News Updates

Christmas letter from the Director

December 14, 2006

Thursday 14th December, 2006

Dear Parents,

It is hard to believe that we are, once again, in December and only a day away from the end of an excellent term in both Prep and High Schools.

There has been a strong focus on academic achievement and a renewed desire on the part of the whole Hillel family to continue to make a good school even better in every way. There have been back-to-school nights; parent / teacher consultations; Form Order reports for the High School students; IGCSE Curriculum meetings for our Grade 10 parents and students; CXC meetings for the Grade 11s; in-service training, staff meetings and workshops for the teachers. Thanks to the help of the PTA and an exceedingly generous private donation we have added more than 50 new computers and full wireless internet connectivity throughout the school. Prep School students, teachers and parents are now enjoying our beautiful Library and are thrilled with the wonderful collection of new books for the children to enjoy. The Prep School Library also has 8 new computers so that the children can have access to research facilities on their own campus. Work has been progressing rapidly on remodelling the old Library for the High School and Sixth Form. This will include 25 workstations so that teachers can take the whole class at a time to carry out research-based activities. Hopefully, this will be fully operational by the end of January 2007. We are all very grateful to Ms. Nattoo, our Librarian, to Mrs. Bitter who now runs the Prep School Library on a full-time basis, and to Ms. Blair, our Library Assistant, for all their creative talent and enthusiastic commitment to making our Libraries attractive, stimulating and welcoming.

Life at Hillel has also been lots of fun with many opportunities to celebrate the varied talents of our students.
Our Heritage Week celebrations got us off to a rousing start with a whole-school Assembly on Monday 9th October. Although it was a tight squeeze to fit everybody into the Hall, we all thoroughly enjoyed the programme, from the very youngest Kindergarten child right up to our Sixth Form students. During the week we were reminded of 'Jamaica Then' through song, dance, drumming and drama, and the work of the visiting artisans at the Village Fair. We were brought up-to-date with 'Jamaica Now' through the fashion show, an excellent debate, Field Trips and the Food Fair. During Modern Languages Week in the High School we enjoyed an excellent Assembly in French and Spanish; an International Food Fair, the Hat Parade and having the fun of being sidewalk artists for a day! The Music and Drama departments in both Prep and High have achieved miracles this term. Equally, events would have been much less colourful without the input of our Art departments. A big thank you to Ms. Mohammed and Mrs. Hayles and their students for all the beautiful work on decorations, displays, backdrops etc. that we have enjoyed throughout the term. We also appreciate all the work done by Mrs. Duncan, our Events and Activities organizer, in ensuring that we maintained our standards of excellence whilst thoroughly enjoying ourselves! I offer all these talented people my heart-felt gratitude for all that they have accomplished and are still doing in preparation for our Carol and Chanukah service tonight.

A new initiative this term has been our involvement in the Protect the Environment Trust (PET) project to collect plastic bottles for re-cycling. We have been encouraging all our students to appreciate and care for their environment. The plastic bottles that we collect are taken off-island, thus saving land-fill space, and are recycled into plastic chairs. We very much appreciate the work of Mrs. Adam in introducing PET to Hillel.
Caring for our environment was also very evident in the first of our Community Service initiatives when students from Grade 6 and the High School joined with other local groups on National Beach Clean-Up Day to collect rubbish discarded on the beach at the Palisadoes.

There has been an excellent response from all students to our Community Service activities throughout the term. Children from both Prep and High have visited homes on a regular basis and distributed gifts for Christmas. Our response to the Heart Fund Run was amazing! So many of our students took part that Hillel Academy must have had more participants than anyone else! We raised more than $500,000 for this very worthy cause. Many thanks to Nurse Iver and to Mrs. Duncan for all the work they put in to organizing this event. (This might also be an appropriate place to thank Nurse Iver for all that she does for all of us, day after day! We all love her and greatly appreciate her efficient, friendly and knowledgeable involvement in our well-being. Thank you, Nurse!)

Our sporting teams have had mixed success this season but much praise must go to the students for their determination and sportsmanlike spirit in never being prepared to give up. This was particularly true of the football teams where, through determined efforts, we ended the season with some impressive victories. Well done to all team players. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and we are sure that you will go from strength to strength in the years to come. In spite of some strong competition, the Prep School Swimming team has had a most successful term, culminating in winning the Complan Prep and Primary Schools Swimming Cup on Saturday 2nd December. Many congratulations to all the swim team members, their coaches and all the parents who faithfully turn out to support them!

This has also been an excellent term for the PTA Committee members who have organized three very successful fund-raising events: the Pre-Christmas Fair, the Halloween PS Bake Sale and the Halloween HS Dance. In total, they have raised more than $1,000,000 to date! We are especially appreciative of their involvement in all school events and of the time that these busy parents give to enriching the life of the school in so many ways. Thank you, PTA and Grade Reps for all that you do for us!

On behalf of the whole Hillel family I should like to take this opportunity to thank our ancillary staff for ensuring that the Hillel campus is attractively maintained. In addition to their regular duties this dedicated team is always willing to clear up after sports matches, to help set out chairs in the Hall, and to stay on after normal working hours to help with the organization of special events such as tonight's Carol and Chanukah Hour. Similarly the staff in the three school offices are always ready to offer their services cheerfully and competently to all of us. We really do appreciate all that they do and recognize what a very important part they play in our lives.

One of the reasons that Hillel Academy is such a special place is the obvious dedication of our very professional teaching staff. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Lee join me in expressing our appreciation of the high standards our teachers set, and achieve, both for themselves and for their students. However, we were all very saddened by the sudden death of Mrs. Hilary Giordano, teacher of Kindergarten 2.2 and our Early Years Coordinator. Mrs. Giordano's fortitude and courage in the face of her debilitating illness was a wonderful example for all of us. Her first thought was always for the children. Her acceptance of her condition did nothing to lessen her determination to live life to the full. She was an enthusiastic motivator in all Prep School events and her death is a great loss to us all.

I am sure that the teachers will join me in thanking the Teacher Assistants for all that they do so willingly in their classrooms. Daily, they demonstrate their genuine love for the children and their willingness to help them in all the ways that they can.

We have a happy and successful school because of the dedication of a professional and talented team, wonderful students and very involved and supportive parents! Thank you all very much.

With very best wishes for the holidays and the new term which begins on Monday 8th January 2007.
Yours sincerely,

Sheila Purdom

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