Hong Kong International School 1 Red Hill Road Tai Tam, Hong Kong http://dragonnet.hkis.edu.hk
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A STUDENT PUBLICATION OF HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Tuition to Increase by Four Percent By Archit Batlaw Staff Writer
On March 1st head of school Kevin Dunning sent an email to the HKIS community announcing a tuition increase for the 2012-2013 school year. According to Mr. Dunning’s email, “following a rigorous administration and Board of Managers review, HKIS tuition will increase four per cent for the next academic year. The capital levy and technology fees remain unchanged.” According to Mr. Dunning, “The first thing we do, starting way back in the fall is take into account what our program needs are and look what changes we want to make, what additions we want to make… and make sure that we have a good understanding of what our program needs are for the upcoming year. That drives the budget process.” Mr. Dunning cited program needs such as “adding
a counselor to the middle school next year and redesign of the school website.” “The biggest driver of any school is their compensation and benefits for the faculty and staff,” said Mr. Dunning. “And so, for instance, one of the things we do is take a look at what our competitors are doing, both locally and in other international schools—where we are competing with for teachers. We take into account the introduction of career structure… and making sure we are being fair to the people who run the support staff. So all of those things go into the compensation and benefit portion of the budget, which is the biggest part of the budget.” By Stephanie Tang Staff Writer
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HKIS Declines to Disclose Ethical Investment Policy By Martin Man Staff Writer
According to HKIS’s financial statements for the year ending July 31, 2011, of the school’s more than 1 billion HKD in net assets, more 740 million HKD is held in trading securities—stocks, bonds, and other financial investments. Despite the large portion of the school’s money held in investments, Chief Financial Officer Ken Fowler and the Investment Committee of the HKIS Board of Managers have declined to disclose how this money is invested. Mr. Fowler stated in an email that, ‘HKIS does believe in ethical investment of our funds and has a specific policy,’ and that the policy has been in place at least since the establishment of the Investment Committee in 2006. However, he went on to say that ‘the policy is not published for viewing.’ He detailed some aspects of the policy, including provisions that prohibit ‘investments in business enterprises that have a principal activity involving alcohol, tobacco or firearms’ and any organisations ‘that actively support terrorism’ or that ‘raise serious health concerns as determined by the school.’ The investment policy does not currently take into account whether companies engage in environmentally friendly practises. However, Mr.
NEWS “HS Memes” Craze Strikes HKIS
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Seniors on Graduation
New Guard Hopes to Finish His Ph.D PAGE 3 Senioritis Strikes Again
Fowler said that he would suggest such provisions to the Investment Committee. Because HKIS is a private institution, ‘the Hong Kong government neither has any authority over nor any oversight responsibilities regarding how HKIS funds are invested,’ Mr. Fowler stated. However, the school must submit audited accounts to the Companies Registry at least once in every 12-month period. The Companies Registry makes these statements available to the public. According to Mr. Fowler, the school ‘cannot share a list of our current investments.’ The financial statements for the 12-month period ending July 31, 2011 state that the school earned more than 56 million HKD from its investment portfolio. A part of many educational institutions and non-governmental organisations, ethical investment policies regulate the responsible investment of funds. For example, according to a Yale Daily News article, the Yale Corporation—governing board and policy-making body for Yale University—withdrew their investments from Apartheid South Africa and more recently from Sudan in compliance with ethical investment.
Earth Week at HKIS Electoral System Questioned Kony’s Shame
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By Stephanie Tang Staff Writer
Though the implementation of several new programs has already been announced for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, students can now count one more: the Peer Helper program. Introduced by counselors Mr. Goad and Mrs. Passamonte, Peer Helpers is designed to build a stronger sense of community in the school, particular among the student body. “We want to take students who have natural helping skills and help them develop these skills to the benefit of themselves and their peers,” said Mrs. Passamonte. The program will also provide another method for students to raise awareness about sensitive issues at HKIS and to come
up with feasible solutions. Students that are involved with the program will be expected to help one another and work with one another in order to support their fellow students through the difficulties they may be experiencing. Mrs. Passamonte also spoke about the reasons for creating and implementing the Peer Helper program in the high school. Though this is only her second year at HKIS, she has previously worked extensively in counseling departments at other schools. “As a counselor, I recognized that youth learn best from and listen to their peers; when they have problems, they turn to their friends
and peers first,” said Mrs. Passamonte. “At every other school that I’ve been at, I’ve worked with students in some sort of peer helping program. Since last year was my first year here, I didn’t think it was right to come in and start all these things. But now I’ve been here a bit longer and have gotten to know the other counselors better, like Mr. Goad. We really complement each other and I think that will be good for the program.” At the moment the number of students involved with the program remains relatively small, and while this may be a source of worry for Continued on Page 5
HKIS World Café 2012 By Sam Klein Staff Writer
Sessions of an HKIS “World Café” were held on May 2nd, 3rd and 4th at both the Repulse bay and Tai Tam campuses. The aim of these café’s was to create an opportunity for everyone at school to plan and organize the future of HKIS. As explained at the Café on May 3rd, the name, Café promotes a conversation that engages people to plan changes for the future. The informational website states that everyone involved in the HKIS community is welcome to join these planning sessions. According to the HKIS web-
Page 6 The Religion Delusion
Page 6 Made in ChinaA Blast of Color
site, the café’s emphasis was to be on conversation and personal input about this school’s future:“We need YOUR thinking about what works well at our school now and what we should consider for the coming years.” “The 5 World Café events happening next week are the first step in a comprehensive school wide strategic planning process. Our current strategic plan is up in 2013 so it is time to look ahead. Meetings have been held in the past for school community input but that last strategic planning process took places
2012 YEAR OF THE DRAGON
sometime 2006/2007 for a 2007-2013 plan,” said Sandra Oliver, who is the Internal Coordinator for Strategic Planning, a consulting firm that ran the cafés. Despite the advertisement of the World Cafe around school, many students still seem oblivious to the World Café’s existence and purpose. “ Apparently it’s a meeting of some sort.” said Aidan Cheng (grade 11).
