Halcyon Week 2017

Here's our blog for Halcyon Week!

Grade 6-7

Turns out the girls are better teamworkers this time!

The Grade 6-7 trip for Halcyon Week was to the Isle of Wight. The activities were wide-ranging and required a variety of problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and risk-taking skills.  
Some of the activities involved Aeroball (a sort of trampoline basketball), Body Boarding, firelighting, outdoor climbing, Low Ropes, Archery, and an Obstacle Course. The students also got to take part in a Mini Olympics, and a Mystery Evening of Whodunnit. All students acquitted themselves exceptionally well and made Halcyon proud! One of the highlights of the week was a VERY competitive mini-golf tournament between the teachers after the students had built the course using cardboard! Mr English, representing the USA was the victor. Other standouts were Sidney's monkey-like climbing skills, Maya reaching the top of Jacob's Ladder, and on the ferry, Sam and Josh's wonderful re-enactment of the "I'm flying Jack" scene from the film Titanic!


Grade 8-10

“This year, Grade 8-10 went to Aberdovey; a little welsh coast village next to an estuary. The Outward Bound staff was very welcoming and the food was delicious. Each group went on a two-day expedition. However, this time we left the tents behind since a storm decided to visit us. Instead of camping, we stayed in cabins. This was great to make new friendships.
The strong winds, rain and cold didn’t stop us. We braved the Snowdonia hills and rivers with a smile. We know that together we are stronger and we can achieve amazing things. We look forward to next year.”


Grade 11

Grade 11 ventured out into the mountains of Snowdonia for a week of hiking, team building and leadership developing! The group split into three smaller groups who hiked through high winds and torrential rain. Safety came first and after walking on the first day of the expedition the students spent time in a barn when the 70mph winds hit. The rain didn't dampen their spirits too much and everyone was able to set off for a second day and camp. Two groups did this under the view of Crib Goch the famous route up Snowdon that in years gone by prepared explorers for far greater feats such as hiking in the Himalayas.

In addition to the hiking, the students had opportunities to canoe, rock climb and abseil. In addition to this, they reflected on their perseverance, resilience, mindfulness, self-motivation and emotional management. The students considered how their experiences in the affective areas can support them in their classroom studies throughout the diploma.

Nate has achieved a Semifinalist standing in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Programme

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This week, officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million.

NMSC is a not-for-profit organisation and scholarships are underwritten by NMSC’s own funds and approximately 420 business organisations and higher education institutions that honor the nation’s scholastic champions and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.

The competition

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than 1% of high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state US territory, the District of Columbia or overseas pool of test takers. The number of Semifinalists in a group is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill rigorous requirements to advance to Finalist level including providing their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrating leadership abilities, employment experience and honors/awards received. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

This not only reflects well on the school, improving our visibility in the American University realm, but on Nate’s individual exceptional academic skills, achievements and accomplishments. We would like to congratulate Nate and wish him all the best in the forthcoming tests.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2018 will be announced in April.

IB Results are in!

🎊IB Results are in!🎉

This week we received our first IB Diploma results, and we are very pleased to announce an extremely successful examinations session. I am delighted to be able to share with you that each of our students has enjoyed personal success by meeting or exceeding their predicted scores, and each one will be attending their university of choice next year.

Eight students took the diploma this year, and our highest score was 43 points (out of 45). This is an exceptionally good score and guarantees a place at Cambridge University to read Human, Social and Political Sciences. Our average score - with the caveat that we had only eight students - is an impressive 34 points, which compares very favourably with a world average of 30 points in 2016.

Our students had plenty of university offers, and each will be studying their first choice course. We have successfully placed students who wished to study in the UK at Cambridge University, University of London Royal Holloway, University of London Goldsmiths, London Southbank University, Aberystwyth University and Central Saint Martins. In the USA, two students will be going to the University of Richmond, VA.

This is our first graduating class and their success echoes the achievements of our school, now rated Outstanding by Ofsted and about to complete an accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. That we can now share with the wider community our success in public examinations, and that our students have secured access to the very best universities, is another milestone in Halcyon’s development as the school of choice for international families in London.

Thank you for your support and please share with me in congratulating the Class of 2017!

Very best wishes,

 

Barry Mansfield
Director

Outdoor Classroom Day

We are keen for Halcyon students to enjoy the benefits of learning in natural environments which led us to observe Outdoor Classroom Day on Wednesday. Learning outdoors enables students to appreciate nature, improves wellbeing and concentration and facilitates new ways of learning.

