Message from the Head of School

Dear Families,

It was a roller coaster of a year and it is with much pride that I look back at our collective achievements, our resilience, our fortitude and our courage to be a caring and collaborative community in the face of immense challenges, uncertainty and loss. 

We are excited about our planning for next year, but before we look ahead let us take the time to look back and celebrate how we started the year and what unfolded in 2019-2020.

We watched our students perform ‘In the Arms of Angels’ and ‘Aristocats’, showcase their talent at choir and orchestra events, take home a number of prizes at a math competition, and represent our School at sporting events (swimming, volleyball, basketball, cross-country) within Hanoi and throughout the region – Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea and China. And our MRISA Boys Team were Basketball Champions at the tournament we hosted at UNIS Hanoi! Congratulations to all our artists and athletes of all ages!

As one of only two UN international schools in the world, it was with a special pride that we celebrated UN Day as the climax to our SDG Week, and that we sent delegations to Model United Nations conferences in Phnom Penh and Singapore. We also helped UNICEF celebrate 30 years of the Rights of the Child Convention, hosting their National Solutions Summit at UNIS Hanoi with our students leading delegations from across the country.

We hosted almost 500 educators and Board members from the region to engage with us and learn with us through a wide range of professional learning opportunities hosted on campus, including our first Vietnamese conference led by our Teaching Assistant’s for more than 120 teachers from local schools. 

19-20 was also the year we launched our new UNIS Impact Fund, designed to support student dreams for a better world which this year focused on solar power and a UNIS botanical garden – and which will continue in the new year.

And as we closed the first Semester we welcomed the joint visiting Accreditation Team from the Council of International Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the International Baccalaureate Organisation who spent five days in powerful conversations with our students, parents, faculty and staff to dig deep into our own self-assessment of our School and who reported back to our community in January their findings.

We were delighted with their commendations which included a strong commitment to our Mission, Vision and Values, a robust academic programme connecting learning to authentic, meaningful real world experiences, clear communication processes and procedures and the creation of a healthy and safe learning and work environment for our community.

And we are in agreement with them that in our new School Strategic Plan we will be focussing on areas for improvement including the refinement of our identity, a closer look at inclusion and ensuring we continue to meet the needs of all learners at UNIS Hanoi. 

It had already been quite a year! And as we broke for Tet, we had a busy second-half of the year planned including international tournaments for our athletes and artists.

But as COVID-19 took hold, what started as a time of postponement, cancellation and closure, quickly became a time of collapsing dreams, challenging working conditions and real fear for the safety of our families and friends. A time when planning for any kind of future involved multiple scenarios to successfully face such unprecedented ‘unknown’. 

But this was also a time when we saw our students, teachers and parents come together to support student learning from home. Our faculty and staff were required to learn how to teach online within 24 hours and continually reflect on their practices to grow and improve our programme to meet the needs of our students. 

And from this uncertainty came incredible creativity with finding ways to support social-emotional wellness virtually, moving assemblies and other community and student celebrations online, connecting with our parents through zoom, developing a “distance ASA” programme, hosting a global virtual professional development conference and taking personal and professional risks as we recorded videos and performances to both support and celebrate learning. 

Most of all it was a time of collaborative resilience in which friends and colleagues demonstrated empathy, support and a commitment to ensure that our students had a productive, successful school year.

All our comfort zones were stretched beyond breaking, but together as a community we built ourselves again, differently, but wiser, more humble and with more confidence and strength than we could have known was possible from such devastation. 

And what next?

Well, I am looking forward to seeing almost 75% of our students on campus over the next 4 weeks as our Summer School Programme provides your children with the opportunity to continue to explore and learn. We are expecting a summer campus filled with smiles, laughter and learning.

And for next year?

Well, as we know, none of us has a crystal ball and we are certainly not ‘going back to normal’ but we are planning with confidence and creativity, modelling our Mission as ‘life-long learners’ to respond to the challenges ahead and with a firm refusal to be bowed in our expectations for our students’ learning, dreams and opportunities.

Will it look different? Yes. Will it be the best we can possibly forge together? Yes. And will it be centred on helping our students become their very best selves, turning dreams into goals and supported by passionate educators, dedicated to that single goal? Yes.

