hkaVOICES 2018-19


A bi-annual magazine for the Hong Kong Academy community.


The dynamics of a lead

international school

Reaching new heights

and helping others

to do the same



letter from the editor

Dear Hong Kong Academy Community,

Reaching new heights, running the good race, flying high, sailing on: all literal and figurative descriptions of what HKA students, faculty

and parents do on a regular basis. In this issue of hkaVoices, our 10th, we share stories from our community about the many and diverse

ways that we live out the HKA mission statement by following our pathways to individual excellence.

Enjoy, and be inspired!


Laura Mitchell

Director of Institutional Advancement

The artist behind this work is Mila, a Krén student.


n HKA on Everest 2

n Digital Wellbeing @ HKA 6

n Engaging in Responsible Action 8

n Going with the hkaFlow 10

n Welcome, Ms. Feren! 11

n On the Right Path 12

n The Joy of Learning Continues After School 14

n The Last Straw 15

n Making Beautiful Music 16

n Climbing High 18

n Sustainable Action 19

n Alumni Perspectives 20

n Family Focus | Meet the Drivers 22

n Parents Making a Difference on Campus 23

n Faculty Focus | Boomerang Back 24

n Behind the Scenes Hero | Benson Chang 25

n Happenings 26

n Contributors inside back cover

33 Wai Man Road

Sai Kung | New Territories | Hong Kong SAR

tel +852 2655 1111 | fax +852 2655 1222

EDITOR Laura Mitchell



hkaVoices is published once a year by the Institutional

Advancement office of Hong Kong Academy. It is distributed

free of charge to current, former and potential future

members of the HKA community. To share story ideas or

comments, contact

Paper: Mango Satin, a recycled paper with fiber of well managed forestry and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF).

Ink: Soy inks were used for printing. Printer: Pixel Printing, Hong Kong an FSC certified printer.

Anyone who has ever watched The Sound of Music has probably sung

along to Climb Every Mountain. It’s one thing to like the song, and

something else to climb any mountain, let alone every one. And then

there’s climbing the mountain, Mt. Everest, the highest elevation on earth.

To embark on that journey is far more than a physical feat. It is an act of

imagination and of will. It is an audacious statement to oneself and to the

mountain of your willingness to accept a challenge and follow a dream.

Three members of our community did just that in 2018. PE teacher Jen

Drew planned her trek for Everest’s famed Base Camp and fulfilled every

goal and expectation along the way. Parent Magnus Nerve (Aila in Grade 11

and Luna in Grade 7) set his sights on the summit. He missed the top of the

mountain by a mere hundred metres, but reached the summits that matter

most. Sunny Raymond (Tess in Grade 6, Owen in Grade 4, Nate in Grade 2

and Lloyd in Pre-Kindergarten 1) made it to Base Camp and then hiked on

to Island Peak, gaining a view of the world she’ll never forget.

Jen, Magnus and Sunny shared their inspiring journeys with hkaVoices.

Their experiences encourage us all to climb every mountain and — to

borrow from the HKA mission statement — pursue our pathways to

individual excellence.


HKA on


by Laura Mitchell


HKA PE teacher Jennifer Drew first visited

Nepal almost 10 years ago and fell in love

with the people and the views. After that

first trip, she returned twice for some smaller

treks and put Everest’s Base Camp on

her bucket list. Always pushing herself to

new heights, literally and figuratively, she

knew that a trek to Base Camp would be a defining physical and mental challenge with

invaluable personal lessons. As Jen explains, her ascent to Base Camp taught her “to be

content in my own thoughts, appreciate other people’s perspectives, be willing to listen

and learn from others, appreciate everything you have.”

Being well-prepared always helps, too! Before the trip, Jen researched, read and gathered

all that she needed. Even with such thorough preparation, there were some tense

moments — like landing in Lukla, which Jen described as the “world’s scariest airport”

and the 10 suspension bridges that trekkers cross on the way to Base Camp.

Perhaps no preparation is sufficient for what Jen called the most emotional moment on

the trek: crossing the memorial ground for people who had lost their lives trying to reach

the summit whilst doing something that they loved. “I was only ever hoping to make Base

Camp,” Jen shared, “so the biggest concern I had was altitude sickness. The memorial

site recognises people who thrived on challenging themselves, who were willing to take

risks to achieve their dreams and who are inspirational at recognising life is precious.”




HKA parent Magnus Nerve has been fascinated with mountains since he was 10 years old

and has always been active in various outdoor activities. He moved into more advanced

climbing about 15 years ago with smaller peaks such as Mt. Rainier. He finds the beauty

and remoteness of mountains compelling. He’s also drawn to mountains for the process

of climbing itself, especially “the planning before and during the climb, in-depth

knowledge of yourself and your equipment, the physical and mental pressure, the sense

of mission, the feeling of being solitary and part of a team at the same time, expecting

the unexpected.”

Magnus got a bit of the unexpected on Everest, even with his advanced planning. For the

trek, he set his sights at the top, having already reached the summit of another Nepalese

peak, Manaslu, in September of 2017. At 8163m, Manaslu is the 8th highest peak in

the world, and Magnus was the 6th Swede ever to stand on its summit. In comparison,

Magnus opined, “Everest in itself is actually a bit boring since it is one of the most

covered mountains in media and literature and has a commercial side to it that is actually

quite unappealing and cause for environmental concern.” Commercial and environmental

realities aside, Everest remains “the highest mountain in the world and both the

imagined and actual feeling of climbing the highest peak was fantastic.”

For Magnus, as for many mountain climbers, climbing is about personal goals and selfawareness.

As he put it, climbing “teaches me more about myself, my limits, how I react

under pressure and what is really important to me in life. It also teaches me about parts

of the world that may not be frequently visited, both the environment and the people that

live there.” With lessons such as these in the bag, Magnus kept a balanced perspective

on reaching the summit itself:

“Unfortunately I did not manage to keep my health at a top level and contracted a bad

cold, a chest infection and a broken rib while doing the acclimatizing climbs. This made

me a bit slow on summit day and after having scaled the Three Steps at 8730m on the

Northeast ridge, with only 120m in altitude left to the summit, I decided to turn around.

A very difficult decision, but in retrospect the only one. With the four extra hours it would

have taken me to reach the summit I am not sure I would have made it down safely.”




HKA mum of four Sunny Raymond began

climbing recently and made it to Everest

within two years of her first major trek to

Annapurna Base Camp in 2017. She loves

climbing because “on the mountain,

everything is very basic which is very

different from the everyday life I have

in Hong Kong. It’s very close to nature

with spectacular views, and I love how

challenging some of the paths are.”

She’s happy when she can get away

from technology and spend more time

interacting with people. “You learn about

different cultures and see how locals

make their living. You realise how lucky

you are and you appreciate the things

you have more.”

Like so many others who tackle Everest, Sunny had moments of fear. “I did feel a little

worried when I was affected by high altitude sickness on my way up to the Island Peak

summit at 6,189m.” Unsure whether or not to continue, she made the decision to keep

going with the help of two highly experienced Sherpas who monitored her heart rate

and breathing.

She’ll never regret making the choice to press on. “I got very emotional when I was

coming down from the Island Peak and looking back to the summit I had just climbed.

I could not believe I had climbed through all those crazy rocks and cliffs in the dark,

trekking 16 consecutive hours. I still can’t believe it!”

But we can believe it! Sunny, Jen and Magnus each made their own way on Everest, and

their learnings are for all of us to share back at sea level in Sai Kung. Jen brings those

lessons to school every day. “I thrive on setting a goal and achieving that goal, and that’s

something I try and instill in the student’s here at HKA.” She wants HKA students to know

“that if there is something that you want to achieve, don’t let anything stop you.”

Magnus sees “a lot of analogies between mountaineering and everyday life, both in

respect to how to treat yourself and your surroundings as well as in planning and decision

making.” His advice to others, honed on rugged terrain: “Always make sure to keep your

passions alive. Always make sure to have a strong set of values and priorities to guide

you in your decision-making.”

And as Sunny put it, “I always tell my kids to try things, even when it seems impossible.

Strangely, very often you can succeed!” Wise words for us all from a mum who has

climbed Everest.


Digital Well


by Matt Harris, E.D.

In September 2018, digital education expert Matt Harris

visited HKA to work with our students and faculty.

