How ISB students explore and discover their passions
By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
Published on Monday, September 18, 2023
The first few weeks of the new school year have been all about students getting to know their teachers, making friends, and settling into routines. It’s now time to get serious!
But, no, that doesn’t just mean students sitting up straight and studying hard. At the International School of Beijing (ISB), the best learners balance their academics with exploring and identifying their passions away from the classroom. They play sports, throw themselves into co-curricular activities, lead clubs, and give back to the community.
ISB has Strategic Focus Areas that identify students’ social and emotional well-being as a priority. As a non-profit organization in which all income goes into further improving the school, ISB uses its abundant resources to empower students to purpose and compassion. The campus has world-class facilities including for sports, design, and performing arts, and diverse curricular and co-curricular programs on offer for all those enrolled.
ISB students are well-rounded individuals with integrity and strength of character. They’re encouraged at school to find both academic areas and co-curricular pursuits in which they can excel. ISB also makes sure students can sample real-world professional experience and have a positive social impact through providing service to others.
This is the time of year when all this activity really kicks off.
Just look at how much fun these Lower Elementary School children had at their Activities Day on Friday! Through physical events like this and “Dragon Olympics” lunchtime sports practices, little track and field stars in the Elementary School develop their skills, perseverance, and cooperation.
In the Middle and High Schools, the sports seasons are underway. Tennis balls and volleyballs are flashing back and forth over nets, swimmers are powering up and down their lanes, and athletes are racing around cross-country courses. The ISB Dragons are competing in fixtures and tournaments home and away, traveling domestically and internationally.
For the Elementary and Middle School, after-school activities (ASAs) begin today. Students can select from a menu of activities falling into four categories: Performing Arts; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM); Movement and Games; Life Skills and Service. Ranging from robotics to cookie baking to golf and far more, most ASAs see students meet for one hour once a week. They’re fun and enriching, teaching skills and good attitude.
While there’s change every year in the ASAs offered, this roundup gives a good idea of the kinds of things ISB students are getting up to once the conventional school day ends. The ASA program is designed so that Kindergarten to Grade 8 can try out lots of different activities and decide which they like best.
Student clubs recruited new members at the 2023-2024 Club Fair
Student clubs and service
By the start of High School in Grade 9, students should be well on their way to knowing if their interests and talents lie in engineering or project management, dance or art, debate or sports, or in any of the many other fields they can experience at ISB. And it’s from this point, as these young adults are developing more independence, that they’re really given freedom and time to hone in on their passions and take control of their learning through student-run clubs.
In Thespians, for example, High School students interested in theater get to plan and rehearse intensively for their next show. Their plays – like this one – are always ISB community highlights, productions brought to the stage entirely by students on their own. Such is the appetite for treading the boards that around 40 students joined recent auditions for the High School’s theater production for 2023-2024. The ISB community can look forward to performances of Clue, a darkly comic murder mystery, in November.
The Hope and Heartache Diner was a play directed and produced entirely by students
Meanwhile, there are many High School Clubs devoted to giving back to the community. The High School’s branch of global charity Roots & Shoots follows its mission statement, “To foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place.” Its members go on regular visits to a local animal shelter, and to the Love & Hope Center, a vocational school for underprivileged teenagers, and they support these non-profit organizations through fundraisers.
At the High School Clubs and Service Fair last Wednesday morning, student leaders promoted all their activities and clubs and recruited plenty of new members. For their younger counterparts, ISB also held a Middle School Clubs and Service Fair on Thursday.
“We’re looking forward to a fantastic year of students exploring and discovering their passions outside of classrooms!” said Simon Parker, ISB’s Director of Student Activities. “Now that we’re back to being able to travel freely and operate school without interruption, our programs are really taking flight.
“There’s a progression in our co-curricular activities, with students developing skills in Elementary School that help them in Middle School and then building on that through High School. Throughout it all, our activities ensure students are motivated and have a real sense of purpose while forming skills and interests that will stand them in good stead for life.”
Empowering students to purpose and compassion, including through co-curricular activities, is one of three main Strategic Focus Areas for ISB. This news article is part of a series looking at aspects of ISB that are examples of the three Focus Areas. To find out more, click here.
ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.