A ribbon was untied; speeches were delivered; music was played. There were smiles; there were tears. It was solemn, it was fun.
Such was the official unveiling of the Safadi Science Center in memory of Ramzi M. Safadi ’02, on November 11, 2015, held in Room 223 in the BD Building. Capturing conflicting emotions, the ceremony reflected Ramzi’s nature of prankster and sensitive soul.
Ramzi, former Minister Mohammad Safadi’s late son, who was an ACS middle and high school student between 1995 and 2000, passed away in 2008 at the tender age of 25, following a car accident in London.
The family wanted to commemorate his memory by dedicating the high school science center in his name, particularly since he was a highly inquisitive person who loved to ask questions and go on nature “expeditions,” looking for creepy-crawlies under rocks or leaves.
The official unveiling took place in the presence of Safadi, his wife, Violette, his daughter, Lara Safadi Al-Habbal ’99, her children Lea and Ramzi, both ACS students, Ramzi and Lara’s grandmother, Joan Howell, as well as other friends and family and members of the ACS Board of Trustees, students and teachers.
Designed by specialists, the Safadi Science Center meets international standards of safety and science education. It houses six classrooms and laboratories and caters to the teaching and learning needs of high school teachers and students.
The new center offers students spacious, well-lit classrooms, which student speaker Rawad Yared ’16 highlighted, expressing his gratitude. “In the past, we would regularly bump into each other while conducting our experiments in class,” he said. "Now we have ample space and a lot of light."
Thanking Safadi for his continuous and generous support, Head of School Hamilton Clark underscored the value of his donation, without which ACS would not have been able to carry out the much-needed and extensive renovations to create the new science center. Clark also reminded that it is because of donors such as Safadi that ACS can maintain its commitment to hire the best teachers in order to offer a top-quality education in small, interactive class set-ups.
Clark also thanked USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Administration (ASHA) which, in addition to Safadi’s equally generous gift, donated $500,000 that helped ACS acquire equipment for the science center as well as other items for the school.
High School Principal Robert Evans reminded students that in such science labs, they would not only learn to conduct scientific experiments, but learn the tools and tricks that will help them face life.
“This is where you learn about life,” he said. “Mistakes will happen and you get to start over, and learn from them. That’s part of life, part of science: how you bounce back and move forward.”
Praising the upgrades in the new space, Head of Science Department Dania Maaliki noted that linking the center’s name to the name of a young student is a constant reminder that the role of schools and teachers is to cater to youth and stay connected with the future.
Friends and family of Ramzi’s gave moving tributes to the former ACS student who was known to many as a spirited, fun-loving, kind-hearted, and generous soul.
His friend and classmate, Nour El-Nimer ’02, spoke via videotape from Turkey, recalling her “funny, loving, generous, caring” friend. “Thank you for being a part of our lives, I know that we will forever cherish the memories we had with you here on Earth. You were a glowing light to everyone who crossed your path,” she said.
Moving the audience to tears, Lina Haddad, a former ACS faculty member who used to tutor Ramzi, recounted two heart-rending anecdotes about her former student, who combined a prankster character with a thoughtful sensitive nature.
“Once, while tutoring him, he excused himself to go to the kitchen,” recalled Haddad. “In that short trip, he managed to bomb my car with pink and yellow paintballs!! … Much later, when I was going through chemotherapy, he called me from London to ask me if I needed him to come and be with me during my treatment. This was Ramzi.”
“It seems quite befitting that his name be up here today,” said Lara Safadi Al-Habbal. “Ramzi's curiosity was always ardent in how things lived, worked or functioned, whether related to humans, animals or just things and any opportunity to indulge in anything experimental particularly with a scientific element, he was there!”
Following the official ceremony, ACSers and guests enjoyed a chemistry-themed reception.