King’s Academy, November 2, 2016 – Hundreds of parents attended the annual Fall Parents Weekend, and spent two days connecting with teachers, watching performances, taking part in a football match, cheering on students during sports matches and experiencing firsthand a day in the life of students by shadowing their children in class.
Headmaster John Austin welcomed parents bright and early on Thursday morning in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium, where he talked about the future of learning and the qualities that students need in the 21st century for success in college, careers and citizenship. Austin explained how certain habits and capacities of character – such as initiative, adaptability and ethical judgement - are essential for young people, and are all qualities that King’s nurtures in its students.
“King’s commitment to the liberal arts and to active, dynamic and inter-active forms of learning, and – most essentially – its focus on forging strong, vibrant and caring relationships between young people and adults, is at the very core and heart of learning and of this school,” Austin said. Read the headmaster’s full speech here.
Following the headmaster’s welcome was the highly anticipated performing arts showcase. Parents were entertained by an array of musical performances and theatrical skits by around 100 students.
The showcase included a harmonious arrangement by the glee club, stirring instrumentals by King’s orchestra and guitar ensemble conducted by music teachers Reem Abu Rahmeh and Nadine Cunningham, an excerpt from the upcoming winter theater production, and three emotive modern dance performances directed by Head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts Carol Abizaid. Concluding the showcase on a lively note was King’s Dabkeh Troupe which performed two traditional folkloric dances.
An art exhibition was also set up in the Upper Promenade area outside the Gallery, and was visited by parents and students throughout the weekend. The exhibit displayed work created by students in their studio art classes, while King’s music students helped to set an inspired mood for the exhibition, playing instruments outdoors for everyone to enjoy.
Throughout the remainder of the first day, parents attended shortened classes with their children. By shadowing their children in class, parents had the welcome opportunity of witnessing first-hand King’s unique style of learning, such as the Harkness method, which is named for the oval “Harkness” table format used to promote independent thought and discussion among students.
Taking advantage of the extra people on campus on the first day of Fall Parents Weekend, the school’s student-led organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held a charity bake sale. SJP succeeded in raising the impressive amount of 1,670 JD for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), which will help to provide much needed medical treatment for two Palestinian children.
Another highlight of Parents Weekend was the first annual parents, students and faculty football game, organized by the Development Office. Over 50 people took part, some parents having travelled from afar to play alongside their children in the friendly match.
With so many parents on campus, the cheers were louder than usual for King’s Lions as the weekend offered a full schedule of interscholastic sports tournaments, including the AAC Soccer U14 Tournament, volleyball, tennis, cross-country and swimming competitions.
On the second day of Parents Weekend, Upper School parents got down to the more serious business of meeting and connecting with teachers during the parent-teacher conferences. The conferences are an opportunity for parents, some travelling to Jordan specifically to take part in this weekend, to discuss in-person their children’s academic progress with the teachers and advisors responsible for their education and welfare at school.
As Austin noted in his welcome speech to parents and faculty: “Our most important responsibility is to honor the uniqueness and individuality of each student; help them discover and build on each young person’s unique talents and strengths; challenge them to improve and grow; and help them develop a powerful sense of confidence so they can see the future for what it is – a great opportunity, full of promise and possibility.”