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School Life

Inspiring Respect, Resilience and the ability to Think and Act Inclusively in our international environment

Annual Traditions

Each culture and each Nation has its own traditions. We want to teach our children that it is important and concurrently interesting to learn about the culture and the traditions of the country they are living in. Celebrating traditions is not intended to exclude people. To learn about foreign traditions will expand their own horizon and it may activate new insights and reflections about their own tradition and culture.

Christmas Lunch

Christmas time is a wonderful occasion for being together with your family and loved ones and spending quality time with each other. It is also a time when people realise how important it is to help each other. It is a time of giving and sharing.

At AIS, we show that the essential family values are crucial and that sharing and being with others, caring for others are vital aspects of life. At the Annual Christmas Lunch, parents and siblings are invited to enjoy a hot meal with staff and friends. The AIS Management Team supports the catering staff by serving food, drinks, and desserts and collecting and cleaning the plates and cutlery used. Everybody is in good spirits and enjoys the celebratory meal.

The Christmas Lunch is also an opportunity to contribute to improving lives and to helping children globally. Good citizenship is one of our six C’s, and the Christmas Lunch is always used as a fundraiser for a good cause. Proceeds of the ticket sales are donated to a selected project or organisation. AIS is proud to continue this tradition, enabling us to create awareness and involvement in local initiatives to create a better world.

Thank you letter by teacher Margriet Janssen who works as a volunteer in Calcutta,  India and received a donation (pdf)

Virtual Carnival Parade 2021

In a collaborative project during the second lockdown, elementary students from all national sections made their own Carnival floats to celebrate the local Carnival together from the COVID-appropriate distance.


Sinterklaas is a traditional winter holiday figure still celebrated in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Indonesia, and Suriname. He is one of the sources of the holiday figure of Santa Claus in North America.

According to the legend Sinterklaas was a bishop who lived in Turkey around the year 300. As he cared for the poor, it broke his heart to see that a man with three daughters had no money to support them, let alone pay their dowry.

The story goes that Saint Nicolaas wanted to help by throwing money through the window, which accidentally ended up in a shoe (hence the fact that the Dutch children put their shoe every night by the chimney/door during the time that Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands!)

This traditional feast is celebrated yearly on the 5th of December when Sinterklaas drops or brings presents for children at their homes. This is the eve before Sinterklaas’ birthday.

Approximately three weeks before this date, Sinterklaas and his Pieten arrive in the Netherlands on his boat with the presents he’ll give to the children. Every year they arrive in another city.

During the period before the celebration of Sinterklaas’ birthday, children put their shoe at the fireplace. With the shoe, the children leave a carrot and some hay for the Sinterklaas’ horse. Then the children sing a song for Sinterklaas and the next day they will find some candy or presents in their shoes.

Sinterklaas and his Pieten usually carry a bag which contains candy for children. The Pieten toss candy around, a tradition when Sinterklaas and his Pieten enter the room where the children are waiting.


Carnaval in the Netherlands is a festival held mainly in the Southern regions of the Netherlands with an emphasis on role-reversal and the suspension of social norms, as part of celebrations of Carnaval. Carnaval is regarded as a rite of passage from darkness to light, from winter to summer: a celebration of the first spring festival of the new year. The first day of Carnaval is six weeks before Easter Sunday. Carnaval officially begins on Sunday and lasts three days until the start of Lent’s first day, Ash Wednesday at midnight.

Every year at AIS we celebrate Carnaval together and eleven aldermen are selected and one Prince. The Director hands over the Key of AIS to the Prince of the Carnaval so that the Prince can take charge of the school for the day.

Harvest Pumpkin Drop

An exciting AIS traditional event in October is our Pumpkin Drop Challenge, with all the Year 6 British and 5th Grade American, Canadian and German children. Working in international groups students challenge themselves to make a protective box, with the idea of making the Pumpkin survive a drop from the 3rd floor of the school. We experiment and use lots of different materials to surround it in the hope it survives the drop. The Pumpkin Drop is a fun experience for everyone involved. It is always a SMASH HIT!

Terry Fox Run

The Terry Fox Run is held each year in September across Canada and in 56 countries across the world.  This event is held to honour the memory of Terry Fox and to raise money for cancer research.  The focus is on participation.  However, a pledge form is always included if the children wish to collect funds.

