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Student Writing Feature

The sonnet has long been a distinct and typical form of poetry. A sonnet consists of 14 lines with 10 syllables each. Even though they are short, sonnets often contain strong imagery and ideas. There are two types of sonnets: Petrarchan and Shakespearean. Though quite different in rhyming pattern, the basic form of these two types is the same. Students in AP Literature and Composition have had some experience with writing poems and sonnets; they said writing sonnets was one of the best ways to express their feelings. Here are some samples from students.

City of Lies

Nguyen Hai Nguyen


Nguyen Thanh Anh Little bundle of sunshine, she deemed as, Bringing happiness and warmth everywhere. Radiating the chaste halo, she has Captivated everyone at the square. Smiling ever so jubilantly, she Dips her head and bows, movement full of grace, But the trembling of her lips, that none see, Hide breaking porcelain beneath buoyant face. Fame acquired, but torment gained, such sorrow. Melancholy grieves out a muffled voice. What future has in store, she does not know. But walking down this path was her own choice. For this moment though, broken she remains still Smiling through the day, ‘til she becomes ill.

All the lights, like fireflies, flashing by. The noise, the sound, a city dynamic Comes to be alive when evening strikes Seduces people all around to join it. We come for the light, all around the country, But oh, it’s a trap, and we are all flies. Trapped in the jar of poisonous honey, And lose ourselves in the city of lies. The dark city, covered in beams of glow, With lost people that have no way out. But still I hope, real light will soon be shown Through the clouds, finally awake the crowd. That thought can bring me to my sweet sweet dream Outside there are clouds, and the lights are dim.

Miracle of December Hoang Minh Thu

Somewhere between midnight and morning dawn, strands of light lie on drops of dew, sun shines. And when the clock strikes six, out there the swans are making hearts, under the rouge rose vine. Sunlight shines on him; burgundy hair glows, sharp nose and thin lips curve like he’s smiling Our feet tangled, hands intertwined, blood flows fast, my face turn pink like blossom in spring. Sparkle creeps slightly through closing lashes, his delicate hand suddenly slides up, a kiss was placed, as crystal as glasses. Soul spins, when the stars go blue, I wake up. I would forever stay as a dreamer To see you: Miracle of December.

Do you have a poem, essay, short story, or piece of artwork you’d like to publish? Submit to Spectrum literary magazine. There are two ways to submit: 1. By email to 2. By Edmodo: qtwqky


Sports News Soccer Team Practicing at Estella Photos by Luu Nguyen Phuc The students and staff of ISHCMC American Academy would like to show our appreciation for the management of The Estella. They have graciously allowed ISHCMC American Academy's soccer team to practice on their beautiful field twice weekly. The Estella is a prime residential development in the heart of District 2 with amazing facilities and is found within a gated community for student security. ISHCMC American Academy Principal, Eric Hamilton states that ,"The Estella is one of the finest residential facilities in District 2 and their commitment to community partnerships with local schools is highly commendable."

Middle School Soccer In the second term, we opened a MS soccer team. Along the leading of Mr Peter, the team has improved a lot through time with 12 members. We soon will have the chance to see some matches from this team

Basketball News On the 14th Jan, our boys HS basketball team had a match with ISHCMC. Unfortunately, we lost the game with 11-60. But it’s fine, ISHCMC is a strong team. We still have many chances ahead. Never back down boys!


Let's Go Sunbears!

Student spotlight Middle School

High School

Students of the Month

What Teachers are Saying

Vu Tien Hai (Jake) 7A

Jake has been exceptional in willing to help out during parent meetings and as a translator during report day. When there are special school events, he is one of the first students to put his hand up to help in any way with things like fundraising or yearbook photography. Jake is a very bright and polite young man and a pleasure to have in class.

What Teachers are Saying

Kayla is a dedicated and enthusiastic student. She consistently exhibits a genuine interest in learning, exemplary work ethic, and a compassionate attitude towards her fellow students. Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen Anh

(Kayla) 8B

Students of the Month

What Teachers are Saying

Bui Quynh Anh (Jenny) 9B

She struggles with English on a daily basis, but in Science class she tries really hard practicing and participating beyond the average student in the class. Jenny is a bright young girl that will be successful in her many years to come as she continues to work diligently.

What Teachers are Saying

Tien is making good progress in class. He displays a cheerful attitude and is always available to help his classmates.

Vu Minh Tien 11A

Tien takes the time he needs to truly understand materials. He is kind, hard-working, honest, and a genuinely good person.

