"In the Know" Weekly Newsletter - The International School

News from Robert - 8/19/13 (school hours & festivals)

Dear Friends,
Thank you to all the families who joined us for our summer events this year! This past Saturday we had about 50 new and returning prek, lowk and kindergarten families at the Oregon Zoo, filling the zoo with our blue TIS t-shirts.

As we continue preparations for the new school year, we have finalized our school hours. This year school hours for Prek. LowK and K students will be from 8:15 to 3:10. School hours for 1st through 5th grade students will be from 8:00 to 3:10.

This new schedule will allow us to continue with the staggered start, which has helped moderate traffic at the beginning of the day. For end of day pick-up we are streamlining our procedures with one school ending time. We have learned that with staggered dismissal, parents of late dismissal students often arrive before parents of early dismissal students increasing traffic jams. This year we have been able to streamline classroom locations, and have new pick up directions that will make the process more efficient. Please remember that no matter how much we streamline, pick-up will always be a very busy time. Plan a lot of time and try not to be in a hurry - that will save frustration for everyone. Please see ITK next week for specific grade-by-grade instructions for pick-up and drop-off.

Another change we are making for this coming year has to do with school festivals. For many years we have had a December “Winter Festival” for the whole school, plus one dedicated festival for each language track. The festivals have become big productions, with classes spending very many hours rehearsing, preparing scenery and costumes, and traveling offsite. During the last few years as the festivals have grown, we have become an IB school with a richer and more demanding academic schedule. The classes cover more cultural learning through their units of inquiry, and parents have more opportunities to see their children's progress through end-of-unit presentations, field trips and program-related events.

While we all recognize the learning that can come from on-stage performances, a large majority of teachers feel that their students can get that learning from just one performance-based festival each year. I concur with their feelings that the cultural learning in the units of inquiry is more valuable than all the time put into a second stage-based performance.

Therefore, as a trial this year, we will have just one performance-based festival for all students: The TIS International Festival, February 13 at the PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center. Each class will perform in one of four shows, which will take place during the school day. We will publish the show time for each class before the end of October, so hopefully all parents will be able to attend.

Students will still celebrate Chinese New Year, Sakura Matsuri, and Latino and Spanish cultures, just not in ways that require so many days of preparation. On-site culture-sharing will be focused on student learning, and will allow more students from other tracks to participate. I know that the festivals have been important to many parents, and hope that you will support the teachers in making this change.

As always, please get in touch if you have questions or concerns,

- Robert
Robert Woods, Head of School, RobertW@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x122