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Presented by the HKIS Sustainability Committee
Competition between HKIS Divisions from March 26 to June 1
REDUCE ELECTRICITY USAGE BY 5%
Hong Kong International School 1 Red Hill Road Tai Tam, Hong Kong Junto is a student publication of Hong Kong International School. Student editors make all content decision. Please feel free to submit letters to the editors. Submit your letter to email@example.com. Letters may be edited for clarity. Teacher Advisor .................................................................................................Chris Taylor Editor-in-Chief ......................................................................................Sanchita Kanthadai Editors ...............................................................................................................Thomas Ruan Emily Williams Christine Herman Charlie Packer Layout Editor ...........................................................................................................Jinny Lee Layout assistants ...........................................................................................Tiffany Cheung Photo Manager .......................................................................................Victoria Montecillo Photo assistants ...............................................................................................Gabriella Tam Hannah Passamonte . Amy Griffin Kira Bauman
“HS Memes” Student Opinions Mixed on the Hong Kong Chief ExecuCraze Strikes HKIS tive Election Results By Andrea Herman Staff Writer
Whether looking to air their grievances or simply eager for a laugh, over the past few weeks HKIS students have started to spend more time on the website hsmemes.com. There are mixed opinions about this trend: while some find the site to be simple fun, a “dark side” does exist. For those who have not previously been on HS Memes, the website has a page for each high school on it. Users can submit suggestions for internet memes about quirks pertinent to their school. A “meme” consists of a picture and a well-known phrase such as “one does not simply…”, “Y U No…?”, or “Not sure if…”, and an ending to the phrase that is unique to each post. The HS memes page for HKIS includes such entries as “One does not simply get below a 5 in AP Chem,”, “Y U No ask me to prom?”, and “92.5... still an A.” “It’s funny because a lot of them are true statements. It makes you realize you’re not the only one who thinks certain thoughts or deals with certain problems,” says sophomore Caity Lyman. “But I think some people have taken it too far and their memes can get mean and offensive.” While many of the memes are lighthearted and general, others are directed more specifically and can be derogatory. HS memes has a system to monitor this sort of thing: posts can be “flagged” by site visitors if they are lewd or offensive. Two or more flags brings a post down. The “how to” of the site even specifically states, “Be nice. Don’t spoil the fun with bad posts!” Still, students seem to think that some posts cross a line. “I see how it can hurt people,” says Mary Blount, tenth grader, “because sometimes it can go too far.” Such hurtful posts can include specific jabs at certain teachers and systems at HKIS, or extremely negative opinions about the school. The obvious consequence of this is hurt feelings of the individuals being mocked. The other major downside comes from the pessimistic posts and the “it’s funny because it’s true” nature of internet humor: the site may promote a negative image of HKIS that is not accurate. Despite this, the website is still popular among the student body. Ranveer Hattandgi says of the memes, “I also think that some of them are a bit too over the top, but I can get that all of them were just made just for fun and not actually intending on any harm.” Another, less prevalent website at HKIS is ratemyteacher.com. This site, derivative of the university site ratemyprofessor, allows students to leave opinions on their teachers. “I guess it’s a good way to hear to voices of the kids,” reflects Mary Blount. Freshman Georgette Tso contributes a rather different opinion, “I do not think that ratemyteacher is in any way useful towards high school students because a lot of the posts on that website are quite immature and disrespectful,” she says. Ratemyteacher, while a less common site than HS memes, shows the same pattern as the latter: a definite upside, but also a tendency for mean spirited posts.
