Page 1

Focus Spring 2012

the american school foundation, a.c.


The Ă ngeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center Has Arrived

World-Class Our Debaters Go Global

Helping Hands What ASF Students Did To Aid Drought Victims

Solving the Setback (We Know What You’ll Be Doing Next Summer)

A magazine for alumni, parents, students, faculty & friends




A dozen ASF students took the Shakespeare challenge, and one took first place.


02 From the Executive Director 03 From the Editorial Board 04 From the Board of Trustees Your Questions … Answered

05 News and Events Founders, Aristocats, Grandparents, Butterflies … and other goings-on

Departments & Divisions 10 Early Childhood Center Community service, from the kids’ point of view by GLYNIS FRENKEL and RENEE ROSEN

11 Lower School The point of play BY DIANA GERSON, BARBARA ROTH and CLAUDIA ORTEGA

12 Middle School What it’s like to start 6th grade BY REGINA PATIÑO


28 AN IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION A behind-the-scenes look at an effort to help those in need BY ALINA AKSIYOTE

Family forum 30 SUMMER SETBACK? How to come back strong after summer vacation BY HELEN KANG

focus on education 32 CONNECT THE FACTS A closer examination of two IB Learner Profile traits: “Knowledgeable” and “Communicator”

34 TWO DISTINGUISHED EDUCATORS A Q&A with Digital Literacy Coach Patty Zamora and Lower School teacher T.J. Hanes BY GUY CHENEY

STUDENT VOICES 36 TRACES A senior reflects on what it will feel like to leave ASF BY ALINA AKSIYOTE

Institutional Advancement 37 SENIOR CLASS GIFT RECRUITERS And other news from the Capital Campaign and the Annual Scholarship Drive

13 Upper School


All about Advisory

Bringing electricity – and development – to where it’s needed



14 The Arts


Learning from the great American artists

A team of ASF grads is making Mexico City’s cultural scene more accessible


15 Parent Association


A week for the environment, natural and mental

40 Events


Running for education, soccer for bragging rights

16 Athletics & Extended Learning

41 Milestones

• Remembering recent championships • What swimming has to offer

Births, engagements and marriages


CAMPUS CURRENTS 18 WELCOMING THE NEW FINE ARTS CENTER A special concert and a special evening ushered in a new era at ASF by kelly arthur garrett

23 ASF’S WORLD-CLASS DEBATERS The Mexican debate team made its mark in South Africa BY SLOANE STARKE

41 In Memoriam 42 Class notes Keeping in touch with the ASF family, far and wide

kids’ corner 44 FEATHERS IN THE WIND “Concrete poetry” from the 5th grade

from the executive director c o n t r i bu t o r s

Dear ASF Community, BRAVO! First and foremost, I would like to congratulate our student, faculty, alumni and parent performers and artists on the outstanding celebration of the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. There has never been any doubt that our community members have talent – what they’ve needed is a place to show it off. Now, they have it. And sincere thanks to the sponsors, donors, organizers and invited performers who helped make this a reality. We called this event “IMAGINE” – and it rang in a new reality for ASF that we have been dreaming about for nearly 20 years. Now we can only expect more amazing displays of talent in the years to come. Soon, athletics will take center stage – to mix metaphors – and we hope to see you on campus for this big event! On May 12, the Harlem Ambassadors will be in the new Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center, taking on some selected players from our ASF community, all in the name of family fun and supporting the school. Tickets are available now through the Parent Association, Institutional Advancement and Athletics and Extended Learning. Spring is always a very busy time here on campus, although this year you might even say we’re at a fever pitch! Our students have been occupied with showing how much they’ve learned, now more than three-quarters of the way through this school year. Our Upper School students have been taking their Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate mock exams, while the younger ones have been preparing for fourth grade opera season and the fifth grade PYP Exhibitions as well as participating in student-led conferences with their parents and teachers. Despite the beautiful spring weather and looming summer vacation, the students remain engaged in their learning, through a variety of projects, field trips and competitions, including debate and Model United Nations. You can get a little taste of what that involves in this issue of Focus. If you haven’t been by campus in awhile, please visit us! From the excitement buzzing in the halls, the studios and the playing fields to the brand-new buildings adorning our campus, I guarantee you’ll tap into our sense of renewal. Wishing you a wonderful spring.

Paul Williams Executive Director


Karen Herschleb (“Support for the Whole Student,” page 13) An IB English teacher and Upper School Advisory coordinator Karen was a natural to write about Advisory. Producing the article was an education for her as well. “It was interesting to hear feedback from students outside of my own Advisory,” she says. “It made me reflect on ways we can continue to develop the program.” Originally from Alaska, Karen came to ASF two years ago. Alina Aksiyote (“An Impressive Collection,” page 28, and “Traces,” page 36) Alina had never written a full article for Focus in her 13 years at ASF – so she decided to write two of them in this last issue before her graduation. “My concern for keeping some of the past while still moving forward inspired me to write the Student Voices article,” she says, referring to her thoughts about graduating. “The Tarahumara article, on the other hand, is a record of the efforts that went into the collection we did. I was impressed by how much the ASF community pulled together to help a community in need.” She says both articles were inspired by teachers. “Therefore, I would like to thank Ms. Helen Kang and Ms. Manola Giral for all their help and support,” she says. Helen Kang (“Summer Setback?” page 30) The Upper School’s student activities specialist, Helen remembers one frustrating summer when she forgot all her English in a span of three months. “I began to see how the summer experiences of different ASF students seem to connect with their larger world and self view,” she says. “This interest led to the Focus article on summer setback, with the hope that every child has a fun and educational summer.” Guy Cheney (“Two Distinguished Educators,” page 34) An Upper School English teacher and also the head of the running program, Guy is a frequent contributor to Focus. “Writing for Focus gives me a chance to find out what other people are doing in the school,” he says. “For this article, I had the pleasure of finding out more about two teachers who are on the cutting edge of using technology to enhance education, and have been rewarded for their efforts.”



A magazine for ASF Alumni, Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends Spring, 2012 Vol. XI | No. 1 | Mexico City

Spring has been a season full of good news on the ASF campus. Inside the classroom, on the playing field and on the stage, it’s clear our students and community members know how to perform!

First, our cover story – the celebration of the new Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. More than 600 people attended as guests, but in case you weren’t one of them, on page 18 you can get a first-hand look at the art, the concert, the guests and this amazing new facility.

Two faculty members are taking their performance to the next level as Apple Distinguished Educators. In our Q&A on page 34, read about how technology and innovation are impacting their techniques in the classroom. For example, do you know what a “flipped” classroom is? It’s already changing the way some ASF students learn.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Rosa Pisinger (’87), Chair Catherine Austin (’78), 1st Vice Chair Carlos Williamson, 2nd Vice Chair Carla Ormsbee, Secretary Joan Liechty, Treasurer Cesar Buenrostro (’85) Murray H. Case Sara Craig Francisco Demesa Sebastian Fernández Fernando Franco Frances Huttanus Jeffrey Scott McElfresh Antonio Rallo Tito Oscar Vidaurri Martin Werner

They may not be at ASF anymore, but our alumni haven’t stopped their high-performance ways. On page 39, find out how four alumni from the classes of 2005 and 2006 are keeping tens of thousands of people aware of cultural and social events happening every day in Mexico City.

EDITORIAL BOARD Adele Goldschmied, Cindy Tanaka (’91) Clementina Aguilar, Michele Beltran Paul Williams, José Segebre Juan de Jesús Breene

Finally… parents – ever wonder how you can help your child’s performance in school stay strong all year long? “Summer setbacks” happen at all ages and can take months to overcome. Before you sign off on your child’s plans for this summer vacation, read our article on page 30 on what activities are best. (Hint: It doesn’t have to be math camp!)

EDITORIAL STAFF Violeta Ayala, Director of Communications Sloane Starke, Editor-in-Chief & Chair of the Editorial Board Kelly Arthur Garrett, Editorial Consultant Daniela Graniel, Art Director Marisela Sanabria, Photography

Two Upper School students recently took top honors on a different stage – in the Anglo Mexican Foundation Shakespeare Competition. Congratulations to competitor Rafael Ramos and first-place winner Alina Aksiyote, whose prize includes a three-week trip to England and Shakespeare acting classes. Read more about all that goes into this annual competition, on page 26.

Focus Spring 2012



The Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center Has Arrived


We hope you enjoy these and all the other articles in this spring green issue of Focus. As always, we welcome your feedback at

Our Debaters Go Global

HELPING HANDS What ASF Students Did To Aid Drought Victims

SOLVING THE SETBACK (We Know What You’ll Be Doing Next Summer)

A magazine for alumni, parents, students, faculty & friends

Paul Williams Executive Director Susan Olivo Head of Early Childhood Center Evan Hunt Head of Lower School Rebecca Crutchfield Head of Middle School Amy Gallie Head of Upper School Robert Wilson Head of Athletics & Extended Learning

Sloane Starke Communications Coordinator and the Focus Editorial Board

ON THE COVER: IMAGINE: Welcoming the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center Photo by: Marisela Sanabria

ALUMNI RELATIONS Cindy Tanaka (’91) PARENT ASSOCIATION Alma Rosa Rodríguez, President Lilián Toro, Vice President Advertising Sales: 5227 4942 FOCUS es una publicación cuatrimestral editada por The American School Foundation, A.C., Sur 136 #135, Col. Las Américas, México, D.F., C.P. 01120. Editora Responsable: Sloane Alexandria Starke. Derechos de Autor: Licitud de Título y de Contenido 16220. Reserva de Derecho: 04-2008-111212240200-102. Distribuido por The American School Foundation, A.C. Sur 136 #135, Col. Las Américas, México, D.F., C.P. 01120. Se prohibe la reproducción total o parcial de los textos de esta revista sin previa autorización escrita de The American School Foundation, A.C.


from the board of trustees

Your Questions ... Answered People often come up to me and ask how the Board works. So I’d like to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions that I hear the most. Who owns The American School Foundation? ASF is a non-profit institution, which means nobody owns it. The school’s existence goes back to 1888, but it was officially registered as a non-profit institution in 1921 through the drafting and notarizing of by-laws. But somebody must have authority … The school belongs to a Foundation. According to our by-laws, which are the constituting documents, the Foundation is made up of U.S. citizens who are residents in Mexico and who volunteer to be members of the Foundation. What’s the difference between the Foundation and the Board of Trustees? In the original documents, the oversight of the institution was given to 11 of those Foundation members, who made up the Board of Trustees. As the school’s population grew, it became evident that it required more support. So the Board size was increased to 15 members. Board members meet nearly every month and are closely involved in strategic planning, budgeting and more, while the Foundation meets at least once a year or as needed. The Foundation elects Trustees and is required to approve certain other major school decisions. So Board members are all U.S. citizens? Not anymore. In 2003, after much thought, the Board size was again increased to 17 members. The difference this time was that the Foundation allowed, for the first time, five non-U.S. passport holders to sit on the Board. Who can become a member of the Board of Trustees? The requirements to be considered for Board membership, which are included in our by-laws, are as follows: “Proprietary Trustees” must be U.S. citizens, members of the Foundation, not ASF employees and with no family members employed at ASF. “Directors-at-Large” must not be U.S. citizens, and cannot be employed by ASF or have family members employed by ASF. How are these Board members chosen? There is a Nominating Committee that is independent of the Board. Every year around January, the Nominating Committee sends out an invitation to ASF community members inviting them to join the Board. Those who want to participate are asked to send in an application and a letter stating why they want to belong to the Board. They are interviewed and evaluated, after which the Nominating Committee makes its recommendations to the Foundation membership at the May meeting. It is the Foundation members who vote in the new trustees. What types of people are on the Board? They are people from within the ASF community, who understand the school’s mission and vision, and who are committed to furthering the school’s interests. And they are mostly parents of ASF students. Of the current 17 members, 14 have children enrolled in the school, two are parents of alumni and one is an alum.

Rosa (Marentes) Pisinger (’87) Chair of the ASF Board of Trustees 4


An Eye-Opener The theme for this year’s ASF Model United Nations (MUN) conference, which took place for two days in March, was “a glimpse is not enough ... open your eyes.” The student organizers wanted to focus on the fact that many occupy relatively privileged positions in society, allowing them to travel and get a glimpse of the world. But visiting isn’t the same as understanding the culture and the challenges that people face daily. MUN gave them a chance to open their eyes a little bit wider and understand those challenges. Following are some thoughts about MUN from ASF junior Ana Gargollo: Model United Nations is a simulation of the actual United Nations. Students discuss world issues just as UN delegates would. In fact, the students are given the title of “delegates,” as well as a country to represent in the different committees. That means they are often called on to promote points of view that are not necessarily their own. Students who take part in MUN fully submerge themselves in

the activity. It is a great opportunity for them to get interested in current issues. This makes them become more involved in what is happening around the world, and get to know other cultures, as well as different points of view. MUN helps students of all ages, regions and socioeconomic statuses develop awareness of worldwide conflicts that may or may not concern them directly. At The American School Foundation, Middle School and Upper School students experience MUN. Those with a deeper interest get more involved by becoming chairs, deputy chairs or moderators during the conference and leading their own committees. Great debaters and outstanding delegates are given awards at the end of the conference, further encouraging their skills and participation. Overall, MUN is a great opportunity for young people to generate awareness. It also gives them the opportunity to come out from the protection of their own society and know the world they live in better. 5


A Grand Day It was a sweet Valentine’s Day for ECC students and the elders in their lives. More than 400 grandparents and “grandfriends” accompanied the children in their classes and for some special activities on February 14. Former ASF employee and parent and current ASF grandparent and volunteer Adele Goldschmied coordinated the 2012 version of this tradition, now in its fourth year.

