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La Lettre french american international school

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april 2013 high school

Sharing the dream The remarkable story of how a team of courageous middle school girls went on to become high school champions La Lettre April 2013 | 1

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The “Ribbon Mandala� that art teacher Howie Leifer created with the students of French American International School to celebrate the move to the new campus at 150 Oak Street in 1997.

Experience the world. french american international school

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IN THIS ISSUE 4 8 12 18 21 22

From the Head Board’s Eye View 21st Century Classroom: Blended Learning Social and Emotional Learning Service Learning In Memoriam: Howie Leifer and Joan Chatfield-Taylor 25 Alumni Profiles 30 Athletics: “Beyond Murphy’s Law”

global travel 36 The Fall 2012 Trip to Jordan 47 The February 2013 Trip to Senegal 60 66 68 70 82 84

The Fall Play: Romeo and Juliet Visiting Artist: Moïse Touré The Winter Concert Student-Directed One-Act Plays Soirée des Arts et des Vins 2012 Le Dîner d’Epicure 2013

La Lettre contents

© 2013 | rick gydesen, editor

french american international school international high school

Above: The Fall 2012 Middle School trip to Yosemite. Photo by Julien Levy Cover: Shayna Mehta, International Girls Varsity Basketball team

lycée international franco-américain



150 oak street san francisco ca 94102

(415) 558-2000 |

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Head of School

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.

Jane Camblin Appointed Executive Director of The United Nations International School, New York (UNIS)


ur long-serving Head of School, Jane Camblin, has accepted the position of Executive Director of the United Nations International School in New York City. Jane will begin at UNIS this coming school year, beginning Fall of 2013. UNIS is perhaps the most prestigious position in the world of international schools. It is a testament to Jane’s expertise and leadership skills, and a compliment to French American that our Head’s background here qualifies her for this next step in her career.

Jane has been with French American for thirty years, first as a principal and then for the last eighteen years as Head. With her leadership we have, among many other accomplishments, moved into the 150 Oak campus, created the Arts Pavilion, grown from 600 to over 1000 students and, most importantly, delivered on our promise of an education that prepares our students for a world in which the ability to think critically and communicate across cultures is of paramount importance. Through Jane’s drive and commitment, our programs have improved steadily, with the result that our students become fully bilingual as they move through our Lower and Middle School programs; they test at the highest levels around the world on the Brevet, the French Baccalaureate and the International Baccalaureate; and our High School students matriculate at a broad range of the world’s best colleges and universities. We - I - am very grateful to Jane for what she has done for our students and families over these many years. Transitions are inevitable, and we will all be sad to see Jane depart. Personally, I will deeply miss her indefatigable energy and wry humor. But at the same time there is cause for celebration on her behalf as she moves on to a great new adventure. It will be wonderful to see her take the Big Apple by storm. We will continue to have Jane’s leadership and vision through the end of this current school year. We have in place a firm strategic vision as we begin our next 50 years. We have a talented and capable administrative and faculty team, and working together with the Board of Trustees we will all ensure the continued smooth running of our school as we conduct a search and then bring on board a new Head of School.

tex schenkkan Chair, Board of Trustees

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Chief of Protocol Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, and Jane Camblin at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony for the San Francisco-Bangalore Sister-City Partnership, May 29, 2009

Treasuring Three Decades of Memories, Jane Camblin Embarks on a New Adventure


jane camblin Head of School | Proviseur hen I was hired to be a young principal in 1982 at a small school called FABS (French American Bilingual School), it would have been hard for me to imagine back then that I would stay on for thirty years, eighteen of them as Head! And what wonderful years they have been! The school has grown from strength to strength, from an eccentric experiment in bilingual education in the Western Addition to the thriving, dynamic, widely respected French American International School in the heart of the city’s bustling arts and political corridor! It has been such a privilege to have been able to play a part in the development of this amazing institution and to witness its 50th anniversary as one of the world’s premier international schools. And so it is with very mixed emotions that I write to inform you that this year will be my last. I will leave French American to take a new position as Executive

Director of the United Nations International School in New York (UNIS), embarking at long last on a new adventure, knowing that our school is in an enviable position of strength, and in very capable and professional hands. Please know that a very large piece of my heart will always remain at French American, and that I will always treasure the memories of the three decades I have spent as a part of this diverse and vibrant community. Please be assured that I shall work to assist in every way I can to ensure a smooth transition. Not only as Head, but also as a proud parent of two former French American “lifers” who adore their alma mater, I will always remain committed to the sustained well-being of our fine school and its mission of academic excellence and diversity... in fact, the UN vision of “education for a better world.” I thank you and the entire Board of Trustees for your many years of support, and the fun we have all had together along the way.

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Richard Ulffers, Joel Cohen, and Antoine Delaitre (inset)


Richard Ulffers Assistant Head of School he Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Ulffers as the school’s new Assistant Head of School. He assumes his new position after serving four years as Principal of International High School. Richard holds two Master’s degrees, one in History from Illinois State University and the other in Education from the University of Iowa. His experience abroad includes training and working in England, Czech Republic and Puerto Rico, which has provided the necessary appreciation for international education. Richard joined French American in 2000 teaching European and American History and Theory of Knowledge. Since arriving in San Francisco, he has been part of Accreditation Teams for the Council of International Schools and has held several other positions at French American including Head of Department, International Baccalaureate Coordinator and Assistant Principal.

Joel Cohen High School Principal Joel Cohen will succeed Richard Ulffers as the new Principal of International High School, taking the helm after his four-year tenure as Assistant Principal. Joel has taught high school physics and chemistry in French and in English for both the IB and the French Baccalaureate since 1988. He joined International High School in 1999, where in addition to being a teacher, he has held the

positions of Head of Sciences and Assistant Principal. Joel recently obtained his Master’s degree in Education, 20 years after graduating in the Sciences from the University of Compiegne, France. He is passionate about pedagogy and innovative approaches to learning, and has presented on those topics at international conferences on education. Joel is an accomplished Blues guitarist who performs regularly in the Bay Area, and an enthusiastic world traveler.

Antoine Delaitre Assistant High School Principal Antoine Delaitre holds a Master’s degree and an Agrégation (teaching certification) in history from the University of Paris. After living in Greece, France and Gabon, in 1997 he began working at French American International School, where he has taught history and geography, both in French and English, to IB and French Baccalaureate candidates. Antoine has served as Head of the Humanities Department, Travel Program Director and IB Coordinator. He has also presented at various international conferences and chaired a conference entitled “World Language and Cultures” in San Francisco. Antoine is always ready to embark on exciting adventures and to try new things, including enhancing his teaching by using podcasting and social networking tools, teaching Latin dance to middle school students, learning Japanese and traveling to the far reaches of the earth.

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Ellen Deitsch Stern Named Interim Head of School for 2013-2014


tex schenkkan Chair, Board of Trustees he Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Ellen Deitsch Stern will be our Head of School for 2013-2014. Ellen brings a wealth of experience to this important transitional role. Ellen has been a teacher and administrator around the world. With an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Radcliffe and an MA in educational administration from Columbia, Ellen first taught mathematics as well as ethics and women’s studies. She shifted into administration as the principal of the Fieldston School in the Bronx, followed by roles leading Springside School in Philadelphia and the Anglo-American School of Moscow. In 2004 Ellen began another phase of her career as an interim head. She served in that capacity at schools in The Hague, Mumbai, Vienna, Guatemala, Krakow, Cairo and Saigon. Ellen will be in San Francisco at the beginning of August and ready to go for the new school year before the end of that month. Our search for the permanent head of school is officially underway. We have retained Spencer Stuart as our search consultant after reviewing proposals from seven different search consultants. Kristine Johnson and Jennifer Bol of Spencer Stuart have international backgrounds, and have conducted searches for many independent and international schools. We will continue to send updates as we progress through this important process. As always, I encourage you to communicate with me, Ron Kahn, who is heading our search committee, or any member of the Board.

