Weekly Bulletin

June 28, 2018

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Looking ahead:

  • August 15 - first day of school for new students

  • August 16 - first day of schools for all other students


We are very pleased to share our end of year newsletter, which celebrates news, achievements and successes from the past twelve months.

There is so much to read about and so many experiences, ideas and innovations to reflect on that you may wish to approach the newsletter in installments. But do, please, take the time to celebrate all the many exciting developments that have filled the now departed school year!

Summer Newsletter


Nothing in school is innocent - everything carries meaning, sends a message and teaches a lesson. The ways in which we talk to each other on a day to day basis, the frames of mind we bring to transactions, the attitudes we adopt to challenge, how we handle disagreement, the ease with which we forgive errors and misjudgements, our orientation to change and our willingness to harmonise with others, all these instruct the community in how to live, quite as much as the lessons in Mathematics, History, Drama or English.

With this in mind, we recognise how vital it is to use every opportunity available to us to promote the values we want our students to embody. And, as a school that is not just about academics but equally about the holistic development of young people as all-round learners and as good people, we are establishing a tradition that celebrates this goal.

At the end of each term, we award certificates for three categories of achievement - Growth Mindset, Courage in the Learning Zone and Support of Peers. We celebrate these qualities in the belief that they are central to our mission and vision as a school.

We commend students who, whatever their starting point, demonstrate their belief in the efficacy of hard work, risk taking, fortitude, and diligent endeavour. We acclaim those who are resilient and fearless, no matter how many knocks they take. We praise those who envisage school not as a zero-sum game, with winners and losers, champions and also-rans, but as a shared journey towards betterment and growth. A journey on which we are all equally worthwhile fellow-travellers, supporting each other with acts of mutual generosity, care, acceptance and accommodation.

Our Category B scholarship programme recognises these values and this year, for the second time, scholarships have been awarded to the outstanding student in each of the three categories. The winners will have embodied what we hold to be the most vital attributes for any purposeful learner: belief that effort pays off and the commitment to prove it; the courage to take risks and to endure when things get tough; and a determination to help others, too, in their efforts to improve and to share their strengths as learners.

The winners of the 2018-19 Category B Scholarships are:

Growth Mindset - Felix Olesen

Courage in the Learning Zone: Leonie Wassermann

Support of Peers - Matthew Bouttell

Deep Learning #3 - The Neverheard Beforechestra by Phil Morgan

The thing I appreciate most about working at ICHK is the uncommon attitude to risk-taking, experimentation, and the very real possibility of failure in the pursuit of learning. If you don't work in education you might not realise how genuinely unusual this is, especially within a culture which constantly reinforces the pre-eminence of academic success. (Ph.D Pizza delivery is an especially bizarre example of this).

If you work in design, you will know that 'failing fast' and 'failing forwards' are vital to progress. I like to use Deep Learning as an opportunity to take students through design processes, prototyping, creative problem solving and get them hands-on with tools and materials. As a card-carrying creative thinker and maker, I feel an exciting tension between the possibility of making something really cool, and the potential for it all to turn into an embarrassing train-wreck. It hasn't yet...but it might! Not many schools make room for the possibility of things going awry, and this. I feel, is a huge mistake.

In preparation for this unit I became an unrepentant ‘dumpster diver’ assembling a pile of building site trash, a mound of unseemly objects:PVC and aluminium tubing, a broken classical guitar (Jackpot!!) pots and pans, bamboo offcuts, any thing that sounds nice when struck, with a view to building one-of-a kind musical instruments.

I like going into these units with a half-way decent idea, rather than a concrete, moment-by-moment plan, because there's always going to be more than one way of going about a build, and I want to hear how the students think we should proceed. When done with a certain tolerance for uncertainty, deep learning always throws up surprises for the teacher. I set out with a product in mind and arrive somewhere similar, but also end up with a lot of unanticipated by-products. 'Bamboo creativity' began as materials and skills. We made a jungle gym, but the real learning was about teamwork, leadership, inclusion, and personal responsibility. With one day still to go, 'The Neverheard Beforchestra' is turning into a unit on autonomy and focus.

Deep learning continues to teach me as a teacher. I've been thinking a lot about what Aaron Eden refers to as 'Gandalfing'. You might remember the scene in Lord of the Rings when the Hobbits are lost in the mines of Moria. Gandalf speaks to Frodo, points him in the right direction and then steps back to let the adventure continue. Knowing when to 'Gandalf' is a fine art, and I am learning to reign in the temptation to intervene, interfere and instruct, when I could instead be watching students grapple with problems for themselves - up to a point. Stepping back is not an easy thing to do.