Mentoring and Monarchs On Saturday, January 21, 117 members of the ASF community visited the monarch butterfly sanctuary in Valle de Bravo in the State of Mexico. The Mentoring Committee and Human Capital, led by Elisa Penela and Juan de Jesús Breene, organized this one-day trip. Faculty and administrative employees and their families enjoyed the sanctuary, located in Ejido de Piedra. Cindy Webber, an Upper School teacher and monarch butterfly specialist, shared her knowledge with the group during the visit. The tour also included a delicious buffet of Mexican dishes and a short visit to downtown Valle de Bravo in the afternoon. The Mentoring Committee’s theme for the year is “Sharing with Community,” and the butterfly outing provided a great opportunity for new and veteran community members to connect outside school. —Isabel Arline Duque, Mentoring Committee 6

Success on the Links A Lower School student is finding success on the golf course. Fifth grader Diego Pardo recently competed in an interzonas competition as part of the Valle de México team. In February, he was selected for that team after winning second place in “La Gira de Golf del Valle de México.” He is among the top 10 nationally ranked golfers in his age group. Diego, 11, started playing golf occasionally when he was four and frequently since 2009.

Did You Have Breakfast Today? With the goal of promoting breakfast, the Infirmary staff organized “Breakfast Club Week” from February 13 to 17. Breakfast bags (milk, cereal bars and an informational brochure) were given to Middle School and Upper School students.

Founders Day The school celebrated Founders Day on February 22, 2012, the 90th anniversary of the laying of the San Luis Potosí campus’ cornerstone. Winners of the Founders Day awards joined their families and school leaders for a breakfast, and each division also celebrated in its own way, with sports, competitions, projects and music. Congratulations to the following honorees: • Parent Award for dedication and commitment to improving ASF – Itziar Bilbao • Faculty Award for striving to fulfill the ASF mission – Renee Olper (Upper School) • Wright Award for generosity – Alina Aksiyote (Upper School) • Davis Award for risk-taking – Alfredo Trueba (Upper School) • Cummings Award for leadership – Isabel Contreras (Middle School) • Orrin Award for communitybuilding – Paloma Mendoza (Middle School) • Clifton Award for love of learning – Edurne Perez (Lower School) • Files Award for initiative – Yoshka Feher (Lower School) The Lamm Award, for culture, and the Cain Award, for appreciation of diversity, were presented to the entire ECC. 7

Photos: courtesy Maribel Iñiguez

NE W S & EVENTS Soccer at Recess Some Lower School students engaged in friendly competition at recess this spring. PE teacher Tere Díaz-Sandi organized soccer tournaments by grade level for boys and girls. She said the players showed great sportsmanship at all times. Congratulations to the winners: Boys: 5G, 4H, 3H, 2A. Girls: 5E, 4E, 3G, 2E.

Personal Projects At the annual Personal Project Fair, which took place on Thursday, February 2, 10th graders in the final stretch of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme exhibited projects they had been working on for months. Students chose their own Personal Project, based on their area of interest, and went on from there. Not surprisingly, the resulting projects were very diverse. One project that caught a lot of eyes was a Volkswagen Beetle parked near the cafeteria. This project, by Lucía Ocejo, Paola Malo, Marianne Obregón and María José Montiel, was a combination of social analysis and art, looking at changes in society since the Beetle was introduced in 1933. 

 “It has had 80 years of history, and it’s still one of the most common cars, at least here in Mexico,” said Lucía of the Beetle. “It has become a sort of witness to mankind.”

 Another artistic endeavor was a head sculpture by Álvaro Azcárraga, which he created from white clay covered with modeling paste, though he had no previous sculpting experience. “My Personal Project was based on the question: How can art be used as a method to express one’s feelings?” Álvaro said. “So I decided to make a head with a pain-filled expression.” Florian Baur created a fast and easyto-use calorie-counting tool with an Excel program (not pictured here). “I chose it because we are the number one country in child obesity and we have an increasing rate of adult obesity,” Florian said. “Most of the citizens of this country do not know the basics of nutrition, or the meaning of calories and fats.” As an ecological project, Maite Landerreche created jewelry from recyclables, such as computer parts and bottle caps. “I wanted to help people realize trash can be turned into something beautiful,” she said. 8

In the Spirit

Senior Skiing Stephen Cadena, Karl Muller, Chris Clifford, Nicholas Ferezin and Cory Brennan (left to right) hit the slopes in Breckenridge, Colorado as part of a school-sponsored senior trip from January 31 to February 4. They were accompanied by math teacher Aaron Miles and Gabriel Lemmon, dean of students (standing behind the students in the photo). “It felt like we were out on a trip of our own with two other guys tagging along,” says Chris. “The ski trip turned out to be one of the best school trips I have gone on.”

March 12-16 was Spirit Week at ASF, with Lower School, Middle School and Upper School each celebrating on a different day. Each division had a pep rally, followed by a soccer game (varsity players for Upper School, students versus faculty for Lower School and 7th grade boys vs. 8th grade boys for Middle School). It was a great opportunity to show some Bear pride. Go Bears!

The Aristocats ASF has taken another step toward building an even stronger performing arts program. Thanks to support from Extended Learning, Lower School students put on another successful musical. This collaboration is a new program, and it is growing very quickly. It took four months of very hard work and commitment to stage “The Aristocats.” The musical theater teachers, Rosanna Cesarman and Michele Rohyans, say working with this group of kids was a privilege. The cast for the performance was: Ana Perdomo, María Merino, Analise Ávila, María Emilia Gandarela, Oriana Cheney, Isabelle Vázquez, María José Gutiérrez, Laura Brambilia, Fernando Ruíz Galindo, Fátima Gutiérrez, Grace Stocker, Claudio Álvarez and Sebastián Baca. 9

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s ea r ly c h i l d h o o d ce n t e r

Learning to Give Community service at the kindergarten level is a great way to instill the IB Profile traits. The kids say so themselves. By Glynis Frenkel and Renee Rozen


From the Head of School

Paper, Puppets And a Purpose “I can’t wait for recess!” said an ECC K3 student to me early one morning in December. I know all children love recess for many reasons. But this time, she was referring to a very special art project called My Art Space that was taking place in the ECC’s Turtle Patio during November and December. Jimena Gutiérrez, a volunteer mom, was working with the children during their recess time to make the most amazing papier-mâché puppets. The purpose of the project was to have the children make puppets highlighting the IB attitudes. And highlight they did! Puppets were made to represent confidence, cooperation, enthusiasm, integrity, independence, creativity, respect, empathy, tolerance and commitment. Each puppet was given a name and a character. Children enjoyed working on this project and learned what it is to collaborate. They eventually understood that the puppets they helped to make were for everyone in the ECC, not theirs to take home. Jimena found that children were able to talk to her about their fears, feelings and frustrations through the puppets as they worked on them. She found this to be a most rewarding experience. We are grateful for her talent, time and dedication. The next step was to have a puppet show during Founders Day where children could view their puppets in action and appreciate all of their hard work and creativity.

Susan Olivo Head of Early Childhood Center

or seven years, ECC Room 3 has been doing community service for underprivileged children at a nearby school called Lomas de Cápula, under the wings of the Save the Children Foundation. Instead of a Christmas party at school, we take our party to Cápula, where the ASF children help the moms serve lunch and then sit to eat with their friends. They play with the babies, and help with the piñata, letting the little ones hit it first. Room 3 children choose two or three of their own toys to give away. The smiles on our friends’ faces say it all. A similar visit to Cápula is made at Valentine’s Day. The value of these community service projects is probably obvious to all of us. But what may not be quite as obvious is how they provide ASF students with true IB experiences, that is, demonstrating the IB qualities of empathy, cooperation, sharing, caring and sincere friendship. Modeling is an important tool for instilling in our children lifelong positive concepts like the attributes of the IB Learner Profile. This modeling is not only a teacher’s responsibility; the message begins at home. Parents model and convey the message when they talk about charity and other values. That’s how these positive traits become natural qualities – in other words, lifelong behaviors. In addition to the Cápula visits, another ECC community service project, “Medical Encounters,” has been able to teach these principles to most of our students at a very young age. In this project, the children donate gifts in conjunction with visits by physicians to provide free medical care in remote, impoverished communities. What’s important about this program is that the child brings in a bag of toys or clothing of his or her own choosing. The students are therefore directly involved in the donation, and they are conscious of where the 10

gifts are going. This validates many of the IB Profile traits we are teaching. For example, the children become inquirers and knowledgeable when they learn that others are in need and understand the significance of their donations. They are thinkers, communicators, principled and caring as they recognize what being fair means, especially when they are giving away things they love. In the process, they are respecting the dignity of others. We can see these traits being expressed in the comments of the children themselves, such as the boy who said he wanted to give his toys to another boy who will enjoy them as much as he did. Comments from the youngsters who participated in the Cápula project, where they interact directly with the other children, show that children do attain the IB values when encouraged at home and at school. The most common types of comments can be summarized as follows: 1) They loved to share with their new friends. 2) They enjoyed giving their own toys to their new friends. 3) They loved helping the babies. 4) They loved showing the little ones how to use their new toys. For the Medical Encounters project, where the little givers don’t usually meet the recipients, the comments they made as they brought in their bags of gifts also show how they are attaining IB values. Here’s a sample: • “I brought you some rain boots that don’t fit me anymore so that you can give them to someone who needs them.” • “I like bringing things in because I know someone else will be happy to get them.” • “I don’t play with this doll anymore so I want to give it to someone else.” • “My mom and I chose these things that my sister doesn’t wear anymore and we want to give them to the poor children.”

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s l o w e r sc h o o l From the Head of School

Tweets and The New Yorker

The Point of Play Recess play may look like chaos, but it teaches kids key social skills. And in the long run, it helps them learn. By Diana Gerson, Barbara Roth and Claudia Ortega, Lower School Counselors


hen parents or other visiting adults see children at play during recess or lunchtime, they can find what appears to be an unstructured environment difficult to understand. They see kids running around all over the place, having the time of their lives, and they wonder what’s going on. How is this more worthwhile than reading and math? Officials at some schools feel the same way. They have eliminated recess. Should we at ASF do the same? We counselors, along with the other Lower School educators, don’t think so. In fact, we welcome recess play as another means of growth. This is when the kids put into practice the social and emotional skill that will help them to be successful in life. It’s where kids practice conflict resolution strategies, guided by an adult on duty when needed. This leads them toward independent problem-solving. We see cooperation. Kids are developing awareness of their own behavior even as they conform to peer group norms and standards. They choose their own friends and engage in cooperative play involving group decision-making, assigning of roles and struggle for fair play. They are learning to regulate strong emotions, such as excitement, anger, anxiety and frustration. Recess is an important opportunity for children to perfect the developmental milestones they all must achieve: gross motor skills, receptive and expressive language skills, cognitive skills and, most importantly, social skills. Not all children reach these milestones at the same time. But once attained, these skills will last them a lifetime. Children at recess exercise their bodies, oxygenate their brains and put into practice multiple intelligences so that when they reenter the classroom, their learning experience is improved. Recess is not something that takes place for a time “instead” of reading, math and other academic subjects. It enhances them, and helps children become more complete individuals. 11

If I tweet, will anyone listen? I used to ask myself that question when Twitter was new. My generation was the last to grow up without e-mail, cell phones and social media dominating childhood. So I was skeptical when friends of mine, including educators, started raving about Twitter. One said that since I liked The New Yorker, I would probably like Twitter. That statement struck me as odd. I disregarded it. Later, though, out of curiosity, I looked into the idea. What I found surprised me and transformed me into a tweeter. I read every issue of The New Yorker from cover to cover. I like how the writers take ordinary events and look at them in truly original ways. They see things we are familiar with — music, traditions, politics, innovations — through a unique lens. I enjoy being able to share in their conversations. Today, Twitter allows me to be part of the community of people who look at the world through a different lens. Twitter is a virtual bulletin board where people from all over offer insights and opinions about topics they are thinking about, articles they have read, discussions they have had, music they have listened to, food they have eaten and countless other topics. Obviously, I like the ones who focus on raising and educating children the most. What makes Twitter even better than The New Yorker is that I am able to participate, to comment, to introduce my own ideas. And it amazes me how many people respond to my comments or thank me for sharing. Which brings me back to my original question: If I tweet, will anyone listen? The answer is yes. Even in 2012, with all the running around, the overwhelming technology and the seemingly endless daily responsibilities, people still have an interest in learning new things or looking at conventional things in non-conventional ways. That is what we instill in our students and faculty at ASF, encouraging them to be lifelong learners. Twitter helps us do that. And yes, I still read The New Yorker … on-line. And I tweet about it when I feel inspired.

Evan Hunt Head of Lower School

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s m i d d le sc h o o l

From the Head of School

Growing Pains … For Parents Because of their rapid growth, changing physiology and budding independence, adolescents present Middle School parents with issues that they’re often not prepared for. They’ll have questions, such as:

Moving On Up

Everybody understands that the leap from Lower School to Middle School is a challenge. But nobody knows better than the 6th graders themselves. my farewells to Lower School. I knew I was going to lose something, but also to gain something back. With all the commotion, all the bags, all the familiar faces, all the butterflies in my tummy, I asked myself, “What am I going to do? What if I don’t like a teacher? Or many teachers? What classes will I get? What if I get a hard and complicated math class? What is homeroom? Where is my locker? What if my locker gets stuck?” For a moment, I stopped thinking. I lost my mind.

