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GSIS Gazette – Issue #74

25th February 2022

Principal's Column

Dear Members of the School Community

Two significant events have taken place for GSIS this week. On the one hand, Tuesday’s announcement by Chief Executive Carrie Lam created a lot of tension. 

On the other hand, we conducted our Annual General Meetings of the GSIS Association and the GSIS Foundation on Thursday, the most important part being the election of the new Board of Directors. 

Let me start with a few words about the Annual General Meetings.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the current Board members for their partnership and effective cooperation during a difficult year.

I would like to thank the retiring and remaining members for their commitment and extensive support. While the voting results are still pending, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the newly elected Board members.

I look forward to working closely with the new Board. I am certain that we will make significant progress in many areas of the school in the coming school year.

Under normal circumstances, this meeting would have been held on campus. However, due to the pandemic situation, the meeting had to be held online. This was only possible thanks to our fantastic team, the hard work from the Board and especially the IT department.

Following the election, the entire school leadership team looks forward to working closely with the Board in tackling new tasks in the remaining school year.

The first scope of work has already been assigned to the School Management and the Board by the announcement of the Chief Executive Carrie Lam. In fact, we agree that moving the summer break to March/April is not feasible for GSIS. 

The arguments against this are so many that they cannot be overcome even with the best of efforts. In the meantime, the EDB has let on that an exception may be considered for International Schools in regards to bringing forward the summer break.

Apart from all the factual arguments, the most decisive argument for me against postponing the summer holidays is the fact that this would effectively separate international families from each other for yet another year. 

Of course, we will now have to work intensively on the further planning of the next period. Nevertheless, I am very confident that we will find a good solution.

I wish you good endurance and, above all, health for you and your family.

With best regards 

Dr Dirk Bennhardt

Schoolwide News

CPD Day Cancelled 11 March 2022 - Online School Day

We have decided to cancel our second CPD Day this academic year, which was scheduled for Friday, 11 March 2022. We will use this day as an online teaching day. Our staff are invested in their professional development and online learning expertise. To ensure ongoing training opportunities happen for staff in the second semester, Professional Development will be arranged individually for each department by the respective Head.

Dirk Bennhardt

Meeting of KPR Secretaries and School Management - 1 March 2022

We are looking forward to our second meeting of this academic year, which will be held on 1 March. Following the meeting, the minutes will be shared with you and further updates of our arrangements will be provided through the KPR system.

Dirk Bennhardt

University Guidance: Upcoming Events (External)

The following events are suitable and available to all students and parents of students in Y10-Y13 and K09-K12:


Okeanos Foundation for the Sea is a German philantrophic organization active in the Pacific and in Europe. We support Pacific island states in their efforts to operate and build fossil-fuel traditional sailing canoes (Vakas) for passenger and cargo transportation needs, culturally based education and research. In Europe, we focus on ocean and environmental protection through mindful, experience-based education.

Waves of action

Summer Camp Opportunity for Environmentalist for students 16-20 years: 2 weekends in Germany and 2 weeks in France - one sailing on a Vaka!

Costs: €300,- and travel costs to the 2 weekend seminars in Darmstadt.

You have an idea with which you want to contribute to the protection of the oceans, but you don't know exactly how to put it into practice?

Send us your project idea and tell us what your motivation is behind it and in which area you are looking for support. To help you get your bearings, we have put together a few examples for you. If your project idea convinces us, we will reset the sails together! In the truest sense of the word, because we invite you to the Mediterranean coast of southern France for two weeks. In the first week, you will meet professionals at the summer camps who will give you practical tips and assistance for your needs. The second week you will spend at sea on our Polynesian catamaran and discover the oceans from an exciting new perspective.

Send us your project idea and apply here.


Service opportunity for rugby enthusiasts

The Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation is pleased to launch the SHINE programme in collaboration with RUN, a local NGO that rehabilitates refugees through sport and education, and our long term partner Laureus. We’ll be helping refugee children learn new skills and knowledge as well as having a whole heap of fun during a 12 week rugby and team activities programme. We can’t wait to engage with the kids as soon as social distancing restrictions allow!

Please keep an eye on our website for future opportunities.


World Class Study in London Virtual Events For Students

Staff from three of London’s leading institutions – Imperial College London, King’s College London and UCL – will be holding online information sessions for students from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. Discover more about studying in London from our current students and our academics from Engineering, Medicine and Law.