The process of making from our imaginations, be it junk instruments or bamboo towers, is a potent metaphor for life. It usually goes quite well, but we also break things. We could have planned for contingencies, but we didn't. We make mistakes. It didn't turn out quite the way we thought it was going to, so we rethink and we do it over. In the end, we might achieve something, and there's nothing more satisfying that an original thought made real.

You can enjoy the work of the Neverheard Beforechestra here.

IB Camp

Our first Chinese immersion and IB Preparation Camp has been hugely successful, with students benefiting widely from the classes and the learning environment.

A group of four Year 11 students spent two weeks at Nengren Middle School in Jiangsu province. They attended classes in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology - all taught through the medium of Chinese.

It was a fantastic opportunity for them to make a strong head start on their IB studies, as well as developing their language skills. The curriculum has been carefully devised in conjunction with the teaching staff at ICHK to ensure that students will be taught IB Diploma specific content.

We are pleased to share a reflection below from Group Leader Amanda Luk on the exam ceremony which was held during the visit.

The dates June 15 -17 is the “Zhong Kao” for Y9 students in Nengren School. During our time at the school, we were fortunate to experience their Exam Ceremony, which takes place before they set off for the exams.

You may know that Gao Kao means the entrance to the university exam. We knew that this was important for Chinese students as it determines whether they can go to university. However, not so many people know that they actually have their first life choice by “zhong Kao”, which only allows less than 50% students to continue their education into Senior Middle school.

This is an important stage for a student to help set their life direction. If a student can continue his education in Senior Middle School, they will have the chance to take the “Gao Kao” after three years, then have the chance to go to a university, and their life career might be “bright”. If a student can’t continue to study in Senior Middle School, they will have several choices: Start work; go to worker training school to be a worker; Secondary Specialized Schools to become a professional in specific areas.

Schools, parents and even the government try their best to support this Zhong Kao as it is so very important to a student. They start with a ceremony to encourage everyone student to do their best in the exam, then all students will board buses, policemen will lead the buses to ensure students arrive at the Kaochang safely. There is one class per bus, accompanied by a form tutor. Parents all wait outside the school gate.

Lots of them wear red which indicates to Kaimen Hong. Mums wear Qipao, with the implied meaning that their children will win victory the moment they raise standards. A Nike red t-shirt is very popular as Nike’s symbol is a tick. During the second day they wear black, as the implied meaning is dark horse. On the third day they wear gray and yellow, with the implied meaning of splendid and magnificent.

Food served includes rice cake - called “gao” as implied meaning is “bubu gaosheng” (be promoted step by step), and rice dumpling - called “zhong” as the implied meaning is to be chosen by an ideal school.

That’s how Chinese people treasure “Knowledge changes the fate.”

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Student Magazine

In the last round of Deep Learning, Jon Rees stepped out of his role as English teacher and became Editor in Chief of some budding journalists in Years 7, 8 and 9.

Together, this team have used the 4 day programme to create the first edition of Insight, our very own ICHK magazine. It is a fantastic read - these young people have a real future ahead of them in media if this is their inaugural effort.

Enjoy the first issue of the magazine here.

Leaving Staff

We would like to wish a fond farewell to Steve Rines, who leaves us for his dream job as a teacher of chemistry at American International School of Hong Kong. Our senior students, especially, have benefitted greatly from Steve's experience and passion as a teacher, and we thank him for his contribution.

Wet 'n' Wild by SRC Member Clarissa

The SRC, along with other students organised the annual end-of-year traditional event Wet n’ Wild on Wednesday. All students participated in this extremely fun event, where they could get their hands on water guns, water balloons, and buckets of water which splashed everywhere around the campus. Students could taste the refreshing foods suitable for this weather, which the SRC helped provide. This included frozen fruit, freezies and chips. A great addition to the fun event was the slip and slide which formed a long queue.

A special thanks to all the teachers who volunteered to be dunked with buckets of water by students. The SRC thanks everyone in the community for participating in Wet n’ Wild. All the money from this fundraising event will be donated to Kiva.

3D Printing

We have been pleased to work in partnership with Year 5 students at Kingston. They have been learning about 3D design, but as they don't have a 3D printer to turn their designs into reality, we were able to help.

Thanks to kind assistance from ICHK Secondary's Jamie Holden (our resident 3D printing guru) we were able to print out their work for them, so they could touch, see and share their designs in real life. Attached are three thank you cards that their students sent us.

ICHK Secondary

ICHK is a school which is proud to embrace innovation in learning and a unique and stimulating curriculum has been developed for students. Our campus is located in a stunning location, providing unrivalled opportunities for outdoor learning.
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