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Focus the american school foundation, a.c

| sPRing 2013

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


Spring 2013 02From the Executive Director 02Contributors 03From the Editorial Board 04From the Board of Trustees Introducing some of our writers

A special Founders Day address from Board Chair Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87)

05News & Events

Community service, new books from ASFers, Bear Boosters, teacher triathletes, dancing dragons, frisbee-flinging robots, Japanese calligraphy, ... and other goings-on around the campus

DIVISIONS & DEPARTMENTS Multi-generation family members from each division, the PA and the arts talk about their experiences at ASF in the past and today, as we celebrate our 125th anniversary

14Early Childhood Center 15Lower School 16Middle School 17Upper School 18The Arts 19Parent Association 20Athletics & Extended Learning Two Anniversaries, One ECC

CAMPUS CURRENTS Celebrating ASF’s 125th Anniversary


ASF IN THE CRYSTAL BALL What will we be like when we celebrate our 150th anniversary in the year 2038? By Kelly Arthur Garrett

25 28

A VIEW FROM THE TRENCHES How today’s Middle School students see ASF’s future FOUNDERS DAY 2013 This year’s event was something special

By Sloane Starke

focus on education


GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS Why we study economics, and why we have an Econ Fair By Bret Sikkink

Institutional Advancement


The Annual Giving Program, next fall’s 11th Annual ASF Golf Tournament, Take a Seat and The Run for Education

Alumni Profile


SANTIAGO KURIBREÑA (‘91) The Two Eyes of an Artist BY CINDY TANAKA (’91)

The Ongoing Lower School Experience

37Class Notes 38Getting it all together

The Middle School: Same... but Different

By Mark Maldonado (’77)

The Upper School — Then and Now

40In Memoriam

Art Across the Generations

Keeping in touch with the ASF family, far and wide

How to hold a successful reunion of your ASF class

kids’ corner



Many Ways to Serve

Family Fields



PARAQUOSTA A cautionary tale by Rebekah Christensen Artwork by Carlos Aiza and Mar Orozco

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On the cover: Lower School students celebrate ASF’s 125th Anniversary by spelling out ASF 125 on the Middle School Field. To see how they did it, click here for a video. Photo by: Marisela Sanabria

from the executive director

| contributors

Spring always brings renewal, in nature in general and especially

on our campus. Not only is it a time when we go into high gear to power through the last few months of the school year, but it’s also when we start to think seriously about the coming school year. We get ready to say goodbye to those in our community who are moving on — a fact of life in international education. We prepare to welcome new hires, new families and all the new energy they bring. Our seniors learn where they will make their new beginnings after leaving ASF. And, as always, we celebrate these transitions. Just imagine how many changes have taken place at The American School over the course of 125 springs (and summers, winters and falls). For all their wisdom in founding The American School back in 1888, I doubt John Davis and his mother-in-law, kindergarten teacher Bessie Files, had any idea the chain of events they were setting in motion. Still, somehow, they and those ASF “founders” who followed knew just how to guide the school through the many changes and new beginnings that are inevitable over such a long period, with such a diverse community of stakeholders. Our deep needs to connect with our past and to adjust and plan for what is new are what make years like this so important. Our 125th anniversary is a time to reflect on what and who ASF is — past, present and future. For an example of this, look no further than Founders Day. Founders Day, a tradition with a few years under its belt, looks back to the laying of ASF’s cornerstone in Colonia Roma, 89 years ago. This year, we heard the names and saw the photos of our founders, all while recognizing ASF’s up and coming leaders — the Founders Day award winners — against the backdrop of our new Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. How’s that for a combination of past, present and future? As I mentioned at the Founders Day awards ceremony, ASF didn’t have just one “founding” and we don’t think we have just one “founder.” In addition to John Davis and Bessie Files, our first teacher, many members of our community throughout history can be considered founders. In fact, some of you reading this are founders in spirit! We hope all of you feel that way about our school and your contributions to it. In that spirit, here’s to our heritage, our now — and our future. You have a big role in all of it. Paul Williams Executive Director

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Mark Maldonado (’77) (“Getting it All Together,” page 38) Mark Maldonado attended ASF from the fourth grade on, leaving in his sophomore year to attend boarding school in Pennsylvania and then studying at San Jose State University and earning his MBA at Golden Gate University. After a successful high tech career in Silicon Valley, he shifted his efforts to helping older adults deal with Alzheimer’s disease. He is also continuing his education, currently pursuing a master certificate in guitar as a distance student with the Berklee College of Music. Mark was an organizer of the successful and well-attended 35-year reunion of the class of 1977 in Las Vegas last year. He decided to write an article for Focus about the experience and what he learned from it to help other ASF alumni who may be planning reunions in the future. “I thought the success of our unique reunion should be shared with others so they too can enjoy a wonderful time with their cuates,” he says. “Moving forward, I hope all reunions continue to exceed expectations.” Rebekah Christensen (“Paraquosta,” page 21) Rebekah is a 12-yearold sixth grader at the Middle School who says her favorite thing to do is read. As her contribution to our Student Voices section in this issue clearly shows, she also has a talent for writing compact fantasy stories. “I wrote this piece because I really enjoy reading fairy tales and myths,” she says. Bret Sikkink (“Getting Down to Business,” page 30) Bret Sikkink teaches economics at the Upper School and organizes the twice-a-year Econ Fair on campus. His article in this issue not only explains the educational value of the fair itself, it also sheds some light on why the study of economics is so important for all students.

from the editorial board

FOCUS A magazine for ASF Alumni, Parents, Students, Faculty & Friends Spring 2013 Vol. XII | No. 1 | Mexico City 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

Welcome to another online “green” edition of Focus. Publishing online helps us save trees and keep costs down, but it doesn’t mean this season is any less important! As always, ASF and its community around the globe are alive with activity. As you surely noticed in our recent Winter 2012/2013 issue, our main focus right now is our 125th anniversary. The past few months have offered us many opportunities to celebrate our heritage. Included in our special anniversary coverage this issue: • On Founders Day, February 22, we remembered the important people from the history of our institution, and recognized students, a parent and a faculty member who carry on their values. This year’s program was extra special, with performances and an awards ceremony in our new Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. You can read more about all that on page 28. • On our Divisions & Departments pages, where you usually see letters and news from the heads and coordinators of different areas, you’ll read about past and present. Just one example — what was ECC like years ago, and what’s it like today, from the point of view of a parent and child? See pages 14-20. • And one of our most intriguing features in recent years — ASF in 2038. What will our school be like when our 150th anniversary rolls around? On page 22, an exercise in imagination and educated guesses. Of course, ASF doesn’t stop its day-to-day business to celebrate this amazing birthday, so we also have a look at what to some is business as usual, and to the rest of us is extraordinary. For example, grandparents (page 7), robots (page 8), policy talks (page 6) and Special Olympians (page 10) on campus, the art of sportsmanship among our youngest students (page 42) and the day our Upper Schoolers started talking like Shakespeare (page 13). We invite you to delve into this issue of Focus, in the hopes that it will bring you new understanding of ASF’s enduring values. Sloane Starke Editor-in-Chief and Chair of the Focus Editorial Board

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Board of Trustees Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87), Chair Catherine Austin (’78), 1st Vice Chair Jeffrey Scott McElfresh, 2nd Vice Chair Carla Ormsbee, Secretary Joan Liechty, Treasurer Aliki Botton de Elías (’85) César Buenrostro (’85) Murray H. Case Sara Craig Francisco Demesa Sebastian Fernández Steve Finley Fernando Franco Fernando Gutiérrez Ochoa Frances Huttanus Antonio Rallo John Santa Maria Otazúa Editorial Board Adele Goldschmied, Cindy Tanaka (’91) Clementina Aguilar, Michele Beltrán Paul Williams, Juan de Jesús Breene Editorial Staff Violeta Ayala, Director of Communications Sloane Starke, Editor-in-Chief and Chair of the Editorial Board Kelly Arthur Garrett, Editorial Consultant Daniela Graniel, Art Director Marisela Sanabria, Photography 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: 04-2008-111212240200102. 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

On February 22, we celebrated a very special Founders Day, marking ASF’s 125th anniversary. I was honored to speak at the event, and since not all Focus readers were able to attend, my words are reprinted here, only slightly edited for print presentation. Good morning everyone. My name is Rosa Pisinger and as chair of the Board of Trustees, it is my honor to welcome you today as we recognize our Founders Day Award recipients and their proud families. These honorees are living examples of the values of our founders — but we know all our community members work to live out these values every day. So we honor and thank each one of you. I would like to welcome the representatives of the American Embassy who are here today. I would also like to welcome the representatives from Fomento Educacional, the American Benevolent Society, Greengates school, members of our founding families, former ASF Board of Trustees members, our longtime partners and neighbors of the Baptist church, ABC Hospital, Juniper School, St. Patrick’s Church and Columbia School, as well as all our friends and donors who are here today. Today, we are celebrating 125 years of ASF. You can say this number rather quickly. 125! ASF was founded in 1888 by a group of American parents residing in Mexico who wanted to be able to offer their children the best of an American democratic education. At the same time, they were committed to instilling in their children a respect for their host country, Mexico. For a visual example of what ASF is and always has been about, let’s look at the logow. Throughout the school’s long history, its evolving logo has graphically represented the philosophical values that have made ASF strong. In the logo, the flags of the United States and Mexico come together to form a shield that represents union, tradition and strength — a partnership between two nations. ASF’s mission has always been clear: to educate students with the most modern and effective teaching methods used in the United States. As you know, effective democracies require educated citizens, individuals who are able to propose and promote change. This is something else that the three stripes in our logo represent — students in ASF are well rounded in academics, the arts and athletics. But these three stripes remind us of something else as well: ASF’s core values, which also reflect democratic values. They are: • Justice — The school has always instilled in its students the idea of working toward a world that is fair for all. • Understanding — The diversity found in this school lets students see different points of view, and accept different creeds and customs. As Mr. Patterson, ASF’s superintendent in the 1970s, used to say, ASF students are able to ignore differences. But when appropriate, they use those differences in cooperative and positive ways to strive for a better society. • Truth — The school has always taught its students the value of honesty, integrity and searching for the facts. As Mr. Williams likes to say, when we educate in truth, we teach students to have the courage to do what is right for themselves and the common good. So, going back to the number of years that ASF is celebrating … the number 125 makes us the oldest accredited American school abroad. Throughout all this time ASF has been a flagship for other international schools. And although 125 years have gone by, ASF continues to hold its leadership role among all other schools because of its ability to evolve. And thanks to our school mission and values, it evolves without losing its direction. Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87) Chair of the ASF Board of Trustees

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Run, Bike, Swim... and Teach ASF’s triple focus on academics, the arts and athletics applies to teachers as well. Earlier this school year, three Lower School staffers took the athletics part the extra mile – or rather the extra 51.5 kilometers. They participated in an Olympic-distance triathlon in Acapulco that consisted of swimming 1,500 meters, biking 40 kilometers and running 10 kilometers, one after the other. Following are some comments from these three hearty souls. Vail Hilbert, LS house dean: The night before the race, I discovered that the tube of my tire was flat. I was listless and heartbroken, thinking of all the hours that I had worked and trained to be physically ready for the race. In a last-minute effort to save my chances to race, my husband looked for a tube that would work. He returned with good news: “The tire is fixed!” The next day, the sun was shining, music was playing and I felt that familiar euphoria of the race-day atmosphere. I made my way easily through the water and onto the bike without much thought about the troublesome tire. During the run, high fives were abundant as we ran past familiar faces. I crossed the finish line with a personal record of three hours and six minutes. Only then did my husband admit that he had not found a replacement tube, but instead used duct tape to jerry-rig a tube to fit in my tire. So yes, ignorance is bliss and it sometimes leads to a personal record. 5 | Spring 2013

Without knowing it, Vail Hilbert finished the biking leg with an inner tube modified with duct tape. (Right) Diane Clement, Vail Hilbert and Sarah Weidman, with Alejandro Fernández at the Acapulco Triathlon.

Sarah Weidman, second grade teacher: It was my first triathlon in Mexico. What marked this one as different was 1) it took place in a different country, and 2), for the first time I felt a true sense of camaraderie with other passionate and smart colleagues. On the bike, I randomly asked another cyclist a question and after she answered she asked, “Do you work at The American School?” It turned out she was a parent of an ASF first grader. It was fun and inspiring to run into someone who shared a familiar place. As a teacher, I am proud to model for my students how my passions outside of school affect my teaching. Diane Clement, fifth grade teacher: As the race tension builds you have fears: What if I get a flat tire? What if my goggles leak? What if I panic in the water? But you practice replacing those fears with the excitement and the blissful power of the moment. What made the Acapulco race special was sharing it with my ASF co-workers. It was the kind of race where you get to scream out to your colleagues as they whiz by you on the bike, and high five them on the run. You realize at the end of the day, that your fear has been replaced by fun.


It’s Always Good to be on the Right Side Students in ASF art teacher Jason Schell’s architectural drawing class didn’t have to look far for inspiration for one of their recent assignments. The ASF campus provided plenty of material for an experiment in right-brain drawing exercises. The idea is for students to draw what they actually see, not what they think they see. “We all have in our mind an idea of what a flower looks like,” Mr. Schell explains. “But in reality every flower is different and not the same as the image we have in our imaginations. Right-brain techniques help us draw the visual world more accurately.” In this campus drawing project, students looked for interesting compositions around the Upper School. Then they drew them first on a clear piece of plastic, tracing the scene with a dry erase marker. This helped them render the angles, perspective and objects in correct proportion. Afterwards they copied their marker drawings in pencil to paper and worked on placing all the tones of black, white and gray into their art pieces. Here you see an example of the results by student Brandon Park. For more, click here.

Today’s MUN Participants, Tomorrow’s Global Citizens With the theme of “Energy and Revolution,” all Upper School students participated last February 27 and 28 in the annual ASF Model United Nations conference, playing the role of delegates representing countries as they debated current international topics in committees. After the conference, those students who are taking the Model United Nations class, with teacher James Kitchin, shared their research about how high school students can stay involved in these global issues. The MUN conference is a major annual event at ASF, focusing on helping students benefit from ASF’s mission of educating students to become “responsible, contributing citizens of the world.”