He also gave a presentation to parents, both from HKA

and from the broader community. Dr. Harris offered to

share some thoughts for this issue of hkaVoices as well.

I flew into Hong Kong in mid-September just 36 hours after

Typhoon Mangkhut had passed through. As I rode in my taxi

through town, I marveled at the power of the typhoon to snap

trees as if they were toothpicks. But I was also impressed by the

progress of clean-up that had already been made to get Hong

Kong moving again. It got me thinking about the wellbeing of

the city and how the people of Hong Kong were committed to

their protection from forces beyond their influence and towards

controlling the narrative of how those forces would impact the

city in the long run.

I came to Hong Kong to work with the staff, students, and parents

at HKA on another type of wellbeing: digital wellbeing. And

similar to the typhoon, digital wellbeing revolves around forces

we can and cannot influence and how we control the narrative of

our actions online. Digital wellbeing, in the context of HKA, is an

evolution of the idea of digital citizenship to one of being more

holistically entwined in the everyday actions and interactions

within the school community.

Now, unlike other visits I make to schools, the concepts of digital

citizenship and digital wellness were actually quite mature

within HKA. The concepts of safeguarding and digital literacy

have been part of the school’s academic program for years.

Community standards for use of technology, for communications,

life, and academics around digital citizenship had already been

established and were in the process of being formalized through

language and policy. So, when I had the pleasure of coming in,

members of the school community and I worked together from

an informed position. We built upon skills and knowledge to

kickstart the next chapter of digital citizenry within HKA towards

a concept of digital wellness that is lived and owned by the entire

school community.

During the visit we worked as a team to build digital

wellness throughout the community, including

students, parents and teachers.

For the students, we talked about the concept of our “Digital

Footprints.” Given the number of sites we visit, the content we

upload, the comments we post, and the ideas we share, it is

said that each of us has a Digital Footprint that follows us as

we continue our online journeys. This is a critical concept for

students to embrace because unlike their adults, or me for that

matter, their Digital Footprints extend further back into their

childhoods. Their online actions and interactions will be around

for a large portion of their lives. And as we discussed this with

the students, we talked about taking a positive frame of mind.

Instead of viewing this Digital Footprint as a source of worry,

we talked about using it as an opportunity. Students can take


full control of their Digital Footprints by deciding how to portray

themselves online and what content to post. As we agreed,

students should “Control the Narrative,” thereby owning and

leveraging their online identities for their benefit.

Similarly, we talked with parents about engagement. Noting that

digital interaction and technology have such a strong influence

on adolescent development, it is critical that students feel their

parents’ influence in these spaces. To do this, parents must

engage with their children in the digital world by talking on

Facetime, using Snapchat, and even jumping into Fortnight. When

parents are present in the digital world and engaged in their

children’s interactions, they have the same positive influence as

they do when sitting around the dinner table (without devices)

discussing their lives, hopes, and aspirations.

these concepts to make digital wellbeing not an addon to the

learning but embedded across all grade levels. And we finished

by identifying the key language and concepts that should plant

digital wellness into the ethos of the school.

And just as the cleanup from the typhoon was a group

accomplishment built upon shared values and community effort,

as I left HKA I could see that digital wellness would be something

of real pride and impact for the school community. In the coming

months and years, I expect to hear very positive things about the

digital wellbeing of everyone at HKA, be they students, teachers,

parents, leaders, or those fortunate to visit the school, like me.

For the teachers, we tied these concepts together into an

actionable program that could be used with the students in

classes the following day. Using Common Sense Education and

the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship, we discussed the breadth

and depth of digital wellness that is lived across the school’s

academic program. We talked about the value of teaching 21st

century skills as a means of building student competencies with

technology to be safe and productive digital citizens. We wrote

curriculum and developed learning activities that draw upon


Engaging in

Responsible Action

HKA Students Make a Difference at Home and Abroad

by Stephen Dare

Our mission statement is robust — every word is intended to express our community’s beliefs and values. Soon after adopting the

statement, we began colour highlighting five phrases that would provide entry points for ongoing conversation about the identity

of HKA: dynamic learning community, rigorous international education, educational leader, pathways to individual excellence and

captivating learning environment. Recently, as a review of the statement through the accreditation process, the Board of Trustees took

the decision to add “engage in responsible action” to that list.

This semester, I have had the opportunity

to meet with two groups of Grade 12

students to learn more about the ways in

which they were engaging in responsible

action. In the spring of 2018, Mia Fakhry,

Emily Brenker, Ariane Morales and Valeria

Riquelme Lara organised a charity race to

raise funds to assist displaced people in

Syria. At the same time, Dylan Blockert,

Caroline Mehta and Mya Steere set their

sights on Nepal, planning a spring break

experience where students could share

their time, talent and treasure with a local

orphanage and charitable organisation

called Orphan and Children Education

Association of New Nepal (OCEAN Nepal).

Dylan, Caroline and Mya took the lead

in organising the trip and were joined

by Sarah Hinterkoerner, Kate Mehta

and Kai Scholz for the trip itself.

For the charity race team, the goal

was clear: to engage people and raise

awareness about the plight of Syrian

refugees and to raise funds to improve the

lives of Syrians in need. To achieve that

goal, Mia, Emily, Ariane and Valeria were

inspired by the idea of a race. Working

with teachers and adult mentors from the

community, they mapped out the race

itself, sought sponsorships, recruited

teams to participate and then enjoyed the

results! In the end over 80 people took

part, raising more than HKD 35,000 for

their designated charity. Ultimately, they

were successful with achieving their goal.

The challenges that the team faced along

the way, especially in terms of motivating

others to rally to the cause, resulted in

Mia Fakhry, Ariane Morales, Valeria Riquelme Lara and Emily Brenker student organizers

of the Refugee Race.


huge learnings as well. They experienced

important lessons in communications

and outreach — and in following up

when people sign up for an event but

are sometimes slow to contribute the

registration fee!

Kai Scholz, Caroline Mehta, Kate Mehta, Mya Steere, Sarah Hinterkoerner and Dylan

Blockert in Nepal.

Caroline, Dylan and Mya felt a call to

action and began hatching the idea

of a service trip to Nepal. Inspired by

the stories of other Secondary School

students who had engaged in service

during their LOTC experiences, they

decided to embark on their own project.

Aware that Casual Dress Day funds in the

Secondary School are pooled for special

causes, they applied for funds to make a

trip to an orphanage in Nepal.

Funds secured, they reached out to

the leadership at OCEAN Nepal and

worked with teacher mentors to create

a manageable plan. They faced and

overcame the predictable challenges

of any project that starts from scratch,

including communicating with their

partners in Nepal, planning trip logistics

and considering emergency procedures.

On the ground in Nepal, their days were

full. They spent time with children at

the orphanage, both indoors and out,

immersing themselves in the local culture

and putting some paint on the walls.

As is so often the case, what was gained

through service learning was as powerful

as what was given. Mya, Caroline and

Dylan built friendships, created lasting

bonds and made important connections

with each other and with their Nepalese

friends. Valeria, Mia, Ariane and Emily

spoke of the benefits of taking risks

and testing their perseverance. They all

learned more about the importance of

teamwork, asking for help and engaging

adults for their support. Importantly, too,

the experiences gave them a new window

into just how fortunate we are in Hong

Kong and at Hong Kong Academy.

Looking to the future, the students who

went to Nepal are preparing a guide for

other students about how to plan service

learning trips. They are also keen to keep

raising funds so that more HKA students

can follow in their footsteps and support

the work of the orphanage. For the charity

race team, sustainability will take the

form of documenting the event and

continuing to raise awareness among

their peers. They hope that their race will

set a precedent for future fundraising,

including the possibility of another race

in the future.

What would these seven suggest to their

peers? All offered the sort of advice that

any adult can appreciate: start early, make

an informed budget and ask others for

help! The importance of determination

and sticking to something was another

resonant theme, as well as the need

to balance ambition with pragmatism.

Most of all, though, what I heard from

these students was that at the end of

the day, people matter: the people you

help, the people you work with in making

something happen and the people who

join you along the way. Their individual

and collective growth was clear, and

underscores the authenticity of the

learning that takes place when personal

passion drives our desire to act.


