Through traditions - both unique and common - people can clearly see the values and identity of a school.
Whether it’s graduation ceremonies, unique quirks of singular faculty members or celebrations at the Head of School’s house every Friday night, traditions set a school apart from others.
Such traditions are important mainly as bonding exercises and to give the school a sense of its own importance and continuity.
"One of my favorite traditions at IST is the 5th-grade ceremony," said Dr. Mark Hardeman, the Director of the International School of Tanganyika (IST). "It's an amazing ceremony to celebrate the transition of our oldest Elementary students into our Secondary School."
Though this may be prevalent in most schools, IST ensures that this is a memorable experience for its students, parents and teachers.
"The most amazing moment was near the end of the ceremony. The lights were darkened and teachers began to step forward to read out their favorite quotes from children's literature. It was an amazing moment and still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it."
Traditions at IST take a Unique Twist
Starting spontaneously with no real backstory, some traditions at IST are unique and quirky and give the school character. Though many traditions come to an end, since the school’s inception in 1963, some exciting traditions at IST have come to be.
Dinner Parties at 91 Msese Road
It was attractive, colonial-style house located just across the creek from the school and was purchased in 1972 to house the incoming Head of School, Bob Graham, and many subsequent Heads after him. It was the scene of an exciting new tradition.
According to Graham Mercer, a teacher at IST for 34 years, 91 Msese Road was a tradition that allowed for bonding amongst the faculty.
When Mercer first joined the school in 1977, the home was known as the Headmaster’s House. At the time, the Head of School was Harry Potts.
“Harry and his wife Monica were extremely hospitable and we teachers were invited for dinner at Msese Road on a rotary basis,” Mercer said. “Dinner would be served outdoors on the lawn, with place-names.”
Mercer remembers these nights as being an exceptional bonding experience for faculty, a way to get to know one another outside the doors of the school.
“It was all very enjoyable.”
Entertainment at the Yearly Swim Gala
Some traditions at a school are comical, starting in a moment of spontaneity.
An example of one at IST was initiated by Elsa Pope, a part-time German teacher.
“During the annual swimming gala at Elementary School… [Elsa] would entertain the audience at the climax of the event by riding her push-bike off the top diving board,” Mercer said fondly remembering the 70-year-old teacher. “[She was] a lovely lady and one of the school's much-appreciated ‘characters’.”
A Tradition to Promote Faculty Bonding
There are some traditions that combine exploring the country and adventure to promote faculty bonding.
Starting with the help of Mercer, Kevin Bartlett and Mike Maybury, IST started the tradition of taking incoming teachers and admin on a safari to Mikumi National Park.
According to an IST teacher, Deanna Milne, this is one of the best ways to get acquainted both with other faculty members and Tanzania itself.
“The safari that [IST] brought us on as new staff really showed me that they care about showing new staff what an amazing country this is,” Milne said. “It gave us a chance to get to know each other away from work and share an amazing experience together that many people dream about.”
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