A Poetic Remembrance of Mexico From an ASF Community Member Diana Anhalt, whose involvement with ASF began as a student in the 1950s and continued for more than half a century of voluntary service to the school, including a period as a Trustee, has given us a nostalgic look at Mexico in her small poetry collection, Second Skin, recently released by Future Cycle Press. Her poems speak of coming to terms with her family’s abrupt departure from New York in 1950, of succumbing to Mexico’s magic, and ultimately readapting to life in the United States 60 years later. Thanks to the generosity of Boyd (Corky) Cave (’60) and Al Boyers (’60), more than 50 ASF graduates received a gift copy of the book. To find out more about this milestone poetry collection, and to purchase a copy, click here.

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Gringa, Ms. Olvera’s New Novel Retired ASF Upper School teacher Suzanne (Cane y) Olvera is at it again, publishing her new novel as an eBook on Gringa is the story of a woman from the United States who marries a Mexican man and has children, only to face the dilemma of what to do when the marriage falls apart. The book is available for download in English and Spanish. Ms. Olvera has written 19 books in recent years, covering everything from economics and gender issues to parenting and fiction.

Generations Coming Together It was another one of those special multi-generational days at the Early Childhood Center last February 12, when more than 600 grandparents and other beloved elders descended on campus to spend some quality time with the youngest of ASF students for Grandparents and Grandfriends Day. This year, the visitors were welcomed in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center with speeches from Horacio McCoy (’57), Laura Laviada and the event organizer Adele Goldschmied. They later visited their grandchildren’s classrooms, made Valentine’s Day crafts and participated in a sing-along. Some grandparents made donations to the Annual Scholarship Drive and were recognized with tiles on the wall of the ECC, depicting them and their grandchildren for posterity.

Celebrating Languages The Lower School celebrated Mother Language Week March 4 through 8, with parent-led classroom activities in languages other than English or Spanish. The special focus this year was on honoring Mexican indigenous languages. The celebration began during Monday morning’s Flag Ceremony, where the students listened to a group of children singing the Mexican national anthem in Náhuatl, the language of the Aztecs and the principal indigenous Mexican language. On Tuesday, the school welcomed an indigenous group who sang and entertained students in their native language of Purépecha, spoken primarily in the state of Michoacán. During the remainder of the week, parent volunteers from the ASF community came in to lead classroom activities in languages from around the world. Mother Language Week is an adaptation of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, an annual celebration since 2009. — Mia Barbee, Lower School ESL Specialist 7 | Spring 2013


Members of the ASF Robotics Club, along with GE sponsors and faculty advisor Jesus Servín (far left), assemble earlier this year around the beginnings of what would become a frisbee-tossing robot. Rafael Zardain and Ricardo Zúñiga are in the front row, third and fourth from the right.

A New Category of ASF Student Achievement: Robotics Recently, a number of ASF students flew to Las Vegas, bringing with them a mobile robotic device they had designed for the sole purpose of picking up frisbees and directing then toward a target at high speeds. Frisbee-flinging in the gambling mecca of the Americas may sound like a frivolous undertaking, but in fact the students were members of the ASF Robotics Club, many of them highly skilled in physics and engineering, and on their way to what’s known as the FIRST Robotics Competition. At this high-level event, student robotics teams from across the United States and much of Mexico compete with their robots, which must pick up the frisbees (no touching from humans allowed) and then send the discs toward a goal, all the while evading dogged and sometimes rather violent defensive tactics from opposing robots. This is the second competition for ASF. Last year, when the robots’ task was shooting basketballs, the ASF team received a newcomers award, quite an honor given that the club itself was only a few months old. Like many ASF clubs, its genesis was

student-driven. Now-sophomore Rafael Zardain, a robot buff since childhood and at the time not yet a freshman, approached an Upper School teacher about the idea and the club was born. The membership has grown from six last year to 23 now. Since its beginning, the club has acquired sponsors, notably GE, which also provides technical mentoring. Creating a relationship with these sponsors required organization and real-world communications skills. “We’re not all just science nerds,” says club member Ricardo Zúñiga, a sophomore and a self-described numbers guy. “Some of us focus on coming up with the money to assemble the robot and get to the competition. That means seeking sponsorship.” Another achievement of the Robotics Club has been to help overcome the C3PO stereotype of what a robot is. “Artificial intelligence has nothing to do with it,” Rafa says. “The textbook definition of a robot is a machine that uses mechanics, electronics and software to perform tasks. An airplane on automatic pilot is basically a robot.”

Blue Fridays If you hang around ASF teachers for very long, you may hear them talk about Blue Fridays. That’s not a reflection of their moods or a fashion statement. It’s just a way of referring to professional development days, due to their appearance on the school’s color-coded planning calendar. These are days when students stay home but teachers come to school and focus on their evolution as educators. ASF’s Center for Teaching Excellence plays a managing and facilitating role in the programming. This year in particular, technology integration has taken center stage, starting off with a bang as ASF hosted the Google Apps for Education Summit, the first ever in Latin America. Following the summit, teachers learned to use TED-Ed, YouTube and Khan Academy to “flip” lessons – allow students to start on a topic themselves at home – thus giving more time for interactive learning in classrooms. On another Blue Friday, teachers explored proper research tools and how to give attribution in a digital world. The motive: Protecting intellectual property. The Blue Fridays culminated on March 1 with a review of all topics covered this school year, with a focus on digital media production and publication, including digital storytelling.

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The Bear Boosters are Back! Over the last two years, the ASF Bear Boosters club has sprung back from a dormant period and organized a host of activities to increase school spirit at ASF and boost Bear pride. The renewed energy continues the non-profit booster club tradition of building a sporting community and developing global athletes. This school year, the Bear Boosters held the first Homecoming raffle, opened a coffee bar for those early Saturday morning Middle School soccer games and offered food and beverage concessions at varsity home football games and the ASOMEX basketball tournament. The club also rolled out a new line of ASF spirit wear, with ASF sweatshirts, Bear claw t-shirts and caps. Proceeds from the raffle and sales go straight back to the athletes, in the form of travel uniforms, for example. Students are also getting into the spirit of things. The first Upper School student Boosters Club was launched in the fall of 2012, with members participating at pep rallies and volunteering at the concession stands. Parents, alumni and other ASF community members can get involved with the Bear Boosters by contacting mx. You can follow the Bear Boosters on Twitter at @BearBoosters and “Like” its Facebook page.

Enter the Dragon

From top to bottom. Athletes or not, ASF students love the spirit sweatshirts made available by the Bear Boosters. Bear Boosters volunteers. ASF soccer players looking sharp in their with polos and jackets. Girls volleyball team members show off their new travel uniforms on their way to an ASOMEX tournament.

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On a campus known for its diversity, the Asian Club has for many years promoted Asian culture at ASF. Never has this commitment been more evident than one day last February when the club brought in an authentic Chinese dragon performance to entertain fellow students on the blacktop. The Chinese Lunar New Year, which had taken place just a few days before, is typically celebrated with this extravagant “Dragon Dance” that also features lions, considered in most Asian cultures as bringers of good luck, long life and wisdom. “We were at first a little concerned about whether people on campus would enjoy it or not,” said Asian Club member Han-A Chong. “But all our worries faded away when the magnificent dragon came out, with the band playing and everybody curiously staring at it.” The performers were from Alberto Rosas’s martial arts school that regularly offers these cultural displays. Assisting the Asian Club members in organizing the event were Janet Castelpietra, Gabriela García, Consuelo Novoa and Magy Álvarez.

News & EVENTS | community service

A Thousand Toys, a Thousand Smiles After ASF students, their families and other generous donors spent November, December and part of January bringing in toys for underprivileged kids in Mexico City’s Álvaro Obregón delegation, the big day came on Friday, January 11, when more than a thousand toys were given out to children who gathered in the Deportivo Gustavo Paz. The toys themselves were enough to brighten the end of the holiday season for the children, but the day also included games and music. A number of ASF students from all grade levels attended the event, helping distribute the toys and connect with the families there. The giveaway event, along with the Toy Drive that made it possible, is part of the school’s commitment to community service and providing its students with the opportunity to experience the joy of giving.

Hosting Something Special ASF opened up its campus on Saturday, January 19, for a very special event — the Special Olympics Mexico-Mattel 2013. The Special Olympics, an international movement, is designed for athletes with intellectual disabilities. More than 300 athletes of all ages took part in the games at ASF, including children under six who were invited to an exhibition event. The ASF campus was a perfect venue for the Special Olympics, which included basketball, swimming, volleyball, soccer and bocce. The opening ceremony took place on ASF’s newly renovated track. There was also a festival afterwards, with face painting, arts and crafts and more. Mattel Mexico sponsored the event for the seventh straight year, providing volunteers and organizational support. 10 | Spring 2013

PERSONAL PROJECTS ON DISPLAY The Lower School Multipurpose Room buzzed with excitement on February 8 as the sophomore class of 2012-2013 held the Personal Project Fair to share the results of their semester-long project with a wider audience. The Middle Years Programme Personal Project is the culmination of the students’ journey from sixth through tenth grade. They choose one of five Areas of Interaction as a driving force for their project, which they complete entirely outside of class time over approximately five months. The projects were as varied and unique as the 174 members of the sophomore class. Three Areas of Interaction stood out: Human Ingenuity, Community and Service, and Approaches to Learning. The projects ranged from writing a short story, analyzing golf swings and building simulators to designing an eco-dress. “How we relate to our environment and others” was a predominant theme. Talking to students, it was obvious they worked hard on what they were truly passionate about. Here are just three examples: • Victoria Merino produced a short video about the effects of bullying in an effort to generate and maintain positive relationships in her community. • For his project, Pablo García wrote, directed and edited a short film about how relationships change as we grow older. “The Giving Tree is a minimized version of the relationships you create as a human being,” Pablo said. “These relationships are a big part of your life as a teenager, which makes the book much more important to me.” • Eva Sanchez wrote her first novel, Wings. In it, Angel, the main character, manages to escape the harsh realities of his daily life through artistic expression. The creative and inspirational projects intrigued visitors. “It was wonderful to see the results of their months of hard work and to witness how each young person is beginning what may be their career or life path: the technology people, scientists, artists, philanthropists,” said Margarita Tarragona, an ASF parent. “It was especially moving for me because that morning I walked to the Multipurpose Room though the PA Plaza where there were pictures drawn by Lower School students. Tenth graders come a long way during their years at ASF!” — Sakina Brik, MYP Personal Project Coordinator

ASF Debaters Shone for Team Mexico At the World Championships in Turkey The globetrotting ASF debaters helped Team Mexico turn in its finest performance ever at the recent World Schools Debating Championships in Antalya, Turkey, where five ASF students participated as the majority of Team Mexico’s members. Julio Meyer (captain, 2nd year), Diego Cepeda (2nd year), Ariel de la Garza (2nd year), Chris Dickson and Patricio Dávila filled five of Team Mexico’s seven spots and advanced to the elimination rounds on a 7-1 winning record. They beat 12th-ranked India and two other higher-ranked teams to finish in 7th place overall. Diego Cepeda finished as the 14th best speaker overall, Julio Meyer as the 23rd best speaker and Ariel de la Garza as the 35th. Diego was also named the #1 overall best ESL speaker and Ariel 5th best. These students had prepared on weekends and holidays over the previous eight months, researching and debating global events past and present in order to compete for Mexico against 49 other countries in the pinnacle of international debate competition. 11 | Spring 2013

Team Mexico with ASF teacher and debate coach Mark Webber at the World Schools Debating Championships in Antalya, Turkey.


Calligraphy, Philosophy and Responsibility

A New Apple Distinguished Educator

Contact with practicing artists gives students a chance to see for themselves how art can become a lifelong pursuit and a possible career option. But it also lets them see how art shapes our lives in unexpected ways. A recent visit from the Japanese calligraphy master Vicente Yamazaki showed Upper School AP Art History students how Buddhist thinking in the art of ink painting involves a philosophy of life and a way of finding balance. The master demonstrated how to hold the brush and dip into the ink, but he also spoke about balance and self-control, using diagrams and graphics to explain to students the importance of respect and tradition. He asked them about their ancestors and spoke about their responsibilities for the future. Mr. Yamazaki gave each student a gift of one sheet of paper with their name painted in Chinese characters. Then he gave them ink and brush and asked them to try to copy their names on another paper. The difficulty they experienced was part of the lesson, which was to respect the practice and skills required to master any art. He helped each one to sit correctly, to hold the brush upright and to breathe. The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience and came away with a new appreciation for the art of calligraphy and for Buddhist philosophy.

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program dates back to 1994, when the company began recognizing K-12 and higher education pioneers who use Apple products to transform teaching and learning. Today the ADE Program has grown into a worldwide community of more than 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom. ASF’s Tracey Bryan was selected as one of 11 Apple Distinguished Educators from Mexico for 2013. She will attend the ADE Institute in Austin, Texas, this July to be trained and begin collaborating with ADEs from Canada, the United States and Mexico. Lower School teacher T.J. Hanes, an ADE from a previous cohort, was also invited to attend.

—Pat Patterson, K-12 Visual Arts Coordinator

40 Days Well Spent From January 14 to February 22, 13 ASF teachers and staff members committed to daily yoga and meditation practice, and to discuss “excavation questions” intended to prompt self-reflection. It all happened during early-morning sessions held on campus called “40 Days to Personal Revolution,” based on the book and program of the same name created by the master yoga teacher Baron Baptiste. How beneficial was the program? Upper School Head Amy Gallie puts it like this: “Partaking in a personal revolution made me realize that the first hours of the day are sacred and set the tone for everything that is to follow. Instead of starting the day by drinking two cups of coffee and answering 17 e-mails, I learned to begin it with meditation and green tea. Without a group to encourage this change in habit, I never would have even considered it.” And this from teacher Jennifer Jindrich: “The program is a wonderful way for teachers to put into practice healthy habits, which translates into healthy modeling for our students. I have incorporated some yoga positions and meditative practice into our school day and the students love it. I think, too, that it fits in well with the IBPYP philosophy.”