Teacher of the Month There is a teacher in the school who, not only this month but every month, goes beyond what is expected of her in the classroom. Not only is Van Anh Nguuyen an experienced, dedicated and respected teacher, she takes a considerable amount of time organizing events for the school community. Whether it be helping to run the very involved GIN after-school activity or leading the teachers and students in preparation for annual events such as the TET celebration, she can be relied upon to be the source of direction and encouragement, which helps to ensure the success of the event. Most recently, as teachers and students were packing to start their winter vacation, this month’s teacher of the month was busy organizing a trip to a local orphanage, where students who wanted to participate made donations. The history lesson is quite easy to understand when I study with Mrs.Van Anh. She always knows how to stir the class to make the lesson more interesting. Most of the time, she makes sure the whole class has done their homework. Sometimes, she’d rather be serious and strict with us because she wants the best for us.

Student Talk


Meet the Teacher: tival. Being with these caring young people let me know that I was at the right school! American Academy kids are the best. Tell us about one of your favorite foods. I love all food. And I mean all, really. I have yet to visit a country where I did not find something that I just loved to eat. The United States has a great diversity of cuisine and Southern food tends to be fattening, fried and delicious so I love it, but in moderation of course. Proper southern cooking is almost a lost art. I must say Texas BBQ is hard to beat and I love authentic Mexican dishes such as chicken “mole” moh-lay, gorditas and chiles poblanos as well as good Tex-Mex, which can be a unique and incredible mix of Mexican and Texas flavor. Cheese enchiladas rock!!! I also like all foods Korean. I crave kimchee sometimes.

Nguyen Tuan An (Min) met Mr. Daniel Weaver, ISHCMC American Academy’s new Social Studies teacher. If you had to describe yourself with only three adjectives, what would they be? Adventurous, Caring, Open-minded What places have you lived besides Vietnam? I have lived in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, South Korea, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Wow, that’s a lot of places. What languages can you speak? I speak English and Texan. My second language, which is dear to my heart, is Spanish. I love languages and I can speak some Arabic and Hangul (Korean). I would love to learn Vietnamese. Can you tell us about one memorable moment that you’ve experienced in Vietnam? My most memorable moment so far has been visiting the orphanages and homes for the elderly and disabled with the GIN Students during the Moon Fes-


If you could own a summer house anywhere in the world, where would it be? My summer home would be somewhere in the mountains of Mexico in some small village where the weather is mild and life is slow. What is the riskiest or most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? I am a risk-taker at heart, so there are some dangerous things that I have done that I would not repeat of course. Perhaps it is better not to reveal those, lest I tempt some young person to try them.

Daniel weaver Do you have a favorite movie or TV show? My favorite TV show is probably The Amazing Race. I also love the TV show Survivor, but I can’t get it here. I actually tried out for Survivor twice but never made it to the finals. Oh, that’s too bad! I think you would have been a finalist if you made it on the show. Do you have any special or unique talents? I think I am funny sometimes. I have run 18 marathons so far. They were all painful. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? To time travel and see history as it happened would be amazing, wouldn’t it? I wish I could do that!

What did you want to do for a career when you were a child? As a child I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy football player. I did not make it very far. I have always been involved in education. Summer jobs were always cutting grass, picking peas or working at the local grocery store. What were you like in high school? I was a typical teenager from rural East Texas in many ways. I grew up in a small town and my life revolved around deer hunting, fishing, driving pickup trucks, exploring the woods and Sabine River, and living the country life. I was an athlete (football and track) as well as a member of The Future Farmers of America. I listened to all kinds of music but mostly old school country like Hank Williams Jr. and Jerry Jeff Walker. What do you like to do on the weekends? I like to go out for bike rides on my mountain bike (risk-taker!) I was running quite a bit before moving to Vietnam and I need to get back into “runner mode.” I go out some and check out movies regularly.

Why did you choose to teach Social Studies? I have many subjects. I am always passionate about learning something new. There is just so much to know. I love history and geography as well as languages. Regardless of what subject I am teaching, those three elements can be applied, I think. A geographer needs to see new things and a historian needs to experience different places. I am a work in process. Hopefully we are all works in progress. And now for your students: How can they be successful in your class? Students can be successful in my class by consistently keeping a positive attitude and showing that they committed to learning and to improving themselves.


