Some 8,000 people came together in Buenos Aires this week to celebrate the graduation of nearly 800 students from ORT Argentina’s Almagro and Belgrano high schools.
But the pomp and ceremony with which the teenagers were launched into the adult world also served as an opportunity to re-affirm the distinctive values of the organisation which has nurtured them over the past six years.
As well as providing them with the best academic instruction, ORT Argentina has ensured that its alumni are well-rounded individuals, said the organisation’s president, Dr Hector Rosenzvit, who announced that a tree would be planted in Israel for each graduate as a contribution to restoring what was lost in the fires just days before.
“Our students visit provincial schools, they meet people with disabilities and young people from social, cultural and religious groups different from their own,” Dr Rosenzvit told the crowd at the Luna Park Stadium, which included representatives of the city and federal governments, senior members of Jewish and Christian organisations, and officials from the Israeli embassy as well as staff, graduates and their families.
“They learn to recognise the existence of ‘the other’, to understand their problems and, when possible, to help them overcome their limitations. Given that most of our students are Jewish, it is essential they understand that, for most of the world, they are ‘the other’ and that this is not a handicap but necessitates an affirmation of their identity, to make it known and respected.”
Among the awarding of diplomas and medals, special mention was made of the students who took ORT’s name to new heights with their superb showing in various international competitions.
Gonzalo Avila Alterach, Martín Fixman, Lucas Tavolaro Ortíz and Ariel Zylber were recognised for their participation at the prestigious International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Canada. They made history by being the first Argentine team at the annual contest to be drawn solely from one source.
Brian Bokser, Sebastian Cherni, Gaston Salgado and Martin Polakiewicz were recognised for the medal-winning performance at the Junior Science Olympiad as was Melina Goldenberg for the medal she won at the Ibero-American Biology Olympiad in Peru.
In addition, ICT track students Luciano Bertenasco, Pascual Galliverti, Matias Nisenson and Melanie Babour, and Business track students Alan Kronik, Cindy Russo and Daiana Ganiewich were honoured for their beating of 1,200 teams of undergraduates and professionals in a Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) competition. Comprising the only team from a secondary school, they won with their concept of using 3-D virtual imaging instead of the scale models of real estate developments still used by architects and town planners
It is this combination of values and skills which makes ORT Argentina’s schools among the most sought after in the country and explains why they are operating at full capacity. Indeed, parents are already registering their children for 2012 because there are no places left for 2011.
However, enough classroom space will become available next year, once ORT Argentina’s new, ultra-modern science and technology centre is completed, to beat 2008’s record graduation class of 802.
The four-storey centre, partly funded by World ORT, will provide a dazzling array of superbly equipped laboratories and interactive multimedia classrooms catering providing cutting edge facilities for students of traditional sciences as well as mechatronics, mathematics, design, architecture and media.
Dr Adrian Moscovich, Executive Director of ORT Argentina, wrote in the event programme exhorting the new alumni to change society for the better.
“Definitely you will achieve much in the future but it will require of you determination and a passion for whatever you decide to dedicate yourselves to,” Dr Moscovich wrote. “That decision has to be made in a society which is increasingly demanding, less tolerant and avoids caring attitudes. However, you are the ones who can and must change this society as you will be the contributors and leaders of our dear country in a short space of time.”
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer wrote to ORT Argentina congratulating it on its achievements.
“We recognise the contribution you all make in maintaining your position as one of the best in the worldwide ORT schools network; it is truly a success story,” Mr Singer wrote.
And to the graduates, he wrote: “You now belong to a privileged group of people, a group that encompasses the most educated of your country. However, together with these privileges come responsibilities. So, when you embark on the next phase of your life I would like you to take with you some core ORT values: academic excellence, integrity, and commitment to the common good. Establish ambitious goals, aim high, work hard and be self-demanding.”