It is Dalat's desire that each student will experience outstanding growth and achievement.
The Dalat student Recognition & Awards program is designed to identify and celebrate growth in the areas of academics, the arts, service, leadership, citizenship, discipleship, and athletics. There is a distinction drawn between exemplars of significance, and “awards” which are characterized by excellence and competition. The program seeks to both recognize and award in different areas.
Since 1921, NHS has been recognizing the highest achieving students in grades 10-12. Today, NHS inducts more than 1 million members each year who make significant service contributions to their schools and communities.
Middle School Awards
Dalat Middle School students start to gain a drive and passion for excellence that they carry with them throughout their lives. Recognizing that early dedication, commitment and talent is essential. We have an amazing bunch of students!
Loss has always been there in our lives. We grow when we lose; we learn when we lose; we, in a sense, even win, when we lose. It often doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Loss takes up a very important part in our lives: once you're past loss and hurt, there is personal growth and maturity. However, it is so detested. We have a love-hate relationship with loss.
Most people are able to embrace their loss only when it’s over. There comes a time when we reflect on our losses, and move on, becoming a stronger version of our pre-loss selves. But if loss is never-ending and does not give a person the chance to grow, the person starts to hate loss, and slowly it becomes harder and harder to see the growth in themselves.
This year has been a year of constant loss. Every time when things seemed to get better, we were hit with another blow. We failed to reach our full potential due to loss. In the process, our motivation and hope seeped out little by little. We were on our way to graduation, still scrambling in the pit of loss, not knowing what this was all for.
On a special Friday night, the Class of 2021 experienced something different. We were able to see a glimpse of our growth and potential even in the loss we were experiencing. With 40 days left till graduation, we reflected on our year, and saw how God was working. He was building patience in us. He was making us stronger every second, and He promised that not even a single second spent in loss was going to waste. We thought it was our time, finally — our time to shine.
To my disappointment, that only lasted for a week. When SEW ended, so did my hopes of in-person school and a proper graduation. I kept on asking God this one question— why? Why give us all that vision just for it to last a week? Why give us hope just for it to be crushed? Why say it’s our time to shine when we never truly shone in our full brightness? These questions flooded my head, and I slowly grew hopeless. Overwhelmed by the reality of what we were going through, I gave into the lie that everything has been taken away from our class.
As I recognized myself plunge into darkness, I stopped. I took a moment to see the growth in the loss I was experiencing. It was hard, confusing, and unclear, but asked myself the same question I asked God— Why? Why are you worrying when you know He’s got everything in control? Why are you complaining when you know you can’t change how things are? Why are you doubting when you know there’s growth at the end of this?
Guys, the answer is so simple. It’s to have faith; to have faith over fear, faith over doubt, and faith over regret. Have faith that in this time of loss, there is growth. Be able to see the big picture, to see beyond what is apparent. Be able to worship him even in the darkest of times. Have faith that your life is in his control. Believe that your sufferings and loss will make you grow in character, and that will eventually give you hope even in your loss.
“Be glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” — Romans 5: 3-5
In all the relationships I’ve made at Dalat, I’ve experienced growth and learning. But the most impactful relationship that changed me from the inside out, the relationship that is worth more than everything you can ever have, is our personal relationship with Jesus. Only He can turn your loss into growth, and give you hope when you least expect it.
Uncertainty abounds when pursuing something new. Especially when that something new involves vulnerability and openness, and you have no idea what to expect. That’s the part I hope to help you with. I want to give you something to expect. And I want to show you exactly why this decision is one you absolutely will not regret. I hope to convince you to find a mentor.
At the beginning of my senior year, I asked one of my teachers to be my mentor. I knew we were pretty similar in mindset but not identical, so we had unique perspectives to provide to the relationship. He agreed, and we began meeting every week. During the first meeting, he asked me what I wanted out of mentoring or what I expected. I had no idea. The last time I met with a mentor was four years ago, and he was a very different man than my current mentor. We settled on just doing life together and talking stuff out as we went throughout the semester. I had no clue what to expect, but my journey with my mentor was the biggest source of my growth this past year. I’ve matured, gained confidence, grown in my love for people and God, and developed an unforgettable relationship with him. So with that said, I have three main points I want to offer you.
Trust is an invaluable trait in a relationship, and a mentor relationship generally has an understanding and agreement to trust one another and be trustworthy pretty early on. Even the definition says, “A wise and trusted counselor” (Google). This degree of trust makes sharing life’s hardships and talking through struggle significantly easier and allows both the mentee and the mentor to have a person to go to when they aren’t sure what else to do. That level of trust must be built, but it is built by the very foundations of what a mentoring relationship is: an older person investing their wisdom and life experience into their mentee while their mentee invests their unique perspective into loving and supporting their mentor.
