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HeadStart Program Proves Quarantine Can Be Fun

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HeadStart 2020 may have looked quite different this year, but that didn’t stop the fun. The HeadStart Program introduces new international students to life at Glenlyon Norfolk School and helps them understand what to expect as the newest members of our unique and vibrant community. As all our international students were required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada, this year’s HeadStart program incorporated all of them, including those returning from previous years. “The kids were all fantastic,” said Mr. Robert Marthaller. “We were particularly impressed with how the returning students took new students under their wings and made them feel very welcome. They represented the school so well and hopefully made the new students even more excited about joining the GNS community this year.” This year’s HeadStart program was built around sets of missions/challenges for the students to complete while in quarantine. By completing missions, students earned “GNS Dollars” that were used to buy school store items at their HeadStart Auction. “The quarantine piece meant that we couldn’t do the same types of in-person, group activities as in the past (team-building games, legislature tour, downtown orientation, kayaking, overnight at Mt. Washington),” explained Mr. Mathaller. “But, we managed to make things work virtually through Google Meet, Google Classroom, and GooseChase Edu. Having been veterans of GNS GO! in the Spring Term, most students were able to jump right back into our online learning environments.” There was no shortage of challenges for international students to complete, including activities like learning how to spell GNS in sign language, building forts out of furniture in dorm rooms, making dioramas of famous landmarks using their dinner, and much more. There were some collaborative missions, but they involved connecting virtually with students in neighbouring rooms; those challenges included a karaoke battle or an album cover reenactment. Not only were the students able to stay busy, but they also had guest speakers who dropped in to talk about all things related to the coming school year, covering topics such as service, co-curricular activities, the IB Diploma Programme and Learning Commons resources. As Mr. Mathaller and Ms. Jamie Elbert—both members of our Language and Literature Department—were leading the HeadStart program, they made sure to squeeze in some help sessions on summer reading for each grade level. The six new students did get a special day after quarantine when Mr. Mathaller and Ms. Elbert took them on an in-person excursion around the city. They got to see Victoria, including touring around Songhees, the Inner Harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf and Oak Bay Village. They ended their day with a celebratory wind-up pizza lunch back at school. We are so excited to welcome all our international students back into our classrooms and are looking forward to an amazing 2020/2021 school year!