Oh, my gosh, is it July already? It must be. I’ve got my yearbook. And what a year it’s been! We just had another amazing school musical, an epic Renaissance Faire, the Second Grade’s terrific International Fair, and the inspiring and eye-opening Fifth Grade’s Global Issues Conference.
Our Middle School students returned from their curricular trips to Kitt Peak, Arizona, Mulu caves in Borneo, Angkor Wat, Cambodia and the Nakasendo Trail in Central Japan with ever more exciting tales of learning through discovery, Arts Interim this year was yet another highlight and produced incredible student work through collaboration (have you seen the awesome mural in our Media Tech room at The Garden?), our Odyssey of the Mind Team represented Hong Kong in the World Finals, our wrestling champions cleaned up in Singapore, and the Third Grade came back from their trip to Xi’An with a greater understanding of ancient China. And oh, by the way, our Eighth Graders worked with Cesar Harada and Dr David Baker from the Swire Institute of Marine Science to design, build and prototype a laser quadrat for mapping coral reefs.
Once more, the students wrote and produced an incredible social action video, and the Talent Show, Alice@Wonderland musical and the Middle School Grammys showcased a ton of talent. The Black Dolphin started this year as an interesting newcomer, but ended the year as a strong partner, with curriculum developed for all age groups. All of this while we were split into two campuses, trying out our new one at The Garden for the first time with events such as Math Night, the Middle School’s Animal Rights Gala and Dinner in the Dark, and our first ever TEDx event. A couple of weeks ago I heard someone shake his head and declare, “This school never stays still,” and I laughed because he was absolutely right. There is constant movement. But even so, this year was also a time of movement behind the scenes.
Last year, we were awarded a school site in a very public bidding process, having competed against schools from all over the world for our first choice on Ap Lei Chau Island. Many people congratulated the school, and many of our supporters were ecstatic about the choice. The parents, kids and teachers all breathed a sigh of relief as we knew that we would finally have a proper “school” (The Grove) instead of rented quarters. But we also needed a new Annex, and the Summer brought construction of The Garden in earnest, with many parents and students helping in the last few days before school because it did not appear possible that it would be ready on time! Meanwhile, The Grove had been allocated subject to the District Council’s approval, so we had to meet with our new neighbors in the Estates as well as with the District Council to allay their fears about traffic. The many minutia of bureaucratic necessities had to be addressed, at the same time as designs were in the works for the renovation. As they were underway, they also had to be approved by the various government departments, materials chosen and work teams hired. All of this before we even got the keys to the new building, which was not until May! And all at the same time, we worked hard to get approval as a High School, which has paid off at last with official approval received two weeks ago.
So now we are poised for an even more interesting and eventful year. The Grove will be a model of a child-friendly environment when it is complete, but the process will occur in stages which may change in terms of timeline depending on the construction process. We will be building our wet lab and marine museum, our pool, our two-story library, a visual-arts center and black box theater, the three-story treehouse and the interactive student-teacher-parent lounge over the next 12 months. When we open in September, we will have a Makerspace and classrooms on two floors. Please read Christine’s letter which will address logistics for The Grove.
I’m sure that there will be frustrations and challenges next year as well (some of which we can already anticipate), but we will go forward with the knowledge that the most difficult of these have already been conquered and there will be an excitement as we watch the new spaces emerge. Of course some things will never change: We will continue to have our high teacher to student ratio, customized programming, focus on science, social studies and problem solving, creative teachers and students, and progressive, inclusive approach to education. And, without the slightest shadow of a doubt, we will continue to be the school that never stays still.