International College Hong Kong
May 01, 2019

Year 6 Rite of Passage

Raymond Chan is Director of Creativity: Deep Learning, Head of PE & Activities at ICHK.

Following on from Ross Parker's previous post on the Art of Growing Up, I am pleased to report that The Making of Men and the work of Dr Arne Rubinstein continues to influence the development of our programme as demonstrated by the Year 6 expedition for those who will be joining us in Year 7.

The challenge is for students to walk the 20 km from our partner primary ICHK Hong Lok Yuen to the Secondary campus with an overnight camp.  This follows a route that our year 10 and 11 students are able to hike independently, while carrying everything they need to be self sufficient, as part of our expedition programme.  However, many of our year 6 students have never even hiked such a distance.

The symbolism of this rite of passage is intentional: The resilience of the Year 6s is tested with a challenge to mark the transition into year 7, significant waypoints on their educational journey, with a physical journey from the primary to secondary. Again the setting, in the midst of the country park in which ICHK is situated, is deliberate -  outdoor learning is becoming firmly established as one of the central pillars to the school.

Secondary students are on hand to help the year 6s, setting up the camp and providing meals for the younger students and serving as role models for the younger ones to look up to.  They share stories about themselves, the challenges that they face and their hopes for the future. For ICHK students, this ritual forms a part of their training to be “happy, confident, intelligent warriors” - a concept derived from Jim Greenwood’s seminal coaching classic, “Total Rugby”.  It reinforces an important message to the students:

“We know what you are going through is difficult and challenging.  But trust us, this helps you grow and develop. There are some things beyond you right now, but ICHK will enable you to achieve them some time soon.”

On arrival at the secondary campus, the weary year 6 students are welcomed into the school with a whole school assembly to celebrate their achievement.  Everyone in the school community stands to applaud the students as they walk into the hall to take their seats. I can only imagine the sense of pride and belonging the new students must feel at this point.  Every year this ritual brings rushes flooding down my spine and tears begin to well in my own eyes. They have completed the first of what will be many challenges in secondary school. But let’s enjoy this moment and fully appreciate what they have accomplished; they have made it through their primary education culminating in their PYP exhibition and have now completed a truly monumental hike.

Well done Year 6! Well done!

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