JUNTO 2012 JUNTO 2012
By Samantha Fong Staff Writer
The 2012 Hong Kong Executive election came to an end on the 25th of March, with Leung Chun-ying (also known as CY Leung) coming out on top to replace preview Chief Executive Donald Tsang. Now that the election has come to a close, do students at HKIS feel the change in Chief Executives will affect their lives in any way? While some students have shown no interest in Hong Kong politics, others are either expecting great things from him, or are worried about what policies he will set out. Evelyn Liu, a freshman, says that she doesn’t think Leung’s election will change her life right now, but that it might affect her future. She
This year’s Advanced Placement (AP) exams took place from May 7 to May 19, 2012. While HKIS offers a variety of AP classes in the humanities, science, mathematics, and language programs, some students also decided not to take an AP class in school, but use their own time to self-study for an AP exam instead. Sophomore Isabelle Rowland is taking the AP European History exam this year. “I don’t have any tutors, but I use resources online to help me study. I look over the handouts, read the textbooks, and make outlines to help myself study. I think my AP class really pushes us to learn like college students and hopefully it will prepare us well for the exam.” Another sophomore, who recently transferred to HKIS in the beginning of the second semester, Hannah Gregor is enrolled in the AP World History class. “The transition was relatively easy, because our classes have a very similar setup and
we were studying the time period within 200 years of each other. There was definitely more reading in this class than I expected before, but the material is interesting. I have the Princeton Review book, the SAT Subject Test book, and the Barron’s flashcards as resources to help study for the upcoming exam. ” The AP exam is a combination of a student’s weighted score on the multiple-choice section and on the free-response section. One of the benefits for taking this exam is the possibility of earning college credit with qualifying exam scores. At HKIS, there are classes for most of the AP exam topics that are offered, with the exception of Computer Science A, Japanese Language and Composition, Latin: Vergil, Italian Language and Culture, as well as German Language and Culture. Although the AP Chinese Language and Culture exam is offered at HKIS, MSL 5 students are given priority followed by seniors, juniors, and sophomores at a higher Mandarin level.
STUDENTS PLAN SENIOR TRIPS By Gabriella Tam Staff Writer
After graduation, it is a tradition for seniors to go on a trip with their friends for a week. This trip is a way for seniors to spend one last time together on vacation. This year, trip locations include Koh Samui, Phuket, Boracay, Taiwan, and Italy. Preparation and planning are usually done in the early winter, and are arranged by seniors themselves. The process of planning a senior trip includes gathering the people interested in going on senior trip, finding a location, booking a hotel, deciding the duration of visit, finding out prices, and booking flights. Maya Daver-Massion, who will be going to Koh Samui, says that the process of planning senior trip “didn’t seem that difficult. However flight planning, researching different air lines and air fares was a difficult factor since we had to find dates that would work up with the villa bookings.” Daver-Massion plans on spending time with her friends, site seeing, shopping and relaxing by the pool.
New Guard Hopes to Finish his Ph.D.
says that if Leung enacts Article 23, which is a security law that prohibits people from committing treason or provoking rebellions against the Central People’s Government, “Then people will be protesting that it gives China so much power.” However, for now, she doesn’t feel that the switch of Chief Executives will affect her drastically. Thomas Price, another freshman, says that since Leung isn’t sided with any party, he doesn’t know “what to expect from him.” However, not everyone in the school seems to care about Hong Kong politics all that much, as Mayla Thompson, a freshman, said that she didn’t know the results of the election, and that she personally doesn’t keep up with politics.
AP Exams At HKIS By Gigi W Choy Staff Writer
She also explains how she is “super excited for senior trip because I think it would be good getaway after school ends. It’s a great way to relax, and to enjoy the last few times with our friends.” Coco Chen described the process of planning senior trip as “a little overwhelming at times because it’s not your parents or school that is planning the trip, it is you and your friends who are.” Conflicts that Chen encountered included “making sure that people would pay on time” and “picking a villa, dates, and how much you would want to spend on a villa.” Janice Lee, who will be going to Taiwan, says that conflicts she encountered included ‘finding villa prices since some people had limits” and “finding a convenient flight time.” Janice plans on “site seeing, shopping, eating, and going to hot springs.” Despite the amount of planning that goes into senior trip, seniors hope the end result will be worth it because it’s one last chance for seniors to spend time with their friends before they head off to their respective universities.
By Thomas Ruan Editor
Dressed in his khaki guard’s uniform shirt and shielding himself from the rain with a neon yellow umbrella, Yaovi Folly walked over to where I was standing. He opened the door to the guardhouse and asked, “Is it okay if we do it in here?” We slid into the claustrophobic room. He put the umbrella down, sat on a grey revolving chair, spread his hands, and said, “Well, what do you want to know?” Folly was born in the West African country of Togo, a former French colony. He then moved to Germany to study for a Master’s degree in theoretical particle physics. There, he met Ho Yuet Po, the woman who would later become his wife. Folly has fond memories of Germany. “Germany is the best place I’ve been,” he said, “It’s easy to make friends there and it’s not as expensive to study.” After spending eight years in Germany, he moved with Ho to Montreal, Canada, where the two of them got married. He tried to write his PhD, but found that “it was too expensive,” so he dropped out of the program. Seven years later, in June 2008, he and his wife, who comes from Hong Kong, moved here. Here, she tutors Geography and Mandarin, and occasionally finds work as a substitute teacher. Their purpose in Hong Kong isn’t entirely planned out. “We are here to see if we can stay here,” he said. Folly has had difficulty finding work in Hong Kong. One thing that holds him back is that he doesn’t speak Chinese. “It’s very hard,” he said. “If you know French it’s a good basis to learn other languages … except Chinese.” Folly is fluent in four languages: English, French, German and Ewe (a language spoken in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana and Togo).
