Wednesday, 16 December 2015

eNews Issue 18

The pace doesn’t slow at HKA, even in a short week leading up to a holiday. The Kindergarten classes wowed us all with a fantastic exhibition on Tuesday based on their unit 'Sharing the Planet', with a focus on how animals co-exist within various habitats. The Grade 5 classes also opened their doors this morning to share their learnings about inventions. And today was a great day for music at HKA with songs from Grades 4 & 5 and a real showcase of Secondary School talent at the Secondary School Assembly.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and looking forward to seeing you in January.

Friday, 11 December 2015

eNews Issue 17

Dear Hong Kong Academy Community,

Motivation is central to any successful endeavour and certainly with learning. We have to want to learn in order to stay engaged and put forth our best efforts. When we are motivated, we can achieve more than we ever anticipated and sometimes we learn that we are more capable than we first thought.

We were reminded of that this week in both the Primary and Secondary Schools. On Thursday, Grade 5 shared their circus arts PE unit with adoring fans (mainly parents!). The students’ enthusiasm for their new skills was palpable and the energy in the gym was high. The students did a great job but what strikes me most is how PE teacher Tracee Cook characterised the learning. She structured the learning to encourage students to be self-directed about what skills they wanted to learn, to form their own groups and then to choreograph their own routines. In short, they were being self-managing and self-monitoring and highly motivated in the process. Some great photos to view in the Grade 5 folder of ourPhoto Gallery.

In the Secondary School, the Grade 12 IB students are currently completing their Theory of Knowledge essays. The TOK, as it is called, is a rigorous and structured essay that explores questions of how we know what we know. The core topic is the same for all essays but the students choose the way in which they will approach the project. They start with what motivates them, whether science, art, music, etc... and use that personal passion as the entry point for the challenging questions of perception and reality. Our students’ TOK finished products are always at a very high standard and I think that’s due in part to the fact that they are motivated to answer questions that they have made their own.

Holidays are often a motivator for all of us, too! I wish you well for this break and look forward to seeing everyone in January. Safe travels!

Friday, 4 December 2015

eNews Issue 16

Who did eat those tarts? And were they raspberry or strawberry? If you were one of the lucky ones in the audience at last night’s performance of Alice in Wonderland, then you know the answers! If you missed it last night, I hope you catch today’s performance.

At HKA, when we talk about rigour, pathways to individual success and the value of an HKA education, one of the ideas foremost in our minds is student-led learning experiences. Alice in Wonderland was an incredible example of student-led efforts. Even a brief look at the programme tells the story: students not only performed in the play, they led the design efforts for posters, tickets and sets, provided the music, choreographed the dances, designed costumes, organised props and supported every technical aspect of the play. Some of them took on director roles as well. The students had a fantastic theatre experience while they developed their own voices and leadership skills.

To support students in such extensive leadership roles reflects the skill and the commitment of HKA teachers to authentic student learning. Thanks especially to Drama Teacher Jo Crimmins for her work as well as all other faculty and staff who helped make Alice not just a wonderland but wonderful.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Community Fair Thank You!

HKA’s Annual Community Fair was once again a resounding success. About 1,000 of us enjoyed fantastic food and engaging performances and the fun never stopped on the Sports Pitch and in the Arts and Crafts venues.

As always, volunteers were the key to this tremendous success. A special thanks to Hilde Santens, Jessica Kong and their team for co-ordinating the cultural food portion of the event. Volunteers also powered much of the arts and crafts and assisted with sports and for that we are also grateful. Secondary School student volunteers were out in force this year, too, helping in many capacities. Thank you!

Staff worked hard to make this happen, too, and special thanks go to our facilities, cleaning and operations teams, our technology team and our security guards. Special thanks to Nick Antolini, Andy Birch, Fanny Chan, Aaron Cook, Laura Cowan, Leanne Dunlap, Michael Helmsley, Lee Holt, Virginia Hunt, Enrico Milo and Angela Reilly.

We’re continuing the tradition of the Community Fair cookbook. More information about how to share your recipes will be out later this week. In the meantime, check out the photos from the day. Login to Veracross and view well over 100 great photos in our portal links photo gallery under 'School Events'. If you have any photos you would like to share with the community then you can do so via our upload page.

Friday, 27 November 2015

eNews Issue 15

If you missed it last weekend, make plans now for the next HKACO Cocktail Party. Special thanks to the CO leadership for all their work for a wonderful evening. Good food, great wine and dancing as well! Looking forward to the next one.

We had more expressly educational events on campus this week, too, including Erma Anderson’s maths presentation. Erma is an internationally known expert on best practice in maths pedagogy and we’re very fortunate that she was on campus to work with our faculty and to share her knowledge with parents.

It’s great to have visiting specialists, but we also have our own in-house experts. The Grade 3 Science Exhibition, looking at body systems, was a big success this morning. It was great to see so many parents supporting the Primary School students. Thank you and check out the photos in the school gallery!

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at the annual Community Fair. If you’re new to HKA, you’re in for a treat! Please remember to bring your own food container and utensils. We aim to make this a waste-free event.

