Among the students and proud parents at ISL’s May 25th Graduation were Mr. Omar Hoek, and his son, Luka Hoek – ISL’s first graduating father and son alumni which is unusual for an international school. Mr. Hoek graduated from ISL in 1988 and wanted his children to graduate from ISL too, so much so, that the Hoek family moved from France to Luxembourg two years ago.
Mr. Hoek, originally from the Netherlands, was in a class with just 18 students compared to the 100 students who graduated from ISL this year. ISL was the American International School in 1988 and had 200 students, today there are 1,395 students. But while the school continues to grow some things have stayed the same.
There are still two teachers and one member of support staff who have been at ISL during both Mr. Hoek and Luka’s education. Media teacher, Mr. Seth Ruef has taught at ISL for 32 years, Science and Math teacher, Mr. Walter Lilyblad has taught at ISL for 31 years, and support staff member Mr. Heng Schreiner has been at ISL for 33 years. In many ways, Luxembourg is also the same.
Mr. Hoek said: “I want to give praise to the authority in Luxembourg, they helped to make this school happen - providing funding, and believing that diversity enriches a country – that is truly the beauty of Luxembourg.”
Despite living in different parts of the world, Mr. Hoek is still in touch with all 18 of his classmates. While talking about them he said: “At ISL difference was embraced and celebrated that is what is great about it. One of my favourite memories of the cultural differences I enjoyed while at ISL, was about my good friend from Argentina. When we were 16 he excitedly ran out of the classroom during our lesson to experience the snow that was falling. It was totally normal to many of us but he had never seen snow before that day, it was so great to see his expression!”
Unfortunately, Mr. Hoek no longer has his Graduation Yearbook but to his surprise and delight, while his son Luka received his graduation certificate, he was invited up onto the stage to receive a copy of the 1988 Yearbook.
Advice to Students Graduating Now
When asked what advice Mr. Hoek would give to his son and the Class of 2019, he said: “The world has changed a lot in the 31 years since I graduated. Before you became an expert in your field but today you need to adapt and keep moving with digitalisation, you must be open to continuous learning. It is something that was always said at ISL but now that absorbing, digesting, concluding, adapting, and moving on is even faster, you have to be ready for that.”
Luka was sad to be leaving ISL but happy to start a new chapter in his life. He said: “ISL has been a great chapter in my life, my friends and teachers are from all over the world, from Mexico to Luxembourg – that has really enriched my experience. Closing this chapter is, of course, sad but I am excited to graduate and start a new chapter. I hope to go to University in Finland as I really enjoy the culture there.