La Lettre JUNE 2018
french american international school | international high school
lycĂŠe international franco-amĂŠricain
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french american international school | international high school lycée international franco-américain
june 2018 | in this issue 4 HEAD OF SCHOOL
56 THE FRENCH BAC
La Lettre is published by the Office
8 BOARD OF TRUSTEES
62 DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Contents © 2018
12 IN MEMORY 14 STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE 18 YEAR-IN-REVIEW 32 RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM 38 MIDDLE SCHOOL VOICES 48 THE IB PROGRAM
66 GLOBAL TRAVEL 76 ALUMNI 86 ATHLETICS 94 ARTS 102 GRADUATES 104 COMMUNITY
of Communication, with tremendous thanks to all who contributed content. Keelee Wrenn, Director Jessica Tripoli, Associate Director Rick Gydesen, Publications French American International School International High School Lycée International Franco-Américain 150 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 558-2000
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Scarlett, 1st Grade
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head of school
Personal Connections With Our Students
am a school person because I love being part of the lives of children, teenagers, and their families. I delight in the relationships I am able to form with our students. Every day on campus renews the connection: lower school students shout “Bonjour!” as they skip past me into the Hickory and Oak Street play yards. Middle schoolers greet me at 150 Oak as I hold open the front doors, wishing me a “Bonne journée” as they head for the stairs, while high school students smile sleepily and make room in the elevator to the 5th floor. And every Friday morning at the Maternelle, I open car doors during drop off, inviting our youngest students out of their car seats and into the warm embrace of their classrooms. At the heart of the work of school is the personal connection we make with students. Everything we do in school is in service to them. As Head of School, much of my work is with adults—parents and teachers, administrators and trustees—in meetings and conversations
about our students’ experiences. In order to understand that experience better, I cultivate ways to connect to our students and their families. Among the most enjoyable are my shadow days. Shadowing our students provides me with a deeper sense of our students’ daily journeys. Again this year, I followed three students, spending an entire school day in each section of our school. Each shadow day brought new insight into the lived experience of our students and renewed appreciation for their teachers. With Scarlett, Max, and Mia, in first, seventh, and ninth grades, I saw firsthand our mission and values at work. As I followed each of these students and their friends through a day of school, I reaffirmed my belief that we have the most talented teachers with whom I have ever worked. I was struck, for example, by the ability of a first grade teacher not only to connect with every one of her students but also to adeptly pace the day so that students were at their best for every activity. She oversaw
Max, 7th Grade
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head of school
"Shadowing students every year deepens my understanding and appreciation of our students. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of their growing up." and guided the relationships between students, finding the balance between challenging young minds while still supporting students’ social and emotional needs. It was refreshing to be reminded about what matters to students, and I was moved by the relationships between them. In the Middle School, for example, I had the pleasure of spending the day with a group of seventh grade boys. Entirely irreverent and utterly hilarious, they were also incredibly dear: the friendships between them ran deep, and their affection towards each other was authentic and uninhibited. It enlivened their learning—and my day. Finally, shadowing increased my admiration of our students. I was astonished by what they accomplish every day. We may never work as hard again as we do in high school! At International, students manage at least six academic subjects, each with a different teacher, often in more than one language. To these they add arts, athletics, clubs, and other after-school activities, not to mention the cultivation of friendships that are so critical during these years, and they still bound down the stairs at the end of the day as they head home to family and homework. Shadowing students every year by no means provides me with the whole picture, but it deepens my understanding and appreciation of the work of my colleagues and of our students. It affirms my belief in this international educational experience and allows me to support our teachers as they educate our children. Most important, this activity centers my work on the place of deepest meaning in school—the lived experience of our students, from the moment they walk into school to their departure for home after rehearsal, practice, or the After School Program. This year’s La Lettre will provide you with a deeper look into that experience, by shadowing our students in and out of the classroom. From social emotional learning in the Lower School, to student-led learning in the Middle School, to global travel in the Galápagos in the High School, our students are fearless cross-cultural learners. Their energy and enthusiasm inspire all of us daily. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of their growing up.
MELINDA BIHN, ED. D.
HEAD OF SCHOOL / PROVISEUR
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’aime le milieu scolaire parce que j'aime faire partie de la vie des enfants, des adolescents et de leurs familles. Les relations que je peux ainsi nouer avec nos élèves me comblent de joie. Chaque journée sur le campus est l’occasion de ranimer ce lien : les élèves du primaire me lancent un « Bonjour ! » alors qu’ils passent en sautillant devant les cours des rues Hickory et Oak. Les collégiens me saluent au 150 Oak alors que je leur ouvre les portes d'entrée, et me souhaitent une « Bonne journée » en se dirigeant vers les escaliers, tandis que les lycéens m’adressent un sourire ensommeillé et me font de la place dans l'ascenseur jusqu'au 5ème étage. Et tous les vendredis matins à la Maternelle, j’ouvre les portes des voitures à l’arrivée de nos plus jeunes élèves, pour les inviter à sortir de leurs sièges auto et à nous embrasser chaleureusement dans leurs salles de classe. Le lien personnel que nous établissons avec les élèves se trouve au cœur de l’œuvre de l’établissement. Tout ce que nous faisons à l'école est à leur service. En tant que proviseure de l'établissement, une grande partie de mon travail concerne les adultes – les parents et enseignants, les administrateurs et membres du conseil de gestion – dans le cadre de réunions et de conversations sur les expériences de nos élèves. Pour mieux comprendre cette expérience, je cultive des façons de communiquer avec nos élèves et leurs familles. Mes journées d’observation des enfants sont parmi les plus agréables. L'observation de nos élèves me permet de m’immerger dans leur quotidien. Cette année encore, j'ai suivi trois élèves, et passé une journée entière dans chaque section de notre établissement. Chaque journée d’observation m’a permis de voir l'expérience vécue par nos élèves sous un nouvel éclairage et je n’en ai que plus d’appréciation pour le travail de leurs enseignants. Avec Scarlett, Max et Mia, en CP, 5e et 3e, j'ai pu voir notre mission et nos valeurs à l’œuvre de mes propres yeux. L’observation de chacun de ces élèves et de leurs amis tout au long d’une journée à l’école m’a confortée dans ma conviction selon laquelle nos enseignants sont les plus compétents avec lesquels j’ai jamais travaillé. J'ai été frappée, par exemple, par le fait qu’une enseignante de CP pouvait non seulement nouer des liens avec tous ses élèves mais aussi gérer habilement le rythme de la journée pour faire en sorte que chacun de ses élèves puisse donner le meilleur de lui-même lors de chaque activité. Elle supervisait les élèves et orientait leurs interactions, et savait trouver le juste équilibre entre la
head of school
stimulation de leurs jeunes esprits et le soutien en réponse à leurs besoins sociaux affectifs. C’est là un rappel salutaire de ce qui compte pour les élèves, et j'ai été touchée par les relations entre eux. Au collège, par exemple, j'ai eu le plaisir de passer la journée avec un groupe de garçons de cinquième. À la fois totalement irrévérencieux et tout à fait hilarants, ils étaient aussi incroyablement proches : ils étaient liés d’une amitié profonde, et leur affection les uns envers les autres était authentique et exubérante. Elle enrichissait leur apprentissage - et a égayé ma journée. Enfin, cette activité d’observation n’a fait qu’accroître mon admiration pour nos élèves. J'ai été époustouflée par ce qu'ils accomplissent tous les jours. Il est possible que nous ne travaillions jamais plus autant qu’au lycée ! À International, les élèves gèrent au moins six matières scolaires, chacune avec un enseignant différent, souvent dans plus d'une langue. À celles-ci viennent s'ajouter les arts, les activités sportives, les clubs et d'autres activités périscolaires, sans parler de la culture d'amitiés si essentielles au cours de ces années, et ils n’en descendent pas moins les escaliers d’un pas léger à la fin de la journée pour rentrer chez eux et y faire leurs devoirs. L’observation des élèves chaque année ne me permet pas d’appréhender leur expérience dans son intégralité, mais elle approfondit ma compréhension et mon appréciation du travail de mes collègues et de nos élèves. Elle réaffirme ma foi en cette expérience éducative internationale et me permet de soutenir nos enseignants dans leur travail auprès de nos enfants. Plus important encore, cette activité centre mon travail sur ce qui se trouve au cœur de l'école l'expérience vécue par nos élèves, du moment où ils entrent à l'école à leur retour après la répétition, l’entraînement ou le programme périscolaire. Vous trouverez dans le numéro de La Lettre de cette année un bilan plus détaillé de cette expérience d’observation de nos élèves dans la salle de classe et hors de celle-ci. De l'apprentissage socio-affectif au primaire à l'apprentissage dirigé par les élèves au collège, en passant par les voyages internationaux aux Galápagos au lycée, nos élèves sont d’audacieux apprenants transculturels. Leur énergie et leur enthousiasme sont tous les jours une source d’inspiration. C'est un honneur et un privilège de prendre part à leur épanouissement.
mission Guided by the principles of academic rigor and diversity, the French American International School offers programs of study in French and English to prepare its graduates for a world in which the ability to think critically and to communicate across cultures is of paramount importance. Guidé par des principes de rigueur académique et de diversité, le Lycée International Franco-Américain propose des programmes en français et en anglais, pour assurer la réussite de ses diplômés dans un monde dans lequel la pensée critique et la communication interculturelle seront déterminantes.
values Our international community brings together people from many backgrounds. Together we strive to create a shared culture that develops compassionate, confident and principled people who will make the world better. We base our community on these values: Respect, Integrity, Inclusion, Collaboration, and Curiosity. Notre communauté internationale rassemble des personnes de toutes origines. Ensemble, nous contribuons à créer une culture qui forme des êtres altruistes et déterminés. Dotés d’un sens moral, ils œuvrent à un monde meilleur. Notre communauté repose sur les valeurs suivantes : Respect, Intégrité, Inclusion, Collaboration, et Curiosité.
Mia, 9th Grade (center)
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board of trustees
conseil de gestion board of trustees
Josh Nossiter Chair Andrea Kennedy Vice Chair Chris Bonomo Secretary Stephane de Bord Treasurer Jean Paul Balajadia Clydene Bultman John Cate Orpheus Crutchfield Stephan Forget Jon Fulk Judith Glickman Kate Green Philippe Grenier Diane Jones-Lowrey Ron Kahn Paul Loeffler David Low Rob Mee Laurie Poston Carey Wintroub Debbie Zachareas
honorary trustees Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens Consul Général de France, Honorary Chair Stephane Ré Consular Representative in tribute We would like to thank the following Trustees for their years of dedicated service to French American and International: Clydene Bultman (2012–2018) Judith Glickman (2012–2018) Diane Jones-Lowrey (2009–2018) Ron Kahn (2006–2018) David Low (2009–2018)
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BOARD’S EYE VIEW BY JOSH NOSSITER
When the past catches up, look to the future
fter a considerable number of years in the French American saddle, it was bound to happen: the children of my children's contemporaries are entering our Maternelle. I met one such family at the State of the School gathering earlier this spring, enthusiastically describing the French American experience being re-lived through their child. The next dozen years for this couple will surely be a fascinating blend of the new and the familiar, a most excellent adventure. Although it's a little early to write the conclusion to their French American tale, I will with reasonable confidence make a prediction or three about aspects of the shape of things to come for their young scholar around the year 2030. I had my seventh birthday on the SS France, the longest ocean liner in the world in the year 1964, steaming from New York to Le Havre. In those days major newspapers treated their foreign correspondents like top diplomats, and my father was heading to Paris in high style to take up a post as European Economics Correspondent for the Washington Post; his wife, four sons, and several thousand books in tow. I
can still taste the ham sandwiches on buttered baguette that sustained the birthday party. We boys had the run of the ship in that era of laissez-faire parenting, and a better children's playground than an ocean liner at sea will never be conceived. That freedom to roam set the tone for the rest of my childhood. In the coming years, my brothers and I walked and bused, and rode the Paris metro, London Underground, and New Delhi auto-rickshaws to get to school, to go to movies, to visit our friends. We were delightfully unsupervised much of the time and, isolated incidents of running amok apart, we largely stayed out of trouble. Navigating large foreign cities as a child instilled a certain selfconfidence, a self-reliance, a trust in one's ability to communicate and improvise and find one's way not easily obtained by other means. Consciously or not, my parents gave their children an immense gift.
Anxiety, misplaced These experiences were why I attended precisely one French American pre-trip meeting in three decades of association with the school. It was most likely before my eldest child's 5th grade Paris exchange, over twenty
board of trustees trustees
years ago, a gathering of slightly (some were mightily) anxious parents and teachers doing their best to be informative and calming. The parental questions about matters great and small, the expressions of concern about safety and welfare and supervision and diet, had the effect of winding up the room. Rather than allaying fears, the anxiety was contagious. “But it's going to be okay!” I wanted to shout. Your children are smart, resilient, adaptable, well-prepared. They're going on a great adventure and will remember it for the rest of their lives. They'll emerge stronger, more sophisticated, more capable than before. Perhaps I should have spoken up, though rather than reassuring I would probably have been viewed as a clueless eccentric with extraplanetary opinions. Instead, I skipped all the rest of my children's pre-trip meetings. And after traveling to France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Tahiti, and other destinations that are now a blur to me, they were indeed okay. Much better than that in fact, with new survival skills and a permanent view of the rest of the world as their own backyard, a conviction that no matter where they found themselves they would both fit in and never be lost. This, it's worth noting, was long before GPS in the pocket was a commonplace. They learned lessons that extend beyond mere travel into every arena of life, from the academy to the workplace to the home. The gift my parents bequeathed to me has been passed down to my children. Your own French American children are in the process of acquiring that same lifetime boon.
A sure bet What then of today's young Maternelle scholar, leaving the friendly confines of International High School in 2030? She will be sophisticated, articulate in at least two and likely three languages, self-reliant, knowledgeable, adaptable, engaged with the world and her peers, curious, empathetic, and capable far beyond the ordinary. Versed in history and literature,
grounded in science and math, she will be unafraid to tackle new challenges, eager to embrace new experiences, receptive to multiple points of view, and skeptical of anything lacking sound intellectual provenance. In short, a French American student. See me twelve years hence to check my prediction. I'll wager a jambonbeurre and a bottle of Volnay that I will not have been far wrong. Correspondence is welcome, to email@example.com
Quand le passé nous rattrape, regardons vers l'avenir Après un grand nombre d'années dans le bain franco-américain, cela devait arriver : les enfants des contemporains de mes enfants entrent à notre maternelle. J'ai rencontré une de ces familles lors de la réunion sur l'État de l'établissement au début du printemps. Elle m’a décrit avec enthousiasme l'expérience franco-américaine qu’elle revit par l’intermédiaire de son enfant. La dizaine d’années à venir pour ce couple sera sûrement un mélange fascinant d’expériences nouvelles et familières, une aventure on ne peut plus formidable. Bien qu'il soit encore un peu tôt pour écrire la conclusion de leur histoire franco-américaine, je peux raisonnablement m’aventurer à prédire quelques-unes des expériences qui attendent leur jeune élève vers 2030. J'ai fêté mon septième anniversaire en 1964 sur le SS France, le plus long paquebot du monde qui reliait New York au Havre. Les grands journaux traitaient alors leurs correspondants étrangers comme des diplomates de haut niveau, et mon père se rendait à Paris en grande pompe pour occuper un poste de correspondant économique européen pour le Washington Post, avec sa femme, ses quatre fils et plusieurs milliers de livres. Je peux encore sentir le
goût des sandwichs jambon-beurre à la baguette servis lors de la fête d'anniversaire. Nous, les garçons, pouvions gambader à notre guise sur le bateau à cette époque de laisserfaire parental, et on ne trouvera jamais un meilleur terrain de jeu pour les enfants qu'un paquebot. Cette liberté de mouvement caractérisera le reste de mon enfance. Au cours des années qui ont suivi, mes frères et moi sommes allés à l'école, au cinéma, et chez nos amis à pied, en autobus, en métro à Paris et Londres, et en pousse-pousse à New Delhi. Nous échappions la plupart du temps avec le plus grand bonheur à toute surveillance et, à l’exception de quelques incidents isolés de perte de contrôle, nous sommes largement restés sur le droit chemin. Le fait de se déplacer seul dans de grandes villes étrangères dès l’enfance permet d’acquérir une certaine assurance, une autonomie, et une confiance en sa capacité à communiquer, improviser et trouver son chemin, difficilement inculquées par d'autres moyens. Consciemment ou non, mes parents ont fait un immense cadeau à leurs enfants.