Schools Q&A

The live event will be a Q&A with student officers. We will also be joined by some of our current students, so that prospective students can ask them about their experience at our institutions and student life in London. Upon registering, the students will be able to view a pre-recorded presentation that we recommend they watch before the live event. The presentation will give them all the practical information we think they will need - unique opportunities for students in London, career planning tips, an overview of our institutions and programmes, plus application advice.

Please sign up for only one of the following events as they will be the same.

Tuesday 1 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)

Wednesday 2 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)

Thursday 3 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)

Academic Q&A

This is an opportunity to ask questions to our academic staff directly. The event has three sessions and each one will cover a popular subject area: Engineering, Law & Medicine.

Students are requested to register for the subject(s) they are interested in. Upon registering, they will be able to view a pre-recorded presentation that we recommend they watch before the live session(s). The presentation will give them all of the practical information that we think they will need about that subject area. The live event will be a Q&A with an academic member of staff from each institution. They will each give a brief overview of the subject area at their institution and then the Q&A will commence.


Tuesday 8 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)


Wednesday 9 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)


Thursday 10 March 10:30am-12:00pm GMT (6:30pm-8:00pm HKT)


Summer Journalism Academy at Boston University

Boston University presents a hands-on experience for high school students interested in journalism, writing or photography. Our program gives students ages 14 to 18 the opportunity to expand their skills and prepare for college, either through a residential experience on campus or through remote instruction from home.

For 13 years, our program has taught high school students core skills in news reporting, interviewing, and writing, while focusing on hands-on experience in and around Boston and their home communities. Taught by award-winning working journalists such as Pulitzer Prize winner Lara Salahi , students learn how to follow facts and get to the heart of stories affecting communities.

Students are challenged to step outside their comfort zone and experience life as a working journalist. In the past, our students spoke with policymakers, reported from a massive immigration march, and highlighted issues affecting teens during the pandemic. They learned how to interview strangers, ask probing questions, and assemble information in a concise story with a deadline. Students learn practical skills over each two-week session, but they also get a taste of how a newsroom operates.

For students living on-campus, they have the opportunity to:

  • Meet with Boston University's representative to discuss the college admissions process
  • Explore what it's like living in a residence hall and studying in a university environment
  • Experience Boston museums, historical sites, and neighborhoods during free time

Two-week sessions begin on June 20, July 4, and July 18. Students decide if they would like to attend in-person or virtual programs. They also have the option to participate in the writing and reporting program, photojournalism program, or both.

For more details and registration, please click here

If students are accepted to the program and pay the registration fee by 31 March, they will receive a special discount of $400 off the in-person tuition (EARLYCAMPUS22) and $200 off tuition for the virtual program (EARLYRLFH22).


Virtual Model Class Updates from UChicago

Interested in experiencing a UChicago class? UChicago is hosting these upcoming virtual model classes that will introduce you to exciting topics and UChicago’s Life of the Mind atmosphere. We welcome you and any interested family members to join in on these classes!

Topic: Neuroscience

Friday 25 February 9:00am-10:00am CST (11:00pm-12:00am HKT)

Join us for a model class with Professor Megan McNulty, Associate Senior Instructional Professor in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division. Professor McNulty's model class will draw upon her undergraduate Neuroscience course for non-Neuroscience majors.


Topic: Data Science

Tuesday 15 March 10:00am-11:00am CDT (11:00pm-12:00am HKT)

Join us for a model class, "An Example of Misinterpreted Data", with David Biron, Assistant Senior Instructional Professor in the Department of Statistics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Data Science.



 15 on the 15th - monthly virtual college fairs with 15 U.S. liberal arts colleges

Designed for international prospective students and counsellors, our goal is to provide students with the opportunity to get to know our institutions in-depth at their own pace.

On the 15th of each month, March through December, we will come together to offer "15 minutes of Tips" for the college application process followed by an hour-long virtual college fair. Each institution will have its own Zoom room for students to meet with an international admission officer and a current student or alum. The format is the same every month with different opening topics and tips.

March – October on the 15th 9:45am-11:00am ET (9:45pm-11:00pm HKT)

November – December on the 15th 9:45am-11:00am ET (10:45pm-12:00am HKT)

You only need to register once. Before each college fair, registrants will receive a reminder email with the Zoom links to access the main webinar and each college's room.

Meet the colleges of 15 on the 15th and register here.


Do you love to write? Please find here a sample of some upcoming writing competitions open to international high school students.

