The New Year brings new beginnings and new possibilities. It is a time to plan for the future and to make new commitments. It is also a time to reflect on the year past, and the achievements one has made. As I sit here in my office in our school, with a warm cup of tea in hand after the week's New year celebrations, I am doing just that, reflecting on our schools development, re-reading the best wishes from families and staff and taking some time to plan ahead before we begin again on January 11, 2012. It makes me proud to know how far we have come as a school in our first few months since opening in Uppsala.
When I think back to August 1st, this was a great day as it saw me welcoming our dedicated and enthusiastic staff to our school. Our journey together had begun and 17 days later, another momentous day arrived.
Staff arriving, planning, working and learning together so that we can come together as a great team developing this new Internationella Engelska Skolan in Uppsala together.
With a terrific staff team of 33, we proudly opened our school doors to more than 300 students. All excited about what was to come. The weeks into September proved to be a challenge for our students as they not only had to adapt to new traveling routes, new friends, and a new environment, they also had to adapt to new rules, new expectations, which encompass the ethos and values of being a student within Internationella Engelska Skolan. Despite these challenges, one thing that struck me then as it still does now, is the good spirits of our students and staff and how they both excel in giving all of themselves to the development of our school.
Students and families arriving for our first school day. Staff going the extra mile to assist with traffic crossing for our students safety.
Graced with sunny, good weather, our junior school staff organized a football tournament for our grade 4s and 5s. Taking full advantage of our new football grounds, our 6 classes played a round-robin tournament, with 4C and 5A being the football winners for the grade levels. Not to be left out of the sporting challenges, middle school staff organized an afternoon of competitive fun with our first "clash of the classes". Activities ranged from tug of war to potato sack races, all proving to be a lot of fun and encouraging the students to work together as a team. This was exactly what class 8B did in the finals, where they defeated class 9Q who took to the field dressed as the fictional character Steve Urkel.
Elias and Vitus from the winning team in 4C
As the darkness set in October, Mr Allen and myself had the pleasure of reviewing magazines that our two year 7 classes had produced as part of their English assignment. The magazines ranged from fashion, beauty, photography, ponies, Steve Job, sports, video game reviews, ketchup and special editions. We were amazed with not only the creativity of the students, but their ability to cater the English language to the target audience they wished to address.
Front page spread of the magazines produced in English from classes 7A and 7B
To ensure that I did not forget Halloween, one of our Choice classes in year 6 showed us that Michael Jackson is alive in Uppsala as they put on a Thriller sensation! As a result, 4B turned into little zombies and roamed the school with Ms Shulyakovskaya. As the term drew to a close, Crazy Hat Day saw two of our classes think outside the box: Class 4A used recycled material to make their hats while Class 7B promoted safety travel with their fluorescent pink and yellow colors reminiscent of an 80s Wham music video.
In the dungeons of our school, the music from Michael Jackon's Thriller could be heard, stirring up the zombies to dance once more
I do not know who was more excited when we returned in November after the autumn break, but our playground for junior school was ready. With still no signs of snow, the playground and outdoors has been put to good use!
Playground installed during Autumn break. Cant believe that there is no signs of snow yet! This is going to be a great surprise for our grade 4 and 5s when they return!
However, November is a very dark month for an Australian such as myself to get used to in Sweden, but when I think of the November just passed, I recall the warm welcoming our staff and students gave to new prospective students and families at our first Open House day. This Saturday was a great success because of our staff and students. Our students displayed their talents at being tour guides, musicians, and chefs. Some students participated in extra lessons whilst our teachers displayed student work and discussed our academic visions. To top it all, a cup of tea was enjoyed in our dining hall.
Open House Day in Uppsala
The month of December brings not only the excitement of the holidays, but to be in Sweden to celebrate Nobel day is for me, as a former biomedical researcher, a day of great excitement. To share in my enthusiasm, Grade 4s and 5s celebrated Nobel day by being inventors themselves. Again, Mr Allen and myself were fascinated with the range of ideas of our budding inventors as the morning was spent displaying inventions, followed by a class picnic lunch and then workshops for saving eggs, making musical instruments, and snow flakes. Our grade 6 ?" 9s participated in two Nobel day-themed workshops. To celebrate the sciences, students researched and produced posters on among others, Alfred Nobel himself, Prof Marie Curie (100 years since she received the Nobel in chemistry; her second award?" what a remarkable woman!), as well as last year's (Prof. Edwards) and this year's (Profs. Hoffmann, Beutler and Steinman) winners in medicine. The second workshop celebrated the Nobel laureate in literature, Swedish poet/writer Tomas Tranströmer, whose writings inspired our students to make their own interpretations of his work through painting, music and writing.
One of the climaxes of the day was our Nobel lunch for the years 6 ?" 9, inspired by the Nobel dinner at City Hall. During the lunch, awards for the best short story in each year level were handed out by the Swedish department. This was a wonderful day and we already have plans in progress to make next year's event bigger and better.
Celebrating Nobel Day for Grades 6 - 9 in our dining hall.
Toasting to the success of the students development in the academics of the sciences and arts.
The Swedish department gathering and waiting for Dr Heimeier to come to award the best Swedish short stories in the year levels.
For our first Lucia celebration, our music teacher Mr Roriston, brought to our aula glows of light and wonderful music together with our junior school choir.
The harmonies from our Lucia train of 32 was spectacular and enjoyed by the whole school, with Amber from 5A being our school's first Lucia.
As the last day of our first semester together arrived on Dec 21, our aula was filled once more with wonderful performances in three school assemblies to celebrate the achievements for grades 4 and 5, grades 6 and 7 and our grades 8 and 9. Our junior and middle school choirs, individual talented performers and our rhythmic year 8 and 9 choice groups were all phenomenal. These heart-felt performances added to the celebrations of our students' academic development in their core subjects. In addition, these assemblies highlighted the support that the students have for each other. Each achievement was celebrated as a group achievement. The applause and support rings more loudly in my ears each time I reflect on this day.
In summarizing the events of this past semester at IES Uppsala, it is with great expectation and excitement that I look forward to our next semester together.
Seeing you all again on January 11th