Stars in Training On Stage and Behind the Scenes of American Academy’s first SuperStAAr Me Contest

Our Guest Judges Big Poppa


Julia Monroe Sadie Sweetheart

D Man

Director’s Note This year’s first SuperStAAr Me contest was modeled on popular reality TV shows like X Factor and American Idol. Being a SuperStAAr is more than just being a singer; it’s about learning how to make yourself into an interesting character, use the stage, and connect with the audience through the music. Each contestant had to choose a team to work with. A manager and stylist were required, and some teams chose to also work with a choreographer. The teams worked together to take their contestants’ acts to the next level over two months of training and practice. Read on to find out about this year’s SuperStAAr competition and to see the results of the “glam” photo shoots sponsored by Reverberations. The winner will be working with Mr. Derek Swanson to create a music video! Hope you enjoyed the competition. Will we see you at next year’s auditions?

The SuperStAAr Me Team

Nguyen Ngoc Hoang An – Assistant Director, Stage Manager Chu Thi Tra My – Assistant Director Mrs. Heather Carreiro – Director Mr. Duarte Carreiro – Sound Man Vo Gia Cat – Host


Lily Contestant Vu Ngoc Nam Phuong

Manager Thai My Uyen (Emily)


Lu Tran Ngoc Phuong Interviewed by Nguyen Tich Thien as you can see from her glamour photos, she’s quite a natural model. Why did you sign up for SuperStAAr Me? I wanted a challenge and the chance to Unfortunately, the audience does not seem perform on stage. These were my strongest too interested in slower songs. If Lily enters motivations to join the competition. the competition again next year, I’d like to see her try a song in a different genre, such How did you choose your manager and as country or folk music. I think this would stylist? help her to highlight her voice better and My manager and stylist are the best teamconnect more with the audience. mate that I ever had, they got the aesthetic style and numerous efficiency tips on state. Who do you think is the most dangerous competitor? In my opinion, the most dangerous competitor is Linus. Who has inspired you in your singing? My idol is Avril Lavigne. My favorite song is “I’m with you”

Director’s Comment I really appreciated Lily’s courage as a contestant. She was one of the youngest ones, yet she still chose a very difficult song. She improved a lot during the practices in her use of gestures and facial expression. Also,


c o g N

Duong Bao Ngoc (8B) Contestant

Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen Anh Manager Quach Phoi Minh Stylist Interview by Tran Ngoc Tu Trinh What have you learned from the experiences you gain from the competition? Through the competition, I have gained many wonderful experiences. I improved a lot with using gestures. Now, I can feel more confident when I am on the stage.

Who is someone who has inspired you? The person that inspired me is Taylor Swift. She is very sweet and I also have a big improvement on my facial kind. Her singing voice is unique and lovely. Her songs expression and now I can perform and show the are all gorgeous and full of emotions, and she has mood of the songs better. My movement on beautiful and amazing style. Although Taylor Swift is stage is getting better and better after joining young, she’s very talented. She has won many awards this competition. such as Grammy, People’s Choice, Teen Choice, Young Hollywood and so on. Besides being a singer, Taylor Who do you think is the most DANGEROUS competitor? I think the most dangerous competi- Swift also works with many charity organizations like tor is Ha. Ha is a great singer, and I really love her Red Cross, UNICEF, Children in Need and Hands On Nashville. Taylor Swift gives me a lot inspiration and high and powerful voice. What’s more, when she sings, she expresses her emotion very well. She is she is always my idol. also very confident when she is on stage. I think I What inspired you to join this competition? Things will need a lot of practice to be like her. that inspired me to join this competition is that I really like to sing, and singing makes me feel relaxed and more confident. In addition, I had never joined any singing competition before so I want to challenge myself and see my ability. I want my singing to be better and I want to get over the stage fright. Who are the people who have always supported you in your love for singing and your desire to be a star? My biggest supporters are my family, and friends. They are always there to encourage me to follow my dream, and help me to overcome my stage fright. I really appreciate their support.