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BEARS FOR THE BARD: ASF ACTORS SHOW OFF THEIR TIMELESS TALENT Twelve talented US drama-lovers recited Shakespearean sonnets and soliloquies last March 11 at the annual ASF Shakespeare Competition held in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center on campus. Nancy Recio and Marcela Breton, who performed scenes from As You Like It and Twelfth Night, respectively, were chosen as the two best actors at the competition, and went on to represent ASF at the 11th Annual Anglo-Mexican Alliance Shakespeare Competition at the Teatro Helénico. The other ASF actors were Stephanie Vondell, Daniela Jessurun, Ana Lucía Gutierréz, Iván Guerra, Giuliana Besa, Sarah Herrera, Alice Kanitz, Ana Duclaud, Miriam Vela, Rodrigo López and Ana McCausland. All are pictured here (not in any order) during their performances. The works selected by the students for their performances included comedies, tragedies and historical plays. US teacher D.J. Hamilton served as advisor and acting coach for the ASF competition, and once again the British Shakespearean actor and longtime Mexico resident Stuart Cox provided coaching. Others involved were Cultural Affairs Coordinator Canek Vázquez, English Department Chair Guy Cheney, teacher Debbie Ramón and Lucía Ocejo. The judges were Kristen Dixie, Christine Hill and Megan Ver Duin. The first-place winner in the citywide competition was Alejando de Hoyos, from the Instituto Educativo Olinca, second place went to Patricia de la Garza from the Modern American School, and thirdplace to Regina Ríos from the Prepa Ibero.

13 | Spring 2013

divisions & departments | early childhood center

Two Anniversaries, One Early Childhood Center Ken Ohara (’98) and ECC student William Ohara


en Ohara and his son William Ohara have both experienced major ASF anniversaries as students — Ken in the Lower School in 1988 for the centennial, and William as an ECCer during the current 125th anniversary year. Ken, a true old-timer, spent 14 years at ASF that started with K1. But he and William are by no means the only family members to attend the school. William, in fact, is the seventh Ohara enrolled. Ken, Tami (’02), Daniel (’09) and Emi (’10) (siblings); Koji and Arianne (Ken’s cousins, who are still there); and now William. “Back in the 80s my parents enrolled me in ASF’s Kinder to give me a head start on life in a free, creative and happy environment,” Ken says. And now William is there for the same reason.



Ken (shown here with friends in the ECC circa 1985) says his recollection of Kinder is “fuzzy” — after all, he was only five — but some memories still stand out: Of school letting out: “I remember sitting on the little benches by the Kinder exit. Whenever school let out there used to be a lady with a loudspeaker that would announce kids’ names when they came to pick them up.” Of drawing a picture of his mother: “Right before Mother’s Day we were all tasked with drawing pictures of our mothers. I was trying hard, and in my opinion doing okay... until I got to my mother’s hair. She had straight hair, and in picturing her hair literally straight, I remember drawing it straight up. That got quite a laugh from my teacher. Still she made me start over, and helped me with the hair.” Of naptime: “I remember we used to have obligatory naptime in Kinder.” Of a teacher: “I remember having a teacher named Miss Peggy, and calling her Miss Piggy, and sincerely being confused as to what the difference was.” Of his studies in ECC. “I remember trying to do well in school. But I also remember being in academic trouble (if that’s possible in Kinder 2!) and thinking I was going to ‘fail’ the grade. I studied with my mom in the afternoon, using flashcards to learn words like ‘car’ and ‘red.’ And I remember the giant sense of accomplishment when I was told I had improved.” Of girls: “I remember Manuela and Iliana chasing the boys around the sandbox pretending to try to kiss them. And I remember the boys running and screaming but secretly wishing to get caught.” Of ages: “I remember thinking of the world in the context of being 5, thinking my friends then would be my friends forever, and that 12-year-olds were soooo old.”

ASF alums! Do you have memories of your days in the ECC? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus. 14 | Spring 2013

William (shown below celebrating his birthday earlier this year) has the good fortune of attending the same ECC as his father did more than a quarter of a century earlier. As an ECC parent, Ken can’t help but notice some changes that have taken place in the ECC over that period: The names: “It was called ‘Kinder,’ not ‘ECC,’ in those days and in my heart I will always think of it as Kinder. Additionally, what was then K1 is now K2, and what was then K2 is now K3.” The Turtle Patio: “Of course I remember the famous turtle, but I’m pretty sure there used to be a sandbox next to it. The little bathroom in the Turtle Patio is the same.” The installations: “Everything that is now K1 was, until very recently,

general administration offices for ASF. The gym didn’t exist, and in fact, I’m not entirely sure we had a formal PE program. You could still park on that block in those days.”

divisions & departments | lower school

The Ongoing Lower School Experience Patty Montes (’92) and Michelle Velarde, 4th grade


etween ASF’s 100th anniversary in 1988 and this year’s 125th, Laura Patricia Montes has been an ASF student, alumna, parent and teacher. Today she’s a fifth grade teacher in the Lower School where her daughter Michelle is in the fourth grade. Another daughter, Natalie, is in the seventh grade at ASF. Teaching at the same Lower School she attended is of course a special experience for Patty. “I remember all my dedicated teachers who taught me my love for learning and who motivated me everyday,” she says. “I am lucky to get to work with some of them.” For Michelle, just being at ASF is exciting. “I like being a student at ASF because my classes are very useful and interesting and all my teachers have been very nice and helpful,” she says. “I love my school!”

Memories Patty (shown here as a young student) attended ASF from K1 through her graduation in 1992. “As I walk through Founders Garden and into Lower School, I reminisce about my days here as a student,” she says. Here are some of those reminiscences: About the classrooms: “They were bigger then since we didn’t have as many groups as we have now. I remember sitting at long wooden tables with our names on them.” About assemblies: “We didn’t have Opera or Exhibition but we had an assembly every year, and had fun preparing for them.”

About field trips: “I don’t remember going to camp during elementary but I do remember going on field trips to different museums across the city.” About deans and houses: “We didn’t have deans back then. If you misbehaved or had a problem you would solve it with your teacher or with the principal, who, as I remember, was quite strict. We didn’t have houses but we still built community in many other ways.” About the library: “The loft was already there and we could go up and enjoy reading there.” About technology: “We had computer class! I’m sure our kids would laugh for hours if they took a look at the computers we had to use. We stared at a black

Then and Now “Some things have changed of course but the essence of ASF is still there,” Patty says. Here’s how Patty and Michelle (pictured here) see some aspects of Lower School life: Patty on research: “There was no Internet so if we had to research something we had to do it in the library. The library worked with a Kardex system, which we were taught to use in order to find the book we wanted.” Michelle on research: “We are now using our electronic devices in class and it is very good because we are learning to use different tools such as Google Docs and KidRex to do research.” Patty on music: “We couldn’t choose which music class we wanted. We all went to the same one and we all learned to play the recorder.” Michelle on music: “I like the new music program because we not only learn how to read music but we also learn how to play the instrument we choose. I am learning how to play the violin!”

15 | Spring 2013

Patty’s dedication to teaching her students is all the greater for having been one of them a few decades ago. “I now come every day in hopes of transferring everything that ASF has given to me to my students,” she says. “I want to help them feel proud, as I am, to be part of the ASF community.”

screen moving a blinking green cursor and typing in commands. They were of course the best equipment we could have at the time.” About lunch: “We had lunch in the PTA area and we ran and played in both gardens, the ABC field and the soccer field. The soccer field had two slides and monkey bars to play on so it wasn’t all about soccer.”

ASF alums! Do you have memories of your days in the Lower School? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus.

Patty on PE: “A lot of our PE classes happened in the area where the Multipurpose Room is now located, but we didn’t have that building. Instead, we had concrete basketball courts and the sun was always heavy there.” Michelle on PE: “PE helps you try out different sports to help you decide which one you like best and it helps you learn about sportsmanship and rules while having fun.” Patty on recess: “Recess was fun! We could run around, make new friends or just talk. It was fun making new friends because there were always new kids coming from other interesting countries.” Michelle on recess: “I love spending time with my friends during recess and being able to work with them in class as well. My classmates are very nice, cooperative and kind.” Patty on learning: “Although we did not call it ‘inquiry’ at that point, we had to be critical thinkers and we were constantly asked to think outside of the box. We went through learning experiences and engagements long before anyone in Mexico knew what these meant.” Michelle on learning: “The units in PYP are very interesting because you learn a lot about different things and the projects are fun to do.”

divisions & departments | middle school

Memories When Anacecilia, pictured here with her father Victor (’48), stepped up to ASF Middle School, Luis Echevarría and Gerald Ford were the presidents of Mexico and the United States. She has some fond memories of: Sports: “We did have PE on a regular basis with access to the big gym, the tennis courts, the open-air swimming pool and the fields. But after-school activities were only for the high school.” Camps: “When Julia asks me if we had camps when I was in Middle School, I always reply that I’m sort of glad we didn’t. My parents wouldn’t have let me go!” The library. “The MS didn’t have its own library, but we were welcome at the high school library. There was a very complete audiovisual library we could use and check out material as well. We did this through the Learning Center, located where the nurse is now. There was also an audiovisual room by the ramp where whole classrooms from all the schools could see movies. Just talking about this obsolete technology makes me feel old!” Sewing. “One of the electives I remember the most was sewing. Imagine a room with a sewing machine on each desk – not the compact white ones on the market today, but the big, gray, old-fashioned sewing machines. The teacher was Ms. Marentes, mother of our current Board of Trustees President Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87). We had to make three garments per semester. We would choose a pattern, choose the material and buy all the supplies. There were no boys in sewing class. They took shop.”

Changes “The Middle School back in the mid 70s at ASF was a fun school to be at,” says Anacecilia. “As students, we had the best technology available, great sports facilities and great curricula taught by great teachers. So, in a sense, nothing has changed.” But in another sense, a lot has changed. Here’s how Anacecilia and Julia (shown here) see some differences: Anacecilia on stepping up: “For starters, the sixth grade was considered part of the Lower School then, and it was called Elementary School. So the Middle School in my time was just the seventh and eighth grades.” Julia on stepping up: “When I started sixth grade in the Middle School, it felt weird. But I’ve only been here about five months and now it’s the Lower School that feels weird.” Anacecilia on the academics: “I have noticed that the school is academically more challenging now. I was president of the Middle School Honor Society, but maybe that’s because the school wasn’t as hard then as it is now!” Julia on the academics: “Middle School is fun, but hard academically. My classes are challenging. We write a lot and we read a lot of books. Making models can be hard too because sometimes I and my partners on the project can’t decide what to do.” Anacecilia on lunchtime: “We didn’t have this great indoor area we have now. The girls would sit and eat lunch on the bleachers, on the grass or on the edge of a window. The boys? Well, boys played soccer.” Julia on lunchtime: “At lunch we talk, we eat, we chase each other around.”

16 | Spring 2013

The Middle School: Same... but Different Anacecilia Pérez Vargas (’81) and Julia de la Fontaine, sixth grade


arrying out the best tradition of ASF alums, Anacecilia Pérez Vargas stayed involved with the school after graduating. She was active with the Alumni Association, worked briefly as a substitute teacher and participated in the capital improvement project that led to the construction of the current Middle School building in the early 1990s. That means Anacecilia and her daughter Julia de la Fontaine (a current sixth grader shown here with her mother and father John de la Fontaine at the Founders Day celebration in February) attended different Middle Schools, at least in the physical sense. “Middle School classes were held in the old building, which we called the new building, in classrooms that ran single-sided along the baseball and football fields, going all the way to the bleachers,” Anacecilia recalls. “The Middle School office and the cafeteria were at the uppermost right corner of the entire ASF premises, so we used to walk a lot. And I mean a lot.” Since 1993, it’s been a different story. “Now that Julia is a Middle Schooler, I can see first hand what a great project this building is,” Anacecilia says.

ASF alums! Do you have memories of your days in the Middle School? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus.

Ricardo Ávila Álvarez (’11)

divisions & departments | upper school

“The most significant recent advancement is that everyone is now connected through the Internet and how that has facilitated education and social interaction.”

The Upper School Then & Now

“One thing that is the same now as when I was there is how the teaching objective is still to make ASF students worldwide citizens.” “If I were placed back in my parents’ time, I would be more lost than a compass in a washing machine. There wouldn’t be any way to be updated on current events, and my social interactions would be vastly limited.” “My fondest memory of the Upper School is simply waking up and being able to enjoy going to school. Although most people see school as an obligation, attending ASF was more of a privilege. Because of the highly qualified teachers and the seemingly infinite resources, education at ASF is more than just an in-class experience. ASF not only made me a better person, but also a better student.”

Ricardo Ávila de la Torre (’80), Mónica Álvarez González (’80), Ricardo Ávila Álvarez (’11), Mónica Ávila Álvarez, sophomore


Ricardo Ávila Álvarez was on the soccer team in his senior year. He’s number 27 in this photo, in the middle in front of number 13.

his is a photo of the Ávila-Álvarez family from 2006. The kids have grown a bit, but they still have one thing in common – they’re all ASF grads or students. In fact, the family’s connection with ASF is extensive, and includes multiple generations of students, former teachers and a current staff member. Ricardo Ávila and Mónica Álvarez graduated together in 1980, and their son Ricardo in 2011. Daughter Mónica is in the 10th grade and son Pablo Ávila attends the Middle School. We asked both Mónicas and both Ricardos, as former and current Upper School students, to share some thoughts with us about the Upper School then and now – how it has changed and how it hasn’t.

ASF alums! Do you have memories of your days in the Upper School? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus.

Mónica Ávila Álvarez (10th grade) “An advancement I like at the Upper School is the amount of new electives. Students get to decide which classes to take and that allows us to do something we are interested in. For example, in my case it’s creative writing.” “I think I would have had more freedom in general if I’d attended the Upper School in my parents’ day. They could bring their cars to school and they had more free time.” “My memorable moments have always been with my friends — just hanging out with them every day at lunch, having that relaxing 30-minute break. Great things happen at lunch. It’s a time when we release our energy and we are happy and having fun.” US friends on campus earlier this year. That’s Mónica, second from the right.

