WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM HEAD OF SCHOOL 2021/03/15-2021/​03/​21

Dear Parents, Students, Colleagues,

Tomorrow you, our current families, will receive re-enrollment documents for the school year 2021/2022.  I hope sincerely that you all respond positively, and soon.  Initial offers to new families, and students, will go out at the end of this month of March and the beginning of April, and we need to know how many places we might have for new students.  We are therefore asking you to pay your deposit of 20% of next year’s fee by April 2, if possible.

Last year, and again now, we have delayed sending out the re-enrollment package until about two months later than our usual time, which used to be in January.  We have done this because of pandemic uncertainties and a still volatile financial climate.  This time last year we announced that there would be no increase in tuition.  For the next school year, 2021/2022, we are announcing now a 5,000 (5K) renminbi increase for tuition in all grades, but we will again be freezing the boarding fee, and so there will be no additional increase for residential students.  I hope that you will understand that there is a need for a modest increase if we are to carry on improving our program, and enhancing the opportunities we offer our students.    

A message that I often give to prospective Keystone parents and families goes something like this:

Beijing is a huge city, catering well for the diverse needs of over 20 million people.  As a nation, the Chinese value education highly.  It is not surprising, therefore, that there are many very fine schools in our capital city.  There are outstanding public and private schools, national and international schools, and others.  They are academically very strong, like Keystone.  They prepare their students very well for college, like Keystone.  You as parents are fortunate in having such excellent choices.  If you choose Keystone, and we hope that you do, we want you to choose us because you know about and really appreciate our distinctive features as a values-driven, vital and versatile learning community.  Those are three good, strong reasons to choose us.    

And those are three good, strong reasons to choose to re-enroll at Keystone now.  Let me add to each of those with just a few, further thoughts.  First, our values. We all know what these are: ren, yi, li, zhi, and xin, which we translate (perhaps a little loosely) as compassion, justice, respect, wisdom, and honesty.  Good words, and concepts, all.  It is important to know them and to talk about them, both of which we do.  But it is even more important to act on them, which we all try to do, as well.  I saw this clearly just last Sunday evening, at the start of this week, when High School students retiring from formal leadership positions handed over a legacy of leading skills to their successors in a moving yet simple ceremony.  I wish that all in our extended family could have witnessed the insight of their short speeches and the power of their example.  In a number of these short speeches the point was made that our world would be a much better and fairer and more peaceful place if leaders generally were guided by these values.

Second, our vitality.  We learn and do things here are that are vital in the sense of being essential, absolutely necessary.  I have already mentioned our values.  Then there is our attempt, in so many areas of our learning and our endeavors as a school, to bring together the best of the east, the west, and the international.  Our students get the vital necessity of this in these turbulent times globally.  And, most of the time, they learn and act with life and joy, a related kind of vitality.  They are happy when they come to school.  They enjoy learning on campus with their friends and their teachers.  You know this from the times when they have been stuck at home, learning remotely.  This vitality gives all of us ‘memorable moments’ all the time.  Here, below, is a lovely excerpt from last week’s letter to parents from our Primary School Head, Catherine Copeland:

I had a few of these ‘memorable moments’ this week. In last week’s bulletin, I spoke about the issue of Food Waste. Our Primary School Student Council has been working on this issue and had undertaken a survey of 249 students, then prepared a report which they had emailed to me. I asked Mr. McKenzie if we could invite them to present a short review of their work and their report at a meeting on this topic with several school leaders. He accepted eagerly and the students did too. The two Grade 5 students….sat at the end of the boardroom table as we introduced ourselves. They were confident and poised, articulate, and very passionate about this subject. They used good persuasive arguments that were respectful and contained good solutions. Once finished, both Mr. McKenzie and I thanked them for their work and Mr. McKenzie then asked them to do a little more research from a global perspective about Food Waste. The students demonstrated exemplary manners and courtesy to the meeting participants and represented the Student Council well. Our colleagues were very impressed with these 11/12 year old students and their passionate presentation skills. It was a moment that left us all beaming with pride and hope for the future!

 Third, our versatility.  One of the meanings of ‘versatile’ is ‘adaptable’, or ‘flexible’.  This is how I ended my column last week: I feel strongly that it will be the institutions that maintain flexibility in their futures which will be those that thrive.  We have built that spirit into our core.   We have all demonstrated this flexibility in the varied ways in which we have carried on effective learning and teaching during the past year.

Another, related meaning of ‘versatile’ is ‘multifaceted’, or ‘all-purpose’.  When I consider that meaning, I think again of our deliberate intention to bring together the best of different educational traditions, but also of our three keystones.  Here are those keystones again – I never tire of them:

• bilingual immersion in Chinese and English;
• building character and community throughout our residential setting;
• promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context.

I know very few other schools in the world that are trying to combine these three concepts and practices.  And I see the positive results of this endeavor in our students, who are articulate, confident, purposeful, and ethical citizens of our community.

Thank you for your support.  I hope that this will continue.  We try to support you and your children as much as we can.  I trust that you will want to reciprocate by re-enrolling for next year.


With warm regards, 

Malcolm McKenzie

Head of School