When he moved to Germany, Folly had to take the PNdS (Pruefung zum Nachweis deutscher Sprachkenntnisse) test, a test Folly compared to the TOEFL, but for German instead of English. Most people take a year and a half to study for the test; Folly got his certificate after six months of study. Nevertheless, Folly has had trouble finding jobs. As he put it, “I can’t just stay at home. I must do something.” That something has been becoming a guard at Hong Kong International School. On April 16th, he began work in the guardhouse; he can be found, wearing an orange-yellow vest, directing traffic in the mornings. So far, according to him, his experience here has been good. Gesturing at the buildings of the High School, Folly said, “I have a good impression of this school. You have so many things here. I haven’t even seen this at some universities” Folly said that he regrets leaving Germany for Canada. “I was impatient to finish fast.” He said. “In Europe, if you have a Master’s degree, there wouldn’t be any problem with writing your PhD. You’d get money by helping professors teach.” However, “In North America, everything was different.” He found that education in Canada was too much of a financial burden. “If Canada gave me the same chance Germany did, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. When I asked Folly what his plans for the future were, he looked out at the wet road outside the school gates and repeated, “Plans…plans…” he paused, laughed, then was silent again for a while. “I want to have an opportunity to teach and finish my PhD,” he said. He paused again. “Things are so hard now. If I don’t…” he trailed off. He finally said, with a smile, “It’s no problem.”
History of the Senior Prank By Gigi W Choy Staff Writer
The senior prank, which usually takes place sometime after Prom, has a long tradition at HKIS. Current seniors Esaki Sky Smith and Bryn Prieto recalled their experiences during their freshmen, sophomore, and junior years. According to Smith and Prieto, the class of ’09 put alarm clocks in the cafeteria during exams. Those alarms went off while students were taking exams, and no one knew where they were or how to turn them off. That year’s seniors also put dead fish in the air vents so it smelled during exams. The class of ’10 “made a ‘pirate ship’ (around the school),” Prieto
explained. “The furniture from the cafeteria was moved to the island, creating an obstacle,” Smith said. Little plastic cups of water that were placed in the cafeteria covered the floor, making it hard for students to walk around. Last year, the seniors lowered the High School gate so that all students were forced to climb under it to enter the school. On the following day, all the toilet paper was removed from the bathrooms. It was mandatory for students who wanted to use the toilet paper to buy it from the seniors, with prices ranging from $2.00 HK to $10 HK apiece. It is still unclear what the Class of ’12 has planned for this years’ senior prank.
SENIORITIS STRIKES HKIS Tuition Increases by Four Percent AGAIN From Page 1
The school’s financial statement for the 12-month period ending July 31, 2011, the most recent year for which records are available, shows no scarcity of revenue. According to the document, HKIS’s surplus for 2011 was more than 60 million HKD. The school’s income jumped from about $418 million in 2009 to a little
By Nicholas Liu Staff Writer
It’s this time of the year again, the time where most seniors are believed to slack off in schoolwork in a false sense of security, having been accepted into their dream colleges. Although seniors undergoing this process are referred to as “second semester seniors,” this bout of laziness strikes hardest once acceptances or rejections have come out, usually around the spring break. Now that this year’s seniors have leapt over what they consider their final hurdle before university, some teachers have become worried over the yearly outbreak of “Senioritis.” Mr. Gill, head of the math department, said of the seniors in his AB Calculus class, “Although my students have become more relaxed about grades in general, some demonstrate college level behavior and remain independent and motivated in
their work. A large portion of them does so because colleges they applied to have after-acceptance prerequisites such as AP exams and the maintenance of a good grade for second semester. It is important that students are motivated to work hard for the sake of learning rather than for the transcript.” Barton Liang, a senior, feels that he fits in with the general category of second semester seniors, which according to him is somewhere between high motivation and no motivation whatsoever. “Now that I got accepted into my choice colleges, I feel a general lack of motivation to do work in subjects I don’t like or don’t care about. With my entry into college done, there is no more incentive for me whatsoever to continue working hard in these classes. For me and a lot of other seniors, we just feel that the college entry process is psychologically the end of high school.”
Seniors on Graduation By Radhika Jhunjnuwala Staff Writer
June 3rd will mark the beginning of graduation week, when seniors will have the opportunity to spend time with their class, faculty, and parents to celebrate their time at HKIS. The festivities begin with the senior dinner on June 3rd. Next up is the senior breakfast on June 7th. According to the celebration guide, students will “have the opportunity to connect in their homeroom groups one last time, and pay tribute to their respectful Homeroom Advisors.” Right after that is the graduation rehearsal, and an opportunity to take optional family portraits. Finally, Friday, June 8th is the graduation ceremony at 6pm in the HS gym. Many seniors have mixed feelings towards the idea of leaving HKIS and moving on to college. Jodie Chan, Senator of Public Relations, said that although she is really excited to graduate, she also realizes that it will mark the end of being an official High School student. After a brief pause, she stated, “I would
be lying if I were to say that doesn’t scare me a bit.” This feeling is shared by many other seniors, including JJ Kim, who said that “after living in Hong Kong for most of my life, I am definitely going to miss this city, people and, of course, my family.” Despite this, she is still excited for college and her future, where she is “eager to do a lot such as traveling and learning.” Some seniors say they will not really miss high school. “I feel as if I have always been in a competitive atmosphere,” Stanley Sham stated. “I will not miss this aspect of high school at all.” Gabriela Varela, a new student this year, has had a very different experience than the seniors who have been here since primary or middle school. “This was my first and last year at HKIS and I truly enjoyed the things I did and the people I met. It’s definitely going to be hard to leave all my friends and start over again, but I will take back many good memories with me and for sure remember this as a good year.”
over $519 million in 2010 and then to nearly $552 million in 2011, a 2-year increase of over $130 million. The majority of this increase can be attributed to the net investment gain, which is “money invested from the annual fund,” according to Mr. Dunning. In this same period, HKIS’s expenses went up just over $64 million, the majority of this increase being depreciation of capital assets.