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Conseil de Gestion

Board of Trustees 2012–2013 Romain Serman Consul Général de France Honorary Chair Gerard (Tex) Schenkkan Chair Adam Cioth, Chair Emeritus Ronald Kahn Vice Chair Leigh Sata Vice Chair Vernon Goins Secretary Josh Nossiter Treasurer Denis Bisson Attaché Culturel Stephane de Bord Clydene Bultman John Cate Orpheus S.L. Crutchfield Azeb Gessesse Judith Glickman Andrea Kennedy Diane Jones Lowrey David Low Kathleen Lowry Patrice Maheo Amy Guggenheim Shenkan Young Shin Greg Thayer Debbie Zachareas

Conseil Honoraire | Advisory Council Martin Quinn, Chair Judithe Bizot Thomas E. Horn

Représentants des Parents d’Élèves Parents’ Association Representatives Victoria Erville Lower School/Primaire David Greenthal and Michelle MacKenzie-Menendez Middle School/Collège Stephanie Lima High School/Lycée 8 | La Lettre April 2013

Board of Trustees

Board’s Eye View by josh nossiter


A chance encounter... ord had gone forth that I had a habit of abusing typewriters (it was a long time ago), to say nothing of the English language, and the call came from the advancement office: would I write the French American auction catalogue? This was long before the internet put everything online, and our catalogue was a hefty printed affair, with pithy accounts of each item. To enliven the task, I tried to inject a little humor into some of the descriptions. One auction item particularly seemed to call for levity: the chance for a lucky bidder to be Head of School for a day. Or perhaps part of a day, which seems more likely – the gulf of years makes my memory fuzzy. Our newly installed Head of School was Jane Camblin, whom I barely knew at the time. I tried to imagine the type of whirlwind day someone new on that job was likely to have, and wrote a would-be lively account of a superhuman dynamo dealing with a succession of challenges, personalities, and minor crises energetically and successfully in a highly compressed time frame. Running into Jane sometime after I’d turned in my copy, I asked her if my imagining of her day was at all accurate. She smiled with a decidedly “we are not amused” look in her eye and said, very politely, “That was you, was it? Thanks for the warning. I decided to drop the item from the auction.”

The encounter stuck with me through the years. My son Jason and Jane’s daughter Victoria were classmates from kindergarten, and between the children and my long service on the board, I got to know her much better, in time counting Jane one of my oldest and best friends. In those two decades the essential Jane Camblin of that hallway meeting years before never changed. The wit, the polite but firm manner, the willingness to take a risk in a good cause, the recognition of the potential pitfalls arising therefrom on receipt of new information or a different point of view, the flexibility to change course in timely fashion; in my long association with Jane Camblin those traits were in evidence time and again.

The way we were They are qualities that have served French American extraordinary well. When Jason graduated from the JCC nursery school at Temple Emanu-El, I was an outlier for sending him to French American when so many of the other children were going to the Towns, Stuart Halls, and SF Days of the time. I doubt if contemporary parents meet with similar skepticism, although at the time there was perhaps some justification for it. We enjoyed a reputation for academic rigor and excellence, with a strong faculty and a demanding curriculum. Outward appearances were against us. The school was housed in the southwest corner of the old

UC Extension Campus at Buchanan and Haight, across the street from a slightly menacing and since deservedly demolished housing project, in a facility that made up with charm what it lacked in size, convenience, and roofing. At one period the middle school was housed in a small cluster of mobile homes in the lower parking lot, which mildly horrified some parents although the students themselves loved having their own little “campus.” The tiny high school was in a leaky basement under the gym, and though the International students of the era wouldn’t have traded their cozy haven for anything, the facility did possibly lack curb appeal. A different type of arrangement with the French education ministry would occasionally send us staff, who though excellent within the French system, were not always perfectly adapted to our hybrid curriculum and culture. Our finances were far more interesting than was entirely comfortable from the prudential point of view. It was an excellent adventure for parents, faculty, and students alike, but the enterprise did require a certain willing suspension of disbelief.

pleasure to have been her colleague and friend over the past decades, and much as she will be missed, her legacy will endure as long as there is a French American School. Correspondence is welcome, to

Une rencontre fortuite... Le bruit avait couru que je me plaisais à maltraiter les machines à écrire (il y a de cela bien longtemps), sans parler de la langue anglaise, et je n’ai pas tardé à recevoir un appel du bureau du développement : est-ce que j’accepterais de rédiger les textes du catalogue de la vente aux enchères du Lycée International Franco-Américain ? C’était bien avant l’ère de l’Internet et notre catalogue était alors un imposant bloc de papier imprimé, avec une brève description de chaque article. Pour rendre cette tâche moins fastidieuse, j’ai décidé d’agrémenter certaines des descriptions d’un peu d’humour. Un article des enchères m’a semblé se prêter tout particulièrement à la légèreté

et la bonne humeur : la possibilité pour l’heureux gagnant des enchères de vivre une journée de la vie du Proviseur, ou peut-être une demijournée, ce qui semble plus probable, mais ma mémoire me fait défaut après tant d’années. Jane Camblin venait d’assumer la direction de l’établissement, et je la connaissais alors à peine. J’ai essayé d’imaginer le tourbillon probable d’activités de la journée d’une personne qui vient d’assumer de telles fonctions, et j’ai écrit un récit qui se voulait vivant de la façon dont une dynamo surhumaine devait relever une succession de défis, faire face à de diverses personnalités, et résoudre des crises mineures avec énergie et efficacité dans le cadre de strictes contraintes de temps. Lorsque j’ai rencontré Jane peu après avoir rendu ma copie, je lui ai demandé si la façon dont j’avais imaginé sa journée était un tant soit peu exacte. Elle a souri d’un air résolument insensible à mon humour, m’a regardé dans les yeux, et m’a dit très poliment, « c’était vous, n’est-ce pas

Excelsior Jane Camblin changed all that. She had the courage and vision to move us to a facility nearly all at the time agreed we could never afford. 150 Oak was urgently needed, however, and the naysayers never even slowed Jane down. On wit, drive, and charisma, she forged imaginative alliances, arranged innovative financial schemes, marshaled and inspired the talent needed to put the project through. And we have never looked back. Jane’s leadership has brought about the school’s vast increase in size and prestige, the solid financial footing we enjoy, and a program of further expansion and innovation that will make the 21st century French American school better even than it is now. The best leaders, like the best institutions, don’t stand still. Jane brought us to our present position of strength, and leaves us poised for a yet stronger future. It is a unique privilege and

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? Merci pour l’avertissement. J’ai décidé de retirer l’article de la vente aux enchères. » Je n’ai jamais oublié cette rencontre, malgré toutes ces années. Mon fils Jason et la fille de Jane, Victoria, ont été camarades de classe depuis la maternelle, et entre les enfants et mes années de service au sein du conseil de gestion, j’ai appris à beaucoup mieux la connaître, de sorte qu’elle fait partie de mes meilleurs amis de longue date. Tout au long de ces deux décennies, la personnalité fondamentale de la Jane Camblin de cette rencontre dans un couloir il y a de nombreuses années n’a jamais changé. L’esprit, la fermeté polie, la disposition à la prise de risques pour une bonne cause, la reconnaissance des conséquences néfastes potentielles de ces décisions à la lumière de nouvelles informations ou d’un point de vue différent, l’aptitude à changer de cap en temps voulu : depuis que je la connais, Jane Camblin ne s’est jamais départie de ces qualités.

Des débuts modestes Ce sont là des qualités qui se sont avérées extrêmement utiles pour le Lycée International Franco-Américain. Lorsque Jason est sorti du jardin d’enfant de JCC au Temple Emanu-El, je faisais figure d’original en l’inscrivant au Lycée International Franco-Américain alors que beaucoup des autres enfants allaient aux Towns, Stuart Halls et SF Days de l’époque. Je doute que les parents d’aujourd’hui soient confrontés à un tel scepticisme, bien que celui-ci n’ait sans doute pas alors été totalement sans fondement. Nous bénéficions d’une réputation de rigueur académique

et d’excellence, d’enseignants qualifiés, et offrions un programme pédagogique exigeant. Les apparences étaient toutefois contre nous. L’établissement se trouvait dans le coin sud-est de l’ancien campus de l’annexe de UC au coin de Buchanan et Haight, en face d’un projet immobilier vaguement menaçant et maintenant heureusement démoli, dans des locaux qui compensaient par leur charme tout ce qui leur manquait en taille, en confort et en toiture. Le collège a pendant quelque temps élu domicile dans un petit groupe de maisons mobiles sur le parking inférieur, qui horrifiaient quelque peu certains parents, même si les élèves aimaient avoir leur petit « campus » à eux. Le petit lycée était une cave dont le toit fuyait sous le gymnase, et même si les élèves du Lycée International de l’époque n’auraient changé leur douillet refuge pour rien au monde, son attrait extérieur était sans doute pour le moins douteux. Un différent type de convention avec le Ministère de l’Éducation nationale nous permettait occasionnellement de bénéficier de son personnel détaché, qui, même s’il était très compétent dans le système français, n’était pas toujours parfaitement adapté à notre curriculum hybride, ni à notre culture particulière. Nos finances étaient certes intéressantes, mais dérogeaient quelque peu aux règles de la prudence et de la discipline financière. Il s’agissait d’une excellente aventure pour les parents, les enseignants et les élèves à la fois, mais l’entreprise exigeait que l’on fasse abstraction de bon nombre de réserves.

