Dragonwaves Podcasts


During class suspension in the time of Covid-19, the HKIS community came together to support each other, develop creative solutions to continue learning, and think about how this situation has changed our world. 

Dragonwaves - HKIS On The Air is a podcast series produced by the Advancement and Marketing Office and features guest speakers who share their perspective on home learning, school closures, and other topics related to our school. Hear leaders, experts in their field, and other members of the community share about their experience, some of their thoughts behind decisions that were made during the class suspension, and their views on education at HKIS and around the world.

Episode 31: Red Hearts in Black Rain

As we recover from back to back inclement weather emergencies, there is a bright spot beneath the dark clouds: The HKIS community. Hear from Laura Cowan, a Middle School Counselor and Yvonne Lo, an HKIS Parent and a member of the PFO Board as they recount their stories of the Black Rainstorm saga.

Guests: Laura Cowan, Yvonne Lo

Episode 30: What Makes HKIS Special? An Interview with Jim Handrich

What Makes HKIS Special? Community members at HKIS will agree we have a pretty special school, but what exactly is it that makes it so special? Hear from former Head of School James Handrich as he talks about his 24 years at HKIS and his perspective on what it takes to make a great school. Educators, HR professionals, and parents alike will gain amazing insights, while alumni and former faculty will enjoy hearing from their beloved leader from the 80s and 90s.

Guests: Jim Handrich 

Episode 29: Applying to College and Mental Health in Teenagers

Hear from two HKIS Alums, Tyler Kusunoki ‘03 and Kevin Kusunoki ‘08, talk about the college application process, the effect it has on the mental health of teenagers, and some tips on how to manage the stress. Kevin is the Young Adults pastor at Island Evangelical Community Church in Hong Kong and Tyler is the Director of Admissions Counseling at Tokyo Academics. 

Listen for some fun flashbacks to their days at HKIS! Today, our High School has eight counselors working in pairs to meet the social-emotional needs and academic planning challenges facing students in Grades 9 through 12. HKIS students and parents can get a full picture of student support, circa 2022 here.

Guests: Tyler Kusunoki ‘03 and Kevin Kusunoki ‘08.

Episode 28: A Sassy Robot + A Feature Film: Senior Projects Snapshot 2022

Every year, 12th graders at HKIS complete a Senior Project, where they are challenged to dive into a passion project or try to go deep into a new topic. 
This year, Dragonwaves is featuring two of these projects — first, Geneva Cheng and Hayden Ma created a prosthetic arm, and second, Lenny Luo, Benjamin Ting and Noah Livingston talk about creating a feature film.
As different as these projects are, all of these students have the same message to future seniors: Challenge yourselves! Do projects that push you outside of your comfort zone, and you will be rewarded with a great experience.

Guests: Geneva Cheng, Noah Livingston, Lenny Luo, Hayden Ma, Benjamin Ting


Episode 27: 23 Years and Counting: Vincent Li '73

Vincent Li ’73 sat down with HKIS’s Advancement Office to reflect on his involvement with HKIS, first as a student 55 years ago, then as an alumnus and member of the Board of Managers. Vincent talks about HKIS as a collaborative community of learning, and what drives his 23-year streak of giving to the Annual Fund.
Guests: Vincent Li


Episode 26: A Fine Farewell

In 2022 Lauren Fine retired from HKIS after 17 years of service in the High School. Tune in to hear about Lauren's journey from South Africa to Jerusalem to Hong Kong and how she transformed student life in the High School at HKIS. A counselor at heart with a strong commitment to service, Lauren cultivated a culture of gratitude and servant leadership in the student body and has left a permanent mark on the shape of our High School. 
Guests: Lauren Fine

