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Congratulations to WISS HS Graduate Cooper Vardy

June, 2017
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Cooper Vardy, High School graduate of Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), will be attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He wants to study foreign relations.

wiss-hs-graduate-cooper-vardyIt’s definitely a huge step, a milestone in life that most people have to go through. By the end, I felt like I was ready, but it was still shocking to see it actually happen around me. As of now, a day or so later, I am certainly looking forward to what comes next. Shanghai was an amazing part of my life and will be unforgettable, but I am excited about what comes next in my life.

During this summer, I have the opportunity to travel around the Balkans and meet the locals there for a little over a month. After that, it is entirely about sorting out final affairs before heading off to university.

I’ve been studying at the Western International School of Shanghai for just over three years now. Looking back on it now, I would call it a generally revered experience. The community at the school is something that cannot simply be replicated, beyond the graduating grade of vibrant individuals who I had the pleasure of getting to know during my time at the school, the parents, teachers, and other members of the community each did what they could to make the establishment feel like home. From happenings like International Day where everyone could show their pride and the best their country has to offer (especially food!) or one of the many concerts put on by the infamously talented Music Department.

My favorite memories have definitely been the ones where the community could come together to pull off amazing projects, like drama works in the Orsini Theater or huge grade-spanning concerts and variety shows. Beyond this, our excursions to MUN conferences in Shanghai and Qingdao never disappointed; and International Day exhibited the vibrancy and vitality in our community.

I was an IB candidate throughout my High School years at WISS, partaking in Higher Level: English Language and Literature, History, Music, and Biology; as well as Standard Level Math, and Spanish ab initio. While I enjoyed aspects of the program, and I believe the Humanities such as English and the Languages were handled well, I believe the stress put on students during certain points in the year was extremely taxing. On the whole, I see the program as positive, but in need of review and spacing. The International Baccalaureate to me was a challenge, and at points felt rather unfair, but was definitely doable. 

Time management is the most important aspect of an individual’s High School career. I always made sure to reserve at least five hours a day to work on school related activities before allowing myself to enjoy personal affairs. That being said, unless I was really under the gun during a given week, I always made sure to give myself a couple days off during the week as well, usually Friday and Saturday, to mentally recover from the week before; but all in all, do not procrastinate, get the work done when you need to, and always allow some time for yourself.

I have spent a grand total of five years as an international student, beginning in Grade 8 at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, Tunisia, before moving to WISS in Grade 10. I regard it entirely as a positive experience, it allows a student to be exposed to different schools of thought, experience diverse walks of life, and have access to a world-class education. I believe that the schooling itself can be found almost anywhere if you look hard enough, but the people and incidents you meet along the way outside of your own culture are the things that make the time worthwhile.

Advice for fellow students: I’m terrible at advice, but I do have to say that now is the time to enjoy a select few things above all others. Give your parents the thanks they deserve, they’ve been putting up with you for two decades, and make sure that they know how much that meant to you, it’ll be too soon that your out of the house wishing for Dad’s words of wisdom or Mom’s home-cooked meals. Realize who your real friends are and make sure that they know how much you appreciate them as well, these are people you’ll want to keep in touch with your whole life, and the older you get, the more you will want to be around people who remember you when you were young. Don’t be afraid to enjoy your senior year a little, but don’t go crazy, you’re only in High School once. School should always come first, but even if you make a mistake, it’s never the end of the world. Hopefully not becoming too somber here, but realize as well that the only currency that matters in the long-run is time, and how you spend it will define how happily you come out of your last year in High School. I wish you all the best of luck in it!


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