WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM HEAD OF SCHOOL 2021/03/22-2021/​03/​28

Dear Parents, Students, Colleagues,

I am writing this on Saturday afternoon, March 20.  I was going to write a piece, perhaps the first of a few, on community service but, on reflection, I have decided to hold these for a few weeks.  Instead, I wish to share with you now a few of the events and activities that have happened here in the past 24 hours, most of them this morning.  As I walked around the campus, I saw, joined in briefly, and became a fleeting part of the following:

·      Grades 4 and 5 girls, and then boys, playing handball;
·      Foundation to Grade 4 students and their parents enthusiastically initiating the first Innovation Saturday, building Lego robots in our innovation hub;
·      A group of proctors, the third such group, undertaking a day long course in first aid and first responder training with Chris Cartwright, our Director of Experiential Learning – soon all the proctors will have been trained in this invaluable life skill;
·      A group of students leaving campus for a morning’s work at the Roundabout Charity Shop;
·      A duty teacher leading a vigorous workout in our fitness center, and another taking a small group on a bicycle ride around Luoma Lake;
·      A cast of just over 20 student actors recording the final session of the play All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which will be presented in a blended live and digital format in early April;
·      A group of about 10 students hosting a first visit by the Beijing Hong Dandan Educational and Cultural Exchange Center, which works with and helps visually impaired people – I watched from my office groups of students being led around the campus blindfolded (an interesting word) and then I listened to a visually impaired visitor explain to our students, in passionate yet measured tones, the work of the Center;
·      The Grade 12 class taking one of their IBDP trial exams – as it was mathematics, the entire class was in our Multi-Purpose Hall;
·      The boarding students of East 5, over 40 of them, on the field and in the gym all morning, concluding their East 5 Olympics which had started indoors on Friday evening – I asked the proctors, who were the main organizers, what the purpose of this was, and they told me that it was all about deepening friendships, enhancing communication, building teamwork, and enjoying exercise.

I wrote at the start that this would be mainly about the events of last Saturday morning.  I want, however, to mention one thing that happened on Friday afternoon.  In the full assembly in our Performing Arts Center for Grade 8 and 9 students, the last period of the day and the week, Mr. Chris Cartwright went over, as he has done with other classes recently, some of the trips to various parts of China that will be available to interested students at the start of the summer break.  These will be a compensatory gesture for the ELP trips that usually take place in May but that we have decided to postpone again, with considerable regret.  This is the list that the Grade 9s qualify for, if interested:

1. Deqin, Yunnan: Meili Living/Literature Playhouse (8-11) Ms. Liu
2. Fujian: The Maritime Silk Road (7-9) Ms. Yin
3. Tianshui: KeyConnect (KAP) Service trip (8-10) Mr. Huang
4. Jingdezhen, Jiangxi: Journey into Ceramics and Porcelain (8-11) Ms. Song
5. Qiandongnan, Guizhou: Ethnic music and dance (7-10) Ms. Yang
6. Beijing: Medical Research and Service, (9-11) Mr. Anthony
7. Sichuan: (Tibet) Mountain Trekking (9-11) Mr. Watts
8. Guilin, Guangxi: Organic foods & Entrepreneurship (9-11) Ms. Chow
9. Xi'an, Shaanxi: Crucible of Chinese Culture (9-11) Mr. Guo

The names of the teacher at the end of each are those of the leaders and main organizers.  There will be a second teacher chaperone in each instance, to try to ensure a female and a male adult.  I’ll be going to Deqin in Yunnan, with Ms Sabrina Liu and about 20 students, and I am looking forward to that a great deal.

There is always a huge amount going on in the daily life of any fine school.  If that school is a boarding school, these activities carry on naturally into the weekend.  I hope that this snapshot of last Saturday morning has shown you that.  Your children are fortunate, in my opinion, to be here and to able to participate in all these unusual opportunities.  I feel fortunate to be doing so myself.  I am sure that all the other adults and families who share in this rich and rewarding community life feel the same.  Even during this pandemic period, when some things that we used to do together without pausing to think further are no longer possible at this moment, our program is still full and absorbing.  In case you were wondering, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were as varied and interesting as Saturday morning.

One of my senior colleagues was conducting an interview with an applicant for a teaching position here next year.  At one point, she referred instinctively to Keystone as her home.  This really impressed the candidate.  He said that it was unusual for a teacher to refer to school as home.  But, of course, Keystone is home to those of us who live here.  This is where we reside.  It is home, for me and many others, in that quite literal sense.  And, because it is a residential home for many, it becomes home in different ways to us all.  Even our young children in the early primary years sense this.  They know that we take up our residential responsibilities with commitment and enthusiasm, and that we are always interested in creating exciting activities that stimulate new opportunities for learning outside regular classroom hours.   


With warm regards, 

Malcolm McKenzie

Head of School