Friday, 20 November 2015

eNews Issue 14

HKA has a wide-reaching presence in Sai Kung, throughout Hong Kong and throughout the world. I’m making plans now to be in London and Boston for faculty recruiting and am looking forward to seeing alumni and former families in those cities on 27th January (Boston)and 4th February (London). Please let your network of former HKA families know about these events and forward this email to them so that they can RSVP.

Our network of former families are compelling ambassadors for the school and are often cited as a reason why a prospective family chooses HKA. Closer to home, we are all ambassadors for HKA. I was reminded of this fact again this week when the school received an unsolicited email from a Sai Kung resident complimenting some of our students with whom she had interacted in Sai Kung. The students in Sai Kung were not officially representing the school but they still were effective ambassadors for our learning community.

Our students represent the school in more official capacities as well. Last weekend, several students participated in a local debate contest and achieved high marks in various categories, receiving high recognition from the judges. The week before, students participated in a local drama festival, ISTA, and at the Global Issues Network Conference. Our sports teams are also our ambassadors, especially with their commitment to fair play and good sportsmanship when they represent HKA.

And supporting it all is you, the parent community. Thank you for all you do for HKA!

Friday, 13 November 2015

eNews Issue 13

Global citizenship is something we take seriously at HKA. Ultimately, we learn in order to engage the world around us in ways we find meaningful and relevant. Our students do a tremendous job with this and inspire us all. This weekend, several members of the HKA community will participate in the 24 Hour Run to stop human trafficking. And also this weekend, some of our students will be attending the Global Issues Network Hong Kong conference, while others will be at the Senior Public Speaking Championships in HK where questions of how we engage our world will also be front and centre.

Earlier this week, we hosted Damien Pitter from Yokohama International School to learn more about an initiative called the Global Citizen Diploma (GCD). The GCD is designed to complement the rigour of the academic programme by recognising learning that has taken place within the larger context of school and in the world beyond. For students in Grades 9-12, it will provide a more formalised structure for engaging in learning beyond the classroom and tools for documenting their personal stories about community engagement.

We focus a lot on the rigours of learning at HKA and we also have a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who attended the Movie Nights last Friday and Saturday. All in all, we hosted about 250 people over two nights. The kids had a great time (the cotton candy maker was particularly popular). I did my part by volunteering to chaperone the parents on the Verandah to make sure no wine was spilled! Thanks to all the volunteers who made the evening such a success! At the end of the two evenings, in addition to having a great time together, we raisedover HK$40,000 for the school’s Rock the Park Annual Fund campaign.

Friday, 6 November 2015

eNews Issue 12

At HKA, we are always pleased to welcome visitors to our campus. The last 10 days have been especially busy, with the ACAMIS volleyball tournament and the Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI) conference. At ACAMIS, our girls took the top spot among the six schools competing, and our boys fought hard. Well done and congratulations!

As the athletes were departing, 130 educators were arriving for our second NFI conversation about inclusive education and the mutual benefit of being an inclusive community - the fact that we all learn better when we learn together. Over 49 schools were represented, with 29 from Hong Kong alone. Our faculty led the workshops and provided an exceptional quality of professional development for the participants. The student and parent panels were particularly well received, with our students receiving a standing ovation.

And the fun continues. We have about 300 people signed up for movie nights this weekend. See you there!

eNews Issue 11

I’m writing to you today from the EARCOS conference in Bangkok. EARCOS is the East Asia Regional Council of Schools and is a leading professional organisations in international education. Several members of the HKA team are presenting at the conference as well as attending, and I have the privilege of serving on the EARCOS Board of Directors.

While I haven’t been on campus much this week, I’ve been glad to hear reports of the new speed bumps and mirror in the bus bay. We take student safety very seriously and these new features will improve our arrival and dismissal processes for those arriving by vehicles. For those of you picking up your students on foot, please remember to park legally and cross the road safely at appropriate crossing areas.

It’s a big week at HKA, with the ACAMIS Volleyball Tournament on campus and a group of our students heading off to ISTA this weekend. Good luck, and for those in Grades 9-12, enjoy the No Submission Monday weekend!

And for next week, looking forward to seeing you at Movie Nights! Friday’s feature is The Incredibles and Saturday is Pirates of the Caribbean. Please sign up in advance for food so that we have a sense of numbers. Thanks!

Friday, 16 October 2015

eNews Issue 10

A few weeks ago, several HKA teachers, administrators and myself had the chance to attend a workshop with Andrew Hargreaves from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College in the United States. Andy talks a lot about leadership in education and when he talks about leadership, he talks about the importance of stories in our lives. Hargreaves reminded us of the power of stories to change our lives and shape our future.

I thought about that again this week during Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences. At HKA, we know the importance of data and test scores but when we think about students and learning, we think first of stories and we are keen to share those stories with you. I hope you heard some meaningful stories about your children this week, and I hope that your students are regaling you with tales from HKA!

When we talk about HKA to people beyond campus, we tell stories, too. If you have a story you think we should be sharing, please let us know. Email me at, or email to set up a time to say hello in person.

Wishing you a lovely holiday, see you on the 26th!

Friday, 9 October 2015

eNews Issue 9

This week at a meeting with parents, I was reminded again that educators use a lot of jargon. That’s okay in the staff room but when we’re talking to general audiences, we try hard to skip the acronyms and the specialised terms. Clear language is key to any effective partnership and we want to use language that is accessible. And just as we value an inquiry-based education for our students, we also value our parents’ spirit of inquiry, too. Please always feel free to ask your questions at HKA!