Our goals for next year include a focus on strengthening community, revisiting our Mission, Vision and Values, inclusion, social-emotional learning, sustainability and implementing our learning from this past year into our programme next year

And we are excited to continue with our philanthropic projects including; 

  • The UNIS Impact Fund Big Ideas supporting clean energy and greening of the School, alongside the Impact Fund Grants empowering our students with their passion projects for learning and service, 
  • our Learning Together community commitment to grow professional development for local educators in support of education in Vietnam and 
  • the launch of our new UNIS Cultural Collection, made possible by the incredible generosity of Vietnamese parents and which will bring our host nation culture into the heart of our School. More on that when we return in August!

In short, there is a lot to look forward to! And should Distance Learning become part of our programme in 2020-2021, we will be ready. We have collaborated with global colleagues and been part of the conversations developing ‘best practice’; we have listened to our students, faculty and families to better understand the need for support; we have reviewed the learning data gathered in these final weeks of school to test our programme’s outcomes; and as a result, we have refined and developed a philosophy, programme and implementation plan. More detail will be shared in a Tin Tuc Distance Learning special edition in the coming week.

As we head out for the summer, remember that together we are UNiquely UNIS and as a UNited UNIS we are stronger for everyone. That takes courage and strength. To see the best in everyone and in every situation, every day, assuming best intentions and good faith takes extraordinary strength, courage and resilience. We thank you for trusting us with what is most precious to you – your children – and we look forward to working together to ensure 2020-2021 is the best possible year… again!

Yours sincerely,
Jane McGee
Head of School

Message from the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of UNIS Hanoi stands together with the Head of School and the Leadership Team in condemnation of the murder of Mr. George Floyd by police officers in the United States, and the structural racism that underlies violence and oppression of Black people and underrepresented communities around the world. We recognize that our community is not immune to racism. Therefore, we are committed to doing our part in eradicating dehumanization in our society by promoting, practicing, and embracing anti-racist values and actions. We start by acknowledging systemic barriers like poverty, inequitable opportunities, and racist institutional policies. 

In the 2020-2021 school year, the Board will consider steps that we can take to improve our understanding of issues of racial inequality and injustice at UNIS Hanoi, and how we can use this knowledge to develop goals and policies with a strong equity lens. We will look for community partnerships to achieve these goals. As the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “We must move forward with introspection, honesty & action.” 

UNIS Hanoi has always proudly stood for respect and dignity for all. Hence, the Board embraces this moment as an opportunity to live our shared values by fighting for a more just and equitable community here and around the world. We will engage in necessary self-study and community dialogue on the topic of racism. Only in this way will we better understand ourselves, the challenges we face, and identify pathways towards building a learning community that truly embodies the UN values of racial equality and social justice that we hold dear. 

Board of Directors, UNIS Hanoi
June 10, 2020

Campus Access over the Summer

Thank you for your patience as we worked out how to balance Summer Programme, our scheduled summer maintenance works and allowing our community access to the School facilities over the summer months.

We are delighted to announce that Energize will be open during the Summer Programme weeks for faculty, staff and families that are members to use the pool and fitness centre. In addition the tennis courts will also be available for booking for all community members. See the details below.

There will be access for Library borrowing as detailed in the Tin Tuc article with both remote borrowing for the whole summer for electronic resources and book borrowing possible during the Summer Programme (for students signed-up for the Summer Programme only). For any questions please contact: librarystaff@unishanoi.org

We are not able to open the playground, covered courts or other facilities without security and supervision coverage, which is not possible due to Summer Programme and annual leave planning.

Campus will be open for the duration of the Summer Programme only (until Friday, July 10)  After that, campus will be closed for annual maintenance.

Energize Reopening During Summer Programme

Energize facilities will be accessible to members starting June 15, 2020 through the end of Summer Programme on July 10, 2020.  We look forward to welcoming our members back on campus.

Summer Energize opening hours will be:

Fitness Centre

  • Monday – Friday:  6.00-8.00 and 16.00-20.00
  • Saturday – Sunday: 8.00-12.00; 13.00-17.00

Swimming Pool

  • Monday – Friday: 6.15 – 8.00; 17.00 – 20.00
  • Saturday – Sunday: 8.00 – 12.00; 13.00 – 17.00

Tennis Court Bookings Reopen

During the Summer Programme from June 15 to July 10, 2020 UNIS Hanoi will be restarting our tennis court booking programme.