Episode 25: Fleeing Ukraine: An Alum Aids Refugees

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, forcing 3 million refugees to flee the country. About 200,000 of these have entered Hungary, including alum Bonny Pratt ’92’s adopted home Budapest. Bonny witnessed this influx, and knew she had to act. So she started to volunteer to support those who needed help, and write about what she was witnessing. Hear from Bonny about what she’s been doing to help, and how her time at HKIS helped set the foundation for her to act in this historic moment. You can read more about Bonny’s work here: https://gofund.me/1fc6f791 and here https://gofund.me/dcc19a9c. Thank you to all the students who submitted questions for Bonny to answer.
Guests: Bonny Pratt '92 interviewed by Leontine Chuang '93



Episode 24: #MyFreedomDay @ HKIS

Can students end Modern Day Slavery? That’s what CNN believes! Since 2016, HKIS has been participating in My Freedom Day, CNN’s annual campaign to raise awareness about modern day slavery. Ahead My Freedom Day 2022, Dragonwaves revists interviews following activities in 2021: First, it sheds light on how My Freedom Day came to HKIS in the first place through an interview with alum Ella Hurworth ’18; second, it dives into a conversation with High School students about their activities and the HKIS Against Human Trafficking club (starts at 13:15); and finally it closes with an interview with three Middle Schoolers (starts at 24:50). Everyone had insightful things to say about the activities surrounding My Freedom Day, and what they’ve learned about the issue in the process.
Guests: Ella Hurworth ’18, Yuan Tseng, Chiara Jeong, Vivian Huang, Faith Yih, Ariane Lee, Mayuko Kawase, and Tori Kim.



Episode 23: The Quartet Boys

Four eighth-grade students formed their own Middle School club and learned how to play in a string quartet. Each individually accomplished in their instruments, the group learned the ropes of chamber music and entered a Hong Kong-wide music competition, representing HKIS, and achieved the highest honors in their category. Hear from the quartet on their journey of collaboration, commitment, and even some conflict resolution! 
Guests: Benjamin Diao, Caleb Chung, Deron Lin, Jayden Choi
Music excerpt: String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Opus 18, No. 4 (First Movement) by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by the quartet.


Episode 22: Connie Kim - Three Years in the Middle School

Dr. Connie Kim joined HKIS as the Middle School principal in 2019 amidst social unrest in Hong Kong and the following 2020 pandemic crisis. Over the past three years, Connie fought fires, got her Ph.D., all while laying the foundation for exciting Middle School developments. Hear directly from Connie Kim as she shares her heart for HKIS and what she sees for the future of our Middle School before she heads to Hanoi to become the Head of School for Chadwick International School Hanoi in August 2022. Connie shares the thinking behind the new bell schedule, how student choice is built into the day, and why the incoming Middle School principal was her first pick! 
Guests: Dr. Connie Kim



Episode 21: An HKIS Olympian in the time of Covid

Tune in to hear HKIS alumna Jamie Yeung '15 talk about her journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games representing Hong Kong in Women's Swimming. Jamie is interviewed by fellow HKIS alumna, Gigi Choy '14, who is an SCMP reporter. This podcast is a broadcast of the Virtual Alumni Event held in September 2021.
Guests: Jamie Yeung '15



Episode 20: I Never Thought I'd Be A Pastor

Kevin Kusunoki '08 is the Pastor of Young Adult Ministry at Island ECC, one of the largest English-speaking churches in Hong Kong. Kevin recalls his days at HKIS, where he was a social butterfly and student class president. He talks about the pressures of High School students and why this generation of young adults are positioned to mobilize the Gospel, which he hopes can speak into today's challenging culture. 
Guests: Kevin Kusunoki '08



Episode 19: Dragon Shop is ONLINE!