Relationship is my second point. I feel most people see mentor relationships as a one-way dispense of wisdom from the mentor to the mentee. That’s what I thought it was. But as I got deeper into it, I began to find great value in asking my mentor how he was doing, asking for ways to pray for him, and offering my perspective on things he was going through. The wisdom dispensary slowly transformed into a two-sided relationship where he also valued my input and limited wisdom. We began to trust each other even more.
My final note is learning. There’s a lot to be learned from a wiser and older member of the community, and I must say, my mentor challenged me everyday to think beyond my own perspectives and overcome the lies I believed. I learned to love others more, to stand up stronger for what I believe in, and the importance of having someone you love and trust have your back (as well as having their back). A healthy mentoring relationship builds up the perspective and out-of-the-box thinking of both members and constantly pushes them to strive for growth.
There’s a lot to gain from a mentor relationship, and it’s hard to know what to expect. I can’t sit here and tell you what yours will look like, but I can say this: you will grow more than you can imagine and develop an unforgettable relationship you will not regret. After all this, there is really only more piece of advice that I wish to offer. Go find a mentor.
A funny thought came to mind one day while watching the movie I, Robot. In an action scene, dozens of robots were falling to their destruction; yet, I remember feeling no remorse for them at all.
It was ironic; these robots were made to be “superior” to humans in every possible way. Intellectually, physically... the embodiment of what many strive to be. And yet, as hundreds of those perfect machines descend into their doom, we couldn’t care less. Instead, we root for the humans who made mistakes, who were struggling and bleeding. Perhaps imperfections are gifts, gifts of which distinguish us from anything else.
Before coming to Dalat, I studied in a competitive environment where performance alone dictated our worth. There was no room for mistakes at all; and, as a result, I was constantly scared and self-conscious of my every flaw. But at Dalat, I learned to embrace these imperfections, to face them, and try for things I was terrible at. High school wouldn’t have been this fun if I had joined JV basketball or Forensics as a star player and skilled speaker. It was these weaknesses that made growth so enjoyable. Therefore, here is my first encouragement: embrace your shortcomings and never be afraid to be vulnerable with them. Don’t conceal it; own it, love it, grow from it. God made you this way for a reason.
On the topic of undesirable things, this school year was nothing short of them. Our lives beyond high school will not be any less unpredictable and difficult. But, just like how imperfections make us unique, struggles give life its colors. The sorrows accumulated this semester gave that senior worship night its magic. The initial lack of sneak made us more intentional in forging relationships. The terrible online 2020 AP exams resulted in a tie-dye shirt I’m loving and wearing right now. The worst things bring the best things, we just have to stay resilient and look for the rose among the thrones.
It is also in these moments of despair when we see how good God is. For many times throughout high school, I was very close to not being able to continue attending Dalat. But God provided us with exactly what we needed, allowing me to get to know Him more, building a foundation of trust and faith. And here is the second major thing I learned at Dalat, my second reminder: there is a reason for every trial put in your path, and great things lie at the end of them. So don’t be afraid of failing; don’t give up on yourself before situations give up on you. Don’t be afraid when facing these situations as well, they are but a passing downpour. Relish it, dissect it, look past it, and see what it is that God is offering you.
We made it. Pushing through the uncertainty, disappointment, and loss, we’ve grown so much. God has done wonders in all of you, shaping you into remarkable people who will touch hearts and change lives. I truly hope you will carry this passion, courage, and faith beyond high school and keep God close by your side.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” As we scatter out to the world, the surface-level strive for performance and perfection will not stop. But we know full well where, how, and what we should focus our attention on.
Nothing but blessings and love for you awesome people
Coming to Dalat is one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Throughout the four years that I’ve been here, my views on myself, others, and God have been wholly transformed by Dalat’s God-centered community, education, values, cultures, and traditions. I’ve grown from someone who worries 24/7 about her appearance and has no self-esteem to someone who recognizes how uniquely she’s crafted and feels secure and confident in who she truly is. I’ve grown from someone who had to bear the shame of her stutter to someone who can communicate in fluent English. I’ve grown from someone who puts her worth in her achievements to someone who knows her worth comes from Christ. And last but most crucial of all, I’ve grown from someone who went into a Christian school with no clue what the word “Jesus” meant to someone who is now a believer of Jesus Christ.
Unique from other communities, at its smallest form, in the middle of its core, is where we can find love emitting to every branch and component that makes up what we call Dalat. My first year in Dalat was one of the hardest, longest, and loneliest years of my life, but the recognition and acceptance of this love of God that I found in Dalat pulled me out of the darkness that I was trapped in. And of course, experiencing breakthroughs that transform tears into laughter, isolation into community, and self-pity into prayers does not happen in a day, week, month, or year (it took me about four years to come up with the list above, and I’m still fighting through it every day). But truly, it comes from an ongoing journey of being faithful, surrendering control, having humility, rooting your identity in the truth that comes from Christ, and most of all, going into life with open hands and open cups so that God may give you what you need and fill you up with His love.