Director’s Comment If I had a record company and could choose one contestant to record, it would be Ngoc. Her voice has so much texture to it, and she has a beautiful vibrato. She also sounds great singing in a variety of different genres. As for her stage performance, I’d like to see Ngoc feel more comfortable moving around. Let’s see what she does for next year’s auditions! 11


Contestant: Nguyen Thanh Anh (11A) Manager & Stylist: Nguyen Hai Nguyen Interviewed by Nguyen Bich Hanh (Sally) What inspired you to join this competition? Initially, I was hesitant to join because there are many brilliant contestants, but then my passion for singing and the desire to make myself known as a talented musician won over, so here I am! How would you feel if you won the competition? The feeling would probably be ecstatic, and grateful, because of the support and love the audience gives to me. I think I might be rendered speechless by then. Who do you think are the most DANGEROUS competitors? Linus and Ha. They are wonderful singers and I respect them so much. Is being a real superstar just a dream of yours or a goal you look forward to in the future? Being a singer has always been my ultimate dream ever since I was young. I’m not such an ambitious person, so even though the prospect of being a rock star is tempting, I’d be more than content just doing a job that involves music. I will diligently

study and might major in Music in the university, and yup, I just gotta try my best. Who inspires you? Ironically, my inspiration is the K-pop idols. I’ve always been a big fan of K-pop, and seeing them standing on stage performing so passionately intrigued my dream to become a singer. Who are the people who have always supported you? My mom, definitely. She has always been a great support, and without her, I wouldn’t be able to nurture this love for singing.

Director’s Comment What I love about Lia as a contestant is her willingness to really get into the music and use the whole stage. She is a true chameleon; she could be successful as a pop diva, rocker, or even a country music star. More than any of the other contestants, Lia understands that being a successful music star is also about inhabiting a character and being an actress. I can’t wait to see what she does next!


Contestant: Truong Ngoc Bao Vy (12A)

Manager & Stylist: Tran Vinh Quang (12A) Who is one person that inspires you? Justin Bieber is the one who inspired me the most. Even though he has a lot of anti-fans, I don’t care about that. He has good voice. He always improves to adapt to the audience. He’s also the same age at me. I love JB!

Director’s Comment Jersey ultimately chose to sing a ballad for SuperStAAr Me, however I think she would Interviewed by Khanh Linh Bui have fared better in the competition with a more upbeat song. Maybe even something by What inspired you to join this compe- her idol Justin Bieber. She looks and dresses tition? I love to sing and I want singing like a K-pop star, and she showed off some to be part of my life. cool moves during the Got Talent show. I hope someday we’ll see Jersey let her inner pop star How did you choose your current take the stage! manager and stylist? A manager needs to be brave and make good decisions for me. He should be good at art or fashion trends. Who do you think is the most dangerous competitor? I don’t really care about competitors because I came here to sing and perform the best I can. What is the public image you’re looking forward to as a superstar? I want to become a singer who has kind of unique voice and style so I can impress the audience. Actually I usually dress like a K-Pop star.


a H h te Than ori v a F ’ s udge


has a beautiful voice with good gestures on stage. Besides, she challenges herself in another genre like rock. It feels different than the first time I saw her singing a ballad. She will be a real superstar in future.

Who is someone who inspires you? My idol is Contestant: Tran Thi Thanh Ha (12B) Alicia Keys. Alicia Keys is an American R&B singManager & Stylist: Vo Gia Cat (12B) er-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, Interviewed by Cu Thi Tra My and an amazing actress. Her album earned Key five Grammy Awards in 2002. She has a beautiful strong voice that everybody would want to have. I What have you learned from this competition? really love her, and that is the reason why I chose to I gained a lot of experience. First, I was really surprised by the managerial skills of Cat. She fixed perform her song “If I Ain’t Got You” to perform. my mistakes, helped me to prepare, and calmed me down before the performance. Secondly, I have Who are the people who have always supported you in your love for singing and your desire practiced with Mrs. C for two times. Wow! She is to be a star? Hmm, I think the person who always amazing and professional like a real star. She gave supported me is my mother. She encourages me me tips, which would make me feel more comwhen I practice at home. She listens to my new fortable and confident on the stage. For example, whenever I feel nervous because of people staring songs and gives me many advices. Besides that, she also bought this dress for me. I love my mother. at me, I can just look over their heads. You know what? It works. How would you feel if you won the competition? I think the purpose of this competition is creating a useful playground for students. I do have fun, but I also take this competition seriously. If I won, I would be very proud of myself and my efforts. Who do you think is the most DANGEROUS competitor? Lia. Oh wow, I really admire her. She


Director’s Comment

Thanh Ha has a natural gift in singing that she has worked hard to cultivate. When you hear her voice, it’s easy to see why she was the judges’ favorite. She earned 7 out of 20 total judges’ votes in the competition, with one judge giving her 4 of the total 5 allotted votes! What has impressed me about Ha is that she chooses songs that require a demanding vocal range. Usually I discourage contestants from these “diva” songs, because they are so difficult to pull off. Whenever Ha gets toward the difficult parts or the higher notes, she hits every one perfectly. She makes it look and sound SO easy and natural; it’s amazing. I really hope Ha pursues music in the future. She was born to be a diva!