Ricardo Ávila de la Torre (’80) “The care and support for students to help them achieve academic excellence has increased since I was there.” “One thing that hasn’t changed at ASF over the years is the multicultural environment. Another is that the school continues to help students develop reasoning capability rather than fact memorization.” “My entire 14-year experience at ASF was simply unforgettable – the classes, the great teachers and my friends. And there were the extracurricular activities like being on the tennis team, the Model UN, the oratory contests and a trip to the state of Chiapas.” Ricardo Ávila de la Torre (left) with his future wife Mónica Álvarez (middle) and a friend during a school trip to Chiapas in 1980.

Mónica Álvarez González (’80) “The US is more demanding now in academics and attendance. The IB and AP programs are fairly new to school and are very significant. Extracurricular activities, sports and clubs have always been present at ASF, including my time. The Art Fair, the Model United Nations and the Back-to-School Night are still alive. “If I attended the ASF Upper School today my learning experience would be more rounded and fuller. My understanding and interpretation of the world would be clearer and more accurate to the minute. I would know more and understand better.” “The Upper School continues to support the growth of its teachers, staff and students in an inclusive environment. The pride and sense of belonging to ASF are still present.” That’s Mónica on the left in 1980, sitting in front of the US office in what’s now a garden.

divisons & departments | the arts

The Arts at ASF — Then We asked Andrés, pictured here as an ASF senior in 1981, to tell us what comes to his mind when he thinks about his art studies at ASF. Here are his quick comments: “Back in the 80s, ASF had a very complete and impressive arts program, more so than any other school in Mexico.” “The art teachers were extremely well trained and very kind to us students.” “At ASF, I was taught many skills in sculpture, drawing and painting. The art room was one of the most attended and vibrant areas in the school.”

Art Across the Generations Andrés Siegel (’81), Marc Siegel, eighth grade, and Diana Siegel, fifth grade


t’s no surprise that eighth-grader Marc Siegel and his fifth-grade sister Diana are involved with the arts at ASF — Diana right now with ceramics and Mark with drawing and sculpture. Both their parents are art historians. And their father, ASF graduate Andrés Siegel (pictured above), had studied art at ASF before going on to a career in art. Andrés is an art dealer, owner of a gallery specializing in 20th century Mexican art, court appointed art expert, advisor to many institutions and an active lender to museum exhibits in Mexico and abroad. He has also participated many times in the annual ASF Art Fair.

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The Arts at ASF — Now At ASF, Marc and Diana (pictured here) are continuing the Siegel family’s dedication to the arts. Here are a few comments from them and their father about ASF’s current arts program. Diana: “Art has played a central role in our lives beginning with our grandfather Phillip who has been an antiques dealer for over 50 years.” Mark: “The subjects taught in class are very relatable and we are constantly exposed to new forms of art.” Diana: “I like making art. I have taken ceramics class since last year. I have also made some things for exhibits.” Mark: “We do have a lot of opportunities for showing our work.” Andrés: “I see great talent in many of the students at ASF today, with great results.”

ASF alums! Do you have memories of your arts or music studies at ASF? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus.

divisons & departments | parent association

Many Ways to Serve Parent Association volunteers often have ties to previous ASF generations. For Marissa Russell (’92) and Verónica Aguilar (’92), both ECC coordinators for the PA, those connections are special. Clementina Peñaloza de Aguilar

Larry Russell

Marissa Russell Marissa, shown here wearing jersey #4 on the 1992 girls basketball squad, graduated that same year as an old-timer. Her husband, Alfonso Rendón, is also an old-timer from that same class. Their two children, Antonio and Andre, are in the first grade and K1 at ASF. Marissa offered us some observations about ASF from the point of view of a former student and current PA volunteer: “Everything about ASF was memorable. I loved to be part of the sports, the electives, the science labs, the arts and so on. This is the reason my children attend now and why I am so active.” “The social aspect was very important. My best friends are still alumni and we all keep in touch. There is a special bond that ASFers have that not many schools share. ASF is also where I met my husband and I am forever grateful.” “My father would have really enjoyed the new theater and the advantages the Fine Arts Center gives our children for the arts.” “My father taught here at a different time in history. There was less stimulation and fewer expectations. It was simpler and you stayed closer to ASF to be close to your friends and community.” “What has stayed the same about the PA is the amazing heart of the volunteers, who spend so much of their time and money to enhance their school and community.”

19 | Spring 2013

Marissa’s father, seen below on the left leading the band, was ASF’s musical director from 1977 to 1985. “It was a wonderful time for music at ASF when he was here,” says Marissa, who was an ASF student during those years. “Today, ASF has once again given importance to music, art and theater in the daily activities of the children.” When we asked Mr. Russell for comments, he did what any proud dad would do – he talked more about his daughter than himself: “I remember awards night, 1992, when a coach said ‘If an athletic coach has one student during his or her career like Marissa Russell, that career has been a success.’ Marissa was a unanimous choice for the Best Athlete Award for her graduating class.” “Marissa was the English valedictorian for her Middle School graduating class and the vice president of the High School Honor Society.” “What has stayed the same at ASF since my time are the high scholastic standards.”

Verónica Aguilar Vero, as she’s known, attended ASF since Kinder, as we can see in this photo from the 1970s. As an active volunteer with the PA, she sees her two children, Diego in second grade and Alejandro in K3, most days at school. “It’s hysterical to see them in some of the classrooms I once used,” she says. “Like the Lower School computer lab today was my first grade classroom.” Here are some more of Vero’s observations: “Without a doubt my graduation was my most memorable moment. But now as I live through my children’s ECC and Lower School years, I’ve come to realize how important that stage was for me too.” “I like to believe our community strength remains the same. There are different faces and new projects, but I believe what differentiates ASF from other institutions is our giving community of students, staff, alumni and parents.” “I still identify with all those wonderful women who were part of the PA in the past – like Linda Litchi, Rosita Tanaka, Amalia García Moreno, Miriam Zajarías, Amanda Abizaid and of course my mom! With the massive amount of work they put into their events, such as the Centennial Celebration, it’s an honor to follow in their footsteps.”

Vero’s mother Clemen, shown below helping with an ECC birthday party in the 1970s, has served ASF in countless ways from her days as a PA (then-PTA) volunteer to her position today as a SEP technical director. Here are some of her observations about the school, then and now: “One very important advancement has been the development of the multicultural, rather than bicultural, atmosphere. It gets stronger every day.” “One thing that has stayed the same over the years is that the children are truly interested in learning. They are happy in school. And the proof is that so many of our alumni want their own children to go to ASF too.” “I think that the PA today participates more in decisions about the school. The opinion of PA members is taken into account.” “Today there is much more financial support available to the students’ families, meaning that excellent students are not being lost for economic reasons. This is a change that began to take place in the 80s.”

divisons & departments | athletics & extended learning

Family Fields Sven Donald Wallsten Roath (’91), Sven Peter Wallsten Klein, sixth grade, and Christopher Alan Wallsten Klein, second grade


s ASF celebrated its centennial year back in 1998, Sven Wallsten was beginning to enter his glory years as a student athlete. He had already won the Baseball Athletics Award back in sixth grade, but as he moved into Upper School, he was set to shine in both football and soccer. Now, in ASF’s 125th year, Sven has the privilege of seeing his two young sons follow in his footsteps. Sven Peter is in the 6th grade and plays football, while Christopher Allen, a second grader, participates in swimming. We asked Sven and his boys to comment on the changes at ASF from the 100th to the 125th anniversary.

Sven: “My boys love the athletics program, the facilities, their classrooms and their teachers... basically everything.”

Sven: “When I’m on campus it still feels like it was only yesterday that I was rushing to class or heading to the locker room to change for practice.”

Sven Peter: “I think that football is entertaining. It keeps me fit and it is a great outlet for anger.”

Chris: “I love to learn how to play new sports and I think it is great to have a dad that understands what I am doing.”

Sven in his junior year, 1990.

Christopher in 2012.

ASF alums! Do you have memories of participating in athletics or extended learning activities at ASF? Tell us about them in an e-mail to Focus.

Sven: “There have been many improvements to the sports facilities since I graduated in 1990. But my favorite addition is the construction of the new football field.” Sven Peter: “The facilities are very big and well organized.” Sven Peter in 2012.

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Sven: “My sons and I have spoken many times about how even though things have changed significantly in the past 25 years with the new buildings and decorations, ASF’s spirit and traditions have remained the same.” Sven Peter: “It is great that my dad played because he can give me good tips to be a better Sixth grader Sven in 1985, player.” with his Athletics Award.

student voices


A Cautionary Tale

by Rebekah Christensen, 6th Grade Student artwork by Carlos Aiza (green) and Mar Orozco (blue), 7th Grade Visual Arts Students

Once upon a time there was a man. He lived on a beautiful island called Paraquosta. On that island there was a jungle full of tall trees. One day the man wanted some porridge. He decided to go to the woods with his axe and cut down a tree for kindling. He walked to the woods, whistling all the way. He saw a rather young spruce that had nice, dry wood. He whacked it with his axe and made a deep cut. The tree spirit was badly hurt. She cast a spell on the man. If he tried to make fire with any kind of wood, hers or not, then instead of bursting into flames it would spray out 100 gallons of water. The man tried to build a fire with the spirit’s wood, and out came 100 gallons of water. He tried cutting down a different tree, but it didn’t flame up. Out came 100 more gallons of water. He tried and he tried, getting hungrier each second. “I want my porridge,” he grumbled. After he made many failed attempts at starting a fire, his home flooded as well as all of Paraquosta. Anybody who ever tried to cut down a tree again was immediately sent to the flooded Paraquosta.

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hen a school celebrates an anniversary as significant as its 125th, as ASF is doing at this very minute, it’s natural to think about how that school has changed over the years. In our case, the biggest difference that most people notice between ASF at 100 in 1988 and at 125 in 2013 is... infrastructure. It’s not hard to see why. Think of the sheer visual impact that today’s campus must have on a graduate from 1988 who’s visiting for the first time in 25 years. Here’s a partial list of what he or she has never seen before: • The remodeled Upper School with its free-standing third story and administrative wing. • The entire Middle School building. • Coach Colman Field and the modern multi-storied Transportation Center underneath it. • The semi-Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool. • The spacious Lower School Multipurpose Room. • The remodeled cafeteria (One World Café). • The Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center. • And the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center, rising majestically over lovely gardens that didn’t used to be there. That’s an impressive line-up of capital improvements any way you look at it, especially keeping in mind that they were paid for by donations. But to focus only on the immediately visible — that is, the buildings — risks missing the more important changes at ASF over the last quarter century. After all, those facilities are only there to, well, facilitate the learning that goes on inside them. The truly significant advances from 1988 to 2013 have more to do with: • Today’s international outlook, as reflected in the addition of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at all levels; • An environmental awareness that has resulted in green buildings and the implementation of various sustainability projects; • An emphasis on diversity — not just ethnic and cultural but also in terms of life pursuits, be they in academics, the arts, athletics, entrepreneurship or community service; • Expanded financial aid, assuring that children do not miss out on an ASF education for purely economic reasons; • And, of course, digital technology, which has now become integrated into the learning experience in ways unimaginable even a few short years ago. 23 | Spring 2013

The word “advancement” is preferable in this context. “Change” isn’t quite right. It’s not as though the ASF community woke up one morning after 1988 and decided that globalism, sustainability, diversity and financial aid were great ideas that nobody had ever heard of before. It’s more that the cumulative effect of progress in those areas over the past two and half decades is such that it all seems entirely new and different. The same goes for technology. We tend to use the word these days as though it were something Steve Jobs invented. But the fact is that ASF has always sought to take advantage of technological advances to boost the learning process and help carry out its mission. It’s just that today’s technology is so much cooler, and progressing at a dizzying, exponential pace. Which brings us to our current topic: What will ASF be like as we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2038? Just as “infrastructure” pops to mind when we think about the period between 1988 and 2013, “technology” is the buzzword of choice when we talk about moving from 2013 to 2038. But the same caution applies to technology as to infrastructure. Both are means, not ends. The breathtaking advances we’ll be seeing in technology in the coming years are of value only because they make it possible to implement the more meaningful changes that are coming in how we teach and how we prepare students for a world that is going to be very different than the one we live in today. What might those changes consist of? After talking with some members of the ASF community who think deeply about these things, we came up with the following possibilities that current trends suggest. The list is far from exhaustive. It’s also necessarily provisional. Because after all, the only thing we know for sure about what the future holds is that nobody knows for sure what the future holds. That’s why they call it the “future.”

Build it and they’ll come. We won’t likely see the kind of building boom we just witnessed, but there will continue to be improvements. We know the current art and music rooms will be integrated into the adjacent Fine Arts Center. We can be pretty sure that the Lower School will benefit from some kind of major overhaul before 2038. Those relocatable classroom units between the Middle School and the swimming pool will almost certainly be replaced or turned back to green space—any chance to recover green will be a priority. We can predict that the athletic facilities will continue to be upgraded, including the seating around the Upper Field. And the topography will likely be smoothed out, especially in the area between Founders Garden and the blacktop, with fewer awkward changes of levels and steps to nowhere. That’s all in addition, of course, to ongoing improvements. Please come up to the virtual whiteboard... We

went from blackboards to greenboards to whiteboards. Next stop: Virtual touch-screens at the front of class. These are hardly futuristic. John King uses one most every night on CNN. They’ll be standard issue in ASF classrooms well before 2038.