Going with the


by Joanna Crimmins

At Hong Kong Academy, we know that a rigorous education prepares students to face

uncertainty with confidence and solve problems on their feet. Regardless of the subject

matter, today’s children, tweens and teens need to flex their critical thinking muscles

and hone their collaboration reflexes. Both in the classroom or out, they need to practice

using their heads as well as following their hearts. By mastering these skills, students

become self-directed learners, able to pursue their pathways to individual excellence.

In HKA’s Secondary School, our newly introduced hkaFlow programme has taken this

rigour to the next level. Within hkaFlow, students have an opportunity to dive deep into

their personal interests with interdisciplinary, multi-sensory projects that challenge them

to be independent self-managers. Engrossed in specialised projects, students gain core

knowledge and, equally importantly, develop self-confidence and discipline through

planning, organising and reflecting on their experiences.

Both personal expression and careful listening reach new heights with hkaFlow passion

projects. Whether through creative writing, science, adventure, art, performance or

wellbeing, students create their own meaning and share that in multiple formats.

Parents got in on the act, too, visiting campus to see hkaFlow firsthand and talking with

their children about how they learn. They voiced their appreciation for the diversity of

offerings and the connections between the projects and the IB curriculum. The students’

joy in learning was evident, and parents commented on the power of seeing their children

engaged in their work with such intensity and enthusiasm. One HKA mum observed that

by watching her son in the Formula 1 course, she better understood his deep interest in

computers and was pleased to see the high level of collaboration in the course.

Trying something new, and gaining the sort of self-confidence from taking a positive risk,

was also a key outcome of the passion projects students selected as a part of hkaFlow.

One parent commented on how hkaFlow had prompted their child to try something he

might otherwise never have tried. As the parent put it, these new opportunities help

“complete” the picture for our children and support HKA’s commitment to pathways to

individual excellence.

If you’d like more information on hkaFlow, contact the Secondary School leadership

team. We would be happy to tell you more!


Welcome, Ms. Feren!

An Interview with new Assistant Secondary School Principal Kristen Feren

This August, HKA welcomed Kristen Feren as our new Assistant

Secondary School Principal for Grades 6-10. She joins HKA with

her husband, David, and their three children. David is an IB

Language and Literature and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher

who also serves as the Diploma Programme Extended Essay

Coordinator. Kristen and David’s children, Hannah, Sam and Lily,

are students at HKA.

To welcome her and her family to our community, hkaVoices asked

Ms. Feren a few getting-to-know you questions.

What drew you to HKA?

I’d been hoping to have the opportunity to work at HKA for a

number of years. HKA has a reputation for truly living its mission,

and that mission very much aligns with my beliefs around

education. I believe in a constructivist, concept driven, inquiry

approach to education.

I was also very interested in being a part of an IB Continuum

school, both as an educator and as a parent. The PYP, MYP, and

Diploma programmes are designed to meet the developmental

needs of learners and together aspire to develop confident,

ethical, open-minded students who can respond to challenges

with optimism and who are prepared to apply what they learn in

real-world, complex and unpredictable situations. That is the kind

of education I want for my children and the ethos I’ve dedicated

my career to.

What’s been easy about the move?

We have had excellent support from HKA in easing our transition,

and the community has been warm and inviting. We had visited

Hong Kong a number of times, so we were familiar with the city.

I also had an opportunity to visit HKA and explore Sai Kung when

I came to interview for my position. The fact that we had spent

time in Hong Kong before made the move easier than other

moves we have experienced.

Where have you taught before and how does that relate to HKA?

I started out teaching Middle School Social Studies in my home

state of New Hampshire in the United States. After five years

of teaching, and one year of marriage, David and I embarked

on our international teaching career. Eighteen years and three

children later, we are still enjoying the adventure! I have worked

as a Middle School English, Social Studies and Humanities

teacher over the course of my international teaching career which

included two years in Egypt, four years in Bangladesh, and eight

years in the Philippines. I then moved into the role of Director of

Curriculum and Professional Learning and IB Diploma Coordinator

at an international school in Caracas, Venezuela. My experience

as a middle years educator, in

conjunction with my roles as a

curriculum director and an IB

Diploma Coordinator, have

prepared me well for my

role at HKA.

What’s it like for HKA to

be a family affair?

I knew my children would

love being students here

at HKA, and that has proven

to be true. They have great

teachers and have all made

friends. I love that our whole

family is a part of the community here

at HKA. When your entire family is involved,

the school becomes like an extension of your home.

How did the school help your children settle in?

Before we even arrived in Hong Kong, it was suggested that our

children might enjoy attending the Hebe Haven water sports

summer camp. So while David and I were getting oriented to HKA,

they were off sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Our children

also participated in the new student orientation at HKA. This

helped them feel more prepared for starting school and allowed

them to make connections with other new students.

What do you see as HKA’s most significant opportunities

going forward?

HKA just finished a comprehensive re-accreditation process. This

culminated in the recent visit from the IBO, WASC and CIS. Their

reports should give us a good sense of what areas we can focus

on to help the school develop its next strategic plan.

Anything about the MYP to share?

I’m so pleased to be working in an IB Continuum school and

to be able to focus my curricular work on the MYP. The MYP is

a curriculum framework for organizing the learning of students

in Grades 6-10 and provides a bridge between the PYP and DP

programs of the IB. Conceptually focussed and inquiry based,

the MYP allows students to construct their understanding within

a rigorous academic program of study. In the MYP, students learn

by doing, connecting the classroom to the larger world. I believe

that middle level learners learn best in a caring and nurturing

environment where constructivist, student centered, inquiry

based approaches are the norm. The MYP provides the framework

for us to create a learning environment to do just that.


On the Right Path

by Laura mitchell

No Limits! HKA students Julia

Jacobsen (G9), Kai Scholz (G11)

and Inara Sharma (G11) pursue

their pathways to individual

excellence on dry land, over

the waves and in the air.

We all know the sense of accomplishment

that comes from pushing ourselves to our

limits. How fast, far or high can we go,

literally or figuratively? The objectively

measured pace, distance or height itself

isn’t necessarily relevant; it’s knowing

that we’ve taken ourselves to new levels

and gained the perspective that comes

from perseverance.

Hong Kong Academy students engage

in that type of education every day as

they learn and apply skills to all sorts of

endeavors in the classroom and beyond.

This sort of stretch and grow approach to

life is abundantly clear with Julia, Kai and

Inara, three students in our Secondary

School. Julia Jacobsen is an accomplished

sailor who recently placed in the top 20

in the Optimist World Championship in

Cyprus, a competition for sailors under

the age of 15. Inara is a winner of the Hong

Kong Junior Open and is currently ranked

in the top 5% of her age group in Hong

Kong and in the top 30% worldwide. She

also recently made a top 10 finish in the

FGC Callaway World Junior Open. Kai is

an aviation enthusiast and collector and

a member of the Hong Kong Air Cadets, a

voluntary, uniformed youth organisation

dedicated to aviation and youth


These three have certainly earned their

own ways to the top, but encouragement

from adults has helped, too. Julia comes

from a long line of sailors, and her father

was the skipper of a sailing boat in the

1982 Barcelona Olympics. For both Julia

and her brother, sailing is a family affair.

For Inara, family also played a role in her

taking up her sport. When she was a child,

she expressed an interest in golf after

watching the game on television with her

dad. He bought her a “little pink golf set”,

and she started playing in their backyard.

A family friend spotted her talent, and

soon thereafter, she started taking

classes. Her abilities quickly outshone

those of her peers, and she was selected

for increasingly competitive play, most

recently on the Hong Kong Team.

For Kai, too, influence from beyond the

family circle played a role. His passion

for aviation “really took off,” Kai

explained, “when a very kind steward on a

long haul flight asked me if I would like to

visit the cockpit on a Boeing 747. That day

I had the opportunity to meet the pilots,

and although I was only around 5 years

old, I really became fascinated by the

world of aviation and flying… since then

my dream has been to become a pilot, and

my favourite aircraft to this day is the one

that introduced me to aviation — The

Boeing 747.”

Dreams come true, but they don’t come

easy. Julia, Inara and Kai can all recount

hours of practice in all sorts of conditions,

as well as lengthy travel times to and from

competitions and events. In Julia’s case,

she may train for 20 hours a week and

then spend another 5-7 in a regatta on

the weekend. For Inara, the training and

competition time is similar, and for Kai,

the hours mount up not just in the air, but

in the study he does on the ground, both

for flying and to obtain a Class 2 Medical


With sailing in her genes, Julia Jacobsen regulary competes internationally.

