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2011-12

Namaste. My pranams to all those present here. My heartfelt welcome to our Director, Smt. Geetha Muthiah. A special welcome to our guests, parents, staff and students, especially the outgoing class of 2012.

The annual report, needless to say, is a time to review the significant events of the year. It is a time to share with you some of the achievements that we celebrate today. Join me as we relive these proud moments. Here are the highlights.

This year began in a very positive way with Hari Shree Vidyalayam being conferred with the prestigious International School Award by the British Council. This award, in recognition of our effort towards instilling a global dimension into the learning experience of our children, was the fruit of our year long labour in the previous academic session. The exemplary work by Hari Shree has also won us the honour of being the ambassador school for ISA for the South Zone and for the second consecutive year, we have been invited by the British Council to be panel members on the ISA committee.

Our ongoing Global School Partnership programs with the UK schools are further evidence of our international inspirations. As proof of the quality collaborative work between the grade IX students of Hari Shree and Blackfen Senior School, the school received a grant for reciprocal visits from the British Council in July, enabling Mr. Simon Neil and Mr. Pete Pattison from Blackfen to spend a week with us. Our teacher coordinators of this project, Mrs. Shobana Balaji and Mrs. Meenakshi Nagaraj, are set to visit Blackfen in May. Here’s wishing them Bon Voyage.

As you know, the partnership between us and Holywell Primary School in Loughborough, established in 2009, is already well underway and has successfully moved into its second phase. The partner schools have received a grant of £ 6400 to facilitate collaborative projects involving class 5 children. Mrs. Bhuvana Kannan, Mrs. Latha Natraj and Mrs. Chitra Mohankumar spent a week at Holywell in the month of December, gathering ideas on best teaching practices. As a completion to this phase of the project, we hosted Ms. Heather Allison and Mr. Ian Marjoram from Holywell last week. It was certainly an eventful week with Easter celebration, Holywell style, staff high tea and sweating it out indoors and outdoors by indulging in games with our foreign facilitators.

Our strong ties with the British Council were strengthened further with Hari Shree taking up the BBC School News Report Project. This project has opened up a window of opportunities for our four official reporters from class IX. Our children have been doing an impressive job of making their own news reports at school and broadcasting these to real audience via the internet and other media. We have covered two milestones so far. Their report on the “Local Community Issue” in which they featured Dhanur Vaibhav and a news report entitled “Children for Children” as part of their “Practice News Day – are accessible on the school website and the British Council schools online website. A commendable job by Anirudh Pennathur, Sahana Venugopal, Dakshin Padmanabhan and P.C. Siddharth under the able guidance of Mrs. Shobana Balaji.

The opportunities for our children and teachers to engage with the wider world didn’t end there.

The foreign ties we have established through the International school award program bore fruits in the form of an interactive cum hands-on session with origami experts from Japan. This program for classes 5, 6 & 7 was part of the sixtieth anniversary celebration by the Japanese consulate and we are privileged to have been a part of it.

In an effort to promote global awareness and the role of faith in their lives and in the lives of others with different social, cultural and religious perspectives, Hari Shree Vidyalayam implemented the Face to Faith programme with the support of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Our students from class VII connected with students with Kingsbridge School, UK in a series of videoconferences. A special mention here of a multipoint videoconference where four schools from UK and India were engaged in a dialogue on the topic “What it means to be a Buddhist today?” Class IX students, as part of their Children’s Right project participated in a videoconference on Human Rights with students from Pakistan, Israel, Australia and the United Kingdom. To sustain this momentum, Mrs. Geetha Muthiah, has promised us a fully equipped videoconferencing room and we are in eager anticipation of it.

Our active role on the Face to Faith platform has won us laurels. We have been declared the Lead School for South India to help the foundation carry its message to the school community and thus engage more young people in their numerous programs aimed at promoting global welfare. As an initial step in our new role, an orientation for teachers from several Southern Schools, facilitated by Ms. Simmi Kher, Country Head, Tony Blair Faith Foundation was recently held at Hari Shree. This session coincided with the arrival of the Net.