Une anxiété injustifiée C’est en raison de ces expériences que je n’ai assisté qu’à une réunion d’information sur un voyage au Lycée International Franco-Américain en trente ans d'association avec l'établissement. C'était probablement avant l'échange avec Paris alors que mon fils était en CM2, il y a plus de vingt ans. Des parents et enseignants légèrement anxieux (certains plus que légèrement) s’efforçaient d’être informatifs et d’apaiser les craintes des parents. Les questions des parents sur des aspects plus ou moins importants, les expressions d'inquiétude en ce qui concerne la sécurité, le bien-être, la supervision et l'alimentation, avaient suscité une certaine tension dans la salle. Loin d’être apaisée, l'anxiété était contagieuse. « Mais ça va aller ! », voulais-je crier. Vos enfants sont intelligents, résilients, adaptables, bien LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 9
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préparés. Ils partent pour une belle aventure et s'en souviendront pour le reste de leur vie. Ils en émergeront plus forts, plus sophistiqués, plus capables qu'avant. Peut-être aurais-je dû prendre la parole, même si, au lieu de rassurer, j'aurais probablement été considéré comme un excentrique paumé aux opinions extravagantes. J’ai préféré m’abstenir d’assister à toutes les autres réunions de préparation des voyages de mes enfants. Et ils sont revenus de leurs voyages en France, en Allemagne, au Burkina Faso, à Tahiti, et vers d'autres destinations dont le souvenir se dissipe maintenant, en excellente santé. Beaucoup mieux que cela en fait, avec de nouvelles compétences en matière de survie, un sentiment de familiarité avec le reste du monde enraciné à jamais dans leur esprit, et une conviction selon laquelle quel que soit l’endroit
où ils se trouveront, ils s’y intégreront et ne seront jamais perdus. Il est intéressant de souligner que c’était longtemps avant que nous ayons tous un GPS dans la poche. Ils ont appris des leçons qui vont au-delà du simple voyage et qui s’appliquent à toutes les sphères de la vie, de la vie scolaire au travail et à la maison. J’ai transmis à mes enfants le cadeau que mes parents m'ont légué. Vos propres enfants franco-américains bénéficient de ces mêmes bienfaits et de ce coup de pouce dans la vie.
adaptable, à l’écoute du monde et de ses pairs, curieux, empathique et capable bien au-delà de l'ordinaire. Versé dans l'histoire et la littérature, bénéficiant d’une fondation solide en science et en mathématiques, il n'aura pas peur de relever de nouveaux défis, de se lancer dans de nouvelles expériences. Il sera réceptif à de multiples points de vue, et sceptique de tout ce qui ne repose pas sur de solides bases intellectuelles. Bref, ce sera un élève du Lycée International Franco-Américain.
Un pari gagnant
On se retrouvera dans douze ans pour vérifier ma prédiction. Je parie un jambon-beurre et une bouteille de Volnay que je ne me serai pas beaucoup trompé.
Qu'est-ce qui attend alors un jeune élève aujourd’hui en maternelle, lorsqu’il quittera l’atmosphère conviviale et chaleureuse du lycée international en 2030 ? Il sera sophistiqué, pourra s’exprimer dans au moins deux et probablement trois langues, sera autonome, bien informé,
N’hésitez pas à me transmettre toute correspondance éventuelle à firstname.lastname@example.org
FIRST-EVER TRUSTEE ALUMNI EVENT: Last fall, former members of the Board of Trustees gathered at the Maternelle campus with current Board
members and former colleagues. For some, the event marked their first visit to the Page Street campus — a poignant moment for those who served when plans and proposals for a dedicated early childhood space were a distant dream. Former board chair Tex Schenkkan initiated the event, citing the need “to come together once a year and talk.” LEFT TO RIGHT: Allan Basbaum, Adam Cioth, Tex Schenkkan, and current (and outgoing) Board Chair, Josh Nossiter.
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Board Chair Josh Nossiter delivering the Trustee Address at the 2018 International High School Graduation Ceremony LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 11
In Memory of Aaron Goodstein and Olga Perkovic his year, we lost two cherished members of the French American and International community. On March 4, first grader Aaron Goodstein and his mother Olga Perkovic passed away in a tragic snow accident. Olga was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and was educated there as well as in Paris, Brussels, and New York. She met her husband David, who shared her passion for fencing, film, and food, at Cornell University, where they both received PhDs in Physics. She was a highly accomplished executive who led and
consulted several large, innovative companies. Olga was fluent in English, French, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish, and was an avid skier. Most important, she was a beloved wife and wonderful mother to three lovely children, Sophie, Daria, and Aaron. Aaron grew up at French American, watching his sisters attend school and then matriculating here in PK4. He was a quick, lively child, and a good friend, cherished by his classmates and teachers. Below we share memories of Aaron and Olga, provided by members of our community.
Aaron was a quick learner—he was very curious, made connections easily, and was always asking questions. In class he quickly mastered reading in both French and English, and had a deep love of books. He had a very inquisitive mind and always wanted to know how things worked and why the English language did not follow rules in words like it was supposed to. He used to say that it was because English was just plain weird, and would say this with a huge smile across his face. He loved to listen to stories in English class, and would get particularly excited if he heard a story in class that his mom had read to him. His insights and discussions enriched our class, as he often shared his thoughts with both depth and humor. Aaron also developed great friendships. He was not very interested in ball games, but he and his best friend Remi engaged in deep discussions, and played wonderful imaginary games, laughing and running in the yard with mysterious looks on their faces. He loved jokes, and experimented with bilingual play on words, to the delight of his friends. When Aaron’s classmates were asked what they like about him, they shared:
One thing everyone remembers is Aaron’s large smile, and the twinkle in his eyes. This large smile was for everyone— and will be remembered by each one of us.
Olga Perkovic was a woman who always stood out in our community. She was a striking, tall, articulate woman who enjoyed being a mother and parent at the school. She was as happy cheering on the volleyball sidelines as she was asking strategic questions at the State of the School addresses. She loved her children fiercely and wanted them to be independent, but also intuitively knew what her children needed: whether that was more time to sleep in the morning or an extra phone call from her at night. She made her children's lunches— cooked lunches—every morning. I often told her she set the wrong example for the rest of us. Olga artfully juggled the working mother role, carefully carving out time to volunteer with the school; it was important to her to be an active part of the school community. She was remarkably adept at encouraging parents to participate in the Annual Fund—articulate, persuasive, and unwilling to take no for an answer. And Olga was a remarkable friend. She listened, she sympathized, and she laughed. Olga always had a perspective that made the world seem more in order. I am grateful she was a part of my life.
Written by Aaron’s past and current teachers, with contributions from his 1st grade friends
Written by Andrea Kennedy, fellow parent, colleague, and friend
Aaron, I like the way you are always kind and loving. I like how you are funny, and how you are very smart. I like you because you are everyone’s friend. Aaron, j’aime tes plaisanteries, j’aime comme tu es gentil avec les autres. Aaron, I like how you are not like anyone else.
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strategic plan update
Connecting Our Community
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strategic plan update
international program promise
Strategic Plan Update
year ago, our entire community reflected on our identity, school community, student experience, and financial vision, and began planning our future. This work was led by our Board of Trustees, and included 22 focus groups with faculty, staff, trustees, current and prospective students and parents; 13 community conversations with parents, students, faculty and staff; and over 650 surveys from our 800+ families. The result is our strategic plan, which sets our compass for the coming years. We began work on this plan this year and implemented several initiatives toward our goals, and we look forward to continuing this work in the coming year.
An academic program that enables our students to grapple with challenging concepts in the sciences, mathematics, humanities, social sciences, and arts in more than one culture ď‚Ł Design Technology implementation completed in Middle and High School, including IB Design Tech ď‚Ł New assessment standards designed by middle and high school faculty to provide students with more meaningful classroom feedback ď‚Ł Professional learning and growth cycle for teachers designed and piloted, empowering teachers to establish their own goals and professional development plan
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strategic plan update
vibrant urban campus
A caring culture that imparts to our students the ability to navigate the world with confidence, command, empathy, and joy
A campus that meets the needs of our students and is an integral part of San Francisco
Responsive Classroom training provided to all lower school and maternelle teachers as well as leaders of the After School Program
Urban Engagement Program, led by our new Urban Engagement Coordinator, established to complement our Global Travel Program and to connect us to our city
Advisory Program in Middle and High School enhanced to foster deeper connections among students and advisors Student Council newly invigorated in both Lower and Middle School, with increased focus on civic engagement, student voices, and more service learning opportunities Director of Diversity and Inclusion welcomed Diversity Readers Series implemented in Lower and Middle School for students and families; student diversity organizations in Middle and High School established and enhanced, respectively; and professional development in diversity and inclusion provided to faculty and staff
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150 Oak updated, with renovations to the Hickory lobby and the first floor to make entrances more welcoming Hickory play yard renovated with redesigned play structures Planning begun for a standalone, purpose-built high school at 98 Franklin
strategic plan update
proud, engaged community
culture of giving
A community in which parents, students, teachers, and alumni feel connection to and pride in our school
A community that is continually inspired to support the aspirations of our school
First school-wide, back-to-school picnic, hosted by the Parent Association, with more than 800 students, parents, faculty and staff in attendance
Annual Fund, which directly promotes our students’ and teachers’ experiences, received recordbreaking support
New alumni events established, including the holiday reunion, college student care packages, and the Young Alum Lunch for seniors
Annual Auction was the largest in school history, with nearly 400 parents attending and more than $500,000 raised
All-School Parent Association engaged our families across all school sections, led by co-presidents from Lower and High School
Cercle du Proviseur, our leadership giving event, attended by more than 150 parent attendees
Rebranding work begun, building on focus groups, community conversations, and market research completed last year
Feasibility study launched for standalone high school capital project
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THE YEAR IN REVIEW 1
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TO THE MOUNTAINS THEY GO: Students in grades 6-8 start the school year retreating to Camp Little Basin, Yosemite National Park, and Mount Lassen. NICE TO MEET YOU: High school students spend the first few days community-building at orientation and on retreats to the Mother Lode River Center, the Community of the Great Commission Camp, and the Westminster Woods Camp. FOOD TRUCKS & FRIENDS: French American and International families celebrate the start of a new school year with a picnic on the Great Lawn at Fort Mason.
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4 ITâ€™S PLAY TIME
Lower school students enjoy the new play structures in the Hickory Yard. High school design students learn new skills on a visit to TechShop San Francisco
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ILLUSION OF MOTION: Blending art and technology, Design Tech teacher Xavier Le Renard demonstrates a zoetrope to middle school students as part of an animation project. DELEGATES & COLLABORATORS: Lower School Student Council representatives in grades 1-5 meet over lunch to discuss hopes and goals for their classes and the year. ENGAGED CITIZENS: The 6th grade trip to Washington, D.C. fosters student engagement and citizenship.
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8 CELEBRATING DIFFERENCES
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Darryl Johnson launches a Diversity Readers Series â€œto help students experience the world, other peoples and cultures, and to inspire introspection." LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 21
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60 MINUTE PROGRAMMING: Lower school students participate in Hour of Code, a worldwide event that celebrates computer science and provides an opportunity for students to gain exposure to coding and programming. ROCKIN’ FOR A CAUSE: International's annual Songs for Senegal fundraiser benefits Project Senegal, our longstanding service project that supports the students of Natangué-Sénégal, a K-6 public school in M'bour. RAISING MONEY, REINFORCING MATH: All classes in grades 4 and 5 collect donations for UNICEF, raising nearly $1,200 for the organization while reinforcing money concepts. HALLOWEEN EXTRAVAGANZA: The High School Student Council (StuCo) organizes a Halloween Assembly, and the costumes were dino-mite.
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YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS: PK4 students prepare and serve a healthy meal for their classmates in PK3 at their very own student-run restaurant at the Maternelle. ART + SCIENCE: Tenth grade students create sculptures addressing issues related to water, pollution, and global climate change. MODEL DEBATE: Students represent International at several Model United Nations conferences, and many delegates receive awards for their performances.
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IDEAS WORTH SHARING: Students and guest speakers give thought-provoking talks around the theme Declare Dissent—including political correctness, computer creativity, veganism, and the future of the revolution— at the student-organized TEDx event.
FROM THE MSNEWS DESK: The MSNews production team was hard at work creating biweekly newscasts as part of the broadcast journalism exploration class offered in the Middle School. CAMUS’ IMPACT: Students celebrate the work and impact of Albert Camus for the 60th anniversary of his Nobel Prize with interactive and interdisciplinary projects, including reflection upon the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the capture of the Winter Palace, and its representation in Camus' play, Les Justes.
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19 OBSERVING INTERSECTIONALITY
The High School Student Diversity Council organizes an assembly to challenge our community to look boldly at the reality of simultaneous race and gender bias. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 25
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THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: Young scientists in PK3, PK4, and K conduct a series of investigations into shadows, electricity, magnetism, and the kaleidoscope during Semaine des Sciences. #NATIONALSCHOOLWALKOUT: A group of students opt to participate in the National School Walkout in solidarity with the Parkland, Florida students and to call for stronger gun control. SMALL STEPS OUTWARD: Lower school students develop a sense of community, responsibility, and independence during overnight, outdoor education trips to places like Coloma, Monte Toyon, and Slide Ranch.
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23 AROUND THE WORLD
The 2018 Global Travel Program took middle and high school students to Copenhagen & Berlin, Senegal, China & Tibet, Morocco, Italy, Nicaragua, France, Vietnam, Tahiti, the Galรกpagos, Thailand, and India. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 27
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FRUITS OF THEIR LABOR: Lower school students explore science concepts, learn to protect the environment, and reap nutritional benefits (fruits and veggies!) through hands-on gardening activities on Page and Oak Street campuses.
SMILES & SWEETS: French American and International parent volunteers across all grades gather in the GLIDE kitchen to make 780 chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentineâ€™s Day. SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITIES: Lower, Middle, and High School Student Council members help to send off three cars full of supplies for families affected by the Napa and Sonoma wildfires.
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MEDIEVAL TIMES: Our youngest students at the Maternelle dress up in medieval attire for a day of games, arts and crafts, and costume! IRRATIONAL LOVE OF MATH: Middle school teachers, students, and parents celebrate Pi Day with a photo booth, pie decorating contest, and Pi recitation contest. Sixth grader Cece recited 132 digits from memory for the win! BROADCASTING LIVE: French Americanâ€™s Tinker Space serves as a recording studio for the Lower Schoolâ€™s first live webradio show, inspiring creative writing, collaboration across grades, and the development of French oral skills.
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Sixth grade students support their peers in our partner school, the Children of Haiti Project, as part of their service learning program in Advisory. 30 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
BIENVENUE Ã€ SAN FRANCISCO: Our 5th graders give a warm welcome to their correspondents from Le Gymnase and Notre Dame de Sion in France. REPORTING FROM MAYCOMB COUNTY: Seventh grade students present the newspapers they created as part of their study of the Harper Lee classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 31
A Joyful Classroom
ing He, a 4th grade teacher, warmly greeted the class sitting in a circle on the reading carpet at the start of the school day. The children greeted their classmates, addressing each other by name and making eye contact as they shook hands. Miss Ying turned to the student next to her and asked, “Jordan, what are you going to do this weekend?” ”My friend is coming over this weekend and we’re going to build a tiny MUNI bus for my hamster.” The class giggled. “He probably won’t use it, but we just like building things.” Miss Ying smiled and replied, “Thank you, Jordan. Mina, what are you going to do this weekend?” “I’m going to upload a new video to YouTube.” Another student asked, “What is the video about?” and
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Mina replied, “It’s a video of me playing Fortnite for the first time!” The entire class began to excitedly ask questions about their favorite game. Miss Ying rang a chime, and each of the students put one finger to their lips and raised the opposite hand, as silence descended upon the classroom. “Remember, just one question,” she calmly stated, and moved onto the next student. The Morning Meeting is just one of the practices of Responsive Classroom, part of the Social Emotional Learning program that we’ve implemented in the Lower School this school year. A Responsive Classroom creates a safe, challenging, and joyful classroom and schoolwide climate for our students. All of our students’ needs—academic, social, emotional, and physical—are important and recognized in this approach to teaching and learning.
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"Teachers understand us more, and give us time to do the things we like so we’re more motivated to learn." —Mina, 4th Grade There are six principles that guide our Responsive Classroom Approach: 1. Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content. 2. How we teach is as important as what we teach. 3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction. 4. What we know and believe about our students— individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students. 5. How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence. 6. Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.
