Tales from Tanzania - O'Neil Family Blog

Though we have already been in Tanzania for one year, this is a journal of our time at Haven of Peace Academy in Dar es Salaam. Karibu sana.

September 08, 2007

HOPAC Newsletter

Thought you might be interested in reading Steve's beginning of school year letter to the parent community...

Welcome back to a new school year, and for many of you, a new school year to Haven of Peace Academy. We’ve had an excellent start, and there’s much to celebrate. I’m particularly thankful that we are able to offer our excellent education to a greater number of students. During this, our 14th school year, we now enrol 288 students and extend from Kindergarten all the way up to Grade 12. We’ve also added 53 new students to the roll.

Over the long holiday, there were several noteworthy things that took place. We received news in late June that HOPAC was granted membership into the Council of International Schools which will help us in the areas of staff development, higher education consulting, and staff recruitment. The computer lab was updated and equipped with 25 new state of the art computers. And finally, we received news in early August about the excellent IGCSE and AS Level examinations results. The IGCSE marks, in particular, exceeded all previous HOPAC results and are internationally recognizable.

Our strategic plan, VISION 2010, continues to provide a framework for our focus and growth. Let me draw your attention to a few outcomes. There have been several positive changes recently to the overall curriculum and program. HOPAC now offers the Cambridge International Programme from Kindergarten through Grade 12 with the Primary Programme (CIPP), IGCSE, and AS/A Levels. The new focus at the primary level will strengthen the curriculum and instruction at each grade level, and the new AS/A Level curriculum and examinations will provide an excellent preparation and opportunities for university admission. Additionally, I’m pleased that for this new school year, art and Kiswahili have expanded into the secondary school and that French is now being offered for the first time. Finally, the service emphasis week at the end of last school year was very successful and will happen again this school year. This is one way, from many that we provide, in which our students can live out HOPAC’s motto emblazoned on the new school uniforms-“Leadership, Service, Stewardship”.

The need to expand our campus infrastructure to address all of this growth continues to be a matter of high priority. We opened the secondary science building in September 2006. Very soon, the swimming pool will be opened. Plans at the Board of Governors and management level are now being discussed for the next construction project which will be an administration building at the front of campus. The building will not only provide necessary offices for staff and for a new health services/infirmary, but it will provide greater security and customer service with a location at the front entry way near the car park. Also, moving from the present administration building will free up necessary instructional space for the upper secondary grades.

The curriculum, programs, and buildings are certainly important, but even more important are the staff. I’m excited to have 15 new staff members join us. These are individuals who are dedicated Christians, high quality educators, and passionate about educating your students. That’s the real recipe for success at an excellent Christ-centred school!

Please make a point to hear more about the great things happening at HOPAC by marking your calendars for the Open Houses taking place on 13 September (Primary) and 20 September (Secondary). These are great evenings for you to connect with other parents, see your student’s teachers, and learn more about what’s happening at HOPAC.

We look forward to serving your children this school year as we count this both a real privilege and blessing.

Warm regards,

Steve O’Neil

September 02, 2007

Back from Break

We are finally back from a long summer holiday in the States. We will have to take some time even on our blog to say thank-you to all of our supporters - whether we saw you or not - for a wonderful trip back home. Much of our time was filled with dentist appointments and shopping for new underwear and shoes, but by far, the best of our time was spent with you all!

We spent the first month in Minnesota, visiting supporters, our churches, family and friends. Highlights were feeling right back at home at our home church, Plymouth Covenant, meeting some new, prospective teachers, a trip to Valleyfair with our old neighborhood, t-ball for Thomas (nothing like that out here), time with cousins, and of course, amazing memories with Grandma and Grandpa who graciously let the five of us invade their quiet domicile for six weeks. We are so grateful to all of you for your warm welcome and encouragement. We truly felt blessed and ministered to by you all!

We then headed to the East Coast for some time with the other side of the family, Grandma and Grandpa, more cousins, uncles and aunts. Highlights were getting to see Philadelphia, New York City, Benjamin went to a great Christian all boys camp (Deerfoot), and Anna and Thomas also had a week at camps through Camp-of-the-Woods nearby. Meanwhile, Steve and I got a much needed five day trip (all alone!) to Boston area. We enjoyed the history and especially enjoyed hearing the Boston Symphony play at their outdoor theatre in the Berkshires under the stars - something we do not get to hear much of in Africa! We had a great time.

We arrived back home and had just a little adjusting to do. Plumbing wasn't working, electricity went out upon our arrival, and things were a little dirty but we settled in ok. School has since started and it is exciting to see students (many of whom are new this year in the upper grades ) back on campus and ready for a new year. Anna, Benjamin, and Thomas all headed off to school looking smart (as they would say in UK - meaning sharp) with new uniforms. Both Thomas and Benjamin have teachers from Australia this year so we will see how much of an accent they pick up.

All in all, we had a great time at home in the States and are so grateful to all of you for your encouragement and support. We can't wait to see you all again. Keep looking at our blog for updates on new students and what it going on at HOPAC!