"...But the Phoenix’s tail had been a sapphire blue. The feather in his hand was of the purest, palest gold.”
(From David and the Phoenix)
When I was young, my absolute favorite mythical animal was the Phoenix. That is partly because my favorite book was David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd, about a young boy’s adventures with a clumsy and dear Phoenix who was being hunted by a curious scientist. But as I grew I also learned to appreciate the symbolic significance of the Phoenix’s story, the glory and excitement of his rise from the ashes, his rebirth and rededication to hope. The Phoenix, by going through hard times, manages to be so much more dazzling and splendid than other birds, and frankly also more fun. There is an excitement to participating in a re-creation and rebuilding that is missed by those who just expect everything to remain the same.
There is no doubt that the past two years have been hard for Hong Kong. Two years ago we “opened” the school without opening its doors, and last year we perfected the art of being flexible. More recently, we have seen many of our favorite people both at home and at school leave the city. Like most organizations here, The Harbour School has lost some dear colleagues who decided for various reasons that they felt compelled to go back to their home countries. But those of us who remain - and those who are just arriving - will have the adventure of watching as Hong Kong rebuilds its communities and opens up to exciting possibilities, both the old ones for which it is famous and new ones that are emerging. The excitement of reimagining the city, and indeed the world in many ways, is one we can experience with wonder and joy.
Of course, last year also brought some incredible successes for THS. We won Best Teaching and Learning in a prestigious global competition, which was a terrific follow-up to having won the Hong Kong International School of the Year (as well as Best Technology and Best History and Social Sciences) the previous year. SISP (Our Social Impact and Sustainability Program) far exceeded even our most ambitious plans, winning numerous awards, creating many partnerships, and introducing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across all age levels at the school. They also developed schoolwide programs like More than Meatless Mondays and an Earth Hour celebration that included our own bespoke metaverse. Our amazing Primary Principal, Christine Greenberg, created a series of TIDE films that are incredibly impressive, funny and informative. Our students have won awards, started clubs and businesses, and developed social action projects. Our emergence as a school committed to environmental awareness and social action is no doubt part of the reason that we were awarded the beautiful Tai Tam Tuk historic site to develop the The Harbour School’s E.A.R.T.H. Campus for our kindergarten and preschool.
Being or even watching a Phoenix is not without its trials. It’s not as simple as watching a wren or even an eagle. It’s emotionally draining at times. But as individuals, as a school, and as a city, we are now poised to rise, like David’s Phoenix, who “launched himself into the air and soared over the valley, sparkling, flashing, shimmering; a flame as large as a sunburst, a meteor, a diamond, a star…”
Personally, I can’t wait to see where we all go.