From August to February, the #ASHexperience on campus was one of familiarity, traditions and anticipated events. In March, life for most of the world (although for some countries this happened earlier) was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic - one that we are all very much still living through. Our ASH community is enjoying a well-deserved summer break, after a rollercoaster year but it is a year that the spirit and integrity of ASH shone through. Over the summer break weeks, we are going to be highlighting “the year that was…” in our different school divisions and areas of activity, from beginning the year on campus, to our swift transition to the virtual learning environment, to then being able to finish the school year with a blended learning model.
Today we are looking back on and celebrating the year that was in the… elementary school! We love engaging with our youngest learners and their teachers here at ASH, and hearing all about their #ASHexperience.
In October, we saw future eco-activists in action, as our second graders committed to combating food waste and being the pioneers in the elementary school of this cafeteria-driven initiative. The grade 2 classes were shown the bags of food waste that is accumulated each week and were all shocked by how much there was. Investigating this made the problem much more real to our students and with their teachers explaining how their choices could help rectify some of this problem you could see a sense of purpose for this task take hold! Read all about the fight on food waste here.
In December we highlighted the new STEAM equipment that was gifted by the PTO to the ECC - home to our youngest learners. STEAM learning is taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, and has been embraced at all levels here at ASH. Equipment like the Lego Coding Express kits and microscopes helps to propel this integrated approach along and reinforce the concepts our ECC students are learning. For more on STEAM learning in the ECC, click here for our interview with Mr. Rynearson, ECC Science & Technology teacher.
Just before the holiday break, our third and fourth graders put on an expo in the upper elementary atrium to showcase the passion projects they had all been working on since the start of the school year. And of course, for many, this was just further cultivation of passions they have had for much longer. There was an incredible array of projects on display, and visitors to the showcase were encouraged to ask the students questions about what they chose to explore, how they defined problems, shared ideas and developed action plans. For more on this fabulous showcase click here.
When our upper elementary students returned from the Christmas break, they were delighted to find a brand new playground waiting for them. With a fresh, modern look, it was designed by experts in adolescent movement, parkour and freerunning. The aim behind this playground is to encourage this freedom of movement for our upper elementary students and for them to embrace a more physical way of experiencing the environment around them. These ideas behind parkour and freerunning were a focus of our students’ physical education classes as they learned how to safely enjoy this new space.
Giving back to our wider community is an important part of the #ASHexperience, no matter how old you are. Our second graders embraced a philanthropic mindset with their market day in January. After studying economics, they put their learnings into practice, setting up stalls in the upper elementary atrium offering a wide range of student-made goods and services including baked goods, face painting, and games. It was so successful that, with the help of the high school Kika club, they raised €470 to advance childhood cancer research.
This market day was one of the last on-campus events to take place for our elementary students before ASH had to activate the virtual learning environment. Our youngest learners (and their families!) responded incredibly well to this upheaval in their lives. Of course, there were challenges along the way, but thanks to both their own and their parents’ positive attitudes plus the amazing work our teachers and staff put into VLE, this has truly been a unique chapter in their #ASHexperience.
The school year finished with a combination of VLE and on-campus learning, as government guidelines enabled us to provide this blended learning experience. It was so nice to finish the year seeing many of our young learners in person once again and although end of year traditions such as the grade 4 bridge crossing had to be modified, it was still an honor to be able to celebrate our students!