Welcome to the new school year! Today we welcomed 713 students, the largest number of students at YIS for many years and, as always, they have brought with them a lot of laughter and stories from the holidays and a new energy for the year ahead. Amongst this number were 139 new students who I hope will quickly feel at home as our returning community support them in typical YIS fashion. We also have 14 new teachers and support staff joining us from all around the world. They have been here for several weeks already and quickly settled into their new homes and our school community.
We enter this school year with excitement and I feel we are in a great position to take our school even further. We have a clear sense of purpose focused on the students and their improved learning. We also have a good sense of our culture and who we are as a school; our values and Live Learn Lead mission are well understood by everyone in the YIS community and help ensure that we remain true to who we are. These things also give us a great sense of direction and our newly published strategic plan provides a strong road map and priorities for where we want to grow and develop even further. Of course excitement is also building around our campus development plans, which we wrote to everyone about before the break and again in the Back to School site. We still have several months before we can definitely confirm our plans, but we are getting ever closer to securing a suitable nearby site to rebuild our school and I very much look forward to being able to share further details soon and have our community more involved in the process ahead.
Over the holidays our 2018 graduating class received their IB Diploma results and they were very successful and most have already secured their place in the college of choice for this year or next for those taking a gap year. We are especially proud of their 98% pass rate, which, given our non-selective admissions policy, speaks to the quality of our program, the care and support we provide, and of course the efforts of the students themselves.
During long breaks such as the one we just had, we often talk about the ability to reconnect with people and how the time gives us a chance to be with others. However, it strikes me that this outward focus might be misplaced. Our life for most of us is not in another country, it is here in Japan, and we should perhaps put a little more thought and care into cultivating the relationships we have right here. Our school thrives on the sense of community we share. For many of us, it is this sense of community that keeps us going and, in some cases, keeps us sane. Yet sometimes we get busy and forget that it is here that might need more attention, and we can't always wait until the holidays to make an effort in keeping our friendships alive. So think about your community, your friends and make those connections happen everyday. This is something we are going to be more conscious of ourselves in school and I look forward to extending our relationship with you all in the year ahead.
I am very excited about where we are as a school and the future we have in front of us. But mostly, I am just grateful for everyone that we have in the community who make things happen everyday. It is hard not to sound just a little cheesy, but be sure, not every school has the good fortune to have the people we have who contribute to our school's success everyday, so I really am very thankful.
Once again, welcome and welcome back. Please take note of all the events in the coming weeks that are designed to inform and bring you all together and I look forward to seeing you around the campus.
Head of School