What technology should I wear tomorrow? Not

only will students be carrying only the occasional book around, they won’t even be carrying iPads or the like. Because they’ll be on their wrists. Or on their clothes. Yes, “wearable technology” is coming to campus. You won’t have to worry about forgetting your cell phone in the morning because it will be part of your blouse or shirt or other garment.

campus currents

Class, you may now print out a kidney. 3D printing, or more accurately additive manufacturing, is here now in its nascent stages, allowing anybody to program instructions for an object and have it “printed out” — that is, fabricated —on the spot. So we could be printing out our own customized and designed-to-fit clothes in the near future. More to the point, there also might be 3D printers on every student’s desktop, opening up a world of educational opportunities, involving designing, inventing and fabricating. Medical researchers are exploring using 3D printers, so perhaps by 2038 science students can be printing out organs. Weird? No weirder than dissecting frogs. Reading, writing and entrepreneurship. Developing entrepreneurship is part of the ASF experience today. By 2038 it will be at the center of it. Futurists say that the days of finding a job as a reward for completing your studies are not coming back. Graduates are going to have to blaze their own paths to success — and that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. The world will need it more than ever. “Resources will continue to be finite, and more of the world’s population is going to want some of them,” says ASF Academic Affairs Director Juan de Jesús Breene. “Well need entrepreneurs who can think of peaceful ways for them to get that.” Will there be grades in 2038? There will probably

always be measurements of progress, but the form they take will surely evolve. Already some universities are looking more at “digital profiles” than SAT scores. “They feel they know more about a person if they have access to a collection of data over the lifetime of a student as opposed to a one-day four-hour test,” says Tracey Bryan, a digital literacy coach in ASF’s Center for Teaching Excellence. Many think that something like that could replace grades at ASF, but others insist that such cumulative assessments won’t be enough. There will still be absolute measures of performance — that is, tests and grades — but the definition of what makes them “authentic” will continue to evolve.

It’s all in the game. Playing games — especially what we

call video games now — will be a legitimate, common and important learning method. And why not? Even in zombie-killing games, players process information, solve problems, practice technique, improve skills and accumulate knowledge. That’s learning. “Gamification” is already used by companies, including for training employees and managers. Its application for education is obvious and is widely expected to be commonplace well before 2038.

Bigger data. We’re already in an era of Big Data. And it’s going to get unimaginably bigger. IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion (17 zeros) new bytes are created every day. In 25 years, that’s going to add up to a lot of zeros. Some futurists are predicting that data crunching will eventually diagnose and prescribe more quickly and accurately than doctors can. The implications for education will be significant, and an ASF education will surely include Big Data skills, such as separating the meaningful from the merely noisy. The walls will come down. That’s a metaphor. The buildings will still have walls (though they may not be walls as we know them). “Wall-less learning” refers to interacting with the outside world — the entire outside world, from Tacubaya to 24 | Spring 2013

Timbuktu — on a routine basis, not just during field trips. Here’s a simple example for which the technology already exists: For a day’s geography lesson on savannahs as a biome, the teacher fires up the virtual reality screen and students interact with experts in Africa who show us what goes on along a savannah in real time.

Virtual camps. Expect “virtual camp” experiences on a

regular basis — in addition to the real ones, of course. We’re not talking travelogues here or nature documentaries. Students will be expected to do things, interact with their surroundings, perform tasks and experience the results of their actions.

Collaboration education. Wall-less learning also means that students will benefit from the expertise of teachers from other schools, as well as scientists, writers, entrepreneurs and experts in a variety of fields, all of whom will have a virtual presence in the classroom in addition to the assigned teacher. Get real. Much of today’s learning consists of what is sometimes pejoratively referred to as “wastepaper work.” A student writes an essay, the teacher gives it a grade and that’s the end of it. But as the walls disappear, so will much wastepaper work. “In the future we’ll be doing more real projects for real audiences in the real world,” Ms. Bryan of the CTE says. “A student may be assigned to write a blog entry about pollution in Mexico, and out it goes and the feedback they get will be immediate and from all over the world.” More about the end of walls. Online courses are all the rage now; anybody can take a college-level course from a quality university for free online. ASF uses online high school courses today for making up failed classes. Nobody doubts that online learning will be omnipresent in the near future, at all grade levels. How much will that trend reduce required attendance on campus? There’s less agreement about that. One more thing about those walls. Rather than deserted as students stay home to work online, the ASF campus will probably be open and full of people much more than it is now — at night, on weekends and during the summer. One reason is that the school might become more of a center for community learning. Another is that a flexible year-round schedule will suit the growing internationalization of the student body; for example, southern hemisphere students might prefer their “summer vacation” during winter, when it’s summer back home. Also, night class options will help accommodate time zone differences that go with the previously mentioned collaborative learning. We’ll all take a load off. Few doubt that well before

2038, the traditional school textbook will be a thing of the past, replaced by digital textbooks. That’s bad news for the backpack industry, but a godsend for anybody who’s ever toted an algebra textbook to school and back. The digital textbooks will offer a lot more than just a paperless, eco-friendly version of the traditional textbook. Buying the textbook will also link you to source material constantly updated in real time, to the blogs and Twitter accounts of authors and experts in the subject to problems, exercises and other interactive learning activities, and surely to a host of other activities and resources that we can’t conceive of today. And it won’t weigh anything!

2038: A View from the Trenches There’s one population segment with a special interest in ASF’s future. That would be the current students. Not only will they all be ASF alumni when the school celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2038, many of them will be ASF parents as well. Because what they think matters, Middle School students were asked to write a short essay about their vision of ASF in 2038. Some of the predictions bordered on the fanciful (teleportation rooms), others reflected wishful thinking (“no more homework!”) and a few adventurous students converted the assignment into a creative writing exercise involving an apocalyptic future in which ASF either ceased to exist or had been converted into a military base in an intergalactic cyber-war. No matter how they ended, most visions reflected a good deal of thought about the school’s future. The Focus editorial staff reviewed the essays and culled some of the most interesting and/or representative of the predictions, excerpts from which appear here. Two trends stand out in the MS students’ responses. One is that a good percentage of the predictions parallel those of the educational experts in the accompanying article. The other is that many responses revealed as much about student concerns today, such as food and school buses, as they did about the future. Following is a selection of excerpts, organized by topic, and in their own words.


“The teacher won’t have to call roll. The door will recognize you when you come into class and mark you as present.” — Ian, 8th grade

“We wouldn’t have to come to school, but have classes on monitors. We would only come on exploratory days.” — Peter Oh, 7th grade

“We would probably have more communication around the school.” — Elena Lecumberri, 6th grade



“The MS cafeteria will become bigger.” — Su Ji Kang 7th grade

“The whiteboards will probably be projected with the computer so you would simply touch the screen and it would automatically pass on to your computer. There might be a small screen on your desk showing everything you would normally see on paper.” — Daniella McCausland, 6th grade

“I think we will have food completely different from now because, yes, we have good and delicious food but we need healthier food. Maybe the school will pay a nutritionist to tell the chef what to cook for us.” — Daniela Ceniceros, 6th grade

“I think we will have more recycling projects as we will be a more green school. We will have field trips planting trees and purifying water.” — Rafael Domínguez, 8th grade

“Everything will be controlled, monitored and based on technology.” — María Cardona, 8th grade

“People will invent more apps for learning and getting answers. The devices won’t be heavy so you won’t be tired carrying them. ” — Miranda Fraser, 6th grade “We will have digital homework. We wouldn’t use paper for writing. We will have iPad computers and you will talk and the computer will write it for you.” — Juan Manuel Sánchez, 6th grade “Our lockers will open by digital fingerprints.” — Daniel G., 6th grade “Our technology will be activated by our minds.” — Laura Álvarez, 8th grade “Instead of typing, when you think something, it will automatically type it.” — Francisca Saldívar, 6th grade “I think that our school will be online. Classes will have Skype groups. And all the tests and homework will be online surveys.” — Pablo García Lascurain, 8th grade

“The food will be 100% natural. No wrappers or chemicals.” — Laura Álvarez, 8th grade “We will eat through tubes like hamsters.” — Diego Hauser, 8th grade “At the snack stand they might have a new policy... if you buy something junky you have to buy something healthy as well.” — Sydney Diffin, 7th grade “I think it will be exactly the same.” — Nerea Odriozola, 8th grade “The cafeteria, as always, will not be changing their food.” — Pedro Marquard, 8th grade

WALL-LESS LEARNING “I think we will have a ‘work day’ where we will divide in groups and go work with grown-ups. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you will go to a hospital and work there for a day.” — Rafael Domínguez, 8th grade We will probably even not come to school anymore, but take online classes.” — Silja Kaihilahti, 7th grade

“We will probably not use paper anymore, to save trees.” — Silja Kaihilahti, 7th grade

ASIA “We will have some classes in Mandarin.” — Rafael Domínguez, 8th grade “I believe ASF will have a Chinese class because of the influence that the Chinese are having right now.” — Pedro Marquard, 8th grade “Maybe China becomes much more powerful than the U.S. and so everybody must speak Mandarin.” — Phillip Ávila, 8th grade “I think the school should start having Chinese classes because soon China will be the most powerful country in the world.” — Ivan Franco, 8th grade

TRANSPORTATION “We will go to school in cars and/or flying buses.” — Pedro Marquard, 8th grade “We will get to school through underground trains.” — Rafael Silva, 8th grade “On some buildings maybe we can have like an airport for carplanes to arrive, or we can even have a room for teleportation.” — Emilio Calvo, 8th grade


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campus currents

This time, it’s personal. Perhaps the most important

pedagogical shift over the next 25 years will be the increasing personalization of education. One thing that “personalization” means is that the individual student will determine how he or she will learn. Put another way, the teaching of any student will be tailored to his or her interests, rather than forcing 25 students in a classroom to all learn the same way. Here’s an example, perhaps over-simplified, but revealing: Johnny hates geometry and loves soccer. So his geometry lessons are in a soccer context, maybe analyzing angles as they apply to setting up and scoring goals. Janey love baseball; she’ll learn the same things in a baseball context.

Students know best. We have a sort of prototype now of

how personalized education works — in the ECC. “Five-yearolds send us strong messages about what they will and will not do,” says Mr. de Jesús. “When it’s clear that, no, a child is not going to do something, the adult charged with getting him or her through it” — i.e. the teacher — “may have to go down a different path to get there.” In the years to come, that kind of personalization, more sophisticatedly determined, should gradually become the norm at all grade levels. “We have to have some faith that the kids know how they learn best,” Mr. de Jesús says. “The signs are there. Are we going to read them or are we going to pretend they’re not there?”

Big data, big tech and personal ed. The personalized

learning just described may sound to some like an indulgence, but education experts know it works. So why is it something for the future instead of right now? Because one teacher can’t design 25 different lesson plans for each class. But technology can, or at least will be able to well before 2038. And big data will pitch in, too, helping students self-select and fine-tune their personalized study path because they will be able to draw on the experiences and results of countless others who have chosen similar paths.

Personalization is also about pace. The 2013 student learns her multiplication tables during a certain allotted period

and moves on, even if she hasn’t quite got them down. The 2038 student will stay with multiplication tables until she has mastered them, even if it’s two years later. At the same time, she may be moving ahead of the curve in other learning tasks. This is a kind of personalized learning. We make a nod to it today, with AP classes, skipped grades, repeated grades and electives. Full implementation of a structure based on knowledge and performance, rather than age and grade level, would be organizationally difficult today, to say the least. But over the years, incrementally, digital technology will allow it to happen.

We’ll be greener. Given the strides ASF has made in re-

cent years, it seems safe to assume that full sustainability will be entrenched by 2038. If so, it will be a direct result of the walls coming down. “In order to solve problems, we are going to have to work across boundaries of schools, age, gender, nationalities,” the CTE’s Ms. Bryan says. “When we push those walls down, we’ll be able to connect with the expertise of people from all over the world and that expertise will be exponentially greater than anything we’ve seen before.”

What will happen? The above are some of the advance-

ments that are reasonable to predict from current trends. But, of course, education is subject to the push and pull of politics, and legislation is as likely to inhibit progress as abet it. As a private school, ASF is relatively immune to legislated interference. And as a longtime member of the vanguard in educational excellence, it will surely stay in the forefront of innovation and improvement. Still, no educational institution can afford to be a lone wolf, so far ahead of the pack that national and international students find it almost impossible to transfer in or out. In other words, much of what ASF will be like in 2038 will be determined by events beyond its control. But one thing we do know for sure. ASF is a mission-based institution whose Board of Trustees is required to seek ways to ensure that the school continues to meets its standards, which obviously includes change for the better. As Mr. de Jesús puts it, “A place that never changes isn’t going to be around for 125 years.”

Where Were You on Saturday, June 25, 1988? Many alumni, teachers and friends of The American School Foundation were celebrating our 100th anniversary on the ASF campus that day. During the event, more than 750 people went to the high school art room and made a small clay disk with their name and the years that they attended the school. If you were there, you probably still remember the image of that art room, filled with members of the ASF community. Those clay disks formed a mural on the front entrance of the Upper School Gym for 22 years. When the gym was demolished in 2010 to build the Ángeles Epinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center, the tiles were removed. They have been identified and you can now see if anyone you know was there — a classmate, teacher, parent or other relative. Just click here to see the list. You’ll notice that some information is unconfirmed, and so indicated with a question mark, and other information missing completely. There are also eight more tiles, unidentified, in addition to the 784 on the list. If you think you can add or correct information, please let us know at A special thanks to the students who were there to help that day: Rodrigo Vargas (’87) and Natalia Gulliver (’90).

26 | Spring 2013

>> Cont.

2038: A View from the Trenches

“Our transportation might become 100% eco-friendly; we could have electrically charged buses.” — Fabiana Peñaloza, 8th grade “Students will get to school in two-level buses so that much more students can fit in a bus without polluting that much.” — Su Ji Kang 7th grade “The buses I think will become flying buses.” — Ben Sellers, 8th grade

SPORTS “American football will have different rules and be played differently because of the growing tension today about head injuries.” — Pedro Marquard, 8th grade “I think the clubs and sports will be the same, except for one: The school will have flying lessons.” — Laura Álvarez, 8th grade

TEACHERS “Maybe some teachers will still be working here. After all, some of our teachers taught our parents when they were in Middle School.” — Fabiana Peñaloza, 8th grade “I don’t believe there will be teachers. I believe there will be robot teachers.” — Santiago Gorbea, 8th grade “There might be robot teachers or holograms. Maybe the holograms are controlled by the teacher at her home.” — Juan Manuel Sánchez, 6th grade “Teachers will teach in a monitor. What I mean is that teachers will videotape themselves the day before, so teachers won’t get mad at students who are not paying attention.”

