Graduation is always a special time at Yemin Orde. But, this year it was particularly meaningful, as the Village held its first ceremony since 2019.

The class of 2021 had to endure one of the most difficult learning environments since the Mount Carmel fires over a decade ago. Not only did they spend the bulk of the year amid Covid restrictions, but just as things were beginning to approach normalcy, an outbreak of violence threw the country into turmoil.

Thankfully, the Village Way methodology, which was developed at Yemin Orde and has expanded to schools across Israel, proved to be a steadfast anchor during these difficult times. Not only did the Yemin Orde youth make it through the year, they rose above the challenges to finish strong. Needless to say, this commencement was quite the cause for celebration.

Looking in the stands, one could instantly see the wide breath of backgrounds affected by the Village Way methodology. Some graduates were the first in their family to finish high school. The air was filled with hope and a sense that despite the events of the last year, Israel has a bright future ahead.

Over the course of the evening, students gave deep and emotional speeches. They spoke about the challenges they’ve faced and the process they went through to become who they are today. A series of performances followed, including a waltz and an Ethiopian dance. The Village way methodology component Anchors In The Past, which places an emphasis on individuals’ own backgrounds, was on full display.

The evening’s main event — the moment everyone had been waiting for — was a procession of more than 100 students grabbing their hard-earned diplomas as everyone cheered on. After nearly two years of socially distant learning, living, and, well, everything, the students were ready to reconnect. A hug from a family member or handshake from a classmate was suddenly a new, profound gesture.

For many graduates, this was the biggest milestone of their lives. But, only thus far. Over the coming months, many of them will begin mandatory military service or mechina gap-year leadership programs before starting careers or university. Wherever their plans might take them, their futures will be bright, and they will take comfort knowing that Yemin Orde is by their side for life. It’s the Village Way.

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