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The Principal's Newsletter

Hanova’s first school year concludes

By Mr Martin Hughes

Dear Parents and

Our first year concludes. What a first year for Hanova!  We have had a wonderful year.  We expected to start with 34 students but had 56 enrolments at the beginning of September.  This has grown steadily over the year to 82.  There have been so many rewarding, enriching and memorable times for all of us this year – so much has been crammed into the time as we believe every minute counts.  You can be reminded or maybe even relive some of these moments through the annals of the Yearbook.  We have had many students and parents purchase our Yearbook since it was released on Wednesday. This is available and comes along with a data DVD, which you can view through a computer but not your DVD player, at the bargain price this year of just ¥100.  The data DVD has many of the slideshows and videos that have been shown at assemblies throughout the year, as well as the Yearbook in digital format.

I really appreciate the wonderful support from you, the parent community, who believed in what our school is trying to achieve and committed your children into our educational care.  At every step of the way and at every event the parents and community have supported us, whether it be in providing help putting costumes on for A Christmas Carol, encouraging their children in a Duathlon, helping in the school on a regular basis, contributing ideas in our regular Parent School Association meetings, helping us to organise trips out or bring people in, preparing your children for the Talent Show or in the myriad ways too numerous to mention.  Mainly my thanks are for your support for your children and your school in our joint educational journey.

I hope you and your family are able to have some quality time over our summer break and hope the children come back refreshed and energised for the new school year.

Graduation. The evening of Wednesday, June 26th, was yet another historic day for Hanova when we held a ceremony for our first three graduates: Mr. Robin Brunzel, Mr. Garrett Seo, and Mr. Song Young Chan. All of these young men plan to go on to university next year to continue their learning - either in China, or in Europe. We wish them all the best in their future and hope that they look back on their time at Hanova with fond memories.

Extended Essay. Last week saw Hanova International School host the first ever Extended Essay Viva Voce in Xian. Three of our senior students conducted a speech in the assembly hall on the essays that they have been writing throughout the year. Their extended essay subjects included Psychology (Robin), Chemistry (Song) and Chinese (Garrett). Having presented their hypotheses, abstracts and synopses, they were subjected to a series of questions from the panel which included their supervisors along with Mr Martin Hughes and Mr Peter Donkin. A special thanks goes out to the supervisors for giving up their time through the year to guide our Year 13s through their first university length essay: Mr Richard Gallerno (who supervised Robin) Mr Denis McKeown (who supervised Song), Ms Jamie Cheng (who supervised Garrett). This shall be an ongoing fixture in the years to come at Hanova as the Viva Voce is an integral part of the Diploma Programme. Many thanks again to all who helped with the smooth running of this event. 

Personal Project Exhibition. On Thursday 20th June, we had our first Personal Project Exhibition. Our Year 11 students had a chance to present a piece of work they had been preparing over the year. This presentation included a formal review of their learning presented to an audience of students and teachers in the library, leading to unveiling of their final product. Studies this year focused on a comparison between International education and Korean education and the impact of human actions affecting the Amazon Rainforest. Students and teachers in the community were then invited to come and see project work and read through students’ reports. This really was an exciting event for students as it was an opportunity for them to show people the work they put in during the final year of MYP. For Year 10 students, this was also an opportunity to get some ideas as to what their project will look like next year.

Parent Volunteer Group. Thank you to all those parents who have come in over this year to support the school in so many different ways.  A small thank you was prepared by the staff and students on Tuesday, this week.  The parents that were able to attend from the Parent Volunteer Group were invited to lunch and received thank you cards from the students. We very much appreciate your help.

Year 6 Exhibition. Our three Year 6 students, supported by the three Year 5 students, led the community through their learning journey last Thursday.  As the culmination for the PYP, the students produced an exhibition about the special features and resources that attract people to areas, with particular reference to Xi’an.  The depth of knowledge, and understanding that the students showed was a testament to the hard work and perseverance throughout their time in the PYP.  The students not only researched and explored the lines of inquiry, but connected all of their learning to the Learner Profile, and the Concepts of the PYP.  They were reflective learners as to “giving thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience.”  To surprise the students, we printed out their best photographs from their Education Outside of the Classroom Programme for display around the school.  Please look forward to seeing these up on the walls in August. For a first exhibition, in the first year of existence at Hanova, Micah, Anthony and Johnny have set the bar high for the next students to match!

Kickball Competition. This week has seen the culmination of the PYP and MYP kickball competition.  Throughout the past three weeks, the students have been playing a round robin tournament.  This tournament has given the students the opportunity to learn about match play, supporting and communicating with team members and learning the skills of not only the game, but negotiating with the referee!  Each game was a teaching session, where the students learned how to deal with specific situations that arose.  Our three teams were Yong qi dui (courage), Tiao zhan dui (challenge) and Fei yang dui (fly upward/rise). Congratulations to Tiao zhan dui who took out the PYP competition and Yong qi dui who won the MYP.  Overall the winners by the narrowest of margins of 1 point was won by Tiao zhan dui (challenge).  Medals were presented to the winning captains in assembly today.

Portfolios and report photos. This is a follow up to an email sent earlier today, Thursday. A number of parents have enquired as to whether the portfolios that they viewed at Student Led Conferences were available to copy to take home.  If you can bring in a USB, hard drive, or CD/DVD, then you are welcome to have copies.  Please arrange with the class teacher, either tomorrow or after the holiday. Some have also asked about a copy of the individual student photo or the class photo from the yearbook. These can be copied in the same way although we are not able to burn CD/DVDs.  For the yearbook copies of class and individual photos please arrange with the Office.  This can be done during the holidays as well.

Staff leaving. As I wrote to you before Mrs Carrie Varjavandi is moving on to do new things both with her family and with her art.  Mrs Varjavandi has taught and enabled the children to produce some fantastic work in this our first year.  As our school is expanding we have appointed a full time art teacher.  We thank her very much for the work she has done, and wish her and her family all the best – she will be missed.  A presentation was made to her in assembly today.  Mrs Varjavandi has kindly offered to come back occasionally, as she is not leaving Xi’an for a while, and hopes to be able to work more on the mosaic at the start of next year.

Ms Vera Zhou has been in to help as an assistant in the Nursery and Reception class for the last few weeks.  We have been grateful for her work and wish her the best as she moves on to other employment.

Summer break. I hope you and your family are able to have some quality time over our summer break and hope the children come back refreshed and energised for the new school year.

The school office will be open over the summer, weekdays 9am-4pm, although with fewer staff than normal.  A member of the Senior Leadership team will be available in Xi’an this summer throughout the holidays as we work on preparation for the forthcoming year.

Families new to the school will have a Family Induction day on Friday, 16th August and school starts for all students on Monday, 19th August.  We know one or two of our families may arrive a few days late at the start of next school year.  If you are in that position please send an email to

Best regards,

Martin Hughes


Forthcoming events

Thursday, 27th June                   School closes for summer holiday 1pm

July and August

                                                       School office open 9am-4pm


Friday, 16th                                  New family orientation day

Monday, 19th                              School opens for students

About the Author

Martin Hughes

Former School Principal

Mr Martin Hughes was the founding Principal of Hanova from 2012-15. Prior to his time at Hanova, he already had 23 years of experience as Principal in the UK and China at five different schools - including posts at Wuxi EtonHouse and EtonHouse's flagship Suzhou school. During his time as founding Principal at Hanova, he helped support the initial IB Diploma Programme authorisation (2014) and used his educational vision to help plant our then brand new school on a firm foundation. Under his leadership, Hanova's motto emerged, "Enabling children to become independent, creative and lifelong learners!"

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