Excelsior Jane Camblin a changé tout cela. Elle a eu le courage et la vision nécessaires pour prendre la décision d’un déménagement vers des locaux que presque tous à l’époque convenaient que nous ne pourrions jamais nous permettre d’occuper. Nous avions toutefois alors un besoin urgent du 150 Oak, et les sceptiques n’ont jamais ébranlé la détermination de Jane. Grâce à son esprit, sa détermination et son charisme, elle a forgé des alliances imaginatives, mis en place des montages financiers innovants, mobilisé et inspiré le talent nécessaire pour mener à bien le projet. Nous ne l’avons jamais regretté. C’est grâce à la direction de Jane que l’établissement a connu une croissance considérable, et bénéficie maintenant d’un prestige accru, d’une solide assise financière, et son programme de poursuite de l’expansion et d’innovation contribuera à un rayonnement encore supérieur du Lycée International Franco-Américain au 21e siècle. Les meilleurs leaders, comme les meilleures institutions, ne cessent jamais d’aller de l’avant. C’est à Jane que nous devons notre position de force actuelle, et elle nous quitte sur des perspectives d’avenir encore plus riches de promesses. J’ai eu le privilège unique et le grand plaisir d’être son collègue et ami au cours des dernières décennies. Elle nous manquera sans aucun doute, mais l’héritage qu’elle lègue au Lycée International Franco-Américain lui restera à jamais. N’hésitez pas à me faire part de vos réflexions, à l’adresse

Jane Camblin tries her hand at a forklift during the renovation of 66 Page Street into the new Arts Pavilion, Summer 2009.

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Academic Technology

international girls participate in the

technovation challenge pool, and free food stations within short distances of each other.” Next, the girls participated in Hack Day at Dev Bootcamp where they learned how to program an app using App Inventor, a program developed by MIT for creating apps on Android devices. They worked with their mentors to program several apps, including a “crystal ball” app that predicts someone’s fortune, and a painting app that allows a user to draw in three colors. The 2013 challenge is to develop an app that solves a local problem. Over the fall and winter semesters, the team has met with their mentors each week to work on developing their app, and in April, will submit a video pitch and business plan. If the team is selected as a finalist, the girls will move on to the Technovation World Pitch event on May 1st, 2013, where the winning team will receive $10,000 to finalize its app and release it on the market.


jason sellers Academic Technology Coordinator he Technovation Challenge is a mobile phone app design competition that partners high school girls with professional women working in tech. At the end of twelve weeks, the teams pitch their app prototypes, marketing ideas, and business plans to a panel of judges for the funding to have their app professionally developed. This is the first year that International High School has participated in the competition. Our team members are Alice Batty, Sara Fay, Amely Joly, Megan Ogburn, and Kaylin Yu, and their tech mentors are Diane Lu, a Product Specialist at YouTube, and Ami Vora, a Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting. On December 12, our Technovation team participated in a tech company field trip to YouTube, where they met with Diane and toured the campus. A few highlights of the tour were seeing full-time baristas; a big, red slide; massage chairs; a nap station; and a wall covered with framed pictures of YouTube stars. “The slide was a bit of a shock,” said Sara Fay. “I was also in for a shock when I realized that they had a swimming

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Academic Innovation

Blended Learning

seth hubbert AcademicTechnology Coordinator | joel cohen Assistant High School Principal


eginning in 2011, French American International School piloted a set of initiatives, introducing new technologies and innovative strategies to modernize the teaching and learning in our classrooms. We began with a group of high school teachers creating video lectures, and 7th grade students equipped with iPads. Since, innovations have burgeoned in all levels of the school; our teachers have ambitiously implemented engaging projects, structured new ways for students to collaborate virtually and physically, and facilitated students’ consumption, synthesis, and creation of dynamic digital content. We are excited by how these new tools can help support environments that are more engaging, collaborative, and personalized to each student’s abilities, passions, and needs. Currently, in the lower school, classes have access to iPads in roughly a 2:1 iPad-to-student ratio. The devices are shared by students, and are used in discrete chunks for certain class activities and projects. In the upper school, all students in grades 6-10 are issued an individual iPad that they use both during the school day and at home. Our students are using these tools to engage in learning that is a healthy mix of both face-to-face and digital experiences, deemed blended learning.

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21st Century


A progress report on the Flipped Classroom, French American and International’s Academic Technology initiative.

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A successful example of blended learning that was introduced in the upper school during the last academic year is the “Flipped Classroom” model, which involves the recording by teachers of podcasts or short videos featuring essential skills and materials. Students are asked to watch and study those videos before coming to class, thus freeing valuable class-time for rich and meaningful student-teacher and student-student interactions. The “Flipped Classroom” pilot project was closely monitored all of last year and student and teacher surveys showed classrooms to be more active and engaging, and a new connection made between teachers and students as the adults entered the teens’ online world. Following the initial successes of this first initiative, a new group of teachers decided to join and “Flip” one of their classes during this new academic year, turning this example of blended learning into a common practice that teachers feel comfortable incorporating when the topic studied lends itself to it. Furthermore, teachers discovered with the introduction of iPads in the high school that it was a very efficient tool to share content with their students, and specifically videos and podcasts, using the iTunes U platform and its course manager. Indeed, every time a teacher publishes a new podcast, students are directly notified on their iPads and the videos downloaded to well-organized folders that contain all the materials of a given class. In addition to iTunes U, teachers are also experimenting with a number of new platforms (some of them being created by local startup companies), enabling them to

generate discussion forums around the videos and to get some data related to their actual viewing (number of students, time spent watching, places where they paused, etc.) – all tools geared at preparing more efficiently the following “live” classes. In addition to the Flip, if you were to stroll through the halls, you’d see high school students using social media to ‘tweet’ from the perspective of a Medieval peasant, or ‘post’ as a member of the French Revolution. In the middle school, students are wirelessly collecting data from a temperature probe to insert into their digital science report. In the lower school, you might find a student recording a classmate’s narration for an eBook they are authoring. And as our students are engaging in these pro-jects and utilizing new tools, we want to ensure that they are as savvy, respectful, and responsible in the digital world as they are in the physical. At all levels of the school, our faculty and staff are structuring discussions with students on how to make healthy decisions with technology. Using a wealth of resources from the nonprofit Common Sense Media, classrooms are engaged in activities toward maintaining healthy relationships, communicating respectfully, and developing a positive online reputation. We’re excited by how these tools can reshape the educational landscape; never before have students had such an opportunity to access information, collaborate at a global level, and present their thoughts and views to authentic audiences using a wide variety of media. Through these and other initiatives, we are invigorated by the chal-

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lenge of preparing our students for a world that will look much different than the one they’re in now. The beauty of blended learning is that it enables us to keep the elements of traditional education that work well and incorporate innovative and modern learning strategies, and this is why we are so enthusiastic about this path at French American and International High School.

L Seth Hubbert, Academic Technology Coordinator, Joel Cohen, Assistant High School Principal, and Mireille Rabaté, Middle School Principal, display the school’s official credential as an Apple Distinguished Program.

