Once known as a "gangster
school," Hsinchu's Guangwu Junior High School has turned to "nature
exploration" outings to bury its bad reputation and…
Chun-chiang, a sophomore in National Taiwan University's Department of
Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering, still cannot forget the autumn of his
12th year, hiking up Mount Hehuan, a walking stick in hand, breathing in the
rarefied air. The mountain's northern peak, set off by the blue sky and fluffy
white clouds, remains etched in his memory.
in his mind is the spring when he was 13, enjoying the thrill of a river
tracing expedition in Hsinchu's Taigang River. That was followed by a tour of
Green Island and its majestic ocean views during the winter. The next summer he
built his own bicycle at the age of 14 and biked around Taiwan.
amazing adventures still fresh in Chen's mind have led him back more than once
to his junior high school – Guangwu Junior High in Hsinchu. They are the
collective memories shared by many of the school's graduates.
went river tracing, the water was very cold, and one person alone could have
easily been washed away. We had to form a team holding ourselves tightly
together. Only by relying on everybody's strength was it possible to buck the
river," Chen remembers. Those same youths battling the water and
stretching out their arms to help their teammates had once been considered
"bad kids" – dropouts who had no taste for school.
that I'm a university student, looking back, I've completely forgotten
everything from my Chinese, English and math classes. The only thing that's
stayed with me is those exploration classes," says Chen, who is now a
member of the National Taiwan University mountaineering club.
Guangwu Junior High on a Friday afternoon when the school week should be
winding down, one finds anything but calm.
school's huge auditorium, students donning yellow uniforms that read
"Faraday Kids" are busy setting up chairs and checking the sound
system. It is all for a "pot luck dinner" held to honor the
achievements of students on the school's third biennial bicycling tour of
called them 'Faraday Kids' in the hope that every person has the Faraday
spirit," says the driving force behind the school's innovative exploration
curriculum, administrative director Lin Mao-cheng.
namesake, Michael Faraday, the 19th century self-educated scientist known as
the father of electromagnetism, was renowned for his popularization of
scientific knowledge and his indefatigable thirst for knowledge through
experimentation. Even at his height as a famous scientist, he would give free
public science lectures and captivated audiences with his well-planned
Junior High School's transformation may seem hard to believe. Ten years ago,
the school was branded a "gangster school" and widely shunned. Today,
one of every four of its graduates gets high enough scores on their high school
entrance exams to get into their first choice of high schools.
years ago when I first got here, there were always 'black shirts' waiting at
the gate," says an elderly security guard in the cold as he pulls his thin
jacket closer to his body. (The "black shirts" generally refer to
young hooligans who are part of crime gangs.)