Is it normal for my teenager to challenge my values and me? Yes. They’re testing their independence. Does my child, who seems so mature and independent, really still need my parental guidance? Yes. Adolescents are going through extreme changes. They need adults to set limits and enforce guidelines. How do I maintain total control over my rebellious adolescent? You don’t. In general, the more controlling parents are during this time in a child’s development, the more likely the child will push back harder and act out in a rebellious way. Instead, impose limits and model expected behavior. How can I talk to my adolescent in the face of all this change and rebellion? It is key to nurture and develop their self-respect and self-esteem. I found some good ways to do that at the site choices.html. • Allow your child to voice opinions. • Involve your child in family decisions. • Listen to your child’s opinions and feelings. • Help your child present realistic goals. • Show faith in your child’s ability to reach those goals. • Give unconditional love. Finally, let me suggest two web sites I think are helpful for Middle School parents:

Rebecca Crutchfield Head of Middle School

Every August, the excitement and anticipation that accompany the transition from 5th to 6th grade – that is, from Lower School to Middle School – quickly get replaced by the day-to-day reality of the challenge. There’s navigating a new building. There’s dealing with a locker. There’s the daunting task of managing a “forward and reverse” schedule. And there are eight different teachers! From a developmental standpoint, a number of key issues at the heart of the transition have been identified. How students and parents manage them will have a lot to do with how successful a new sixth grader will be. They are: • • • • •

Responsibility and accountability Growing independence A shift from pure academics to a social focus Changing friends and social groups For parents, knowing when to be more hands-off, and when to be more hands-on.

That’s what educators and child development specialists say. What do the kids think? To find out, we asked sixth grader Regina Patiño to relate her experience of making that transition from LS to MS. Here’s what she wrote: “Ringggg.” The bell rang. I remember that day and that moment when I knew my life was going to change. I walked through the halls with an empty feeling all the way in the bottom of my stomach. It’s the same feeling I had when I was saying 12

“I felt better when the homeroom teacher smiled kindly. She was with someone I knew from Lower School” Then I calmed down and searched for my homeroom class. The office had written the classroom number on a sticky paper. My face went blank when I entered a room that was full of strangers, as well as familiar faces. I felt better when the homeroom teacher smiled kindly. She was with someone I knew from Lower School. That person, Ms. Crutchfield, was a counselor there, and now she is the head of Middle School. I knew now what homeroom is. It’s a place where you can be yourself with no one bothering you, where you feel safe and in some way alive. My teacher, Ms. Morales, gave me a sheet of paper that said where my classes would be. First, I had a wonderful coach who taught me the fun of exercise. Then came some wonderful teachers who taught me how to be organized and to be a great student. It turned out my math teacher was warmhearted. I like her very much. I traveled to Greece and ancient Egypt in social studies. In humanities, I learned wisdom about discrimination. In Spanish, I learned what being respectful means. In science, I learned what teamwork is. As the days passed, I made friends who I love. They are like my sisters and brothers. I will never forget how much fun I am having in Middle School. Now I walk these halls with pride and confidence.

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s UPP E R sc h o o l

Support for the Whole Student

Every individual student should have an adult in the school who knows him or her well. That’s what Advisory is all about. By Karen Herschleb, Advisory Coordinator


f you walk into any ASF classroom on Tuesday at noon, you might not notice anything different right away. Students are draped sleepily across their tables and each other; as the bell rings they are sending their last text messages. This is a smaller class. The 12 or 13 students gather in a circle or cluster toward the front of the room. The teacher may begin with a high/low check-in, in which the students talk about a high point and a low point from the previous weekend or their current academic status. Then the class might launch into a discussion about a current policy or the culture of the school. They may receive important information about the college application process and upcoming academic deadlines. Or they may practice their communication skills for conflict management. This is Advisory at ASF. The Upper School Advisory program was launched with the idea that in a student body of more than 700, each student should have an adult in the school who knows him or her well and is aware of the student’s academic and social progress. Students are grouped by grade level so sessions can be planned around their specific needs. In Ms. Montserrat Castañar’s Advisory, a group of young women from the junior class meets each morning for 10 minutes and every Tuesday before lunch for a 25-minute session. Junior Andrea Tomás says, “There are so many benefits to Advisory; if I have a problem we are like a little family.”

The Advisory curriculum is divided into three categories – academic, social/emotional and community building. The academic program is different for each grade level. Sophomores receive support for the personal project. Seniors work on completing their college applications. In the junior class, students begin their college application process in the second semester. Miriam Vela, another student from Ms. Castañar’s group, says, “Advisory has given me a better understanding of college admissions.” The curriculum for social and emotional health focuses on developing skills such as reflective decision-making, conflict management and communication. “Advisory teaches us that you can find something you have in common with anyone, and you can find a way to interact and even have fun,” says junior Karla Barrutieta. Building community happens through planned activities as well as through the nonacademic format of the class. “Advisory is about developing a sense of community with your group and then with the school through activities,” writes junior Ana Gargollo. “You get to know people better because you spend time with them every day.” Planned projects, competitions, daily check-ins and discussions help them get to know their classmates better. As the Advisory program continues to develop, the lessons may change and improve, but the purpose of supporting the whole student will certainly remain central to our work. 13

From the Head of School

Student Decisions I have done a great deal of thinking about how to communicate more authentically with students and about how to understand what the school looks like from their perspective. Last year’s visit by Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child, reminded me that the student outlook is often not included in major decisions made for their benefit. As I think ahead to the 2012-2013 school year, I want to make sure that students are at the center of our school. So I asked groups of students what steps we should take for next year in order to make sure their input is included. Their responses fell into two categories. Use technology. This was the top suggestion expressed by students. The means of communication that exist in our school, they said, are still by and large based on formal meetings and face-to-face interactions. They underscored the impracticality of having to sit down with a teacher or administrator on a campus where everyone is so busy, and in a city that is so large. They suggested more chats, blogs, Twitter feeds and instant messenger services to get allow for a more fluid way to communicate. Let students communicate with one another in their own language. Many students expressed the concern that all of the communication channels currently open in the Upper School are controlled by “someone in the office.” The students, many told me, would like the opportunity to use the PA system to play their music, publicize their events and make the school “feel like a high school.” They also would like access to other students’ contact information in order to be able communicate directly with one another, in their own voices. As I plan for next year, I will make sure that there are ample opportunities for students to talk to — or rather chat and blog with — each other on the many topics that concern them: classes they can take, activities they can attend and decisions they can make.

Amy Gallie Head of Upper School

d i v i s i o n s & d e pa r t m e n t s t h e a rt s From the Visual Arts Coordinator

L.A. Experience The great thing about ASF is that when a teacher needs to learn something new in order to teach better, he or she will get the training. Not everywhere do teachers get the chance to leave the country and sit among colleagues to discuss topics as appealing as creativity, while their fellow teachers hold down the fort at home. I was one of those lucky teachers this past January in a training course for the International Baccalaureate in Los Angeles, California. It was my first large conference. There were more than 500 participants, divided by subject and level, and it was like the first day of school, choosing my seat around the table and introducing myself to everyone, with high expectations about what I wanted to accomplish. My 13 years in Mexico made me more of foreigner on education issues than the others, who came from all across the United States. Many had less experience than I did, but each came with a load of questions and doubts, just like me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to inspire my juniors in Upper School to become the talented and prolific artists that I can see in the senior class. What will it take to get my students to bloom into creative people? I spent three days in Los Angeles filling myself with ideas, prompts, games, web sites, tips and insights that I could bring back to my students, like an art evangelist. I filled my days with ideas and my evenings with museums. The advantage of a city like Los Angeles is that its museums are open in the evenings. The disadvantage is that the city’s taxis are so expensive that you can use your per diem in one round trip to anywhere. My two memorable evenings at the Getty Center and the enormous Los Angeles County Museum were filled with discovery and wonder. I saw as much as art as I could, hoping that my impressions would last until I returned. All artists need to fill up on real live art every now and then and it was just what I needed. Upon my return, my students witnessed a new me, standing on my chair, as I am known to do, encouraging them to write and sketch and fill their workbooks with dreams. I have a much clearer idea about how to get those juniors to become seniors and I know that they will get there.

Patricia Patterson K-12 Visual Arts Coordinator

“The Veteran in a New Field,” by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), is one of the pieces available to ASF students for study, thanks to the Picturing America program.

Picturing America A donation from the U.S. Embassy is helping all ASF students learn from, and be inspired by, great American art. By Patricia Patterson, Visual Arts Coordinator


n all art classrooms, from the ECC to Upper School, students have been getting new lessons based on American art, thanks to the donation of the “Picturing America” program by the United States Embassy in Mexico. In 2007, The National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored a program for public school libraries across the United States that consisted of a portfolio of posters for classroom use and a teacher’s manual. The portfolio contained images of great works of art from American history that could be used as a point of departure on topics such as equal rights, Native American history and abstract art. We were given seven portfolios by the Embassy, to be used in all four academic divisions of ASF. For an American school abroad, it is wonderful to have access to teaching tools that our colleagues in U.S. public schools have been using for several years. These images can also be used by social studies and history teachers to prompt discussions or to serve as inspiration for further research. Art teachers focused on six of the 20 images that best fit with our curriculum. We chose works by textile artists, architects, potters, painters and photographers from American history. When 14

our projects are finished, the portfolios will become a permanent resource for all teachers in each of the four libraries. ECC teacher Anna Siegal taught her students to thread a needle and to sew patchwork quilts using the example of Amish quilts in the Picturing America portfolio. Jeri Holley introduced the pottery of the Anasazi people, while her Lower School colleague Lisa Saldana made a huge group collage based on the work of Romare Bearden (1911-1988). Middle School teacher Ivette Berensten (’90) and Alejandro Martínez (’00) of Upper School used photos by Walker Evans to explore line in art. Consuelo Novoa and Leo Trías used the examples of the Anazasi cylindrical jars to create contemporary vessels with their Upper School students. These are just of few of the exciting proposals resulting from this project. Selected work from all four divisions went on display in the new Hojel-Schumacher Gallery in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. It was the first exposition for this great facility. We hope that students, teachers and parents will study our exhibition with great interest as we share “Our Picture of America” with the school community.

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s p a r e n t ass o c i a t i o n

Save Our (Mental)

Environment There are mental pollutants as well as physical ones. Environment Week is a time for examining both of them. By Dagmar Calleja, ASF Parent


e celebrate Earth Week every year at ASF because we are concerned with our physical environment. But we are also aware that in order to do that, we need the right mental environment as well. Just as industrialized societies produce high levels of physical toxins and pollutants, they also produce psychological contaminants that affect our well-being. Examples of toxins in our mental environment are television, high noise levels and aggressive marketing tactics. We need to be aware of the habits and activities our society imposes on us, and address those resulting values that detract from the task of saving our planet and from living healthy, fulfilling lives. We can start by recognizing that today’s mental environment is very different than the one our human brains evolved in, and that this is not healthy. Screens, used recreationally for TV watching, Internet surfing, social networks, cellular phone conversations, etc., lead to deterioration in our lives when used without limits. Because of screens, we isolate ourselves. We become hermits surrounded by electronic tools. We are socially passive. Kids watch instead of being with friends; adults watch instead of getting together and talking to each other. We barely move. We desire more. We consume more junk food. We buy without regard to waste and ecological damage, let alone need. Advertising in the electronic media is the worst culprit, making us feel inadequate unless we consume. We live in fear. We think the world is a more dangerous place than it is because of the disproportionate amount of violence we watch on news programs.

From the President

We also degrade our own lives by comparing them unfavorably to the virtual reality that pretends to eclipse true reality. “The most subtle and insidious effect of TV is to convince us that our own experience doesn’t matter and that reality exists someplace out there,” said the late writer and civic activist Jonathan Rowe. “It has literally separated us from ourselves.” What does all this have to do with Earth Week? Everything. By living as hermits who learn about the world through screens instead of experiencing it directly, we confine ourselves to an unhealthy mental environment in which nature is simply unimportant, of no value. It is not an environment conducive to life-enhancing and nature-preserving needs, such as social interaction, experiencing the world through direct contact, using our five senses, moving, finding peace in nature, experimenting, exploring, believing. This is not to say that technology has no place in education. At ASF, technology, especially digital technology, plays an important and growing role in the classroom and the curriculum. But technology must be seen as a tool to help students know the real world, not a replacement for it. To use it to our advantage we must control it, not be controlled by it. That’s why the Parent Association traditionally combines Earth Week celebrations with the international TV Turnoff Week campaign. In recent years this combined celebration has gone under the name Turn Off Your Screen Go Green Week. This year we’ll be referring to the week as Environment Week, and it starts on April 16. Under whatever name, the important thing is that we all participate in the various on-campus activities. Let’s help improve both our natural and our mental environments. 15

Joining Forces Throughout this school year, the Parent Association has joined forces with the various teams involved with the two big celebrations planned for this spring. One, which just took place March 27, was for the new Fine Arts Center, and the other for the Wellness Center in May. The entire PA membership — homeroom parents, volunteers, coordinators, executive members, everyone — has been promoting the new facilities in a number of ways, including efforts to fund the remaining theater seats as a way to leave our mark while investing in the school’s future. If you haven’t heard about the “Take a Seat” project, please get in touch with us at the PA and we will explain it to you. We feel very fortunate to be able to participate alongside major donors, so that the names of our children may live on within the walls of ASF where they are growing up. All of us who have had the opportunity to get closely involved with the school are deeply appreciative of what ASF offers our children. Just take a look at the Tuesday bulletin and you’ll see just how many projects and events take place every day in every part of the school. I invite everybody to come to the monthly PA meetings, where on the first Wednesday of every month we have been showing a little bit of what our beloved school has to offer. I am sure there will be a lot of surprises in store for you.

Alma Rosa Rodríguez Parent Association President

d i v i s i o n s & d e p a r t m e n t s a t h le t i cs & e x t e n d e d lea r n i n g From the Head of Athletics & Extended Learning

Openings As the head of ASF Athletics and Extended Learning, I am excited about the opening of the Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center and the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. These two facilities will impact our programs in a positive way. As our division is committed to building strong programs in both athletics and the arts, these new facilities will give us the necessary venues to help us reach our goal of providing the best K-12 programs in Mexico. I would like to thank our students and parents for the patience they have shown through the building process. It is now time for students, parents and teachers to enjoy the benefits we are sure to experience. On May 12, ASF will celebrate the new Wellness Center. The Harlem Ambassadors will be coming to Mexico City and will put on a performance for the ASF community. It will be an event worthy of the venue. Please contact the Parent Association, Institutional Advancement or Athletics and Extended Learning for tickets to the event.

