Over the past decade, Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School has been committed to creating a positive learning environment for its students. From tirelessly reforming its curriculum to renovating its facilities, the school has left no stone unturned in its quest to build a healthy and happy campus. Reflecting on the school’s efforts, Principal Lam Wai Choi shares, “We are thrilled to see the positive impacts of our initiatives. Most importantly, our students have exhibited a greater sense of belonging at school, with bigger smiles on their faces and an enthusiasm for learning.”

Laying the foundations for life from an early age

Nestled in Tsz Ching Estate of Tsz Wan Shan, Kowloon, Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School is an aided whole-day primary school with a sprawling campus that spans nearly 8,000 square metres. For two decades, Principal Lam has dedicated himself to transforming the school into an ideal second home for his students. “Primary school is a fundamental milestone that lays the foundation for future studies in secondary school and university,” says Principal Lam. He emphasises that laying a strong foundation is not just about academics. Instead, he hopes to cultivate in students a positive and proactive outlook on life through positive education. This way, they can face any challenge and failure with courage, perseverance and a community spirit as they stride through their life journey.

Positive education is one of the school’s core values. For students to lead healthy lives, a positive and nurturing environment is essential to foster their physical, mental and spiritual growth. By promoting a positive campus culture, Principal Lam hopes to instil in students a positive and constructive attitude towards learning and life. Two of the school’s positive education programmes have been particularly popular among students. One of them is the Happy Campus Reward Campaign, which rewards students who demonstrate good performance in the six virtues and 24 character strengths with stamps or tokens that can be used to redeem prizes. Near the entrance of the school’s main building are a prize cabinet that rivals that of a game centre, a capsule toy machine and a claw crane machine which help to nurture students’ positivity in a way that they enjoy.

The annual Positive Culture Day is another popular positive education programme hosted by the school. Each classroom is transformed into a mini-carnival, with different game booths for students to freely participate in. While the games may seem simple, they are designed to be challenging to encourage students to experience failure. For the game of bamboo toss, for instance, students must throw a long bamboo stick into a narrow pot. The odds of success are slim, yet Principal Lam is a big fan of the “experience failure” approach of Positive Culture Day. “Not only are students celebrated for their success, but they also receive applause and encouragement from their peers when they fail. We hope to carry on this culture of perseverance and resilience into their lives outside of school.” Family education is also a crucial component of positive education, which is why the school hosts positivity seminars for parents to encourage greater home-school collaboration. Moreover, the school has recently installed a climbing wall, not only to promote sport climbing but also to foster students’ courage. All students are required to participate: junior students are taught horizontal climbing techniques, while senior students strive to scale the wall and ring the bell at the top. Principal Lam hopes to instil in students the goal to reach the top before graduating from the school. “You can see students overcoming their fears and eventually conquering the climbing wall, even those afraid of heights,” says Principal Lam. “Life is full of obstacles. We want to impart knowledge and, at the same time, foster a positive mindset in our students. Hopefully, they will become healthy and happy individuals ready to face life’s obstacles head-on.”

An approximately 10-metre-tall climbing wall was recently installed on campus, challenging students to climb to the top before graduating from the school.

Uncovering students’ strengths through diverse sports activities

For the past two decades of implementing positive education, Principal Lam has witnessed remarkable transformations in his students. As a former PE teacher, he is delighted to see students identifying their strengths through a diverse range of activities. “Since we adopted a variety of sports activities, our students’ lives have become more vibrant than ever before. I truly hope that they will continue to enjoy learning and relish the opportunity to come to school. While it may require additional effort on the part of teachers, the students’ smiles are a testament to the significance of our approach,” he shares. The students of Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School are passionate and energetic, thanks to the school’s commitment to creating a dynamic and unique campus. The school organises a plethora of activities during recesses and lunchtime, such as rope skipping, basketball, dodgebee, hula hooping and table tennis, for students to participate freely and enjoy the fun of exercising with their peers. In addition, the school employs a circular class system. Mornings consist of regular classes on a rotating schedule, while afternoons feature dynamic learning sessions, including weekly assemblies, Wednesday interest groups and multiple intelligence courses. Each multiple intelligence course is 50 minutes long and is led by professional instructors to introduce students to exciting sports. Primary One and Two students are taught Floor Curling; Primary Three students learn aerobic exercises; PrimaryFour and Five students play jianzi; Primary Six students are introduced to Kin-Ball. These courses allow students to explore emerging sports anddevelop a deeper interest in physical activities. Students can experience over 40 different types of sports and art activities on campus. The school also hosts group competitions for students, encouraging them to explore
their strengths with full enthusiasm and joy.