French American International School and International High School now recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program


rench American and International have been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program for the 2012-13 school year for its efforts to incorporate new technologies and innovative strategies to support student learning. The school joins 103 programs nationwide that have exhibited five best practices of the Distinguished Program: visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment. French American and International are excited at how these new tools and teaching strategies can be used to help student learning to be more vibrant, collaborative, creative, and individualized, and is honored to receive this distinction! 16 | La Lettre April 2013

e Lycée International Franco-Américain a présenté à la rentrée 2011 une série de projets innovants dans le but d’explorer de nouvelles façons d’enseigner et d’apprendre, notamment en utilisant les nouvelles technologies. Tout a donc commencé il y a un peu plus d’un an avec d’une part un groupe d’enseignants du lycée qui décidèrent de filmer certains de leurs cours et d’autre part nos élèves de 5ème qui furent équipés d’iPads. Depuis, les initiatives se sont multipliées à tous les étages de notre école et nos enseignants ont avec ambition mis en place de nouveaux projets, imaginé de nouvelles stratégies pour permettre à nos élèves de collaborer aussi bien virtuellement que physiquement, et donné des occasions de rechercher, de synthétiser l’information et de créer en ligne dans le monde numérique. Nous sommes enthousiastes à l’idée que ces nouvelles technologies et pédagogies peuvent promouvoir un environnement scolaire plus dynamique et adapté aux besoins, capacités et intérêts de nos élèves. A l’école primaire, les iPads restent en classe et sont utilisés pour des activités de groupe spécifiques durant lesquelles les élèves disposent d’un iPad par paire. Au collège et au lycée, de la 6ème à la seconde, tous les élèves ont été équipés d’une tablette personnelle qu’ils utilisent aussi bien à l’école qu’à la maison, le but étant de leur procurer un subtil mélange d’enseignement traditionnel « face à face » et d’expériences numériques en réseaux ; mélange qui porte le nom de « Blended Learning ». Un exemple de « Blended Learning » présenté au lycée l’année dernière est celui du « Flipped Classroom », ou pédagogie inversée, dans lequel les enseignants enregistrent de courtes vidéos ou podcasts contenant des éléments de cours qu’ils demandent à leurs élèves de regarder à la maison ; le but recherché étant de libérer du temps en classe pour que l’enseignant puisse y pratiquer plus de pédagogie différenciée et y promouvoir le travail collaboratif. Le projet pilote « Flipped Classroom » fut suivi de très près tout au long de l’année ; des enquêtes auprès des élèves et des enseignants ont indiqué des cours plus dynamiques et engageants, ainsi que la création d’un nouveau lien entre élèves et enseignants du à la présence numérique de ces derniers dans l’univers en ligne des élèves. Fort de ce succès initial, un second groupe de professeurs a décidé cette d’année de rejoindre leurs collègues et « d’inverser » une de leur classe, transformant de facto cet exemple de blended learning en une pratique courante que les enseignants peuvent intégrer a leur classe lorsque le sujet abordé s’y prête. D’autre part,

l’introduction des iPads au lycée cette année représente aussi la présence d’une plateforme de communication très intéressante, notamment pour les vidéos et podcasts, par l’intermédiaire d’iTunes U et de son « Course Manager ». Ainsi, dès qu’un enseignant publie un nouveau cours (vidéo, document, lien internet, etc.), les élèves reçoivent immédiatement des notifications sur leurs iPads et les cours sont téléchargés et classés dans des dossiers contenant toutes les ressources de chaque classe. En plus d’iTunes U, nos enseignants expérimentent également de nombreux logiciels (dont certains produits par des startup locales) qui leur permettent de générer des forums de discussions en ligne autour des vidéos qu’ils publient mais aussi d’obtenir des données liées au visionnement (nombre d’élèves ayant regardé, le temps passé à regarder ou encore les endroits où les élèves se sont arrêtés), autant d’informations pouvant servir à mieux préparer le « vrai » cours qui va suivre. En plus du « Flip », si vous vous promeniez dans les couloirs du lycée, vous y verriez des élèves utilisant les réseaux sociaux pour se mettre dans la peau d’un paysan médiéval et « tweeter » leur professeur d’histoire ou encore poster sur Facebook en imaginant être un acteur de la Révolution Française. Au collège, vous pourriez y voir des élèves en classe de chimie en train de prendre des relevés de température avec des capteurs sans fils transmettant les données directement vers leur compte-rendu d’expérience numérique. Au primaire cela serait peutêtre un élève en train d’enregistrer un de ses camarades de classe racontant une histoire pour la production d’un

eBook dont ils seraient les auteurs. Bien évidemment, alors que nos élèves apprennent à maitriser tous ces nouveaux outils, nous nous assurons qu’ils le font de manière responsable et respectueuse, appliquant dans le monde numérique les mêmes règles qu’ils appliquent dans le monde physique. A tous les niveaux de notre école, les enseignants et autres adultes encadrant les élèves mettent en place des forums de discussions ayant pour but de leur apprendre à prendre de bonnes décisions en matière de technologie. A cet effet, nous utilisons les ressources de l’organisation à but non lucratif Common Sense Media permettant aux enseignant de créer des séquences éducatives sur la façon de se comporter entre élèves et avec les adultes, sur la communication en ligne dans le respect des individus ou encore sur les façons de créer et de maintenir une empreinte digitale positive. Nous sommes optimistes quant à la manière dont ces nouveaux outils sont en train de redéfinir le paysage éducatif ; c’est la première fois que nos élèves ont autant de moyens pour accéder à l’information, collaborer à un niveau global ou encore présenter sous des formes extrêmement variées leurs idées et opinions à des publics authentiques. La motivation qui s’exprime à travers toutes ces initiatives est simple : c’est celle de préparer nos élèves à un monde qui sera bien diffèrent de celui dans lequel nous vivons maintenant. La beauté du Blended Learning étant de pouvoir conserver tous les éléments de l’éducation traditionnelle qui fonctionnent bien et d’y incorporer des stratégies modernes d’apprentissage, nous sommes confiants au LIFA, d’être sur la bonne voie.

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Lower School

Social & Emotional Learning


hat is Social and Emotional Learning and why is it important at French American? Many such programs are now well established at school districts around the nation. Evidence is mounting that Social and Emotional Learning helps facilitate academic learning and greater self-esteem. The Anchorage (Alaska) School District, a national leader in the concept, has defined it as “...the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behavior.” At French American, through our use of the Pacific Path program, the lower school has been teaching skills that are essential to peaceful conflict resolution. The program’s goal is to help students develop self-awareness and a greater understanding of others. Students learn to recognize and control their own anger and to communicate their feelings in a constructive way. This year, the lower school has made Social and Emotional Learning a special focus. In collaboration with the Lower School Parent Board, the administration sought ways to promote a more peaceful and supportive school community. “We asked ourselves if what we are teaching is transferring to the students’ relationships at school and their play at recess,” said assistant principal Nancy Buxton-Colombeau. “We wanted to observe the behavior in action.”

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One outcome was the creation of the Outstanding Community Leadership Award to be given to students in grades 2 through 5 who demonstrate skills in peaceful conflict resolution, inclusion, compassion and respect. During the kick-off week of the Pacific Path program in October, students were introduced to the leadership qualities the school is promoting. A few of the examples:  Staying calm when angry  Including anyone who wants to play in a game or share    

the lunch table Encouraging others when they make a mistake or lose in a game Saying you’re sorry if you’ve hurt someone’s feelings Using kind words when speaking to others Keeping the school clean and taking care of playground equipment

Students can be nominated for an award by their peers, teachers, or the school staff. Nominations are submitted to Nancy. Awards in the form of a certificate are given the last Friday of each month on the Hickory Yard at 8:15 a.m. Parents are invited. There is no limit to the number of awards that can be given at any time and a student can receive more than one. A poster next to the reception desk in the Hickory lobby displays photos of the Outstanding Community Leaders. We believe all students can earn this award and we look forward to recognizing and acknowledging our outstanding students.

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Service Learning The 2012 Peter Ustinov Outreach Award elizabeth cleere Service Learning and CAS Coordinator International High School


the help of their teacher and student mentors from International. In order to establish a link between our local and international projects, we also plan to invite the students in the jazz music class at John Muir to perform at our next Songs for Senegal concert.