The school’s net assets in 2011 exceeded one billion Hong Kong dollars. “The school is obviously in a very healthy financial position,” said Mr. Dunning. “But we want to maintain that healthy financial position moving forward. We take a look at what our program needs are going to be and that drives the tuition decision.”
Head of School Mr. Dunning Looks Back on First Year at HKIS By Martin Man Staff Writer
This year was head of school Mr. Kevin Dunning’s first year serving at Hong Kong International School. Junto spoke to him for a retrospective on the 2011-2012 school year. Reflecting on what he has done so far and on his interactions with the school, Mr. Dunning continues ‘to be impressed by’ ‘great teachers helping great students do remarkable things’. He comments that students’ ‘willingness to serve other people’ as well as ‘their test scores and college placements’ is evidence of their excellence. However, he said, ‘there were some things that did not go as I expected them to go.’ For example, he stated that ‘finding a suitable site to relocate’ the Lower Primary ‘has been a much more difficult process than we had anticipated’. On the subject of the delayed redevelopment, Mr. Dunning explained that the school continues to ‘work with the Hong Kong government’, ‘the Education Bureau’ and ‘the building department’ to ‘craft a proposal’ that can win approval. Encountering ‘local opposition to relocating an international school’ to Chai Wan is another issue that remains to be resolved. At the beginning of the year, Mr. Dunning stated that ‘one of the most important things’ for him to do was to understand ‘the HKIS culture’. He said that whilst he has ‘made some progress’, he is ‘not sure after 10
months’ he is ‘where he would like to end up’. He added that this is ‘a process’ of his ‘cultural sensitivity’ and confessed he has ‘made a few mistakes a long the way’. Mr. Dunning also wishes he ‘could have spent more time with students’, something he considers ‘the most rewarding part of education’. He tried to attend ‘student events’, concerts, and said, ‘I think I made all the plays.’ But he ‘would like to have seen more athletic events’. As to the coming 2012-2013 school year, Mr Dunning will be engaging ‘in some strategic planning’ which ‘started with a Board Leadership Retreat a couple weeks ago’ as well as the World Café activities. Next year the school will be going through an accreditation process conducted by the organisation WASC—the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Mr. Dunning explained that WASC will ‘examine all aspects’ of the school’s ‘education programme’ and provides a ‘stamp of approval’ for HKIS. He states that both the strategic planning and accreditation process will contribute to ‘a renewed sense of the direction’ for the school that he ‘hopes to have some say in’. Furthermore, Mr. Dunning believes that ‘our community has to’ continue to look at the ‘balance in our mission between being ‘grounded in the Christian faith’ and ‘respecting the spiritual lives of all’’. He said, ‘I think the school does a great job
of respecting the spiritual lives of all and the question I still have—not completely clear in my own head—is whether or not we do an equally good job grounding kids in the Christian faith.’ He stated that striking this balance is ‘not just about’ ‘community gatherings—it’s about our religion curriculum’ and ‘our identity as a school’. Mr. Dunning wonders, ‘if you didn’t know anything about HKIS and were dropped into the middle of the High School campus could you readily identify that the school has a Christian background?’ It will require ‘a community effort to determine where we stand’, he says. And states, ‘the only agenda I’m here to promote is the mission of the school.’ ‘I want to make sure we are taking seriously all parts of the mission.’ Mr. Dunning sees the World Café events as one way of ‘engaging in more conversations’. He said that people found the ‘opportunity to talk about the school helpful’ and opined that it has ‘got to be a regular part of getting feedback from the community’. Finally, Mr. Dunning expressed, ‘My wife and I have enjoyed living in Hong Kong.’ They appreciate the interactions they have had with ‘new environments, new countries, new people’ and ‘new foods’. They ‘increasingly look at Hong Kong as home’ and ‘look forward to many years to come.’
Senior “Skip Day” an Institution at HKIS
By Martin Man Staff Writer
‘Senior skip day’ is a tradition amongst students at HKIS where members of the 12th grade purposely miss school for a day. Ms. Fine, Mr. Coombs, and Ms. Talbot all indicated that the practise has had a long history. Ms. Talbot stated that, ‘We have had the senior skip day forever.’ Mr. Jim Handrich, a former principal of the high school, stated that it is an ‘American tradition’, and that it is usually ‘the Monday after prom’. According to him seniors used
the day to ‘focus on presentations for school’ or ‘on other needs such as university’. Ms. Fine explained that, ‘It’s one of those, “We’ve always done it like this” scenarios that seems to have become institutionalized.’ Whilst some teachers condone the skip day, others—like Mr. Doug Baker who asked, ‘What’s Senior Skip Day?’—do not. He said, ‘I always take attendance, and generally encourage my colleagues to schedule major tests or projects that are due the first day after Prom, as a way of promoting responsible adolescent be-
havior and choice.’ Mr. Baker offered a different explanation for the origins of the day: It ‘began when some students were about to graduate and realized with fright that they had not, as of yet, acquired any demerits.’ ‘And, the next thing we knew, the entire class opted for increased demerits’. Senior Barton Liang is approving of the day, saying, ‘it’s a great way for seniors to wind down after’ ‘a stressful year’. Senior Andrew Yu thinks ‘the school should not institutionalise skip day’, but maintained, ‘I like it—it is great.’