We’ve got a lot in the works right now for parents. First, the Community Fair is soon upon us, and the co-ordinators are eager to know who is bringing what delicious dish! If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to fill out the online form (available in the eNews) to indicate whether you can bring food or volunteer for an activity.

We also launched an online climate survey this week. The purpose of the survey is to hear your thoughts about life at HKA. This is our first survey in several years and your feedback is extremely important. The survey shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes and all results will be aggregated and kept entirely confidential. You will find a link to the survey in an earlier email to all parents.

Next week is Parent Teacher Conferences. This is a highlight of the year for us as it gives us the chance to meet with you in person to focus specifically on your student(s). And thanks in advance to the Information Technology team who will host an informal genius bar for parents needing assistance with with Veracross or Managebac.

Friday, 2 October 2015

eNews Issue 8

Greetings for our short week! I hope you all had nice holidays and thanks again to the HKACO for organising a wonderful Moon Festival party last Friday.

Our 2016-17 term calendar is available for viewing. The calendar for the next academic year differs somewhat from our typical practice, so I would like to bring some dates to your attention. School will begin next year on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 and will end on Friday, 16th June 2017. Normally we commence on the 3rd Wednesday in August. But for next year, we will begin on a Tuesday in order to accommodate some holiday dates throughout the year. 

We’ve got a lot of great events on campus next week and I hope to see you then. Whether it’s a coffee morning with the counsellors, an information evening on curriculum or the Coffeehouse, HKA strives to support a dynamic learning community of students, faculty and parents. Thanks again for your support.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

eNews Issue 7

The week that we celebrate the Moon Festival on campus is always bright, beautiful and fun. It’s a joy to see our PS students participating in games and crafts. We hope you enjoy the photos posted in our VC school gallery and via HKA social media. Many thanks to our Mandarin team for bringing this tradition to life for our students.

While the PS was marking the Moon Festival this week, the SS welcomed dozens of representatives from colleges and universities around the world. Visits to campus from university admissions professionals have more than tripled from the same time period last year, a significant indicator that HKA’s Secondary School, while still young, is going very strong.

Looking ahead: during the week of 5th October, we will send out a parent climate survey to elicit your feedback on various aspects of life at HKA. We are working with an experienced and highly respected international firm to conduct the survey and are keen to hear your thoughts. More information to follow!

Best wishes for the autumn moon celebration!

Friday, 18 September 2015

eNews Issue 6

When we ask people how they first learned about Hong Kong Academy, often they tell us that the school was recommended by a friend, a colleague or a relocation specialist. In this day of social media, it’s good to remember the importance of word of mouth communications! With that in mind, I wanted to let you know that the school is hosting several open houses in the near future that are designed to give prospective families an in-depth look at the school. The details are on our website, and if you know of any one who would be interested in learning more about HKA, please share the information with them.

And for current parents, every day at HKA is a sort of open house day. Our doors are always open and in the next few weeks we have quite a few opportunities for you to connect with HKA as a school that provides academic rigour and inclusion and promotes a dynamic learning community. Carl Anderson, a wonderful educator and story-teller, will present to parents next week, the Moon Festival is around the corner and SS Principal Leanne Dunlap is starting up monthly parent Roundtables.

Thanks again for being a part of HKA.

Friday, 11 September 2015

eNews Issue 5

One of the things I am talking about with faculty and staff at HKA is the Seven Norms of Collaborative Work developed by the Adaptive Schools Seminars. Those norms include: pausing, paraphrasing, putting inquiry at the center, probing, placing ideas at the table, paying attention to self and others and presuming positive intent. They help us to establish the culture for meaningful conversations and allow us to capitalise on the pool of talent at HKA. We try to model these norms as adults when we meet together, and we also encourage students to use these tools as well.

As parents, you are an integral part of our dynamic learning community and you are key to the collaboration that makes education meaningful. September gives us many opportunities to come together for dialogue and discussion. Back to School Nights, Higher Education evenings, coffee mornings and volunteer get togethers are all important ways in which we share information and join together. Thank you for the investment you make in HKA. As the year goes on, I look forward to working with you more. We have an open door policy at HKA. If you would ever like to meet with me or any of the leadership team, please don’t hesitate to schedule a time.

And Happy Birthday, HKA! Our school first opened its doors 15 years ago today.

Friday, 4 September 2015

eNews Issue 4

The word community is embedded in the word communication and for good reason. In order to be a community together, we need to be talking to one another! At HKA, we strive to offer effective communications with the eNews, our school magazine HKAVoices and other messaging throughout the week and the year. We try hard to keep the balance right by sending enough information to keep you apprised of important happenings but not so much that it constitutes what we’ve heard referred to as “death by email.”

Family-to-family communication is also key to a dynamic learning community. Our main resource for family communication is the Directory in Veracross. As a school, we must comply with Hong Kong law governing how personal data can be shared. On a practical level, this means that we can not make public an exhaustive directory on our own. We highly recommend that families make their addresses and phone numbers available in Veracross to facilitate social gatherings in get-togethers. And please remember: in order for your information to be visible, you can edit your 'Directory Preferences' under 'My Family'.