  • Monday – Friday:  6.00 – 8.00; 16.00 – 20.00
  • Saturday – Sunday: 8.00 –  20.00

Please submit booking requests for the tennis courts via email to: facilitiesbooking@unishanoi.org.

Booking requests should include names of all players and the date and times requested.

For questions about any of the sport facility details please contact Community Programmes Officer Ms. Ha at: communityprogrammes@unishanoi.org

Library Service Remains Open During Summer

Parents whose children are attending the summer programme can borrow books from the library this summer, thanks to a novel approach adopted by the librarians.

Parents are invited to visit the library libguide site where they can click on the ‘Destiny’ library catalogue and select the range of books from our collection.

Please email the library team at: librarystaff@unishanoi.org with your book choices. You will need to also say the name and grade of your child who is attending the summer programme so that they can collect the books on your behalf. You can return books in the same way or simply drop them at the front gate.

Parents whose children are not attending the Summer Programme can check out Sora to access all of our fabulous eBooks. The login and password is your usual school login. The books will automatically stay on your device for two weeks and then return themselves.

If you are looking for reading inspiration for your children, look no further than our Libguide for Summer Reading ideas. There are lots of great links to the best books for kids, audio books, science fiction, graphic novels and reading challenges.

Emergency Relief Fund Update

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our community, in a few short weeks we raised nearly $15,000 to help support the most vulnerable members of the Hanoi community impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. THANK YOU!

In recent months, our Service Learning partners reported a worrying rise in homelessness, hunger and extreme poverty as a result of the national lockdown and the global pandemic. In response, we created the Emergency Relief Fund and in the first round of funding in April, money from the School’s Birthday Gift Fund, that had not already been allocated to any service projects ($17,500), was approved to support emergency relief, providing food and shelter for communities supported by Blue Dragon, KOTO, Blossom House and the Huong La Centre.

As a result of the All School Walkathon and other fundraising initiatives including Giving Tuesday in May, the Grade 4 Market Day and direct donations from our community, this week we sent a further $15,000 in emergency funding for shelter, food and urgent medical assistance to our Service Learning partners.

In addition to the organisations above, funding has also been provided to support the people of Sa Seng and Sin Chai in Sapa who our Grade 10 work with annually as part of the Service Week, and the School on the Boat which helps the river people in Hanoi. 

THANK YOU!

Please note that the Emergency Relief Fund has been chosen by some families as the destination for the UNIS Hanoi credit that was offered to families in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. If you would like to donate your UNIS Hanoi family credit to the Emergency Relief Fund, every dollar will be spent in the support of our Service Learning partners and some of the most disadvantaged people in Vietnam.

Please contact our Director of Advancement, Emma Silva for more information: doa@unishanoi.org 

Putting the Emergency Relief Funds to use

Blue Dragon was awarded $7,500 USD in the first round of funding and put the money to work including:

  • Emergency rent support for 70 street families in Hanoi.
  • Three tonnes of rice for both adults and children in Hanoi.
  • Emergency rent, support and food for 60 families in Hue.
  • Emergency accommodation for 13 children and funding to keep three shelters running at full capacity to support not only the children who live there, but to also support other  children who would not have been safe in their usual accommodation.

We will have more detailed reports from all the groups in the new year to share with our community. You have made a huge difference. Thank you!

Making an Impact!

We want our students to wake up every day knowing we can change the world! Together.

The UNIS Impact Fund was designed and launched this year to support community inspired projects which will help our students do exactly that! 

Our community goals chosen by our students in November were to prototype Solar Power on campus and to create a UNIS Botanical Garden through fundraising with our community. READ MORE

And we got off to a flying start! But only a few weeks into our fundraising campaign, COVID-19 closed our campus and the uncertainty for our community put all our plans on hold. However, this was definitely postponement, not cancellation! There is still much to celebrate and we will start the new school year with our projects well underway with student leadership. Watch out for a full update in August!

And a big thank you to everyone who gave this year to get the projects started. Thanks to your generosity we raised $36,776 USD from 78 gifts from families, faculty, staff and alumni.