Robert Wilson Head of Athletics & Extended Learning

Those Championship Seasons Athletics at ASF are about age-appropriate activities, with serious competition reserved for the Upper School level. But the Bears win their share of championships. By Robert Wilson, Head of Athletics & Extended Learning


SF prides itself on providing an athletics program that is both ageappropriate and the finest K-12 program in Mexico. Our K-8 sports program is focused on student performance, not results. Our goal is to improve every student in our program. As students transition into Upper School, we encourage more competition. Playing time is merit based. This age-appropriate approach produces strong teams at the Upper School level.

Within the last 12 months, our program has produced the following championship teams: • Spring 2011: Varsity Boys Soccer Mexico City Championship • Fall 2011: Varsity Boys Football CONADEIP Championship • Fall 2011: Varsity Swimming national top 20 finishers (four swimmers) • Fall 2011: Junior Varsity Boys Soccer Championship • Spring 2012: Varsity Girls Soccer ASOMEX Championship 16

While we believe it is our mission to provide professional-level instruction, we distinguish ourselves from professional club teams in that our mission includes improving all students who participate and not only the elite athletes. Furthermore, in all of our programs, we seek to provide better instruction than found at the club level here in Mexico City. Although we still have improvement to make, we feel we are approaching that goal. The other part of our mission includes providing our teams with well-organized competitions that are appropriate for the grade level. This is a work in progress, and we are committed to continuous improvement in finding better competition solutions. As we go forward, we will be putting a greater emphasis on participating in ASOMEX (Association of American Schools in Mexico) tournaments in soccer, basketball, tennis and volleyball. Our athletic teams provide our students with opportunities for making lifelong connections, for recognition and for mastery. This is what it is all about. We seek to give every student these opportunities.


In the Swim of Things Discipline, determination, dedication and desire are values that define the ASF swimming program. By Teresa Rivera, ASF Swimming Coordinator

s an Olympic athlete, I had an extraordinary time. Swimming is a sport that requires physical, emotional and mental skills. It also provides an opportunity to set goals and to achieve whatever your mind is set on. Now, as coordinator of ASF swimming, my goal is to be part of a successful K-12 athletic program. To me, success starts with creating a strong base, and then giving all students the opportunity to become the best athletes they can be. I am sure that this may be accomplished with dedication, desire, determination and discipline. The ASF swimming program offers training and practice for swimmers of all ages and ability levels. Our great coaching staff provides planned swimming practices that ensure that the time students spend in the pool is quality time. Our student athletes are challenged to the best of their abilities. ECC/Kinder: This is our introductory level group. We follow the American Red Cross “Learn To Swim Program” at levels one and two. The children learn to be safe inside, around and outside the pool. They develop fundamental skills while having fun.

From the Coordinator

Looking Ahead In Extended Learning, we are continuously looking for ways to grow and improve. We have two major areas we want to focus on next year: the arts and technology. First, we are introducing the new Music Academy. The idea is that students will develop their musical talent in a setting where they work individually with their instruments, and together in a band and a choir. The academy will be running four times a week, Monday through Thursday. There will also be two exciting new classes launched next school year: ClayMation and Creative Film Production. ClayMation is about creating a short film using clay models. It involves sculpting, photography and video editing. The other class, Creative Film Production, will engage students in producing their own movie with script writing, filming and postproduction (editing and special effects). Stay tuned for information on other Extended Learning open classes, demonstrations and competitions.

Juan de Luca Extended Learning Coordinator 17

Lower School/Middle School: The swimming program at this level encourages students to develop good citizenship and achieve high academic grades as they become good swimmers. We work daily on stroke development, and on improving in various areas. They are also introduced to competition. The four events during the second semester of this academic year are intra-squad, meaning they compete with other members of their class. After two such events, we have noticed that their times and hydrodynamics have improved as a result of the competition. For the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, the program will offer four events where these swimmers will compete with athletes from other schools in Mexico City, preparing some of them to eventually be part of the junior varsity and varsity teams. Junior Varsity/Varsity: Our junior varsity and varsity teams are affiliated with the Mexico City Swimming Association (Asociación de Natación del Distrito Federal) and with the Mexican Swimming Federation (Federación Mexicana de Natación). They compete in Mexico City, as well as in regional and national events. Our program gives these student athletes the chance to develop their skills and compete to the best of their abilities. Some will participate at the National Olympics this May, representing our school and our city as part of the Mexico City team.

campus currents

José Antonio Alonso (left), president of Fundación Amparo, poses with ASF Board of Trustees member Frances Huttanus and Executive Director Paul Williams before the IMAGINE concert.

Carlos Huerta, president of Fomento Educacional, st Marentes de Pisinger (’87).

Welcoming the New Fine Arts Center IMAGINE: A gala celebration, an inspiring student art display and a memorable concert ushered in a new era for the visual and performing arts at ASF in the ANGELES ESPINOSA YGLESIAS FINE ARTS CENTER By Kelly Arthur Garrett, ASF Parent

Horacio McCoy (’57) was a most fitting master of ceremonies for the evening.


tands with ASF Board of Trustees Chair Rosa

Left to right: United States Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne, Horacio McCoy (’57), U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Laura Dogu and ASF Executive Director Paul Williams.

ASF Drama Club members provided a crowd-pleasing taste of the kinds of activities that will take place inside the new Fine Arts Center.


campus currents

The Lower School Black Belt Recorders joined the orchestra for a song from the French film “Les Choristes.”


teach them to appreciate diversity, to think globally and to be responsible in terms of the environment and their communities.” It all took place during a very special evening that was literally decades in the making. The event was part ceremony (complete with a ribbon-cutting) and part celebration, as hundreds of ASF community members took time out from their school-support activities to relax a bit, have some fun and enjoy the fruits of their labors. “We’ve been imagining this center for more than 20 years,” said Frances Huttanus, member of the ASF Board of Trustees, chair of its Institutional Advancement Committee, one of the organizers of the inaugural event and a tireless advocate for the Fine Arts Center. “And today we are so happy to finally see the first phase become a reality.”

n March 27, 2012, the curtain rose for the first time for a public performance in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center on the ASF campus. IMAGINE was the perfect opening for the school’s proud new facility. The huge stage was packed with students, relatives, teachers and professional musicians joining together to perform the flag ceremonies and national anthems of Mexico and the United States. A full house of ASF community members, parents, staff, donors, alumni, dignitaries and well-wishers from the community at large looked on. Thus, mere minutes into its existence, the new theater was already honoring its goals – of offering ASF students opportunities for artistic development, of promoting cultural advancement for the greater community and of implementing cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States, among other countries. A fitting touch to this moving performance was its introduction by Horacio McCoy (’57), who served as master of ceremonies. Mr. McCoy is just one of countless volunteers and donors who worked hard over the last two decades to turn the dream of a campus arts center into a reality. But as chair emeritus of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, a dedicated alumnus as well as former ASF parent and a tireless ASF supporter for more than half a century, he embodies the spirit of the true ASF booster and served as a fitting representative of all of them as he stood on the stage and introduced the speakers and performers. Among those speakers was U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne, who made a brief speech lauding The American School for promoting bicultural education and recognizing the importance of art in education. Also addressing the gathering was ASF Executive Director Paul Williams, who set the broader educational context. “We see education as an integral process, which is why we offer our students solid foundations in academics, the arts and athletics,” he said. “But we also

Student Art on Display Those who attended the IMAGINE gala event experienced what the Fine Arts Center has to offer ASF students – as well as the diverse talents of ASF students That experience started even before entering the theater, with the art exhibit in the Hojel-Schumacher Gallery,located in the lobby of the center. The exhibit consisted of work by ASF students, from all divisions. The pieces are based on the “Picturing America” program funded by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to ASF by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. “We selected six images from the history of American art and created lessons inspired by these works for students aged three to 18,” said Pat Patterson, the K-12 visual arts coordinator. The result was an inspiring display of student creativity, including quilts created collectively in the Pre-First rooms and collages and acrylic paintings by K3 children, all under the guidance of Early Childhood Education art teacher Anna Siegal. Lower School students, working with art teachers Jeri Holley, Lisa Saldana and Rodrigo Priego, contributed ceramic pieces (based on art from the Anasazi culture, ancestors of the Pueblo people of Arizona and 20

The concert’s rousing home stretch included the school’s Jazz Vocal Ensemble, directed by Ms. Rohyans, performing two American classics that are perhaps best known by modern audiences by versions sung by Willie Nelson – Irving Berlin’s “Blues Skies” (1926) and “All of Me” (1931), written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons. Student musicians took turns soloing during “Jammin’ with Charlie,” with Deborah Lawrence directing the school’s Jazz Band. As ASF’s performing arts coordinator, Dr. Lawrence will probably be more closely involved with the theater than any other faculty member in the years to come. She certainly got a taste of it during the initial concert, performing on flute in the Imagine Orchestra, along with fellow ASF faculty members Ms. Maekawa (also on flute) and Lower School music teacher Dave Rueb (violin).

New Mexico), group collages and even architectural floor plans. From the Middle School came quilt drawings, sculptures and collage murals, created under the supervision of art teacher Ivette Berentsen (’90). Upper School students contributed a variety of pieces, including collectively created ceramic works with Anasazi themes, with guidance by art teachers Leo Trías and Consuelo Novoa. Ms. Patterson helped oversee drypoint prints, gouache works, landscapes and other paintings by Upper School art students. Photographs were contributed by students of photography and digital imaging teacher Alejandro Martínez (’00), and there were prairie-style house designs from Jason Schell’s technical drawing students.

Music to IMAGINE By The theme of the concert was “IMAGINE” – a word with a lot of potential for positive interpretation. For this evening, that word had much to do with the many years of imagining a Fine Arts Center for the campus, and with imagining the myriad uses of the facility in the decades to come. And the need to continue to imagine what the center could be with the support of the ASF community. Dr. Álvaro G. Díaz Rodríguez, director of the Orquesta de Cámara de Ensenada in Baja California, spent parts of several months on campus preparing an orchestra that consisted of his own musicians and ASF students, along with some relatives and music teachers. “For this concert, places of origin, languages and hierarchical divisions between teacher, students, parents or even professionals and amateurs do not matter,” Dr. Díaz said. “What matters is creating harmony and an environment of mutual respect based on a passion for making music.” The concert itself was an inspiring compilation of diversity and student talent, beginning with the full orchestra’s rendition of the fourth movement of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” That was followed by the “Toy Symphony,” usually credited to Leopold Mozart, father of Wolfgang. The highlight of this number was the tambourine section, consisting entirely of ECC youngsters who provided perfectly timed percussion accompaniment under the direction of ECC music teacher Luis Betancourt. ECC students – some three dozen of them – also formed a choir to sing the first of three songs from the 2004 French musical film “Les Choristes.” The more age-diverse Imagine Choir, directed by Lower School music teacher Joe Edwards, provided the vocals for the second song, which also featured soprano Zaira de la Cerda, a Lower School music teacher and Extended Learning choir teacher. Middle School and Upper School choir director Michele Rohyans joined Ms. De la Cerda for the third “Les Choristes” song, the highlight being the huge recorder section, known as the LS Black Belt Recorders, made up of Lower School students who performed under the direction of Lower School music teacher and Extended Learning violin teacher Olivia Maekawa. The first part of the concert finished up with a medley from “Beauty and the Beast,” featuring the ASF Drama Club, which is coordinated by drama teacher Rosanna Cesarman. For this number, however, the reins were handed over to alum Canek Vázquez (’07), who later performed a Shakespeare monologue. Three other students who participated in the recent Shakespeare competition – Alfredo Trueba, Alina Aksiyote and Rafael Ramos – also delivered their monologues. The middle part of the concert, which Dr. Díaz described as “intimate and reflective,” highlighted the school’s English Handbell Troupe, directed by Upper School music and film teacher Larry Tharp. For many in the audience it was their first exposure to these beautiful instruments. A special moment came when, with lights dimmed, Ms. De la Cerda sang a 13th century plainsong accompanied by 10 students on the handbells.

IMAGINE the Future The concert, which ended with a moving rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” was the first of what will be many in the years and decades ahead. The gala celebration provided donors, volunteers, parents, staff, faculty and other ASF community members their first taste of the possibilities of this valuable new facility. Many were on the stage, participating in the performance. Many more were seated in the main audience area, which was set to its flat configuration to accommodate the banquet tables at which they sat (the floor will also be adjustable for traditional, tiered theater seating).

Dr. Álvaro G. Díaz Rodríguez directed an orchestra consisting of ASF students, staff and relatives, as well as professionals from his own Orquesta de Cámara de Ensenada.


campus currents And many more, such as Angela Florio, the longtime ASF drama coach and Fine Arts Center envisioner for whom the theater’s Green Room will be named, watched the proceedings from the balcony, which many think affords the best view in the house. Also there in spirit was Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias, the philanthropist and promoter of Mexican art and culture for whom the Fine Arts Center is named. She was the daughter of the founder of the Fundación Amparo, as well as the mother of its current president, José Antonio Alonso. Fundación Amparo’s cornerstone gift to the school – combined with leadership gifts from Fomento Educacional, PepsiCo, the Hojel Schumacher Foundation, the Kaluz Foundation and the ASF Parent Association, as well as donations from countless individuals and companies – made the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center a reality. Of course, there is still much work to be done, and funds to be raised, before the Fine Arts Center reaches its full potential. Completion of Stage 1, construction of the building itself, designed by the noted architect José Moyao, is what was being celebrated on March 27. Still to come are the integration of the theater into the adjacent art classrooms and practice rooms to create a true visual arts and performing arts educational facility, and the outfitting of the theater itself. For example, during the concert, the stage, seating, lighting and sound equipment were all provided on a temporary basis for the performance. IMAGINE was a night when everything that this facility will have to offer ASF students and our community was on display. The American School Foundation has a Fine Arts Center. Just imagine the future!