1. Ocean Awareness Writing Contest

The Ocean Awareness Competition provides a platform for young people to understand environmental issues through artistic creation and creative thoughts, explore their relationship with the changing world, and become advocates of positive change.

Eligibility: International competition. Any student age 11-18 who is/was enrolled in middle or high school (secondary school) while the contest is open. For example, if you are in the 12th grade in September 2021 and graduate high school in May/June 2022 , you can participate in the 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest.

Junior Division: 11-14 years old

Senior Division: 15-18 years old

Competition theme: The theme of the 2022 Ocean Awareness Competition is “The Funny Thing About Climate Change.”

Competition time: The deadline for submission is 13 June 2022

Official website of the competition

2. New York Times Summer Reading Competition

Since 2010, the New York Times has held a summer reading competition for middle school students from all over the world every summer. So far, more than 50,000 middle school students have participated. The Summer Reading Contest invites students to choose something in The Times that has sparked their interest, then tell us why. At the end of every week, judges from the Times newsroom pick their favorite responses, and the winner’s work will be published in NY Times.

Before the end of the competition (August), participants can choose any article, essay, video, interaction, podcast, or photo published in the New York Times to analyze, write about, and submit to the competition. Every Tuesday after the start of the competition, the previous week’s winners will be announced and their writing pieces will be published.

Competition time: TBD

Suitable for students: 13-19-year-old students from all over the world.

Students aged 13-15 can submit via the form in the link to the weekly article, subject to parent or guardian consent;

Students aged 16-19 can directly submit in the comments of the weekly articles.

Official website of the competition

3. Write the World Series Writing Contest – Science Fiction

Students envision a future that will undergo tremendous changes due to technology, the environment, or new social order. You can write about artificial life, unexpected encounters, novel societies, or cli-fi (climate fiction) utopian or dystopian futures. In a short story, conjure a reality that no one else has dreamed of, and transform our vision of tomorrow’s world.

Competition time: TBD

Suitable for students: 13-18-year-old students from all over the world

Official website of the competition

4. John Locke Essay Competition

The John Locke Essay Competition is organized by John Locke Institute, an independent education organization located in Oxford, UK. The John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis, and persuasive style. All of their essay prizes are judged by senior academics from the University of Oxford. The judges will choose their favorite essay from each subject category and an overall ‘best essay’ across seven subjects. Read more about the complete guide to John Locke Competition here.

Competition time: February 2022 (GMT Time)

Suitable for students: 2 Levels – High school students 18 years old or younger and Middle School students 14 years old or younger at the submission deadline.

Official website of the competition. 

Here is a list of some other writing competitions that take place each year for you to explore. Some are still open for this year, others you will need to keep an eye on for their next cycle.

Claire Wilkins
Head of University Guidance

Beatrice Ugolini
University Guidance Counsellor

German International Stream

Kindergarten Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

Primary Corner

Dear Parents

What a week!! 

Online Survey

Thanks for your answers in our Online Learning Survey, we are grateful to have a lot of feedback. Many parents shared their positive feedback and how happy they are with the teachers.

I would like to take this opportunity to also thank you! Without the parents and the support that they give, we wouldn't be able to teach the kids as well as we try to do. 

We will review and analyze the responses, determine if we need to make any adaptation to our provisions, and will let you know the outcome of the survey in the next Gazette.


This morning we celebrated Fasching in our classes - the kids were dressed up and had fun with charades and dancing to some traditional Fasching songs. 

I hope you enjoyed the Fasching parade with all the class animals.

Klassen Challenge

Meet Link, Weekly Plan and Google Classroom 

These three words dominate the students' everyday life at the moment. 

Action, creativity and teamwork are supposed to complement that in the form of the Class Challenge. 

Since last week, the pupils of grades 3 and 4 have been taking part in the class challenge. Here they face different tasks and collect points for their class. 

Full of energy, the pupils have already collected many points in the first week and had a lot of fun. 

Example tasks from last week and this week are: building a cave, preparing a family meal, making a picture out of natural materials and dressing up creatively for carnival. 

The tasks are considered completed when the children load corresponding pictures into an in-class presentation that all pupils in a class can view at any time. 

At the end of the week, the points achieved are added up. At the same time, new tasks are posted in the same presentation and discussed in more detail in the well-being lesson if there are any questions. At the end of the online phase, all points are added up and a class winner is crowned. 

