Arts programmes set the stage for future career opportunities at Canadian International School of Hong Kong
Renowned for its robust academic programmes, the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) is equally proud of its visual and performing arts programmes, which are integrated across the school syllabus from pre-reception to Grade 12.
Whether through music, the performing arts or fine art programmes, at CDNIS participation in the arts has long been recognised as an enriching part of a well-rounded education. Rob Dacho, head of Music and Film, Dean Krawchuk, head of Drama, Catharine Ho, head of Upper School Visual Arts, and Catherine Irvine, head of Upper School Guidance believe arts programmes provide a defining dimension to school life at CDNIS by making learning a more engaging, meaningful and enjoyable experience. "Arts programmes are part of the central atmosphere of the school," says Irvine. "The arts are not something that’s separate; everyone is incredibly supportive, with students, parents and school administrators all getting involved," says Irvine.
Irvine says CDNIS graduates that choose to continue their art studies secure places at international tertiary institutions renowned for the quality of their arts programmes. Leading institutions where CDNIS graduates the arts study include Parsons School of Design, Rhode Island Schools of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Tisch School NYU, Berklee College of Music, Imperial College, the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the University of Hong Kong. CDNIS graduates also study music and arts programmes alongside business and finance academic programmes, leading to careers in arts administration. Depending on the degree and chosen area of specialisation, CDNIS students have successfully pursued career opportunities in film and TV, music, theatre, design, art galleries, media and education. "We have former students that work in architecture, industrial and graphic design, game design, fashion, interior design, photography, film, music, illustration and animation," notes Irvine.
Having hosted the South East Asia Band Festival since 2008, Dacho says CDNIS has a long tradition of nurturing musical talent, with many young musicians achieving high levels of accomplishment. Importantly, however, irrespective of the level of their musical abilities, students with an interest in music are able to join a broad range of programmes and activities. "We set high standards by giving our students opportunities to perform and to be successful," says Dacho who believes involvement in the arts provides students with different experiences from their academic studies and gives them opportunities to create something that's meaningful to them. Dacho says students also develop leadership skills by taking responsibility in preparing for performances. For instance, CDNIS students perform at assemblies, recitals and concerts. They also take part in regional and national music festivals.
Meanwhile, as they excel from the challenge of taking on a dramatic role, Krawchuk notes that parents are often amazed to see a side of their children they had not envisioned. Krawchuk also points out that participation in music, art and drama programmes can help to stimulate confidence and develops communication skills, while enhancing critical thinking, creativity and connection across all subject areas. The World Economic Forum in its "Future Jobs Report", ranks creativity at third place of the Top 10 skills required by 2020, behind complex problem solving and critical thinking. "Business students who are able to see the creative perspective can stand out from the crowd," notes Krawchuk who believes the superb arts facilities at CDNIS add a layer of professionalism to the range of arts programmes offered. The 600-plus-seat multi-purpose Leo Lee Arts Centre equipped with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and technical equipment and purpose-built arts classrooms and studios have been designed to provide unique and creative opportunities for the school community and beyond.
Ho notes that positive feedback from post-secondary art institutions from around the world admiring the work that CDNIS students create, is often underpinned with scholarship offers. "Many of our students who take up scholarship offers remark how well prepared they were to continue with their studies when they visit us after their first or second years," says Ho who cites the dual IB (International Baccalaureate) and Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), which CDNIS students take in tandem, as a source of enriching the CDNIS arts programmes. Ho also explains that CDNIS students are encouraged to take pride in their work, which can be seen on display at the New York style gallery, nestled in the midst of heavy student traffic. "The school buzzes with art activities," notes Ho who says it is commonplace for the art club to be painting a mural while a band practices nearby and a theatre production rehearsal is taking place next door.