English
During Outdoor Classroom Day, for G7 English, the students were doing sensory activities, tasting various foods, to prepare them for writing a poem about Hyde Park. The G9 and G11 classes were performing parts of the plays we are currently studying - Shakespeare's The Taming of The Shrew and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. 

Art
G10 lay in the grass looking up at the grand old trees and created art with what they saw. They observed shape and texture as part of their theoretical learning.

G7Y used the painting apps on their iPads to capture the light in nature. This was also in response to their studies on Impressionism.

Sciences

G11 Biology
Having the opportunity to run freely amongst the trees, G11 biology students used their time in Hyde Park to develop their understanding of lung function and exercise. The students measured their respiratory rates and tidal volume to investigate the effects of exercise on the respiratory system.

G11 Physics
The students spent the day finding the Geographic and Magnetic North using a Magnetic Field Sensor.

G10 Chemistry and G11 Environmental Systems
These students studied water testing and sampling for human pollutants in the water in Hyde Park. They studied chemical and physical indicators studying things such as water temperature, PH, oxygen and nitrate levels and turbidity.  

Careers Day

Our Careers Day for G10 and G11 was a resounding success! As students were leaving the presentation this morning, comments could be heard such as "Such an amazing array of speakers" and "They gave me so much to think about!".

Our four speakers who spoke on careers in the fields of the Arts, Academia, Science and Business shared their educational and professional experiences with the students offering insights for them to consider as they make their own decisions regarding university studies and job possibilities. Our speakers were equally impressed with the students, describing their questions as thought-provoking and commenting on their maturity. 


Katherine Lebow

Katherine Lebow (Ph.D., Columbia University) is an associate professor of history at Oxford University (Christ Church), having previously taught in the U.S., U.K., Austria, and Hungary. Her teaching and research focus on the history of East Central Europe and 20th-century Poland. Lebow’s first book, Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-56 (Cornell, 2013), won the Barbara Jelavich Prize of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her current research focuses on autobiographical writings by peasants and workers in 1920s-30s Poland and on narrative, testimony, and transatlantic social science in the first half of the 20th century.


Roberto Vanin

Roberto has a diversified career in R&D operating in different categories and geographies. Lately he has spent 8 years in Reckitt Benckiser developing the brand Vanish into a powerbrand and 6 years in Mars chocolate being lately the VP of R&D for AIME. Roberto has then joined Yildiz Holding in different International and Corporate role as VP of R&D. He joined SBFE in December 2015. Roberto has lived in 7 different countries around the world.

Roberto's educational background is with Laurea in Chimica Organica, Padua University (MS in Organic Chemistry )


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Todd Brock

Mr. Brock has nearly 30 years of experience in Fast Moving Consumer Goods working for three Fortune 500 companies, Pfizer, Revlon and Clorox. Most currently he is the Clorox Vice President General Manager for AMEA – Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia, ANZ, with overall responsibility for managing both the revenue and cost elements of AMEA’s income statement. AMEA Clorox includes businesses in over 80 countries and 600+ employees. Mr. Brock has had ever increasing responsibilities with roles in Sales, Marketing, Product Supply and General Management. He has spent over half of his career working outside the United States, developing markets and business in Latin America, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, Asia and ANZ. Todd holds a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from the University of Oregon and an MBA in Finance from Rutgers University.   He resides in London with his wife Jennifer and his son Evan is currently studying Coding and Environmental Science at Emory University in Atlanta GA, USA.


Susan Whiddington

Susan Whiddington is the founding director of Mousetrap Theatre Projects, a theatre education charity dedicated to creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people and young people with special needs to attend outstanding theatre across London. Founded in 1997, Mousetrap Theatre Projects now runs 21 innovative access, creative learning and youth engagement programmes which enabled 15,000 young people to attend theatre, many for the first time, last year.

Serpentine Gallery

G9 visited the Serpentine Galleries to investigate the artist John Latham, who used books together with other materials to express his ideas often creating installations. This was a wonderful opportunity for inspiration for G9, as they will be exploring the use of old discarded books for their Interdisciplinary Unit on Conflict. They will all be working collaboratively to create an installation, using their Languages of Spanish and Mandarin as a major part of it.  We will keep everyone informed as the project develops over the term.

HPC Street Art Tour

Stephanie Keller, an American, who has lived and worked in the UK for the last seven years in the Art Industry, took members of the Halcyon community on a tour of East London’s Street Art.