A diverse orchestra and several choirs with singers from all age groups made for an exhilarating evening.

Special Thanks To …

The Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center exists today because of the generous support of a large number of individuals and institutions, as well as the hard work of dedicated volunteers. The American School Foundation, A.C. would like to extend special thanks to the following:

Donors Cornerstone Gift: Fundación Amparo Leadership Gifts: Fomento Educacional PepsiCo Hojel Schumacher Foundation Kaluz Foundation ASF Parent Association Patrons: Grupo Mar Antonio and Fernanda Guerra Tim and Malú Heyman In Fond Memory of Ruth Mizrachi Davidoff

“Imagine” (The Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center Exhibition and Concert) Sponsors: Grupo Interacciones The United States Embassy in Mexico City Monte Xanic PepsiCo Hoteles Intercontinental, Braulio and Mariana Arsuaga Stadia Suites Volaris Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso Tecnolomet, S.A. de C.V. Eduardo Kohlmann Bertha Abizaid (’89) Habanero Films Roger’s Garden Gourmet AXA Organizing Committee Board Chairs: Frances Huttanus Joan Liechty Organizing Committee Event Chairs: Erika Hojel Gina Hojel de Aiza (’89)

Organizing Committee: Lola José Phillips (’82) Concert Martha Salinas - Concert Paloma Porraz - Art Exhibition Liliana Carvajal - Art Exhibition Mariana de Haro Sponsorships Valentina Ortiz Monasterio Sponsorships Marissa Russell (’92) Logistics Fernanda Suárez de Guerra - Advisor

“Great Minds Need Great Spaces” (The Capital Campaign Steering Committee 20112012) Chair Emeritus: Horacio McCoy (’57) Co-Chairs: Gordon Viberg Tito Vidaurri Members: Blanca Santacruz Carlos Williamson Cecilia Saba Fernando Gutiérrez Frances Huttanus 22

Marilú Hernández Mónica Sulaimán Rodrigo González Calvillo Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87) Vicky Fuentevilla

Building and Grounds Committee 20112012 Chair: César Buenrostro (’85) Members Fernando Gutiérrez Fernando Ogarrio Guillermo Fonseca Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87) Joan Liechty Margo G. Torres Patricio Gutiérrez Rodrigo González

The Take a Seat Campaign Chairs: Aliki Elías (’85) Blanca Santacruz

The American School Foundation Board of Trustees 2011-2012

Chair: Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87) Members: Antonio Rallo, Carla Ormsbee, Carlos Williamson, Cathy Austin (’78), César Buenrostro (’85), Fernando Franco, Frances Huttanus, Francisco Demesa, Jeff McElfresh, Joan Liechty, Martín Werner, Murray Case, Sara Craig, Sebastián Fernández, Tito Vidaurri, Aliki Elías (’85)

And Additional Thanks To … David Ehrenreich and Angela Florio, for “imagining” the ASF theater project, beginning in the 1990s. Alfonso de Angoitia and Rodrigo Guerrero for their invaluable assistance. The many volunteers who generously gave of their time and resources throughout the past 20 years to make our dream of a theater for the ASF community a reality.

ASF’s World-Class Debaters

A surprising decision ended Team Mexico’s hopes at the World Schools Debating Championships. But the ASF-led national team is now on the international stage to stay. By Sloane Starke

ASF debaters Andrea Arroyo, Nicolas Ferezin and Diego Cepeda are in full concentration mode during the World Schools Debating Championships in Cape Town.


exico’s delegation to the 2012 World Schools Debating Championships would look pretty familiar to many ASFers – four of the five Team Mexico members were ASF Upper School students. Along with their coach, ASF teacher Mark Webber, and a fellow team member from Churchill College, they flew to South Africa in January to take on some of the best young debaters in the world.

The Road to Cape Town The team members – Andrea Arroyo, Nicolas Ferezin, Julio Meyer, Diego Cepeda and Antonio Romo – were selected at the beginning of last summer. It was an exciting moment. “The first thing that popped into my mind was the experience of it, because before that I had seen Team Mexico, and it was a pretty amazing experience watching them work together,” Julio Meyer said. “A lot of 23

them are like my mentors for getting into debate, and so when I found out I was on Team Mexico, that people consider me near their level, was a pretty momentous occasion.” Team Mexico, while not new, is competing at a new level these days. Prior to Mark Webber’s arrival and the subsequent creation of a Mexican debate league, the English-Speaking Union would bring trainers in for a one-week seminar. Now, Mr. Webber,

campus currents

a 20-year debate coaching veteran, and his wife Cynthia, have joined forces with the English-Speaking Union to build up the circuit and the team – and that means much more intense practice. This time, the team began training when school started in August, dedicating every Saturday to practice and learning. At first, they didn’t know what motions they’d be debating in South Africa, so they focused on theory and impromptu motions (when debaters are given a topic and just one hour to prepare), which would account for half of the preliminary rounds at the championships. “We as coaches watch their preparation and we micromanage that, like ‘you should be spending this many minutes here, this many minutes here, or we thought that you made a mistake when you decided to go for this argument instead of that argument’ and things like that,” said Mr. Webber. “It was really intense,” team captain Andrea Arroyo said. “So many hours and so much work and commitment. But it was amazing because when you’re there and when you’re debating, you don’t even realize it.” And she added, “If Mr. Webber wants to do something, he will get it done. We all pushed our limits.” In November, the prepared motions were released, meaning the debaters now knew which issues they would be debating for at least half the time. Among them were such weighty topics as whether newly democratized Arab nations should ban religious parties and whether feminists should seek to outlaw pornography. Practices began to focus on these prepared motions through the rest of the semester, with Team Mexico working throughout winter break.

Into the Great Unknown After five months of practice, the moment of truth had almost arrived. Team Mexico left Mexico City on Sunday, January 15. They knew they had prepared, and they knew they had the support of their families and friends, as well as the school, especially the Parent Association, which donated $50,000 pesos toward the ASF students’ participation. “The financial support we got from the Parent Association was fantastic,” Andrea said. “That allowed us to go and to have this experience.” But what the experience would be like was a big question mark. “There was that factor of the unknown when going against all these teams because I’d never met them before,” Julio said. “That was kind of intimidating, just having absolutely no idea what was going to happen,

Nicolas Ferezin and Julio Meyer get in some practice before departing with the team to South Africa.

being with people I’d never met before in a place I’d never been to.” Before even arriving in Cape Town, however, Team Mexico had met some of their fellow debaters, starting with Team Wales, who was on the flight with them from Frankfurt. When they got to their hotel, waiting for their rooms to be ready, Team Mexico rubbed elbows with many others, including Qatar, Botswana and their first-round rivals Denmark. That first round, the Denmark round, came and went with a win. It was followed by two losses to Australia and Pakistan, and a win against Slovakia. The next would be a critical debate, since Team Mexico needed to win to stay in the tournament past the preliminary rounds.

The Fateful India Round Ask members of Team Mexico about the biggest surprise or the biggest challenge of the championships, and you’ll probably hear about the India round. It started with an impromptu motion about using racial profiling to fight crime. “We had actually had a very similar motion at the Mexican championships at ASF last year, so for the most part, all five of us knew how this debate was going to go,” Julio said. Until the stunner… the debate was canceled due to a technicality. One team requested a definition of racial profiling. For 24

some reason, the definition was not given to Team India. The rules state that when a definition is requested by one team, all teams must receive it. So the debate against India over racial profiling was off, and a new topic was given for a later time slot. The new topic was also race related – this time, about whether government broadcasting stations should give airtime to racist political parties. India, arguing in favor of allowing this, twisted the argument, saying “explicit” racism would not be allowed, but “implicit” racism would be. Said Julio: “We went up there and asked, ‘What happens when people question these political parties, like why are they doing these implicit racist migration quotas?’ They’re going to have to answer, ‘it’s because of their skin color, it’s because of where they’re from, it’s because of their sexuality,’ which is hate speech, which they ban under their system because they realize the flaws of it. I mean, they concede their own motion because they’re banning racism, no matter which way you look at it.” Finishing confidently, Team Mexico was shocked to learn the judges sided with India. “We were very surprised by that because we thought we had beaten them badly,” Mr. Webber said. “But it’s harder for them to pull the trigger against an established team and for Mexico.”

The five Team Mexico members, four of them from ASF, enjoy a seaside respite from tournament competition. Inset: Mark Webber, ASF teacher and debate coach.

“I think that round taught us, one, that debate, no matter how logical it is, is completely subjective, and two, that countries’ prestige unfortunately does play in,” Andrea said. It was a devastating blow for Team Mexico, and it wasn’t easy to get up and debate the rest of the rounds, knowing they’d be eliminated anyway. “We got past it through Mr. Webber’s motivational speeches, basically,” said Andrea. What did he say? “One of the main things I try to tell the kids is to keep it in perspective,” Mr. Webber said. “One day, they’re going to face a lot tougher things in their lives than a debate tournament, and it’s important to know that you have it inside of you to reach down and pick yourself up and to keep going.”

The team went on to face the United States and Peru, winning both rounds and leaving with what their coach called “a respectable four-four record.”

All Things Considered Regardless of the heartbreak, South Africa was a positive and unforgettable experience for the team. Andrea Arroyo was ranked as the ninth best ESL speaker, and Nicolas Ferezin as 13th. In addition, the team received good feedback from other judges. “It helped me that a lot of judges came up to us and were like, ‘You guys definitely should have passed and your team was a lot better than other teams.’” Andrea said. “It was bittersweet to think that so many judges

thought this and we still didn’t make it. But on the other hand, our merits were acknowledged in a certain way.” Their coach approved. “I thought we debated very well – we debated on the level that we wanted to debate on,” Mr. Webber said. “It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” Julio said. ASF’s debaters continue to compete and sharpen their skills. Next stop, the 2013 championships in Turkey.

campus currents

The Whole School’s a Stage … The annual Shakespeare Competition brought a dozen ASF students deeper into the magic of the Bard. And it brought one of them a well-deserved first-place finish. By Kelly Arthur Garrett, ASF Parent

ASF’s Alina Aksiyote (left) and Rafael Ramos (top) were among 24 finalists delivering monologues and reciting sonnets at the 10th Annual Shakespeare Competition at a nearly full Teatro Helénico in Mexico City. Shakespearean actor Stuart Cox, a Mexican resident, served as master of ceremonies and also helped prepare student participants from 12 different schools to take the Shakespeare challenge.



t was a Thursday evening in March, and ASF senior Rafael Ramos was lying face up and motionless on an otherwise empty stage. Hundreds were watching him in the nearly full Teatro Helénico in the San Ángel area of Mexico City, but he would move only when the time was right. Because at that moment, and for several to follow, Rafael Ramos was not Rafa the ASF student, but Richard III, the murderous anti-hero of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. He (Richard, not Rafa) is awakening from a haunted dream, to the realization that his hours are numbered and nobody will lament his death. He then delivers a powerful soliloquy, wrestling with his guilty conscience in what has been described (by theater critic John Lahr) as a “psychological war raging inside Richard” even as the civil war that will undo him is playing out on Bosworth Field. Rafa’s clear but nuanced rendition of this complex monologue (Act V, Scene iii) was impressive for a high school student – for anybody, really. But it was one of 24 impressive performances that night as part of the Anglo Mexican Foundation’s 10th Annual Shakespeare Competition. The Shakespeare Competition has grown a lot during its decade of existence, both in terms of participation (12 schools now send students to the finals) and prestige. Judging the finals at the Teatro Helénico on March 22 were Judith Macgregor, the British Ambassador in Mexico; Sophie AlexanderKatz, the Mexican actress of international fame and Ian Wooldridge, dean and director general of the British American Drama Academy in the UK, one of the sponsors of the event (the others were the Festival Internacional Cervantino, Hotel Casona, British Airways and the Centro Cultural Helénico). Though at the end of the day the event is in fact a competition, it is also an opportunity for higher grade level students to develop (or perhaps discover) their language skills and dramatic talents. Indeed, the Anglo Mexican Foundation defines the event that way. How better to develop such skills and talent than to memorize and interpret a passage and poems from Shakespeare? Participation in the Shakespeare Competition is voluntary and at ASF takes place apart from, though obviously overlapping with, the regular curriculum and Drama Club activities. Handling the organization was Daniel Hamilton, an Upper School teacher with an extensive background in drama. For Mr. Hamilton, as for the participating students, the Shakespeare Competition was an extracurricular activity. “I’ve never had this experience with any

group of high school kids in my long life,” he said. “I am very proud of all the ASF Shakespeareans. They all worked hard and did excellent work. It was really a wonderful group of kids to work with.” That group was made up of Giuliana Besa, Natalia García Clark, Gabriella Loosle, Ana McCausland, Julio Meyer, Nancy Recio, Alexa Rosengaus, Lucía Serrano, Stephanie Vondell, Alina Aksyote and Alfredo Trueba, along with Rafael Ramos. Each chose a monologue of between 15 and 25 lines from a Shakespeare play and one of the sonnets, as per the rules of the competition, and began to work on them. This is where Stuart Cox comes into the picture. A British-born resident of Mexico, Cox is a 40-year veteran of the stage, as actor and director. A Shakespearean actor of consummate expertise and unflagging devotion, Cox has been involved with the competition since its inception. He made the rounds to all 12 participating schools, giving two workshops to each. The first came early in the process, focusing on “how to approach the acting of Shakespeare.” The second was for fine-tuning the chosen presentations, shortly before each school held its internal competition to determine its finalists. Selected to represent ASF were Rafael and Alina. Both performed early in the finals. To complement his Richard III soliloquy, Rafael recited the second sonnet, an interesting choice for an adolescent, given its theme of fleeting youth. Alina went with the early part of Ophelia’s last scene in “Hamlet” (Act IV, Scene v). According to Mr. Hamilton, both Alina and Rafa knew which scenes they wanted to perform, with no prompting from him. Though the scene is not technically a monologue (in the play itself, other characters occasionally interrupt), Alina’s was an inspired choice. We see Ophelia’s descent into madness, after her father (Polonius) has been killed by her would-be lover (Hamlet), who has spurned her. It’s the kind of scene that affords a talented actress much room for creative interpretation. It’s also a daunting challenge. Ophelia’s lines and bits of song are essentially nonsense, but contain enough familiar references and reasonable subtext to encourage us (and the other characters) to try to figure out what she’s getting at. That’s a fine line for any actress to tread, and Alina did it beautifully. After she followed it up with Sonnet 116 – the one about the marriage of true minds – the ASF contingent at the Teatro Helénico had to be feeling pretty good about the school’s chances for taking home at least one of the twin first-place designations. 27