“We will play the same sports, but with hovering shoes.” — Diego Hauser, 8th grade

“The Lower School and Middle School buildings will be remodeled just like the Upper School building.” — Fabiana Peñaloza, 8th grade “ASF will look different, much different. It may have bridges and new and bigger classrooms, and gyms. And also maybe a new cafeteria.” — Carlos Rodríguez, 6th grade “The buildings will be different. They will look very modern. Our facilities like the pool, fields, cafeteria, etc. will be cleaner. The classrooms will be bigger and buildings will be taller.” — Melissa Nae 6th grade

27 | Spring 2013

“Using technology for homework, projects and assignments will be more common than it is now. Textbooks will be electronic so that students don’t have to carry heavy books.” — Su Ji Kang 7th grade “What I don’t know is what will happen to the libraries. Students and teachers won’t use books much, so they could do something interesting with the libraries.” — Nicole Ellstein 7th grade

CURRICULUM “Students will still study the basics, but technology classes are going to be more important.” — Federico Berlfein, 8th grade

“The students will take education according to their own level of knowledge, no matter what age they are.” — Rino Sasaki, 8th grade




“Students would be studying subjects that they think would help them make the world have more improvements.” — Nina Sachdev, 8th grade

“We will have new equipment such as shock-resistant helmets for football and goal-sensing devices.” — Alex Gómez, 8th grade

“Another important change will be the new things that will appear in the world — for example a World War III or a nuclear bomb.” — Emilio Calvo, 8th grade

“The teachers would be on a screen and they would be able to teach multiple classes at once.” — Nina Sachdev, 8th grade

— Se Jun Cho, 6th grade “Teaching will not be in person but instead by video chat, or by computers that move, or something like that.” — Daniel Palma, 6th grade “The teachers will be more international. There will be more language classes.” — Paula Ezquerra, 6th grade “I think the teachers will be human, not aliens. They will all dress depending on their mood. Example: Blue-sad, whitecalm, red-angry. Their clothes will change colors depending on how their moods change throughout the day.” — Laura Álvarez, 8th grade

“The subject will not be biased and will be taught from multiple points of view to increase the students’ understanding of that subject. Some of the subjects are going to be organic energy, world affairs and advanced technology.” — Jolie Marshman, 8th grade

TRADITION “In my opinion we will still have the traditional part in our school. By traditional I mean there will still be handwritten assignments and rallies which students are encouraged to support. This school is an excellent example of a traditional American school, therefore, I think it will stay that way.” — Isabella Edmonds, 8th grade

campus currents

The Awards and the Founders Behind Them • Davis Award. For risk-taking, named for ASF founder John R. Davis. • Files Award. For initiative, named for first teacher Bessie Files. • Cummings Award. For leadership, named for former Board president Charles Cummings. • Orrin Award. For community, named for Edwin Orrin, who donated land for ASF’s former campus in Roma • Lamm Award. For culture, named for ASF’s Roma campus’ architect Lewis Lamm • Cain Award. For appreciation of diversity, named for Henry Cain, who obtained approval from the Public Education Secretariat (SEP) for ASF’s instruction in English • Wright Award. For generosity, named for S. Bolling Wright, who raised money for the creation of our current campus • Clifton Award. For love of learning, named for longtime teacher Edna Clifton • Irene Anzaldúa Faculty Award. Named for Irene (de la Llata) Anzaldúa, a former teacher, principal and beloved member of the ASF family.

Founders Day 2013: The Anniversary Edition

For seven years, ASF has celebrated on February 22 the great figures in ASF history, those who made possible the school as we know it today. This year’s event, however, was something special. BY Sloane Starke, ASF Communications Coordinator

2013 Founders Award Winners • Students of the ECC Cummings Award and Orrin Award • Ana Cristina Reyes Lamm Award • Lauren Janzaruk Cain Award • Mayte and Beatriz Li Wright Award • Andrés Martínez Davis Award • Alexa Herrerías Clifton Award • Eduardo Rihan Files Award • Isabel Fernández Irene Anzaldúa Faculty Award • Blanca del Valle Parent Award

Mayte Li and Beatriz Li >>

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The Founders Day celebration in the Lower School.


ounders Day is a celebration of tradition, but the event itself only dates back seven years. At the first Founders Day in 2006, with then-U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza in attendance, several four-generation ASF families unveiled a bust of S. Bolling Wright, the prominent ASF benefactor who served as Board president for three decades. A bronze bust has greeted campus visitors in Founders Garden ever since, serving as an ongoing reminder of The American School Foundation’s link with its storied past. In the ensuing years, Founders Day has been celebrated in a number of ways, from

an all-school assembly to division activities and an awards breakfast. This year, Founders Day took on a special importance, as the school celebrated not only its founders and its outstanding current community members, but also 125 years of history. It all came together that Friday morning of February 22 in the new Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. School leaders, Trustees, alumni, community partners and Founders Award winners and their families enjoyed a special catered breakfast followed by an awards ceremony. At the ceremony, attendees were treated to a performance by the Upper School English Handbell Choir

Anacecilia Pérez Vargas (’81), Manuel de la Llata (’69), María Luisa Anzaldúa (’71) and Tito Navarro (’99) celebrate Founders Day.

The Popcorn Project One celebration of Founders Day that John Davis and Bessie Files never saw coming was the Popcorn Project. It was, essentially, an investigation of the question, “What do a million kernels of popcorn look like?” After months of popcornrelated activities such as counting, calculating, weighing kernels and even popcorn art, the project culminated on Founders Day, with a display in Founders Garden. There, students of all ages could see what a million kernels looked like, participate in age-appropriate activities and watch a documentary on the project. As much as it was an academic exercise, tailored to the level of the different students participating, the Popcorn Project was also an exercise in creating community, with older students helping younger students and students from different levels spending time together.

Parent award winner Blanca del Valle and her family at breakfast.

All the winners pose after the ceremony.

and a large choir of Middle School students. Chair of the Board of Trustees Rosa Marentes de Pisinger (’87) also spoke, before Executive Director Paul Williams handed out awards. The Founders Day awards date back to that first celebration in 2006. Each year, two students from each division receive awards, along with one parent and one teacher from the school. Each student award bears the name of one of ASF’s “founders” — a group that includes not only John Davis, the true founder, and Bessie Files, the first teacher, but other important figures from the school’s history (see sidebar). Students, teachers and parents can submit awards nominations, and an awards committee selects from the finalists. One exciting aspect of the Founders Day awards is that their recipients don’t know they’re being honored until the day of the event. True, their family members are invited to the breakfast, which could be a giveaway, but they’re asked to keep it quiet, and they do. For example, Faculty Award winner Isabel Fernández, a Middle School teacher, didn’t suspect a thing. “I was completely surprised! At ASF and in the Middle School there are tons of great teachers and great colleagues, and I can name 10 or 20 who deserved that award,” Ms. Fernández said. “Also it was 29 | Spring 2013

very nice that I didn’t know anything in advance — not a clue, even when my family did.” “I saw a paper that said ‘Awards Ceremony,’ so I asked myself if I was getting an award, especially since my mom told me in the morning to dress a little nicer for school,” said Alexa Herrerías, who says she was proud to win the Clifton award. “When we went into the theater I was starting to feel nervous!” Eighth grader Eduardo Rihan won the Files Award, for initiative. “I felt incredible, as if my birthday and Christmas came together to form the ultimate present,” Eduardo said. Although he didn’t know much about Bessie Files, who taught ASF’s first class of nine kindergarteners in 1888, he said, “All I know is that this person took a great part in building the school that we go to today.” Founders Day is February 22 — not the day of ASF’s founding, but the anniversary of the day in 1922 when the cornerstone was laid at ASF’s old Colonia Roma campus. “In many ways it was as important as the first day of classes, because it showed the success the school had in its early years, and how our community had come together to turn a tiny kindergarten into a thriving educational institution,” said Executive Director Paul Williams in his welcome speech.

The Popcorn Project: A million kernels unveiled.

“I perceive it as the school’s birthday, even when it is not exactly the commemoration of the day it was founded,” said Ms. Fernández. “It’s a day to think about the school as a whole, as an institution and to reflect where we are standing now.” “I believe that it is important to honor those who made it possible for us to study in such a great place,” added Eduardo. “It is also very important to say thank you to all of the families that support this foundation and make this the school it is today.” Aside from the breakfast and awards presentation, each academic division celebrated Founders Day in its own, age-appropriate way. In ECC, where the awards are given to the entire division rather than singling students out, the children enjoyed a visit from Mr. Williams and singing “Happy Birthday” to ASF, complete with a muffin tower “birthday cake.” In Lower School, students did house activities in their classrooms, focusing on school history.

focus on education

Getting Down to Business

There may be no free lunch, but there is an Econ Fair. It’s a challenging way for students who are taking the required Introductory to Economics class to apply their learning to real-world conditions. It’s also a way for the rest of the Upper Schoolers to get a good deal on pizza. BY Bret Sikkink, Upper School Economics Teacher


ith his popular axiom “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman meant to highlight the role of what’s called “opportunity cost” in economic decision-making. Even when food is freely given, he noted, there are non-pecuniary losses to the eater. Consider a free hot dog. The time you spend eating it can’t be used for productive activity, such as work. And you have given up the chance to enjoy a lunch you may prefer, not to mention a healthier lunch. Many ASF Upper School students test the limits of the no-free-lunch maxim twice a year when they forego their usual school lunch period to participate in the biannual “Entrepreneurs in Action” fair. The Econ Fair, as the event is popularly known, is created by the students in the IB Middle Years Programme Economics class, which is usually taken by ninth or tenth graders. This class in economics is a graduation requirement at ASF and an integral part of the MYP. It teaches decision-making skills, with a focus on how to make the 30 | Spring 2013

Rent for the selling space is part of the price of doing business: “Tables near the Upper School or that have electrical outlets are rented for higher prices, which may account for a significant portion of their budget.”

best decisions given scarce resources. Economics is not, as many people assume, only about money. True, money is often a helpful measure of economic outcomes. But more fundamentally, economics is the study of how we humans make choices with a goal of improving our well-being. The Econ Fair takes this essential learning experience a step further. It is an example of project-based learning, which goes beyond the old

textbook-and-worksheet model with a more dynamic experience that gives students real-world skills, such as posing and solving logistical problems, working collaboratively with a group and operating a business in a competitive environment. My goal as an economics instructor is for each group to learn to apply the vocabulary and concepts from the course not only inside the classroom but in their lives as well.

focus on education

Getting Down to Business

each that they can exchange for the goods and services on offer. That’s the basic design of the event, but of course the lessons run deeper. Since its inception in 2006, the Econ Fair has taken on a life of its own. The first 2013 edition, the second of the 2012-2013 school year, which took place on April 8, was my fourth. With each new event, we add something to improve it. One of these innovations has been to invite the cafeteria staff, whose sales go down on fair day. That’s because, as befits a lunchtime event, the most popular choice of the student businesses is to sell some kind of food — mainly hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos or some kind of sweet or salty snack. We have also added an incentivesbased recycling initiative. This is coordinated by Upper School biology teacher and Sustainability Committee head José Carlos Alaniz, to reduce the amount of waste produced by the Econ Fair. It also cuts down on the time-consuming process of cleaning up afterwards. Anyone who brings recyclable materials to the volunteer students at the Green Team’s table receives a “green receipt“ which is equal to (fake) cash. Consumers can trade these receipts for additional goods; producers can count them toward their profits. So you never see ASF students scramble to put their recycled materials in the right container quite like you do at the Econ Fair! Another new feature is inviting 8th grade Middle School students for the first 15 minutes of lunch so they can see the event they will be running the following year. This gives them a chance to start thinking about what they will sell. Every generation at ASF can remember their business at the Econ Fair — and whose business earned the most profits.

There may be no free lunch, but there is an Econ Fair. It’s a challenging way for students who are taking the required Introductory to Economics class to apply their learning to real-world conditions. It’s also a way for the rest of the Upper Schoolers to get a good deal on pizza. BY Bret Sikkink, Upper School Economics Teacher


ith his popular axiom “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman meant to highlight the role of what’s called “opportunity cost” in economic decision-making. Even when food is freely given, he noted, there are non-pecuniary losses to the eater. Consider a free hot dog. The time you spend eating it can’t be used for productive activity, such as work. And you have given up the chance to enjoy a lunch you may prefer, not to mention a healthier lunch. Many ASF Upper School students test the limits of the no-free-lunch maxim twice a year when they forego their usual school lunch period to participate in the biannual “Entrepreneurs in Action” fair. The Econ Fair, as the event is popularly known, is created by the students in the IB Middle Years Programme Economics class, which is usually taken by ninth or tenth graders. This class in economics is a graduation requirement at ASF and an integral part of the MYP. It teaches decision-making skills, with a focus on how to make the 30 | Spring 2013

Business Planning

Rent for the selling space is part of the price of doing business: “Tables near the Upper School or that have electrical outlets are rented for higher prices, which may account for a significant portion of their budget.”

best decisions given scarce resources. Economics is not, as many people assume, only about money. True, money is often a helpful measure of economic outcomes. But more fundamentally, economics is the study of how we humans make choices with a goal of improving our well-being. The Econ Fair takes this essential learning experience a step further. It is an example of project-based learning, which goes beyond the old

textbook-and-worksheet model with a more dynamic experience that gives students real-world skills, such as posing and solving logistical problems, working collaboratively with a group and operating a business in a competitive environment. My goal as an economics instructor is for each group to learn to apply the vocabulary and concepts from the course not only inside the classroom but in their lives as well.