nternational High School was granted its second Peter Ustinov Outreach Award for a project entitled “Enriching the Lives of Economically Disadvantaged Inner-City Students”, which I had the honor of accepting at this dr. leslie d. adams year’s ECIS Conference in Nice. Director of Student Activities/Vie Scolaire The Peter Ustinov Award, given in Elizabeth Cleere receives the ECIS TieCare partnership with ECIS (the European “By its very definition, civic reAward and grant on behalf of the Middle School Council for Independent Schools), is sponsibility means taking a healthy Community Service Program. earmarked for projects that “help chilrole in the life of one’s community. dren in need, children who are often That means that classroom lessons the victims of prejudice”. We applied for and received the should be complemented by work outside the classroom. maximum award of 3,000 euros for our project, which Service-learning does just that, tying community service will benefit economically disadvantaged, at-risk students to academic learning.” Senator John Glenn, National who attend nearby John Muir Elementary School—a Commission on Service Learning school where our students have been volunteering for the French American International School is implementing past seven years. a program of community involvement through Service The idea for the project, which will provide support Learning for the Middle School years. As global citizens for weekly jazz music and art classes in the afterschool participating in an International education, our students program at John Muir, initially came from students on the will be challenged beyond the classroom to move into Community Service Steering Committee. In the process the community. Our goal is to encourage students to take of developing the idea for the proposal, we met with the an active role in the communities in which they live, director of the afterschool program at John Muir, Maysha thereby encouraging responsible citizenship. Jackson-Bell, and the Community Outreach Coordinator When considering Community and Service projects the for John Muir, Jo Mestrelle, who helped draw up the budstudents will be reflecting on three questions: get for the two classes we will be supporting. The grant money will be used to buy instruments and art supplies  How can I contribute to the community? for the two classes and will also pay the salary for an art  How can I help others? teacher.  What do I learn when I help others? The jazz music class has met three times, and we have already developed a core group of committed and enthuThe theme for French American International School siastic high school students who are volunteering once a Community and Service is “From Local to Global.” In week as “music mentors” to the children in the class. The keeping with this we applied for and received a TieCare art class will begin as soon as a teacher is hired. We also International Grant Award allowing the Middle Years received an additional 500 euros from the Peter Ustinov program to move forward this academic year. In addition, Foundation to make a film about the project and are in some of our Middle School students have been acknowlthe process of recruiting student volunteers who will be edged for their efforts in working at the National AIDS responsible for this task. Memorial Grove. The culmination of the project will be a performance As our students look on after completing a Beach Clean by the students in the jazz music class at an end-ofup project on the Grade 6 retreat, I am reminded of what the-year talent show at John Muir Elementary and the Margaret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small group completion of a mural on a wall in the school playground of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; that will be painted by the children in the art class, with indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Middle Years Community and Service

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In Memoriam

Left: Howie Leifer with his famous puppets at the Buchanan Street campus, 1990s. Below: At the 50th Anniversary Alumni Authors Event, February 2012.

Reflections on Howie Leifer


dan harder HOD English

o have looked at him, you wouldn’t have immediately thought, “Now that’s a basketball player,” but you’d have been wrong. True, he wasn’t quite as tall as Wilt Chamberlain, but he didn’t need to be to play notably well on the streets of New York. And you wouldn’t probably have thought, “Oh yes, that’s the walk and talk of a REAL artist,” but you’d have been wrong again. When you’re the real deal, as he whimsically was, the walk and the talk don’t mean a thing. And to see him in the halls of school, you probably would never have thought, “See there... that’s the telltale swagger of the Popular Teacher,” and again, you’d have been wrong. Howie Leifer didn’t need swagger; he just had to smile and ask you how you were doing in that honest way he honestly did everything and, immediately, you’d know why he was one of those very popular, much-loved teachers.

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Howie died on January 5th. Most of the people at the school didn’t know him and, so, don’t know why those of us who did know him feel such a profound loss. But trust us, that playful, constantly caring, gnome-like-looking fellow who used to teach and create art at FABS, then FAIS, then IHS did more than earn our love and respect. He lived the reasons every day. I can count on one hand the teachers I’ve known who have shown such a sustained concern for their students, both while they were students and after they had left our school. When Howie asked in his high-pitched New York accent, “How you doin’?” it wasn’t just a hallway greeting, it was a serious question. He wanted to hear – and would do what he could to make – your answer, “Good!” Howie inspired people to create, Howie inspired people to care about art – and other people, and Howie may still – for those who knew him and for those who now know who he was – inspire us to wonder what it is to be “good” as artists, as teachers, as people. Thank you, Howie. We miss you.

Howie Leifer: A Celebration of Life


owie Leifer was a beloved art teacher, puppeteer, friend, mentor, and brother and on March 11th, people who knew him well gathered in our Kahn Family Theater to honor his life and share precious memories. It was particularly touching when Neil, Howie’s brother, turned around to face the audience and witnessed the many alums that came back to honor their favorite art teacher. Howie touched so many in his life and it was evident that he would continue to inspire everyone in the room. A sincere thank you to all who came to celebrate Howie’s life – in person or in spirit. We would also like to thank Ora Harder for providing some of Howie’s favorite foods, Dan Harder for bringing in his painted jackets, Matthew Perifano for help with the videos, and Neil Leifer for flying in from New York to share this moment with the French American and International community.

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Joan Chatfield-Taylor Joan Chatfield-Taylor was a former member of the Board of Trustees for the French American International School, and also the mother of Christina (‘89) and Matthew (‘96) Henry de Tessan. Following are excerpts from the obituary by Nellie Bowles that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 29, 2012.


oan Chatfield-Taylor, a pioneer fashion editor at The Chronicle who introduced a lighthearted touch to haute couture writing during the city’s most tumultuous anti-establishment decades, died October 19 of breast cancer. She was 71. The debutante daughter of a well-known San Francisco family, Ms. Chatfield-Taylor wrote four books and a sarcastic, erudite and playful column in The Chronicle for 18 years, mostly during the 1960s and 1970s. “She straddled the line between worlds,” said longtime Chronicle Datebook editor Ruthe Stein, who worked alongside Ms. Chatfield-Taylor. “She managed to be part of San Francisco’s storied high society while also helping bring our section, (the former) Women’s World, out of the dark ages.” A frequent figure in the social columns, Ms. ChatfieldTaylor was an independent and popular woman, often startling high-society matrons. In the 1960s, she covered the opening of the opera while nine months pregnant, considered scandalous at the time. “She was very traditional in some ways but surprising in others,” recalled her son, Matthew Henry de Tessan, a lawyer living in Denver. “When she and my father split, she was suddenly raising me, an 8-year-old boy, all on her own. She didn’t know what to do, so she taught herself about baseball and became this huge Giants fan, took me to all their games, fell in love with it for me.”

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Ms. Chatfield-Taylor, who attended Katherine Delmar Burke School and Smith College, started at The Chronicle in 1962 as a library assistant. She quickly carved out a job for herself as one of the paper’s first full-time fashion writers, often sending dispatches in from Paris and Rome. In 1968, she married Philippe Henry de Tessan, whose prominent family owned major businesses, including the City of Paris department store in downtown San Francisco. On her wedding day, she wore a high-waisted, white silk dress embroidered with polka dots. “Fashion editors usually take themselves pretty seriously,” said Grace Prien, The Chronicle’s former society editor. “She was something very new.” Ms. Chatfield-Taylor wrote in 1985: “Fashion is, of course, a relatively benevolent form of brainwashing, but the French have come up with some methods that would do any master interrogator proud.” She also thought about how fashion translated to everyday women. In 1980, she wrote “Picnics,” a book of recipes that The Chronicle described as “sensible and down-to-earth.” She went on to write “Backstage at the Opera” and “First 75 Years at the Opera,” which meticulously documented the San Francisco Opera, focusing as much on the extras as the stars. In “Visiting Eden,” she wrote about Northern California’s public gardens. Ms. Chatfield-Taylor’s dinner parties at her Marina district home were famous. The guest list included opera singers, schoolteachers and socialites. “There was always room for one more at the table,” said her daughter, Christina Henry de Tessan, a travel writer living in Portland. “And you always felt so lucky to be there.” A philanthropist throughout her life, Ms. Chatfield-Taylor sat on the board of the French American International School and on the board of a folk art museum in Guatemala. In 2008, she moved to New Mexico for a month to work on Barack Obama’s election campaign. She had been fighting breast cancer for seventeen years.

Joan Chatfield-Taylor (center) chats with her daughter Christina Henry de Tessan, Class of ‘89, and former Head of School Bernard Ivaldi, at the 50th Anniversary Alumni Authors Reception, February 10, 2012.