And all the while, they are keeping up

with their courses at HKA. Inara considers

herself lucky, though, to “have resources

that allow me to go out and play at almost

any hour. I try to get onto a course when

I can, but when I have a lot of work, I can

stay home and hit balls in my backyard.”

For Julia, the big crunch came after the

World Championship this September.

“After I came back from the World

Championship,” Julia recalled, “it was

hard because I had to catch up with a lot

of school work. I also had to work with

school during the weekends, which kept

me away from sailing.”


Inara Sharma on the green.

The skills they’ve gained following their

passions help them with school, too. Kai,

Julia and Inara all feel they’ve become

better managers of their time. Julia and

Kai also point to the value of teamwork,

something they both feel is just as

important to life at school as it is in sailing

or aviation. Working hard and seeing the

results has also led to increased selfconfidence

and determination for all

three. For Inara It’s about knowing that

things won’t always go as planned or

intended. She has “learnt a lot about self

confidence as well as failure. If I’m not

confident in my abilities when I go out for

a tournament, how can I expect myself

to succeed? If there is even a glimmer of

doubt when I am standing over a golf ball,

I need to step back and re-evaluate what

I’m doing.”

Practice may not always make perfect, but

sticking to it is essential to any success.

As Kai stressed, aviation has taught him

“that persistence is a key factor to being

successful when it comes to things that

I really do want.” He points to resilience

as another crucial factor. “I have faced

scenarios and situations in and out

of aviation that haven’t always been

positive,” Kai recounted, “and the ability

to get back up again and try again is

something that can be extremely valuable.

Additionally I think that teamwork,

regardless of situation is always important

as it gives you people to rely on and work

with when scenarios are not the best.”

Fast, far and high: Inara, Julia

and Kai are showing us all

the way!

Kai Scholz in glider (above) and in the

cockpit (below).


The Joy of Learning

Continues After School

Primary School Co-curricular Programmes promote learning, growing and understanding

by Cindy NG

At Hong Kong Academy, we know that

learning happens well beyond the school

day. Our co-curricular programmes cover

a wide range of subjects and interests that

extend and enhance what happens in the

classroom during regular instructional

time. Through After School Activities (ASA),

Mother Tongue classes, instrumental

music, performing arts and sports cocurricular

programming, HKA students

continue their learning on

campus journeys well after dismissal!

Under the umbrella of our Primary School

ASA programme, HKA offers nearly 30

types of classes, as well as Mother Tongue,

sports, and instrumental music. From the

ASA It’s Showtime to the Primary School

and Community Choirs, from individual

music instruction to the Community Band,

and from recreational sports to competitive

play, Primary School co-curriculars support

student learning and amplify student voice

beyond the regular routine.

One of the strengths of our co-curricular

programme is the strong support from the

adults in our community. The dedication

of our faculty is highly visible in our ASA

programme, where about 30% of the

classes are led by HKA teachers. Faculty

are front and center, too, as coaches for

our sports teams and our arts programmes.

A few select external providers round out

the picture, but faculty remain at the heart

of the co-curricular enterprise, sharing

their personal interests with more and

more children.

With courses covering maths, book making,

Mandarin, and visual and performing arts,

students have the opportunity to delve

more deeply into purposeful learning

processes that reinforce key concepts,

mindsets and skills.

The pictures tell the story of how much fun

co-curricular learning can be!

Maths Olympiad

“Math Olympiad is awesome, fun, funny and amazing.” — Freddie, Grade 4

“At Math Olympiad, I can think clearly.” — Serafina, Grade 5

Primary School Choir

“I can sing very loud in choir and so I

enjoy it. Ms.Olds teaches us notes and

makes it fun.” — Kara, Kindergarten

Early Childhood Sports

It’s showtime


Making Books

“I like that it’s a quiet ASA and that there’s

lots of time to write and draw pictures.”

— Luca, Grade 1

“I think it’s good. I can practice my writing

for math, phonics, writing workshop and

reading workshop.”

— Katie, Kindergarten

“I just love writing books. I write many

books at home. In this ASA I just don’t

want to stop.” — Laszlo, Grade 2



The Last Straw

HKA student Andre Chiang takes a stand

on plastic straws

andre chiang’s Story

Concerned about the amount of discarded plastic he saw on Hong Kong’s

beaches, Grade 11 student Andre Chiang decided to take action. Last June,

he wrote an email to Classified pointing out that plastic straws have a

detrimental impact on fragile ecosystems. He suggested that the restaurant

chain move to reusable metal straws both as an environmentally-friendly

choice and as a wise economic move. In his email, he also addressed any

possible concerns about washing metal straws for repeated use.

“I like to make things. It is really fun

getting to see how you make things out of

recycled things that people forget about.

Art is something I want to do when I am

older in school.” — Florence, Grade 4

Little Chefs

Shortly after he hit send, a

representative from Classified replied

to Andre to thank him for his letter.

The letter expressed the restaurant

management’s own commitment

to sustainability, noting that most

of the restaurant’s packaging was

biodegradable. The representative

also agreed that the use of straws

was a hot topic and that they would

give his proposal their consideration

as a part of their larger sustainability

planning process, which was already

under way. Like Andre, many of

Classified’s customers shared this concern and were encouraging Classified

to switch to more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic straws and

takeaway boxes.

On 1 July, the Classified Group announced that it would no longer use

plastic straws at any of its outlets and that they are making efforts to use

biodegradable takeaway boxes. The news was welcome to many, and

congratulations to Andre for being a part of effecting this meaningful change.


“ 我 最 喜 欢 写 字 还 有 跟 同 学 玩 游 戏 ”

I like to write Chinese characters and play

(Mandarin) games with my friends.

— Jessica, Kindergarten


Making Beautiful

MusicAN Inverview by

Anne Drouet

In 2018, three HKA students graduated from HKA into their dream careers in music. Leo Lee signed a recording contract with one of

Hong Kong’s legendary music managers whilst classmates Ben Hiley and Dylan Halbroth are beginning new adventures in England

and Germany. Director of Performing Arts Anne Drouet caught up with Dylan and Ben this autumn on a visit back to HKA as alumni.

Dylan Halbroth — A Bigger Goal in Mind

Ms. Drouet: Hello Dylan, you’ve done really well with your IB

Diploma. Congratulations! You’re off to the dBs Music School in

Berlin to study Creative Music Production and Sound Engineering,

right? When people think of Dylan Halbroth, they often think of

someone who’s an awesome guitarist. Your band, Asyndeton,

played to thousands at Clockenflap last year, and people still

talk about your amazing virtuoso performances at HKA’s coffee

houses. Can you please rewind and tell us how you got here?

Dylan: I think it all started when I was really, really young. I think

having my dad be a DJ and being really into music helped a lot

because I was exposed to all styles of music as a child. I learned

a lot playing with a lot of different people in different contexts,

and having different teachers also helped me explore more than

one genre or one technique. It helped me expand my playing, and

I think that ultimately led me to be able to play at festivals like

Clockenflap alongside some really talented musicians.

Ms. Drouet: You also did really well academically. How did you

balance the hours and hours of rehearsing with the rest of your

IB Diploma?

Dylan: I was always trying to find the right balance. So there were

times where I would maybe play play a bit too much guitar and

not really, you know, do enough. But then there were also times

when I knew that I needed to do certain things academically, like

homework, and revising or studying or anything like that. I knew

I needed it because I had this bigger goal in mind to go off to

university, to study at dBs. I was just telling myself that if I don’t

sit down and do this, then I’m not going to end up achieving my

goal. And then that’s really going to open new doors for me. So if

I don’t do this right now, even though it may or may not be exactly

what I want to do, I still have to do it. Because it’s going to lead to

much better things.

Ms. Drouet: There are many people out there who play

instruments to advanced levels, but somehow, they tell

themselves they’re not good enough to pursue music for further

study or for a career. What helped you to believe in yourself?

Dylan: I still don’t know, if I really do... there’s always that voice

of doubt in the back of your mind. But when I compare myself to

how I was five years ago, I feel pretty happy about my playing.

