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War! What Is It Good For?

22 March 2017

This was one of the questions asked by the Sharks in this week’s performances of BISS Puxi’s own adaptation of West Side Story, and the prompt for a thought-provoking song during the performance.

  • West Side Story

Students produced their very own script and set a backdrop of the Vietnam War for the story itself, ending with a narrative at the UN in 1991 which highlighted the futility of war. In a world that continues to be challenged by conflict, this was a provocative, absorbing and timely reminder from our students.  Interestingly, West Side Story is actually based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Our students set the story in Verona High School, Washington DC, in the year 1971. The militarist Jets and the hippy Sharks fight for the right to express their beliefs and views on the growing issue of the US’ involvement in Vietnam; an overseas civil war. In the midst of the rising tension, Tony, the former leader of the Jets, and Maria, the Sharks’ leader’s younger sister, fall in love. After meeting for the first time at the school homecoming dance, Tony and Maria must hide their forbidden love from an unforgiving community.

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the students involved for all of their efforts and the commitment that they have given over the last few months in producing and preparing for their performances this week. The shows were polished, and enhanced by their exciting use of visuals and live music; it was a highly entertaining and enjoyable production.  Projects such as these celebrate and grow the talent within the student population, and having been here for a number of years, it is always heartening to see students progress from more junior roles in Key Stage 3 to become accomplished performers in the senior productions.  They are developing skills for their futures and the enjoyment of collaborating together was clear in rehearsals; as well as the excitement of the evenings themselves.

Secondly, reflecting upon the theme of the production and a world in which we still hear so much rhetoric from leaders relating to confrontation, it is heartening to work within a community in which we all come together from diverse backgrounds with the common goal of learning together, learning from each other and supporting our wider community.  For me, this makes every day at BISS hugely enjoyable and I am aware that all of us are lucky to be part of this special community.  In addition to this week’s production, we’ve had other shared successes, which reflect the mindfulness of our students, parents and teachers.

The recent BISS MUN already demonstrated our students’ awareness of the real issues that are facing the world and their desire to reach a consensus to tackle them.  This weekend saw our Year 12 students organising their own CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) projects to support the work with the Huaxin Rehabilitation Centre, with a fun run that raised over 10000RMB to help projects for the children and families, who also came along to offer support and cheers to the athletes in attendance.  A remarkable achievement and one which supports our Global Challenge to provide long term support from the school through developing resources, such as sensory spaces and experiences for the children at Huaxin.  It gives their parents help in caring for their disabled children at the centre, and also a much needed support network. We are keen to develop this moving forward and if you’d like to find out more about how you can help, please let me know.

At lunchtimes this week, we’ve been entertained with some fabulous musical performances in the Quad; again from our Year 12 CAS students. It has been great to hear them showcase their singing and playing and it has been superbly supported by the pupils too.  All funds raised will help fund the project work that IB pupils carry out with the Indochina Starfish Organisation in Cambodia when they visit during Activities Week in June.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you (the parents) who prepared, supported and attended the International Food Event last Saturday. This was a great experience for us all, as a chance to catch up together for a brief moment and to celebrate the diversity and richness of our cultures through conversation, whilst trying the national dishes of our different countries – wonderfully enjoyable!  The students in the secondary school are very much looking forward to Monday, when they will also have the opportunity to taste some delicious culinary offerings.

Once again, I thank you for your support in working together to make the school community a success and I am confident that you share with me the school’s continuing vision to develop internationally-minded students.

Andrew Lancaster, Head of Secondary

 

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