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other programs, Mrs. Passamonte and Mr. Goad are positive and unconcerned. With a program such as this, they believe that it is a true “quality over quantity” situation. They are looking for students who are “passionate about helping out” and are proactive and determined in coming in with perceived issues and thinking of possible solutions. In order to ensure that the students who receive the title of a “peer helper” are qualified, they have decided to make use of an application process that involves some essay questions. Those who are selected will then go through a training retreat as well as some sporadic ongoing meetings built into meeting time. Students have, so far, responded well to the program, though they have also acknowledged certain areas of concern. “I think having Peer Helpers will be a really good thing because they’ll help everyone get through their problems. Everyone is going
through something but most people don’t know how to integrate solutions into their everyday lives. I think Peer Helpers would really help with that,” said sophomore Elise Chen. “I agree that people usually turn to their friends before their counselors when they have issues,” said sophomore Isabelle Rowland. “Having students that are properly trained for helping others will be really beneficial, but they have to be approachable otherwise there’s no point.” As Mrs. Passamonte and Mr. Goad plan for the program to be a “student led, student driven” situation, they hope to garner true interest from those with compassion and a genuine desire to help their peers. “It’s a lot about empowering you to help others,” Mrs. Passamonte said. The counselors hope that the Peer Helper program will be a catalyst for some positive change in the high school as they bring to the surface difficult issues among the student body and work towards providing helpful responses to these issues.
Earth Week at HKIS By Ivy Tse Staff Writer
The five days of the Earth Week, from April 16th till April 20th, were themed at HKIS, each day supporting a specific environmental movement with a corresponding clothing choice. Organized by the Roots and Shoots club and the Greenpeace club, the annual event aims to raise environmental awareness and initiatives amongst students. On Monday, students were encouraged to wear blue shirts to celebrate Ocean Day, representing marine life and water conditions. Tuesday, Forests Day, brought up the issue of deforestation and the clothing color was green. The next day was Air Day, a day of pure whiteness to make students more conscious of air conditions. Animal Day had students coming to school in animal costumes, to support the cause of endangered
animals. Finally, Friday recognized the issue of global warming. On this day, students wore rainbow-colored or tie-dyed shirts. As part of the newly formed Sustainability Committee, Roots and Shoots and Greenpeace have cooperated to make Earth Week possible. Out of 30 students interviewed for this article, all students supported the idea of Earth Week. However, only 3 participated. 6 students did not know about Earth Week. “It was on facebook for one day but then I forgot because no one was doing it,” said Terry Yiu (10). From 11th grade, Mary Mulcahy said, “We all knew Earth Week was happening, but I don’t think everyone was active. Our class officers sent us email about Monday so more people wore blue.” Many students feel that more needs to be done to make people aware of the event.
HKIS Declines to Disclose Ethical Investment Policy
From HKIS Association Limited Financial Statements 31 July 2011
From Page 1 As a member of the Board of Directors of the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong) for the past five years, Mr. Coombs explained the ethical investment policy of the group. As a non-profit organisation, he stated, they are ‘very conscientious about investing funds.’ The donation ‘money was given to us in trust,’ he explained, and so ‘we want to use it responsibly.’ That means Friends of the Earth does not engage in ‘speculative investments,’ and instead invests in ‘conservative, comparatively stable’ ‘blue chip’ companies. This past year they have also ‘transferred funds to [Chinese] yuan’ as a measure to increase reserves, said Mr. Coombs. Friends of the Earth ‘does not ac-
cept money from companies with bad environmental records,’ Mr. Coombs said. ‘It means we don’t make as much.’ But it is done in accordance with the spirit of the organisation. Teachers and students alike have expressed an interest in viewing HKIS’s ethical investment policy. Physics teacher Dr. Diehl said, ‘I would definitely be interested in knowing where we invest.’ Mr. Seehafer welcomed the fact that HKIS has an ethical investment policy, saying, ‘I certainly hope they’re investing it wisely. It’s my retirement fund!’ However, he questioned why it could not be made public. ‘What do they have to hide?’ Senior Barton Liang found the non-disclosure policy ‘a little strange’, but suggested that ‘some of our investments may be sensitive’
and doesn’t ‘feel it’s necessary to broadcast’ the information. He added that ‘with our school being pushing to be more environmental’ and trying to ‘reduce our carbon footprint,’ an environmental provision in the investment policy would be a good idea. Mr. McCaughey said that ‘I would feel better if we could see the policy’ but respected the right for the school to keep investment information secret. He pointed out that ‘just because there seems to be a lack of transparency doesn’t mean they’re hiding something nefarious.’ He stated that the ‘primary responsibility’ of the school ‘is to be fiscally responsible’ and that ‘we need to have a certain level of trust the administration is doing it’s job.’