The aim is to provide students with an exciting activity away from the computer or tablet that requires their energy and creativity and promotes class community.

Thanks for joining

Alexandra Neumann-Hillebrand 

Library book swap

We were prepared to offer a regular library book swap, but due to the current circumstances around Hong Kong we have decided to limit the risk of exposure to all and will not offer the library book swap at this time.

PID online

Please note that we will have our online Parents Information Days on following dates.

We will send you detailed information and sign in possibilities later.

Peak Campus - K01- K04

  • 14th March 14, 8:00 - 1:00 pm
  • 15th March 15, 2:00 - 6:00 pm

PFL Campus - DVOR

  • 24th March, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
  • 25th March, 8:00  - 1:00 pm

We wish you a great weekend!

Priska Erni
Head of German Primary Department

Beate Weinhardt
Deputy Head of German Primary Department

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

Secondary Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

English International Stream

From Head of Stream

Dear Parents

Whilst the outbreak of war in Europe overshadows so much of our lives, we are still faced with numerous challenges that we must continue to face as best we can.

Student Surveys

We recently surveyed secondary students and primary parents to gauge how students are coping with online learning. There is evidence of genuine resilience and optimism but there is also indicators of fatigue and worry. We will continue to work with students and parents to support them during online learning and offer strategies to ensure a balance of activities and maintaining wellness.

EDB Announcements

The Principal, Grit Cichon, Ada Ng and I attended the meeting with Priscilla To, the Under Secretary for Education on Wednesday afternoon. Prior to the meeting we shared a proposal with all Principals of Hong Kong international schools that we would prefer to remain learning online rather than shift the school holidays and that we want to honour the public examinations. There was a shared understanding amongst the Principals that international schools’ calendars could not change as they shaped the actions of the school in so many ways.

Families leaving Hong Kong

We understand that a number of families are looking to leave Hong Kong at this challenging time. The school will maintain its online learning programme and absent students are encouraged to access these lessons where possible. However, if families are in a different time zone we will not be able to provide an alternative lesson to suit individual needs but we will continue to share learning resources. Staff will be able to respond to individual emails and offer guidance but we will not expect them to reteach their lesson at a different time.

If you are considering leaving Hong Kong for an extended period, please do contact your Head of Department or me to discuss expectations in order to avoid any misapprehensions.

Enjoy the sunshine! It has been too cold recently!

Simon Misso-Veness
Deputy Principal / Head of English International Stream

Kindergarten Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

Primary Corner

Dear Parents

We hope that you are well and warm this week.

Online Survey

Thank you for taking the time to complete the Online Learning Survey. The parent support is an invaluable part of the educational process. We will review and analyze the responses, determine if we need to make any adaptation to our provisions, and will let you know the outcome of the survey.


Today was our Fasching celebration, online. We thank the GPD in arranging a variety of fun activities for all Primary students. We look forward to the day that we can all celebrate this in person! 

Library book swap

We were prepared to offer a regular library book swap, but due to the current circumstances around Hong Kong we have decided to limit the risk of exposure to all and will not offer the library book swap at this time.

PIDs online

Please note that we will have our online Parents Information Days on following dates

Peak Campus - Y02-Y06

  • 14th March, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm and through the week during times which work best for each teacher. 

PFL Campus - Y01B

  • 25th March, 8:00 - 1:00 pm and throughout the week during times which work best for each teacher.

Students with camera on

During online lessons students are expected to keep their cameras on. This includes specialist lessons. If your family is experiencing connectivity issues, please inform the teachers so that we are aware that it is not a student turning off their camera.

We hope that you are able to get out and enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

Kim Cunningham
Head of English Primary Department

Donna Morley
Deputy Head of English Primary Department

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

Secondary Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

No updates / announcements this week

Wellbeing Corner

Feeling blah

Some of you may have been feeling a rollercoaster of emotions lately - frustration, sadness, loneliness or just a general sense of feeling overwhelmed. You could be in a state of limbo, aimlessness and low mood - what’s been termed as ‘languishing’.

The causes of languishing are different for every person – but they may result from many factors, such as stress or even a change in routine. The good news is that languishing doesn’t last forever, and there are many things you can do to improve your mental state.

We hope the following articles help you recognise that these emotions are completely understandable and offer some practical tips on how to cope during these challenging times.

We would also like to remind students that they should reach out to their counsellor or a trusted adult if they feel they need some additional support.

Take care and be kind to yourself.

Your School Counsellors