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Our faculty utilize specific teaching practices and strategies to support the guiding principles of the Responsive Classroom: Interactive Modeling, Teacher Language, Establishing Rules, Logical Consequences, and Morning Meeting. Interactive Modeling is a practice for teaching students procedures and routines as well as academic and social skills. Teachers model behavior or an activity and explain what they are doing and why it’s important. They then ask the students what they notice, and invite one or more students to model themselves. When the teachers feel comfortable with their understanding of the behavior or activity, they will ask all of the students to practice, and provide feedback as needed. Examples of interactive modeling of academic and social skills can include listening and responding to questions; working with a partner or in a small group; taking part in a whole-group discussion; or giving and accepting feedback. Examples of procedures include establishing arrival and dismissal routines; how to clean up; lunch, recess, and bathroom routines; schoolwide
Students are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and try again. They are supportive of students having a growth mindset, remembering “I can’t do that... yet!" assembly procedures; and transitions from one activity to another. Ying began using interactive modeling at the beginning of the school year when explaining the morning meeting to students. “I greeted one of my students, Albane, and asked the other students to describe the specific things I was doing when greeting her. My students were very quick to notice that I shook the student’s hand, looked her in the eye, and smiled as I said hello. This set expectations on how we would greet each other and allowed students to more quickly integrate these actions into their morning greetings.” Our teachers also engage in the intentional Use of Language to enable students to participate in their learning and develop the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to be successful in and out of school. Each teacher is encouraged to use positive language that is proactive rather than reactive. Teachers choose words and a tone that encourage students to work hard, enjoy learning, and persist through difficulties. Mistakes are important steps in the learning process, and teachers
treat them in a positive way. Students are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and try again. They are supportive of students having a growth mindset, remembering “I can’t do that... yet!” Logical Consequences are another component of the Responsive Classroom that builds upon the positive use of language by teachers. Our classrooms are built around proactive discipline rather than reactive discipline. Throughout each day, teachers offer support and reteach as needed, while providing clear expectations for behavior and stopping misbehavior quickly. If misbehavior happens, teachers will clearly redirect students by giving short and concise guidance that clarifies the ideal behavior. The teacher will focus on the action of the misbehaving students, rather than the character, by stating “The words you just said were unkind” rather than “You are unkind.” By giving direct, respectful direction, students stay focused on learning and are taught to control their own behavior. “We’re all hyped up from lunch—trading food, talking to friends, it’s very loud—so when we come back to
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“They feel a part of the classroom, are a lot more comfortable in school, and are building a community.” —Ying He, 4th Grade Teacher
class, we’re still excited," said 4th grader Jordan. "Our teachers give us quiet time so we can calm down and get back to class and learning. I like quiet time. I think it’s good for us." The Responsive Classroom approach also encourages the Establishment of Rules in which teachers and students work together to name individual goals for the year and establish rules that will help everyone reach those goals. These rules are set with a positive tone, illustrating what students should do rather than what they should not. They also allow students and teachers to create hopes and dreams for the year, further establishing a sense of community. By connecting those rules to concrete behaviors, students have a sense of ownership over their learning. Teachers keep the rules front and center throughout the year so that everyone in the classroom understands the expectations of one another. At the beginning of the year, Ying guided her class through an activity that asked students to think about their hopes and goals for the year ahead. “We asked how can we help each other as a community to achieve these goals, and this allowed students to brainstorm and initiate their own learning. Rules such as respecting each other, listening, and paying attention naturally arose when students thought about how they could best accomplish their goals.” “We wrote down our goals for what we really want to master. I wrote multiplication because I used to be really bad, but now because I’ve practiced a lot, I’ve gotten better. Having a quiet classroom also helps me learn better and practice more,” said 4th grader Mina. Jordan added, “When you write your hopes and dreams down, you have to think ‘what am I good at, and what do I want to work on more?' We get to think about that instead of just being told what we’re going to work on. My personalized practice that my teacher gives me has a lot of multiplication because that’s what I need to work on. When everyone is calm in the class, I can think better.” Within the Responsive Classroom approach, the Morning Meeting is the most visible to students. The routines during the morning meeting set a positive tone and build a sense of community and belonging for students, while
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giving them practice in key academic and social skills. “Morning Meeting is a fun way to start the day," explains Jordan. "Without the routine, you don’t really know what to expect. Now, every day when I get in the car, I look forward to school because I know there is going to be morning meeting.” The morning meeting involves everyone in the classroom—students and teacher—gathering in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes at the beginning of each school day and proceeds through four sequential components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. Students greet each other by name, often including a handshake and eye contact, singing, movement, and other activities. “The morning meeting gives students time to get to know one another,” Ying shares. “They feel a part of the classroom, are a lot more comfortable in school, and are building a community.” Students are asked to share some news or information about themselves and respond to each other, articulating their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a positive way. “We’re all interacting with each other—we’re not stuck in our own little world. We are interested and listen to other people. You really get to know about people,” shared 4th grader Sylvia. What follows sharing is a short, inclusive, whole class activity, reinforcing learning and building class cohesion through active participation. Finally, students practice academic skills and warm up for the day ahead by reading and discussing a daily note to the class posted by their teacher. “The thing I really like is the morning message. Learning about what we’re going to be doing during the day makes it super fun, and gets us motivated for the day,” added Mina. Our Responsive Classroom teaching and learning approach gives teachers tools to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and physical needs. The enhanced educational experience is evident in our students’ comments, but also by their engagement in the classroom. By empowering our students to think critically, and to connect more closely with their classmates and teachers, they are initiating their own learning, and becoming excited, challenged, and joyful learners. That is the true power of this work.
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middle school voices
Middle School Voices
GINA CARGAS | MIDDLE SCHOOL COORDINATOR AND 6TH GRADE ENGLISH TEACHER
arly adolescents experience significant physical, social, and emotional change over the course of a few short years. For preteensâ€”and their familiesâ€”the rapid pace of this development can be staggering. As they enter adolescence, middle school students are confronted with a host of new decisions to make and situations to navigate. Who will their friends be? What activities do they want to pursue? How will they spend their time outside of school? As middle school educators, it is our responsibility to prepare students to face these decisions, make wise choices, and recover from mistakes. Responding to the developmental needs of students in the middle school years is a crucial part of our work on the fourth floor. To meet these developmental needs, we have integrated opportunities for student voice and choice into every aspect of the Middle School. Student voice and choice is based on the idea that, equipped with the right skills and provided the right op-
portunities, every student can uniquely contribute to the success of their own learning and that of their communities. Our school recognizes that middle school students need the chance to make decisions for themselves and develop their voices in the classroom to help them prepare for real-word choices and challenges. Our students are the leaders, visionaries, and decision-makers of the future. As such, it is essential that they learn the imperative 21st century skills of problem-solving, taking initiative, and making thoughtful choices. Incorporating student voice and choice into our curriculum empowers students to learn and practice those skills now. The Middle School emphasizes and encourages student voice and choice in numerous ways both within and beyond our core curriculum. In the classroom this year, 7th grade students made their voices heard when they collaborated to produce newspapers based on the events of To Kill A Mockingbird. They adopted the roles of reporter, editor, and designer, creating the look and content for their paper.
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In French, these same students crafted models, virtual worlds, costumes, and other creative projects of their choosing to convey their understanding of the imaginary universes they discovered via science fiction, fairy tales, and utopian/dystopian literature. In the Arts Pavilion, 8th grade students produced public service announcements in order to spread awareness about social issues important to them. These are just a few examples of the opportunities our teachers give students to express themselves and develop their perspectives. Beyond our academic curriculum, student voice and choice are emphasized via three specific programs: Exploration Classes, Student Council, and Advisory.
Exploration Classes All middle school students have the option to pursue a passion, discover a new interest, or try something unfamiliar in the low-risk environment of Exploration Classes. The goal of these classes is to cultivate students’ curiosity and love of learning in a project-based environment with no grades or homework. Every trimester, students are expected to thoughtfully consider their options, register for their preferred Exploration Classes, and manage their schedules themselves. For many middle schoolers, this marks the first time they have a say in their daily schedule at school. With choices that range from Entrepreneurship to Film and Culture to Geometry
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for Fun, it can be a daunting process for students new to the fourth floor, so we support students through this process, enabling them to make choices they are comfortable with and take responsibility for their learning. In Exploration Classes, students learn in a hands-on environment where self-expression and collaboration are emphasized. Our classes cover everything from Computer Programming to Capoeira, allowing students to gain exposure to ideas, topics, and practices that they may not see in a standard class. Students in this year’s Phenomenal Women class researched feminist activism and made posters promoting the Women’s March, while members of Science Plus developed their own research projects for the San Francisco Science Fair. In Anthropology of Food, students discovered the relationships between food and history, tradition, and culture before trying out their own culinary skills. Others still forayed into the world of journalism and publishing, reporting for MSNews, producing their own documentaries, or launching our literary magazine. Those who value time for reflection at the end of the day may spend this class period in Yoga & Mindfulness or sharing their love of literature in Reading Club. Each of these classes gives students the opportunity to truly take ownership of their learning and exercise their decision-making skills. “There is not always an opportunity to try new potential hobbies because school takes up time, so Exploration Classes are a way to explore different things we
middle school voices
were thinking about trying, or hadn’t considered before,” said 8th grader Felix. “For example, we had a teacher who offered Capoeira so I decided to give that a try. Now it’s something I’m really into—and that was the class that got me into it.” Given the chance to decide what they want to learn, students are more engaged, connected, and challenged. Our carefully crafted Exploration Class program is designed specifically to meet early adolescents’ developmental needs.
Student Council During the middle school years, students really begin to develop their voices and sense of self, and discover where they fit in to their communities—both in and outside of school. As educators, we understand the dual importance of emphasizing both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Our Middle School Student Council allows students to pursue leadership positions, elevate their voices, and effect positive change in the school. The new format of our Student Council features several committees made up of students from across the Middle School centered on four different topics: Leadership, Diversity, Mediation, and Campus. Students on each committee plan events, develop programs, and make suggestions for improvement to the school. In the spring, students from the Diversity Committee collaborated to host a
middle school-wide assembly and associated activities around the topic of intersectionality. Others developed a system for sharing board games on the fourth floor, and all student leaders collaborated to organize middle school dances. Odessa is in 8th grade and has been on the Student Council since she arrived on the fourth floor. This year, she has participated in numerous projects as part of the Diversity Committee. “We set up an assembly celebrating the ‘firsts’ of black men and women, such as the first inventions or sports accomplishments, as part of Black History Month and Women’s History Month,” she said. The committee also helped organize our first Global Travel Program Showcase, where middle and high school students shared what they learned about diverse global cultures from their international trips this spring. “The point of the Diversity Committee is to spread information about the stories of diversity and to create a more open feeling in the school,” Odessa added. “It doesn’t feel like something where you just go to a meeting and listen—you really feel like you’re a part of something, like you’re creating it.” Students feel valued and empowered when they collaborate on these projects. Through participation in the Student Council, French American is preparing students to apply skills like problem-solving, collaboration, and thoughtful decision-making as the future leaders of our world.
The 2017-2018 Midde School Student Council
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Advisory The Middle School Advisory Program at French American builds upon our community to strengthen each student’s sense of belonging and create a safe, fun, and engaging space for them to grow personally, socially, and intellectually. The Advisory Program is designed to help foster a culture of empathy, belonging, and responsible citizenship in our school. Early adolescent development is characterized by identity formation, and we all know that the journey through the rocky territory of identity development can be challenging. Our Advisory Program aims to make each student feel known, understood, and supported in the school environment. Student engagement and agency stem from building strong relationships and ensuring that all students feel safe and valued. Each Advisor serves as a coach and advocate for a small group of 10 to 12 students, meeting with their Advisees at least twice a week. Advisory is also a forum for student voices—a safe space where students are able to share their interests, values, and concerns. The small group format of Advisory ensures that all students have the opportunity to share their opinions on key topics like diversity and inclusion, empathy and community-building, digital citizenship, preparing for the future, and more. “The point of Advisory is to have someone to help and counsel you if you have a problem,” said 6th grader Sebastian. “You’re able to organize for other subjects and take time to relax. We also work on fun projects—my class is planning the End of Year Party.”
As a part of the Advisory Program, middle school students prepare for and participate in Student-Led Conferences every spring. Students partner with their Advisor to identify key skills they’ve mastered since September, academic achievement, areas for improvement, and goals for the remainder of the year. The Advisor, meanwhile, collects feedback from each student’s teachers in order to create a holistic portrait of the student as a learner and member of our school community. Then, the student, parent(s), and Advisor meet to discuss the year’s progress. Students take the lead during these conferences by presenting their achievements, setbacks, and goals, while their family and Advisor listen and provide feedback, guidance, and support. This format flips the traditional parent-teacher conference format, positioning students as the experts on, and owners of, their learning. Students are encouraged to reflect not only on the outcomes of their hard work, but what they have learned, and how they have learned it. Student agency is at the core of our middle school program, and we purposefully and thoughtfully incorporate opportunities for student voice and choice into many elements of what we do. Through the Exploration Class Program, students are encouraged to identify their interests and pursue new topics of inquiry. Student Council develops leadership skills and provides additional opportunities for students to advocate for their values and beliefs, and Advisory helps guide our students through this challenging but essential personal journey.
The 8 Blue Advisory class raised money to support the Sanctuary, a local homeless shelter, as part of their service learning project. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 43
middle school voices
Middle School French Literary Awards ive French American middle school students submitted original works of writing to a Frenchlanguage, worldwide short story contest this year. Launched in 2006 by the International School of Houston in collaboration with the Mission Laïque Française (MLF), the short story contest is a pedagogical writing project that brings together students from schools that are a part of the MLF network around the world. The competition aims to develop communication skills and inspire creativity among students. Three categories of student work were represented. Students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade created stories around
a singular illustration; while 7th through 9th grade, and 10th through 12th grade students wrote stories inspired by quotes—that of Edmond Rostand: "By believing in flowers, you often give birth to them”, and Erik Orsenna: "What does one know about the desert who only looks at a grain of sand?" Congratulations to 6th grader Juliette on receiving an award for her submission, La Rue aux Ombrelles. Bravo to the following students who also submitted original works to the contest—8th grader Felix, Le Jardin, and 6th graders Morgane, La jeune fille aux ombrelles; Sylvia, Le Vent qui a Changé Tout; and Nicholas, Âme Blessée.
La Rue aux Ombrelles JULIETTE, 6TH GRADE
Près de la rue du Beau Pré, juste à côté de la clôture abandonnée, dans une petite ville en Italie se trouve ‘La rue aux Ombrelles’. C’est une rue hantée et maudite dont quelques personnes ne reviennent jamais. On dit que ceux qui disparaissent là-bas portaient une ombrelle transparente. Car si on s’aventure dans cette rue et qu’on regarde dans le ciel on peut voir une centaine d’ombrelles se balançant sur les fils des poteaux électriques. La légende raconte que les âmes des personnes qui ont disparu dans cette rue arrivent dans le Ciel de Pluie. Comme la rue est toujours couverte d’un ciel gris sombre, on raconte que c’est un palais où les âmes sont condamnées à rester pour l’éternité. Je m’appelle Aïko et ceci est mon histoire. “Aïko ! Viens voir”. Ma mère m'appela de la cuisine. Je sortis de mon lit et arrivait dans le salon où elle se trouvait assise, en tenant le journal et un bol de café. “Encore un touriste qui a disparu à cause d’une ombrelle. Ça n’arrête pas”. Je haussai les épaules. “Ça fait la Une des journaux”. Moi je dis : “Moi je veux retrouver toutes ces personnes et les ramener à leur familles. Après tout, on dit que les escaliers du Ciel de Pluie sont juste à côté de la ville.” Maman se leva d’un bond “Je t’interdis de sortir de la ville. C’est dangereux et stupide.” Je n’ai pas protesté. Quand j’ai une dispute avec elle, je ne gagne jamais. Alors à quoi bon ? Mais pendant toute la journée l’idée de partir à l’aventure me semblait de plus en plus excitante...
