The dynamics of a lead
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!
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
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Amie Shaw
PHOTOGRAPHY Mirko Jeck
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 email@example.com.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Kai Scholz in glider (above) and in the
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
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!
“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
“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
— 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
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
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
MusicAN Inverview by
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.”
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 www.ista-hongkong.com
Lunar New YEar Assembly
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
HKA Parents Coffee Social
Primary School Counsellor
ISTA and Sai Kung Sound Collective
Chamber Music Concert
ACAMIS Basketball Tournament
ISTA Middle School Festival
in Chiang Mai
London Alumni and Former Family Lunch
Lunar New Year Assembly
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
Primary School Literacy Week
HKA Parents Coffee Social
Primary School Concert
All School Counsellor Coffee Morning
Hot Cocoa House
HKA Parents Pre-Sevens Disco Party
Grade 3 Camp
ISTA and Sai Kung Sound Collective
Chamber Music Concert
Grade 12 Arts Exhibition
Ching Ming Festival - School Closed
Primary and Secondary School
Parent Teacher Student Conferences (PTSC)
Secondary School Musical Production
ACAMIS Football Tournament in Beijing
19 April - 1 May
Spring Holiday - School Closed
Labour Day - School Closed
HKA Parents Coffee Social
SCISAC Basketball in Taichung
Buddha’s Birthday Observed - School
Grade 5 PYP Exhibition
Primary School Counsellor
Primary School Art Exhibition
Community Yard Sale
Grade 12 Breakfast
Class of 2019 Graduation
Dragon Boat Festival - School Closed
Arts & Literature Festival
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
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
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.