Relatedly, teachers are not able to share information about students’ addresses and phone numbers. Similarly, class/grade parents can only view what is available to all parents in Veracross.

If you are having difficulty updating your household information or making sure that your information is not suppressed, please contact the IT department at The IT team will be more than happy to assist you!

Friday, 28 August 2015

eNews Issue 3

The beginning of the year always comes with an onslaught of information for new and returning families alike. Thank you again for taking the time to update your information in Veracross and for reading through the related guidelines and procedures. If you haven’t already done so, please remember to check if your contact information in VC is suppressed. If it is, other families will not be able to see your information.

Thanks also for your time these first few weeks back. Many parents of students in Grades 9-12 have already been on campus for information evenings about higher education and pathways after HKA. Throughout September we’ll look forward to seeing you all at Back to School Nights. As a parent, I know for myself that it can be challenging to get to campus for an evening event during the week, and on behalf of all the faculty and staff, I want to express our appreciation for your partnering with us in this way.

And I’m very happy to announce today that our new website is now live. Please check out to see our new look

Friday, 21 August 2015

eNews Issue 2

Thank you to everyone who came out this morning for the Back to School Coffee, especially our Buddy Family volunteers. But whether or not you’re an official New Family Buddy, please reach out to the newest members of our community!
Our online directory can help with that. Family addresses and phone numbers are easy to find in the Veracross 'Directory'. Please note that the default setting in VC hides your household information from view. In order for people to find you and your children, it is necessary to scroll to the bottom of 'Update Family Profile' and opt in by editing and saving your selected settings. If this setting is not selected, your contact information will not be visible. For families whose information is visible, the 'Directory'>'Nearby Families' tab will help you find others living close to you.
A highlight on campus this week was a visit from Dave Keeling. Faculty, staff and students in the Secondary School all had a chance to spend some time with Dave talking about learning and how we learning. Davie is a vibrant thinker, knowledgeable in the brain science about how we learn, and is particularly engaging on topics such as curiosity, courage and confidence. And he reminded us that Socrates once said that life and learning should be a festival of the mind. What a great thought for the start of a new school year!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Back to School

I hope you enjoyed today as much as we did! It was wonderful to see families back on campus and the students looking very happy to see each other again at the start of a new school year. The first day back is always hectic, thank you so much for helping make it go smoothly.

Please note that Thursday, 3rd September has been declared a public holiday in Hong Kong and there will be no school that day. We may lose one day in September, but we are gaining it back in May. Buddha’s Birthday will be observed only on Saturday, 14th May 2016 (and not on a weekday), and school will be in session as usual on Monday, 16th May 2016.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Friday for the Back to School Coffee. Please note that all are welcome! New families will meet up with their Buddy Families, and the HKACO will talk about volunteer opportunities at HKA.

Friday, 14 August 2015

eNews Issue 1

It’s been a busy week at HKA as we prepare for the first day of school next week. The classrooms are looking great, and the teachers are full of enthusiasm. All we need now is you!
The beginning of the school year is always hectic, with lots of information to absorb and to verify. Today you should have received an email asking you to update your household information in Veracross and to grant various necessary permissions. I realise this can be an onerous task but please take the time this weekend to update your information in Veracross. This is essential for us as we launch into the new year.
You also should have received an email about uniforms. Almost all uniform items are available in all sizes and we are working to address the shortage in cotton polos.
Take a look at the calendar below - the activities ramp right up! Looking forward to seeing you at the Back to School Coffee next Friday, and for those of you with students in grades 9-12, information evenings about higher education are right around the corner.
Big changes are ahead in our hkaCafe: we’re going paperless as of Monday, 24th August. The cafe has new ceramic mugs for hot beverages consumed on campus. If you’d like to take your latte with you as you leave, please bring your own mug or purchase a mug at the cafe.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to HKA for the 2015-16 school year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer and we’re looking forward to seeing returning families and greeting new faces. In the coming days, you’ll be receiving more information about the beginning of the school year, with the regular eNews resuming on 14th August, the Friday before the first day of school.

I wanted to take a moment to update you about some happenings on campus. First, a very warm welcome to our new Secondary School Principal, Leanne Dunlap. For those of you who are new, Leanne joins us from Copenhagen International School. She is a highly experienced educator and administrator who brings much talent and energy to HKA. Welcome, Leanne!

We also delighted to introduce some new teachers and co-teachers. Please click here to view their bios. HKA is fortunate in the diversity of its faculty as well as its student body and these new faculty members bring many interesting perspectives. We also welcome several new support staff to HKA as we expand to meet the increasing demands of our growing programme.

In addition to these new faces, some areas of the campus got a facelift over the holiday. Our Main Reception area has been redesigned to make it more friendly and inviting and I hope you like the results as much as the Leadership Team do. The Secondary School common areas have also had some upgrades and the main courtyard is really coming into its own as a community space.

I’m eager also to give you an update on the Class of 2015. We celebrated 19 graduates last May, our fourth graduating class - 19 students whom we had the privilege of educating and shepherding along their pathways to individual success. We are mindful of this responsibility and of the importance it is to teach young people and we take that very seriously at HKA. We’re passionate about how we teach and we relish in the growth we see before us, every day, as educators.
Most of HKA’s Grade 12 students choose to pursue the IB Diploma or IB certificates, arguably one of the most rigorous academic programmes in the world. The International Baccalaureate exams take place in May of each year and most exam results are shared in July.