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middle school voices
Le soir quand je me mis au lit, je me dis qu’il fallait que je parte, retrouver tous ces gens disparus depuis une éternité. Vers minuit, je pris quelques pulls et me mis à les fourrer dans mon sac de toile rouge. Je pris une feuille de papier et écrivis quelque mots d’adieu, puis descendis les escaliers pour arriver dans la cuisine. Je pris plusieurs miches de pain et deux pommes pour le voyage et ouvris la porte en bois qui menait dehors. Le vent s’engouffra dans la maison faisant trembler les pages des vieux livres que ma mère chérissait tant. Je jetai un dernier regard à la vieille commode en bois et aux chaises en rotin puis partis brusquement fermant la porte derrière moi. La nuit était fraîche. La lune éclairait les ruelles étroites qui sinuaient à travers la ville. J’entendais mes bottines claquer sur le sol en pierre. Un chat noir dormait sur un mur à côté d’un autre félin de couleur gris clair. La petite ville semblait si silencieuse la nuit que ce silence pesant me rendait nerveuse. Je connaissais les rues par cœur et bientôt j’arrivai au milieu du nulle part. J’avais à peine franchi la bordure de mon village que, soudainement, tout me parut inconnu. Prudemment je m’avançai à pas de loup dans les broussailles qui recouvraient absolument tout. En réalité je ne savais pas du tout où était le ciel de pluie et qu’il faille se repérer la nuit ne rendait pas la tâche plus simple. Pendant que je m’aventurais dans les herbes, je pensais aux légendes. Elles racontaient aussi qu’on pouvait entendre des chants lointains venant des âmes prisonnières. La lune brillait fort et la fatigue me faisait trébucher à chaque brindille. Je ne pus m’empêcher de m’assoir contre un rocher pour grignoter mon crouton de pain. La soif rongeait mon esprit petit à petit, tandis que j’essayais de trouver une position confortable pour m’assoupir. Progressivement, le sommeil me gagna et je sombrai dans un repos parsemé de rêves. Dans le premier, je me retrouvai sur les marches du ciel de pluie qui semblait s’étendre sur des dizaines de kilomètres. Je montais les escaliers et j’avais l’impression de flotter, effleurant à peine les marches du bout de mes pieds tellement j’allais vite. Dans le deuxième rêve, je parlais avec une dame habillée de blanc et de noir qui faisait deux fois ma taille et qui me regardait avec un sourire mielleux. Dans mon premier rêve je cherchais quelque chose dans plusieurs couloirs, tous différents. Mes yeux s’ouvrirent brusquement. J’étais sur mon dos qui me faisait grimacer de douleur. Ma gorge me piquait affreusement, je me sentais complètement déshydratée et la tête me tournait. Je me forçai à regarder autour de moi : une étendue de fougères et de buissons couverts de branches piquantes. J’étais bel et bien perdue et j’avais besoin d’eau. Je me mis à marcher en claudiquant. Au bout de quelque heures je vis une pierre lisse. Rien
d’extraordinaire. Mais il y en avait une autre, et une autre, toutes montant un petit peu. Cela pouvait-il être les escaliers du ciel de pluie ? Je me mis à les grimper. Et plus je grimpais les marches, plus je me sentais légère et la soif me quittait. J’avais l’impression de monter dans le ciel et bientôt j’arrivai à la porte d’un château magnifique dont la lumière se reflétait sur toutes les parois scintillante. Je toquai à une lourde porte de bois. Elle s’ouvrit brusquement et un vent soudain me poussa à l'intérieur. Je me retrouvai dans une salle de banquet remplie de nourriture qui sentait délicieusement bon. Une dizaine de chaises se présentaient devant une table bien astiquée. Au bout, se trouvait un espèce de trône rouge et or. Je m’assis sur une des chaises en bois et quand je relevai la tête, je vis une femme très grande et mince portant une cape de velours noir. Elle portait des bottines de cuir et un grand manteau de fourrure. “Bonjour Aïko. C’est un plaisir de te rencontrer. Je vois que tu cherches à libérer mes âmes. Mais d'abord mangerais-tu un petit peu ? Tu m’as l’air affamée”. Je pris une cuisse de poulet et de la purée pendant que des milliers de questions se précipitaient dans ma tête telle une nuée de papillons. “Maintenant, j’aimerais te dire que c’est moi qui t'ai envoyé les rêves qui te sont apparus la nuit dernière”. J’ouvris grand les yeux. “Je sais que tu veux libérer mes âmes, mais pour cela tu devras trouver la gemme des quatre gardiennes. Une fois que tu l’auras, tu la briseras et les âmes seront libres. Pour trouver cette gemme, trouve les quatre gardiennes qui te donneront des indices. Tu n’auras qu’un an.” Je me suis étouffée en mangeant ma purée : “Un an ! Mais je ne peux rester si longtemps.” “Ne t’inquiète pas, répondit elle. Ici, chaque minute est un jour. Maintenant dépêche-toi !” Et la dame disparut. Devant moi se trouvaient deux portes. Je pris celle de gauche et me retrouvai dans une pièce glacée traversée par des centaines de couloirs. Quelquefois je tombai sur des monstres ou même des dragons auxquels il fallait que j’échappe. J’explorai des tunnels souterrains quand soudain, je vis une adolescente avec des cheveux bleus et une peau très pâle. Cela devait être une des gardiennes. Elle s’approcha de moi et me donna un cristal bleu et transparent que je mis dans mon sac. Elle me chuchota à l’oreille “Dépêche-toi, la Reine Noire n’aime pas perdre”. Soudain une petite porte rouge se découpa dans la glace et la fille en bleu me fit signe d’avancer. “Franchis cette porte et tu iras dans le royaume de la deuxième gardienne”. Je lui adressai un petit sourire de remerciement et passai par la porte. Je me trouvai alors dans un couloir de feu. Je marchais sur du charbon tandis que les murs étaient recouverts de lave. Il faisait tellement chaud que mes vêtements étaient déjà couverts de gouttes
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de sueur. Le sol aussi était brûlant, si ardent que mes pieds pouvaient sentir la chaleur à travers mes bottines. L’odeur de brûlé m’asphyxiait et je titubais dans les couloirs, espérant bientôt trouver la gardienne. Soudain, devant moi, de la lave se mit à s'agglutiner en une petite dame assez ronde avec des cheveux courts et frisés et qui me souriait. Elle tenait un cristal rouge qui semblait brûlant. Elle l’enveloppa dans un torchon et me le confia. Puis une petite porte s’ouvrit et je m’y faufilai en la remerciant. L’endroit d’après était une jungle humide où je trouvai une femme très grâcieuse avec des cheveux verts qui me donna un cristal de jade au parfum de pin. Dans le dernier royaume, tout était sombre. C’était la nuit et des éclairs déchiraient le ciel. Le vent n’arrêtait pas de gronder et il me fallut du temps pour trouver la gardienne. C’était une vieille dame qui portait une cape noire et avait une capuche sur la tête. Elle me donna un cristal gris et sale. Je mis tout les cristaux ensemble et, soudain, tout se mit à briller et une gemme couleur arc en ciel apparut dans ma paume. Dans la gemme je pouvais voir des milliers de visages et toutes les gardiennes. Alors je pris une grande inspiration et l’écrasai dans mes doigts. La gemme se transforma en poussière scintillante et se dispersa un peu partout. Hélas, je ne savais pas quoi faire désormais. Après quelque minutes d’hésitation, le sol se mit à trembler et une petite fissure apparut. Des milliers de petites billes multicolores et d’ombrelles en jaillirent. C’était magnifique. Toutes les âmes était finalement libres ! Elle me soulevèrent du sol et dans un tourbillon d’ombrelles et de lumières me ramenèrent dans mon village. Je voyais mon foyer et les commerces fermés car c’était la nuit. A travers la fenêtre ouverte de ma chambre, le tourbillon multicolore me déposa dans mon lit. Les quatre gardiennes vinrent vers moi et me donnèrent une nouvelle gemme encore plus belle que l’autre. Elles m’expliquèrent que cette gemme contenait toutes les âmes et que c’était un souvenir de mon aventure. Avant qu’elles ne partent, je leur demandai pourquoi la Reine Noire avait capturé les âmes. Elles répondirent que, quand elle était petite, personne ne l’aimait dans sa famille. Pour son anniversaire, elle demanda une ombrelle mais on ne lui en offrit pas. Elle disparut alors et, par jalousie, maudit tous les gens qui avaient des ombrelles. Sur ce, les quatre gardiennes me souhaitèrent bonne nuit disparurent dans un tourbillon d’étincelles pendant que je succombais au sommeil. ✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦
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The Umbrella Street JULIETTE, 6TH GRADE
Near Meadow road, right next to the deserted fence, in a little town of Italy, 'The Umbrella Street' can be found. It’s a cursed and haunted street from where some people never come back. Rumors say that the people who vanished there were holding in their hands a transparent umbrella; if you venture in that street and look up in the sky you will see hundreds of umbrellas dangling from the queues of electric poles. It is said that the souls of all the missing folks have ended up in the Sky of Rain. Because a dark and gloomy cloud ceiling always covers the street, legend has it that it is a dungeon where lost souls are kept as prisoners for eternity. My name is Aïko and this is my story. “Aïko! Come here.” My mom called me from the kitchen. I got out of my bed and went to the living room; she sat on the rug with a cup of coffee and the daily newspaper. “Another tourist who disappeared because of an umbrella. Will it ever stop?” I shrugged. “It’s everywhere in the news,” my mom continued. “Well, I want to find all of the lost people and bring them back home. After all, the legend says that the stairs leading up to the Sky of Rain are near the borders of town,” I said. Mom suddenly got up: “I forbid you to get out of town. It’s stupid and dangerous; you need to keep in mind it’s just a foolish legend.” I did not protest. When I argue with my mom I never win, there is no reason to keep on protesting. But during the whole day I kept on thinking about the exciting adventure I could embark on. That night when I went to bed I told myself I needed to leave and find all of the lost people that abruptly disappeared. Around midnight, I took some sweaters and shoved them in my red fabric bag. I wrote a couple of words on a piece of paper to say goodbye and headed for the kitchen. There, I took a few loaves of bread and two apples. I opened the wooden door; the wind swept in and made the pages of my mother’s beloved old books quiver. I gave a last look at the old wooden dresser and the rattan chairs and left promptly, closing the door behind me. The night was cool. The moon shone over the narrow streets that winded across town. I could hear my boots flapping on the stone pavement. A black cat was sleeping on top of a wall and a grey one sat next to it. The small town was so quiet at night that it made me nervous. I knew all the streets by heart but soon enough I arrived in the middle of nowhere. As I walked past the limits of the village, all of a sudden, everything seemed unknown to me. Stealthily, I walked like a thief in the night across the bushes that covered everything. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea where the Sky of Rain lay; the fact that it was dark didn’t make things easier. While venturing in the tall grass I was thinking of the legends. Some of them had it that you could hear distant chants coming from the cap-
middle school voices
tive souls. The moon shone brightly above me but tiredness made me stumble on each twig. Soon enough I had to sit down, my back to a rock, to eat my bread loaf. Thirst was preventing me from thinking; I tried to make myself comfortable to sleep. Progressively sleep overtook me and I sunk in a dream-sprinkled rest. In the first dream, I stood on the Sky of Rain’s steps that seemed to spread on tens of miles. I walked up those steps feeling like I was floating; I was moving so fast my feet barely touched them. In the second dream, I was talking to a woman dressed in black and white. She was twice my height and gave me a strangely sweet look. I was looking for something in various corridors, all of them looking different. Suddenly, my eyes opened. I lay on my back; it hurt so badly it made me grimace in pain. My throat was awfully sore. I felt completely dehydrated and dizzy. I painfully looked around me and could only see a vast stretch of ferns and thorny bushes. I was lost for good and I desperately needed some water. I took up walking, slightly limping. After a few hours, I saw a large flat rock—nothing special about it—and then another one, and another one, each of them slightly higher than the previous one. Could that be the stairs to the Sky of Rain? I started climbing the stairs. The further I climbed the lighter my head felt; my thirst progressively vanished. I felt as if I were ascending into the sky. Soon I faced the door of a magnificent castle whose lights reflected on every single gleaming surface. I knocked on a massive wooden door. It opened briskly and a sudden gust of wind pushed me inside. I found myself in a vast banquet room filled up with food that smelled delicious. Ten chairs or so surrounded a gleaming dining table. At the end of it stood a kind of red and gold throne. I sat on one of the wooden chairs and when I looked up I saw a very tall and thin woman wearing a black velvet cloak. She wore a pair of leather boots and a large fur coat. “Good evening, Aïko. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I heard you wish to set my souls free. But first of all, would you like to take a bite? You look starved…” I helped myself to a chicken leg and a spoonful of mashed potatoes while thousands of questions flew across my mind like a swarm of butterflies. “Now, I must tell you I’m the one who sent you the dreams you had last night.” I opened my eyes wide. “I know you want to set the souls free but to succeed you will first need to find the gem of the four gatekeepers. Once you have it you will smash it and the souls will be free. To find the gem, you must go to each of the four guards who will give you some clues. You will only have a year to complete your task.” I choked on a mouthful of mashed potatoes. “A year! But there’s no way I can stay here that long!” “Don’t worry,” she said. ”Here, each minute equals a day. Now hurry up.” And the woman vanished. In front of me were two doors. I decided to open the left one and found myself in a freezing-cold room filled with various tunnels. Occasionally, monsters or even dragons
showed up and I had to run away from them stealthily. Suddenly, while I was exploring an underground tunnel, I saw a pale skinned girl with blue hair. It must have been one of the gatekeepers. She approached me and gave me a blue gem that I put in my bag. Then, she whispered “Hurry, the queen doesn’t like to lose.” Suddenly a little red door appeared in the tunnel and the girl told me to open it. “Go through this door and you’ll be in the land of the second gatekeeper.“ I thanked her with a smile and went in. I found myself in a new underground tunnel but this time it was filled with flames. I was walking on coal and the walls were dripping with lava. I could feel the burning heat under the soles of my boots. I was already sweating and my clothes were all wet. I was suffocated by the smoke and I was staggering in the tunnel, hoping to find the gatekeeper soon. Suddenly in front of me a wave of lava started to bubble and foam came out of the burning liquid. Out of this mess a little woman appeared. She had short and frizzy hair with chubby cheeks. She smiled at me and gave me a red gem that seemed burning hot. She wrapped it in a cloth and handed it to me. Then a little door opened and I slipped through it. The next place was a damp jungle. There stood a graceful woman with green hair. She handed me a green jade crystal that smelled of pine. In the last room, all was dark. It was night and lightnings ripped across the sky. The wind was howling and it took me a while to find the gatekeeper. She was an old lady wearing a black coat and a hood. She gave me a dirty grey crystal. I put all the crystals together; suddenly everything started gleaming and a rainbow color gem appeared in my hand. Inside of it were thousands of faces and the image of each gatekeeper. I then took a deep breath and crushed the gem between my fingers. It turned into a sparkling dust that spread all around me. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do next. After a few minutes, the ground started shaking and a crack appeared. Thousands of umbrellas and colorful marbles gushed out. It was beautiful. All souls were finally free! They lifted me off the ground in a whirlwind of lights and umbrellas while bringing me back to my village. I could see my home and the shops closed for the night. The multicoloured whirlwind entered my bedroom through the open window and lay me down on my bed. The four gatekeepers came over to me and gave me a new gem even more beautiful than the previous one. They said the gem contained all the souls and it was a souvenir of my journey. Before they left I asked them why the Black Queen had trapped the souls. They explained that, when she was little, nobody in her family loved her. For her birthday, she asked for an umbrella but wasn’t given any. After that, she disappeared and, out of jealousy, put a spell on all people who carried umbrellas. Once they had finished their story, the gatekeepers wished me good night. As I was falling asleep, they vanished in a whirlpool of sparkles. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 47
The IB experience makes young people smarter. It shapes how they think and changes who they are â€”for the better. 48 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
the ib program
The IB Diploma
—a marvel for the teenage brain ANDREW BROWN | DEAN OF ADMISSION
he International Baccalaureate Diploma is a marvelous thing for the developing teenage brain. It combines cognitive exuberance, humanistic soul, and the sheer pleasure of solving problems. Its signature blend of critical thinking, intercultural understanding, and an uncompromising insistence on educating the whole human being make it the most comprehensive college preparatory program available in the world today. The IB experience makes young people smarter. It shapes how they think and changes who they are—for the better. The IB Diploma was launched in Geneva in 1968 to provide mobile students in international schools with a rigorous credential recognized in colleges around the world. At the heart of the original IB mission is the creation of a better world through education. In our current
era—one that paradoxically combines ever-increasing levels of digital global connectivity with folly, provincialism, and unrelenting grisly conflict—educating future leaders who will act on their compassionate critical thinking could hardly be more relevant.
Highly Customizable Mini-Degree IB courses are two-year courses, undertaken during the final two years of high school at International. This provides the precious element of time. Time to be curious. Time to inquire. Time to do. Time to acquire a body of knowledge and build deep understanding. Time to reflect unhurriedly. The IB Diploma is highly customizable, giving students the opportunity to select six subjects unique to their interests. In choosing their subjects, students emphasize their strengths and passions, and often select classes
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the ib program
that are novel and adventurous. Students further play to their strengths by selecting at least three of their chosen subjects at Higher Level for in-depth study. Let’s take the case of a student who we could characterize as “an Ivy-League-bound scientist.” She might choose chemistry, physics, and math: all at Higher Level. Another student, our “future diplomat,” might place his Higher Level focus on languages, economics, and world history. A very different individual who self-identifies as “a rugged existentialist,” might have his heart set on psychology, geography, and film. And what about the student who seems really good at everything and has little inclination to specialize? Let’s call her the “Renaissance woman.” She might be fully engaged with a balance of biology, English literature, history, and music.