She explained that Street Art often gets a bad reputation, due to it being confused with Graffiti Art. Street Art originated in the 80’s from classically trained painters wanting to display their art publicly and free for everyone to enjoy. More recently, Street Art has been used to help gentrify neighbourhoods and building owners often legally commission famous Street Artists to increase a building’s value. Graffiti Art is usually done without legal permission or artistic purpose, but simply to ‘tag’ one’s name in a certain area for reputation building. It is closely associated with gang culture and Graffiti Artists and Street Artists are often at war with each other - destroying each other's pieces - and Artists will often move between the two groups which causes the blur in terminology.  

Stephanie’s insightful knowledge and connections with the artists ensured all the pieces and background of the artists were thoroughly explained with impressive detail.

Enjoy some photos of the works we saw including Stik, Thierry Noir, Pure Evil, Ben Eine and Banksy, to name just a few.

Inspiring Voices Speaker Series 2 - Gabriel Jamie & Tim Dee 04 May 2017

Gabriel shows differing beak shapes of the same family of Cuckoo birds who have adapted to slightly different food sources. 

Gabriel shows differing beak shapes of the same family of Cuckoo birds who have adapted to slightly different food sources. 

Your passion can allow you to connect with people from all walks of life.” said Gabriel, “You should find what makes you unique and follow it to the ends of the earth.

Halcyon held its second Inspiring Voices speaker series on 04 May and once again it was a full house. This time the guest speakers were Gabriel Jamie, Cambridge PhD student in Zoology, and Tim Dee, BBC radio producer and author - both sharing a passion for birds. They engaged in an inspirational and interactive conversation, surprising the audience with fascinating insights into bird behaviour.

It was the combination of Gabriel’s passion about birds, his humanistic upbringing and his education that enabled him to turn his passion into a profession.

Ever since he was 11, he visited his grandmother in South Africa and went searching on fishing trawlers to observe the vast numbers of albatrosses perching on the fishing nets. He had his moment of revelation when watching the overwhelming size and wingspan of these birds flying in the evening sky. This made a deep and lasting impression on him.

From then on, throughout his teenage years, he went birdwatching every Sunday just outside of London getting up at 0300, his dad supporting his interest to investigate and ring* birds. His peers could not categorise him; they simply didn’t understand him. For some time he felt isolated. Only when he was 16 and went on his first expedition, did he find like-minded peers. He went to many different parts of the world to explore and study birds; from Romania to Zambia to northern Mozambique. His expeditions led him to study Biology at Cambridge, where he is presently in his final year of his PhD in Zoology, specialising in the mimicry of bird markings and calls like the Honeyguide bird and the Cuckoo family of birds.

Although Tim’s passion for birds started even earlier than Gabriel’s, at the age of seven on the Balearic Islands, the impact was similar. He was captivated by collecting, organising and classifying birds, giving him a sense of “knowing where you are”. As a young boy he once asked a famous bird scientist to take him along to one of his expeditions. The answer he received was revealing and is still valid for him today: “Go local, go deep. Get switched on by what you have close.” It was these conversations with experts in the field that let both Tim and Gabriel to advance in their learnings. They both wanted to engage in the subject not passively, but actively sharing it.

It’s sad that young people are suppressing their interests. They’ve tried to become generalists. Rarely do they come to me with a specialism.” said Tim about his budding young producers. “Everyone has these deep shafts of knowledge and what I want to hear from them is a willingness to access these.

Ultimately, Gabriel realised that by placing a subject into a wider context, such as studying birds and ecology, it would enable him to redefine the importance of studying birds for himself and the world of science. When asked what amazes him the most, he explains:

Plants, trees, fruits - it’s the whole ecology that is amazing - the co-evolutionary interaction. It’s all about understanding the co-dependence of the whole system. Economics is the management of the household, ecology is the understanding of the household.

The evening was a success. Many members of our community brought friends and family and our speakers inspired the audience with their passion for an exotic world we can all explore that’s both in our back gardens and abroad.

*catching birds humanely to place a ring on them so, when released, they can be tracked and identified in the future.

By Noah W. (G11)

Halcyon achieves Ofsted 'Outstanding' rating in all categories.

