Student Experience

The halls and classrooms of Halifax Independent School are alive with educational experiences that reach far beyond those in a standard curriculum. Our unwavering commitment to student engagement means that we provide our students extraordinary opportunities to grow, explore and learn. During the course of a year, expect your child to get excited about all kinds of educational experiences. They may run a business, prepare a variety show skit, publish a book, participate in a swim meet, re-design a city or more. Your child is unique - what will they come up with next?

Find out. Let us welcome you and your child into the Halifax Independent School community. We'd be pleased to have you and your child visit us to explore our classrooms and discover our love of learning. Please call or email admin@halifaxindependentschool.ns.ca to set up a tour or a "visit-for-a-day".

Just when school could be winding down for the summer or before the Winter Break, Halifax Independent School turns all of that energy into an exciting whole-school project called "Mini-Society". For two hours, each morning, the children create a society complete with businesses, resources and services. They go to work in a shop, snack bar or newsroom. They get paid in that year's home-grown currency. They write for or read the society's daily newpaper. They make individual decisions about how much of their earnings to spend, how much to give, and how much to save in the “bank” (at an excellent interest rate!). On the final day, children are free to set up a store with goods purchased from the craft “warehouse” or to offer some service or homemade craft for sale to one another. The imagination and energy that the children pour into Market Day make it a school-wide celebration and so much fun they hardly notice how much they have learned about social studies and economics.

Twice a year, parents and community members are invited into the school to visit our elementary and pre-primary classrooms and enjoy a special exposition of the children’s work. At these student expos which we affectionately call "Fair," the children present speeches, plays and songs based on their learning experiences from the semester. The research and presentation skills that they are learning come together in this final, key moment, when they teach others what they have learned. As they mature, the personal tools that they bring to this presentation become ever more complex. Displays, demonstrations, written reports, poems and models make these events exciting for all involved and it is a delight to see children of all ages show pleasure and pride in public speaking. It is also a joy to watch these skills develop in such a positive and gentle way over the course of a child’s time at the school.

Creativity and co-operation in action!
For two weeks every year, the Elementary Department is transformed into an actor’s workshop each morning as all children participate in the production of a series of plays. The four plays are previously adapted or written by the elementary children, who delight in adding their unique touches. In multi-age groups, the children rehearse the plays (with a role for every child), practice the songs and dances, create props and paint backdrops. This two-week process culminates in an extravaganza performed in a professional theatre and is one of the highlights of the school year.

Shakespeare anyone?
Every year, our Grade 7 students perform in a Shakespeare play. They study the Shakespearean period—from the architecture to the science—and read through the play in its entirety before rehearsal begins.  Each student has a part in this slightly shortened but unabridged version of the chosen play, and they get hands-on experience with set design and stage management. Music from a pit band and period dances enhance the performances. School families, even those with younger children, are encouraged to attend so that they begin to eagerly anticipate this milestone in their school experience.

Learning outside the classroom is an important part of Halifax Independent School life. The whole Middle School begins each school year with a 3-day group-building trip at Brigadoon. At the end of each year, the students in Grades 3 through 6 spend three days exploring a region of the Maritimes with their classmates. In the past, students and parent volunteers have traveled to Cape Breton, the South Shore, Prince Edward Island and the Annapolis Valley.

Over the course of the Middle School years, students participate in a french language exchange trip through http://www.experiencescanada.ca/ , formerly "SEVEC". Our school families are twinned with a group from a francophone area of Canada. Our students travel to their twins' home town to experience life there for a week, and then host those students, here.

Meetings
Regular meetings are held within classrooms and with broader groupings to discuss issues of concern to the children. The children set the agenda, and thereby have their issues heard and addressed by their peers. Every child is encouraged to participate, and resolutions occur when options and opinions have been explored. In this way, the children have a direct voice in resolving their own issues and even changing school policy. Students have also initiated changes to guidelines for playground behaviour as a result of their discussions.

We have a thriving extracurricular programme that is enriched by many clubs. Club offerings differ from term to term depending on the interests of the children, clubs have included Chess, Skipping, Jazz Choir, Mandarin, Running, Gardening, Yearbook, Knitting and Ukulele but the possibilities are myriad. Clubs are aimed at all age levels and are planned as the students’ interests dictate.

Halifax Independent School recognizes the importance of play and physical activity for well-being and health. In all aspects of our physical education programme we emphasize participation, co-operation, fun and a willingness to meet new challenges. Daily outdoor play is a priority – our spacious playground invites activity with its facilities for playing soccer, basketball, four-square, ground hockey, hopscotch and tetherball. Children discover the exhilaration of individual physical challenges as well as the joys of being part of a team.

All children in the pre-primary and elementary schools travel weekly to the Canada Games Centre, where they receive swimming lessons (the Royal Life-Saving Society programme). In addition, all children have a weekly physical education class under the guidance of a Phys Ed teacher in which they explore ball skills, movement activities and co-operative games. A wide variety of sports are included in the gym class. The emphasis is on respectful, playful participation with gradually increasing competition at the upper grades. Older children participate in inter-school meets such as cross-country, badminton, swim and track and field.

An annual ski trip for Grades 3 through 9, and a whole school Field Day provide opportunities for children at all levels to enjoy physical activity together. After school clubs offer sport-specific opportunities for children to keep active.

In the Middle School, the Enrichment Programme supplements Phys Ed. by providing opportunities to expand the students’ experiences through short courses. These have included (but are not limited to) Aikido, Dance, horseback-riding, volleyball and swimming.