Young Entrepreneurs

To do this, my intrepid students form groups within their class that will serve as businesses that will “produce” goods or services by making or buying products to sell during the fair, which takes place twice a year during one school lunch period. The Econ Fair group that earns the most profit in fake pesos earns the highest grade. Moreover, students in whichever of the five Introduction to Economics classes

earns the highest total profit among its various groups are rewarded with their choice of a pizza party or a cheat sheet for an exam. They choose their product or service after brainstorming a business model they think will satisfy the wants and needs of their Upper School peers, teachers and administration staffers during a typical lunch hour. On fair day, these potential customers are supplied with 50 fake pesos

The day of the Econ Fair has a jubilantyet-frantic feel. But it’s not the result of tossed-off planning. It is the culmination of every topic we cover in microeconomics — the study of individual decisionmaking under conditions of scarcity — and applied to this one project. The first step is for each group to decide on two ideas for their business model. They are asked to consider their audience and the feasibility of their project in the face of some limitations (“scarcity,” in economic terms). They have to follow school rules, complete the objectives set out in their business plan during the onehour period when the fair will take place Spring 2013 | 31

focus on education

and stay inside a $1000-peso budget. Throughout the process to this point, students have been doing implicit costbenefit analyses of their two possible products — that is, asking themselves how much profit each product could make given how much it would cost to produce. But once they choose a product or service to sell, they are asked to think about these things more carefully. They turn in a final budget plan that includes how much they expect to pay for all the materials required for their chosen business idea. They also include a team name and logo or slogan for use in marketing their product. For example, a group may decide that they are going to sell pizza and soda at the fair (a common choice). Their budget plan will have to include how much of their allotted $1000 pesos they plan to pay to have pizzas delivered, how much money will be spent on sodas and how much they want to spend on extras such as plates, napkins or advertising materials. Since they’ll be using their own real money to get these things, they have an additional incentive to keep costs down. The other incentive, of course, is to increase the profit margin. Alternatively, if they choose to sell a service, such as a massage, there may be no capital costs and they don’t have to spend real money on anything. But every business has to pay rent to the school (in this case, in the form of fake

pesos deducted from their budget). This reflects real-world conditions. After all, they will be using the blacktop space, a table, perhaps wall space for posting advertisements. Tables near the Upper School or that have electrical outlets are rented for higher prices, which may account for a significant portion of their budget. Once costs of production are considered, they can turn to price. In their study of microeconomics, students learn that price is determined by supply and demand: the more people want your product and the less of it (and substitutes for it) there is, the higher the price. Using the mathematics of the demand curve along with the budget information for their supply curve, groups start identifying possible price points for selling their goods. Students also apply a concept known as “price elasticity of demand” to their market. In this case, they determine that their peers will probably be willing to spend their money quite freely due to the following factors: the lunch period is short, there is a limited amount of goods they can substitute for what is being sold, they are anxious to eat their lunch and they got their “pesos” for free in the first place. So our fictional pizza business would take into account that high school students like pizza and would be willing to pay at least the real value of each slice to someone who brought it directly to them. If there are few other groups selling pizza

or the others run out, I may be able to raise the price of each slice as the student population becomes more and more willing to pay a high price for the remaining pizza. Soon the groups are considering how to specialize to complete the project. Using a management log, students divide the labor necessary to having a successful business and assign due dates to such tasks as renting the land from their econ teacher, purchasing capital goods to use to create their product or for resale and creating advertisements. In class, students work on pricing strategy, learning ways to capture the consumer surplus of inelastic consumers without losing the more costconscious customers. Econ Fair groups compete with each other not only on price, but also by using non-price competition strategies. Such strategies might include bundling one product with another (pizza with soda, in my example), grouping consumers and offering the group strategic discounts (“seniors pay half price”) or requiring customers to do a task, such as “liking” their Facebook page. In return for this free advertising, the customers get a cheaper price at the Econ Fair.

The Big Day

As the fair nears, groups are making final purchases, arranging for delivery of the food or other items they will be selling, posting advertisements on the walls

The twice-annual event always draws a huge lunchtime crowd: “The day of the Econ Fair has a jubilant-yet-frantic feel.”

32 | Spring 2013

The business groups enact their business model, but they learn quickly that the customer is always right: “Best-laid plans are scrapped and the textbook model of equilibrium butts up against the most efficient way of allocating scarce goods to a hungry lunchtime crowd.”

Econ teacher and fair organizer Bret Sikkink participates as a consumer: “My goal as an economics instructor is for each group to learn to apply the vocabulary and concepts from the course not only inside the classroom but in their lives as well.”

The goods have to get sold... and quickly: “The hour is short, the energy is palpable and business is over almost as soon as it starts. When the bell rings, everyone needs to get to class.”

of ASF and their Facebook friends and gathering blenders, microwaves, stereos or whatever tools they need to assemble their offerings. Most important for their grade, the groups turn in their final business plans just before the fair. This is a formal written document that explains the vision of each business with specific details and tells why it will be a successful source of profits. Similar to a real-life business plan used to woo investors, the document describes the participants, how they decided on their great idea, and the current financial state of the business. Using the prices they determined through research multiplied by the quantity of products they purchased for resale, the business plan details the estimated total revenue from each good they are selling. Then they subtract the documented spending of their budget (using receipts for verification) to predict how much profit they will end up with at the end of their day as a small business. My pizza group, for instance, would document in our business plan how providing pizza to high school students at lunchtime is a good business model. They would explain how they will be able to charge a higher price than what it costs to produce (or more likely buy) the pizza, so that they will earn profit on their investment. If I expect to make $100 pesos on each pizza, taking into account all costs, including renting the land and advertising, and I buy eight pizzas, my expected profit would be $800 pesos. 33 | Spring 2013

On the big day, the groups enact their plan as best they can. One of the first lessons they learn is that the old adage that “the customer is always right” is true. Best-laid plans are scrapped and the textbook model of equilibrium butts up against the most efficient way of allocating scarce goods to a hungry lunchtime crowd. Deals are cut and sales are made in record time. The hour is short, the energy is palpable and business is over almost as soon as it starts. When the bell rings, everyone needs to get to class. The classroom impact of Entrepreneurs in Action continues after the action is over. After counting total revenue and calculating profit, students can check to see how close their business plan was to correctly predicting their gain. Once the group effort is over, the economics students have one further task, which is to reflect on their experience of working collaboratively. Educators may not know what the future will look like, but we can be fairly sure that using interpersonal skills to achieve a shared goal will be highly valued. The reflection paper asks students to consider what went well, what went poorly, and how to avoid common errors the next time they work in a group. With apologies to Milton Friedman and on behalf of all the Introduction to Economics students, let me say that the benefits of attending the Econ Fair are greater than the costs. It’s the closest thing possible to a free lunch.

Opportunity Cost Think you can ace economics class? Try this multiple choice question from Cornell University economics professor Robert Frank on the topic of opportunity cost, also known as the value of the next-best alternative to your chosen action: You win free tickets to an Eric Clapton concert. That same night, Bob Dylan is playing elsewhere in the city. Tickets to Bob Dylan cost $40 and you would otherwise be willing to pay $50 to see him play. What is the opportunity cost of seeing Eric Clapton perform? a. $0 b. $50 c. $40 d. $10 For the answer, and to learn more about the importance of economics education, read Dr. Frank’s article in the New York Times here, from which this example is taken.

institutional advancement

Our Annual Giving Program Progress Report, as of February 28, 2013. Click here to give online and support one or more of these exciting projects!

Get in the Swing of Things: ASF Golf Tournament 2013 The 11th Annual ASF Golf Tournament is scheduled to take place at the Bosque Real Country Club on Monday, October 28, 2013. It´s not too early to decide to participate or become a sponsor. For further information about sponsorships and players contact Dafne Ordoñez at 5227-4922 or ordonezd@

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Early Childhood Center


Community recycling center



Educational greenhouse



96 iPads



Turtle Patio transformation

Concert grand piano for the Fine Arts Center


Treadmills and elliptical machines for the Wellness Center


Financial aid to support diversity


Lower School

Middle School

Upper School

We’re Now in the Balcony! So it’s last call to Take a Seat We have “sold” 528 seats in the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center. All first-floor seats are now spoken for. So don’t miss your opportunity to “Take a Seat” in the balcony, and leave your name, your family’s name or the name of someone you wish to honor in a special place forever. Contact Dafne Ordoñez at 5227-4922 or ordonezd@asf.

alumni | profile

The Two Eyes of an Artist

Santiago Kuribreña (’91) has found success both as a media executive and an artistic photographer.

BY Cindy Tanaka (’91), ASF Alumni Coordinator


antiago Kuribreña has spent the 22 years since he graduated from ASF in 1991 – and many years before that – capturing images through his 35mm and 120mm lenses, working digitally in recent years and managing to find success in both business and the arts. Born in Mexico City in 1972 to a family deeply involved with the plastic arts and photography, Santiago discovered his passion for photography at age 16 with a traditional Minolta camera. He soon created a modest portfolio of black and white images which a year later provided the material for his first exhibition. That exhibition was at the Casa Diego Rivera museum and gallery in San Angel, in collaboration with with his ASF teacher León Gutiérrez. All throughout this development, Santiago was greatly influenced by his father and grandfather, also professional photographers. Support from his ASF teachers, especially Mr. Garsed and Mr. Epstein (who taught him photography and journalism), was also crucial. After graduation, Santiago went on to study at Universidad Iberoamericana and later earned his master’s in integrated marketing communications from MedillNorthwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 2005, he got his MBA from the Loyola University in Chicago. Having the opportunity to study at ASF gave him the skills to prepare himself in multiple disciplines. “Having the opportunity to participate in photography has helped me very much in my career in marketing and vice versa,” Santiago says. “I have found several intersections between one passion and another during my career.” Santiago is the director of marketing and promotions at Televisa and is responsible for management, promotion and publicity in the 50 countries where Televisa distributes its programming. The marketing strategies he developed earned him the 2012 Best Advertising Campaign Award for Grupo Televisa. He was invited to lecture at the Loyalty World Conference, Mexico City in 2012 and 2013. In 2009, he was recognized as one of the 50 top people in marketing by Merca2, a trade magazine for the marketing industry. Santiago’s photography has been exhibited in a number of different galleries and cultural centers in Mexico, where he has been praised for his ability to conceptualize the complexity of a moment. A canine-inspired example is shown on this page. He has also collaborated with several publications in Mexico and abroad, including People en Español, Caras, Bleu & Blanc and Maxim. For the magazine Viceversa, he has photographed a number of political and cultural figures, including Carlos Monsivais, Carlos Castillo Peraza and Hector Aguilar Camin. He has also worked on photographic projects with companies such as Cinépolis (see the movie poster on this page), Coca-Cola and, of course, Televisa. In August 2012, Santiago showed 20 images that invited viewers into the world of lucha libre in an exhibition entitled “Seres Magicos.” This January he presented “África en Dos Tonos” at Azul Condesa. Santiago’s successful balancing of his passion for photography and his life as a committed business executive has allowed him to achieve both professional and artistic satisfaction. “I’ve had the fortune to maintain both professional paths and I will seek to grow in both of my great passions,” he says.

36 | Spring 2013

alumni | events & class notes

Where Are You?

If you ever attended ASF, we’re looking for you! Please update your information by sending an e-mail to 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!


On November 26, 2012, the Gamma Gamma Gamma Fraternity had a mini-reunion at Hubert Thummler’s home in Mexico City. Everyone enjoyed the special gettogether and was delighted to give the secret Gamma handshake. In the picture, standing from left to right are Hubert Thummler (’48), Monty Padilla (’47) and Carlos Montes (’49). Sitting from left to right are Álvaro Rodríguez (’54), Patricia Thummler and Robert Fox (’48).


Lily Jacobs Gutiérrez writes from Cuernavaca: “In December I moved back to Cuernavaca after 43 years in San Diego. I will be working for a company in interior design and sales of kitchens, bathrooms, family rooms, etc. It’s the kind of work I have been doing since I started working 45 years ago. This company distributes American and Italian cabinets, and it recently inaugurated its first showroom in Mexico, in Polanco. I have 10 grandchildren: four in San Diego, one in Tijuana, two in Mexico City and three in Cuernavaca, and one great grandchild in Tijuana. I would love to hear from other alumni in the Cuernavaca area.” To get in touch with Lily, e-mail the Alumni Office at



Thierry Ollivier writes: “In 1983 I co-founded Monica’s Pantry (Alacena de Mónica). Ever since, we have been offering quality catering as well as organic meat, fresh fish and farm chicken to your home. The service is excellent and free, friendly from the moment we take your order to the delivery, always fresh, on time and golden quality. You can see our full menu here or call 5025-7120 or 5926-2999 in Mexico City.”

If you’re from the class of 1988, ASF’s centennial year, pay special attention. On May 25, 2013, we will open the time capsule that we buried under one of our flags 25 years ago! We invite you all to be part of this exciting event. Join us for a small brunch celebration with family members and celebrate ASF’s 125 years! For more information please contact the Alumni Office at or 5227-4966.

Over Memorial Weekend, May 23-27, 2013, the class of 1983 will celebrate its 30th class reunion in Cancún. For more information, join the reunion Facebook page.


The class of 1994 will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary at a reunion to be held over the Labor Day weekend, August 31-September 2, 2013 in Mexico City. For more information please contact Larry Rubin at


The class of 1998 will be celebrating its 15-year class reunion May 24-27 in Los Cabos at Hotel Riu Santa Fe. For more information please contact Oliver Pegueros at opegueros@hotmail. com.


Rodrigo Rallo, now studying at the University of California, San Diego, won third place in the international app creating contest “Mobile World Congress” in Barcelona, Spain. For more information, click here.


Ney Villamil writes: “Hello folks! Let me tell you very proudly that Enrique García and I were classmates and good friends at the good ol’ ASF – el Colegio Americano – in the late fifties. That’s more than a half century ago; easier said than lived! Enrique went on to Princeton and Yale and has lived in the United States ever since; I went to London, New York and Boston, and returned to live in Mexico. After all these years we were very fortunate to get together again with our wives Kathryn and Dianette (the four of us are pictured here), along with Carolina (Enrique’s sister) and David, her husband. Over drinks and dinner, we had a wonderful time sharing updated news and good memories. It was as if time were meaningless and we had seen one another only yesterday!”