For more information about how the IB Diploma works, including the scoring and grading system, please visit

The HKA students who pursued the full Diploma in 2015 had an excellent year. All students who pursued the full Diploma passed the exam, with the highest score being 44 out of 45. Students’ overall results were within one point of their predicted scores, a frequently cited standard of success. The students who took certificates rather than the full Diploma also achieved their personal goals and can be extremely proud of their work.

For an overview of HKA’s 2015 IB please click here. For a taste of the Class of 2015’s next adventures, check out the list of university and college offers and matriculations. Importantly, HKA graduates pursuing tertiary education are attending their first choice or one of their top two choices - they are going to the schools they wish to attend and that are right for them.

While I am always happy to share stories of HKA’s academic rigour and our students’ successes, I also want to put tests and scores in the appropriate context. When we talk about “success” at HKA, exam results and university placements are only a part of the story. At HKA we stress student-centred, inquiry-based education because we believe that such an education prepares students for life, not just the next exam or application. We value a differentiated approach to teaching that stretches and engages all students and helps them develop their talents to their fullest. When people tell me that “there’s something different” going on at HKA, generally I find that this is what they mean and I’m proud of that. And with this approach to teaching, we value parents as partners. Parents contribute so much to life at HKA at every level. Thank you for being a part of this community and see you soon!

Friday, 12 June 2015

eNews Issue 38

This week was a great week to be at Hong Kong Academy. On Tuesday, we held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch. This event is something I look forward to every year. It’s a joy and a privilege to be able to thank everyone who has given so much of their time and talent to HKA. It was great to see many of you there. For those of you who didn’t make it, we missed you!
The energy continued into Wednesday, both with Portfolio Share Day in the PS and the Renaissance Festival in the SS. I always smile at the eagerness of our younger students to share what they’ve learned with their parents and guardians. At HKA, we strive to help kids take ownership of their learning and Portfolio Share Day is an indication of success. I hope you enjoyed it as much as the staff did!
The Renaissance Festival, now in its second year, built on last year’s success with more students participating in more arenas. Poetry, film, drama, dramatic adaptations and the visual arts were all on display. The creativity, initiative and personal expression evident in every project made me proud of our students and proud to be a part of HKA’s leadership team.
And then on Thursday we held our first ever Hong Kong Academy Team Recognition and Celebration event. This event highlighted participation in teams of all sorts, from sports to debate to Battle of the Books and recognised and thanked students for their dedication, their effort and their willingness to represent HKA off campus in competitive fields. Go Dragonflies!

Friday, 5 June 2015

eNews Issue 37

The Grade 4 Play is a longstanding tradition at HKA and each performance is highly anticipated. Always a highlight of the PS year and a showcase for PS talent, this year’s play was no exception. Students played instruments, sang, danced and delivered lines to the delight of parents, siblings, students, faculty and staff. As PS Principal Virginia observed, this effort is all about teamwork, with many students playing more than one part in that team effort. The Grade 4 play intentionally draws on the students’ many and diverse talents and provides multiple pathways to individual excellence. Well done Grade 4 students and many thanks to the Grade 4 faculty and all of the parents who supported the play as well. And a special word of thanks to the tech team who worked behind the scenes and ensured that the play was streamed live, giving family and friends around the world the opportunity to see these kids in action!
Earlier this week I emailed you all to say thank you for hosting yet another fabulous Staff Appreciation Lunch. On behalf of all the faculty and staff, I’d like to thank you again! The food was sensational, and the gifts of personalised mugs was very well received. Having your name on your very own mug is a real asset at HKA. We may still accidentally walk off with each other’s pens and pencils but the mugs are now safe!

Friday, 29 May 2015

eNews Issue 36

What an evening! Last night we graduated 19 students from Hong Kong Academy. The theatre was full with family, friends, faculty and staff offering congratulations and wishing these young people well. Their achievements are too many to detail in an eNews but suffice it to say, they have set the bar high for future classes in every pathway to individual excellence.
But as I said in my speech last night, in the midst of all the justified talk of achievement and success, we don’t want to lose sight of what it means to be happy. I’ve yet to find a school mission statement that mentions happiness, joy or even fun. But a meaningful education, and a meaningful life, certainly includes happiness, joy and fun.
Our graduates are now embarking on the next phase of their lifelong educations. As the list of their university choices shows, they are leaving Hong Kong to go literally all over the world. We wish them success - and happiness, joy & fun!