We will continue our fundraising for these projects next year, hoping to hit our $100,000 USD target! And our volunteer Impact Fund Committee will be waiting for new proposals for Grants, helped by our funding from the School Community Organisation.

This year the Committee approved Grants for student and faculty passion projects which ranged from reusable shopping bags as part of an IBDP Visual Arts project for our longest attending student, Shin Young Kim, to beekeeping suits for a new ASA (originally planned for Semester 2), musical instruments for a Service Learning project to extend its impact and two projects which will be implemented next year for students to learn Vietnamese textile arts from hosting resident ethnic group artists and to construct a sensory path in Elementary School.

The SCO donated $20,000 USD to support the Grants and nearly $15,500 remains for distribution next year.

Finally a big thank you to our 2019-2020 Impact Fund Committee (IFC):

  • Co-Chairs: Emma Silva (Director of Advancement) and Iraj de Silva (Parent)
  • SCO Executive member: Chris Behr
  • Parent members: Sandra Le Courtois and Gareth Harrison Poole
  • Student members:
    • ES: Vilma Niklasson G5 and Alan Daltry G5
    • MS: Beatrice Reilly G8 and Andy Choi G8
    • HS: Solene Shelley G10 and Eddie Lee G10
  • Faculty members: 
    • ES: Christy Heitmiller
    • MS & HS:  Qingli Liu 
  • VN Staff: Han Bich Hanh and Nguyen Thi Bich Hien
  • Admin member: Megan Brazil
  • Board member: Michelle Dinh Jones
  • Alumni member: Emmanuel Selvanayagam (Class of 2003)

There will be places available on the IFC next year and if you are interested to get more involved please look out in August for more information.

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact the Impact Fund Committee and team on impact@unishanoi.org

 

Yearbook Reflects School’s Virtual Experience

Earlier today, students, faculty and staff received their copy of this year’s Yearbook. And it’s just as different as our year has been!

Back in April, every UNIS Hanoi student was invited to submit their own emoji that expressed their feelings during the School’s period of Distance Learning. And they responded in their droves! More than 300 emojis now make up this year’s Yearbook cover.

“We wanted to mark this extraordinary year in a unique way” explained Quyen Nguyen, the Yearbook editor. “Among the pictures, messages and notes of reflections, we’ve also included QR codes so that students can re-watch their virtual projects and the many creative videos produced during Semester 2.”

In an effort to be sustainable and mjnimize waste, families were given the opportunity this year to choose whether they wanted a copy per child or for families with more than two children, two copies or just one copy per family. Multiple families responded positively to the options given, saving an incredible 2,700 pages from being printed!

News and Reminders from our Nurses

The 2019 – 2020 academic year has passed very quickly and has been a year of trials, challenges and triumphs during a world pandemic. The nurse’s office would like to wish everyone a very happy, safe and healthy summer and all our best to those of you departing UNIS Hanoi. 

We would like to say a very special goodbye and thank you to Nurse Tess Campilan who will be leaving us this year. Your hard work and dedication to the students, families and staff of UNIS Hanoi will be greatly missed by many. You have truly made a difference to the physical and emotional health of many students. We wish you the best Tess. Thank you so much!

I would also like to say thank you to Nurse Lan Anh for always turning up with a smile and providing excellent care to both students and staff, for always being there when needed, thank you.                                                                                

REMINDERS FOR RETURNING STUDENTS: 

For those of you returning next year, please note the following:

  • If your child’s Physical Medical Examination is due please email this in to us before the 1st of August 2020. 
  • Update the nurse’s office next year with any changes to your child’s medical status, to include new medications to be taken, allergies, vaccines received over the summer. 
  • Update emergency contacts and family phone numbers if they have changed.  
  • Refill prescription medications: inhalers and epipens must be current in order for us to keep in the clinic.

Remember to keep up the great hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and stay home if you are sick!

Wishing you a safe and happy summer holiday from all of us in the School Health Centre Team

Message from the Head of School

Dear Families,

As an educational institution and more importantly a UN School, the events in the United States this week (and which have spread around the world) catalysed by the wrongful death of George Floyd, provide our community with an important opportunity to learn and act in solidarity in the ongoing fight for the most fundamental of human rights.

