Letter from the Headmaster (3 Jan 2024)

A New Year Message

Dear Parents, 

Please can I start by wishing all of you a very Happy New Year. Let us hope that 2024 will be a year of great happiness and achievement for everyone associated with Harrow Appi including all of the students and parents that make up our rather unique community. 

Of course, we begin our year with the sobering news of the earthquake that has struck just north north-west of Suzu in the Noto Peninsula, located in the Ishikawa Prefecture. You will be aware that this has been the most significant earthquake to strike Japan in the last few years and we will all have become familiar with the details of the damage caused, the dislocation to normal life for many Japanese people and sadly the loss of life that has accompanied this natural disaster.  Our sympathy at Harrow Appi goes out to all those that may have been impacted. 

Of course, we are aware that we are still in the holiday period for students, staff and our children’s families and know that people will have travelled to many places in and out of Japan. I hope sincerely that none of you have been unduly impacted by the earthquake, directly or otherwise. However, if this is the case and that there is anything that the school can do to help or advise on, please do not hesitate to reach out and make contact with us.  We know that the school is an important part of an extended family to all of you. 

For everyone associated with the school, we will have our minds on the impending new school term that begins next Wednesday, 10 January, with students due to return on the previous afternoon and evening. Inevitably, everyone will want to know what the current situation is in Appi and the surrounding area in Iwate Prefecture. Please let me try to bring you up to speed and offer some reassurance. 

Although the earthquake and some of its aftershocks were felt and noticed at Harrow Appi and within Iwate, these did not create any immediate alarm, especially within a community used to coping with, being prepared for and responding to earthquakes.  Indeed, an initial and internal close examination of the school campus and school grounds has suggested that no damage has been sustained whatsoever and that our school remains completely safe.  

Given the specification of our school build and the high premium placed on earthquake safety within Japan, this is what you would expect to hear, but it is important still for you to have this communicated back to you. 

However, matters of well-being and safety for students and our wider community are the utmost priority. As such, a complete and comprehensive check of all school facilities will be undertaken by both our architect and statutory licensed inspectors to ensure that our initial conclusions are accurate. 

Harrow Appi fully anticipates being open as usual next week, ready to welcome all of our students back for the very important and special Winter Term. I will write to you again on Saturday (6 January) to update you on the situation, including any further details about our onsite checks. I will also confirm arrangements for the start of the year, although at this stage we do not expect there will be any change; already local travel appears to be unaffected by recent events. 

We know that some parents will have individual enquiries that they may wish to raise with the school, depending on need and situation. We will do our best to meet this and respond in a timely manner over the remaining days of the holiday. In doing, we ask that you address your questions or comments to Nicola Bartram, Assistant Headteacher (NBartram@Harrowappi.jp) copying your child’s House Master or House Mistress at the same time. In addition, please note that we will also post updates of the ongoing situation both on social media and the school website.    

In the meantime, please can I wish you an enjoyable and safe time over the remaining days of the school holiday. 

Stet fortuna domus, 

Stephen Tong
Head Master
Harrow International School Appi Japan  

To view/ download PDF version: https://www.harrowappi.jp/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Letter-from-the-Head-Master-3-Jan-2024.pdf