Rafa’s and Alina’s performances were clearly top tier. The tension came with the realization that many others were right up there with them, including a wonderfully kinetic portrayal of the weaver Bottom’s hilarious selfpromotion in the first act of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alexis González Guarneros of the Tomás Alva Edison school in the Del Valle area of Mexico City. Alina won. She shared first place with Alexis from Edison. The two will have to change any summer plans they might have made. With the honor of winning comes a prize: A three-week stay in Oxford (about halfway between London and Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of youknow-who) to participate in the Midsummer Conservatory program offered by the British American Drama Academy. There, Alina and Alexis will work and live with worldclass actors and directors while studying Shakespearean acting. The victory came during an especially fruitful period in Alina’s life. Within a week or so she would be making her final choice of college to attend. Exactly a month earlier, she had received the Wright Award for generosity during Founders Day ceremonies (see page 7) for her work to aid the droughtstricken people of the Sierra Taraumara (see page 28). Five days later she, Rafa and Alfredo would reprise their Shakespeare performances at the “Imagine” gala in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center (see page 18). Mr. Hamilton, pointing out that both Alina and Rafa are involved not just in drama but a number of clubs and other extracurricular activities, not to mention an IB class load, made a not uncommon and only half-facetious comment: “With the workload they take on, I don’t think I could make it as a teenager today.” But for Alina, work has nothing to do with it. “This is something I love to do, so it doesn’t feel like a chore,” she said after the competition, while sharing what she calls “the Shakespeare excitement” with her friends, family and fellow competitors. “I’m really happy the school offers these kinds of things, because they make for an amazing experience. I can’t imagine going to school without them.” So Alina will go to England, and deservedly so. But all students who took up the challenge of the competition will reap the benefits. So will many more in the future if they heed the words of a certain playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon written more than 400 years ago: “What’s won is done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.”

campus currents

An Impressive Collection Behind the scenes of ASF students’ efforts to help the drought-stricken Rarámuri people of Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara. By Alina Aksiyote, ASF Senior


n February, something incredible happened at ASF. For two weeks, little by little, 12 tons of supplies arrived at school. Every day, students, parents, teachers and staff brought in beans, rice, water, clothing and other needed items to help isolated communities in the state of Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara. This past winter was disastrous for the Sierra Tarahumara’s Rarámuri people, who were affronted by extreme temperatures and a devastating drought, which resulted in widespread famine. Moved by news of these conditions and possible suicides in the area, ASF students took action by reinitiating a collection that used to happen yearly at ASF. Other schools soon found out about the collection, and joined our efforts. As the items started arriving, student volunteers, teachers, families, administrative assistants and maintenance workers helped us gather the donations in a storage area by the parking lot.


As a member of the Community and Service Committee, I was in charge of running this collection, which meant staying after school with members of Upper School’s Relief and Response club. On the first day I stayed, we opened the door of the bodega and our jaws dropped. From the floor to the ceiling, every foot of available space was covered with boxes, bags, cans, clothing and miscellaneous items. It was chaos. At first I was ecstatic. I was proud of how much had been donated, of how much we would be able to help some of the Sierra’s most remote villages. This was, without a doubt, the largest collection I had ever seen at ASF. Soon, however, happiness turned into panic. I had run collections before, but never anything of this magnitude. We only had one week to collect, sort, package and send off everything, and there were only five of us volunteering. I had never given much thought to what goes into running a school-wide collection. Now it’s almost strange to think about the process as a whole, how every single donation goes from a supermarket to a pantry, to an office at school, to a warehouse, to a sorted box or bag, to a truck, to a smaller truck and then, finally, from a helping hand to the hand of a Rarámuri mother, waiting to bring the items home. Every donation went from one hand to another, eventually traveling a distance of some 1,530 kilometers. As is often the case with donations, the process occurs completely behind the scenes, and only by experiencing it first hand did I realize how important it is to follow up with all those who donated – in other words, to give everyone an exclusive look “behind the scenes.” Every morning, as donations started piling up in the different school offices, ASF’s maintenance staff collected the items and brought them to a special storage room near the Transportation Center. Each afternoon, students separated and organized the arriving donations. María Teresa Olavarrieta, a former ASF administrator and founder of all Tarahumara efforts at ASF, explained to us that these Tarahumara families live in isolated communities, and that all items had to be packaged into individual despensas, one for each family. As I assembled these individual packages I thought about things I never would have considered otherwise. I learned, for example, that there is only one type of bag that doesn’t break, that both wheat flour and the corn flour for tortillas need to be protected, that assembly lines actually work and that it is impossible to remember where you left the

Sharpie you were using. I learned that once students get involved, they give their absolute 100 percent, and I realized exactly how dirty the floor of the ASF parking lot is. The work was hard, the sorting tedious, but by the end of the week, miraculously, more than 300 individual packages had been assembled, just in time for the arrival of a truck on Saturday morning. It simply could not have been done without the students who volunteered, the support of maintenance and the extensive involvement of Ms. Olavarrieta, as well as others such as Ms. Manola Giral, Ms. Cindy Webber and Ms. Miriam Canizal. Sorting and packaging is only a part of the process. There is also delivery. Consulting with the Red Cross and an officer from the Navy Secretariat, we found out that their collected supplies were not reaching the remote villages that ASF had traditionally helped. It is these villages that needed the most aid, and would remember ASF students. Thanks to the expertise of Ms. Olavarrieta, we were able to get a sponsor, and by Saturday we had a truck that would take all the supplies to the Sierra, free of charge.


Still, there were more things I hadn’t considered. One was the cost of gasoline, which would be considerable for a 12-ton truck traveling such a long distance. There were also the costs of the tolls, and overnight stays. Funds were raised at school to help cover these costs. Getting my hands dirty, carrying boxes and coordinating the process of collecting aid for suffering people was a life-changing experience. It gave me a new perspective on the effort and commitment necessary to make a project like this happen. It is only from a behind-the-scenes look at a process like this one that one can fully realize the extent to which people and volunteers want to change the world. I know students are looking forward to running this collection again next year and for years to come, though hopefully not under the tragic circumstances of last winter. By improving each year, and incorporating new ideas for the sustainability of the project, as well as the sustainability of these communities, ASF’s Sierra Tarahumara collection can make a real difference.

Fa m i ly f o r u m

Summer Setback? That two-month vacation can really have an adverse effect on a student’s academic progress. But it doesn’t have to. By Helen Kang, Upper School Student Activities Specialist


tudents at The American School Foundation often look forward to their summers – the traveling, the camp, the extra sleep, time to play video games and hanging out with friends and family. They’re also looking forward to what they will not be doing – no homework, no following a bell schedule, no getting up early. It’s an exciting time of endless possibilities. They are not usually thinking about learning. During this long stretch of usually unstructured time, some students experience little or no intellectual stimulation. As a consequence, they often come back having regressed in their reading and math skills, as well as having difficulty with the structured environment of school. ECC psychologist Amalia Noriega notes that some students, especially those who are only children, often return to school having lost social skills such as

sharing and taking turns. Middle and Upper School students often remark on how difficult it is to adjust to waking up early and doing homework on a daily basis. A common concern in our bilingual community is second-language skills. Several teachers from ECC to Upper School have noticed that kids who don’t speak English at home, or don’t have enough exposure to the language over the break, experience huge losses in vocabulary and even loss of sentence structure. In reverse, some students experience stress over losing the Spanish language. “When I was little, I would get nervous that I had forgotten Spanish because my whole family speaks English,” says sophomore Casandra Esteve, who often spent her summers in the United States. These regressions are referred to as the summer setback, the summer slide or the


summer gap. They are a concern to anyone in education. As first grade teacher Mary Guerrero says, “Most catch up within three months or a little more, but it does affect their progress over time.” Since language and reading are key components in how a child ingests new information, differences in comprehension levels at an early age can have a compounding negative effect over the course of several summers. In fact, according to an article entitled “The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achievement Gap” in the Phi Delta Kappan, an important professional journal for educators, research by Donald Hayes and Judith Grether in 600 New York City schools found that students who had initially lagged behind by seven months at the beginning of grade 2 were found to be behind by two years and seven months by the end of grade 6.

That article focuses on the socioeconomic reasons for the summer gaps, but ASF students are not immune to the summer setback. Many of our students do very cool things over the summer. “I would say 75% did something engaging, whether it be summer camp, traveling or visiting relatives or friends in other parts of Mexico and the world,” says a first grade teacher, who like many other teachers notes that “students who spend their summers speaking English come back much more confident and fluent in their thoughts and words.” “I noticed a bit more enthusiasm from the students who were active over the summer,” says third grade teacher Lauren Morgan. “They were more involved in classroom activities and class discussions.” Among the 60 students in the Upper School who responded to a survey, 90% of those with the highest GPAs reported having

little or no choices in their summer vacation activities between their ECC and 5th grade years. They do, however, report having had interesting summers. And in the end they don’t mind that they did not have that much of a choice. Many of them reported that they often attended camps or programs through the summer, and also read. On the other hand, students whose grades are in the middle or lower range reported having had more choices in their summer activities, including going to Disney World every year. Discussions about the summer sparked revealing conversations about what the goal of vacation should be. One parent said that for her it’s a time to get to know her son beyond the normal “send him off to school” routine. For some, the time should be spent mostly with family, or getting to know extended family the children cannot regularly interact with.


For others, it’s more about giving the children a break. No matter what summer vacation means for a specific family or teacher, what seems to come up over and over is how important it is that every child remain intellectually stimulated while having fun, whether through a program or traveling or simply reading. “If you do nothing but read, you would be at the top of your class,” says ECC teacher Lourdes Arroyo. So as you plan the summer, consider the intellectual side of things. If you’re a parent, you can encourage your child to read in his or her second language. You can enroll your child in a summer program. (If you’re an older student, you can ask your parents to enroll you.) If you’re staying in the city, perhaps this is the time for the family to get to know the city they live in – its parks, museums and maybe even community service activities.

f o c u s o n e du c a t i o n

Connect the Facts The IB Learner Profile urges students to be “knowledgeable” and to strive to be “communicators.” Sounds reasonable. But what does it really mean? By Kelly Arthur Garrett, ASF Parent

The biggest thing with knowledge is not going for the facts, but understanding how facts are connected. 32


n this series of articles in Focus about the International Baccalureate program’s Learner Profile, some of the traits we’ve explored seem counterintuitive at first, such as urging students to strive to be “risktakers.” Others, such as striving to be “thinkers,” are the opposite; they sound obvious and hardly worth pointing out in a list of educational goals and principles. The two traits we’ll be taking a brief look at here – “knowledgeable” and “communicator” – surely fall in that second category. Why (a parent, student or otherwise interested onlooker might ask) should anybody go to school except to acquire knowledge? And to – duh – communicate it? Okay, even ignoring for the moment that there are other reasons for school than “acquiring knowledge” – including everything that falls under the categories of social, physical and emotional development – there’s more to both of those traits than our casual definition of them. That’s especially true with knowledge, of which there’s an entire field of study, epistemology. As it applies to education, way back in the 1950s a work known as Bloom’s Taxonomy identified a dozen categories of knowledge that were pertinent to pedogogy. It’s a complex topic. Here’s what the IB Learner Profile says about knowledgeable students: “They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.” There are some key words in there: “Concepts.” “Ideas.” “Issues.” “In-depth.” “Understanding.” And there are some key words that are not in there: “Facts.” “Dates.” “Lists.” Put simply, there are levels of knowledge. Learning facts – memorization, basically – is the lowest level. It’s not that memorizing facts is totally useless; try solving math problems without learning your multiplication tables. But “knowledgeable” students go beyond that. “The biggest thing with knowledge is not going for the facts, but understanding how facts are connected,” said Lisa Keeler (’83), a language arts and social studies teacher in the ASF Middle School.

Knowledge is Meaning I talked with Ms. Keeler and Ivette Berentsen (’90), a Middle School art teacher, about how learning goals like striving to be knowledgeable and a communicator are applied in the classroom. That, after all, is what the Learner

Profile is all about, designed as it is to “focus the work of schools and teachers,” in the words of the International Baccalaureate. Seeking those higher levels of knowledge is the goal of ASF teachers, and it clearly influences their approach in the classroom. As it happened, Ms. Keeler had just been grading 8th grade essays about historical figures, which offered a case in point. “I told them I didn’t want a fact sheet,” she said. “I don’t need you to tell me what day somebody was born. I can look that up on Wikipedia. Tell me why I care about that person.” That same quest to connect knowledge with meaning applies to creativity as well. “If you give art projects a meaning, relate them to something that’s going on right now, make them part of the students’ lives, then they’re not just doing something to take home and hang on their refrigerator the next day,” Ms. Berentsen said. “By giving them a project with meaning, they take it seriously, they think about it and they plan it. They don’t just do what they already know.” So becoming knowledgeable isn’t much different in art class or history class, science or language arts. It’s getting information and then processing it, via analysis and synthesis. Ms. Keeler sums it up this way: “You take in information, put it together into a package, reinterpret it and then send it back out.”