Across all cultures, the history of violence around the world against minorities and the disenfranchised highlights the importance of our ongoing commitment to our Mission statement and Core Values. 

As a community, we are committed to the UN Principle to: “Encourage respect for fundamental freedoms and equality for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”

Our values of responsibility and community ensure that written into the School’s DNA is  respect and appreciation of diverse cultures, beliefs and languages to deepen our understanding of local and global issues, taking ownership and being accountable for our thoughts, actions and their consequences.

These Values and Beliefs speak to how we as a community embrace our diversity and are not only accountable for ourselves but take action to make a difference. Our hope is that through experiences at UNIS Hanoi, our students will develop empathy, understanding and respect for others regardless of differences and take action to uphold these beliefs. 

As a diverse, international community, it is easy to read these words, but much harder to truly understand them in the context of the sheltered and unique microcosm that we experience each and every day on our campus and within Hanoi.  

Last week, in my message to our graduates, I stressed the concept of “privilege”. Whether it is “white privilege”, “socio-economic privilege” or “access to education privilege”, it is important that we as educators and you as parents, dialogue with your children around what this means and how it is not only different for others in the world but gives us the tools and opportunity to make a difference. 

If we are to truly honor diversity and inclusion as a community, we will need to understand our own personal context and work together to proactively educate for anti-bias, anti-discrimination and take action to create a more equitable society. 

At School this week students have been engaged in classroom discussions, reading lists have been shared and resources have been made available to teachers to ensure they feel equipped to nurture our young learners during this global fight for equality. Our High School student-led assembly also focussed on the Black Lives Matter movement with this moving film tribute and call for solidarity.  

I am looking forward to deepening our commitment to living our Mission and Values in the upcoming year. For those of you who are having discussions with your children at home, you may find the resources from the UN’s Let’s Fight Racism website a useful place to start.

Sincerely,
Jane McGee
Head of School

Important New Check-out Process for Withdrawing Families on June 10

The Admissions Office wants to thank departing families for being part of our amazing UNIS Hanoi community. We will certainly miss you and wish you all the best in your new countries and school communities. 
 
As the end of school is only a week away, we are excited to announce our new “paperless” online withdrawal checkout process. In the past, this process entailed students going around the campus with a paper form getting signatures from all of their teachers, school offices, librarians, Music Academy, Tech Office, Operations and the Business Office. In addition, you needed to reach out to counsellors and the Elementary School Office for leaving certificates and documentation to send to the next school.
 
Our new check-out process, which was communicated directly to you on Tuesday, June 2 is on your Veracross Parent Portal where you could find your child/ren’s online withdrawal checkout status.This is where you can follow the online process and access due dates with any notes of outstanding items or fees in order to finalise the end of the school year checkout process by the last day of school.
 
Most importantly, we have centralized the officially withdrawing documentation requests for departing students in the Admissions Office with the Registrar, Ms. Thuy Anh at admissions@unishanoi.org. She will be handling the final check-off to complete the official withdrawal check-out process and supporting you with any documentation for your child/ren for their next schools upon successful completion of the online check-out process.
 
We hope this new and improved process will provide better information directly to parents through the Veracross Portal and through a MobileApp.
The Admissions Office

Book Returning and Summer Borrowing

It is hard to believe we are into the final days of school. Thank you to everyone for your help and support in returning materials to the library before summer break. All library materials were due back last week and if your family has any overdue items you would have had email reminders this week. A huge thank you to you all for searching the shelves at home for missing books. Once a person has a clear library record (no overdue items from this school year) then borrowing for the summer break can begin.

https://unsplash.com/photos/UoqAR2pOxMo

SUMMER LIBRARY and BORROWING

The library will be open throughout the summer break. The borrowing period is two weeks and the library will be open for borrowing from 8.00 to 15.30 every day.

In the first four weeks the library will be available to the 800+ students who are enrolled in the summer programme. Due to social distancing, there will not be room to accommodate extra students who wish to do private study in the library during that time. Students who are enrolled in the summer programme will have access to scheduled library visits at many times throughout the weekly programme. Unfortunately, at this stage the parent community are unable to visit the campus but we are hopeful that these restrictions may soon be eased so that everyone has access to the Library resources during the summer months.