The Dragon Shop, located at the heart of the Tai Tam campus, is where parents and students shop for uniforms, school supplies, and HKIS branded merchandise. After a long-awaited launch, our beloved shop is online! Kurt Racine, the Interim President of the Booster Club, talks about the journey to go online, his vision for the shop and how it will support its ultimate mission to support school spirit. Visit the Dragon Shop online at https://hkis-dragon-shop.myshopify.com/. Alumni abroad: Shipping is local only for now. Stay-tuned for overseas shipping options down the road! 
Guests: Kurt Racine



Phoebus 14: A Senior Project

Episode 18: PhoeBUS 14 - A Senior Project

Every year in May, HKIS seniors must give a presentation on a yearlong independent study of their choice to student and faculty panels. Topics range from poetry anthologies and robotics projects to cooking blogs and Hong Kong expeditions. This year, Phoebus Wong '21 decided to refurbish a retired Hong Kong Citybus...and bring the bus on campus. Hear from Phoebus on how he went about buying, refurbishing, and bringing a Bus 14 onto the HKIS High School campus.   
Guests: Phoebus Wong '21



Episode 17: Parents, Are You the Media Police or a Media Mentor?

As you prepare for 11 weeks of summertime freedom for your kids, have you thought about your child's screen time? Will your child be a Digital Exile, A Digital Orphan, or a Digital Heir? Tune in with Amy Garrett, HKIS's Upper Primary Technology Coach, to learn how to avoid being the Media Police all summer and what it means to be a Media Mentor.   
Guests: Amy Garrett



Episode 16: The Power of Prayer - Queon's Story

Hear from the Ernst family after Queon's recent bicycle accident that rocked their world. Sonya and Etienne speak about their experience moving here as an expat family, Queon's miraculous recovery, and how the HKIS community rallied behind them to help them get through it all. 
Guests: The Ernst Family: Etienne, Sonya, Queon, and Milan



Episode 15: Pools Are Open!


On April 1, pools and beaches re-opened for the first time in four months. Ella Healy, HKIS's Director of Aquatics, shares how she ran "online swimming" classes while pools were closed, and Andrew Bridle describes some scary moments on Hong Kong's beaches. Finally, David Pool, Head Coach of the Hong Kong Island Stingrays Swim Club, tells us how our competitive swimmers stayed fit and motivated during pool closure and why open water swimming is a great way for the club to adapt to these new conditions.   

Guests: Ella Healy, Andrew Bridle, David Pool



Episode 14: Do Kids in Hong Kong Really Hate Reading?


You might be surprised to know that Hong Kong has the lowest rate of family literacy in the world, less than ⅓ of the international average. We invited new HKIS Board member, Michelle Bang, and HKIS librarians, Laura Chesebro and Amy Robinson, to discuss the importance of promoting reading at home and an exciting new search engine called ‘Find Me A Book’ that helps parents identify the right books for their kids.

Guests: Michelle Bang, Laura Chesebro, Amy Robinson



Episode 13: Juan Lucas Umali wants you to know you belong.


It wasn't until a friend convinced junior Juan Lucas Umali to run for Senator for Student Life that he realized he'd found his calling - to find a way to make sure everyone felt like part of the High School community. "I want to continue building that culture of love and collaboration [at HKIS]. No matter what grade you are, wherever you're from, who you are -- you have a place at here at HKIS." Tune in to hear more about Juan Lucas's journey to leadership, and how he wants to build stronger connections among the different grades in High School.

Guest: Juan Lucas Umali



Episode 12: Our High School’s VADT Program: Origins + Future

The High School's Visual Arts, Design and Technology department has taken flight over the last few years! Hear High School teachers Ms. Tracey Cheung and Mr. Daniel Budd talk about the amazing program, the collaboration and innovation that it inspires, and a vision for its future.
Guests: Tracey Cheung, Daniel Budd




Episode 11: Can a 9-year-old Change the World?

It's American Thanksgiving, and at HKIS, we're big on helping our kids learn how to have a spirit of gratitude. On this podcast, we interviewed fourth-grade teacher Stan Krause on how Service Learning and understanding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals help our students better understand the needs of the world. We also talked to student Maya Stoehr on her reflections from fourth grade. Hear how nine-year-olds view global concerns and how empathy and taking action play a role in our Student Learning Result of Contributing to Society.     
Guests: Stan Krause, Maya Stoehr (Grade 6)



Episode 10: Meet Our Four Principals

As a new school year begins, our four principals came together to share with new parents what the journey at HKIS looks like from our youngest learners to our seniors. Meet Geoff Heney (Lower Primary), Ben Hart (Upper Primary), Connie Kim (Middle School), and Dave Lovelin (High School). This segment was recorded as part of a Virtual Town Hall at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The school year started virtually on August 13, and students began returning to campus in phases beginning September 23. 