y r r a H y o Pretty B r ace Winne 2nd Pl

Contestant: Luong Minh Khôi (9B) Manager: Nguyen Ngoc Hoang Thai Stylist Chau Gia Long: Interviewed by Pham Ngoc Chau (Jenny) What inspired you to join this competition? I believe in my talent, and I believe that I can win the show. How did you choose your current manager and stylist? I chose my stylist because he is encouraging and chooses the best outlets to support for my performance. My manager chose a good song for me. How would you feel if you won the competition? If I win the competition, I will feel very happy and excited. My parents will be proud of me because I have tried my best and winning will be my prize. Who do you think is the most DANGEROUS competitor? I think the most dangerous competitor is Linus because he has a beautiful voice, and he can sing any song well with all his skills.

Who are the people who have always supported you in your love for singing and your desire to be a star? The person who always supports me is my mother. She taught me how to sing well, and she inspired me. She also taught me that wining or losing doesn’t matter; I should just be myself and sing my best.

Director’s Comment Harry winning second place was a total surprise for me! When he came for the audition, he sang a very slow Vietnamese ballad. It was so boring, I told him that a song like that would only put the audience to sleep. He missed rehearsals, so I had no idea what he was going to do, and I was quite worried about his performance until the dress rehearsal. hankfully he got the good advice from his manager to go for a rap song instead of a ballad. The choice of a popular song and his fun and confident stage presence were the keys to his success in the competition. Great job team “Pretty Boy Harry”! 15


3rd Place

Ngo Khai Thu & Dinh Ngoc Bao Tram (10A) Manager: Ha Tuy Duc Stylist: Bao Chieu Quan By Pham Thi Thai An

What inspired you to join this competition? We have passion in music and we want to share that with everyone. We also want to gain confidence being on the stage so we can bring our best performance for the audience. How did you choose your current manager and stylist? We chose Linus as the current manager because of his talent in singing and his experience in performing. He helped us a lot in choosing songs, learning how to sing the right way, and organizing the performance on the stage. Quan is our stylist who helped us choose clothes, make-up, and our color scheme. Thanks to both of these guys for helping us a lot! Who are the people who have always supported you in your love What have you learned from the experiences you gain from the competition? Thu: In the past, I used to feel inferi- for singing and your desire to be a or and uncomfortable when I sang in front of a crowd. I used star? Thu : My parents always support me to afraid of the audience and getting bad comments from them. But now, I feel more and more confident as long as we and give me a wonderful opportupractice. I challenged myself by taking part in this competi- nity in my love of singing. They let me learn piano and make my dreams tion. come true. My friend Thu, who I love, Tram: I have practiced for this competition a lot, so my skill in performing and my voice has improved every day. I know I has also given me more motivation to come closer the stage. Tram: My will do my best no matter if I win or lose. parents and my friends support me a Who is the person that inspired you (your idol)? We have lot. They’ve given me the desire to be a star. a lot of inspirations such as Katy Perry, Eminem and Key.

Director’s Comment

What I enjoyed most about working with TNT is their genuine love for singing. They also know how to take constructive criticism and use it to their advantage. During their first audition, they performed Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” which just didn’t seem to be the best song for them. The vocals were uneven, the key wasn’t right, and their style was a bit too casual. I was so impressed when they came back for the next rehearsal with a nicely arranged version of “Mistletoe” and a plan to dress up in Christmas colors. By the time of dress rehearsal, they looked and sounded like genuine pop stars. Congratulations girls!