Communicating Knowledge The “send it back out” part is where being a communicator comes into the picture. All the Learner Profile traits are interrelated, but “knowledgeable” and “communicator” especially so. Part of the link is good old-fashioned horse sense. If you don’t know anything, you don’t have anything to communicate. If you can’t communicate, it doesn’t do much good to have knowledge. But it’s more than that. The very process of planning effective communication not only requires knowledge, it also facilitates the gaining of that knowledge. Conversely, the achievement of true knowledge about a topic helps you communicate, because you’ve already engaged in some of the processes necessary for good communication, such as organizing thoughts, finding meaning and drawing conclusions. I see this in the work I do as an editor. When an article is not up to par, it is almost without fail because the writer has done little more than take a few facts and surround them with words. He or she is not communicating knowledge. He or she is not telling me why I care. It’s the same in the classroom. Good communication starts with having something 33

worthwhile to communicate. “It’s not enough for kids to stand up and talk about something they read somewhere,” Ms. Keeler says. “What are you going to do with it? Where are you going to take it? How are you going to affect the world with it?” In the arts, communication is essential. “It’s never just ‘Let’s paint,’” Ms. Berentsen said. “A requirement of every project I assign is that something must be communicated through what they create.” Of course, there’s more to being a good communicator than being knowledgeable. There are communication skills to master. And there are more skills to master today than there used to be, and more in an international school such as ASF than in others. Here’s what the IB Learner Profile says about those who strive to be communicators: “They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.” To be good communicators, then, ASF students need to master digital media (which most do happily), learn more than one language (or be lucky enough to grow up bilingual or multilingual) and work collaboratively. With so many options, choosing wisely which medium to use for any one communication project has become an even more important factor. But regardless of the format, the basic organizational skills associated with clear writing apply. “Writing is so essential,” Ms. Keeler said. “You need to understand structure, format, rhetoric, how to argue. You can’t just write off the top of your head.” The communication skills may be different in art class, but the same principle applies. “You have to plan,” Ms. Berentsen said. “You have to work with your teammates. You have to discuss it before you start. You have to have a sketch. Then you erase. You redo. You fix it. It’s not just a matter of imagining something and then creating it. There’s a process.” The IB Learner Profile traits like “knowledgeable” and “communicator” that ASF has adopted (through the Primary Years Programme in Lower School and the Middle Years Programme through the 10th grade) help to keep these ideas in the foreground. But they would exist anyway. Ms. Keeler said she remembers being challenged on these ideas as a student at ASF, before there was such a thing as IB. “ASF’s attitude is by nature compatible with IB,” she said. “Most teachers here are IB even if they don’t realize it.”

f o c u s o n e du c a t i o n Q & A

Two Distinguished Educators Patty Zamora and T.J. Hanes are the latest ASF recipients of the Apple Distinguished Educator awards. It’s an honor that brings responsibilities, as well as a golden opportunity to advance digital education.


Using technology in the classroom is so much a part of a teacher’s daily activity that many teachers don’t think about it any more than those in the past thought of the chalk and chalkboard they used to present their lessons. However, some teachers are pushing the boundaries of technology and are being rewarded for their efforts, both in and outside of the classroom. Two teachers at ASF, Patty Zamora and T.J. Hanes, were recently honored with the Apple Distinguished Educator award, joining last year’s winners from ASF, Juan De Luca and Hannah Rollwitz. According to, there are 1500 Apple Distinguished Educators, or ADEs, worldwide, “from the USA to Japan, Canada to Australia. And they all gather at the ADE on-line community (as well as in person) to collaborate on solutions to the global education challenges of today and tomorrow.” These ADEs are described as “early adopters of promising emerging technologies, pedagogical models and digital content,” and they share best practices by authoring authentic content, delivering professional presentation or conducting and publishing research. Upper School English teacher Guy Cheney recently had a chance to chat with ADE recipients T.J. and Patty. Here’s what they had to tell us about the ADE program. Focus: Has this award changed the way you do your job? Patty: Sure! As an ADE and a Google Certified Trainer, I feel a great responsibility to innovate and build community as well as to improve the quality of teaching and learning that goes on at ASF. My role as a digital literacy coach has given me the opportunity to influence and motivate other ASF teachers to become lifelong learners and risk-takers. My wish is that in the near future, every teacher in ASF realizes that we are teaching 21st century students, and therefore we have to step out of our comfort zone and learn with our students. T.J.: I have always had an interest in technology, promoting it with my peers and showing the students how their iPod Touch is much more than a music box. But I guess now my interest is widening to include the importance of using technology to promote creativity, and trying out some of the latest trends, such as flipping the classroom.

Focus: What are your positions at ASF? T.J.: I teach 5th grade at ASF as an English or homeroom teacher. Patty: I am a digital literacy coach. I help teachers offer a digitally rich environment where ASF students’ learning needs are met. I also provide one-on-one and group teacher trainings, group/grade level/subject area planning and integration and individual class integration ideas. Focus: How does one become an ADE? T.J.: Every other year, Apple holds Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institutes in countries around the world. They accept applications from residents of the country where the institute is held. Applicants must be professionals working in schools or non-profit organizations. The application includes a written portion and a two-minute video where applicants are expected to demonstrate why they are good candidates for the institute.

Focus: Flipping the classroom? T.J.: Flipping is a new trend where students watch video instruction at home and do a sample problem as homework, so the next day in class there is more time for differentiation and teacher guidance instead of whole-class instruction. After hearing what other teachers are doing with flipping the classroom, I started it myself. I think it is a great way to reduce the homework load and to give students the chance to see the instruction, the assigned video, as many times as they need. It allows parents to see the concepts and strategies being worked on in class. It helps differentiate; the students can be put into groups according to the results of the homework. And it reduces class instruction time, giving us more time to practice skills or challenge higher students.

Focus: What are some of the qualifications and accomplishments they look for? T.J.: Apple is looking for innovative teachers experienced with emerging technologies – including Apple, but not limited to it. Part of Apple’s marketing mission is, in its words, “to showcase authentic examples of what innovative faculty and visionary leaders are experiencing in their own educational environments.” The institute is a professional development opportunity for the chosen applicants, where they exchange experiences, projects and ideas, and collaborate with peers from around the country. After returning from the institute the professional development continues, since you are now part of a global community working toward developing content to improve teaching and learning worldwide through technology. If you are active in the ADE community, you will be asked to present your experiences at different conferences or future ADE institutes. Patty: We also provide Apple with input on the realities of integrating instructional technology into learning environments. ADEs around the world empower each other to expand the walls of the classroom and bring global experiences to classrooms everywhere.

Focus: Do you get any cool Apple discounts with the award? Patty: Some. I’m allowed to download certain apps for my personal use. All educators or parents get a discount when buying a MacBook or iMac through the Apple Store on-line for educational use. T.J.: I also received an awesome coffee mug!

With Google in London One of ASF’s former Apple Distinguished Educators has received another honor. Juan De Luca, a former digital literacy coach and now Extended Learning coordinator, was selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy in London this spring. For one intensive day, Mr. De Luca and other attendees will focus on strategies using Google technologies. As a result, Mr. De Luca will be a Google Certified Teacher. “Only 50 educators worldwide were chosen,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be representing ASF and Mexico.” 35

s t ud e n t v o i c e s


A senior reflects on what it will feel like to leave ASF. And on what it will feel like to come back. By Alina Aksiyote


fter 13 years at ASF, on June 2 of this year I, along with 165 fellow seniors, will be graduating. That morning, we’ll all put on our likely oversized graduation gowns, look in the mirror and feel ... oddly different. As an old timer, leaving ASF will feel strange to me. Even stranger, though, will be the experience of coming back, of returning as ... get this: an ASF alum. I’ll be attending class reunions, receiving my copy of Focus in the mail and visiting campus (while wearing the “Visitante” sticker, of course). Most important, I’ll be living proof of a generation; I’ll remember what ASF was like in 2012. It was only about a week ago that I stumbled upon proof of past generations, on an ASF alumni and student Facebook group. For the first time, I got a glimpse of what the school was like 30, 40, even 50 years ago. I saw students from the 1962 graduating class interacting, even if just on-line, with students from the class of 2012. With a school that changes so quickly, one that my friends and I joke is “always under construction,” it’s easy to forget that ASF has been around for more than a century. In just a few months, the school will be more changed than ever. The new Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center will give ASF teams an incredible space to play and practice in. And nobody could be more excited than I am about the state-of-the-art Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. Having been in ASF’s yearly drama productions since the fourth grade, I know what an asset this will be to the ASF community ... and yet, I still miss the old auditorium. My first performance was there, and I remember walking up its winding staircase in awe of the dozens of posters from past performances, posters students had designed themselves, proof that yearly drama productions were a tradition we had to uphold. The theater was small and simple, and yet there was something incredible about it. The stage was welcoming, the chairs comfortable, and the mess backstage felt like home. I’ve seen so many changes at ASF in the last 13 years that I can’t help but wonder what else will have changed by the time I come back. Will my second grade classroom still be there? Will the clubs I’m involved in still be around? What will it feel like when I do put on the “Visitante” sticker and walk through ASF again? I know the changes at ASF are for the better, but I have a genuine fear of coming back and feeling lost. As “great minds,” students need more than just “great spaces.” We need spaces we can feel a part of, spaces full of color and life. When I visit the Lower School classrooms and see the scenery for the fourth grade operas, the first grade classroom garden plots or the big painted turtle in ECC, it all comes back to me. I can see myself when I was little. There’s something unique about Lower School, something I can’t quite put into words. Maybe I’m idealizing the past, but there’s a kind of color and life in Lower School that the Upper School and even Middle School buildings are missing — a kind of warmth. The old Upper School had felt alive to me, with its unique hand-painted lockers, carpeted hallways, rotating ceiling fans and rare glass-case biology displays. These things had mattered to me, but were lost along the way, among all the big plans and construction.

But it’s not too late. The lockers could still be painted by students, the gray walls covered in colorful flyers. The lounge areas could have wooden tables with stacks of student newspapers, carpeting, an old comfortable couch. With the inauguration of the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center and the Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center, ASF has taken on a huge responsibility – the responsibility to keep memories of the past while still moving toward the future, to create spaces that aren’t just state-of-theart but hubs of student activity. Is the Fine Arts Center going to be a place where students can practice monologues they haven’t perfected yet? Can the students decide what artwork gets put up in the galleries? Is the gym going to be a place for a pick-up basketball game during lunch? Are the gym and theater going to hold traces of the students who used them? I genuinely hope that decades from now, I’ll be able to come back and see traces of myself at ASF. I hope I’ll still be able to see my Lower School classrooms and that turtle in ECC. But more to the point, I hope that every space at ASF has this same quality. I hope that every space will reflect the vibrancy and voice of ASF students. 36

institutional a dva n c e m e n t

Senior Class Gift Recruiters 2012

(Left to right) Bárbara Mendoza, Roberto Jones and Marcela Ruíz de Chávez, shown here with ASF Executive Director Paul Williams (far right), are the senior class gift recruiters for 2012. That means they serve as a liaison between their classmates and the school for a number of activities. They contact fellow students to promote giving and fundraising. They encourage leaving a legacy at ASF through a class gift. And they educate fellow students about the value of staying in touch with ASF after graduation as active alumni. Their role is critical, so ASF is providing its senior class gift recruiters with fundraising and communication tools, as well as with help in planning and other ongoing support.

Buy Your Paw Charm and Help the ASD

As a tribute to ASF and to support the Annual Scholarship Drive, we invite you to buy a paw charm. This charm embodies the spirit of ASF and our love for our community. For more information on how to get this charm, please e-mail

Check it Out!

The ASF Parent Association, represented by Parliamentarian Blanca Santacruz (left) and President Alma Rosa Rodríguez (second from right) recently presented a check for $100,000 pesos to ASF Executive Director Paul Williams and Michele Beltrán, director of Institutional Advancement, to benefit the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. This generous donation includes proceeds from the Art to Art auction and gallery sales at the ASF Art Fair last November. 37

a l u m n i p r o f i le

Let There Be Light Using solar technology, Manuel Weichers (’05) brings electricity to towns that need it. But what he’s really bringing is development. By Cindy Tanaka (’91), ASF Alumni Coordinator


SF alum Manuel Weichers (’05) has thought a lot about problems that trouble Mexico. He has also thought about how to put ideas into action to pull out these problems by their roots. After graduating, Manuel studied industrial engineering at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM). In 2007, he was part of the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Award and a co-founder of UNAM’s Sociedad de Energía y Medio Ambiente (SOEMA). In 2009, he partnered with seven other young engineers to promote Mexican technology and stimulate its use as a platform for social and economic development for Mexico. This is how his social enterprise, Iluméxico, was born. Iluméxico provides solar technology to rural communities in Mexico, helping to solve the problem of “electrical poverty.” Iluméxico also provides workshops for the understanding, use and maintenance of the solar technology system, and works in conjunction with community authorities to create projects that will benefit the community at large. Along with his partners, Manuel recognized the impact that energy access has on development. He started to incorporate activities to complement electrification with social programs. That experience made them realize that technology is a means to an end; the real goal is social development and improving the living conditions of the people they work with. In September of 2011, Iluméxico was selected from among 56,000 applicants to participate in Iniciativa México, a televised nationwide competition for NGOs and social entrepreneurs. As part of the program, Iluméxico was given the challenge to work on an education-related project in a small community in the state of Quintana Roo, with a limited budget and even more limited time

Manuel Weichers (left), with partners Gerardo Ruíz de Teresa and Mariana Astrid González, and project beneficiary Keila Pascual (second from left).