Friday, 22 May 2015

eNews Issue 35

It’s hard to believe that graduation is next week and the end of the school year is right around the corner. This week our Grade 12's finished up their exams. Exams are a standard aspect of any educational process but at HKA we don’t want to lose sight of the students’ pathways to individual excellence and the individual expression of a rigorous international education. We are very proud of their achievements!
I also wanted to share with you that we’ve been playing host quite a lot in recent days to Hong Kong-wide school events. Hong Kong’s major debate tournament took place on campus last Saturday, with HKA’s own Gwen Slaughter, Grade 9, placing first in the Impromptu category. Well done to all our students who competed and you can read more later in this eNews.
The city’s Battle of the Books finals were yesterday in the Theatre. HKA’s team earned a spot in the finals when they placed first several weeks ago at a preliminary competition. Congratulations to the team: Graham Campbell, Kazuki Clark, Jean Dumrongjaroen, Anna Loretan, Candice Lui, Alex Oakley, Luca Salvatori, Carter Sutsko, Emil Tullberg, Oskar Tullberg, Audrey Wahking and Zara Warbanoff with congratulations also going to PLK Choi Kai Yau School who won overall.
We also hosted the ACAMIS Spring board meeting this week. As many of you know, our participation in ACAMIS is extremely important, especially as impacts sports. I’m privileged to serve on the board and I was very happy to host my colleagues at our beautiful campus.
HKA also held its Annual General Meeting this week as well to approve the school’s budget and welcome new board members. Thanks to those of you who attended.

Friday, 15 May 2015

eNews Issue 34

The school has really been buzzing this week with the Grade 5 Exhibition. This is our students’ culminating work in the PYP and compellingly embodies the notion of a rigorous international education. Well done, Grade 5, and many thanks to the Grade 5 teachers and exhibition mentors.
The Secondary School teachers have reviewed all the Grade 10 personal projects as one of the culminating MYP experiences. The projects demonstrate how each student has embarked on a personal challenge and interest throughout the year. Each tells a story of how they have extended their thinking, pushed themselves physically, provided products/services and what they have learned along the way. Congratulations to the Grade 10 students.
Looking ahead, I’d like to personally invite you to the school’s Annual General Meeting next Wednesday, 20th May at 6pm. If you plan to attend, please rsvp online by Monday to let us know. Then on 9th June, we will host our annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at 10am. HKA is fortunate to have literally hundreds of volunteers who contribute daily to the school. Please rsvp online by 29th May so we can plan for this special morning.
I’m also happy to let you know that we are now able to switch on the “nearby families” function in Veracross (VC) under ‘Directory’. This feature makes it possible to search families who live near you (whose information is available in VC). We hope this will make it easier to plan play-dates and get togethers.

Friday, 8 May 2015

eNews Issue 33

As Head of School, one of my main concerns is the safety of our students, including before school as they arrive and after school as they leave. We are fortunate to have a bus bay for drop-off and pick-up, and overall, our system of buses, “walker walkers” and “private vehicle walkers” works well. However, we are having an increasing safety issue with cars parking illegally on Wai Man Road and Mei Yuen Road both in the morning and the afternoon, with students walking across those streets amidst busy traffic, often unaccompanied.
For students arriving or leaving by car, please either 1) proceed through the bus bay in the designated private vehicle lanes or 2) park in one of the nearby car parks and walk safely to and from campus. This is imperative for the safety of the students and also helps us maintain strong and positive relations with local law enforcement.
A major highlight of this week were the EC and PS Music Concerts. Well done to our budding musicians and many thanks to their teacher, Mr. Antolini. It was a great morning, with many parents enjoying some social time over coffee between the two concerts. Thanks for attending!

Lastly, please join me in wishing our G12 students luck as they continue their IB exams. These exams are taking place over several weeks and represent a real milestone for our students.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

eNews Issue 32

It was a short week this week, but a full one nonetheless! The Secondary School celebrated “Allusion Day” today and the halls were filled with students dressed as allusions to characters in Shakespeare plays. As you’ll see from the photos, togas were extremely popular! In the Primary School, Maths Family Fun Night lived up to its name with enjoyable activities around mathematics. It’s great to see the intersection of joy and rigour in learning!
It’s important week for us parents, too, with the Board of Trustees election. Adrian Valenzuela will be joining the Board and we welcome him and thank him for his willingness to serve.

Friday, 24 April 2015

eNews Issue 31

At Hong Kong Academy, we understand that assessing (what we used to call “testing” when I was a child) a student’s knowledge is a highly nuanced activity. While pop quizzes and standardised testing serve an important purpose, they are only one part of a much bigger picture. We think of assessments as being “formative” and “summative”. That’s ed-speak, so to declutter the jargon, a “formative” assessment is when we monitor a student’s progress to provide feedback we can use to enhance their learning. This type of assessment is continuous and frequent and allows teachers to adjust or change strategies or content as needed. A “summative” assessment is when we evaluate a student’s learning at the end of a unit or course of study, giving us the opportunity to evaluate the end product such as a final exam. We believe that the right mix of these two different types of “tests” give us a solid understanding of a student’s growth over time.
While we don’t over emphasise the need for standardised tests, we do make every effort to use certain tests wisely, such as the International School Assessment (ISA). The tests are completed by HKA students in Grades 3-9 every October. We communicated the school’s results to parents at an evening meeting earlier this week. ISA allows us to take a snapshot of where our students are and how they compare to other students around the world. It’s a “health check” that confirms that HKA students are learning and growing and it is further proof that students from HKA can transition to other schools when they move. We know this from ample anecdotal evidence as well but the ISA results provide that information in a standard form.
If you have any questions about assessment at HKA, please feel free to contact me, Virginia Hunt or Doug Musco.