We are delighted to inform you that, following our recent Ofsted inspection, our school has been rated Outstanding. Not only did we achieve an overall rating of Outstanding, we did so in every category, as follows:

Overall effectiveness:                                                  Outstanding
Effectiveness of leadership and management:      Outstanding
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment:      Outstanding
Personal development, behaviour and welfare:     Outstanding
Outcomes for pupils:                                                    Outstanding
Sixth-form provision:                                                   Outstanding

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our entire community for your contributions toward this important achievement. We could not have attain this without the extraordinary dedication of our staff, the continuous support of our parent community, and the engagement of every student in our school.

Please do take the time to read the full report as we hope you will enjoy the detail paid to our many efforts that led to this Outstanding rating. We have, however, listed some of the main findings below:

  • Leaders and staff have created a culture which brings out the best in everyone, where morale is high and where parents can be confident that their children are safe from harm.
     
  • Pupils conduct themselves extremely well in lessons and around school. They are polite, courteous and respectful, and they work very hard to achieve their ambitions.
     
  • Pupils achieved very well overall in the 2016 international assessments. Pupils currently in the school make outstanding progress.
     
  • Staff give pupils exceptional opportunities to take responsibility for many aspects of school life. They are very well prepared to become the leaders of tomorrow.
     
  • Teaching over time is outstanding. Teachers plan activities that engage pupils in their learning. They give insightful feedback so that pupils know how to improve their work.
     
  • Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is promoted exceptionally well. Pupils are resilient and very thoughtful in their approach to tackling problems.
     
  • The sixth form (IB Diploma) is outstanding. Excellent teaching and assessment have been instrumental in bringing about very strong outcomes.

This is a notable achievement for any school, and particularly for such a young school such as ours. We should celebrate the success we have enjoyed, and use this as platform to continue to innovate, collaborate and strengthen our learning community.

Thank you for your support for our school, especially to our students, who met with the inspection team, and to all of our parents who took the time to complete the feedback survey. We cannot stress how impressed the inspection team was with the attitude and personal responsibility of our students, and the overwhelmingly positive response they received from parents. 

As a digital school, we would like to ensure we publicise this fantastic news to best benefit the school. May we ask that if you are using Social Media platforms, please Retweet, Like or Share these posts among your circles;

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Finally, we would like to thank our teaching and administrative team, without whom none of this would be possible. It is a pleasure and privilege to work with such dedicated and talented professionals.

Learning Reimagined Thus Far - £135,300 raised to date!

We are delighted to report on the successes of our Learning Reimagined campaign.

Online Auction and Quiz/Auction Night Events
Thanks to tremendous support from parents, staff, students and supportive businesses, we were able to raise just over £45,000 from these events. We consider this a wonderful accomplishment for any school. Halcyon should be particularly proud considering we are a relatively small school and these were our first major fundraising events.

Thanks to the student team for both designing the campaign video and digital quiz and for being great hosts on the night and the parent team whose hard work created an inspiring and fun event.  

Inspiring Voices Speakers Series
Last night we had our 2nd Inspiring Voices Speakers Series which aims to share life-long learning with our community, friends and colleagues by inviting younger professionals to speak about their varied paths of success. This project has already raised approximately £1,000 this year and we look forward to seeing it grow next year. We received such fantastic community support; the evening was hosted, filmed, photographed and reported on by our students; our parent committee organised the speakers, publicised the event and refreshments were thanks to a lovely donation!

Thanks to everyone's endless support!

Looking forward
Combining these events with the generous individual donations from our families and friends since the campaign launch last spring, we have raised £135,300.

With these funds we will be able to install much of the furnishing and acoustic redesign for the second floor space in time for September 2017. These improvements will be major steps toward the full project and allow us to enjoy comfortable, flexible learning spaces as soon as possible.

Thank you again to our entire community. We look forward to our next fundraising projects. If you would like to make a gift toward Learning Reimagined or the school in general, please contact Rita Halbright.

Emilia Majewska - Purchaser and Facilities Officer

What should I say about myself ….hmmm?

I was born - we are all born in the right place, in Poland. I will tell you a bit about what my country looks like. I was born at the north of the country, close to the seaside (Baltyc). Beautiful beaches, cliffs and yellow sand. Every summer when I was little I always visited my grandma, in the west of the country. We would go often to the forest to pick mushrooms and blueberries. Something from those visits has stayed with me to this day - photographs.

My grandma had a lot of old photographs in her drawers. They were yellowing and the focus was not very sharp. But they were beautiful. I could see how the family looked and lived in days gone by. Those pictures stayed in my head and my heart for a very long time and those memories gave me a love of photography.

