By Jessica Thompson, Newswire
Last Saturday, the International School of Beijing (ISB) welcomed over 2,000 people to celebrate its annual Spring Fair.
“It’s a fun event where people come and relax, and have the opportunity to bond with others who are part of the ISB community,” said Cindy Chang, head of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the group which organizes this much-anticipated event.
ISB aims to foster a sense of community that extends beyond the classroom. The PTA plays a key part in that, uniting parents and acting as outreach to people not directly involved with the school. While the whole of ISB looks forward to the PTA-organized International Day, an expo showcasing the many nationalities represented in the student and parent body, the Spring Fair is undoubtedly the association’s biggest annual event.
Saturday’s fair saw children, parents, teachers, and staff come together to play games, eat delicious food, and experience the exciting atmosphere.
It’s a fun day out for all, and gives the public the best possible impression of what a warm and welcoming place ISB is. Perhaps not surprisingly, it can act as a promotional tool for enrollment.
“Parents want an opportunity to see what ISB really looks like and one of the best ways to do so is through the Spring Fair,” Chang said. “It’s a chance to see a very lively and very fun community.”
ISB organized an Appreciation Lunch to thank PTA and Booster Club members for their hard work a few days after the Spring Fair.
The fair also gives students an opportunity to test their entrepreneurial skills. They are allowed to open their own booths to raise funds for their club operations.
Students had to pay 200 RMB to open their booths, “The cost of doing business,” according to Chang, and then they were free to do what they wanted – within certain restrictions, bearing in mind licensing issues.
“They could do service, they could do performances, they could sell their own product,” said Chang. “It’s a great experience.”
The fair is a celebration that not only brings people together, but takes a collaborative effort to come to fruition. “Spring Fair is one of our biggest events,” Chang said. “It takes the whole community to make this happen.”
And this camaraderie is exactly what the PTA is all about.
Community beyond the classroom
The PTA works to foster a sense of community, maximize school spirit, promote enthusiasm for learning and encourage students to contribute positively to society.
Led by 16 elected executive members and supported by scores of volunteers, the group managed to raise nearly 500,000 RMB ($US72,716) for student and community activities in the 2017-2018 academic year
The group organizes many events throughout the year for the ISB community – the three largest being International Day, the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) celebration, and the Spring Fair.
They also provide financial support to a wide range of student enrichment activities. Students submit funding requests to the PTA to help support their charity efforts.
“I made a lot of friends in the PTA; it’s really a great community,” said Chang.
If parents are looking to help out at ISB in day-to-day activities, rather than solely the big events, the school has another group which promotes that same sense of camaraderie.
Boosting school spirit
The ISB Booster Club works with administration, the PTA and faculty to help enrich students’ experiences at ISB. To achieve its goal, the Booster Club raises funds through the sale of school supplies, “spiritware,” and community events.
In 2017-2018, the Booster Club contributed nearly 116,000 RMB ($US16,870) for athletic and performing arts activities.
“We are a 13-member community, that’s where we decide everything and everyone’s involved; it’s a very easy, low-key part of the PTA,” said Cherry Wu, head of the Booster Club.
Wu, who has always been an active parent in the school community, and who was also recently the president of the PTA, was eager to get involved in the Booster Club.
“I think it’s very important because we’re the frontline of the parent community,” she explained.
“Sometimes Booster Club is like the information booth,” said Wu with a laugh. “People come to purchase something and end up asking directions.”
Both the leader of the PTA and the leader of the Booster Club were quick to emphasize the vital role the groups play at ISB.
“The PTA and the Booster Club bring a lot of energy and excitement to this community,” said Chang.
This is truly a time to be thankful for these organizations.
“If any parents yet to serve on the PTA or Booster Club are keen, your participation would be warmly welcomed,” said ISB Head of School Patrick Hurworth. “It’s one of those commitments that might seem thankless at times, but it bears great fruit and as the Head of School, I’m deeply grateful for the PTA and Booster Club’s efforts.”