Friday, 17 April 2015

eNews Issue 30

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you all had a good holiday. I know the students are generally eager to head out on their vacations but I also see how excited they are when they return to campus after a break. We learn best when we learn together and a school is a very special community indeed.
A part of that community spirit is giving. At HKA, we’ve penned a Culture of Philanthropy statement to describe giving at HKA. We believe that our students, our faculty and our parents are gifts in and of themselves and are grateful for everyone’s presence. People give in different ways, including time, expertise and finance with all gifts being valued.
I had the pleasure this week of attending and presenting at the annual Asia-Pacific Conference of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). At this conference, advancement professionals from schools and universities all over Asia gathered to talk about the ways in which they “advance” their schools’ missions and programmes by raising resources in their communities. It was inspiring to hear so many stories of generosity and support in other schools that so closely mirror the support we receive at HKA.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

eNews Issue 29

This was a big week for exploration at HKA. In Grade 4, the students used their “How the World Works” unit to investigate the idea of energy and its sources. The atmosphere generated by these Young Scientists was as electric as some of their projects! The students' work also reminds us that you don’t have to be a grown up scientist in order to apply the scientific method to a line of inquiry. That sort of creativity and problem-solving is for everyone.
In the Secondary School, our Grade 12 students are on the cusp of a different type of exploration as they make plans for their post-secondary educational experiences. I’m happy to report that our G12's continue to gain admission to their top choice universities and, as another sign of our growing Secondary School, HKA held a university fair yesterday on campus for a number of schools in the United Kingdom that are eager to get to know our students. With our fourth graduation soon upon us, it’s exciting to see how quickly HKA has emerged as a lead school in this age group.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

eNews Issue 28

Parent Teacher Conferences are routine in schools around the world and we don’t generally feel the enthusiasm building for conferences the way it builds, say, for the annual Secondary School play, the Community Fair or a SCISAC tournament on campus. Nevertheless, there was definitely a certain buzz on campus with parents, students, and teachers taking time to reflect together on everyone’s learning and progress along their pathways to individual excellence. I truly hope you enjoyed your conferences and learned something new about your child(ren).
While the conversational exchange that takes place over conferences is extremely important, as a dynamic community of learners, we also know that we don’t have to wait until conferences to talk to teachers and administrators, share ideas and concerns, and ask the questions we feel are important. HKA takes seriously its open door policy. We are now a bigger school than we were before but the open door policy remains the same.
The door is always open to me, other school administrators and teachers alike. And the HKACO is also eager to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you have something to share, please do!
Have a great weekend, whether or not you have tickets to the 7's!

Friday, 20 March 2015

eNews Issue 27

At Hong Kong Academy we strive to ensure, what our mission statement calls, pathways to individual excellence. For some students that may mean the full IB Diploma experience and indeed, many of our graduates choose this option. And a few years back, one of our students even attained a perfect 45 on the IB exam.
But IB Diploma is not the best pathway to individual excellence for all of our students. Therefore, HKA offers multiple pathways, including IB certificates. In addition, HKA has always offered an accredited high school diploma that is sufficient for applications to post-secondary institutions around the world. If you’d like more information about HKA’s Secondary School pathways please contact our MYP co-ordinator Jen Swinehart.
Today’s a big day for the performing arts at HKA! The Primary School dazzled at its Hot Cocoahouse this morning and this evening the Secondary School’s Community Coffeehousewelcomes some members of the local Sai Kung community to participate.
And thanks to the Grade 3 parents who attended the G3 Community Evening on Wednesday night. We host four to five grade level community evenings throughout the year and I always find them to be informative and helpful. Thank you!

Friday, 13 March 2015

eNews - Issue 26

HKA is always on the move! Whether it’s for sport, drama, debate, conferences or professional development, HKA faculty, staff and students always have passports at the ready! I’m writing today from the ACAMIS conference in Guangzhou. ACAMIS, which stands for the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools, is an important organisation for HKA. Our students compete in sports through ACAMIS, and our faculty and staff take advantage of its professional development offerings. I serve on the ACAMIS board, and for this particular conference, I’m joined by IT Director Andy Birch, Finance Manager Jojit Au Yeung and our Athletics Director and Activities Co-ordinator, Aaron Cook.
South of Hong Kong, a team of Secondary School students is in Singapore for the Global Issues Network (GIN) Conference. At GIN, students learn about and actively respond to pressing issues such as environmental sustainability and education. Special thanks to SS faculty Richard Reilly and Ellen Thorne for making this possible for the students and accompanying them to Singapore.
And our Grade 3’s, along with PS Principal Virginia Hunt and Assistant Principal Dean Johnson, are at camp! While not far away physically (just up the road in the Sai Kung Country Park), the camp activities will stretch, challenge and engage them in learning beyond the classroom.

Friday, 6 March 2015

eNews Issue 25

The Secondary School students will soon be returning from their Learning Outside the Classroom Experiences in Hong Kong, China and Thailand. Based on parent feedback from last year, we modified several aspects of these trips and we are pleased with how things have gone. Thanks for your support in providing this sort of educational experience for the Grades 6-11. The Grade 12's have continued their work on campus this week, taking the Mock IB exams in preparation for the real thing in May. 

