A Message of Thanksgiving from Principal Corey Stixrud

A Message of Thanksgiving from Principal Corey Stixrud
Corey Stixrud, KIS Principal

Dear Kodai Friends,

I’d like to close the first semester of the school year on a note of gratitude for each of you: students and parents, staff and alumni, and, as always, new friends encountered on the way. Returning to post-pandemic normalcy has not always been a proverbial walk through Seven Roads, and all of us, across the world, will be dealing with the impact of the pandemic for years to come. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to minimize the joy we’ve felt in being back together in this special place for the last five months, even as we acknowledge that it’s the right time for a break.

I take this opportunity to share a few of the events that have made this semester memorable, in more or less chronological order.

We kicked off the school year with the inaugural KIS Community Day, a great day of bonding for students, both new and returning, with lots of opportunities for fun and reflection. Community Day was an opportunity to welcome new students, start the year off with an emphasis on the school’s vision and mission, and celebrate the wide diversity at KIS. I can’t wait to see how this idea evolves next year!

On August 7, our “youngest-at-heart” KIS volunteer, Dr. Clarence Maloney, passed away in his home in Maryland at the age of 87. Clarence has been such a force for the environment and for Kodai over the last decade, and he was particularly instrumental in the school’s development of the KIS Center for Environment and Humanity (KISCEH) in recent years. He will remain a source of inspiration for all of us as we continue our efforts to be a sustainable school and community. We miss you, Clarence.

At the end of August, I and a small team from KIS embarked on a global adventure, visiting 16 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Southeast Asia. It was rewarding to engage with alumni and, in particular, to discuss our plans for the school’s future growth and direction. We returned to Kodai invigorated by the support and encouragement we received from our alumni base. Thank you!

On our tour, we sought support for two programs: our Center for Environment and Humanity, which is doing such ground-breaking work here in Kodai; and our commitment to both need and diversity scholarships for young people to attend KIS. I am proud to share that we’ve raised almost $100,000 in support of the Center and for scholarships. With your continued support, we are confident that we’ll meet our targets for these programs in 2023.

I returned to Kodai in mid-September, in time to welcome the KIS Council to Kodai for our bi-annual meetings, and also just in time for Parent Week. It was the first in-person Parent Week in three years, and having so many parents in Kodai was truly one of the semester’s highlights. I can’t say enough about the Council: They come from far and wide and work behind the scenes, without fanfare, in support of great governance of KIS. I am thankful for their wisdom, expertise, and leadership.

In October, 32 high-school students from Sweden, along with four chaperones, came to Kodai to conduct research on issues relating to development, sustainability, and livelihood options in the Palani Hills. Their program and stay were organized by our Center for Environment and Humanity, and the trip exceeded all of our expectations. It was delightful to witness the many interactions between our students and the Swedish group: they attended the high-school formal and even competed in our renowned dorm-dance competition (won this year by Lower Boyer, for those keeping score). We look forward to more such visits from high-school and college students from across the world.

On November 4-5, we staged High School Musical, which proved to be a roaring success, with a cast and crew of over 120 students.

On November 9, students and staff dressed in red and white to attend a farewell assembly in honor of Barbara Block (Class of ’76), a proud Canadian citizen, who is retiring after an incredible career at KIS spanning more than 35 years. In fact, most of November was unofficially dubbed “Celebrate Barbara Month,” as a number of events were held to acknowledge Barbara’s faithful service to KIS and her contributions to art, hiking, music, worship and so many other facets of Kodai life. She will be missed, but her legacy will last far into the future!

The KIS Music program, long-suffering through the pandemic, rebounded spectacularly to life by way of the Winter Concerts on November 11 and 12. Over 180 students shared their musical talents with the school and the community.

Of course, in addition to all the above, it was a semester replete with the usual Kodai activities and events: field trips, canteens, carnivals, National Honor Society endeavours, a talent show, church services, prayer breakfasts, and a heart-warming Christmas banquet (with 700 of us fitting snugly on the Covered Courts); hikes and class camps; a writers’ workshop; science fairs, and a student-organized Theory of Knowledge (TOK) exhibition. I was extremely proud of a group of students who organized a festival for our operational staff and their families on the Ganga field, and our Grade 11 and 12 art students curated a creative (and experiential) visual arts exhibition in the KMU, inspired by their field trip.

It was a busy semester!

As always at KIS, there are abundant challenges to face, but I take comfort and pride in the knowledge that we do so together, united in our vision to strive to be a school the world needs.

Wishing each one of you a blessed Christmas.

From Kodai, Corey