Double JK Director's Award

er and stylist? Jackie: We chose friends that we know well and are close with. Also, their personalities and characteristics really fit the jobs, and I just know that they have the ability to do their jobs properly. Jessica: Our manager must be a good leader who is organized and keeps us all concentrating on work. Besides, my stylist should be a very fashionable person who must be good at picking clothes. What can we expect from your performance? Jackie: Definitely a new energy. Our performance will be a fun one, but there will also be flirty aspects. Tommy: You guys will see perfection in dancing and singing in my performance. Interviews: Nguyen Thanh Anh, Nguyen Le Who do you think is the most DANGEROUS comBao Ngoc, Luu Nguyen Phuc & petitor? Nguyen Tuan An Jessica, Tommy & Kathy: Linus! Jackie: I’d say Linus and Ngoc because they both Group Members have really good voices. Tran Thuc Quyen (Jessica - 9B) Tran Ke Anh (Tommy - 9B) Vuong Thanh Truc (Jackie - 9B) Mai Thi Phuong Anh (Kathy -9B) Manager: Nguyen Hoang Thuc Uyen Stylist: Ly My Nhu (Jennifer) How did you choose your current manag-

What is the public image you’re looking forward to as a superstar? Jackie: It will be fresh. We’re not too naughty, but not too boring either. We’re aiming for the friendly image. Is being a real superstar just a dream of yours or a goal you look forward to in the future? Kathy: I don’t really want to be a superstar; I just


want to be an ordinary girl. How would you feel if you won the competition? Jackie: It would definitely be a great feeling overall. Besides, this is the first ever SuperstAAr Me competition, so it would be an honor for us to be the first winner of it. Tommy: I’ve never won a competition in singing before. Because of that, I would be so proud of myself if I won this competition.

SuperStA Winner - L

Who are some people who inspire you? Jessica: Beyoncé. She has strong voice, a nice body and a lot of talent. Tommy: My sister would be the one who inspired me. She sings really well. Furthermore, she always says that my singing is so bad. Thus, I have to prove myself to her.

Director’s Comment

Although I supported all the SuperStAAr Me contestants, I was most impressed by Double JK. This group has an amazing work ethic and they are not afraid to take risks. I loved the song choice of “Toxic” by Britney Spears and their concept of having Tommy acting as the toxic poison out to get the girls. The choreography was so creative, and they really learned how to blend their voices and sing together. The manager and stylist really worked together with the singers to make a memorable performance.


The group’s final performance did not go as well as the practices due to Jessica’s absence and technical difficulties with the wireless microphones. They may not have won this year, but I think the members of Double JK will be back with some serious competition in the years to come.


Ta Huy Duc (10A) Contestant Nguyen Ngoc Hoang An Manager Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan Stylist

What inspired you to join the competition? I love singing. I took part in the competition to practice my singing skills, and I wanted to bring my voice to entertain everyone.

Interviewed by Le Hoang Phuong Linh where Performing Arts is a major, although I haven’t thought of any specific schools yet.

Who are the people who have always supported you in your love for singing and your desire to be How did you choose your current manager and a star? My friends and my family always support what I do. I’m really grateful for that. Thank you all! stylist? They’re my best friends so I think they’d understand my style and give me advice about what would fit me best. Also, because we’re close I was really proud of Linus, our very first SuperStAAr to each other we can work together well, and I Me winner. When he first auditioned, he was losing have faith in them. his voice due to a sickness, and he seemed nervous. What can we expect from your performance? He was looking at the floor at lot of the time, and I’ll bring everyone a surprising performance with he wasn’t moving around a lot. I could tell though, the improvements I made through time. from his tapping foot, that he had a natural rhythm and that he really wanted to get more into the music. How would you feel if you won the competiOver time, he learned how to use gestures and facial tion? It would be my pleasure to have people liking my performance. I’d probably also feel sat- expression to connect with the audience more, and isfied and proud if I won the competition because he really gained a lot of confidence in performing. I would have managed to beat other talented Linus could become a true superstar someday becompetitors. I will do my best. cause he works hard and he knows how to put together a trusted team of creative advisors. Great job Who do you think are the most DANGEROUS Linus! competitors? Portraits by Nguyen Ngoc Hoang An I think the most dangerous competitors are Lia and Ha. They both have such distinguished and beautiful voices that I really adore. Although I won another talent competition way back during CCC times, I think Ha’s and Lia’s voices have improved since and they are strong competitors now.

