Inquiry Hub Secondary

Inquiry Hub is an award-winning public secondary in Coquitlam with just 68 students and a focus on student leadership and self-directed learning. Starting in 2015, I worked with the school to develop a story-based brand centering around student leadership, creativity, and choosing the path that's right for you.

iHub Open

When I first started work at iHub, the school had an annual staff-organised open house and infosession to explain the school to interested parties. I worked with the staff and students to change all that.

Starting in 2016, we made the open house student-led. We rebranded it as iHub Open, and made it more and more a show. It became based around videos and entertainment, singing and interesting speeches, and almost all of its runtime would be students, not staff.

In previous years, the open house had maybe 30 or 40 people attending; In 2017, we got 250. 2016 was the first year we did it with a professional sound system (student-operated of course), and starting in 2017, we added professional lighting.

Every iHub Open we did would start with a student-filmed, student-written, and student-edited cold open video. To make the evening flow better, we added in student-made videos throughout, along with musical performances by our most talented students. But the goal, above all else, was to have students speak to the school's most important details.

Why do Open this way?

Because of iHub's small size and unusual learning style, it's often difficult to persuade families to join our community. However, instinctually I knew that, since iHub was a school about self-direction and student leadership, we didn't want the parents making the choice: We wanted that choice made by the child.

With that insight, we began making a show that would appeal to the sort of student we wanted. It had to be entertaining yet informative, passionate, yet practical... Basically the qualities we would want to see in our intakes.

Furthermore, I realised that what would make a student most want to attend iHub is seeing themself in the people on-stage. That's why we increased the number of students presenting, and had them speak to the most important elements of iHub (something usually given to the adults). Young student leaders could look up from their seats and see their future right in front of them.

iHub Roadshow

Starting in 2017, I worked with a grade 11 student to put together a plan for a tour of every local middle school, raising awareness of iHub in the District.

The tour would be student-organised, and would comprise of a thirty minute presentation, followed by a Q&A. The entire presentation would be delivered by students from beginning to end, with adults acting simply as designated drivers. Like Open, it would contain several videos (including a cold open to start out) and one musical performance.

We made sure that each role in the presentation had four or five students who could accomplish it, allowing us to mix-and-match the group going to each middle school and minimise the impact on our students' schedules.

The theme of Roadshow

When you're doing any sort of advertising or promotion, an important question to ask is: "What will this promotion give the audience if they aren't persuaded?" If you make an ad for TV, it should provide value even for the people who don't buy the product. We knew that, for each audience of a hundred middle schoolers we spoke to, barely five or six might actually attend Open, so we needed a way to make the time worthwhile for those who wouldn't.

So, instead of talking about just iHub on Roadshow, we talked about choosing the school that's right for you; Be it one that's good for sports, or another that has an excellent music programme. iHub isn't the right school for everyone: It's just the right school for students who are creative and passionate about being creative.

To sum up the theme, I penned How Far Would You Go?, a video that we played at the beginning of every Roadshow. After I wrote the script, we shot and edited it in two weeks, just in time for the first show.

We managed to hit twelve of the fourteen middle schools that year, and the Roadshow lead to our biggest ever attendance for iHub Open. The next year, I ran Roadshow again, hitting thirteen middle schools, and increasing our application rate again. Next year, the show is likely to take a more entertainment-based approach, where details about iHub take the back seat and instead middle schoolers are introduced to the wonders of a place where creativity is unrestricted and empowered.

When I first began working for iHub, it had a drab WordPress website composed of mostly text, was five years out of date, and was riddled with grammatical errors. I knew that had to change.

Constricted by a requirement of using WordPress, I built an entire custom WordPress theme from scratch for the site, then rewrote every single bit of the website's copy, taking out the boring bits and completely reimagining how the site would draw people in.

That's the website in use today.

  • Check it out at
  • Preject

    The scale of events like Open and Roadshow wouldn't have been possible without a piece of software I first wrote in 2016 called Preject. Preject made it possible to create a presentation and run it in a web browser on one computer, while controlling it from the browser on another, just over wifi.

    We used Preject for the slideshows at Open, Annual, Roadshow, Spotlight, and a handful of other events. It replaced the need for a costly professional presentation solution, allowing the school to have professional-looking presentations without spending a dime.

    iHub Annual

    Preject got its baptism by fire at our second ever graduation, when we used it for our largest ever event. The year previously, the event had been called "The Inquiry Hub Secondary School Graduation and Awards Ceremony", and comprised of adult after adult speaking for ever and ever. Just like every other graduation.

    So, starting in 2017, I worked with the staff and students to make the grad a show. Gone were the endless presentations by teachers and VIPs, replaced by non-stop performances, comedy acts, and videos.

    We rebranded it iHub Annual, and made it an event not just for the grads, but for the entire school community. We wanted every second to be enjoyable, and even with our first Annual, siblings, parents, and grand parents of students were coming up to me afterwards and saying it was the best graduation they'd ever seen.