All these pieces I never thought I’d be able to play. I’m pretty

sure I’ve never thought that I’d be playing this. And so I mean,

it’s kind of looking back to where you were, and seeing that the

goals that you set for yourself five years ago are not completely

unattainable. It might take a while, but I feel it’s definitely

possible to achieve.

A lot of people, or even you, yourself, will think that you’re not

good enough. And then a lot of people are going to tell you on top

of that, that you’re never going to make money off of it, whatever,

it’s going to be really hard, you’re going to be broke, you’re going

to be homeless. But it’s going to be something that I love. And

I’d rather be studying production every day and be working in

the studio and be working with creative musical people than be

stuck in an office just because it’s a safe gig. So for me, it’s about

taking life right on and then saying, even if this might not work

out, it’s still going to be something that I love doing. Nothing

else matters.

Ms. Drouet: What does success look like to you?

Dylan: Our new album Is being released, hopefully before

December this year. The hope is that this goes really well. We’re

hoping to pick up a label and then do tours and stuff like that. But

also continuing university, learning more about music production.

That’s the ultimate goal, right? Going on world tours — that’s not

always achievable. Some people do it.

Ms Drouet: Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap


Dylan: Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it and that you’re

not gonna make any money. That might be true, but it doesn’t

matter. Your life could be spectacular.


Ben Hiley, Dylan Halbroth, Anne Drouet and Leo Lee.

Ben Hiley — Composition, Collaboration and Connection

Ms Drouet: Hello, Ben, thanks for coming in. Congratulations

on your DP! So now you’re off to the Academy of Contemporary

Music in London to study a BA in Music Production and Media

Composition. That’s fantastic. Tell us about your interview there.

Ben: Yeah, I thought it was going to be quite a formal interview

audition. But it was less formal than I thought it would be. It was

kind of really easy. I walked into a room, and there were lots

of other students. I just started talking to people, and then my

name was called out. In my interview, I played them just a few

compositions, sat in a room with the professor. He seemed to

really like my work and commented on my diversity and skill. It

was right there and then that he gave me an unconditional offer.

Ms Drouet: That’s amazing, but not unknown for situations when

people can see real talent before them. Unlike some students

who might have given up on their other studies, you continued to

work really hard for your DP.

Ben: Well, when I was really young, like, seven or something,

I had a little three quarter size acoustic guitar that I used to play.

I still have it actually, I’m trying to sell it! I remember singing

along to those open strings and songwriting, in a sense, you

know, like repeating a chorus and just basically copying what

I’d hear on the radio. I would perform to my parents, and just to

myself, mostly.

Ms. Drouet: Some students are too scared to pursue a degree

or a path in music or the arts. They think they might not be

good enough. What are your comments?

Ben: I think if you really love it, then you should do what

you want, right? I think the most important thing is getting

connections. I think it’s important to connect with as many

musicians as possible so you always have people to work with,

learn from and projects to collaborate on. Just have to get your

name out there.

Ben: Yeah, I mean, especially the DP Music course. It was kind of

easy to combine my composition interests with the school work.

There was the academic stuff at the end too, like analysing Bach

and Kodaly.

Ms. Drouet: What are some transferable qualities or attributes

that you learned through the process of doing DP music and the

extended essay in music?

Ben: I think the main thing is how to analyze music. So you’re

not just listening to it. You’re identifying every little detail and

thinking about why the composer made those choices and the

effect on the audience.

Ms. Drouet: Can you share your journey to how you got here?

Was there a point in your life that you can remember falling

in love with music?

Ms. Drouet: Tell us about when you interviewed John Altman,

award winning composer for your Extended Essay?

Ben: John didn’t just talk about films he’s worked on. He talked

about films and discussions that he had with fellow composers.

It was great getting to know the inner workings of composer

teams like the one led by Hans Zimmer and lots of other huge

composers. And John knew them personally. He had a lot of

stories to tell and I found it really interesting, and it was definitely

inspiring. The fact that I’ve met someone who composes at that

level, makes the dream closer within reach, somehow. I think

John definitely inspired me to pursue composition because he’s

so real. He’s even invited me and my family to dinner when I’m

in London.


“Climbing is a complete workout.

You have to use everything: your feet,

legs, arms, hands. And you have to use

your mind and determination!”


Highby heidi Boshoff

HKA opened its climbing wall at our Community Fair in 2016.

The addition of the wall to our campus was the result of

our first ever annual giving fundraising effort, with parents

contributing more than HKD 1M to the effort. Nearly two

years on, the wall is a lively and active part of life at HKA.

More and more students, parents, faculty and staff are

climbing, and the school now has a climbing team. Most

of the students on the wall are in Secondary School, but

our scalers start as young as Kindergarten!

As skills improve, students are trying more challenging

routes every day. The competitive team is representing

HKA in Hong Kong and looking to expand their

competition horizons.

One challenge that remains: with so many people

wanting to practice, the need for coaches is growing.

New coaches are being trained on an ongoing basis,

and we’re fortunate to have some experienced

climbers in the HKA community. If you’d like to help

with the wall, please contact the PE department

to learn more!

“The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!”

Voices from the wall say it all!

“Climbing is great for

clearing the mind and

a great break from work

stress. You have to use

your whole body and

be totally focussed

and in the moment.”

“Climbing is a way for us to work on a

problem through movement and build our

resilience to carry through to our daily lives.”

“My son started climbing last semester,

and I wanted to start doing a sport we

could both enjoy. It was easier than I

thought it would be to get started, but

there are so many challenges on that

wall! I'm looking forward to conquering

more routes throughout the year.”


“This is so cool. It’s like figuring out a puzzle.”

“If you don’t challenge yourself,

you will never realize what

you can become.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.”


Action —

It’s in

the bag

Grade 10 student Sasha Steere talks about her commitment to

reducing plastic consumption and waste.

For her MYP Personal Project, Grade 10 student Sasha Steere is

taking on plastic. As a part of her overall project, Sasha held an

evening workshop in October for the entire HKA community to

raise awareness about the issue of plastic waste and to inspire

people to make a change. Participants had the opportunity to

make a reusable bag from a t-shirt. Sasha also presented a

passionate speech about the problem of plastic waste in Hong

Kong. Sasha’s project is a part of her participation in the Global

Citizen Diploma (GCD) programme as well as her MYP Personal

Project. All HKA students in Grades 9-12 take part in GCD, an

international programme that supports students in engaging

in responsible action. HKA is the only school in Hong Kong

to offer the GCD, and with this school year, HKA became the

administrative home for the entire GCD consortium.

Did you Know?

In 2017-18, HKA’s Community Recycling

Programme collected 347 kg of glass. In the

first half of 2018-19, we surpassed that

amount and added metal to the collection!


Alumni Perspectives

HKA caught up with several of our alumni from across the globe.

Perseverance Pays Off

for alum Peter Cheah and for the environment

by Peter Cheah

Third culture kids often have a strange idea from before and after research, I find

take on moving away for university. This that I can think outside the box.

was especially true for me, as I had never

lived for a very long time within my own My honours project is called Stem and

country, Australia. I hold an Australian is a combination of new and old farming

passport, but had not lived in Australia techniques that I have improved by

for 13 years when I entered university. looking into how plants work. Stem’s

When I went to Monash, I moved from goal is not to save the bees, but to figure

home into a residential college. There I out how to live without them. Over the

met people from all over; some came from last five years, we have lost 13% of our

other countries and others from small honey bees. If this trend continues, we

towns in Australia. I think the education will not be able to produce enough food

from HKA helped me with getting to know for the world. I have designed Stem in the

Peter Cheah graduated from HKA in 2013 people and accepting people of different mindset that people will not change their

and completed his studies at Monash cultures. At the same time, I also felt a habits sufficiently or quickly, meaning

University in 2018. In the article below, degree of isolation as very few were able that we will need alternatives to bee

he reminisces about joining HKA at the to understand what it was to be a third pollination.

Stubbs Road campus, being a third culture culture kid.