Possess a Second Soul IB Diploma students select a second language as one of their six subjects. With a different language comes a different way of understanding the world. Acquiring competence in a second language is central to an international education because languages come loaded with culture, attitudes, tradition, history, etiquette, and more. This notion prompted Goethe to write, ”If you don’t know another language, you don’t really know your own.” To learn another language is to gain an alternate perspective, increase empathy, and become open to cultural cues. Achieving mastery in two or more languages is personally transformative and highly empowering—nothing less than an emergent transcendental thrill. That’s why Charlemagne said “to have another language is to possess a second soul!” Language is used for a variety of academic purposes. There is value in learning the linguistic precision needed in math and the sciences, as well as the linguistic elegance and complexity required for an enriching understanding of literature or history. Here is a perspective on this very theme from one of our Psychology teachers: "I believe that learning is always learning a new language. Studying psychology really means to learn how to read and write psychology as a means to represent and understand human behavior."
History The IB encapsulates the study of history as “a dynamic, contested, evidence-based discipline that involves an exciting engagement with the past. It is a rigorous intellectual discipline, focused around key historical concepts such as change, causation, and significance. History is an exploratory subject, allowing opportunity
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for engagement with multiple perspectives and a plurality of opinions.” To anchor this in what students actually do, here are two examples of formal history assessments undertaken by students from the Class of 2018: To what extent was the Yom Kippur war of 1973 a calamity for the Israelis? Why did the Korean economy prosper under Park Chung Hee between 1961 and 1979?
Science In IB science courses, students acquire a body of scientific knowledge and they learn to think like scientists. They do science as well as learn about science. IB science is viewed as “an exciting and challenging quest involving much creativity and imagination, as well as exacting and detailed thinking and application.” All students undertake an individual, hands-on lab investigation lasting about ten hours and spanning a period of several weeks. Just as in real frontier science, they must design and refine their protocols and cannot anticipate the results in advance. Here are two examples of recent studies from this year’s graduating class: How does nicotine concentration affect growth patterns of the bacteria E. Coli? How do concentrations of silver chloride, silver bromide and silver iodide affect pixel density in black and white photography?
Mathematics All IB students take a math class aligned with their individual aptitude and aspiration. From the IB perspective, IB math students “enjoy the challenges offered by the logical methods of mathematics and the adventure in reason that mathematical proof has to offer. They learn to appreciate the beauty of math and the fact that it is an enormously creative subject, often requiring significant leaps of the imagination.” Students might tackle canonical problems, such as expand (3–x)4 in ascending powers of x, or sketch the graph of the equation tan x + tan 2 x = 0. But they also apply their mathematical knowledge, including advanced calculus and statistics, in real world situations. They learn how to problem solve and not to rely on mechanical memorization. The quintessential mathematical skill involves elegant line-by-line communication through the problem using mathematical symbols, succinct language, and defensible logic.
the ib program
Here are two examples of formal math assessments undertaken by students from the class of 2018: Explore the transmission of infectious diseases through a population, using the SIR Model for the spread of disease. What is the probability of catching a foul ball in any given Major League Baseball stadium?
Literature A true test of mastery, and nerve, in IB English literature is the live oral. This is literary analysis of an extract taken from a work studied in depth. The extract might be a dramatic soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a Sylvia Plath poem, or prose full of figurative language from a novel like Faulkner’s Light in August. The student does not know the selection in advance nor are there guiding questions to go with it. After 20 minutes, alone, marking up the text, comes the point of delivery—an uninterrupted, oral commentary spoken into a bare microphone. This is recorded digitally and then sent off to an anonymous examiner somewhere in the world to be graded.
Psychology In IB psychology, students explore the cognitive, biological, and sociocultural aspects of mental processes and behavior. The complexity of the discipline requires
them to employ rigorous methodological evaluation and to adopt some specific critical thinking frames: Begin with motivation–why the topic is important and valuable in today's world; define the problem; ask questions; challenge assertions; examine the evidence for and against to reduce bias; and examine cultural, gender, and ethical aspects. Do not oversimplify. Tolerate uncertainty. Students apply the methodology they have learned in open-ended investigations. Here are two recent examples: Investigate the perceived attractiveness of individual versus composite faces. Conduct an experiment that explores the chameleon effect on human behavior.
Arts Through the Theory of Knowledge class, all IB students gain an appreciation that the ways in which we symbolically convey meaning are by no means limited to linguistic forms of language. Other forms of representation manifest themselves in images, music, gestures, dance, and athletics. The ways in which meaning is encoded and played out in these various forms of representation are quite self-contained, and often have no exact counterpart elsewhere. Students who choose IB theatre, visual art, music, or
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the ib program
The IB mission to create a better world through education is alive and well. Our IB graduates are lively, informed, and compassionate young people, primed to make a difference in the world. film experience this vividly. The IB recognizes the arts as one of the more profound aspects of their omnipresent theme—educating the whole human being. It comes as no surprise when they declare that “the arts are a universal form of human expression and a unique way of knowing that engage us in affective, imaginative and productive activity. Learning through the arts helps us to explore, shape and communicate our sense of identity and understanding of the world, while providing opportunities to develop self-confidence, resilience and adaptability.”
Other Studies Subject-specific thinking modalities and signature investigations in other IB disciplines include: fieldwork studies in urban geography, authentic case studies in economics, and creative problem solving according to customer-defined constraints in design technology.
Fostering Cross-Cultural Cognition The IB Diploma experience fosters an enduring quality of mind we refer to as “cross-cultural cognition”—the ability to think, feel, and act in more than one culture. International Baccalaureate courses have international content. IB history is world history. IB math includes references to non-western contributions to the edifice of the discipline. IB theatre includes forms like Kyogen, Noh, Kathakali, and Balinese shadow puppetry. The mere presence of an international curriculum is only the beginning. What counts is how it is enacted. True global-mindedness and cross-cultural cognition are fostered when the curriculum comes alive in the daily interactions between faculty and students. It boils down to the vibe and the soul that they create together. It is what they think about, what they do, and what they value. One student declared that her six IB subjects “came alive” because her teachers were from six different countries—India, France, Holland, Jordan, Russia, and Germany. All her teachers were bilingual, and all were trained and had experience in other educational systems. Their enthusiasm and international perspectives were positively infectious. IB Diploma students are encouraged to reflect upon their own national, linguistic, and cultural identities—within the framework of a much wider world. They appreciate identity as the intersection of national, 52 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
regional, cultural, ethnic, religious, gender, orientation, socioeconomic, and other factors. The focus is on what people have in common, so as not to be ensnared by the differences, stereotypes, and simplifications that incite conflict at home and abroad.
The College Endgame Competitive colleges love IB Diploma students because they perform so well once they get there. College Admission offices build ongoing relationships with IB schools knowing that their students have not been burdened by busy work or rote tasks; and come already prepared for the upper level thinking, sophisticated writing, global-mindedness, and independent research skills that lie ahead. Compared to their peers, IB students tend to go to university at higher rates, go to more selective universities, and perform better once there.
Making a Difference Today, 50 years after the launch of the IB program, there are close to 5,000 IB schools in 143 countries, serving more than a million students. More than 40% of IB World Schools are in the U.S., by far the largest region of growth. International High School was the first school in San Francisco and the fourth in the U.S. authorized to deliver the full IB Diploma Program out of a total of 927 today. The IB mission to create a better world through education is alive and well. At this unsettling juncture of global history, the program promise could hardly be more relevant. According to the IB, its graduates are “inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect, [and] understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” Our IB graduates are this and more. They are great people. They have soul and they are fun to be around. They are lively, informed, and compassionate young people, primed to make a difference in the world. Sources
The main source for this article was the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) website. Many valuable insights were gleaned from conversations with Joel Cohen, High School Principal and Dina Srouji, IB Coordinator.
Our IB graduates are lively, informed, and compassionate young people, primed to make a difference in the world.
The International High School TEDx Youth Event, February 2018 LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 53
the ib program
Rounding Out The IB:
Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay, and CAS n addition to their six core subjects, IB Diploma students also take a philosophy class called Theory of Knowledge, and complete a research thesis known as the Extended Essay. The Diploma experience is rounded off with the student’s personalized array of extracurricular activities blending Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).
TOK—subversive critical thinking Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a class about knowledge itself at the center of the IB Diploma program. It is all about asking questions and daring to know for oneself. It is subversive in the sense that it discourages simply accepting conventional ideas of the day or the prepackaged opinions of peers or authority figures. In TOK, students have the opportunity to step back from the relentless acquisition of new knowledge in regular classes in order to consider meta-questions about the nature of knowledge. Here are some examples of the kinds of Knowledge Questions explored with gusto in the TOK class: To what extent does the marketplace value of an artwork correlate with its quality, and who decides and what factors determine which artists are the most highly valued at any given time? It has often been said that the Euler relation is the most beautiful equation in all of mathematics. What is meant by beauty and elegance in mathematics?
Extended Essay—individual research on a chosen subject A memorable rite of passage for all IB Diploma students is writing an independent research paper on a topic of specialist interest. This is undertaken with advice and guidance from a chosen mentor teacher. Formulating an appropriate research question is the first step. Students have a 4,000 word limit in which they must write a nuanced argument, aligned with subjectspecific academic conventions. After completing the written essay the supervisor conducts a short, concluding interview known as viva voce. The Extended Essay serves as a practical preparation for undergraduate research. Here is a research question chosen by a student from the class of 2018: What are the parallels between songbirds learning birdsong and the acquisition of language in humans? 54 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
And here, verbatim, is the mentor teacher comment written on her final report card: "She has produced a beautiful Extended Essay that meets all psychology subject-specific criteria, including immaculate citations. The writing is sophisticated and nuanced and it works rather nicely as a culminating piece of work demonstrating the skills acquired throughout her liberal arts training." The spirit of the Extended Essay is the medieval guild idea of an apprentice producing a “masterpiece”— to be judged by a jury of experts that is the worthy culmination of years of study.
CAS–educating the whole human From the IB perspective, thinking, talking, or writing is not enough. There is also an unrelenting imperative to act. The Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) component of the Diploma creates habits of the heart. It ensures that each student is a well-rounded, reflective human being who has a sharp mind, a healthy body, and a life outside the classroom. CAS is another aspect of the Diploma program that is highly customizable. Choices include but are not limited to: the adrenaline thrill of athletics and performing arts, participation in Model United Nations, delivering a TEDx talk, and the design and ongoing participation in a service learning project locally or abroad. Risk-taking outside zones of comfort is strongly encouraged. To that end the majority of our students integrate a global travel adventure into their CAS experience. Larson Holt '15, one of our IB graduates and now an undergraduate in the Urban Studies department at Columbia, was so inspired by his CAS project service trip to M’bour, Senegal that he has taken it to a whole new level: "I founded a nonprofit last January as a US branch of Natangué-Sénégal, the INGO in which many alumni and current students have been involved. We are now taking this project full circle and working to launch a summer fellowship/internship program for International High School students. I would of course never have been exposed to such a project, nor would I have been given the tools to do so, without the global mindedness and critical thinking instilled at International High School and within the IB Diploma." The structure of the IB program grants our students the direct, personal, multi-sensorial, cross-cultural experience of crossing continents and truly “being there”!
Seniors in the IB Theater Arts Program presented an evening of dramatic work at this year's Winter Arts Evening. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 55
the french bac
Le Bac—vive la différence!
ANDREW BROWN | DEAN OF ADMISSION
e Bac is the program of choice for our students who feel completely at home in a French approach to teaching and learning. It is an enticing, challenging, and life-changing rite of passage. Bac students form strong bonds with their teachers and experience a tremendous sense of camaraderie. For these students, the Bac is the natural culmination of a bilingual immersion journey that began in Kindergarten or preschool, and not necessarily through exposure at home—many of our highest performing Bac students come from Bay Area families where French is not spoken.
What does the Bac look like at International? At International High School, how we deliver the Bac makes all the difference. We like to think of it as the best of both worlds—an established French tradition of analytical thinking across the academic disciplines in a Bay Area culture that promotes the individual and
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emphasizes educating the whole human being. Here at International High School, that includes a dizzying array of extracurricular choices typically not available to Bac students in France. The menu for transformative learning beyond the classroom includes: competitive athletics, performing arts, Model United Nations, TEDx talks, and extensive global travel, just to name a few. Here is a cherished travel experience told by rising Bac senior, Natalie: "A memory from the trip to Senegal that I cherish was the visit we took to a high school in M’bour. At first, everyone was unsure of themselves and where to go and what to do. We were just standing lined up in the front of the room while 50 Senegalese students looked at us. Finally, five or six of them motioned me over and I joined them at their table. We soon realized just how much we had in common, in particular with the French program. They were taking the same subjects and the same classes. It was incredible to know this exact same school system existed across the world."
Travaux Personnels EncadrĂŠs (TPE) French Bac seniors presenting their required TPE project. TPE is a small group project that allows students to choose their own topics and follow their interest within broad themes provided by the French Ministry of Education. Students are required to cover the perspectives of two different disciplines. LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 57
the french bac
The Bac experience at International is rigorous and undiluted. Our results are outstanding, with scores always much higher than in France and many students obtaining “honorable mentions.” The college end-game for our Bac students continues to be outstanding—the Bac carries great prestige for admission (on equal par with the IB) to the most competitive US, Canadian, and British colleges, as well as top universities in France.
Thinking, feeling, and acting in two cultures Critical thinking is highly valued in French education. Graduates are taught to navigate the complexities of the world, seek truth, think critically, distinguish fact from opinion and prejudice, maintain a rational stance across a range of academic disciplines, and aspire to intellectual freedom and principles of social justice. Our students benefit from the upper level thinking elements outlined above, but there is an additional element at International, hidden in plain sight. French education in France is very rarely a bilingual immersion experience. It is the gift of bilingualism at International that sets our Bac experience apart. Students are taught a range of academic disciplines from two distinct cultural perspectives.
For our “balanced bilingual” Bac students, the French and English languages simultaneously play into their critical thinking, executive function, and sense of identity. They are fearless meta-linguists—their knowledge of the grammatical rules of both English and French are powerfully consolidated, and their third language acquisition (a Bac requirement) is substantially enhanced. Achieving mastery in both English and French is transformative. Our Bac students become confident, principled, and compassionate individuals who are primed to work collaboratively with people from different national, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds.
The history of Le Bac—by imperial decree The French Baccalauréat has a distinct pedigree. The Napoleonic reforms of 1808 revolutionized the French educational system—embracing enlightenment ideals, reducing the power of the Church, and moving away from inequity and feudalism. The Bac has come a long way since the first group of 31 students—all male, and all destined for elite civil service positions—sat for the first examinations in 1809. Today, the Bac is a national institution and a symbol that is inextricable from the essence of what it is to be French.
12th Grade Option Théâtre Performance, May 2018
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the french bac
Last year, some 740,000 students sat for the Bac, including students in the 494 French schools accredited by the French Ministry of Education in 135 countries outside France. Since our founding in 1962, French American and its International High School have been proud to be a part of the global network of French schools abroad. This past year, President Emmanuel Macron announced a quiet revolution, instituting a new Bac to begin in 2021 in order for the French education to continue providing international success for its graduates. The impetus for reforms to a national icon have little relevance to our own San Francisco independent school context, but the changes afoot will provide intriguing opportunities for our students.
The transformation of Le Bac Traditionally, Bac students have chosen between three fixed menus of studies, known as séries, each with a distinct academic theme. The séries are labeled S, ES, and L—with concentrations in science/math, economics/social science, and literary studies, respectively. Beginning in 2019, the venerated séries structure will no longer exist. Students will be invited to customize their Bac, choosing combinations of subjects that reflect
their strengths, future college aspirations, and passions. They will specialize more and delve more deeply into their curriculum. With these changes come an update to the examination schedule. For the new Bac, there will be a much greater emphasis on continuous assessment throughout the final two years of school rather than a dozen exams taken within a few short weeks at the very end. Two specific elements of the Bac that are sacrosanct and will remain the same are the interdisciplinary research project and philosophy. The research project is a collaborative, open-ended project of substantial relevance, spanning two academic disciplines. Here are some examples of interdisciplinary research questions tackled by our Bac students this year: Is perfume an object of economic consumption or a fundamental sociological element of human civilization? Could piezoelectricity become a viable source of renewable energy? To what extent can social entrepreneurship renew capitalism? Is it possible to improve human strength by imitating the exoskeletons of arthropods?