Director’s Comment

What is the public image you’re looking forward to as a superstar? I never thought of it, but I’d go for a gentleman image because I’m really not good at looking street styles, punk or even sexy! Is being a real superstar just a dream of yours or a goal you look forward to in the future? Being a real superstar is my dream and also my goal. I’m thinking of applying to a university


Behind the Scenes: SuperStAAr Photos One of the prizes for our SuperStAAr Me finalists was the chance to do a “Glam” photo shoot with the staff of Reverberations. No big deal for us right? Well, we had to figure out exactly how we wanted to photograph these contestants. We started by looking at some fashion photo shoots in magazines and discussing how we could use different backgrounds to give variety to the photos. Since we don’t have a photo studio, we went around the school grounds and looked for interesting places to take photos. We practiced getting different angles by having some students pose as models. Some of our favorite locations were unexpected: the fire escape stairs, behind the sports court nets, and at the school gate. We realized the bright green of the grass and the deep blue of the gates could add some color and contrast to the photos. On the day of the shoot, we also had to find some props so that our photos would be more interesting. We were looking for fancy glasses for Thanh Ha, to enhance her diva look, and all we could find were white, ceramic tea cups from the Student Lounge! Fortunately, the photo of Thanh Ha sipping the her tea cup actually came out great. Here’s some of our practice photos for you to enjoy!



University Prep Tips: Arrive Early It goes without saying that you must arrive to your interview on time. I strongly recommend taking it one step further, though, by arriving early. Gather your thoughts, sip on some water to safeguard against future cottonmouth, and take this time to remind yourself of the basics: Shake hand firmly, look the interviewer in the eye, smile on occasion, and show your enthusiasm for the school.


Ms. Mirrell Desjardins gives the scoop on college interview strategies.

Again, this interview is all about you. Relax. Be yourself. You’re prepared. The interviewer is trying to get to know you. With that in mind, do not hesitate to elaborate. It’s always best to speak in complete sentences — you know that. But it’s even better to speak in many complete sentences. You must explain yourself. You think you’d be a great fit at a particular school, but why? You really liked a particular class or book in high school, but why? If you’re constantly asking yourself “why,” the interviewer won’t have to; plus, you’ll come off as twice more self-aware than the poor sap before you that could only muster enough courage to respond with an awkward “because.”

Interviewing is one of the final steps students will take toward college application success. It’s also one of the most daunting. Whereas the essay gives you the opportunity to write and revise endlessly, the Ask Questions interview is a one-time deal. You’ve got to make it count. Here are some tips that will help your children (or you) stand out and shine in a college admissions Consider your interviewer. You’ll want to ask the interviewer a few informed questions for three fairly obvious reasons. The first interview. is that it’ll reinforce that active curiosity you’ve been talking so much about. The second is that, to some degrees you’re interKnow Your School viewing the school. There will be questions or concerns that, for as much as you delved into the school’s website, have gone You’ve already done the school research, now you just need to review everything. Perhaps not surpris- unaddressed. If you feel you’ve got all the information you could ingly, we suggest you start reviewing prior to the day ever need, I still recommend asking at least a few follow-up quesof the meeting. Just as we would never recommend tions. Finally, remember that this is a conversation you’re having with an actual person. This person wants you to ask questions, cramming for the SATs on the way to the testing center, we do not recommend cramming for your in- not only about the school itself but also about the interviewer terview either — it will only make you more nervous personally. That’s just how pleasant conversations work. during an already nerve-wracking experience.

Know Yourself

Mock Interviews

Practice makes perfect. Whether it is with a friend, parent or teacher mock interviews can be an extremely helpful tool in Remember, this interview is about you, not how your interview preparation. Sure, you’ll know the answers to many school facts you’ve memorized. During your your mock-interviewer’s questions because you’ve done your prep time, consider not only how you fit into the homework but responding out-loud can be a challenge all its school’s academic and social atmosphere, but also how you’ve come to be the charming and inquisitive own. On the next page are our top 25 most frequently asked interview questions. If you prepare and practice your answers person you are today. to these questions, you should be well on your way to acing the college admissions interview.


How to Ace an Interview Top 25 College Interview Questions 1. Why do you want to go to college? 2. Why do you want to come to _____ (NAME OF COLLEGE)? (Be specific!) 3. How do you make a difference in your high school community and how do you envision yourself making an impact at _______ (NAME OF COLLEGE)? 4. What inspires you intellectually? 5. What was your most challenging course in high school? Why? 6. Which authors, books, or articles have had a profound effect on you? 7a. What would you change about your high school if you had the chance? 7b. What do you enjoy about your school? 8. How have you changed or grown through high school? 9a. What things do you do well and find most satisfying? 9b. What are your strengths and talents? 10. Which weaknesses would you like to improve? 11. Are you satisfied with your accomplishments so far? 12. How do you respond to academic competition and pressure? 13. How would you describe your family? Your community? 14. What was the biggest obstacle you have faced so far in your life and how did you get through it? 15. What three adjectives would your best friend use to describe you? Why? 16. What do you plan to study in college? Why? 17. What do you like to do for fun? 18. How do you spend your summers? 19. What do you hope to do with your college education after graduation? 20. If you could take a year off, how would you spend it? 21. How do you define success? 22. Tell a joke. 23. What makes you unique? 24. In this week’s news, which issue(s) have you been most concerned about? 25. Do you have any heroes or heroines? Who are they and why do you admire them? 25