Guests: Dave Lovelin, Connie Kim, Ben Hart, Geoff Heney



Episode 9: Parents Helping Hong Kong Recover

Wondering how you can help those who have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic? Listen to the latest episode of the Dragonwaves podcast series to hear from alumni Rick Johannessen '92, Leontine Chuang '93, and parent Beth McNicholas about what they are doing together to help communities in need through the Hong Kong Community Recovery Fund.

Guests: Leontine Chuang '93, Rick Johannessen '92, Beth McNicholas



Episode 8: Preparing for College

With classes suspended during the second semester of the school year, the pressure was mounting for Seniors who had conditional offers with colleges, and Juniors who were just starting the process of selecting desired schools and preparing for their applications. Aaron Hollingshead is one of eight High School counselors serving our High School students to help them through this precarious time of Covid-19. While the pressures are real, students have been resilient, and colleges have adjusted their expectations. In this episode, Aaron shares his insights with us on how the students are coping.  

Guests: Aaron Hollingshead, High School Counselor




Episode 7: Serving Hearts, Sisters in Lockdown

Classes have been suspended for 14 weeks, but many of our students remain passionate about service. Elanna and Annalise wanted to do something to help those in need in Hong Kong amid the Coronavirus crisis and looked for ways to do this while social distancing. Tune in to hear about their video project to bring exercise to kids in need!

Guests: Elanna (Grade 10) and Annalise (Grade 8)



Episode 6: Home Learning, Uninterrupted

The HKIS IT department’s most critical task: Keeping home learning up and running. Hear from Roy Bas, the head of IT, about his past week, and how an emergency kept him and his team onsite day and night to ensure our students can access home learning. An HKIS alumnus, Roy also shares about his days as a student at HKIS.

Guests: Roy Bas, Head of Information Technology



Episode 5: Rethinking the Classroom

We speak with Brent Brayko, our High School Associate Principal of Teaching and Learning, about the challenges of switching to an online program overnight, how to make sure students are engaged and learning while off-campus, and what new discoveries may stay with us beyond the covid closure.

Guests: Brent Brayko, High School Associate Principal, Teaching & Learning



Episode 4: How to Teach Writing to Little Ones

How does bookmaking and writers workshop transform our students into strong writers? Our Lower Primary teachers sit with us to explain the writing process and how they incorporate methods proven to help students progress from level to level. 

Parents might find this podcast useful to understand how the writing curriculum was modified to complement digital learning for our youngest students at home.

Mekala Weerakoon, Grade 2 teacher
Priyanka D’Costa, R1 teacher
Kristina Kyle, Grade 1 teacher and literacy coordinator



Episode 3: The Parent/Child Relationship

Meet Jacci and Siena Grawburg, an HKIS family overcoming the challenges that develop between the parent and child while navigating through home learning. 

Jacci Grawburg, HKIS Parent
Siena Grawburg, Grade 4 Student



Episode 2: Getting Started at the Upper Primary

Upper Primary principal, Ben Hart, shares his experience from the day the Hong Kong government announced class suspensions on February 1 to the first eight weeks of home learning for over 600 students in Grades 3 to 5. 

Ben Hart, Upper Primary Principal


Episode 1: Wellbeing in the Time of Covid-19

Hear from three of our counselors at HKIS as they discuss wellbeing for students and parents during the extended class suspension. Topics include social isolation, screentime, family dynamics, and social media. 

John Everett, Grade 7 counselor
Kevin Fields, Grade 4 counselor
Kate Gardner, Reception 2 counselor



Special thanks to Weilyn Chong '20 for recording our intro, Laura Lorentzen and Danielle Solan, our Lower Primary music teachers, for creating our theme song, and to Hillary Sandeen from Alumni Relations for creating our Dragonwaves logo.