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the french bac
Philosophy—a rite of passage
Appropriating great thinkers of the past
The study of philosophy in the final year of high school will continue to be a non-negotiable rite of passage in France. The philosophy exam has become so iconic that the exam questions for the year are published in national newspapers. Millions of French adults look forward to this day—the questions are discussed at length in the media by public intellectuals and celebrities! The format of the philosophy examination is familiar to all French adults. It consists of a single four-hour dissertation based on one of two open-ended questions, or a close examination of a previously unseen text extract. The depth of thinking required can be best appreciated by seeing the prompts in their entirety. Here is one set of questions and text extract from the 2017 exam:
The Bac philosophy class emphasizes a particular kind of critical thinking that goes beyond using clever arguments to tear down viewpoints that oppose a student’s own perspective. From the French Bac perspective, a true and relevant critical thinking—for a free and informed citizenry—boils down to establishing the habit of examining relentlessly one’s own heartfelt opinions. In the philosophy class, students are taught to hold their own ideas up to the mirror of great thinkers of the past. This year’s philosophy class at International studied the works of Plato, Epicurus, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Montesquieu, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Sartre. In their final dissertation, students use the same triadic approach whether they tackle an open-ended question or the text extract. First, students lay out the problem and explain its context and global significance. Next, they state their initial ideas informed by notions of some of the great philosophers they have studied. Then, they “argue against themselves”—again using notions from the extracts they have studied, posing nuanced counter-
Does the defense of one's rights imply the defense of one's interests? Is it possible to free oneself from one's culture? [Foucault, Dits et Ecrits (1978)]
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the french bac
arguments that challenge their own claims. In the final synthesis, they use the insights gained along the way to critically examine the assumptions of the original question and, perhaps, arrive at a modified and cogent question of their own for further consideration.
Poised to make a difference The new Bac, with its signature customization and greater specialization, will allow our students more self-direction and choice. The ultra-bilingual, bicultural, extra-curricular-rich version of the Bac available at International High School is a great vehicle for cross-cultural cognition—the ability of our students to think, feel, and act in more than one culture. Educating future leaders who will act on their compassionate critical thinking has urgent relevance. Our Bac graduates are knowledgeable, philosophical, and empathetic young people, ready to make a difference in the world. Turner Caldwell, International High School Class of 2010, recently echoed these sentiments. Turner graduated with the Bac, received his Bachelor of Science degree
from Stanford, and is currently an engineer at Tesla. Last year, he presented to a group of parents and students about his Bac experience at International: "No program does a better job of setting you up for success in a world that is constantly more connected and where ideas flow more freely than ever before. From my perspective, the French Bac has the potential to make you a stronger problem solver, a stronger communicator, and generally a better global citizen, that will be well-equipped to solve the major challenges of your generation."
The main source for this article was the French Ministry of Education (MEN) website, especially the downloadable publication: Transformer le lycée professionnel: former les talents aux métiers de demain; and the Baccalauréat 2021 article. Many valuable insights were gleaned from conversations with Joel Cohen, High School Principal; Jean-Pierre Nagy, Director of French Studies; and Jérémie Rostan, Global Travel Coordinator and Humanities teacher.
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diversity & inclusion
Investing in Inclusion
DARRYL JOHNSON | DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
iversity and inclusion, though complementary and often paired together, are not interchangeable concepts. In fact, diversityâ€”perceived and lived differenceâ€”is what gives urgency and meaning to the work of inclusion; especially at a school like ours, where community members interact across cultural, linguistic, and social differences on a daily basis. In our international school, we are ready for a shift from simply valuing the presence of diversity towards prioritizing equity of voice for all members of our community. By committing to honoring the lived experiences of all who call French American and International home, we can create a school culture where diversity is seen as a powerful catalyst for both personal and collective
The 2017-2018 High School Student Diversity Council
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growth. This is the power and promise of investing in inclusion. Beginning in the fall, the Office of Diversity will design and facilitate a series of capacity-building initiatives, in addition to creating spaces where students, faculty and staff, parents, and leaders will continue to learn and utilize their talents, skills, and networks for equity and justice. The planning and thought process behind this work will be informed by the 4C Dual-Capacity Model, a best practice in inclusion work developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Using this model, we will design programming that seeks to develop Cognition (values and beliefs), Capabilities (skills and knowledge), Connections (Networks and Belonging) and Confidence (self-efficacy). Following is an outline of some of the initiatives that have been implemented this year, and a map of what is to come for our school community next year.
Middle school students sharing a book as part of the newly inaugurated Diversity Readers Series LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 63
diversity & inclusion diversity & inclusion
Students Developing student leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusion has taken the form of creating a Diversity Council in the Middle School and strengthening the Diversity Council in the High School. Both councils have led assemblies and various initiatives throughout the year—lunch-and-learn movie screenings, the curation of diversity-themed displays in the hallways, discussion club activities and, in the High School, student-led Advisory sessions. In the Lower School, the Diversity Readers Series has helped to complement the identity and social emotional learning components of our Responsive Classroom initiatives. The series has helped introduce vocabulary like “upstander,” “activist,” “civil rights,” and “equality,” as well as demonstrated to our youngest learners what age-appropriate social justice leadership looks like. This work will continue next year at the lower elementary level, as well as at the Maternelle. Next year, we will also establish affinity groups in the Middle and High School. Our students, across many different social identifiers, crave spaces where they see themselves in others who identify similarly. These spaces are about validation, personal and intra-group growth, and consciousness. They are about sharing, asking questions, and finding the support to understand
Darryl Johnson addressing an International High School Diversity Assembly, February 2018
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the various ways in which we can help ourselves and others. In our school, some affinity spaces already exist, such as the High School’s LGBTQ+ group, LASER. In the fall, we will further define these spaces. The following spaces will be created and/or strengthened in the Middle and High School next year: Young Women of Color, Young Men of Color, the Black Student Union, Allies for Social Change, and the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, formerly known as LASER. An LGBTQ+ group will also be developed in the Middle School.
Faculty This year, our faculty has been focused on professional development and workshops on implicit bias and culturally responsive teaching. Next year, we will expand the topics covered to include growth mindset and socio-economic diversity in independent schools, as well as launch initiatives centered on teaching and learning as equity. Reflecting upon teaching and learning as equity will increase our teachers’ understanding of issues of cognitive diversity, learning differences, and the socio-cultural aspects of teaching and learning. Through the creation of a faculty Diversity and Equity Committee (DEC), we will also create opportunities for faculty and staff to help design, facilitate, and lead
diversity & inclusion diversity & inclusion
diversity initiatives. The founding of a DEC will help to create a shared culture, language, and understanding of diversity schoolwide, while fostering respectful crosscultural dialogue and empathy. We are proud to embark on this leadership journey together in the fall. On the social front, we hope to create an international affinity space where our faculty can find and build community as they navigate our school and the social landscape of San Francisco.
Parents Next year, led by our new Urban Engagement Coordinator, we will develop a parent speaker series in which parents will be able to share their expertise across various industries, professions, and areas of interest with the school community. We have such incredible human capital and talent at French American and International, so it is with great excitement that we create avenues for celebrating the intellectual wealth of our parent community. Additionally, we will work with parents to establish parent affinity groups for lower and middle school parents, including the creation of a Parents of Students of Color group, as well as a Genders & Sexualities Alliance group where families can lean on each other for support.
Community Next year, with the help of our Urban Engagement and Global Travel Program Coordinators, we will further connect our school to the local and global community. By refining the internship program in the High School, our students will be exposed to local industries, including non-profit organizations and social justice-oriented NGOs. Through our global trips, and by building on the success of this year’s International Evening of Culture—a showcase of all Global Travel Program trips—we will continue to celebrate and support our school’s commitment to multiculturalism and international understanding. This will also support our reputation as the Bay Area’s premier international high school. We are thankful for our community’s commitment and stewardship as we begin to invest more deeply in inclusion and in each other. Together, we can achieve our ambitious goals of fostering the intellectual, social, ethical, and spiritual ambitions of our students and honoring the variety of beliefs and backgrounds reflected in our diverse community of students, faculty, staff, and parents. Let us walk bravely in that promise. Let us invest in inclusion.
Students from the 2018 India trip perform an Indian dance at the International Evening of Culture, May 2018
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Travel With A Passion This year's Global Travel Program offered a combination of innovation and tradition. In Middle School, our linguistic trips brought students to mainland China and Nicaragua for the first time, to Morocco for the third consecutive year, and to Southern Italy and France for the fifth and 29th consecutive year, respectively.
In High School, we finally returned to the Galápagos, celebrated the 10th anniversary of our relation with Senegal, traveled to India for the 14th time, and added a 26th trip to our Polynesian exchange program. We also broke new ground with a firsttime freshman-only expedition across Vietnam, a Model United Nations trip to Berlin and Copenhagen, an introduction to medicine in Thailand, and a photojournalistic excursion across China and Tibet. The theme for this year’s program was “travel with a passion” and each trip was organized around a specific interest. Follow along on our journey and catch a glimpse of the myriad passions, languages, and service of our students.
"Even though I was uncomfortable at first, I explored the unknown. I felt a part of an entirely different world—a whole other universe." —Rohini ‘21, Tahiti
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COPENHAGEN & BERLIN
CHINA & TIBET
THAILAND MOROCCO SENEGAL
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Journey Back to India
MINAKSHI CAPUR | IB ENGLISH TEACHER
y first trip to India with International High School was in 2006; I travelled with 10 students. In 2017, 46 students joined me on the trip. That says it all for the popularity of the visits to India and the value that the students see in this foray into a world so different from their own. Our school’s mission is to develop critical thinkers who see themselves as global citizens, living their lives with a consciousness of what drives action and development in other parts of the world. The two weeks in India serve to further the work done in the classroom in a unique way. Our vision and focus for this trip has always been experiential rather than informational. Every year, our students are able to meet people in India from all walks of life and engage in all spheres of the social fabric in order to develop a sense of how, no matter what their particular interests and inclinations may be, there is a role each of us can play in sustaining a world that celebrates, rather than rejects, difference. All the places we visit and the things we see would be impossible to include
on these few pages, but I will attempt to aim for a fair representation with comments from the most important participants of these trips: our students. The new way of looking at things allowed me to have a more open mind during the trip as well as in my life at home in San Francisco. The state of awareness opened up a bubble I did not even realize I was living in. It has made me more reflective about my home, my relationships, my academic life, myself, and more. —JAMIE '09
India lives in my head as a remarkably proficient example of a different ideological paradigm. Though I am not one to spurn the necessity of selfish profit in a practical world, it was holistically uplifting to encounter such people sustained mentally by absolutely nothing more than the happiness of others. —ROIE '11
The 2018 India Trip
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We have visited Catholic nuns and secular women in Calcutta and Bombay who extend the opportunity of education to girls from poor families. We have met young female prostitutes who are marginalized and whose children are invisible to society, yet receive an education from these women. We have visited classrooms under a tree and learned about Rabindranath Tagore’s vision for education in Shantiniketan, providing an opportunity for our students to witness that education does not have to be delivered in buildings and classrooms. We have discovered the ‘school in a trunk’ where teachers travel with a steel trunk full of math and language games to teach children of migrant workers in West Bengal under a road overpass in the city or under a tree in the fields. We have visited the slums of Bombay to show the students the vibrant, creative, and economic activity of those who are considered poor and uneducated. I’m seeing more than I can even begin to comprehend. Women carrying more than twice their weight on their heads. Men in sweltering heat sitting by fire, recycling aluminum, reusing oil paint cans, cutting bars of soap. Men who work 10 to 12 hours a day for only 200 rupees, who only see their families outside the slum once or twice a year. The density of the living area and,
The 2018 India Trip
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consequently, the sense of community. There is never an absence of emotion on my part—there is so much to feel here, be it embarrassment, shame, regret, thankfulness, or joy at being accepted. —MORGAN '11
We have visited elephant sanctuaries in Rajasthan to raise awareness among our students of elephants as caring, intelligent animals, and not just ‘cute’ beasts of burden that they can ride. It was breathtaking to be able to paint the trunks of these gentle giants and interact with them personally. Together with some of my friends we have decided to center our IB CAS project around elephants. We want to raise awareness about the plight of elephants forced to do manual labor and prevent this cruelty against them. —MADELINE '18
A sense of history gradually dawns on the students as they visit ruins, monuments, and cave dwellings that have existed for millennia. They learn about the effects of invasion and colonization in all its multifaceted evi-
denceâ€”in language, architecture, religion, cuisine, and dress. We have visited mosques, temples, and churches across India for students to see that secularism is a living concept and practice, and can be achieved by all. The element of this trip that really struck me was how many different cultures, religions, and languages co-exist in such close quarters. I discovered this not only by looking out of the window in the bus and seeing local people wearing hijabs, saris, or plain white cotton clothes, but also because of the diversity of the places we visited. In three days we have been to three mosques, two Hindu temples, a Sikh gurudwara, and a Jain rock cave! I think the diversity of religions is especially remarkable because of how differently it portrayed life from what we know, coming from America. While our particular group is lucky, coming from an open-minded school and city, it has unfortunately become common in American media and politics to discriminate against religious minorities. While I am aware that discrimination undoubtedly occurs in India as well, it was eye-opening to reflect on how differently these minorities carried themselves in their day-to-day lives with no sense of fear or separation.
Our students are not only observers; they are active learners and participants. We have been taught Bollywood dancing, we have practiced Malakhamb yoga in the wee hours of the morning, and we have played cricket with students in the schools that we visit. We have joined with a local mime troupe on our visits to Jaagran in Delhi, where our students have become social activists by creating short performances depicting issues they have identified as being common to them as well as to Indian communities. Examples include the need to take care of the least empowered in our communities, the aged and the homeless; the availability and danger of drugs in the lives of students; the impact of and necessity for safe sex... the list is endless. And why do I do this, this visiting of my country of birth, year after year? Well, I experience the land I thought I knew so well afresh and differently with each group. Definitions and sureties are shaken and shifted; I see joy and aspects to celebrate where earlier there was indifference or acceptance; I learn to re-evaluate things I took for granted, like the immense hospitality we receive, the playfulness of children living on the streets, the grandeur of monuments that were no more than a clichĂŠ in my consciousness.
The 2009 India Trip
Minakshi on the 2010 India Trip
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An Exchange of Savoir Faire SCOTT PATON | HISTORY TEACHER
oon after our arrival in Senegal we visited the Lycée Cheikh Ahmadou Lamine Dabo. Our students were invited to meet some of their students and engage in conversation in their English class. Their teacher was absent, on strike, along with most of his colleagues from the school. That didn’t keep the students away. They filled the classrooms and the courtyard, waiting patiently to learn again. This national movement had been ongoing for at least a couple of weeks. We learned that the students were sympathetic to the teacher’s cause, and yet they persevered. That determination was our unexpected lesson from the morning. This would be just one of many significant learning opportunities that we enjoyed during our 10 days in Senegal in February. A few kilometers away, in the suburbs of M’bour, École Natangué elected not to go on strike. The director, Marie Diagne, while supportive of the teachers, believed that the impact on the young-
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est learners in Maternelle and Primaire (K-6) would be significantly detrimental to their future and even to their health. The littlest ones, she explained, would be vulnerable to infection if they weren’t under the supervision of the trained eyes of their teachers and medical staff. This too was a sobering lesson of the enormous commitment that the public school—the product of the vision and determination of its founder Elena Malagodi—has had on the suburban landscape of M’bour. In many ways, the school has blossomed into the community center of a neighborhood in dire need of the basic necessities for children’s nourishment, health, and education. In addition, Elena, Natangué Senegal, and the city saw the need for ancillary training and services with a special priority given to women. We were fortunate to lend a hand to one such venture: a thriving organic food cooperative. It’s organized by women of the community and has regular harvests of vegetables for sustenance and for sale in their neighborhood épicerie.
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We were impressed with the inventiveness and the determined spirit of our hosts. They’ve been inspiring us for over 12 years in a partnership of assistance and an exchange of savoir faire. Senegal’s budget is limited and outlays for education are minimal. In consequence, schools like École Natangué must find alternative sources of funding. With Service Learning & CAS Coordinator Elizabeth Cleere’s steady leadership, International’s Project Senegal has responded to that need with studentled fundraising initiatives held throughout the year. As you will see in the accompanying testimonials, for our International students, this was an unforgettable opportunity. They saw firsthand that Senegal—one of the few countries in Africa to enjoy consistent democratic traditions since Independence—was continuing to be a dynamic actor on the continent. We saw the evidence for this in infrastructure development, as we flew into a shiny new international airport in Dakar. We saw it in a recently completed motorway that now connects M’bour with the capital. And we saw it in the way Senegal remains relatively peaceful in comparison with some of their neighbors. Churches sit across the street from mosques, reflecting a culture of tolerance that is easily felt and proudly recognized. Just before we arrived,
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French president Emmanuel Macron made a state visit. He brought along French business interests and promised cooperation for regional security. Of course, there are significant challenges, too. Funding for education is just one in a long list of other pressing issues such as economic, environmental, and energy concerns. When we spoke with the students, they did not hide their frustration. Everyone I asked spoke out against the corruption of the elites. Education had to be a priority, they asserted. The first president of Senegal, Leopold Senghor, later to be inducted into the Académie française, consistently emphasized the need for education as a fundamental right for all Senegalese. That has been a cherished goal ever since, but the realities have not always been so promising. Urbanization has resulted in large population shifts towards the cities along the coast, which has been a severe challenge for city managers. Elena, in response, continues to champion initiatives to build and expand schools and health centers in the outlying areas of M’bour. Locally managed, they are enjoying good success, but their financial status continues to be fragile. Our collaboration with them deserves our continued support.