Stem works on the notion that a plant

kid and how his HKA experience supported

My experiences in HKA have also helped will grow faster when given exactly what

his pathways to success as a university

me in my work, especially my keen

it needs to grow in ideal environmental

student and graphic designer.

interests in biology and natural processes. conditions. Instead of following the trend

I joined HKA in 2003 in the third grade At Monash, I undertook an honours year of drones or biological augmentation,

class at the Stubbs Road campus, after at the end of my degree, and for this

I drew my inspiration from plants and

coming from the UK. Before joining HKA, programme, I tackled a problem that sought to use natural processes to

I had attended a few schools around the only recently started to attract attention. accelerate plant production. The research

world and had never found one that was How will humankind support itself in the I had done during the year also pointed

similar. HKA was unlike other schools I absence of bees? I chose this question out that emerging technologies will take

had attended because of the focus on because it has huge implications for the many years to develop and more after that

students and the acceptance of different future and is also extremely interesting. to be perfected and become efficient.

teaching and learning styles.

Furthermore, at present there is no proven

method for addressing the problem.

Stem functions as an automated farm

for plants located in warehouses.

My pathway to success started with a Major projects around the world have

Inside the warehouse are large green

great failure. I did not pass my IB Diploma approached it in different ways, and I

houses, with each greenhouse set to the

the first time I sat the exams and finished thought I would tackle it, too.

optimal temperature and humidity level

with 23 points, one 1 point away from

passing. It was very disappointing. But I I started the process with ideation but for a specific plant species. Instead of

decided to re-sit my exams the following without research. In general, I find that these greenhouses running across the

November. Leading up to the exams, I had this approach allows me to dream up warehouse floor, they tower towards

three different jobs and was studying. more creative solutions options. After the ceiling. This vertical farming is more

After taking my exams for a second time, I that, I started on in depth research into efficient as it allows a single warehouse

passed. With this I changed my choices for both bees and plants. I then started a to grow multiple plants. Inside the

university. Originally, I was going to study second round of ideation with the crutch greenhouses are mechanical carousels.

teaching or biology. Instead I chose to of knowledge, and then compared the two These carry plants from the bottom,

follow an area more inline with my talents ideation sessions to find the links. One where they can get hydroponic solution,

and passions. I chose to go into design of the main areas of design I find most to the top, where they can be pollinated.

and was accepted into Monash University. interesting is innovation; by comparing my The inside of the warehouse is totally


cut off from the outside world, providing

better control over the plants’ growth and

reducing contamination. With its use of

hydroponics, Stem creates a very toxic

waste. I theorise that if this hydroponic

solution is exposed to certain plants, it is

possible to clean the solution so that it

can be used again.

For my work at Monash I was nominated

for the Australian Graduate of the Year

Award in Design. I did not win that award,

but I then submitted my work to the James

Dyson Design Award and was selected to

be one of 200 students from around the

world to show their project at the Global

Grad Show in Dubai in November 2018.

I have come along way from failing my IB

exam. I owe my success to the education

I was lucky enough to have, and to my

perseverance and my curiosity. I still

am not entirely sure what it is I want to

design, and that’s okay, I’ll simply design

until I find it.

HKA by the

(other) Bay

by VIplav Tandon

This autumn, Viplav Tandon, Class of 2018, exchanged his

view of the bays of Sai Kung for that other bay area —

San Francisco. Now a student at the Hult International

Business School, Viplav shared these thoughts on

transitioning into tertiary education.

This summer did not feel like a goodbye to all my

family and friends, but instead a “see you later”.

Aside from preparing for my transition into university,

I spent a large portion of my summer making memories

and trying to enjoy home and all its glory. The transition into my university, Hult

International Business School in San Francisco, was relatively smooth. Coming from

an international background, I was able to understand and connect with my fellow

classmates easily. In addition to that, living in a dorm helped me make friends. If

there is one piece of advice that I would give to people applying for university, it

would be to get a roommate! Having one is honestly one of the highlights of college

life. Also, try to get out of your comfort zone. It may be difficult, but it is worth the

risk. Deciding to move to San Francisco was one the riskiest choices I have made.

However, it proved to be very rewarding. So far, I have been having a blast here

and am looking forward to the next couple of years that I spend in San Francisco.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you love doing it. It makes college

much easier and definitely more enjoyable.

Claudia Smits

I graduated from the University of Sussex on 23 July 2018 and started work at

the United Nations headquarters in New York City just a few days later! As a

political affairs intern at the Office for Disarmament Affairs, I’m responsible

for the office’s daily newsletter, doing research, and contributing to the many

reports we publish. I’m grateful that I got involved with the Student Council

while at HKA: that’s where I learned how to communicate with people of all

ages and all levels of experience, and, most importantly, where I learned how

to stand up for myself when I believed in something. I use what I learned at

HKA on a daily basis here at the UN and encourage current students to get

involved in student leadership. The things you learn in school will stay with

you forever — make the most of your time at HKA!

An eye-opening experience. Returning to the school I once

studied at 7 years ago. What was most fascinating was how,

although the school location had moved, the people remained

the same — just as friendly and welcoming as before.”

— Sherzad Nawroze, HKA Student 2007 - 2011



Meet the Drivers!

by Laura mitchell

“I love passing the girls occasionally in the corridor and being

able to smile as they pass by on their way to class. I very much

like the friendly open feel of the school. The staff were very

welcoming to our family and myself as a new parent and now

as a member of the HKA team.”

Parents Jenny and Keith with children Paige (Grade 8), Lucy

(Grade 5), Lauren (Grade 10), and Noa (Grade 12).

The Driver family joined Hong Kong Academy on 5 January 2018,

two days after landing in Hong Kong. They made the mid-year

move after a brief stint in London. Before that, the family called

Paris home. Initially there were four Drivers on campus: Noa,

Lauren, Paige and Lucy. In August 2018, mum Jenny joined them

at school, working as a Co-teacher in the Primary School.

When moving to HKA, one of the Driver family goals was to

have all of the siblings in one school. With their international

experience, they knew this wasn’t something they could count on

in Hong Kong. Jenny first reached out to HKA’s Admissions Office

in October 2017 and describes the team as “extremely responsive

and very helpful… Our biggest risk in agreeing to move to Hong

Kong was trying to find spaces for all four of them at school after

the start of the school year. Not only could HKA accommodate

all of them, they even arranged to speak directly with my eldest

from London about her subject options for her IB during our

application process.” Up until joining HKA, the girls had spent

their time in U.S. and British systems, and their parents wanted

to make sure that the move to an IB curriculum went smoothly.

The shift “could have been a little daunting,” Jenny recalled,

“but the school were very patient, and as flexible as they could

be” in transitioning the girls, especially Noa, who was entering

the IB Diploma Programme.

As a faculty member Jenny says it’s nice to see the inner workings

of the school. “The staff at HKA are so supportive of all of my girls,

no matter what grade.” She praises the school’s offerings for

learning beyond the classroom, such as camp in

the Primary School and LOTC in the Secondary School. She

went on Grade 4 camp with her class while three of her children

attended their own camp/LOTC adventures. “Experiences outside

of the classroom like this build life skills and expose the children

to cultures, lifestyles and challenges that they may never have

had the opportunity to see before,” she observed.

While four of the Driver females were away, eldest daughter

Noa was enmeshed in the university application process. Jenny is

impressed with the counselling staff, noting that they “have

been extremely helpful and very supportive not only to my

daughter but also to my husband and I who are trying our best

to keep up with the wave of new information on courses,

universities and the application process.”

HKA was founded as a community school where families are

fully involved in all aspects of school life. The Drivers are a

prime example of that spirit!

Jenny spent much of her life as an expat and, like all HKA parents,

values the international community feel that comes from a

school like HKA. In particular, she finds that HKA is “open to

students of all backgrounds, which helped us to feel at home very

quickly.” Along with the girls, Jenny settled in right away, too, as

a volunteer and now as a Co-teacher. She values teaching at the

same school that her daughters attend.



Making a Difference on Campus

Hong Kong Academy is grateful for all the time and talent that our HKA parents give to the school.

Hong Kong Academy’s

libraries have more

than 36,000 titles,

and parent volunteers

are key to keeping

them all well organised

and ready for readers.

Over forty parents

help out in the libraries

on a regular basis.

How does our organic garden grow? With

the help of parents as well as faculty

and students. Garden volunteers share

their time and expertise every Thursday

morning, teaching students important

skills and keeping weeds under control!

Mid-Autumn Festival mums help make the event come to

life, preparing traditional lanterns for students to decorate.

Mystery Readers are always

a highlight in the classroom

and a special way for

parents to connect in the

Primary School.