The school invites professional instructors to teach their students a wide range of exciting sports. For instance, Primary One and Two students are introduced to Floor Curling.

Every Friday, Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School dedicates 50 minutes to uniformed group services. Primary Four to Six students are allocated to 10 different uniformed groups, including Brownies, Little Franciscans, Community Youth Club (CYC), Junior Police Call (JPC), TSB Ambassadors, Cub Scouts, the Hong Kong Road Safety Patrol, the Hong Kong Red Cross Junior Units, Young Pioneers of Christ and the Green Kids. During this time, students participate in various school and community services. School services refer to cleaning, tidying up and farming, while community services include visiting nearby nursing homes, reaching out to grassroots families and cleaning the beach. Principal Lam remarks, “We want to equip our students to serve the community when they grow older. Cultivating a caring campus culture among students from a young age is in line with our school’s Catholic educational mission: God loves us all. By learning how to love and serve those around them, our students will make a positive impact in society.”

To ease the burden on parents, our school has thoughtfully arranged homework time for students. By the end of the school day, students will have completed most of their homework, with some free time at home to do some light studying before they engage in activities they enjoy. Principal Lam emphasises, “I always remind parents that it is difficult for children to sustain focus from 7am to 4pm every school day. We aim to schedule all regular classes in the morning and fun activities in the afternoon. I often ask parents, ‘When was the last time you watched TV with your children? When was the last time you cuddled together?’ Children’s lives are more than just piles of homework. Even a rubber band will lose its elasticity if pulled too hard.”

The school has built a farm on campus to teach students the basics of farming.

The campus farm and community kitchen

Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School is home to two special places that not only foster a sense of responsibility and service in students but also cultivate their empathy towards mankind and all living things. Recognising the crucial link between a healthy lifestyle and sustainable development, the school has built a farm on campus and formed the Green Team, a uniformed group that teaches students the basics of farming, including weeding and fertilising. The school aims to instil in students a sense of responsibility and life education through simple farming tasks, encouraging them to tend to the flowers and plants in the morning and learn more about botany. “During windy days, students are especially concerned about the plants at the farm, checking on them as soon as they get back to school. After harvesting the produce, students can take home the vegetables they grow and share some with those in need. Their kindness is a reflection of God’s love for humanity and all living things.”

The community kitchen is a community venue that promotes a culture of kindness among students. Principal Lam explains, “Located in the nearby St. Bonaventure Church, the community kitchen offers free dinners every evening to those in need in the neighbourhood, including seniors, singleparent families and individuals experiencing financial difficulties. Through referrals from social workers, they get daily meal quotas at the church.” The school regularly sends students to help lay out the tables, serve the diners and clean up in the community kitchen, while the church staff prepare the food. Principal Lam notes, “Our students love working in the community kitchen. I send underperforming students there to experience positive education. The recognition and appreciation they receive for serving people in need strengthen their spirit of service and reinforce their commitment to serving others in the future. In fact, parents should not be too sparing with compliments for their children’s good behaviours.

Perseverance is foremost among all virtues

Cultivating the 24 positive virtues in students is one of the key principles of the positive education curriculum at Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School. Among the many virtues, Principal Lam places particular emphasis on perseverance. “If students can develop positivity and perseverance from an early age, I believe they will achieve holistic growth in the future and reap the benefits throughout their development,” he illustrates. Apart from cultivating students’ perseverance through its moral and civic education curriculum, the school also teaches students to embrace failure through the climbing wall and Positive Culture Day. With perseverance, determination and resilience, anyone can confidently stride forward on his / her life’s journey. “It is applicable to all Hongkongers. Failure and setbacks are inevitable . We must learn how to confront failure. As long as we keep moving forward, we will ultimately succeed.”

Last year, AIA launched the AIA Healthiest Schools Programme focusing on four topics which include Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, Mental Well-being and Health & Sustainability. Congratulations to Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School – the Hong Kong winner of the AIA Healthiest Schools Challenge! The school saw the competition as an extension of its regular curriculum and a complementary activity to promote healthy living among students and parents with a fresh and creative approach. The school has also incorporated the teaching resources provided by AIA Healthiest Schools Programme into the curriculum, to help students enhance their knowledge through exploration and exchange of ideas. The active participation of teachers, students and parents (who are not only contributors but also beneficiaries of the programme) has all contributed to a healthier campus. The teachers and students at Tsz Wan Shan Saint Bonaventure Catholic Primary School were awarded a tailor-made activity day, where they were able to experience different sports, including Wing Chun, Zumba, VX, roundnet and orienteering activities. The teachers and students relished the joy of healthy living on the activity day. They also received recorded congratulatory video messages from Siobhán Haughey, the world swimming champion and AIA Hong Kong & Macau Ambassador!