ELECTORAL SYSTEM QUESTIONED By Edmund Ho Staff Writer
The Hong Kong International School elections, which took place on April 12th, involved fifteen students vying for seven positions on the HKIS Executive Council. Students have expressed dissatisfaction with the schools’ electoral process. Students have objected to the “popularity contest” that the Senate elections have allegedly become. Said Martin Man (12), “most of the time the speeches are just the same clichés” and that “students can hardly make an informed and reasonable decision given so little to differentiate the candidates, and so they have to fall back on what they already know about them.” A freshman commented that “most students are biased in the candidates” so regardless of factors like the senate speeches or propaganda poster, “most of the candidate’s
friends will vote for” that candidate. Last year, the Senate ExCo, led by Presiding Officer Stephen Suen, attempted to enact reform of the Senate Constitution, which delineates the roles of the Senate members as well as the voting procedures that get them into office. The reform included the addition of the new post “Senator of Service” and the reformatting of the current voting procedure to that of a consensus-based voting. The latter was done in an attempt to prevent elections from turning into the aforementioned “popularity contests.” However, many students wonder whether it is the voting procedure that allows the election to become a popularity contest or whether it is the underlying mentality of the student body’s votes. In the wake of last year’s constitutional reform defeat, no further plans for reform have been announced by the Senate ExCo.
By Arshia Bhatia Staff Writer
HKIS has not been spared from the Kony 2012 movement, which had engulfed almost all of the US this spring. Kony 2012 is a campaign started by an organization called Invisible Children. Joseph Kony, a war criminal from Uganda, is accused of kidnapping tens and thousands of children. A few weeks ago, a 30-minute video about Kony went viral. The video immediately became a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter. Soon, it had reached HKIS. Around the world, sweep nights where being organized and posters of Kony 2012 to be put up on the night of April 20th. Hong Kong had a sweep night
of its own as well. Each school in Hong Kong that had signed up had about 4 leaders who were in charge of the sweep night at their location. For HKIS in particular it was Tai Tam and Stanley. Though there were many people who supported the cause, there are also those who questioned the whole frenzy behind Kony 2012. As Sindy Lam, a sophomore, pointed out “I did watch the video and I might want to attend the sweep night, but I wonder if what we are doing will actually be helpful.” Many students tried to find out more about this campaign because many of the news articles coming out did not support Kony 2012. One of the main arguments was that raising awareness would not do much since
Kony was already out of Uganda and was no longer raiding villages for children. Another argument stated that he was barely in power, since Kony’s army has dwindled to only several hundred people. Carla Achcar, a sophomore, stated, “I don’t know enough about it really, so no, I don’t plan on going to Hong Kong sweep the night, plus from the start the whole Kony thing didn’t seem very credible.” In the beginning there were a lot of Kony supporters but as it got closer to the date of the sweep night people were starting to really take a hard look at the topic. HKIS is not blindly following such fads but questioning their credibility, which is very important when it comes to raising awareness for causes.
HKIS World Café 2012
From Page 1
The World Café was facilitated by an outside organization, instead of being run by the school administration. Oliver, the outside facilitator of these sessions, stated that “ We are not going through this process because there
is anything wrong with HKIS, we want to make good, great.” The planning took place at small tables with three or four members of the HKIS community; many were mixed groups of students, teachers, administration, and parents. Several questions were discussed. For exam-
ple, one question was “What qualities and skills do our students need to be successful in the world today?” It is still to be determined whether these planning sessions will be turned into definable actions, and whether the World Café will have a lasting impact on HKIS.
Made in China – A Blast of Color By Bronwyn Lloyd Staff Writer
“Made in China” is a vibrant and vigorous display of art by HKIS students reflecting their interpretations of Chinese style of art and artifacts. The “Made in China” art exhibit was on display at the Hong Kong Arts Center in Wanchai from April 13 through April 22. The exhibition was organized by the art teachers at HKIS together with the Hong Kong Arts Centre to highlight some of the best examples of artwork by HKIS students from R1 to High School Seniors. The exhibition was held in a light and open display area of the Hong Kong Arts Center which was well suited to display the mixed media artwork comprised of paintings, photography, and sculpture. The title “Made in China” is fitting for an exhibit of art based on China’s own style of art and artifacts. The paintings, sketches, collages, prints, and photographs from students throughout the HKIS establishment show clear references to traditional Chinese artwork. The sculptures of the 3D level one class portray the changes that have taken place in China by the juxtaposition of models of both traditional and modern buildings. The uniqueness of China’s social structure are exemplified by the photographs of the digital media class, for example the striking image of a single person standing still in the midst of the blurred motion of a bustling MTR terminal caught with long exposure. Contemporary China has been interposed with the archetype of traditional craftsmanship in the form of modern day terracotta warriors. The middle school artists portray their impressions of China through abstract sculptures based on the character forms of their Chinese names and in celebration of the Olympic games. The exhibit was well organized. As soon as you walk into the exhibition space, you are in a short hallway filled with intriguing sculptures all painted in bright primary colors giving the room a friendly, clean feeling. The wall is covered with grade-2 watercolor paintings depicting imagined Chinese landscapes like those found in Hong Kong and Southern China with tall bamboo and soaring Limestone Mountains. The rows of watercolors were interrupted by a series of twenty-three photographs taken by the high school digital media
students. The opposite wall boasts the colorful circuit boards made by second grade artists, reflecting the modern development of China. At the end of the hall is a small annex, the floor to ceiling windows are lined with semi-transparent representations of Chinese opera masks that cast a tinted light onto straw-filled crates displaying miniature terracotta soldiers, both ancient and modern. On the table behind the warriors and balanced on pedestals further into the room are the colorful abstract creations of the middle school art students. On one wall are further sketches, paintings and prints from the more advanced art classes. Below the main hallway is a smaller open room displaying the most obviously Chinese-themed artwork. There are more watercolor landscapes along the wall, mixed with charcoal sketches of traditional Chinese architecture. The theme of architecture carries through in the display of model architecture in the center of the space. On the far wall are the mixed media impressions of china from HKIS primary students. Bearing out the theme of Chinese influence is the grade 6, object expressions project, in which Chinese motifs are used to decorate rice bowls. The openness of the setting gives the whole display a vigor and vibrancy. In this exhibit none of the artwork is cordoned off, and there are no warnings too keep away from the pieces. The art is there to be seen and appreciated by the parents and peers of its makers, as well as anyone else interested. Though the artwork is all student-produced, the lasting impression upon the viewers is that of polished and well-developed work. The responses of those lucky enough to see this display have seemed decidedly positive, as has the feedback from the students involved. The ability for students to see their work displayed for the public granted those students a confidence boost in their abilities. “We had only time to work on them during school or after class but the pieces were well developed,” said Samuel Sellery, a senior in both 2D level 1 and 3D level 3 classes. The exhibition was, in students’ opinions, well managed, and was truly a mixed media statement of what HKIS artwork can achieve.