Though we have been regular in updating you on events at Hari Shree Vidyalayam, for the benefit of others, I am obliged to share the details. Where’s The Net? is a global interfaith initiative by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, aimed at raising awareness about Malaria and increasing the use of bed nets which can help protect lives. This symbolic net made its presence felt at Hari Shree on 23rd March. Mrs. Pushpa Gopal who began her international endeavour with the International School Awards Project and the Global School Partnership project, has also been coordinating the Face to Faith program and doing a commendable job – the very reason, the management has requested her to take on the role of Special Projects Coordinator in Hari Shree as well as the group schools in Chennai and Karur. Congratulations Pushpa. The Math department will certainly miss you but the schools will gain from your dedicated work.

The recount of our glorious moments cannot be complete without the boastful mention of the visit by Prof. Howard Gardner, celebrated as the most influential educator in the world and father of multiple intelligence. We were on pins and needles, to say the least. What does one do when a legend drops in?! Though many ideas were exchanged on the visit, these two remarks by Prof. Howard Gardner are very special to all of us. After the tour of the school and the interactive session with the children, here is what he had to say: “I feel right at home”, and as he left he said if he visits India once again, a visit to Hari Shree Vidyalayam will certainly feature on his itinerary. The attention we have drawn, the popularity we have gained, the talk we have generated, the compliments we have earned as a result of this visit, all aside, these inspiring words from Prof. Gardner mean the most to us.

This year we have also managed to clinch the Jury Mention Award in the Design for Change global movement in which 60,000 schools from across the country participated Designing solutions for a better future is exactly what class V children have done by reaching out to the children of Sigappi Primary School. Thanks to them and our teachers, numerous Sigappi Primary School children begin their day with a filling breakfast. The joy of giving without expecting anything in return inspired more efforts in similar such initiatives. The student fraternity once again demonstrated their solidarity and dedication to do their part for the community through various community projects such as the ‘OUT-REACH Programs’ where students of class III spread the awareness of using paper bags instead of plastic bags amidst fruit and vegetable vendors.

The prefectorial board, with the generous support and efforts of you, parents and the teachers in-charge, Mrs. Sashikala Varadarajan and Mrs. Bhama Krishnamurthy, has managed to raise almost a lakh through the New Year Carnival and Halloween Movie Screening. Your generosity has benefitted Madhuram Narayanan Centre that caters to special children, The Spastic Society, Raja Muthiah Higher Secondary School and RASA, an organisation that cares for mentally challenged children. Thank you parents. A special mention here of Mrs. Latha Goutham and all the mothers who have been contributing in every way possible way – be it co-ordinating class activities and newsletter, annual day programs or accompanying our children on trips, you are there for us. Thank you.

For the first time this year, Hari Shree hosted the Tamil Nadu Annual Regional level debate, declamation and creative writing competitions for ICSE and ISC schools. This event saw the participation of eleven schools comprising 84 students from across the state. We enjoyed two victories on the home ground with HSV clinching the 1st place in declamation and the runner up position in the debate. Well done children and my sincere thanks to the English department for their tireless effort in coordinating this maiden venture.

On the cultural front, we had a splendid show in the form of Sarvajnam, a dance drama in which 90 students and 21 staff members took centre stage. The excellent choreography by Sri Hariharan and the spirit of the team was remarkable. There is no doubt we are in eager anticipation of the Margazhi season at Hari Shree this year.

Hand-in-hand with SPIC MACAY, the Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture amongst Youth, we brought you two amazing programs – a Rajasthani experience in November by Manganiyars and Kalbaliyas and a visual treat, Gotipua, the majestic Folk dance of Odhisha. Join me in thanking the management for its generosity in bringing such quality programs to Hari Shree in our continuous effort to expose our children to the enchanting world of performing arts.

As much as this is the time to look back it is also a befitting time to look at the future.

A new block that will house 24 classrooms, an auditorium, library, an audio visual lab etc is under construction, as you know, and the completion of the ground floor is scheduled for August 2012. We are as anxious as you are to move into a fully completed block and the needful is being done on all fronts. Please understand that any delay caused will be a result of unforeseen circumstances.