Alumni Profiles


Five Questions for Alumna Amy Munz, Class of 2009 in Ancient Greece with the outdoor Amphitheater and then ended indoors with the black I was a Lifer, attending the box. Today, there is technology school from Kindergarten that can bridge the benefits of through the French Baccalaureate both types of structures and that track. can help us to create new types of performances that merge I understand you graduated from the performing arts with the Northwestern in 3 years. What outdoors. The potential is huge, was your major? especially as the mainstream I graduated in three years performing arts world embraces from Northwestern University the groundbreaking advances of with a B.A. in Communication, the avant-garde. receiving Departmental The use of modern Distinction for Theatre (my Amy Munz playing Louella Parsons in “My Life in the Silents”. technologies would also allow major) and being recognized for easy video integration for as the top 3% of the class with performances. I implemented Summa Cum Laude. My early graduation is thanks to the this concept in my show BEING ANTIGONE, which merged credits I received for getting the French Baccalaureate at theatrical performance with video installation art. The show International High School. was extremely successful, and I am currently in the process of producing it in the Bay Area. When did you become interested in this field of study? The umbrella of The New Stage Company will cover I became interested in acting during the second grade, more types of events, such as interactive shows for young when I was in an after-school theatre class at FAIS. My audiences. The first steps in that direction include my first parents were encouraged to enroll me at the American Children’s Picture Book, which will soon be published as a Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory. I spent a good hard copy, an e-book, and potentially an interactive e-book. 10 years at A.C.T., studying in classes and performing in Other projects include being involved in the Bay Area shows at the Zeum Theater in San Francisco. performing arts scene by stage managing for PRINCESS My understanding of theatre expanded with the help IVONA, written by Witold Gombrowicz and directed by of my high school history and literature courses. I’ll never Stanford PhD and adjunct professor, Michael Hunter. forget how Mr. Nagy had us regularly analyze major How did your experience at International High School help paintings of art history or how Mr. Bessone explained to my cultivate your passion for what you do now? class just why Michelangelo’s David was a masterpiece as we strolled around the sculpture during our trip to Italy. This Studying multiple languages and being exposed to work of analyzing artworks and also texts was the beginning different cultures at International cultivated an intuitive of me understanding the dynamic intersection of Art, understanding of the relationship between communication Communication, and Society. and perception. It wasn’t just that I built a French vocabulary and studied Italian grammar – it was that I was able to tap What are you pursuing now? into new meanings and understandings by communicating The biggest project that I am currently working on is in another language. starting a company called The New Stage, which has the My work is strongly influenced by my fascination with primary aim of constructing a new theatre structure that how perception and communication shape everyday I conceptualized. While at Northwestern, I thought a lot experiences. It is the foundational reason for why I seek about the trajectory of the performing arts venue throughout to create art, investigate emotions, and build innovative history – we could say that the venue came into existence platforms for human interactions. Were you a “Lifer” or did you transfer to International?

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Eastern Walkabout Jeremy Sorgen Class of 2004


wo summers after I graduated from NYU and unsatisfied with the office life, I set forth to travel between Jerusalem and Japan. I expected the journey to take me two years though I entertained the possibility that, like Odysseus, I would find an enticing island to detain me further. I did return, in just under two years, and I never got to Japan. As these things go, you cannot dictate the currents of life but must succumb to its ebb and flow. My most radical life choice to set forth was also my deepest surrender. Though the story transpires abroad, it has its origins here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Albany, California, a semi-suburban town of one square mile. It wasn’t until I began high school in the city across the bridge that I was introduced to people from all over the world, which I now see was only possible at FAIS. My high school experience thus transcended a mere education to probe central questions of identity, questions that followed me as a shadow, first to New York and then abroad to France and Colombia. I took every opportunity to travel, enthralled by the differences among cultures and determined to understand the humanity common to all. In addition to the many faces of the world, each of these excursions taught me about myself. Paris, it turns out, is a good place to discover you’re American. But what does it mean to be American? In defining self, I have dashed myself against the various shores of this world, to constantly test what sort of stuff this world and I are made

of. In retrospect, my trip is what Joseph Campbell calls the “hero-journey” and the Aborigines a “walkabout.” It is a singular journey away from home and toward oneself. Its purpose is to open the child’s eyes to the soul of the world and to fortify the spirit with a confidence by which it can accomplish any number of things. Jerusalem, the city of prophets, taught me the difference between instrumental and divine knowledge, the one extracted with the scalpel, the other by lifting the object, as a prism, to the light. I learned that analysis is useful for leveling judgment, but that only the beatific object inspires. I wondered what would happen should the world’s holy scriptures be viewed through the second and not the first lens. Beirut taught me surrender, one of the root meanings of the word Islam. In the melee of city traffic, the driver drunk, the seat belts deliberately removed from the vehicle, one quickly learns to believe in God. Upon reflection, we see that the pivotal events of one’s life are beyond our control and that control is at best an illusion sustained through what might be called a faith-act. Turkey taught me about the kindness of strangers and convinced me that the world is at bottom a benevolent place. Hitchhiking and couch-surfing across the country, I found that people still honor the stranger by the old standards of hospitality and were always happy to share the little they had, for friendship brings warmth, especially in colder times. Each place had its story and each story its lesson. I found that the longer I lingered, the more of that story I heard; and so, in the end, I traveled only as far east as Iran before my own story took me to Cuba and then home. There I linger, for now.

Jeremy is a writer, ethnographer and mediator. He leverages the power of story to restore voice, raise awareness, resolve conflict, build community and capture personal narratives. With former FAIS student Alex de Raadt St. James, he is launching the Admirable People Project, a series of interviews with admirable people who discuss the challenges of a life and what for them makes life worth living.

Jeremy Sorgen (left) with friends he met on his journey through the Middle East.

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Katie Schenkkan Class of 2006

Project LEARN



distinctly remember being asked many times during my four years of undergrad at UCLA if I planned to become a teacher, since I was majoring in history. I bristled at the question, not because I was opposed to it, but because of the presumption implicit in the question – without a degree in, say, business or economics, what kind of job would I be able to have? The idea that I’d only go into teaching because I had no other choice is the type of assumption that goes along with that dreadful and erroneous saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” The wonderful teachers I had at French American and International have shown me through their expertise, passion, and support that this is patently untrue. And it is because of them that I have decided to join them in this extraordinarily challenging and rewarding profession. In May of 2012, I received my M.A. in Teaching from the University of San Francisco. The highlight of my time at USF was undoubtedly the two weeks I spent teaching at the Sacred Heart Primary School in Dangriga, Belize in January 2011. Eight undergraduate and graduate students took part in the Project Learn Belize teacher assistant program, led by a dedicated professor, Father Dillon, known fondly to the people of Dangriga as, “Fada dee dee.” It was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. I was working with groups of twenty-five to thirty students who had, for the most part, never taken part in a real lesson before – and I had never taught one before, either! By the end of the two weeks, we had become more familiar with the beautiful – yet often incomprehensible – pidgin English spoken by most of the people in the city, and really learned to love the place. I can’t wait to go back. This experience, brief as it was, was enough to turn my musings about teaching abroad into concrete plans, and my opportunity came along sooner than I expected. This past July, I uprooted my comfortable life in California and moved to bustling Bogotá, Colombia to teach high school English at Gimnasio Vermont, an International Baccalaureate school. I am thoroughly enjoying my first year of full-time teaching so far, and am absorbing the language and culture more and more every day. I find that I am so much more comfortable in a bilingual school environment than in a single-language one, and fully credit French American for that gift. I hasten to reassure any concerned read-

LEFT: Katie Schenkkan, Class of 2006, rapelling off a waterfall in Medellin, Colombia.

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ers that Bogotá is no longer the very dangerous place it was a decade ago. Bogotá has the same number of inhabitants (approximately 9 million) as Los Angeles County, where I lived during my four years of undergrad. I compare the danger to that of Los Angeles, as well: when I lived there, I didn’t walk around in Compton alone at midnight, and I am similarly prudent when exploring my new city. I have done a bit of traveling around Colombia (alone, no less!) and want to take a moment to encourage people to visit this incredibly beautiful, diverse place, where the locals are warmer and friendlier than in any country I’ve ever visited. I can’t wait to share more stories and pictures from Colombia upon my return. See you when I get back!

Katie graduated from UCLA in 2010 with a B.A. in History and USF in 2012 with an M.A. in Teaching. She hopes to be fully quadrilingual (English, French, Italian, and Spanish) by the end of this school year, and is putting all of her languages to good use in Bogotá. After completing the 2012-2013 school year at her current IB school, she plans to return to California and continue in the field of education.