AFNORTH International School participates every year in the Terry Fox Run. This international activity led by our Canadian Colleagues involves:

  • Millions of students
  • Hundreds of thousands of teachers
  • Thousands of schools
  • The same dream
  • A cure for cancer

Kankeronderzoek Limburg says thank you and explains how the donations are spent (pdf).

Easter Parade

A European and US tradition of people wearing new clothes and hats to celebrate the coming of spring and meaning of Easter is celebrated by our youngest children in AFNORTH. Our children enjoy creating and sharing their designs during our Easter events and have relished continuing the tradition. The parades are enjoyed by adults and students alike, with the children savouring the opportunity to show off their elaborate and fun designs.


The Waxworks Exhibition is held each year during April or May and involves students from Grade 5 /Year 6 from all National Sections of the school. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to incorporate deeper learning skills in a purposeful international experience.

The focus is on research projects chosen by the students, finding out about key historical figures from the past. Biographies are written using the writing process of planning, drafting, editing and publication. The students turn their prepared biographies into oral monologues that are memorised and then presented within a timeslot.

As a finale to the Waxworks Project, Students create an information display about their chosen historical figure. The finale challenege is to dress and act in ‘character’ and to present their monologue to parents, students and teachers. This is a memorable project that incorporates life long learning skills and ensures lasting positive memories.

Remembrance Day

In November every year our school unites together to honour those who have served and continue to serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. We ‘Remember Together’ and unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice, friendship and collaboration of the men and women of the allied nations who fought together in war time and who have died in the line of duty.

Our ‘Remembrance Services’ take place in School, and at host nation memorial grounds. Our students and staff play a central role in the Remembrance Services held at local memorial grounds in Brunssum, Sittard, Margraten and Groesbeek.

Student International Collaboration Day - Taking Responsibility

Every year in January or February we hold a day when all students in the school work on a shared theme and project. Staff and students from across all National Sections work collaboratively together to plan and implement an exciting programme based on a current issue that is having an impact on their life and our world; leading to making changes to our individual and collective attitudes and behaviours so that it will benefit the environment.

Most recently students explored how plastic waste is impacting on all of us and students addressed the question of what might be done to counter it. Leading experts on Microplastic Pollution and Marine Biology shared their experiences and students engaged in active research and presentations, working as environmentalists, engineers, business experts and politicians to investigate the issues from a variety of perspectives. Parents are invited to join in talks and workshops and together with our whole school community we aspire to ‘take action’ and make that difference!

Many Nations - One world – ONE RESPONSIBILITY

Our GLOBE symbolizes our world for which we want to encourage our students to take responsibility. That’s why it also serves students as an exhibition space for art installations that highlight issues where we want to take responsibility.

The current installation was created as part of the International Collaboration Day on 2 February 2019. It shows our world full of plastic, which is distributed as macro and micro plastic in our oceans. While we can still see it with the eye at first, it is shredded over time and no longer stands out as microplastic.

The sculpture shows plastic waste dumped with concrete collected by AIS students. Overall, a ton of concrete was processed. Subsequently, the concrete moulds were cut out of the plastic and dyed blue. The color blue symbolizes the water. Part of the moulds are in the Globe, some outside, indicating two things: First, our earth can no longer cope with all the plastic waste, and secondly, grass is growing over the part of the outward forms, so they will soon appear gone to the naked eye. But as they are made of concrete, they still remain, even if you can‘t see them anymore. It’s the same with microplastic too. The plastic will remain even when it cannot be seen by the naked eye.

About 500 students from different nations actively participated in the creation of this international art installation.

St. Martin's Day

Families from all nations are invited to join in the St. Martin’s Day Celebration which takes place every year on 11th of November.

Martin was a Roman soldier who later became Bishop of Tours and he was known for his strong values of kindness and charity. To this day we still celebrate this special event with lantern parades and children singing special songs. Familes gather on our school sports field during the early evening and enjoy the special atmosphere that is created. Traditionally there will be a St. Martin’s bonfire and breadman are distributed.

Homecoming Celebration

Homecoming is a school tradition dating back to the early 1900’s in the US. Ours surrounds the AFNORTH Lion sport teams having a home game against a District rival. Here at AFNORTH we typically celebrate Homecoming Week in late October.

Homecoming is kicked off with a spirit week where students dress according to designated theme days. Often the grade levels have a hallway decorating competition. Towards the end of the week there is a pep rally where all of the Fall sport athletes are recognised. On the Friday and Saturday of Homecoming Week the games are played followed by a social event on the Saturday night where Homecoming culminates in a semi-formal dance where students vote on a Homecoming Court.

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