If you are looking for reading inspiration, look no further than our Libguide for Summer Reading ideas. You can view it here. There are lots of great links to the best books for kids, audio books, science fiction, graphic novels and reading challenges. If you are travelling around during the summer, download Sora to access all of our fabulous eBooks. The login and password is your usual school login. The books will automatically stay on your device for 2 weeks and then return themselves.

We hope all families have a relaxing summer and enjoy some of the great books we have in the Library at the moment.

Kate and Monica

The Journey of our Bear Project

Did you know that many bears all around Asia are captured and treated unfairly?  Did you know they are kept in tiny cages, and jabbed with a filthy long needle to get the bile out of their stomachs? This needs to stop. We had to help. So that’s exactly what we did.

In Grade Five we have to find an I-Act project and take action. We couldn’t decide between a few topics, but then we found out about bear farming, and we decided we wanted to learn more. We started by doing some research and we learned what bear farming actually is. During the research time, we found out a lot of horrible facts about how terrible bear capture and farming is. Once we had found out quite a bit about bears and their bile, we looked at a couple of bear rescue centers, and decided we wanted to help the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Centre who were doing a wonderful job of saving bears.

After a lot of research, we decided to sign up for the UNIS Winterfest so we could raise some money. This was a big decision because we had a lot of responsibilities to take care of. We decided on a bake sale and games. We had to prepare cookies and cakes, as well as make posters, stickers and games. Lots of people were interested in our stand! At the end of the day we counted our money and we had raised 5.5 million Dong. We were really happy and excited that we had raised such a large amount of money!

And then there was COVID-19, which meant that we weren’t able to visit the bear centre right away. Only after a couple of months, once the lockdown was over, were we able to visit the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Centre and hand over our donation.

Overall we feel like this was an amazing experience because we learned a lot. We also had a super amount of fun, and helped to make the lives of Bears better. But, the bears still need more help. Here’s what you can do. To donate money, please visit https://www.animalsasia.org/. You can also visit the Hanoi bear center by booking a tour to learn more and have fun!

Let’s all take action and do what we can to help stop bear farming.

Samea & Clara, 5D

USD14,787 Raised for Service Learning Partners!

In response to the School’s Giving Tuesday campaign last month, a phenomenal USD14,787 has been raised! The monies will be distributed among our Service Learning partners in the coming weeks.

Emma Silva, UNIS Hanoi’s Director of Advancement thanked the community for their positive response to the appeal. She added, “We are overwhelmed by our community’s generosity and unity during this unprecedented time. The donations to the UNIS Emergency Relief Fund will help provide immediate aid to those most vulnerable in Vietnam through our most trusted Service Learning partners – every dong will make a difference in fighting starvation, child labour and homelessness!”

Thank you!

Clothing drive for ‘H4H Thrift Store’

An Appeal from our Habitat for Humanity Service Learning Leaders…

We are the leaders for the Habitat for Humanity service-learning, in collaboration with the Fashion Revolution group.

In order to raise funds for our projects while simultaneously adhering to UNIS Hanoi’s core value of sustainability, our groups are launching a new project, known as the ‘H4H Thrift Store’. The goal of this project is to bring in clothes from those who no longer use them and redistribute/sell them at a reasonable price to others that are interested. As the end of school year approaches, we urge you to use this as an opportunity to clean out your closets and donate what you can to our project. The funds that we raise will go into our annual house builds. If you are interested in donating, look below for our simple instructions!

  1. Get rid of what you don’t wear – we accept any QUALITY Clothes – shorts, pants, shirts, dresses, accessories…etc.

  2. Bring in the clothes that you would like to donate and leave them in the baskets outside B5-G18

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Please bring in your donations before June 9. Your donations will be uploaded to an Instagram and Facebook page where fellow teachers/students can purchase

Thank you for your cooperation!

Best regards,

Habitat for Humanity & Fashion Revolution.

TA crochets Phelix the Phoenix!

A UNIS Hanoi Teaching Assistant missed her students so much during Vietnam’s lockdown, she decided to keep her spirits up in the most novel of ways. As a passionate crocheter, Binh Nguyen, created mini versions of the school mascot in a bid to feel close to her students and colleagues. Colleagues loved her little Phelixes so much, they’ve started putting orders in!