By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
The first few weeks of the new school year have been all about students getting to know their teachers, making friends, and settling into routines. It’s now time to get serious!
But, no, that doesn’t just mean students sitting up straight and studying hard. At the International School of Beijing (ISB), the best learners balance their academics with exploring and identifying their passions away from the classroom. They play sports, throw themselves into co-curricular activities, lead clubs, and give back to the community.
ISB’s new Strategic Plan formally identifies students’ social and emotional well-being as a priority. As a non-profit organization in which all income goes into further improving the school, ISB uses its abundant resources to empower students to purpose and compassion. The campus has world-class facilities including for sports, design, and performing arts, and diverse curricular and co-curricular programs on offer for all those enrolled.
The Strategic Plan will keep ensuring ISB students are well-rounded individuals with integrity and strength of character. To that end, students are encouraged to find both academic areas and co-curricular pursuits in which they can excel. ISB also makes sure students can sample real-world professional experience and have a positive social impact through providing service to others.
Elementary Olympians and Varsity athletes
This is the time of year when all this activity really kicks off.
In the Middle and High Schools, the sports seasons are underway. Tackles are being completed on the football and rugby pitches, athletes are whizzing round the track and cross-country courses, and tennis balls are flashing back and forth over nets. The ISB Dragons have been competing against other schools home and away in various sports.
And just look at how much fun these Lower Elementary School children had at their Activities Day on Monday! Through physical events like this and “Dragon Olympics” lunchtime sports practices, little track and field stars in the Elementary School develop their skills, perseverance, and cooperation.
For the Elementary School and Middle School, the sign-up period for Session 1 of after-school activities (ASAs) has just closed. The ISB Activities Department offers a menu of activities falling into four categories: Performing Arts; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM); Movement and Games; Life Skills and Service. Ranging from robotics to cookie baking to golf and far more, most ASAs see students meet for one hour once a week. They’re fun and enriching, teaching skills and good attitude.
While there’s change every year in the ASAs offered, this roundup from the 2020-2021 academic year gives a good idea of the kinds of things ISB students are getting up to once the conventional school day ends. The ASA program is designed so that Kindergarten to Grade 8 can try out lots of different activities and decide which they like best.
By the start of High School in Grade 9, students should be well on their way to knowing if their interests and talents lie in engineering or project management, dance or art, debate or sports, or in any of the many other fields they can experience at ISB. And it’s from this point, as these young adults are developing more independence, that they’re really given freedom and time to hone in on their passions and take control of their learning through student-run clubs.
In Thespians, for example, High School students interested in theater get to plan and rehearse intensively for their next show. Their plays – like this one – are always ISB community highlights, productions brought to the stage entirely by students on their own.
Or take the High School’s branch of global charity Roots & Shoots, which follows its mission statement of “To foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place.” Its members go on regular visits to a local animal shelter, and to the Love & Hope Center, a vocational school for underprivileged teenagers, and they support these non-profit organizations through fundraisers.
The Hope and Heartache Diner was a play directed and produced entirely by students
At the High School Clubs and Service Fair last Wednesday morning, student leaders promoted all their activities and clubs and recruited plenty of new members.
Becky G, Grade 12, is president of ISB’s branch of housebuilding volunteer group Habitat for Humanity (HFH). “HFH has been part of all four years of my High School experience,” she said. “During my Freshman year, the excitement and passion of the 2019 HFH student executives at the Club Fair inspired me to dedicate myself to this club.”
ISB HFH had more than 70 students signed up by the end of the Club Fair.
Becky is also on the Student Council, a member of the Psychology Club, and a keen athlete. “I think the diversity of ISB clubs greatly helps students foster their interests,” Becky said. “I know some of my friends who are interested in math are in Mandelbrot Math, and others interested in healthcare are in the Sports Medicine Club.”
Ray F, also Grade 12, remembers entering Grade 9 and being “completely overwhelmed by all the activities on offer. I signed up for so many that my schedule was packed. It was a fantastic experience, as I tried many new things, from writing news articles in Buddies to learning photography in Aperture. Throughout High School, I focused my time on just a few clubs as I took up leadership positions in them, believing that I could help make them even better for others.”
Ray is now president of ISB’s Model United Nations (MUN). MUN events see students role-play delegates from different countries and debate solutions to real-world problems against peers from other schools. MUN develops skills including critical thinking, public speaking, collaboration, and leadership.
High School clubs recruited new members at the 2022-2023 Club Fair
Another attendee of Wednesday’s fair especially keen to learn about all the clubs was a member of staff – ISB’s new Service and Experiential Learning Coordinator, Wayne King. Showing its commitment to service and experiential learning programs, ISB has had a Service and Learning Coordinator since 2018.
Mr. King said, “At ISB, we’ve developed the service learning program so that it has real, tangible benefit for those we’re helping while giving students a lot of satisfaction and rich life lessons. There’s a progression, with students developing skills through service learning in Elementary School that help them in Middle School and then building on that through High School. What we see at the Club Fair is a lot of community leaders really taking charge of their learning and ushering others onto the same path.”
Empowering students to purpose and compassion, including through all these activities, is one of the three main focus areas for ISB under its new Strategic Plan being implemented from 2022-2023. All ISB news articles this year will look at an aspect of ISB that’s an example of one of the three areas. To find out more, click here.