Due to increase in enrollment rates in the primary classes, the management has added one more section to class 2 next year. Thus in addition to Ashoka, Tulsi and Chandanam environment we welcome ‘Vilvam’. At the inception of Hari Shree Vidyalayam it was decided that the school will ultimately have 4 sections at each grade level and the recent infrastructure development paves way for the realization of these plans.

2012-13 will also see changes in the curriculum, especially so in the primary grades. X-seed makes way for a new curriculum followed by several Indian and International schools across India. A new approach to Social Studies as well as the teaching of Science are some of the other plans in the pipe line. The co-curriculum is also set for a revamp. In collaboration with Brhaddhvani, a Chennai based pioneering non-profit organisation dedicated to research and training in Karnatic Music, we are exploring a music program that adopts an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to music education under the guidance of Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian, founder of Brhaddhvani. The COMET method short for Correlated Objective Music Education and Training which is aimed at enhancing memory, learning skills in languages, co-ordination and creativity is to be tried out at Hari Shree.

There are also on-going discussions with regard to the possibility of devoting more time to Physical Education, especially for the primary grades. A structured PT program that incorporates elements from Occupational therapy is taking shape for the year ahead.

Art is to be offered as an elective for the ICSE examinations along with Computer Applications and Physical Education. French classes are to be conducted in the school premises and we are trying our level best to make sure it happens at the same time as the other languages. Sanskrit as a second language will now be an option for classes 3 to 8 for the new academic year.

With changing times and the rapidly evolving digital era, we too have joined the bandwagon and are ready to welcome smart boards into our classroom. In the initial phase, 5 rooms are to be equipped with smart boards and our experience will decide future plans.

The lack of play space seems to be a major grievance for one and all. Kindly bear with us as it is just a matter of time. We are hopeful that we will have a playground in time for the new session.

Given the growing concern regarding discipline across all grade levels, there have been suggestions for value education. I think we all agree that values can’t be taught as a subject. However, we are committed towards promoting and providing opportunities for children to inculcate healthy habits and develop a sound value system and are exploring opportunities of using the Face to Faith program as a platform for this purpose. Shaping a child’s character is indeed a collaborative task that demands commitment from the school as well as the home environment. If we uphold high levels of behavior, moral values and spirituality, the challenge ought to be more manageable. The recent voice raised against junk food and the ensuing ripples amidst the parents is an encouraging sign of more such positive moves. On our part, we are optimistic of facilitating forums in which parents can exchange ideas on the art of parenting. A series of workshops for the teaching fraternity is also taking shape. There is always something new to learn and let’s make a joint resolution to do just that.

As part of its teacher development program, the management has invited the Hari Shree team to mentor their counterpart at Karur Chettinad Vidya Mandir, an initiative that took shape in the course of this year. Hari Shree Vidyalayam teachers will be conducting workshops and facilitating interactive sessions in the group schools in Karur to augment the management’s endeavour to enhance the learning environment in these schools.

Let me conclude by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to an absolutely supportive management. Dr M.A.M Ramaswamy, Chairman, the Chettinad Group with whose blessing the school has thrived; Shri M.A.M.R Muthiah for being a pillar of strength and especially Mrs Geetha for her support and trust in all of us. My thanks to a wonderful team of teachers and staff. Thank you for the extraordinary effort each one of you has taken. It is indeed my blessing to work with a team as dedicated and devoted as you are. I take this opportunity to express our special thanks to those leaving us Mrs. Pushpalatha, Mrs. Samiksha Agarwal, Mrs. Menaka, Mrs. Uma Sriram and Mrs. Sreekumari Kannan. Thank you for your service to the school. We wish you luck.

A few parting words to the outgoing students. Hope all of you leave Hari Shree with many happy and lasting memories. We have educated you in freedom and responsibility. We have guided you in exercising true freedom here. It is now time for you to find, as you step out of Hari Shree, if you are truly able to balance both, for your benefit as well as those around you. One needs courage to be different. Here is wishing you all the confidence and courage to be different and make a change for the better, where ever you go.

Let us all look forward to an equally fruitful year ahead.

 

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