As a portrait photographer, Kirsten specializes in senior pictures. Typically the photography sessions take place in the fall of the student’s senior year, so that the photos can get to the yearbook in time for publishing. When we were at Salaa Hope Battambang this last January, Kirsten took senior portraits of the class of 2017.
This will be the third graduating class for Salaa Hope. The school began with elementary grades only, and added a class each year as the students were promoted. Just after graduation, all seniors in Cambodia take the national exit exam. Only those who pass are allowed to enroll in state universities. Over the years, there has been considerable drama in Cambodia surrounding these exit exams, with elaborate and sometimes even comical schemes for cheating, though in recent years the government has begun to crack down hard.
In both the years it has graduated a senior class, Salaa Hope has performed well above the national average. Last year only 2 of the 21 graduates failed to pass the test, and 3 scored a grade of “A.” This is extremely rare, so much so that the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, himself came to Salaa Hope to present them with an award.
Kirsten and I are proud to be involved with the school. We have been working with them since 2012, providing professional development as well as encouragement – two years ago we provided them with class sets of Bibles. We are happy to call many on the staff and faculty our friends. This year I have been asked by the director, Kelly Robinette, to give the commencement address. Salaa Hope is a light on a hill – we are delighted to have a part in God’s work with them.