37 | Spring 2013



Sergio Knaebel visited ASF with his family on February 8, 2013. We were thrilled to have Sergio back home and to show him the new changes and renovations the school has undergone since he graduated.

ing ity is be es, C o ic x e nion in M s, coach ll? Play Ba Little League” reur baseball playerody who o b A “Maya e are looking f nd dads or any like to be W a . ld planned olunteer moms player or wou ct a se conta ,v umpires ed. If you were formation, plea in lv was invo further reunion CoyoteArz@ at r listed fo fried Wiley (’65) be added to tt n Nena Go your name ca cheduled for o s s ist.” The event, arheaded pe ol the “inf year, is being s New Mexico is er later th ebler and form l Richardson. D il by Marc nd ASF alum B a r governo

alumni | reunions

Getting it All Together

Thinking of organizing a reunion for your American School class? Here’s how to do it right.


BY Mark Maldonado (’77)

rganizing a reunion is similar to organizing a wedding. There’s a lot of upfront planning and then the fun is usually over in a few hours. For a reunion, the planning process generally takes about a year. So before you commit to taking on this responsibility, make sure you have the time, patience and enthusiasm that will translate into the overall success in the outcome of the reunion. Before you do any serious planning, start by sending out an e-mail, posting on Facebook and using any other means of communication to reach as many classmates as you can to propose to them a “high-level”

Form an Organizing Committee Once you receive responses from your classmates, and you’re satisfied the idea is worth pursuing, your first step is to create an organizing committee. This committee will establish budgetary goals, choose a reunion theme and decide on dates. When forming your organizing committee, do the following: • Agree first on who will lead the process to its completion. There should only be one leader. • Establish who will manage the funds. • Establish who will be in charge of events and activities. • Select classmates who will recruit — that is, get others to come to the reunion. Recruiting is the most difficult task and should include strategically selected classmates who are able to recruit in their own geographical areas as well as act as catalysts in motivating others to attend.

38 | Spring 2013

reunion. The communiqué should suggest a potential venue, date and a rough perperson budget of $1,000 dollars (for such costs as airfare, hotel, tickets, etc.). The point of this initial communication is to gauge up front the level of interest. As a general rule of thumb, your turnout will be between 20% and 30% of your class. So if there were 200 graduates in your class, you should expect between 40 and 60 people to attend the reunion. But the ultimate success of your reunion is not so much based on how many people attend, but rather how enjoyable an experience they have.

Pin Down a Date The reunion date is important but not crucial. No matter what date you select (assuming it’s not December 25 or the like), you will have a core group of classmates that will show up no matter what. But to increase your chances for a larger turnout, consider the following when considering a date: • A cold-weather site will keep people away. • Try to find a weekend that works for classmates in the United States as well as for those in Mexico. • Memorial Day weekend unfortunately falls at a time when a lot of families are attending graduations. • Easter Week (Semana Santa) in Mexico will draw large crowds. • For U.S. classmates, try to dovetail a holiday weekend and the reunion at the same time. Therefore, consider, Presidents Day weekend in February and Labor Day weekend in September as examples.

Choose a Venue Where to hold the reunion is the first major decision you need to make. You must start early. Why? Because conference rooms or other such facilities for a gathering are often booked a year in advance at major hotels. I strongly encourage you to make venue selection a group decision involving as many classmates as possible, rather than a decision made by the committee. When I organized a reunion, I actually visited Mexico City and met with a handful of classmates and broached the subject of reunion venue with them. Additionally, the subject was raised at several regional get-togethers, so I became aware of a general consensus that Las Vegas was going to be the place. Here are some things to keep in mind as you ponder a venue: • Consider a geographical hub that your classmates can travel to easily, and that’s cost effective. A location without an airport that takes international flights, for example, would be a problem. • Note the flight durations. As a general rule, if a classmate must take a flight that lasts more than six hours, that could be a determining factor for him or her not to attend. • Research ticket prices to and from the proposed venues to see whether they fit within the budget. One enigma is that you have to book your venue a year in advance, which is probably before you know how many classmates will attend the reunion. My advice is to think positive. If you follow the suggestions that I’ve been making in this article and hit your timetable targets, you should count on hitting that 20-30% target in terms of commitments. Therefore, you should book a venue that will accommodate between 50 and 100 guests. This will give you ample space to accommodate latecomers, which you will undoubtedly get.

Determine the Costs No matter how you cut it, attending a reunion is going to cost each classmate between $700 and $1,200. Besides each individual paying for his or her hotel and airfare, there will be a number of shared costs that will arise. Just what those costs are will be part of the decision-making process, but in a nutshell, a baseline budget of $15,000 dollars should yield an “over-the-top,” unforgettable reunion. Of course, how much money is spent on a reunion is less of a factor in success than who ends up attending. So you’ll be looking for that balance between affordability and offering enough bells and whistles to make it worthwhile for a classmate to hop on an airplane and make it to the reunion. Here are some typical costs that you might incur, in U.S. dollars: • Web site: $300 • Party venue with food and drinks for 50: $5,000 - $8,000 • T-shirts: $700 • Entertainers: $2,000-$3,000 • Party favors: $500 • Photographer: $1,000 • Centerpieces, linens: $500 • Audio-visual equipment: $500 • In-city transportation: $500

Get Creative One of the key ingredients to a successful reunion is the amount of creativity you put into it. Solicit ideas from all classmates. You want to come up with creative activities that blend well with the theme and setting of the reunion. Try to make the reunion different than what would normally be expected. The goal is to keep your classmates entertained so they won’t run off and do something else. Some ideas might be a reunion theme, party favors, hired entertainment, photographs, skits, a classmate talent show, even a classmate roast.

Open a Web Site The six-month mark prior to the reunion is the time to solidify contracts for the major reunion components — the venue, entertainers, food, etc. That’s 180 days before the event, but you’ll find that 30% of your classmates will decide to come or not come 45 days prior to the event. To comfortably manage this discrepancy, as well as the entire process, I strongly suggest you create a web site for the reunion. The company I used is called You can customize the site and use it to collect all your fees and a lot more. Will Facebook work for that? I found it to be okay, but Facebook can’t process money transactions and a web site can. Also remember that a lot of people are not on Facebook and are not comfortable with open social media. But just about everyone will interact with a web site. Design your web site once you establish the date and location. It will take a week to get all the preliminary information into the system.

Carry Out the End Game The 30 days prior to the event are the most difficult and the most stressful. I cannot emphasize enough that you do the following: • Review your contracts for all the major components of the reunion. That means double-checking with all involved to reconfirm the dates, the headcount and any and all details. You may notice that mistakes have been made, dates gotten wrong, food selected inaccurately and the like. Now’s the time to clean up these issues. • Focus on detail. Make yourself a checklist and be sure your team is helping with the details • Collect all your funds from your classmates. Don’t allow anyone to pay the day of the reunion.

From top to bottom: 1. One option for entertainment at your reunion is a classmate talent show, which has the twin advantages of getting people involved and costing very little, perhaps nothing. Here, I’m doing a tune at my class’s reunion last year, from which all the photos for this article were taken. 2. Where to hold it? It should be a reasonable distance from most classmates, in a city with an international airport, and someplace people will want to go – like Las Vegas! 3. Don’t underestimate party favors. Remember, the goal is to keep your classmates entertained so they won’t run off and do something else. 4. Sounds obvious but worth a reminder: Your classmates are more interested in seeing one another than anything else. Left 5. Select classmates who will recruit – that is, get others to come to the reunion. 6.Creativity is key. Make the reunion different than what would normally be expected.

39 | Spring 2013

Final Advice • It’s unfortunate but true that while everybody else is having a great time, the committee members are is going to feel a bit stressed over the course of the reunion weekend. It’s part of the role. • No matter how much time, effort and planning you put into your reunion, things do go wrong. Just remember that your classmates are more interested in seeing one another than in whatever may have gone wrong.

alumni | in memoriam

Álvaro Rodríguez Hickie (’54) Remembering a Dear Friend of the School Álvaro Rodríguez Hickie, a distinguished ASF student, an all-around athlete and the first president of the Alumni Association, passed away February 6, 2013. He will be greatly missed. Álvaro was born in Mexico City on July 18, 1937, the first child of former ASF teacher Álvaro Rodríguez Macedo and Leonor Hickie. He entered ASF in 1942 and graduated in 1954. His siblings Conchita (’59), Roberto (’65) and Leonor (’77) also attended ASF. During his stay at the school, Álvaro was an outstanding student and athlete. He was born a leader and extremely popular among his classmates.When the first ASF Alumni Association was formed in 1983, Álvaro volunteered to serve as its first president. He married María de los Ángeles Orduña and the couple had three children: Álvaro, Eduardo and Mónica María. As a special tribute to a special friend, we publish here a remembrance by Héctor Arellano (’59): Alvaro was always a friend to his friends. He was a bench-mate of Pancho Arellano-Belloc (’57) (Paco), my older brother, and to Humberto Fallon (’56). Through the years we became close friends because of his relationship with my brother. We were also close to Gammas from those generations: Eduardo Monteverde (’57) , Manuel Domínguez, and Sergio de Kruyff (’55) (also deceased), as well as to Jorge Franco(’58), Juan Álvarez (’58), Rafael Mantecón (’59) and many others.

Álvaro (#21) coming out of the “shack” onto the ASF field, probably at age 17.

Álvaro’s father was also named Álvaro, and was a much-loved teacher of biology for many years at the high school. It was in the summer of 1983 that an enthusiastic group of alumni got together to organize what was the best alumni lunch reunion ever. It brought together more than 600 alumni at the Rancho del Charro on Constituyentes. We had decided to put on a show, a dance remembrance of all decades, and rehearsed for months. 40 | Spring 2013

This gathering was when we decided to found the Alumni Association, or the “Asociación de Ex Alumnos del Colegio Americano” at the end of July that year. A meeting took place in Anacecilia Pérez Vargas’ (’81) home, whose parents kindly lent it to us for the event. We must have been around 25 alumni in those early days, mostly from the 50s. Amongst those whom I remember are Mariana Carmona (’56), Male Zamorano (’57), Conchita Rodríguez, Eva Huber (’49), Sergio de Kruyff (’55), Bibi Contreras (’56),

Álvaro, Héctor Arellano, Eduardo Monteverde (’56), Álvaro’s younger brother Roberto Rodriguez Hickie (’64), and Humberto.

Lucy Medina (’56), Blanca Hernández (’56), Anacecilia, Humberto, Luis Lamm (’54) (who later won the design contest for the association’s logo), Silvia Fong (’59), Enrique Reyes (’56) and many others whom time does not allow me to name. We were the founders. Álvaro was elected our first president, and I was the vice president. For the next three years we as a group had to deal with

seemingly unsolvable obstacles to maintain and achieve our objectives. But thanks to our great effort, stubbornness and perseverance, and that of the boards that followed (such as the ones presided over by Linda Litchi (’57), Mrs. Anzaldua, Anacecilia Pérez Vargas and Lilian Barta (’62), success was achieved. Now it is a buoyant alumni community managed by the school. It was from that Alumni Association bond that my friendship with Álvaro solidified, and it continued to grow for the next 30 years. Alvaro’s love for football never declined. Watching the Super Bowl together year after year became an unmovable ritual that included our sons. At the beginning Humberto and Álvaro took turns organizing it in their respective homes and maybe in the last 20 years at Alvaro’s, whose children inherited the love for the game and began taking command of the reunion’s organization. It is therefore an irony that exactly on Super Bowl Sunday, Álvaro suffered a collapse that took him from us forever. I would rather like to think of it as a reminder to treasure his presence in this world and never to forget him. Have a good trip, Álvaro, dear and loyal friend. As I told you several times, your sense of unbreakable friendship is forever implanted in me by seeing your relationship with Humberto Fallon that was kept since you met over 60 years ago. Your good vibe and your resilience over adversity, which might have included some health issues in the last few years, never blurred your optimistic vision of life, your generosity, your

That’s Álvaro with his hand up, along with other ASF alums gathered in the home of Susannah Glusker (’57), circa 1984.

love for life, for your wife, for your children and your children’s children. You have been an example of loyalty and how a good man should be. You had a good life, and accomplished your aims to the letter. Rest in peace, bro. We will miss you. And please say hello to Paco for me.

• JOSEFINA FRANCO (’41) passed away at her home in Ciudad Satélite, State of Mexico, on December 31, 2012. • JORGE PÉREZ VARGAS (’49) passed away in September 2012. He is survived by his wife Martha, his daughter Paty (’80), his son Jaime (’81) and his five grandchildren. He will be greatly missed. • RICK CROMWELL (’65), passed away on January 22, 2013. Rick’s daughter Nicole writes: “Dad died peacefully today at 4:00 p.m. My brother, my mom and I held his hand while Jimmy Buffett’s ‘A Pirate Looks at Forty’ played softly in his ear. We wished him well and told him all about the celebration we will have for him in La Paz. We promised to take him home and visit all of his favorite places. I want to share Dad’s favorite quote, from Mark Twain: ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’ Please feel free to direct any personal notes of remembrance and condolence to Nicole at ncromwell@ or post them on Rick’s Facebook page. • Alum David Sanchez Yeskett (’94) has advised us that MANUAL VENADO (’94) passed away on February 21, 2013. Several classmates have decided to remember him by giving a donation in his name to ASF’s scholarship fund. If you are interested in honoring Manuel, please contact us at

41 | Spring 2013

kids’ corner

Hockey, Teamwork, Sportsmanship and Art Ms. Lupita’s Room 12 Pre-First students did a lot of work to prepare for the Pre-First Hockey Tournament, which took place March 12, 13 and 14. The tournament was not just about showing up and playing – or even getting some practice in beforehand. In class, the students discussed teamwork, sportsmanship and how to handle winning and losing. They even wrote and made art while preparing for the tournament. Here are some examples by Emilio Molina, Karen Alonso, Daniel Olaes and Paulina Macedo. For a look behind the scenes in Room 12, click on this video.

42 | Spring 2013

justice understanding truth


A magazine for alumni, parents, students, faculty and friends of The American School in Mexico City

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