– one week. Manuel and his partners drove for 22 hours and reached San Pedro Cobá, a small Maya village with only 22 families. After meeting the village leader and the heads of the families, they found out that the closest electric line was eight kilometers from the village. For 15 years, the villagers had been requesting a grid extension. Every year they received the same answer – “Next year.” So they lived in the dark. They also had no school facilities, so teachers had to improvise a small space to give their classes. Manuel and his partners decided to build a school, and with the help of the village members, they succeeded in creating a proper educational space, using local materials. They also helped bring the villagers out of the dark for the first time. Through workshops and training sessions, they explained how they would acquire the solar equipment for their homes. Youngsters were taught how to install, troubleshoot and maintain the system. They were able to install the system in all 22 homes. “This was a wonderful project because we were able to see the entire village cheering along,” Manuel said. “The greatest 38

experience came when the village leader approached us and said how thankful he was for making their community unite and work together for the first time. We remember these words with a lump in our throats.” Iluméxico came in fourth place in the Iniciativa México competition. Manuel is convinced that energy is essential for development. But an important part of that, he believes, is working with the communities and providing them with tools to generate income, and to promote sustainable practices, gender equality, empowerment and leadership. “Rural electrification projects, technology transfer and infrastructure to combat poverty are the resources we have at hand to be able to work with the social fabric of rural communities so we can create local entrepreneurs, engage the populations in their development and motivate young people to study toward returning to their community and giving back,” he said. “Energy access must be used as an excuse to promote development where it is most needed. When that happens, the access will truly have an impact on eradicating poverty.”

a l u m n i i m p ac t

What’s Happening? Four ASF grads are making Mexico City’s staggeringly diverse cultural and entertainment scene more accessible to everybody. By José Segebre, ASF Communications Specialist


n 2009, four ASF alums got serious about what there is to do in Mexico City. Aware of just how happening the DF is and how little is done to provide information about it, they started coming up with ideas to present Mexico City in a practical and attractive way, in sync with today’s youth. “Soon after starting college, we realized that the DF is one of the most interesting cities in the world,” says Alonso Gorozpe (’06). “We also noticed that the events could be more widely known.” Alonso and three school friends, Alberto Tawil (’06), Iñigo Villamil (’05) and Mario Romero (’06), started an outreach project to help friends and foreign students discover less touristy places in the city. It soon became an on-line guide called Distrito Global. Its aim: to keep up with Mexico City’s hippest events. The recent ASF grads who co-founded Distrito Global had to come up with ways to support such a web page. The most natural to them was event production. They organized their first party in the Hotel Virreyes, once a very prestigious hotel in Mexico City’s Historic Center and now part of Mexico City’s ongoing downtown renovation. The hotel is renowned for hosting a variety of artists, writers and musicians. Theirs was far from the traditional

let’s-throw-a-party approach. “Our idea was to organize less conventional events in less conventional spaces, so we decided to intervene in the lobby of a hotel,” says Mario, who serves as the group’s commercial director, in reference to the Virreyes event. Besides the Hotel Virreyes, they have organized short-story readings in colonial San Ángel houses, a 1600-person event in the Museo del Juguete (Toy Museum) and a party in the former convent of Santa Teresa la Antigua, which now houses the Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual. Since they often bring people to spaces they would not normally go to, they help raise funds for the venues they use, while helping to further the mission of those sites. Soon enough their web site – – was up and running. It is simple and organic. On-line users are presented with rows of articles consisting of thumbnails and a preview of the text. At first glance, the site seems to offer little more than time, place and date, but like much in today’s world, more information is but a click away. The short features tend to be on the cultural side of Mexico City’s varied social spectrum. The Dr. Atl exhibition in the Museo Colección Blaisten in Tlatelolco is covered twice but from different perspectives and by two different contributors. 39

An important innovation of Distrito Global is how its site is sourced. On-line users are also content contributors and end up writing a majority of the features. The site invites readers to submit content for publication respecting a few but mindful journalistic conventions. Aside from this, it is open to the readers’ submissions. Just e-mail them. “With new technologies and new visions, there are more opportunities to become active participants of the world,” Alonso says. Distrito Global is a multifaceted enterprise. At times it provides the city’s hipsters, scenesters and partygoers with a very demanding agenda. At other times it helps synthesize and render digestible the variety of cultural events combining education and leisure, from readings and performances to visiting the Mercado Sonora and attending international symposia. As Mario says, “We would like to always remain on the one hand at the forefront of entertainment, and on the other, at the forefront of digital media, especially as it’s used for social projects. That’s where we are headed 100%.” In the new feature, “Impact,” Focus will look at ASF alumni who are engaged in social projects or are otherwise working to make the world a better place.

alumni events

Irapuato Team-Class of 2003.

Varsity Girls Team.

The 5 and 10k Run for Education is Right Around the Corner! There are three places you can register for the race: 1. Asdeporte webpage: 2. Registration booth Mondays and Thursdays, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., located in the Upper School hallway in front of the elevator 3. Alumni Office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Check us out on Facebook!

Leon Merikanskas (’93) Adriana Wallsten (’91) and Paul Williams.

The alumni classes that participated in the men’s category were: 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. A team of ASF coaches also participated this year, and reached the final against the Irapuato Team-Class of 2003. The teams that participated in the women’s category were: 1988, 2003, 2006, K3 moms and the ASF girls varsity team. The final for the women’s category was between the Class of 2006 and the varsity girls. Congratulations to the Irapuato Team-Class of 2003 and the varsity girls, the two champions. All the classes that participated in the tournament had a lot of fun and enjoyed seeing former classmates. Thanks to the Alumni Council, especially Mauricio Quintana (’00) and Leon Merikanskas (’93), for organizing this event. We hope to see you next year!

Another Exciting Alumni Soccer Tournament


he second annual ASF Alumni Soccer Tournament took place on Sunday, March 11, 2012, with great success. This time there were two categories with a total of 21 teams: 16 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams. The format was 7 vs. 7 with at least 50% of the team members required to be from the class represented. 40

a l u m n i m i les t o n es & IN Me m o r i a m

Jessica Gutiérrez-Hefner (’02) is engaged to her boyfriend of 12 years, Rodrigo Campero. Their wedding is planned for December 1, 2012, in Juriquilla, Querétaro. Their theme: “Starting a new path together and enjoying every minute of it!”

Hannah Rogers (’02), who is studying communications at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is engaged to Joshua Adams. Says Hannah, “We will be getting married May 6, 2012, the day after I graduate from ORU! We will be moving to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we will be taking a pastoral position at a church. We will be helping local communities by supplying food, clothing and education to families and young people in need.”

Where Are You? If you ever attended ASF, we’re looking for you! Please update your information by sending an e-mail to mx right away. We want to keep you up to date on all the ASF news as well as informed about upcoming alumni events. Keep in touch!

Leonor Huttanus Ward (’95) and her husband Salvador Álvarez proudly present their baby boy, Emilio Álvarez Huttanus, born March 8, 2012, at the ABC Hospital in Mexico City.

IN MEMORIAM As you comprehend this profound loss, let yourself cry knowing each tear is a note of love rising to the heavens...

Carmina Gaither (’60) Carmina “Kimmy” Gaither (Irueste) passed away on December 17, 2011, after suffering a stroke. She is survived by her husband Charles and her two sons.

John Robert McGarvey (’65) John Robert McGarvey and his wife Liz Morrell McGarvey unexpectedly passed away November 27, 2011, as a result of an automobile accident.


— Author Unknown

Ximena Osegueda (’91)

Bonny Rossetto

Ximena Osegueda, daughter of Carminia Magaña (’62), tragically died in Oaxaca in December 2011. She is deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know her.

Danielle Rossetto (’95) has informed us of the passing of her mother Bonny Rossetto, a devoted volunteer who worked at the ASF Art Fair and donated a piece of the Berlin Wall to the school. She passed away January 16, 2012, after three and a half years battling cancer.

a l u m n i class n o t es


Tracy Garza has been appointed to the LGBT Advisory Committee of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Congratulations!


A reunion organized by friends of Diana Anhalt took place to celebrate her birthday on January 30, 2012. Classmates from ’59, such as Nancy (Gast) Rocha and Phyllis (Schumacher) Hojel, celebrated with Diana along with other dear friends during a lunch at Carlo Shapiro’s house.


Miriam Camhaji (miricamhajia@ writes: “Hi!! It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from ASF. Although I’ve been in touch with a few of our classmates, it would be nicer to know more about you all. Let me tell you a little bit about me. I studied chemical engineering at the Universidad Iberoamericana, and then completed an MBA there. I currently live in Interlomas, in the Mexico City metropolitan area. I have

a wonderful 14-year-old son, David. My husband, Jorge Smeke, works at the Ibero as the dean of the business department. I work at Live Producciones, a corporate and social event production firm. There I’ve seen several celebrations of some of our classmates – Bar Mitzvahs and parties for their children. I figure that in no time I’ll start getting calls for weddings – not ours but out children’s weddings. I feel old just thinking about it! Facebook is a great tool for reuniting our class and staying part of the ASF community. However, many of our classmates are still not part of this community. I would love to hear from all of you!”


Allan Fis contributed the photographs to the new book Retrato en Voz Alta, a collection of interviews and photos of prominent artists, published by Aeditores. Among the artists featured are Leonora Carrington, José Luis Cuevas, Luis Nishizawa, Jorge Marín and Juan Soriano. The format goes beyond the traditional interview, consisting of intense and thoughtful conversations with the artists.

Diana Anhalt (’59) sits between friends Margo Torres (left) and Cindy Hawes at a birthday party in her honor. Standing (left to right) are friends Frances Bruton, Nancy Gast Rocha (’59), Phyllis Schumacher Hojel (’59), Adele Goldschmied, Michele Beltran, Sue Wolfe and Miriam Zajarias.


A class reunion is planned for the nights of June 7-9, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, with the theme “Class of ’65 turns 65.” Reservations at the Wigwam Resort are available for $99 dollars per night by calling 1-623-935-3811 or 1-800327-0396 from Mexico. Mention “American School Reunion” or the group code number AMS074. More information is available at the class web site,, created by Leigh Lockwood, or by calling Nena Gottfried Wiley at 1-623-935-3186 or Grant Brandon at 1-401-603-1955.


We will be celebrating our 40th class reunion in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, from August 3 to 6, 2012. To keep things simple, we are proposing that we use the Sheraton Buganvilias — site of the 30th reunion in 2002 — as the unofficial “headquarters” of the reunion. However, we are not arranging for a group rate; everyone will be responsible for making his or her own reservation. As far as other activities, our plan is to arrange for dinners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at local restaurants. During the day, folks could do their thing with their family and other classmates. The idea is to keep things simple! If you need more information or would like to confirm your attendance, please contact Laurie Silvan at laurie.


Paul Sipes, athletic director for the Wakefield School since 2005, was recently named the 2012 Athletic Administrator of the Year in the independent schools classification by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA). He was honored March 30 at the VIAAA State Conference in Norfolk, VA.


A 25-year reunion is planned for May 3-6 in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, at the Hotel Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort. For more information, e-mail Nora Sneider at


Adrián Justus visited ASF on March 13, 2012, after his successful violin performance two days earlier at the Centro Cultural Universitario, Sala Carlos Chávez, in conjunction with pianist Józef Olechovski.


A 30-year reunion is planned for June 15-17 in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit. All the information will be posted on Facebook. If you do not have an account, please get one at www.facebook. com and follow us at ASF Class of ’82. Adrián Justus (’88) with former ASF teacher Adele Goldschmied and Executive Director Paul Williams (right).


What Are You Up To? Let Focus be your way of letting the ASF community know what’s been going on in your life after you moved on from the school. Send information to mx. Don’t forget to include a photo!


Samantha Rogers studied international journalism in the UK, graduating with honors in 2010. Now she’s working for Condé Nast as content editor for Brides Magazine UK. ’97

In this photo, now a few years old, Gustavo Montes de Oca is pedaling a bicycle that generates the energy to run the DVD player on which he is watching a movie. Who’s watching him? Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall! This 1997 grad is onto something – pedaling can generate clean electricity and fight obesity.

’08, ’09, ’11

Jonathan Grabinsky (’08), Adriana Urdaneta (’09) and Clemente Dadoo (’11), along with other members of Mexicanos en U Chicago, an association of Mexican students attending the University of Chicago, have organized the conference Mexico Tomorrow: 2012: Ideas for the Future, which will take place on April 21 at the International House in Chicago. At the conference, issues affecting Mexico today will be debated, analyzed and reflected upon, and possible paths forward will be proposed, all in light of the upcoming presidential elections. For more information please go to:

Join with Kathryn Blair (’38) to Learn Mexican History And Help More Young People Get an ASF Education ASF alumna Kathryn Blair (’38) is an accomplished author who supports many of The American School’s goals as a community, such as increasing understanding between citizens of the United States and Mexico. In the interest of fostering a more productive U.S.-Mexico relationship, ASF has partnered with Kathryn to encourage the reading of her most recent book, Forging a Nation: The History of Mexico from the Aztecs to the Present. It is available in both English and Spanish. Kathryn has generously agreed to donate two dollars to the Annual Scholarship Drive for every book sold, thereby helping to give students whose families otherwise would not be able to afford it the opportunity to receive the best of American independent education. This special three-month fundraising project continues through the months of April, May and June. But you can get a copy of Forging a Nation: The History of Mexico from the Aztecs to the Present, right now. Just click here. Remember, when you buy a copy of Kathryn’s acclaimed book, you’ll not only be learning about Mexican history in a highly readable and enjoyable manner, you’ll also be boosting the Annual Scholarship Drive. It’s a win-win opportunity.


kids’ corner

Daniella Zaga

Antonio Amore

“Feathers in the Wind”







Andrea Parra

Students in T.J. Hanes’ 5th grade class wrote “concrete poems,” which take the shape of their subject, after a discussion of the folk tale “Feathers in the Wind.” The story shows us how you can’t take back something bad you’ve said about somebody, even if you want to. Words are like feathers in the wind; once you release them, they are irretrievable. Though the tale takes place in a village, the students’ experiences relate more to on-line communities, specifically cyber-bullying. Here are four great examples of the students’ work. Remember, since they’re “concrete” poems, you’ll have to keep turning your head around to follow the lines. Have fun!

Focus Spring 2012  

A magazine for alumni, parents, students, faculty & friends

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you