Senegal 2018 Student Reflections
e had the opportunity to visit all of the projects in which Elena [the founder of École Natangué] has been involved—we traveled to five schools and one maternity ward throughout the day. What amazes me about Elena is her modesty toward all she’s done for the country of Senegal. She’s brought hope, opportunity, and purpose to a country lacking enough government support for everyone to receive a proper education. Being able to witness the progress of Elena’s various projects and to see the appreciation of the directors toward her dedication made me respect and look up to her so much more. That is perhaps the best part of traveling: meeting these people who are doing amazing things, all for the sheer purpose of doing good. —TESSA ‘19
The Senegalese take refuge in each other’s kindness and find resolve in hope. The problems they face are very real and yet it seems that, overall, the Senegalese have happiness flowing through their veins. Amid their poverty, we see their happiness. In their dirt floor classrooms, we find children eager to learn and help their teachers receive the pay they deserve. On the bumpy roads is built the resilience of an entire people; a Senegalese parent’s hunger for the health of their children prevailing over dangerous disease. Streets dense with trash even more dense with a happy people. —THEO ‘19
If I look back on all of the wonderful things we did yesterday, one particular conversation comes to mind that I think exemplifies the reason we take these fantastic trips. I was sitting next to a boy my age named Bassirou, with whom I had been in contact since the beginning of our stay, and we were talking about materialism in the U.S. versus Senegal. I was telling him that I thought that Senegal was not a very materialistic country despite being in dire need of shoes, backpacks, clothes, notebooks and other seemingly essential material things. He responded that this was true, but the Senegalese people managed to get by and be happy without it. I nodded as I thought back to an incident earlier that morning when I carried a little three year old girl from the schoolyard to her classroom. All the backpacks had been taken except for two. I pointed at each backpack and felt my heart sink as she shook her head telling me that she didn't have a bag. As I felt tears creeping towards my eyes, the little girl flashed me a smile and shrugged. My heart melted. When I told Bassirou this, he said that the U.S. was getting caught up in materialism and it was causing people to lose sight of their true goal: happiness. This was why he appreciated Senegal; people value communal happiness over material items. That is why it is so important for us to go on these humbling trips: to experience different cultures worldwide, to learn from their people and their values, and to apply what we learned to our lives back home. —NATALIE ‘20
The combination of meeting the Senegalese students from Dakar and the visit to Île-de-Gorée was an incredibly valuable experience that demonstrated the hospitality and acceptance of the Senegalese people. Throughout our trip, I have been amazed by the sense of community shared by all of the people we have encountered. Written on the walls of the House of Slaves is “Oui pour pardonner, non pour oublier,” which translates to “yes to forgiveness, no to forgetting.” This message, along with the always-welcoming attitude of the Senegalese, highlights the acceptance and openness of the people we have met, and also the rich, unique culture and history of the Senegalese people that is such a crucial part of who they are. I am so grateful for this day and this trip as a whole for teaching me so much about the beauty and complexity of the world in which we live. —CAROLENA ‘20
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The Cartier Sisters' performance at the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion, September 2017 76 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
Genie Cartier '06 and Marie Cartier '10
enie Cartier, International ‘06 and UCLA ‘10, has a background in Chinese acrobatics and aerial rope training, and has performed handbalancing, theater, and acrobatics all around San Francisco and Los Angeles. Marie Cartier, International ‘10 and UC Berkeley ‘14, is a multidisciplinary artist and trained actor, whose work in theater also spans everything from light and sound operation to props design and education. Together, the sisters wrote, direct, and perform Yesterday is Tomorrow, a variety show complete with singing, dancing, acrobatics, comedy, and feminism. Genie and Marie returned to French American and International in the fall of 2017 to perform their show for a group of students and talk to us about their educational and theatrical experiences.
You attended French American and International from preschool through 12th grade. What have you been doing since you graduated high school? GENIE: I went to UCLA, and afterward went to graduate
school at San Francisco State for a master’s degree in Poetry and Creative Writing. I’ve been working since then, and always part-time on artistic projects. Being creative and performing has always been a passion of mine. And, I recently started working at a nonprofit environmental organization. MARIE: I graduated from UC Berkeley with a joint degree
in Theater and Peace and Conflict Studies. I came back to San Francisco and have been balancing different jobs—including in-house technician work doing light and sound at the Marsh Theater, which gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with really great solo performers and learn the ins and outs of technical the-
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“The amount of discipline we learned through the French program has influenced the way we live our lives today, especially with regard to time management. We’re grateful for the French teachers we had!" —MARIE CARTIER ater. I’m currently working at a homeless nonprofit organization, which functions as a drop-in center for case management services, meals, etc. I continue to work with the Youth Theater Project and other theater gigs throughout the year at the San Francisco Mime Troupe. And, I perform as much as I can, occasionally for money but mostly for the love of it. What are your memories of the teachers and programs that helped to develop your interests in the arts and your careers beyond French American and International? GENIE: I had been training as a circus performer since
I was six years old, which took up all of my time! So I didn’t participate in the after school theater program [Back à Dos] in high school. The thing that was really impactful for me was that I had Dan Harder as my English teacher for two years at International, and he always encouraged me to keep writing. That’s part of the reason I went to grad school for creative writing. I still have a great relationship with him and it’s been instrumental, having a steady force and continued encouragement from someone who started as a teacher and became a mentor and a friend. He always told me to keep writing, even though it’s hard. MARIE: When I was in middle school and saw the high
school theater productions, I immediately knew that I wanted to do Back à Dos. I had Brad Cooreman as my middle school teacher, and Michelle Haner came in my freshman year. The teachers and the program provided an excellent foundation and knowledge of what it means to create a production in a professional way. They teach a lot of things that set students up for a professional theater environment — even basic (but important!) terminology like, when the stage manager gives you five minutes you respond with “thank you five.” Or, stage left and stage right. It provided really good fundamentals that allowed me to be more confident going into college and the professional world. The way they run Back à Dos is as close as you can get in high school to running it with high, professional standards. To be exposed to that quality and standard at a young age is really helpful. MARIE: The other thing that was significant for both
of us was doing the French Bac track. The amount of discipline we learned through the French program has 78 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
influenced the way we live our lives today, especially with regard to time management. People think of artists as being lazy or disorganized, but the reality is, we are juggling a day job with the art we really want to make. It’s tricky to balance all of those things, and it’s lucky to have French teachers giving you a lot of homework and a very structured way of doing things that you can apply to the rest of your life. We’re grateful for the French teachers we had! GENIE: It was definitely challenging, but in some ways
our French American and International experience was the hardest thing we’ve done, and it set us up for everything else to be a little bit easier. Even college. Classes were rigorous, of course—UCLA and Berkeley are very good schools—but it wasn’t the same level of rigor as learning math in a second language. How has theater impacted other aspects of your life? GENIE: The training you get through theater serves you in
every aspect of life—job interviews, professional environments. It builds confidence and the ability to talk in front of people and with authority. MARIE: Talking loud. Being calm under pressure. The
concept of 'the show must go on' can apply to so many life situations. What was the inspiration for making your show Yesterday is Tomorrow? GENIE: We started creating the piece before the [Novem-
ber 2016] election, but we kicked it into high gear after the election because we felt that we were entering a really dark period, and that people needed some entertainment and a distraction from everything in the news. That said, we also want the audience to think about the issues, so there’s an undertone throughout the piece, and even though we’re on stage singing and dancing to distract you from everything going on in the world, you can’t forget it. MARIE: After I graduated college, I moved back to San
Francisco and was looking for a place to live. The place that I found and could afford was a converted warehouse. It had a big dance floor in it, and big mirrors, and Genie and I thought we had to take advantage of the space. We thought about what kind of dance we
could do, and having grown up in the boy band era, we said, let’s make up a boy band dance! So that’s how we started. Over the course of making the show, we got evicted from the warehouse because of the crackdown on warehouse living after the Ghost Ship fire. That was the inspiring moment for the puppet scene where we say warehouses are hotbeds of artistic activity. I felt it was important to include that because it was a big change in setting and a loss of rehearsal space for us. What are your plans for the future? GENIE: I have always been a performer and I want to find
every way possible to keep doing it, even as it evolves. One lesson that I learned from circus is that your body can only do physical things a certain way for so long. I did pretty serious acrobatics and aerial work for many years and got a lot of injuries, but it’s motivated me to learn new skills. I’m trying to be better at acting and singing, and I am learning to tap dance because it’s a lot less demanding on your body! My life as a performer
will keep evolving, but I want to keep it in my life no matter what form it takes. MARIE: I think it’s important to note that there’s this idea
of success as an artist, and that you have to be David Bowie to be considered successful. But making art is valuable no matter what. The fact that you are creating art is valuable in itself, and if you can share it with others, that’s even better. I personally believe in the ability of art to save lives, so I definitely want to keep performing and creating. I also really enjoy working in social services; I’ve been told I have a good, calm temperament for it, which is funny because it alludes to theater’s ability to help us keep cool. So that might be something I want to pursue and possibly study in grad school. I’ll keep making art forever, though.
You can catch the Cartier Sisters performing around San Francisco. Follow them at cartiersisters.weebly.com
Marie Cartier (center) in the 2007 Back à Dos production of The Threepenny Opera
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Safia Benyahia (left) with Alicia Levine '09 in Shanghai, China 80 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
Advising the Next Generation of Students Safia Benyahia '09
arlier this spring, alumna Safia Benyahia ‘09—who attended French American and International from 8th grade through 12th grade, then went on to pursue her degree at UCLA—stopped by campus to share a little bit of her story with us. Below is our conversation, edited for length and clarity.
What was your most memorable classroom lesson at French American or International? One of my most memorable classes is circus—we had to do circus in PE, and none of us ever forgot that! They made us choose between track and circus, and the whole class was like, oh, circus is going to be more low key, it's not going to be as difficult physically, but we actually had to master specific juggling and balancing acts! I'll never forget having to put on a circus show—I think our class did a Romeo and Juliet circus show. I still know how to juggle, actually. What, in your opinion, is the most distinctive feature of a French American and International education? I think what's most distinctive about the education here is that you get the best of both worlds. The French Bac is great—it's very rigorous, you learn so many different subjects, and you really need to work hard to keep up. It really teaches you how to study. At the same time, we live in the United States, so you get the positive aspects of an American education—teamwork, creativity, extracurricular activities—that make you a well-rounded person. Tell us a little bit about what you do now. I currently live in Paris, and work at the American University in Paris. My department is called the Center for Academic Internship and Career Advising—I do career advising, but I do a little bit of academic advising too. Most of my work involves helping students find internships. What do you love about your job? I've always been interested in education, so I really enjoy working with students. I worked with middle and high school students before this, and working with college students—it's just a breeze. It's really fun. What I love about this particular institution is that people come from all over the world. I might meet with three students in one day, and they're from three different continents. One of the things I get to do is help them write a resume for the first time, so I get to hear about their unique lives, and all the different skills that they have. And it's not just the students who come from all over the world—it's the faculty and staff too. I love the international environment.
Do you think being at International helped set you along the path you're on now? Definitely. First of all, the language skills are essential to the work that I do. It's one thing to have skills in university services; it's another to be able to use French and English in the job. I mean, after going here—I don't even know whether I speak better French or English! So that really set me up to succeed. Then, having a strong academic background, I was able to go to a really good university, and not only go to a good university but do really well. I think most of my classmates felt the same—most of us had high grades and did well. It's the Bac S that we had nightmares about, not college exams! There’s the international perspective as well. It comes naturally to me to meet people from different countries. I might not know anything about a country, but I feel comfortable with people from all over the world. We all have that curiosity. What have been your international experiences since graduation? I actually didn’t go on any of the international trips in high school! The only trip I went on was the TOK retreat to Napa. But after graduating, I lived in Japan for a year. When I was in Japan, I took advantage of that and traveled around Asia—I actually saw some friends from International in Shanghai, and in Singapore. I also went to South Korea, to the Philippines, to Taiwan, plus all over Europe, Mexico, Canada... a number of places, actually! So even though I didn’t go on study trips at International, I caught up afterwards. If you could give one piece of advice to a current International student, what advice would you give them? Make the most of what's here. You don't really realize how great this place is until you leave. The fact that there are sports teams, that there's Back à Dos, that you have fantastic extracurricular activities and things to do outside the classroom—take advantage of that. Don't just do the bare minimum. And pursue what interests you. That's something I noticed during my time here that was cool—people weren’t just involved in sports or taking classes to look good on paper. People were interested in different things, and generally had a lot of positive encouragement to pursue their interests. So take advantage of what's here, and do what genuinely interests you.
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Young Alumni Lunch Class of 2017 alums Keishi Foecke, Sophia Clark, and Benjamin Schroeder share their first-year college experiences with this year's college-bound class of International High School Seniors. 82 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
Alumni Events Alumni Holiday Party
Young Alumni Lunch
ore than 60 people attended the Alumni Holiday Party on December 20 at the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion. Returning alumni represented all eras of French American and International history—FAIS, IHS, and even FABS attendees showed up to celebrate. Some guests had never before seen the Arts Pavilion, while others delighted in returning to a space where they once regularly performed as musicians or Back à Dos cast members. The crowd kept celebrity faculty bartenders Andrew Brown and Leslie Adams busy, while other teachers and administrators—like Scott Paton and Gregory Verdol, pictured with Carly Ryan, Carter Cohen, and Simon Chanezon '17; or Head of School Melinda Bihn and Jean-Pierre Nagy, seen here with Anna Quinn and Elizabeth Geballe '03—had the chance to catch up with former pupils.
On January 9, young alumni from the Class of 2016 and 2017 returned to campus to enjoy lunch with current students, faculty, and staff. The recent graduates— now students at universities across the country, including Berkeley, NYU, and Harvard—shared a few words of advice regarding what they've learned about life after International. Words on college choice ranged from the inspirational to the practical, but perhaps NYU student Ben Schroeder '17 said it best when he reminded students: "Weather matters." Although seniors seemed eager to put IB and Bac exams behind them—“what’s the best part about leaving high school?” asked one student—the alums assured their former classmates that the intensity and rigor of International’s programs offer a strong foundation for the next stages of any educational journey.
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Alumni News 2003 Anna Quinn Anna says, “Bonjour de la Nouvelle Orléans!” She has been a resident of the wild and beautiful city since 2010, and is endlessly in awe of its people, its traditions, and its fascinating history. When she arrived there, a year and a half after receiving a BFA in Studio Art from New York University, she had no idea that her path would lead her to pursue a career as a jazz singer. Now, as she works toward a master’s in Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans, studying vocal performance, music theory, and arranging, she is certain there is nothing else she'd rather be doing. She feels fortunate to have found a home and a community that nurtures all sides of her creativity, both as a musician and a visual artist, and also inspires her to live creatively.
France, worked in New York City in urban planning consulting, and received her MBA at Chicago Booth. Thrilled to be back in San Francisco, Tatiana currently works in real estate development, and has also been working with the San Francisco Public Library to expand their French literature collection.
2008 Marina Multhaupp Marina is, most recently, co-author of What Works for Women at Work: A Workbook. Published by NYU Press in January 2018, the workbook is about gender bias in the workplace.
2009 Alicia Levine
Tatiana Hodapp Tatiana’s post-International path led her to UNC Chapel Hill, where she received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to examine the impact of organized religion on linguistic change in Alsace, in addition to a UNC Weir Fellowship for six months of study and internship in Beijing. She taught elementary school in Belfort,
After living in Shanghai, China for a whirlwind of a year and traveling for another six months, Alicia is back in San Francisco working for a sunglasses brand, Sunski, that encourages her to surf during the day if the swell is good, and grow in her role unlike any other job she has had before! You may see her on the streets of San Francisco this summer with a bright yellow teardrop trailer in tow... look out for it!
Anna Quinn '03 with 6th graders
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Anna Quinn '03
2013 Melina Dunham Melina is currently finishing the first year of her master's in International Public Management at Sciences Po's Paris School of International Affairs. She will be spending the next six months in Athens, Greece working with a GovTech startup and an NGO that supports refugees.