As we enter a world that is unprotected by the shield of Dalat, it not only means that it will take more discipline to follow God, but we would also come to the realization that the world needs more of what Dalat has. I want to challenge each one of us to continue seeking growth in our faith— to ignite the fire inside of us that burns for knowing God. Dear friends: have faith, hope, and love towards God so that you may experience and know the unlimited love of God intimately, and through that, love others as He loves you.
I loved hearing Mr. Ronzy’s analogy of how a spoonful of water may seem very little to some, but to others who are dying of thirst in the desert, it can be their lifeline, and his vision of the Class of 2021 being little spoons carrying a small amount of God’s love for us. So as we disperse into different countries of the world, I want to encourage us to empty our spoons each time we meet someone. Don’t be afraid of having nothing left because if you are willing, God will ensure that you will never run out of it. There are so many people out there who are like the person I was when I came to Dalat four years ago— oblivious of the existence of God and desperate for a guiding light. Just like how each and every student, teacher, and staff in Dalat has made an impact on my life and faith, I believe that Dalat has prepared us to a certain degree to be firmly rooted seeds who will slowly but surely be multiplied by thirty, sixty, and even a hundredfold.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to use the knowledge and experience that you’ve been blessed with and be a citizen of God’s kingdom so that the rest of the world may experience a glimpse of how incredible God’s love is through you. Therefore, remember to do all things with faith, with empathy, with vulnerability, with humility, with love, and with God. And as a dear friend once told me, “Be bold in your faith.”
We made it through the toils of highschool: the drama, the grades, the decisions. We overcame those struggles together and are stronger because of them. Congratulations!.
It’s all about perspective. In preschool, the realm of tattle-taling, snotty noses, and macaroni noodle art, high school graduation is a lifetime away. Pshh it's not even on the radar. In sixth grade, a whole year into middle school, life is a matrix of possibilities, gliding through that blue and yellow slide. Then highschool hits and — BAM! — there’s graduation. Can’t blink or it is gone. That’s what everyone says, yet, somehow, all-consuming extracurriculars, countless hours of reading textbooks, and agonizing acne squished themselves into that little blink of an eye. Now a hop, skip, and a time machine later we are wearing weird looking square hats originating in the fifteenth century, moving the tassel from one side to the other.
I believe this class has the power to conquer anything. I don’t say that loosely. Working together in the Junior Class Store and putting on the few events we could — we worked together seamlessly. As sad as it is to see the era at an end, that doesn't mean we won’t fly off to do amazing things on our separate paths. We are all superheroes in our own ways.
That sounds cheesy I know. Give it a second. If I were to choose any superpower, no doubt about it, I would want to control time. Time is one thing that cannot be bartered for or bought, earned or traded. This is good: no one controls it, no one can steal it from you. There are no well-known superheroes to have the power either. That’s because we all have the ability to control our own time. It’s about realizing that power. Captain Chrono exists in you and me.
We have the ability to control our own time. Maybe not like a fictional Captain Chrono could travel in time or freeze it, but we can manipulate the supervillain that is Time itself. It's a classic tale of Captain Chrono and Time battling it out, the fate of the world in their hands. Time, with its villainous ways, manipulates the average civilian to believe that it is either moving too slow during a boring class or too fast while having fun with friends. Time rushes civilians, leading to accidents and mistakes. Captain Chrono learns to defeat Time, showing the world that there is a way to live without Time controlling their perception of everything. As a class we are not civilians, we are superheroes.
Each one of us can be Captain Chrono. Instead of seeing Time as a villain, we can defeat that perception turning time into motivation. We just went through four years of high school. It may not seem like it, but each one of you accomplished so much in those four years. Give yourself that credit. It is difficult to see it all ending, leaving people and places behind, but God has better things for you coming up.
We cannot change time for everyone, we cannot get more or less time either, but we can make the time that exists more valuable. The time we spent in high school was extremely valuable; we won’t experience it the same way again. The experiences we had together are unforgettable and helped shape each one of you into the beautiful person you are today.
Not only are we each capable of anything we put our minds to, we have the all-knowing, time master on our side. 2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Our time all together may be over, but that does not mean that Time won out. With God nothing is impossible. From here, we are all faced with an “Angsana buffet” of choices for the future. In order to stay in the front of that line, stay on God’s path, the one he has for you, and unimaginable successes will follow. Go, don’t let fear, mistakes, or uninspired people stop you from being who God made you.
There is no citizenship award without the people who make up the community. I am so grateful to be a part of this group of “citizens,” the class of 2021. We have become like family. We worked as a team to put on an amazing After Sneak Dinner for the previous seniors. We bonded on Sneak. That week, I loved watching our class come together to have fun in the pool and enjoy the buffet.
Let’s be honest, Zoom classes were not very fun, but we did it together, and I was grateful to at least see everyone virtually. This year was hard, but we had resilience and went through it as a class. Despite it being last minute, we had fun at the “practice” graduation because everyone enjoyed being together. This is what I will remember the most about high school - being with you guys, my classmates. I am thankful for each of you.
Thank you, Class of 2021, for making my time at Dalat special.