Chapter 104: Graduation Ceremony
(Royal Academy- Auditorium)
“From the beginning, this school has always been a place where students can strive for excellence and uphold the glory of their noble heritage.”
“The founders created a vision of discipline, tolerance and productivity which is carefully followed to this very day.”
“I have had the privilege and honour to be selected as the head of this great institution. The seeds that I have carefully nurtured are what has led to the results today….”
Sophie and the rest of the graduate students were sitting quietly backstage as Principal Yang continued his lecture about the history of the school.
His long talk had been going on for two hours now and Sophie could see that several members of the audience were yawning sleepily.
Not that she blamed them.
The man kept repeating the same points over and over while also praising himself.
This year had a record number of students who passed the entrance exam and their friends, families and loved ones were among the audience present.
As for the role of the academy in those results….
Who didn’t know that every student who qualified came from upper nobility houses or clans.
It was obvious that the private clan resources and training were the two biggest factors that contributed to the results.
The graduation ceremony was a rite of passage for the students who graduated successfully and received admissions to universities.
Very few would enter one of the four great universities of the Earth Federation, so those graduates were allowed to make a short speech in front of the audience of parents.
Sophie, Qiana, Aiden, Su Ling and Leona were the five students that had passed the entrance exam and received offers of admission.
Aiden, Su Ling and Leona were attending Atlas University which was the typical choice of noble heirs while Sophie and Qiana were taking an unorthodox path by attending Zrudread University.
“We will now hear a few words from our successful students!” Principal Yang enthusiastically declared.
“Finally,” Sophie whispered to Qiana in a soft tone.
“I was going to ditch this whole affair if he didn’t shut up.”
Qiana burst into a fit of giggles and just shot Sophie a stern look to tell her to behave.
“The first candidate to speak is… Qiana Abazin,” the principal announced.
“Wooo go Qiana!” Sophie cheered and joined the thunderous applause as Qiana walked onstage while holding the ends of her skirt nervously.
She walked towards the podium and pulled out a piece of paper with her speech carefully prepared.
“I would like to thank my teachers, peers and family for helping me get where I am today. It would not be possible to enter Zrudread University without their constant support,” Qiana spoke with clear pronunciation.
“For anyone in the audience who wants to give up…. you need to keep going forward and follow your dreams.”
“Cultivation is a marathon not a sprint so constant effort and hard work is far more important than raw talent.”
“Thank you.” Qiana gave a short bow and returned backstage.
She could see her parents in the back row clapping along with the rest of the audience and a small grin flashed across her face.
Principal Yang stepped up again to introduce the next speaker,
“Thank you Qiana for that lovely speech and now we introduce the next graduate… Aiden Marken,”
Sophie listened half heartedly as the rest of the speeches basically said the same thing as Qiana.
They would thank the school and then their parents for helping them succeed.
Time passed by quickly as the candidates took a much shorter time to give their speeches when compared to the principal and soon only two students were left.
“And the next candidate is… Leona Braveheart.”
Sophie could not help but spare a glance as her ex friend walked on stage with great confidence in her stride.
Leona was wearing the official knight uniform of House Braveheart with a steel sword at her hip which made her look exactly like a female warrior.
She walked up to the podium and pulled out a piece of paper before gazing backstage.
A complicated expression crossed her face and she hesitantly returned the note to her pocket.
Her air of confidence slowly faded away as she kept opening her mouth, but it took a few moments before the words came out.
“I…I used to think that talent was everything. I judged people based on their innate potential and saw those with talent weaker than mine as lesser.”
“I was wrong.”
Awkward silence reigned in the auditorium and Leona could see her family with questioning looks on their faces.
Truthfully, she had prepared a normal speech, but the months spent aboard the transport ship during the entrance exam gave her plenty of time to think.
She may never get forgiveness from Sophie and that was something that was out of her hands.
But… her once best friend deserved an actual and proper apology.
She clenched her fists tightly and continued to speak the words from her heart,
“Sophie was once my best friend, but I let the opinions of others and the discrimination of hybrids in this academy influence my poor decisions.”
“I turned a blind eye to the bullying and suffering she received at this academy and did not treat her like a true friend should.”
“No amount of regret will ever change my actions, but I am here to tell you Sophie…that I am deeply sorry.”
Leona tried to continue but the surging emotions of guilt and pain caused tears to form at the corners of her eyes.
She hurriedly rushed off stage and headed to the bathroom to fix her appearance without ending her speech.
Whispers and gossip erupted as soon as her figure disappeared into the distance as everyone was amazed at the shocking contents of her speech.
Some parents were even concerned…. was there a bullying problem in the school?
Duke Peterlor in the audience made a special note of the matter and planned to pay a small visit to certain noble houses whose children had mistreated his daughter.
Sophie felt a complex feeling as she saw the proud figure of her former best friend seem so shaken and unsure of herself during the speech.
Compared to her last apology…it was clear that Leona truly meant what she said this time.
Sophie held no hatred towards her, but it would be unlikely that the pair would ever be friends again.
The principal was unsure of how to continue the ceremony and coughed a few times before introducing the last speaker.
“Um… the final graduating student will be…. Sophie Peterlor.”
Sophie walked onstage under the piercing gazes of hundreds in the auditorium.
It was probably due to the fact that Leona had made her the subject of her speech that Sophie gained everyone’s full attention.
Sophie could see her father secretly give her a thumbs up gesture which filled her with a burst of confidence.
She decided to speak her mind and honestly talk about how she felt as a student in the Royal Academy,
“Hello everyone. My name is Sophie Peterlor and I was the first hybrid student to attend the Royal Academy.”
“I managed to pass the entrance exam, but full credit must go to my father and my home tutors for this accomplishment.”
“Truthfully, there are a lot of issues within this school that are masked by an outer appearance of prestige and nobility.”
Sophie dived into the various problems she had experienced in the school, from the bullying and stuck up attitudes of some students to the uneven distribution of resources and teachers.
Some teachers had clearly only gotten in due to their connections with the school administration and it was directly reflected in their poor teaching skills.
The Royal Academy boasted of an impressive track record of candidates passing the entrance exam but that was entirely because of external factors.
Sophie could see that Principal Yang’s face was getting increasingly more and more ugly as time passed but she didn’t care.
Some things just needed to be said.
Principal Yang reached out to pull Sophie away from the podium, but he only managed one step forward before a voice boomed in his head.
(Touch my daughter and I’ll cut off that hand of yours)
(And I will pay you a visit in the near future to discuss what exactly my daughter has experienced in your school)
Beads of sweat ran down Principal Yang’s face and he was forced to smile fawningly in the direction of Duke Peterlor and allow Sophie to continue her verbal take down of the school.
Principal Yang could foresee a series of meetings with the Board of Education after all the complaints he was sure to get from irate parents.
Why didn’t he just skip the ceremony this year?!