Katie Schenkkan on a rock-climbing expedition in Medellin, Colombia. 28 | La Lettre April 2013


Tyson Thomas Class of 1988 t all started in 6C. In autumn of 1981, I was part of a new gaggle of French neophytes in a grand experiment to both grow the student body of the French-American Bilingual School (FABS, as it was then called) and test how much French could be jammed into an elevenyear-old brain. In addition to math in French, historygeography in French, and French in French, instead of Spanish like the other sixth graders got, 6C got even more French. Thankfully English was still in English, but it wasn’t any easier taught by Dan Harder. I was sure “Harder” was his nickname, because he sure lived up to it! I learned to love him, though, and he became my favorite teacher. He tells a great story. If you get a chance, see if you can get him to tell you the story of three-fingered Willy. Anyhow, back to the 6C experiment; the myriad of other classes were in English as I recall, so plentiful as to require a two-week schedule to fit them all. Now you would think this experiment would be a disaster. I vividly recall my first day in Jean Chaissac’s French Math class, sitting next to Paul Gordon by the window, where I was a bit lost but figured out what he (M. Chaissac) was talking about by the overlapping circles and letters he drew on the blackboard. What American learns set theory in the 6th Grade? In French no less?! Apparently, that’s what we were learning, I came to figure out later: set theory. I also figured out the meaning of se débrouiller, because that’s what we were all doing, the best we could to sort out the foreign-sounding fire hose of information. The mind is amazing at that age, able to absorb and learn way more than one can imagine. About eight years later, I would randomly run into Jean Chaissac in the teacher’s lounge at Lycée Camille Sée where I was an English volunteer teacher during my semester abroad in Paris. We went to a café for a drink and it was nice to finally understand him without a blackboard. Then again, we didn’t discuss math. The most traumatic experience learning French as a newbie was the dreaded dictée. I probably don’t need to say any more for this audience and I apologize for any induced PTSD reactions I might have caused by using that word, but seriously? Word endings sound exactly the same in French, but have about eighteen different spellings!? Who came up with this crazy language? And don’t get me started about “Mireille and Pierre.” In French class we followed those two bumpkins for countless hours of their mundane “adventures,” slide after painful slide. It was so frustrating. Buy the damn baguette already and tell her how you feel, Pierre! To this day I wonder if those two ever ended up hooking up, but apparently we never made it to the end of that story in class. I’m beginning to suspect that there was no ending. For those unfamiliar with this didactic duo, just ask somebody who was in the French Department circa 1982. I ended up at FABS as a result of having lived in Holland between the ages of three and four. My mom saw how quickly I was absorbing languages as we traveled to Greece, Italy, France, Germany and Sweden and compared that to

her dismal UC Berkeley German, and decided it might be a good idea to start a little earlier at learning languages. After attending elementary at the Marin Waldorf School and wanting a change (and a shorter commute!), she pushed me towards FABS and it ended up being a great fit. It is impossible to describe to outsiders how well that much exposure to a language between the ages of eleven and fourteen really drills it into your head in a way that it will never ever completely leak out. Trust me, plenty leaks out of my head, so I know. In eighth grade I had a big decision to make. My mom was lobbying hard for me to stay at FABS (which by then had become FAIS) and get the IB, but I was drawn to going to a bigger school. We compromised by me getting my way with the promise that I would consider transferring back to FAIS after sophomore year. I ended up at University High School with classmates Paul Gordon and Nicola Miner. By the time sophomore year rolled around, I was a bit too entrenched and never made it back to FAIS. I continued taking French at UHS and what struck me the most was how they taught it with all these formulaic rules, whereas I was used to just writing what looked right and saying what sounded right. It was hard to put your finger on

In my real-world career, every now and again I run across an opportunity to use my French. It’s not essential to my success now, but it is nice. Allegedly it is relatively easy to learn Spanish once you know French and English, but I have yet to put this claim fully to the test. It is also wonderful to continue relationships with folks I met in France over the course of living there on several occasions, with whom I have traveled and shared adventures and become family. It is also nice to continue relationships and share memories with fellow classmates from the FABS days; there is a special connection you make with classmates in Middle School and that never seems to ever completely leak out of your head. Tyson Thomas is the Chief Scientist at Neural ID where he develops algorithms, feature extraction techniques and pattern recognition applications. He has over sixteen years of experience in application-specific neural/fuzzy hardware and algorithms. Previously, Dr. Thomas was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1995-2000) where he was responsible for system and circuit design, layout and test for numerous neural network and fuzzy logic prototype chips and printed-circuit boards while doing research in the areas of genetic algo-

How much French can be jammed into an eleven-year-old brain? it, but I had developed an intuition for what was correct and didn’t really have to learn it by memorizing rules. The other kids were pretty good at reading and writing, but I could blow them away at speaking. There is definitely something very special about an immersive language education. I went on to study Physics and Economics at Pomona College near Los Angeles, continuing to keep my French current by taking non-credit conversation classes and, as mentioned, studying in Paris for a semester. While I completely failed with my primary goal of getting a French girlfriend during my study abroad program, to this day I am still friends with my French roommate from those days, who would eventually ask me to be the godfather of his son. I then went on to attend graduate school in Electrical Engineering at University of Southern California, during which time I heard about the Chateaubriand Fellowship (a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States that allows doctoral students enrolled in American universities to conduct research in France). This was like the perfect storm of opportunity, the chance to live in France and do my own research, paid by the French government! Are you kidding?! I applied to do a project with a company in Grenoble and I am certain that my fluency in French, thanks to FABS, was a key to being selected. It really felt like a win-win-win since I also love to ski. You may have heard of the French alpine skiing legend Jean-Claude Killy? He won three gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. He’s a better skier than me, but I still had lots of fun.

rithms and biologically-inspired pattern recognition for a variety of DoD and NASA-funded programs.

Before joining Neural ID, Dr. Thomas was Principal Scientist at NOVASOL, where he did analysis of hyperspectral imagery and led the design and development of target-detection algorithms and architectures. He has one patent and holds PhD and MSEE degrees from the University of Southern California and a BA in Physics and Economics from Pomona College. Tyson’s outside interests include downhill skiing, windsurfing, salsa and motorcycles. 8th Grade Graduation. Left to right: Xavier Tsouo, Tyson Thomas, Francis Tapon ,and Jody Dunmeyer

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hen Charlene Murphy arrived at French American International School in the fall of 2008, her sole charge was keeping the middle school girls’ basketball program afloat. The group included then-sixth graders Ansley Echols, Cienna Gray, Josie Little, Shayna Mehta, Claire Moazed, Isabella Shin, Edom Tadesse and Rachel Weinstein; and seventh graders Clara Hancock, Natalie Kelly and Savannah O’Meara. While French American was known for academic rigor, it was certainly not synonymous with athletic prowess. Then, all of a sudden, a door opened for Murphy—one that laid the foundation for the “winningest” team in French American & International history. The high school women’s basketball coach slot opened up mid-season, and then-Athletic Director Anthony Thomas appointed Murphy to fill the post. That’s when the seed was planted. At the end of the 2008-09 school year and during Murphy’s first season, the Jaguars won the BCL-Central Championship, led by junior Rachel Beck and a petite powerhouse freshman, lifer Denia Ebersole. Though elected Most Valuable Player, Beck decided not to return in her last year of high school. Ebersole, who would have led the following year’s squad, was also an outstanding student in the French Baccalaureate track who chose to spend her sophomore year studying in France. In terms of aces, that left Murphy virtually empty-handed. Nor did it help that Murphy’s passion for players to achieve their highest potential overwhelmed most of those who remained.

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Charlene Murphy

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Come the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, only one of the prior season’s varsity players returned: senior Lilian Jahan. She had fallen in love with the game in the 11th grade, worked all summer to prepare for her last season, and was left without other go-to players. Jahan, currently playing college basketball at Oberlin, was not able to play the last four games of the season because of a broken nose. The JV team that moved up in the ranks was, Murphy remembers with a laugh, quite the motley crew! Marie Cases suffered from asthma and was known for saying, “I’m ready to play, but I can only make it up and down the court like three times, and I’ll need a sub.” Sabina Aliev was plagued with injuries the entire season, while Avril Al-Shamma and Shelley Lima were relatively inexperienced. Joining International High School as freshmen were Emilia Omerberg, and Margaret Nwabueze, who could not play on Tuesdays for personal reasons. Finally, Abbie Lawrence, who had transferred in as a sophomore and never played basketball before, ended her season just a few weeks in, after spraining her ankle. Not anticipating the turn of events, the athletics program had recruited two all-star coaches to work with the team: Leslie Walker from the University of San Francisco, and Andy Schroeder, who had just come off three stellar seasons as the varsity head coach at Urban. Simply put, the Jaguars were our Bad News Bears. In the final game of the year against Gateway, there were just six players left on the team. Al-Shamma happened not to come to school that day and, per League regulations, was not allowed to play due to her absence. That left five players. When Aliev fouled out, they were forced to finish the game with literally four players on the court. The final score was Gateway 45, International 13. Notwithstanding, the team qualified for the BCL-Central play-offs as the #3 seed, losing to San Domenico by 23 points at Kezar Pavilion in the semi-finals. When Ebersole returned in the summer of 2010, so did the program. Senior Al-Shamma was captain and sophomores Omerberg and Nwabueze were still motivated to play. That summer, the players became gym rats. They started having team workouts, and even spent two weeks at the “Hooked on Hoops” elite boot camp, developing self-confidence, diligence and the understanding that they needed to work together. Murphy remembers the time fondly: “We became friends first. We focused on bonding as a team and trusting each other. When you invest in others, it’s hard to let them down.” Meanwhile, lifers Hancock, Kelly and O’Meara stepped into the fold from French American, while junior Lenore Gilliard, and freshmen Kassie Encinas and Melanie Fun (who had never touched a basketball) joined International High School from the outside. The squad made it to 32 | La Lettre April 2013