Panda Club adds to the fun of learning

Mandarin with games and special

activities during Friday lunch times.

This year Xing Xing, the panda mascot,

joined the team!

The theme to the 2018

Gala was Let’s Dance,

and parents did just that,

whilst raising funds to

support the school. As

always, volunteers made

the event happen!

In October 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut hit Hong Kong hard. HKA’s campus emerged unscathed, but

Sai Kung saw plenty of downed trees and damaged structures. HKA families turned out in droves

to help with the community clean up.

Buddy Family volunteers

welcome new families

to the HKA community.

They help make the

tranisition to our school

a memorable one!

Weekend Sports volunteers

work with athletes of all skill

levels to improve their game

and give them more time on

the court or field.

The Community Fair is our

biggest event every year,

with over 1,000 people

in attendance. Making it

happen were our own Fab

Four Fair Co-chairs.

Parents show their support for

faculty and staff throughout

the year and especially at the

annual Staff Appreciation Lunch.

Decorations, a bespoke gift, and

potluck dishes make the event

memorable and delicious.



Boomerang Back

Ivy Choi

In Hong Kong, we’re used to people coming and going — and

coming again! Four former HKA faculty members recently became

current faculty for the second time. In this issue of hkaVoices, we

welcome back Ivy Choi, Ben Gonzalez, Blessie Maunder and Mark

Ritchie. hkaVoices asked them about their experiences at HKA

and in between. Ivy and Blessie returned to our Learner Support

programme, with Ivy moving into the Secondary School for the

first time. Secondary School veterans Ben and Mark returned to

the SS and to their core subjects: Maths for Ben, and Economics

for Mark (Mark is teaching humanities as well!).

Ben Gonzalez

In their years away from HKA, these four taught in Australia,

China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Their observations about

returning to HKA in part prove that the more things change, the

more they stay the same. As Mark put it, “There is still the same

focus on student learning and individual pathways, as well as a

great positive feeling and great relationships between teachers

and students.” Ivy also stressed that the school retains a familylike

community, and Blessie noted that inclusion remains a

hallmark of the school’s mission and practice. Ben’s observations

were closer to home — his wife, Sonya Yong, remains on the

faculty! Ben also noted that the Community Fair, formerly known

as the Cultural Food Festival, is still a highlight of the year.

Blessie Maunder

Our boomerang faculty noted some changes, too, in particular

the benefits of the new campus and the growth in the student

body. Growth has brought new facilities, new faces and new

opportunities. The PE and outdoor facilities particular stand out

in comparison to the school’s former campuses on Stubbs Road

and in Kennedy Town, especially the Playscapes, Climbing Wall

and gymnasium. Most importantly, though, are the new faces on

campus and new friends to make.

Mark Ritchie

As we all know, sometimes we don’t appreciate where we are until

we go someplace else. We asked what these teachers missed

about HKA while they were away, and uniformly they spoke of the

community. As Mark put it, “I missed the international community

and the diversity of the students and staff.” Ivy missed her

colleagues and her students, and Blessie focused on our

“celebration of diversity and the close -knit school community.

Ben echoed that though, noting HKA’s exceptional international

mix of families.

Anything they didn’t miss? Mosquitoes and the famous steps at

Stubbs Road!


Behind the Scenes HERo

Benson Chang Building


Interviewed by AliX and Ambrose, Grade 5 students

For this issue of hkaVoices, Ambrose and Alix interviewed Benson Chang, HKA’s Building Supervisor, in English and Mandarin.

When did you join HKA?

I joined four years ago, in 2015. In the

beginning, I worked in the Secondary

School library.

What does a building supervisor do?

I have to make sure all the systems work,

like the AC, water and electricity. I also

have to do all the maintenance on the

system. The backup generator is

important, and the fire system. I also

have to make phone calls.

Did you choose this job?

Yes, I am very happy to work with the

school and systems I am familiar with.

Do you work with other people?

I work with people from the outside and

some from the inside, like Ryan and


What is the most challenging part of

your job?

Most challenging for me is if we have more

than one pressing situation at a time.

I have to prioritise.

What about the people you work with.

Can they help?

Yes, I can count on other people, but it

depends on how much experience they

have in keeping things safe.

Do you like being outside or inside? Why?

I like to work outside with people. But

before that, I like to work inside to make

a plan to make sure we are doing a good

job and keeping things safe.

What would be your dream job?

Any job that I can do well is my dream job.

Do you know what a clean room is? Before

I did this job, I use to do that work. I like

to do that type of work to keep people

healthy who are sick or work with NASA.

We must control the particles,

temperature, humidity and cleanliness.

We heard your son goes to HKA. Who is

his teacher?

His teacher is Ms Rachel.

Do you have any siblings?

你 有 没 有 兄 弟 姐 妹 ?

I have one older sister, I have one younger

brother and a younger sister.

我 有 一 个 姐 姐 , 一 个 弟 弟 和 一 个 妹 妹 。

Do you have any pets, and if so what


你 有 没 有 宠 物 ? 如 果 有 是 什 么 ?

I do not have a pet. We would like to get a

dog or cat or elephant. Just kidding about

the elephant!

我 没 有 宠 物 , 但 是 我 们 想 要 一 只 狗 , 一 只

猫 或 者 一 只 大 象 。 开 玩 笑 !

What are your hobbies?

你 有 什 么 爱 好 ?

I like to ride a bicycle and play chess.

我 喜 欢 骑 自 行 车 , 也 喜 欢 下 象 棋 。

Is it the traditional chess?

Yes, traditional chess. I am playing with

[my son] Elliott. He is learning chess at

ASA, and I’m learning, too. I like to make

stuff and fix stuff at home. Elliott and I

make circuits.

We enjoyed interviewing Mr Benson

Chang. It was cool when he spoke about

the clean room. He is a nice and friendly

man. We were happy to contribute to

hkaVoices for this article. We thought the

process was smooth, and we were glad to

be able to use our Mandarin, too! Thank

you, Mr. Benson Chang, for your time.



looking back

Chinese culture is celebrated at

HKA throughout the year. The Lunar

New Year and Mid- Autumn festival

provide special opportunities for

the community to enjoy Chinese

traditions together.

Performing ARTS students

captivate audiences when they take

to the stage, whether it’s the Grade 4

Play, Hot Cocoa House, Coffee House

or the Secondary School Play.

Grade 4 shines on stage.

The Class of 2018 received their

diplomas in June. Families and friends

gathered as graduates reflected

upon their time at HKA and shared

inspirations for their future.

Professional Development

is embedded in HKA’sculture and

mission. Throughout the year, HKA

welcomes many experts to speak

and work with faculty, parents and

students. Topics range from emotional

and digital wellbeing to literacy and


Guest speaker Matt Harris, talking to faculty

about digital wellbeing.

Student talent at Hot Cocoa House and

Coffee House is always a crowd pleaser!

Secondary School play, A Vampyre Story,

performed by students in November 2018.

Learning Outside the classroom

for Grades 6-12 provides opportunities

for students to engage in a variety of

activities and service learning projects

such as visiting schools, building

works, rock climbing and farming.

Successful teamwork and new cultural

experiences strengthen students’

understanding of our world.


THe HKA Playgroup started in

August 2018. It provides 2-3 year

olds and accompanying adults

the opportunity to experience the

dynamic learning environment

at HKA. For this hands-on shared

learning experience, our creative

Early Childhood educators adapted

the International Baccalaureate

framework for young minds to support

children as makers of their own

meaning. Mandarin is taught as a

mirror language and participants also

have access to campus resources such

as our library and outdoor Playscapes.

Athletes at HKA compete in both

local and regional leagues. 80%

of Secondary School students and

some Grade 4-5 students are involved

in a competitive sport. HKA sports

continues to grow in strength and in

the variety of offerings for athletes.

n At the 2018 ACAMIS Football

championship tournament,

both the girls and boys teams

took 2nd place.

n Our SCISAC Basketball girls team

brought home first place at the

championship in May 2018.

n HKA’s bouldering and ultimate

frisbee teams competed

for the first time in 2018.

n HKA’s sailing team raced in the

HHYC 24h race, which earned

them 1st place within the interschools

division, 3rd place in the

Feva class and 5th place overall

out of 33 teams.