I did not study photography in school, but I taught myself how to use a manual camera and how to take photos. I then completed a few courses and started taking photos of my children, who are my best models :). I love being behind my camera and capturing the natural behavior and beauty of people.

That is one part of my world. The other side of my artistic soul is my financial and economic qualifications I received in my home country and experience gained during my work at a college in London.

I hope to share with Halcyon my financial experience to ensure the school’s financial success and growth with good principles and procedures and some good cheer every day. I have loved this School from the time I read about it on the website. This is an exciting place to work and I am proud to be part of the Halcyon community. I am committed to supporting the students and staff to achieve the highest standard. I look forward to meeting you and hearing your story and sharing more of mine.   

Katy Wrench, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

I actually dropped into Marketing and Communications rather by accident. I had finished my degree in Anthropology and Geography and was unsure what to do next. Randomly, choosing a masters in Disaster Management made sense at the time, but I am not so sure how useful that topic was… However, it enabled me to meet a student who did a communications internship in Thailand and through that I experienced nine months of galavanting around southeast Asia.

Living abroad in a non-english speaking country taught me some hard earned life lessons; including how to remove a mouse from inside the workings of your refrigerator, how to politely refuse a sit down meal with 5 chosen potential ‘life partners’, and that travelling alone as a young person is tough! But, since then, my love of travel has only grown. I worked in New Zealand for one year and got into hiking, surfing and kickboxing. My other interests include photography, dancing, Thai kickboxing, books, unusual anime and video games.

I found that my studies enhanced my new-found knowledge of communications in a new way: Knowing your target audience and the best way to communicate information to them is key in both a disaster situation and in everyday life. High levels of empathy; putting yourself in other people’s shoes and understanding what they need to understand make a good communicator and marketer. Studying different societies has helped a lot too.

My international experience has allowed me to see techniques being used in small, medium and large companies, both internationally and nationally. Marketing automation techniques in particular are key to helping an organisation grow. I'm keen to keep ahead of the curve, utilising a variety  programmes and tools for a fast reaction time to keep students and parents informed with interesting and relevant news. Keeping our communications authentic and as close to the source (our students, staff and families) as possible is high on my list.

I can bring bundles of energy, excitement, and a smidge of expertise to what is already a fast-moving and innovative school and I am pleased to be able to meet so many talented staff and awesome students.

Fun Fact: I was among 1000 people dancing in the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony as a 80/90s ‘Raver’. It was a shame I was not of that era… but great fun!

Spanish Immersion Trip this Spring Break

Our first trip to Spain has begun 15 - 23 April! Halcyon students are staying with local families and working alongside peers in the local high school on a variety of projects and activities and visiting Madrid and Cuenca. During their trip, they will be posting their adventures on their Google Site under the page 'Viaje a España'. You will be able to follow their experiences daily. ¡Buen viaje, chicos!

Thank you parents for your wonderful Ofsted Parent View responses

We were delighted to have almost 100 responses from our parent community to the online parent survey. The inspectors reviewed the results on Thursday and were hugely impressed with the level of parent engagement and the overwhelmingly positive responses. Thank you very much for playing your role in the inspection.

During our end-of-inspection feedback meeting, it was clear that the school had done very well in all areas, and we are now looking forward to receiving  the official report on 4 -6 weeks.  We will share Ofsted’s findings with you as soon as we can. Thank you again!

NEASC Candidacy Accreditation Recieved

“In a very short time, Halcyon has created a true learning community. The school is a ‘Thinking Community’ and that ethos is evident in the reflective nature of the work being done.” NEASC accreditation report.

We have successfully passed the first stage in our New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation.

A globally recognised standard of excellence, NEASC accreditation attests to substantial compliance with established qualitative standards, integrity in statements to the public describing the institution's programme, institutional commitment to improvement, and sufficiency of institutional resources.

The NEASC Visitors left Halcyon in February 2017 with an extremely positive view of the school: "The community is a reflective, exciting environment where there is a palpable sense that everyone is focused on one goal: meaningful, authentic learning!”

The Visitors also acknowledged that the school “has created a culture of transformation.” Perhaps the strongest statement indicating the school’s commitment to the ACE Learning Principles is the following: “The community values student voice, autonomy, and self-directed learning to such an extent that it has created a very special learning experience for its students.”

A full report summary will be coming next week. We are thrilled and honored to reach this stage in the accreditation.