Monumental: Graduating by the Pyramids
Kaiel Reyes Jacob graduates high school from the Cairo American College by the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt.

Monumental: Graduating by the Pyramids

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2021 - 12:00am

Graduation Day is historic — not just for the graduates, but also for their parents and all those who are rooting for them.

But to be able to receive one’s diploma with the Pyramids of Giza silently applauding you — this is a milestone not every human being attains in his lifetime.

It is monumental.

The Giza pyramid complex in Greater Cairo includes the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the pyramids, and “The Sphinx,” said to be the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt.

Eighteen-year-old Kaiel Reyes Jacob, just like his older sister Kayla, graduated high school from the Cairo American College (CAC) in ceremonies by the Pyramids in Giza this month. Such splendor on the sand.

“It was really a wonderful experience that never gets old,” says his mother Rhea, a graduate of the Philippine Science High School and the University of the Philippines. She and husband Mikel, general manager for the Mediterranean of Tidewater, are proud parents of three:  Kayla, Kaiel and Katie. “Our eldest Kayla graduated there three years ago and it was as breathtaking now as it was then.”

Although it is a time-honored tradition of the CAC to hold graduation ceremonies by the Pyramids, the pandemic posed a challenge. But, hey, if the ancient Egyptians could build edifices like the Pyramids against all odds, so can warriors of the new normal mount a graduation ceremony there.

“Seating was socially distanced,” recalls Rhea. “We had to occupy every other seat. CAC is the only school that, as far as I know, has been able to do that. With COVID-19, we weren’t sure if the graduation (by the Pyramids) would push through this year. So we were really very blessed.”

Kaiel with proud parents Mikel and Rhea Jacob.

Kaiel had to meet his class at school at 5 a.m. The graduates, all 68 of them, had to go to the Pyramids at the Giza complex early and have their class photos taken. Then, at 8 a.m., they were all brought to the Light and Sound show area, closer to The Sphinx, where the ceremony was held.

“Egypt’s summer is scorching hot,” shares Rhea.  “But the weather that day was cool, windy and simply marvelous. Even nature was celebrating this momentous occasion with us, not just the graduation, but also the resilience of these young men and women in the face of the pandemic. The sky was gloriously blue.”

Rhea says their photos of the milestone, “seemed altered digitally from the sheer beauty of our background.”

According to Rhea, CAC has been successful in holding face-to-face classes for most of the school year. Since late October, because of stringent COVID protocols developed and followed at CAC, students have been able to physically attend classes.

“Snack time and lunch breaks, the only times when masks are allowed to be taken off, have been moved outdoors, where all seats are at least two meters apart.  Our kids are really blessed in this regard, knowing that they are part of a handful who were able to do this. And for Kaiel to still be able to graduate by the Pyramids, we are beyond thankful!” says Rhea.

Graduations, like weddings, are happy events even to those who are not participating in them. And to graduate and witness a graduation by the Pyramids in the time of COVID-19 is a triumph for the human spirit.

Our travails will be history, and what men have accomplished at this time — the formulation of vaccines, for one — will be monuments.

Like the Pyramids.

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