2014 Chantal Paine Chantal has just moved to London after earning her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford last summer. She is now working for a small tech marketing agency in the heart of the city where her bilingualism is being put to great use in helping companies market their products in France (with, she’s hoping, a few business trips to Paris bundled in—thank you, French Bac!)
2016 Cyrus Unvala Currently a rising junior at Virginia Tech, Cyrus is majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in physics. In March, he was awarded the Northrop Grumman Scholarship in Military Leadership, an award that includes the opportunity for an internship with Northrop Grumman.
Melina Dunham '13
Stay Connected! We always want to hear from our alumni. Share what you've been up to, and your news may appear in the alumni Class Notes section of La Lettre. Send updates via email, connect with classmates on Facebook, network with other alumni on LinkedIn, or get in touch via the alumni portal. email@example.com facebook.com/ frenchamericaninternationalalumni linkedin.com/ school/frenchamericaninternational-sf alumni.frenchamericansf.org
Cyrus Unvala '16 (second from right)
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YEAR IN REVIEW 86 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
FALL 2017 HIGH SCHOOL Women's Varsity Volleyball and Men's Varsity Soccer advanced to North Coast Section (NCS) Finals. Both teams also competed in Bay Counties League (BCL) playoffs. Women's Varsity Tennis had a great showing at the BCL West Singles and Doubles tournament. Varsity Cross Country competed at the NCS Meet of Champions. Sailing competed at the San Francisco City Championship Regatta at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
MIDDLE SCHOOL Boys’ Varsity Soccer went undefeated in Bay Area Independent Athletic League (BAIAL) play and competed in the Championship. A fan bus went to cheer on the boys in a showing of school spirit! Girls’ JV Volleyball earned a spot in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) playoffs. Grades 5 & 6 Girls’ Volleyball competed at the University of San Francisco and then cheered on Michelle Gajdka '16 who starts on the team at Santa Clara University.
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WINTER 2018 HIGH SCHOOL Women's Varsity Basketball earned back-to-back championships in the BCL Central, a 16-0 perfect season throughout BCL play, and a 7th seed in NCS playoffs. Men's Varsity Basketball competed in the BCL Central semi-final playoff game against #1 seed San Domenico. The Club Skiing Team had its inaugural season, led by Sydney ‘19, who won her age group.
MIDDLE SCHOOL The 5th Red, 7th Red, and 8th Red Boys’ Basketball teams won the CYO Championships. The 8th Blue and 6th Red Boys’ teams finished in 2nd Place. Students in grades 3-8 developed their skills in both basketball and volleyball at clinics held during February break.
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SPRING 2018 HIGH SCHOOL Women’s Varsity Soccer had a tremendous season, earning a BCL Playoff and NCS appearance. In Swimming, the Men’s team finished 4th at the BCL West Championship meet. The Women’s team had a strong showing as well, with nearly every swimmer achieving personal records. Men's Varsity Tennis qualified for BCL West playoffs, defeating San Domenico in the 1st Round. Badminton competed in the BCL Championship and four players qualified for NCS at the tournament. Baseball had a rebuilding year, with a very young team. They improved all season and were one game shy of BCL playoffs. In Track & Field, our female sprinters earned 100m times that we haven't seen in years. The Girls 4x100 Relay qualified for NCS.
MIDDLE SCHOOL The Girls’ Soccer team won the BAIAL championship, defeating Burke School 3-2 in a hard-fought and well-played game. A fan bus was again organized and classmates went out to the Beach Chalet fields to cheer on the girls and share in the celebration. Boys’ JV Volleyball advanced to the BAIAL semi-finals, and had a well-played match against Marin Country Day. 5th Red and 5th Blue Girls’ Basketball teams qualified for the CYO Playoffs, but were unable to participate as they boarded a plane to Strasbourg during the scheduled playoff time. 90 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
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Team Building and Leadership Student-athletes participated in a day of team bonding, workouts, and sports psychology workshops at the 5th Annual Athletic Leadership Retreat in the Marin Headlands at the start of the school year. 92 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
ALL BAY COUNTIES LEAGUE HONORS International has won the Bay Counties League (BCL) Central Sportsmanship Award! The award is voted on by athletic directors and coaches across the North Coast Section (NCS), and it acknowledges the players', coaches', and fans' sportsmanlike behavior throughout the athletic year. International was chosen out of seven schools in the BCL Central division.
1st Team: Ben ‘18 2nd Team: David ‘20 Honorable Mention: Sadiq ‘20; Dalton ‘20; Christopher ‘20 2nd Team: Stephanie ‘19; Tessa ‘19; Isabel ‘19
1st Team: Vince ‘18; Amir ‘18; Justin ‘18; Eyal ‘18
1st Team: Julianna ‘19; Jade ‘19 2nd Team: Madison Paige ‘18
1st Team: Vincent ‘18 2nd Team: Simon ‘18 Honorable Mention: Mathew ‘18
League MVP: Vida ‘19 1st Team: Julianna ‘19 2nd Team: Divine ‘21; Madison Paige ‘18 1st Team: Jamie ‘18 2nd Team: Vida ‘19 Honorable Mention: Maria Camila ‘18
1st Team: Anoosha ‘20; Annabel ‘20; Minh-E ‘19 2nd Team: Joey ‘18
2nd Team: Christopher ‘20 2nd Team: Holden ‘20
Fan Jam The Women's Varsity Volleyball and Men's Varsity Soccer teams played Bay School at Kezar Pavilion to kick off the 2017-2018 Athletics Season.
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YEAR IN REVIEW
The arts are a vibrant, integral part of the French American and International community and student life. Student exploration of the arts ranges from theater to music, painting to sculpture, and film. These pages offer a snapshot of the artistry exhibited this yearâ€”along the halls of the Arts Pavilion, on the Black Box Theater stage, and within and beyond the walls of our classrooms. 94 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
Middle School Theater
This year marked record participation in the Middle School Back à Dos Theater program and the Dallas Multilingual Theater Festival. We also enjoyed a number of performances here on campus, from the Maternelle to the Black Box Theater.
Student Actors and Directors
With 37 students in this year’s Middle School Back à Dos program, we employed creative thinking to ensure that everyone could play a part, leading to a first-time production of student-directed theater in the Middle School. Student actors were divided into groups, and each performed a One Act play directed by one of four 8th grade students.
Seventh grade Theater students performed scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet, among others, in the Black Box Theater.
Students traveled to the Dallas Multilingual Theater Festival in May for workshops and multilingual performances by and alongside peers from schools across the country. Leading up to the trip, students translated portions of their production into French and prepared to perform their student-directed work for the first time outside of our community.
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The Kentucky Cycle Back à Dos Theater presented The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan— a Pulitzer Prize-winning cycle of short plays that explores American mythology, especially that of the American West. The whole cycle runs about five hours and was performed in two parts. 96 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
High School Theater
The 2017-2018 High School Theater season included the fall play, The Kentucky Cycle; the student-directed One Act Play festival in winter; a spring musical production of Fiddler on the Roof; a faculty-directed, student-written project in May; and grade 12 option théâtre performances.
Student-Directed One Act Plays
The Back à Dos One Act Play Festival showcased six plays chosen by senior directors who managed every step of the production process, from auditions to the final performance. The Morpheus Quartet by John Glore, directed by Hannah Dr Fritz, or: The Forces of Light by David Ives, directed by Catherine Cold Reading by Paul Dooley, directed by Madeline "The Spot" by Steven Dietz, directed by Gillian Naomi in the Living Room by Christopher Durang, directed by Joshua The Game by Louise Bryant, directed by Chloe
Fiddler on the Roof
Our vision for this classic musical unfolded in a Marc Chagall-inspired world—vibrant, poetic, and fantastical. Cast training included Russian folk dance classes, as well as an introduction to both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish dance traditions.
May Theater Project
A gallimaufry of the dreams of teenagers: This original collaborative play was created as a gallimaufry, or hodgepodge, of our students’ own diverse experiences. It offered glimpses into the lives of teenagers, and touched upon themes such as consciousness, family, friendship, video games, gender, race, poetry, and spirituality.
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Winter Arts Evening Theater performances in the Black Box Theater and a concert in the Oak Street Gym dazzled attendees in January. 98 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
In addition to theater productions, the French American and International community enjoyed several concerts throughout the yearâ€”showcasing the talents of our youngest to most seasoned musicians.
Lower School Music and Drama
Lower school students prepared for their end-of-year performances held for families as a way to celebrate a year of musical and theatrical endeavors!
High School Spring Concert at the Legion of Honor
The Spring Concert was held in the Gunn Theater at the Legion of Honor in May, and featured acoustic, classical, and jazz music, among other genres.
Middle School Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble
This year marked the first with an Instrumental Ensemble in the Middle School. It was also the year of record-breaking participation in the Middle School Chorus. You may have heard their debut recordingâ€”a jingle for the MSNews broadcasts. Our middle school singers and musicians, accompanied by filmmakers and visual artists, put on a fantastic show for our community at the Middle School Arts Evening in May.
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Students' creativity and self-expression is further encouraged through the Visual Arts program—this year producing student artworks that were on display on campus and around the city, and recognized nationwide.
SFUSD Arts Festival
Twelve International students’ artworks were on display at the Asian Art Museum for the San Francisco Unified School District Arts Festival—a celebration of student creativity in visual, literary, media, and performing arts.
Lower School Art Festival
The Oak Street campus was transformed into an art gallery with individual and collective art projects on display from students in grades 1-5. Fourth and 5th grade student docents explained the exhibits, which were created around the theme Art and Emotion, to attendees during the Art Festival in April.
Vernissage du Festival des Arts In the spring, our youngest students celebrated art and community, creativity and self-expression, in the Festival des Arts at the Maternelle.
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Olivia â€˜18 Earns National Recognition in Art & Writing Awards
Olivia '18 earned a national Silver Medal in the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her art portfolio submission titled Art and Not-So-Natural History. Olivia is among a select group of students who were identified by panels of creative professionals as the most talented young artists and writers in the nation. This year, nearly 350,000 works of art and writing were submitted by students across the country in grades 7-12, and only the top 1% were recognized at the national level. Congratulations to Olivia on this amazing accomplishment!
IB Art Show
The 12th grade IB Art Show celebrates the fruits of a rigorous twoyear investigation into a range of art media and styles, and displays thought-provoking works reflecting each studentâ€™s unique voice.
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Seniors Embark on New Journeys
ur students continue to be accepted into excellent colleges amid increasingly competitive admission rates. Students received offers at colleges with the most challenging acceptance rates, such as Stanford (one student accepted—4% admit rate), Columbia (three students accepted; two accepted to Columbia University and one to the Columbia/Sciences Po dual degree program—5% admit rate), Yale University (two students accepted—6% admit rate) Brown University (two students accepted—7% admit rate), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (two students accepted—7% admit rate), University of Chicago (two
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students accepted—7% admit rate), and University of Pennsylvania (three students accepted—8% admit rate). Students also received offers from Oxford University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Bowdoin College, Georgetown University, Washington University in St. Louis, Tufts, Wesleyan, and many more prestigious colleges. Collectively, the Class of 2018 received 55 acceptances from colleges that accept approximately 15% or fewer applicants. Students in the Class of 2018 submitted more than 1,000 applications and received acceptances to over 180 different colleges and universities in the U.S., U.K., France, Canada, Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
Class of 2018
Acceptances and Matriculation (AS OF MAY 14, 2018) MATRICULATION American University Carnegie Mellon University Barnard College (2 students) Boston University (5) Bowdoin College (2) Brown University (2) Cal Poly Pomona Carnegie Mellon University Colgate University Columbia University Columbia University/Sciences Po CSUniversity Dominguez Hills CSUniversity Northridge Hobart & William Smith Colleges Loyola Marymount University Fordham University George Washington University (2) Georgetown University Goucher College King's College London Lewis & Clark (2) Loyola Marymount University (3) Macalester College McGill University Millkin University Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2) New York University (3) Newcastle University Swarthmore College Northeastern University (2) Pace University Pitzer College Pratt Institute Reed College (2) San Diego State University Santa Barbara City College Scripps College Seattle University Tufts University (3) Tulane University University of Toronto University of California: Berkeley (2) Davis (3) Merced Riverside Santa Cruz (7) Los Angeles (2) University College Dublin University of Chicago University of Kansas University of Massachusetts, Amherst University of Montreal University of Oxford University of Pennsylvania (3) University of St Andrews (2) University of Victoria University of Washington (3)
Vassar College Washington University in St Louis (2) Wellesley College Wesleyan University Yale University
ACCEPTANCES American University (9 students) Antioch College Bard College Barnard College (3) Bates College (4) Beloit College Bishop's University (2) Boston University (14) Bowdoin College (2) Brandeis University (2) Brown University (2) Bryn Mawr College Bucknell Univerty (2) Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Cal Poly Pomona (4) Cardiff University Carnegie Mellon University (3) Case Western Reserve University (4) Chapman University Clark University (5) Colby College (3) Colgate University (2) Columbia College Columbia University (2) Concordia University (2) Connecticut College Cornish College of the Arts CSUniversity Dominguez Hills CSUniversity East Bay CSUniversity Long Beach CSUniversity Sacramento DePaul University (6) Drexel University Durham University Elon University Emerson College (2) Emmanuel College Emory University Fordham University (8) George Washington University (7) Georgetown University Goucher College Hamilton College Hawaii Pacific University High Point University Hobart & William Smith Colleges Humboldt State University Imperial College London (2) Indiana University Bloomington Ithaca College Kalamazoo College Kenyon College (4) King's College London (6) Lafayette College
Lewis & Clark College (16) London Business School Loyola Marymount University (5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2) Macalester College (2) Maryland Institute College of Art McGill University (4) Michigan State University Millikin University New York University (6) Newcastle University Northeastern University (10) Nova Southeastern University Oberlin College (2) Occidental College (6) Oklahoma City University Pace University (3) Pacific Northwest College of Art Pennsylvania State University Pitzer College (2) Pratt Institute Purdue University (2) Queen Mary University of London Reed College (5) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (3) Rochester Institute of Technology Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Rutgers University (5) San Diego State University (2) San Francisco State University (5) San Jose State University (2) Santa Clara University (3) Sarah Lawrence College Sciences Poâ€”Columbia University Dual BA Program Scripps College (2) Seattle University (2) Seton Hall University Simon Fraser University Skidmore College (6) Smith College (2) Sonoma State University (2) Southern Methodist University Southern Oregon University St John's College St Mary's College of California Stanford University Swarthmore College Syracuse University (11) The New School (3) Trinity College Trinity College Dublin Tufts University (4) Tulane University (5) Ude Montreal Universita Bocconi Universiteit van Amsterdam University College Dublin (2) University College London (3) University of Arizona
University of Birmingham University of Bristol University of British Columbia (6) University of Chicago (2) University of Colorado, Boulder (11) University of Connecticut (2) University of Edinburgh (5) University of Essex University of Exeter University of Florida University of Kansas University of Kent University of Liverpool University of Manchester (3) University of Massachusetts, Amherst (5) University of Miami (3) University of Michigan University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3) University of Oklahoma University of Oregon (7) University of Oxford University of Pennsylvania (3) University of Pittsburgh (3) University of Portland (5) University of Puget Sound (6) University of Redlands University of San Diego University of San Francisco University of Southern California (2) University of St Andrews (5) University of Texas, Austin University of Toronto University of the Pacific University of Vermont University of Washington (11) University of Wisconsin, Madison (2) University of York (2) University of California: Berkeley (6) Davis (14) Irvine (2) Los Angeles (6) Merced (9) Riverside (14) San Diego Santa Barbara (7) Santa Cruz (35) Vassar College (2) Villanova University Virginia Tech Wake Forest University (2) Washington University in St Louis (2) Wellesley College Wesleyan University (3) Whitman College (3) Whittier College Willamette University (3) Worcester Polytechnic Institute Yale University (2)
LA LETTRE JUNE 2018 | 103
The 2018 Annual Auction Thank you to everyone who bid, pledged, volunteered, and danced the night away at this year’s Auction—you made Sail Away a spectacular success! The evening included beautifully curated silent and live auction items, delicious food, wine, and cocktails, and rocking tunes from Mustache Harbor. Thanks to our community’s support, we raised over $500,000 for our students, our teachers, and our school. We are grateful to our sponsors, attendees, and volunteers for making this event a night to remember!
104 | LA LETTRE JUNE 2018
ALL ABOARD! save the date for next year's annual auction!
April 27, 2019
FRENCH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL | INTERNATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL LYCÉE INTERNATIONAL FRANCO-AMÉRICAIN 150 OAK STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102 | 415-558-2000
www.frenchamericansf.org | www.internationalsf.org
The official magazine of the French American International School and International High School, San Francisco, California