Sunday, 14 July 2019

Academic Year 2018/19

Salam my lovelies,

Both Girl and Bean have fully settled into The Big School, alhamdulillah. They have learnt and achieved so much in this short span of time. Highlights of Term 3 include Kindness Week, Book Week, Eid Assembly, Earth Ranger Awareness, International Day, Sports Day and Speech Day. It feels great to be included in the Activity Leaders group of parent volunteers. The Other Half and I (as well as The Grandparents!) have been actively participating or contributing in ways and areas we enjoy.

Here is a short summary of various events in a few sentences to capture our memories and also to give those who are school-hunting a glimpse into The Big School (beyond scheduled school tours and Open Days):

1. Book Week
Parents were invited to read to Bean's Year 1 class. I volunteered to read "Duck! Rabbit!" to Bean's class with hint of inclusion-policy and introduction to theory of mind. A few other parents read in Japanese, Korean, Malay and Mandarin. We had the most attentive audience, for sure!
The students and teachers were asked to choose a book character they each like, and come dressed as their favourite character on Book Day. Girl picked "Belle" (from "Beauty and the Beast") whilst Bean selected "Captain America" (from Marvel Comics). They were given activities related to their characters too. The event included a parade of the characters during Assembly time. Students and parents wow-ed at Principal who came dressed as a Victorian Headmaster, Head of Secondary who had picked "Cruella" from "101 Dalmatians", and Head of Primary who came dressed as "Jedi" from "Star Wars". Most memorable was Bean's Homeroom Teacher who won Best Dressed Character as "Mary Poppins". Overall a fun engagement throughout the week!

2. Eid Assembly
The ensemble showcased young, budding talents. It was not a full-blown concert we were used to seeing at The Former school. This particular Eid Assembly had a genuine element where you know the students have been stretched to their limits given the short hours in the midst of year end assessment. As a consequence, the items they presented come across as "raw" or "unplugged". Short choreography and rehearsals time on a modular stage means we will have a lot to work on in the performing arts department, hooray! One outstanding feature was the mass sing-along/karaoke of "Selamat Hari Raya". Everyone joined in cultural and language immersion for that 4 minutes. Overall a fun gig and plenty of growth opportunities going forward, inshaAllah.

3. Earth Rangers
Seed Round for plant and cash drive by the Earth Rangers at School saw 5 potted tropical plants from The Grandparents' garden being sent to School. Another generous cash contribution was made on Bean's birthday week in June to mark his 6th birthday. May Bean grow safe, happy and successful, Aamiin! The event peaked with a "Save the Malayan Tiger" mural by students, parents, and a teacher who is leaving for another school at the end of her contract this term. The garden area is now lush as new plants have arrived, purchased using cash donation from entire school. What a beautiful living legacy!

4. International Day
Girl's class worked on "Indonesia" while Bean's class represented "China". It was so wonderful to see both classes full of enthusiastic parents who brought these countries to life and presented in such organised manner. Throughout the week, each class had a parent volunteer to present a short lesson on the country (I presented Indonesia, and made a conscious effort to dispel misconception about Indonesia being limited to supply of foreign labour and Malaysia's extended plantation land!). Collectively, we put up a small class exhibition and a booth with plenty of Indonesian delicacies during food bazaar. Bean's class was transformed into Chinatown and the food bazaar table featured Shanghainese staple food and drinks. The photographs and videos all turned out amazing! Some of the other countries featured this year included Poland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Italy, India, Ukraine and The Philippines. The event ended with a parade that brought music, haka and United Nations-style march to life. Alhamdulillah for such a wonderful exposure.

5. Talent Showcase
Bean joined an ensemble and performed Baby Shark on his ukulele! We were so proud of him for participating to the best of his ability as he had only recently picked the instrument up. The Big School is full of different talents. We had artistic gymnasts, Rubik cubes geniuses, pianist extraordinaire and rock band. It was akin to watching an episode of "America's Got Talent"! 

6. Sports Day
Girl and Bean had theirs on different days, luckily so. The Other Half and I served as parent volunteers. So glad we did because the students had 8 activities and the field had been transformed to a mini Olympics! Year 6 students served as time keepers, coaches were referees and parents chipped in manpower. There were javelin, discus, 100 m dash, egg-on-spoon, potato sack race, hurdles and long jump events. The Sports Award was separately held on second last day of school and it was such a happy celebration of sportsmanship.

7. Speech Day
Academic year 2018/19 ended on 12 July 2019 with Speech Day. Bean completed his Year 1 in one term. No small feat for him and we are thankful for all the support he has been receiving since before he enrolled here. He is being promoted to Year 2 this September. Girl scored herself Growth by Learning prize for English and another for Leading Through Innovation in Music and Art. She is being promoted to Year 5 this September. Bravo to both Girl and Bean!

Our journey with Early Autism Project Malaysia is notable too. They have conducted presentations to the entire Big School during Kindness Week, trained the teaching faculty, and assisted in setting up SENCO support at School. Bean was also included in the Family Day 2019 presentation at PJ Live Arts Centre on 6th of July 2019. 58 children on the spectrum performed "The Greatest Show" successfully. Many happy tears from happy families were shed that day. Bless.

We are going to stay put for this entire summer to facilitate Bean's ABA therapy sessions of 35 hours per week. Bean also just started 1:1 Yamaha Music Course so weekly 30-minutes piano lessons are in store for him. Girl has more piano and keyboard skills to catch up on since her new Yamaha JNC Class is more driven and her new teacher delivers lessons that spiral deeper. There are also some interesting Helen O'Grady speech and drama school, gym and art class we want to explore.

Both children have also been asked to prep for next academic year by The Big School. We will be balancing all these hard work with hosting play dates, social group plays and fun outings. Work smart, play hard. Our aim is to not rob our children of their childhood. We are just glad Girl and Bean both understand an expensive summer holiday abroad this year is not affordable. 

Here is wishing you a great summer break and see you again in September, inshaAllah!


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