[Suva-GoodNews] AM River School -- Good News
Lots of Building and Growing at the AM River School (16th Year)
Our 16th year has been a year of great changes and amazing improvements for an already thriving school. Due
to over $2 million in government grants we are currently in the process of building four new buildings: a
large gym / performing arts building, new administration and staff room building, library and tuck shop
(canteen), plus two new classrooms. We're also able to add two new large play areas and a basket ball court,
a vegetable garden, a new music space, and a parking lot. We're upgrading some existing buildings as well,
so we'll be able to double our early childhood classes (2 1/2 and 3 1/2 year olds) as there is increased
demand for these.
During this year also, we continued our growth as a leading school in sustainability, as we installed 20
solar panels (from a grant), and put in four new water tanks (as all of our drinking water comes from the
roofs, and our waste water is processed through sand filtration on site. All hot water is from solar.). We
continue to have an organic, sentient vegetarian, whole foods canteen three days a week and hope to expand
this, plus all school lunches from home and at school events are strictly sentient, wholefoods
We are also on the leading edge of technology, with individual laptops for all children from year 2,
interactive white boards in all classrooms, and in seventh grade, each child has their own ipad! This all
fits in well in our 25 acres of rainforested land, with a beautiful, swimmable creek running through it.
The school has specialist teachers for art, music, yoga and meditation, performing arts, ecology studies
and special education. All children learn marimba (tuned percussion), plus recorder and have the option
of private lessons in strings, piano or guitar.
The school is also leading the region in sports, especially in track and field, swimming and soccer. This
year, the River School for the second time, won the district soccer championships, despite being the
smallest of eleven schools competing. The school also recently won a slew of prizes in the Hinterland
Junior Art Awards, including overall school award, first prize in the junior primary and five
encouragement awards (again, as the smallest school.)
We continue to innovate and improve our focus on Neo Humanism. Each term (four per year), teachers submit
their plans to the director, and must include in their theme a clear Neo Humanistic statement and
activities. For example, if year 7 has a theme of Science, they also teach "Mad Science" experiments that
they have planned and organised, to the Year 1 class. Year 6 goes to Brisbane to serve a hot lunch at a large
homeless shelter. Other classes raise funds for overseas service, study global relief organisations,
visit adults in aged care, and many other activities. The school follows a "virtues" program throughout
Each class practices meditation daily in their classroom and have one specialist yoga and meditation
session weekly. This year, Katyayani, our yoga and meditation specialist teacher was also teaching
performing arts. She had the excellent idea of combining the two: each class does 1 1/2 hours of yoga and
meditation combined with performing arts. This has had the effect of the children really looking forward
to their weekly session because they love the performing arts; and it has also lead to more deeply Neo
Humanistic themes in drama, as it come after their internal focus.
We have seen that AM River School children continue to excel after they leave the school. This year,
typically, at the large local public High School, both of the elected school captains are River School graduates.
(from an article for the Gurukula Newsletter, 20th Anniversary Special Edition)