While the SS has been away, it’s been quieter at home for many of us but it has definitely not been quieter on campus! The Primary School enjoyed a fabulous Literacy Week, complete with pyjama day, the continuous reading chair and special guests (including parents) on campus for reading aloud, skype chats with other schools, and visits from visiting authors. Thanks to all of you who helped make this year’s Literacy Week a great experience! Last weekend was full of life at HKA and for HKA, too. 

The girls’ netball team continued to wow in inter-school play (report below) and on campus we hosted an IB conference for 400+ educators from all across Asia. As an IB World School, we are happy to host these events as a part of being a lead international school. Things don’t slow down this weekend either! I’m looking forward to the Gala tomorrow night. Special thanks to the 40+ volunteers who have made this event possible! 

Lastly, I want to thank you all for making our first experience with Online Re-enrollment such a success. Many of you responded to the email within the first 24 hours, and we are greatly appreciative. If you haven’t had a chance to fill out the form yet, please view the earlier emailto all parents for more information.

Friday, 27 February 2015

eNews Issue 24

I never cease to be amazed at how full HKA is of learning. Our mission statement declares that we are a dynamic learning community and I see this daily in our students, in our teachers and in our parents. Right before the break for Chinese New Year, our G12 Diploma students submitted their Extended Essays. The topics range from the health of rivers in Hong Kong to the iron content of tofu to the role of women in Chinese literature. The breadth and depth in these studies is astounding - well done G12s! For a full list of topics, click here.
For this week, Highlights of parent involvement this week were the IB Pathways evening on Tuesday and the Community Information Evening on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Grade 9 and 10 students and their families met to learn more about the IB Diploma Programme and HKA’s pathways to graduation. The Diploma Programme is new to many of our families and this event was designed to ensure that parents fully understand the academic programme for Grades 11 and 12. Students entering Grade 11 next year are picking their courses now, so the evening was structured in part as a course fair to complement the work they’ve already done in preparing to make these selections.
On Wednesday evening, Board Chair Sean Kelly, Finance and Operations Director Dale Willetts and I had the privilege of providing an update on the school’s Five Year Strategic Plan. Thanks to all of you who attended, especially for your thoughtful questions. Part of the joy of being Head of School is learning from parents and I welcome your feedback.
We also have fun while we learn and if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you topurchase seats for the 'Back to School' Annual Gala! We will enjoy good food, good wine and good conversation and as well as raise some funds for the school.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

eNews Issue 23

The recent SCISAC Volleyball tournament was an important moment for HKA and not just for the competition. I sent my very first Head of School tweet from the games! If you’d like to follow me on twitter, I’d love to have you! Those of you who remember HKA’s monthly print newsletter, the Xiao Xi, can fully appreciate just how much change there’s been as we’ve gone increasingly paperless.

Thanks for taking the time to read the weekly eNews. We know it’s jam-packed and we all struggle to find time to absorb the many emails we receive each week. But we do our best to keep the eNews vital and useful and I encourage you to include it in your weekly reading!

We have two major events on the horizon: the Community Information Evening on 25th February and the Annual Gala on 7th March. The information evening, like its predecessor, the Board Social, is an opportunity to meet the school’s Board Members and learn more about happenings at HKA. Our focus will be a report and Q&A on the school’sFive Year Strategic Plan. Board Chair Sean Kelly will kick off the discussion with Finance and Operations Director Dale Willetts and I also providing updates.

The Annual Gala is shaping up to be a wonderful evening of fun, food, dancing and raising funds for HKA. I’m hearing that the Back to School themed dinner is something you won’t want to miss so please purchase your tickets online now! And keep an eye on the online catalogue as new items are added every day.

And congratulations to all the students who shared their talents at the DP theatre evening on Wednesday. The performances were thoughtful and provocative! Many thanks to Drama Teacher Stella Ireland and all the other faculty and parents who supported this wonderful event.

eNews Issue 22

Happy New Year! Whether you call it Year of the Goat or Year of the Sheep, best wishes to you all! At HKA, we started out the new year auspiciously with a wonderful morning of song, dance, story-telling, crafts and a bustling Temple Market. The colours, sounds and scents were a delight to all senses. For photos of this great beginning to a new year, please check our online gallery via Veracross. Special thanks to our Mandarin faculty for all their hard work and dedication.

Another highlight this week was the MYP information evening with MYP Co-ordinator Jen Swinehart and Maths teacher and co-ordinator Warren Needham. who will assume the role of Assistant Secondary School Principal for Grades 6-8 this August. Jen, Warren and approximately 40 parents spent an evening exploring the skills that are emphasised in the MYP as key approaches to learning. Armed with thought-provoking concepts, coloured pens, pencils and yellow sticky notes, the parents broke into groups to brainstorm about how we learn as individuals and to experience the sort of rigorous international education our students enjoy every day.

And Thursday was the annual Grade 1 Market Day! The photos in our gallery tell the story of the fun and the learning that this event enables and inspires. And I enjoyed cheering on our Dragonflies during the opening games of the SCISAC tournament here on campus through Saturday.

February is a busy month at HKA, even with the holiday in the middle! Thanks again to everyone for a wonderful Community Fair last Saturday, and please note the calendar highlights below, and I hope to see you at our Community Information Evening on 25th February.