Vietnam in My Heart

Le Mai Anh reminsces about Tet while she is away from home. This essay was written for Creative Nonfiction (Writing 114), a Syracuse University course offered to grade 11 and 12 students. The Night Before Tet - Away from Home While other Vietnamese were excitedly preparing for the traditional Tet Holiday, I sat there by myself on the chair, playing Candy Crush on my Ipad with the out-of-date movie Mean Girls on. I turned the volume louder and louder, afraid that without those sounds, everything would feel completely deserted. Everyone in the dorm, including my roommate, had gone to either attend parties or sleepovers, so no one was there on Vietnamese New Year’s Eve. Alone, I closed my eyes. It was the first Tet I had experienced loneliness. Suddenly, an immense nostalgia flooded me. Memories of the last Tet holiday followed one after another, flowing in my mind like a merry song. *** The weather had become warmer. Buds and shoots burst, and the swallows glided in the sky. All signified the arrival of Spring. Tet was coming. The atmosphere of Tet was as energetic as usual. Everything seemed fresh and enthusiastic to welcome the Goddess of Spring. The house was carefully swept and scrubbed a few days ago, with the hope to get rid of the bad fortunes associated with the old year. Near the entrance, apricot blossoms and pink blossoms that Dad bought bloomed and showed off their colorful petals. They spread a sweet scent all over the house, flowing into the kitchen, merging with the smell of pork stew. The pork, raw and unattractive as it might be, under Mom’s skillful hands, transformed into appealing chestnut pieces surrounding by yellow eggs. On the table was a plate containing five kinds of traditional fruit and a chung cake covered with green leaves; the cake brightened up the whole house with its colorful, cozy looks. But, the best part of Tet was not the beautiful decorations, nor the delectable food. What stirred up my excitement were the little red envelopes containing a mysterious amount of money given to children on New Year’s Day. As symbol of luck and wealth, the red envelopes happily slept in adults’ pockets, waiting to be woken up by the children’s wishes. It was not the money that delighted me, but the way my parents laughed at the amusing wishes I spent days coming up with before receiving my lucky present. The house and the food were ready, and we patiently waited for the clock to strike twelve. My family went upstairs to the terrace to have the best view of


the fireworks. We all sat there, side by side. I felt the warmth and peace spreading in the air. Down below, the streets were adorned with colorful flowers, national flags, and banners adorned with “Happy New Year.” Only then was my mom allowed to have the lemon seeds I had bought weeks ago to separate from the shells. She always snuck some seeds out before the set time, which was supposed to be New Year’s Eve. We all took a handful of the ivory seeds. They were crunchy and delicious. All of the sudden, a loud sound echoed. I turned right, looked up, and I saw them. Clusters of blossoms of rainbow followed one another to adorn the immense black sky. The magical fireworks appeared and vanished, gently and pleasantly, as if they were representing the circle of life. I stared at the shining sky. Another year was over, taking with it all of the past, and a new year had begun to twist its spindle. New Year brought new intentions and new hopes. My parents urged me to make some wishes before the fireworks ended. I closed my eyes. I wished that my family would always stay healthy and happy. I promised myself to study harder, stop delaying the housework, and think more carefully before speaking. *** “You didn’t sleep yet?” The door opened. My roommate finally returned. “No, Jess. Glad you’re back.” I nodded, faked a smile, and got back into my bed. Through the window, I threw my sight into the eternal black sky. Still a black sky, but it is so different from what I used to see back home. In the dark and quiet, I realized that it was time to return to present. I stopped thinking about flashbacks and thought instead about my next day’s classes. My eyes closed. There would still be five months ‘til summer before returning home, and three or more days of Tet that I would be here, alone. Those thoughts stuck in my head. I kept thinking about them as the sun began to rise.

Meet the Author Anh Le is currently a junior at ISHCMC-American Academy. She holds a strong passion in arts, science, and technology. She loves wandering through cultures, meeting new people and organizing events of many kinds. Catch her at


ISHCMC AA Newsletter February 2014 - English  
ISHCMC AA Newsletter February 2014 - English