The Year That Was... in the High School

We have been enjoying reflecting back on “the year that was” for our different divisions, milestones, activities and events here at ASH. 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. 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… high school! During their years in this division, there are so many important #ASHexperience milestones and we are so glad that many of these were able to happen pre-lockdown, and that many still went ahead with adaptation and creative thinking in the virtual learning environment.

The school year began for our high schoolers with a very important part of the #ASHexperience reopening for the school year… the Trojan Cafe! This initiative comes from our high school special education program, where every Tuesday and Thursday for half an hour, our students in this program host their own cafe half hour, where the community stops by, enjoys a little break and our students can show off their well-honed barista and hospitality skills. To learn more about this treasured ASH initiative and how it all got started, click here.

Our diversity within the ASH community is something we often talk about and celebrate. This diversity also extends to the field trips ASH is lucky to offer to our high school students, especially given our school’s location. From excursions that happen year after year, such as our IB science trip to Texel and the high school band and choir trip to Disneyland Paris that have become ASH traditions, to the opportunities that come with subject choices, like our IB theatre students traveling to London for a symposium or to Kyiv for the International Schools Theatre Association Festival. These are just some of the incredible #ASHexperiences our high schoolers enjoyed over the last school year. To read about more field trip fun, check out our newsroom.

A highlight on the high school calendar and indeed on the entire school’s calendar, would have to be the annual high school musical. Every year, the quality and production value is amazing, and this year’s Freaky Friday was no exception. More than 90 of our high school students were involved in the production, both in on-stage roles and in the equally important roles of backstage and production crew. We spoke with some of the students before their performances to get a sneak peek behind the curtain and hear all about what was involved in this year’s musical.

Another major highlight on the calendar for our high schoolers is THIMUN (The Hague International Model United Nations) - of which ASH was a founding member of over 50 years ago. Held at the World Forum, our ASH delegation joined over 3,200 students from around 200 schools (originating from over 100 countries) at the five-day simulation of the United Nations. This year’s theme included a similar sentiment from our own newly-launched mission and vision, to ensure every voice matters. This event is one that is incredibly important to our students who attend each year, both for their immediate learning and experience, and in looking forward to their futures.  

At the end of February, our service learning trips to Thailand, Tanzania and Nepal, saw groups of our students and staff members, traveling to work alongside our partners in these areas, for memorable week-long experiences. These trips are an integral part of the ASH global service program and our students who participate enjoy unforgettable journeys volunteering in local communities and make lasting, meaningful memories there. Each of the three trips recounted a day in the life of their experiences and you can read more about these here.

Transitioning to the virtual learning environment (VLE) brought about a great deal of change for everyone in the ASH community, but particularly for our high schoolers, whose many ASH traditions and activities that would normally occur on-campus had to be re-imagined for VLE. There are so many incredible examples of what our students and staff came up with during this time, including; adapting the way projects were conducted and submitted such as the way the IB environmental systems & societies class applied their learnings to thinking about the impact of the pandemic. A virtual induction ceremony was held by the ASH chapter of the NHS to ensure their new members received the recognition and acknowledgement of their achievement in joining the chapter. And perhaps the biggest feat of all in adapting what would normally be an on-campus event came in the form of this year’s graduation. It certainly was the most unique ceremony ASH has ever had, with families and friends around the world watching a livestream of our students in socially distanced locations around the school. To relive this special moment in time, please click here to read more about the ceremony. 

The school year finished with a combination of VLE and on-campus learning, as government guidelines enabled us to provide this blended learning experience for the last week and a half for our high schoolers - minus our senior students, as they had already completed their time here at ASH. It was great to see our students in person once again and to farewell the school year with most of them in person. For many of our end of year traditions, our community had to put our thinking caps on and pivot to alternative ways of celebrating events such as the Senior Dinner and the Awards Ceremony - read all about it here. We are so proud of how our high schoolers managed this unsettling time and even with the months of VLE, they still had an incredible year!

#ASHexperience #thejourneymatters