HKA’s SCISAC girls team won the

championship in May, 2018.

The HKA Sailing team on the water.

Primary School Camps are for all

Grade 3 - 5 students. Team building

and taking on new challenges offer

opportunities for students to grow.

THE Community FAIR, held in

November 2018, was a delight for all

senses, with fantastic food, fabulous

performances and exciting activities.

Grade 3 campers exercise teambuilding skills.

Grade 4 camp on the water, Nov. 2018.

Grade 5 camp working together, Nov. 2018.



looking forward

Don’t miss...

ISTA Chamber Music Concerts

19 January and 30 March

Presented in partnership with the

Sai Kung Sound Collective,

this concert series will feature

professional musicians from all over

Hong Kong who are coming together

to bring to life a musical programme

that will include something for

everyone! For more details and

tickets, visit


Lunar New YEar Assembly

30 January

The HKA community comes together

to celebrate Chinese traditions

through wonderful performances

by the Primary School and cultural

activities in the Secondary School.

Community Yard Sale

25 May - 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Donate, buy or recycle unwanted

clothes, toys, books and household

items. All proceeds support

designated charities and HKA’s

Scholarship Fund and Student

Initiative Fund.

Calendar Highlights


HKA Parents Coffee Social

18 January

Primary School Counsellor

Coffee Morning


ISTA and Sai Kung Sound Collective

Chamber Music Concert

24-26 January

ACAMIS Basketball Tournament

in Macau

24-27 January

ISTA Middle School Festival

in Chiang Mai

27 January

London Alumni and Former Family Lunch


Lunar New Year Assembly

4-8 February

Lunar New Year Holiday


HKA Parents Coffee Social


Primary School Sports Day


Secondary School Sports Day,

Grade 9 Higher Education Night and Grade

10 MYP Personal Project Exhibition


SCISAC Volleyball in Chongqing

4-8 March

Primary School Literacy Week

6 March

HKA Parents Coffee Social

14 March

Primary School Concert

15 March

All School Counsellor Coffee Morning

22 March

Hot Cocoa House

23 March

HKA Parents Pre-Sevens Disco Party

27-29 March

Grade 3 Camp

30 March

ISTA and Sai Kung Sound Collective

Chamber Music Concert


Grade 12 Arts Exhibition

5 April

Ching Ming Festival - School Closed

10-11 April

Primary and Secondary School

Parent Teacher Student Conferences (PTSC)

11-12 April

Secondary School Musical Production

17-20 April

ACAMIS Football Tournament in Beijing

19 April - 1 May

Spring Holiday - School Closed

1 May

Labour Day - School Closed

8 May

HKA Parents Coffee Social

9-11 May

SCISAC Basketball in Taichung

13 May

Buddha’s Birthday Observed - School


14-17 May

Grade 5 PYP Exhibition

17 may

Primary School Counsellor

Coffee Morning

23 May

Primary School Art Exhibition

25 May

Community Yard Sale

30 May

Grade 12 Breakfast

31 MAY

Class of 2019 Graduation

7 June

Dragon Boat Festival - School Closed

12-14 June

Arts & Literature Festival

13-14 June

Grade 4 Play


End of Year Assembly

Last Day of School





Alix and ambrose, Grade 5 students,

interviewed Benson Chang, HKA’s Building


HEIDI BOSHOFF was born in Namibia, raised

in South Africa, travels on an Austrian passport

with Irish-born children and has lived in Hong

Kong for the past 9 years. Heidi studied Sports

Science, specialising in people with disabilities,

and is passionate about seeing people reaching

their full potential. After working nearly two years

in the Learner Support Department, Heidi is now

the Athletics and Activities Coordinator. She and

husband Jan, a member of HKA’s Technology

Department, are parents to Joshua, Class of 2018

and Heidi, currently in Grade 11.

Peter Cheah graduated from HKA in 2013 and

earned his degree from Monash University in

2018. His time at Monash culminated with an

honours year, and the work he produced during

that time led to international recognition at the

Global Grad Show in Dubai in November 2018. He

and his brother Robert, Class of 2014, joined HKA

in Primary School at Stubbs Road.

Andre Chiang is a Grade 11 student. He wrote

about his effort to end the use of plastic straws

in Hong Kong.

Joanna Crimmins is an experienced IB

educator who believes that young people learn

best when they are enjoying their learning

journey and are engaged in practical, real life

activities. She has been an educator for 18 years

and is currently Acting Secondary School Principal

at Hong Kong Academy. Before assuming her

current role, she served as the MYP and DP

Coordinator. Prior to joining HKA, Joanna enjoyed

a variety of faculty and leadership roles in the

UK, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong. She is

passionate about the HKA community and

about creating strong relationships with parents,

students and staff. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree

in Drama and Education from the University of

Wales and a Master’s Degree in Educational

Leadership and Management from The Open

University, UK.

Stephen Dare Head of School Stephen Dare

joined HKA in 2010. Originally from the UK,

Stephen has been a member of faculty and

leadership teams at schools in Colombia, the U.S.,

the Philippines and Hong Kong. Before coming

to HKA, he was the Assistant Superintendent at

the International School of Manila. He has been

a co-trainer for the Principals’ Training Center

Summer Institutes and is active with numerous

educational initiatives such as Cognitive

Coaching, Adaptive Schools and Next Frontier

Inclusion. He has also served in leadership roles

in international school organisations such as the

East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS)

and the Association of China and Mongolia

International Schools (ACAMIS). He has been a

Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia University (New

York) and is currently pursuing his doctorate in


Anne Drouet joined HKA in 2017 as the

school’s first Director of Performing Arts. She

also leads the ISTA Performing Arts Academy,

Hong Kong, for which HKA is the administrative

home. She has an international background in

theatre and music and relishes HKA’s mission

to develop self-directed learners as they find

their own pathways.

Kristin Feren joined HKA in 2018 as Assistant

Secondary School Principal for Grades 6-10.

Originally from the the U.S., she has taught

in her home state of New Hampshire, Egypt,

Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Venezuela.

She is passionate about the International

Baccalaureate and is excited to be a part of HKA.

Matt Harris, Ed.D. is an international

educational consultant through International

EdTech, based in Singapore. In his work,

Dr. Harris helps schools, districts, and educational

technology companies with educational

technology strategic planning, systems design,

training, and program development. Drawing

on his award-winning programs, Dr. Harris has

worked with schools and large educational

organizations in Europe, Middle East, Africa,

North America, Australia, and Asia. He also

shares his experience through keynote speeches,

articles, and online social channels around

educational leadership and technology. Prior to

working as a consultant, Dr. Harris worked as an

educational leader, teacher, author, presenter

and researcher having taught all grade levels

from preschool to graduate school. He worked as

a senior administrator in schools and universities

in North America and Asia. Dr. Harris is an Apple

Distinguished Educator, Microsoft Innovative

Education Expert, Google Certified Innovator, and

Common Sense Education Certified Educator.

Laura Mitchell has served as HKA’s Director

of Institutional Advancement since 2013 and has

been involved with HKA since 2007. Throughout

her two decades in the fields of communications

and advancement, she’s worked for several

organisations, including the Smithsonian

Institution in Washington, DC. Laura is member

of the Commission on Communications and

Marketing of the Council for the Advancement

and Support of Education (CASE). She also serves

on the board of the Vesper Society, a foundation

that promotes social justice through health care

and community-building.

She holds a BA in Economics from Pomona

College and PhD in History from Yale University.

CinDY NG joined HKA in 2014 as a Primary

School Co-teacher and has worked in Grade 5

and Kindergarten. In 2018, she took on a new

role as ASA Coordinator. Born in Hong Kong,

Cindy grew up in California. She enjoys sports,

traveling and photography.

Viplav Tandon A member of the Class of

2018, Viplav is now studying at Hult International

Business School in San Francisco, California.

Viplav ran track and played football, helping the

Dragonflies on to victories in several local and

regional tournaments. He is an accomplished

photographer and generously contributed his

work to the school’s most recent Gala fundraiser.


“Being principled helps me make

good choices and be a good friend.”

— Niam, Grade 4

Inquirers | Knowledgeable | Thinkers | Communicators | Principled | Open-Minded | Caring | Risk-takers | Balanced | Reflective

Principled We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect

for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responibility for our actions and their consquences.

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