for the national college entrance exams that will be held in July. Grover attended our schools for over ten years and had served in just about every club under the sun as well as being elected as a representative of the ASB. Another senior, who will also leave the school to begin his college career next school year, was Richard Chiu. Although Richard did not attend the school long enough to fulfill all of the academic requirements for graduation, still in his two years at the high school he admirably served the school in various ways, including being elected by the students as their ASB president.
Qin-Zhi Lau and Michael Hsieh did an excellent job as the bi-lingual master-of-ceremonies team for the graduation. Qin-Zhi showed the aptitude in translation that had earned him first place in Translation in the 2005 Northern California Chinese Culture Competition. Perhaps some day he will be able to match the skill of Dharma Master Jin Yan who translated Professor Herbrechtsmeier’s speech into Chinese. All in all, it was a wonderful and fulfilling year with the success resulting from the efforts and support of the entire community of the City of 10,000 Buddhas.
After the ceremony was over, the students went up the stage and together they sang the “Friends” which has been the recurring theme song for the Boys School students. Even teachers were moved to tears by their sincere singing. With this song, we wish that the two graduates embark on their new life journey with success; after all, the years have tied all of us in this small school together just as an old saying goes, “so far apart, yet heart to heart.”
典禮在學生合唱宣公上人作詞的校歌「盡虛空」中開始。第一位致詞的是恆良法師，她表示：萬佛聖城和所有的親友，如何由遠處共同開墾，轉變每一位女孩成為有光明前途的好青年；她們對人類將來的改善，必能有所貢獻。恆良師提到：家長也都瞭解，在這多元種族與多元文化的社區裡完成學業，自己的女兒在未來有極佳的機會，成為模範世界公民。她也感謝園丁們揮灑無數小時辛勞的汗水 ── 不但教授學生知識，也傳授應用於人生的工具。
之後，校長恆音法師簡短致詞：學生在求學過程中，如何「浸潤」在萬佛聖城所教所行的道德與做人原則而不自覺；一旦離開後，就像魚兒離水，她們短時間會感覺迷失、寂寞。不過，要記得實際上這些品德和道理都在自己的胸懷中，需要幫助時，向內找，就能得到指引和激勵。其他老師也表示：教導本屆畢業班，與有榮焉 ── 不但因其學業之優，更因其品行之秀。
The 2005 Graduation Ceremony for Instilling Goodness Elementary and Developing Virtue Girls Schools was held from 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. in the Daoyuan Hall in CTTB on June 17. Some parents came from as far as Europe and Taiwan to see their daughters graduate.
The ceremony opened with the students singing the school song, “Jin Xu Kong” (“Encompassing All of Space”) composed by the Venerable Master. The first speaker, Dharma Master Heng Liang, spoke about how “it takes a village,” or in this case, the community of the CTTB and all the families and friends from afar, to transform each girl into a young adult with a bright future, who will contribute to the betterment of humankind. Dharma Master Liang noted that these young women, having studied in this ethnically and culturally diverse community, will have the best opportunity to become exemplary world citizens. She thanked teachers for their many hours of nurturing students, giving them not only knowledge, but tools for life.
Principal Heng Yin Shr spoke briefly on how, while studying at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, students are unwittingly “soaked” in the virtues and principles practiced here. Once they leave this environment, they may at first feel lost and lonely, like fish out of water. However, they should realize that they carry those virtues and principles in their hearts, and can find guidance and inspiration from them when they need help. Other teachers noted what a privilege it has been to teach this year’s students, who have excelled not only academically but in terms of their character.
Heng Jen Shr, representing the teachers, spoke of how she has seen the seniors improve and grow since they first came, and how alumni have stayed connected and returned to help the younger generation. She mentioned how recently, one alumna who graduated many years ago, was so touched because many other alumni came to help her with her wedding preparations.
Next, Mrs. Hsiu-Ching Chang, the mother of senior Hai-Ching Chang, spoke of how she had moved to CTTB so her children could study in this wholesome environment and learn more Buddhadharma. She said, “I am grateful for every teacher’s dedicated teaching. Without you all, they (the seniors) would not be who they are today.” Mrs. Chang told the seniors, “You are now beginning a new journey. The outside world is not like home, so please think thrice before you act. One who is able to graduate at CTTB, is like ‘a carp that leaps over the dragon gate.’ Congratulations on making it over the dragon gate!”
Next, three 6th grade graduates (Ming Shan Lee, Laura Vo-ngoc, and Helen Sinor) and six 8th grade graduates (Marcella Cheng, Ko-Yun Fan, Jessica Fong, Ru-Hui Gan, Ming-Hui Lee, and Tiffany Lee) received their certificates of promotion. Students who had shown great improvement or outstanding achievements received special recognition. Julia Ha, Nancy Chu, Gopika Misri, Jennifer Dede, and Ko-Yun Fan were chosen for the Honor Roll (for excellent character and academic excellence). Seniors Lacy Lackey and Haiching Chang, and 8th grader Tiffany Lee received the President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence.
Finally, the seven seniors gave their speeches. Some were funny and light-hearted; others, solemn and emotional. Many a senior paused during her speech to wipe her tears. Most noted how they were happy to go on to college and meet the real world, but also sad to be leaving the wonderful community within the City. Many sniffles from the crowd also showed the seniors that they would be greatly missed. Lacy Lackey gave a poignant speech on the struggles and joys of staying in the dorm. Hai-Ching Chang recounted how she blanked out during a college interview. Fortunately, the admissions officer found the school’s name interesting and asked her to talk about her DVGS. Hai-Ching told her about the special classes and rules, and the unique environment of the City. The interview ended early and Hai-Ching was sure she had been rejected. To her surprise, she received a call congratulating her on being admitted, and she concludes, “In the end, I was admitted was not because of my GPA or my extracurricular activities…but because of my unique high school experience.”
The graduates will be attending college in different parts of the country and world: Hai-ching Chang at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennesee, Yu-Hsuan Chin at the College of the Desert in Southern California, Lacy Lackey at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (studying Biology and Chinese), Xiao Hui Lau at Mendocino College finishing an AA degree next year before transferring to a university, Linda Lee at Utah State University, Thuc-Hue Ta at a university in the Netherlands, and Christine Yee at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana. Although they may be hundreds or thousands of miles apart from each other and CTTB, their friendship and their common values will very likely last a lifetime and bring them back together sooner or later.