By Martin Man Staff Writer
The decidedly provocative title of this article belies its milder and more peaceable message. I do not aim to bash religion or religious people. I simply contend that religion is unnecessary and irrelevant to modern life. Furthermore, as it does more harm than good—and the good that it generates isn’t contingent on religion itself—there is reason for the world to abandon religion once and for all. Organised religion is defunct for multiple reasons. The main being that most religions essentially strive towards the same goal—to guide people to live good and upright lives. Though at the very basic level most religions have similar aims, there is an entire superstructure of dogma and rituals that has been constructed over millennia. Often it is not the fundamental aims of making people good that causes conflict, but rather the superficial and often trivial differences in dogma that lead to disagreements. We all know what has resulted from such—as I mildly put it— ‘disagreements’. From the Crusades to the Thirty Years’ War to the continuing crises in the Levant, bickering over meaningless differences in belief have fuelled untold miseries and sufferings for many people. Aside from religious wars, missionary faiths have traditionally—with especial salience during the era of European colonialism—been imposed on indigenous cultures with the eventual effect of eradicating those cultures. The list of sufferings religion has wrought on mankind can go on for many pages. From a historical perspective, the differences and disputes between religions—and religion itself—are understandable and even excusable. Living in isolated communities with little contact with other civilisations,
people naturally developed different ways to interpret their world and guide others to ethical life. Religion is no different from other facets of culture that vary according to history, geography, and so on. In fact—if I may be cynical—the ruling classes likely promoted religion so that the ruled would be kept in check. In addition to encouraging a peaceful and cooperative society, religion conferred ‘divine mandate’ on priests and kings that served to secure their position amongst believing populations. It is—as Karl Marx wrote—the opiate of the masses. In this view the rise and dominance of religion in historical societies seems almost as a matter of course. It is in our contemporary globalised landscape that clinging onto petty dogma becomes inexcusable. Unlike our ancestors, we can plainly see that most religions have the same aims, and that none of the differences in rituals affects the underlying message. We have the ability to distil the best parts from all faiths and philosophies and use them to guide our lives. Even simply taking the so-called ‘Golden Rule’, or its Chinese variation, ‘Do not give to others what you yourself do not want’, would already serve as a great basis for a moral life. With so much accumulated knowledge and theory at our fingertips we can decide for ourselves how we want to live properly instead of accepting set beliefs from unknown sources. When people learn to be good for it’s own sake it doesn’t matter anymore whether or not there are gods. It doesn’t matter whether or not there is a Heaven or a Hell. If I die and find out there are gods, and they are just and benevolent, then they should recognise my virtuous life for
what it was, regardless of whether or not I worshipped them in a temple or sacrificed them an animal. If they are petty and insist on ritual performances despite my upright life, then I would refuse to worship them. If the gods are malevolent, then I wouldn’t have worshipped them in any case. If there turn out to be no gods at all, I would still have left a positive legacy in the world, and be remembered as an honourable man by those who survive me. Granted, people who are religious also contribute a lot to the world. But the good deeds of people who happen to be religious do not justify the continuance of religion. Those people are able to help and console others because of their compassion and kindness—qualities that believers and non-believers alike possess. I would further argue that it demeans the person who overcomes life’s difficulties—whether emotional, physical, or otherwise—by attributing their achievement—whether in part or in whole—to ‘help from higher powers’. It implies that the individual wasn’t strong enough and needed a voice or some other outside ‘pressure’ to keep going. I hold a much higher opinion of humans. We can feel compassion and empathy for fellow humans without any context of religion or gods. We are able to help each other and ourselves without resorting to allpowerful entities. We can appreciate the magnificent and diverse life on this Earth, the wonders of nature and the awe-inspiring universe around us without setting them behind a supernatural background. Instead of living for another being we can live for all those things, and for the sake of life itself.