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Celebrating Achievements and Embracing the Future: End of Year Reflections

Last Day of School - Update from GISC June 18, 2024
Dear GISC Community,

Thank you all for joining us today at our End of Year Potluck. It was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community, share delicious food, and reflect on the wonderful year we've had! The heat wave unfolding in Chicago may indeed be the best reminder that, as of today, our faculty and students are on summer break.

Just a few days ago, we held graduation for our Kindergarten, 4th and 8th grade students and in the Preschool, we honored our Maxi students, letting them know they are now ready to move a floor up into Vorschule/Kindergarten.

During the graduation of our 4th and 8th grade students, I reminded our students to consider three specific IB Learner Profile traits – reflection, risk-taking, and open-mindedness.

It is a message that applies to all students ending a school year and soon beginning a new school year.

Reflection: The quality of ending a school year is an invitation to be reflective. Ideally, a thoughtful reflection may result in compiling a list of what went well and what did not go so well. Whenever we reflect, there is an opportunity to self-reflect, there may be a tendency to be overly optimistic or pessimistic; a good self-reflection requires a balance of finding one’s strengths and weaknesses. This balance must also be kept in mind moving forward – one needs to continue working on both – strengths and weaknesses.

Risk-taking: I reflected at graduation that a school such as GISC is filled with risk-takers. Immersing oneself in another language and culture is what GISC is all about – and this courage to pursue another language and learn about another culture is indeed risky in the sense that it requires perseverance and resilience. Worldwide, there are estimates that 50% of mankind is bilingual; that number in the United States is 20% – I often tell inquiring families that early exposure to different languages is a risk worth taking, because the benefits of bilingualism are more and more evident in this interconnected world.

The final IB Learner Profile traits mentioned at graduation was the quality of open-mindedness, which the IB defines as: “We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.” When it comes to the notion of evaluating a range of points of view, I remind us that IB scholars in the field of history follow an approach known as OPVL – That means that we should investigate the origin of the point of view, determine the purpose of the point of view, discover the value of the point of view, and lastly consider the limitations of a point of view. Following this thought process will help us become more open-minded about ideas, approaches, and opinions.

It is on this note that I encourage all of our students to be reflective, to take a risk, and to be deliberately open-minded.

I wish the entire GISC community a great summer.

Best,
Ben
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The German International School Chicago (GISC) is an IB World School that prepares students to become well-rounded, creative, and responsible global citizens. We provide students with a rigorous German-English bilingual education in a supportive and individualized learning environment. GISC graduates will be prepared academically and socially to succeed in an increasingly global world.

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