Emilia Omerberg

Join the team, share the dream.

the BCL-Central Championship, which ended in a heart-breaking loss against Bay. After qualifying for the North Coast Sectionals, the team also lost to St. Vincent’s, by a scant two points. While the program had started coming together, Murphy remembers, “The youth and inexperience of the team was exposed in NCS.” With heartache lingering, the Jaguars began the 2011-12 school year poised to shift the tide. While it was Ebersole’s last year, Gray, Mehta and Shin were moving up to high school, and Omerberg remained a consistent presence on the squad. In Ebersole, Kelly and Mehta, Murphy now had a trifecta of lethal point guards at her disposal. As quoted in the local press, she would not have swapped them “for any three players in the city.” The Jaguars won all but one game in the League, taking the BCL-Central Championship from San Domenico—who just two years prior had crushed them in the first round of play-offs. Ebersole, accepted early to Stanford, left the program after leading the winningest team in school history, and in the fall of 2012 walked onto the #3 women’s basketball team in the nation (see following story). This year the tenacity of Murphy and her players continued to bear fruit. The Jaguars went undefeated in League and beat Urban in the BCL-West Championship. A rare accomplishment, winning 12 games straight was also a promising way to kick off the Jags’ inaugural season in the West. The Jaguars earned the #2 seed in the North Coast Sectionals and, painfully, lost the Championship for the second

year in a row. They earned the #4 seed in the Northern California Regionals, and finished the season ranked #6 in CA Division 5 basketball out of 164 schools—all despite losing Natalie Kelly mid-season. On January 18, the sophomore tore her ACL, medial and lateral meniscus, taking her off the court for some eight months. A sharpshooter behind the arc, Kelly had been averaging 23 points per game, with four rebounds and four assists. Although the Jaguars deeply missed Kelly on the court, every last one stepped up her game—no one more than lifer Shayna Mehta. Indefatigable, the sophomore set up plays, initiated fast breaks, shot sharply behind the arc, took it to the net and rarely missed a free throw; at times single-handedly turning games around and always with a smile on her face. The story was not lost on the San Francisco Examiner, who named Mehta, with her 24 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, All-City Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year (April 4, 2013). Other team accolades follow. Shayna Mehta, BCL-West Most Valuable Player Danielle Palmer, BCL-West All-League First Team, All-City Honorable Mention Natalie Kelly, BCL-West All-League Second Team, All-City Second Team Emilia Omerberg, BCL-West All-League Honorable Mention Now a senior, Emilia Omerberg is the only player to have experienced the full journey from the program’s struggles to the current triumphs. Recently she noted, “The basketball team my freshman year was a group of 5-6 girls who gave their everything…. We worked so hard to understand the simplest of actions that the current team can do in its sleep. We had to put in five times the effort and attention just to understand how to pass and catch the ball. Can you believe that? We actually worked on catching the basketball!” The road to the spotlight has been long. A band of adorable misfits passed the ball to a determined squad of student-athletes who have proven that the only way to score is to take a shot... and that sometimes you have to leap for the net to appear.

The Bad News Bears

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Alumni Athletics

Denia Ebersole, class of 2012

Walks Onto Stanford Women’s Basketball Team


enia Ebersole realized her lifetime dream last fall. As a result of her talent and relentless determination, she walked onto the Stanford women’s basketball team which, at that precise time, was ranked first in the nation. As a full scholarship freshman, and at only 5’6”, she’s already making impressions. Legendary coach Tara VanDerveer recognizes Denia for her skill and confidence in the game. Denia graduated in 2012 from the International High School. Whilst here she exemplified leadership on the Varsity Basketball team and also rose to excellence off the court. In addition to playing club basketball and coaching other students, Denia obtained her French Baccalaureate and participated in two long-term exchanges abroad. Denia’s dedication and focus changed the face of our women’s basketball program. Her legacy is powerful: we are currently the top seeded team in the North Coast Section and we rank in the top 25 of teams in the entire state of California! La Lettre April 2013 | 35

Global Travel

Jordan “How many people can say they were able to do something so incredible? These are memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I am so glad I was able to visit such a beautiful place, so rich in culture and history, as Jordan.�

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International High School students reflect on their extraordinary trip to Jordan in the Fall of 2012. Their chaperones were faculty members Dina Srouji, Chemistry and Biology, and Etienne Simonet, Histoire/Géographie. Photography by Dina Srouji

A Jeep Ride into the Bedouin Desert Visiting Jordan was one of the best experiences of my life. I had an amazing time at Petra, the Dead Sea was beautiful, and the family that was kind enough to open up their home to me was so welcoming that they made me feel at home. As someone who doesn’t travel often, I was very hesitant at first to go somewhere so far away. However, what I had the chance to do was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I knew that if I chose not to go, I would regret it later. I loved staying with a family, because it truly showed me what the culture and family life was like. I met my correspondent’s grandmother, who made me the most delicious mansaf and treated me like her own grandchild. In Aqaba, which borders Egypt and Israel, we took a boat far into the Red Sea and swam in the open water. In Wadi-Rum, we stayed in Bedouin tents and rode jeeps in the desert. How many people can say they were able to do something so incredible? These are memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I am so glad I was able to visit such a beautiful place, so rich in culture and history, as Jordan. —Dalia Quezada 38 | La Lettre April 2013

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Silence Out of all my years at French American, it was the best trip I’ve been on. From the moment we landed in Amman, I know it would be a trip to remember. We did a lot of things such as visit Madaba and the Dead Sea, where we took a cruise and were able to see Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all at the same time. My favorite thing we did was drive through the desert and experience complete silence. We went through caves and sat in the sand while we could feel each grain through our toes. It was something that could never be accomplished in the city with all the noise we have. The thing, I would have to say, we embraced the most was the food. I have never eaten that much in my entire life. Every hour of the day, I would catch myself nibbling on a piece of food handed by my correspondent. Of course, everything I ate was amazing. Another part of my trip I enjoyed the most was my correspondent. She always made sure I was experiencing something new. We also shared a lot of interests such as watching TV series, getting our nails done and of course eating. These are the main reasons why Jordan was the best cultural trip I’ve been on with the school. —Edom Tadesse

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Worlds Apart As I rode through the soft, yellow, perfectly pressed sand in the bright, hot Middle-Eastern sun, I realized what an amazing trip I was on. From relaxing on the Dead Sea, to trekking through Petra, the trip really opened my eyes to how, even though it may seem like worlds apart and the scenery can change vastly, it can still remain extremely similar to the culture here in San Francisco. The teenagers still go out and hang out at the malls and have the same issues with their parents. Even though the two cultures have some similarities, they are also worlds apart. The men in the culture are extremely forward and some things that would necessarily be okay in the U.S. are unacceptable for those in Amman; for example dress, or the driving. The fact that this trip was an exchange made it even more exciting because it meant that there was never a dull moment. After school, all of the correspondents would hang out at one of the malls or go get bubble tea. All things that are very familiar to my friends and me from the U.S., the only difference being that the Jordanians know how to party. The nightlife would begin around seven and go on all night, whereas the nightlife in the US ends around eight and people return back to their homes. Overall, this was the best experience of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who decides that they want to go on an International trip. —Amelia Brown

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Petra The Jordan trip was a really cultural and fun experience. I got to see one of the wonders of the world, Petra. Even though it wasn’t a language trip, I ended up learning some Arabic. I got to ride a camel and met a lot of wonderful people. I stayed with a girl named Siwar. She went to an all-girl school in Amman. The trip also broke a lot of Middle Eastern stereotypes and by the end of the trip I felt like I was part of her family. —Miriam Garfinkel

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Swimming in the Dead Sea When I first decided to go to Jordan, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was excited to visit because my family hails from that region. When we first arrived we were greeted by our local correspondents, who throughout the trip lived up to the famous Arabic hospitality. We visited numerous scenic sites, including the amazing ancient city of Petra, with its facade carved into a mountain. We also spent a night in a Bedouin camp, and had an opportunity to swim in the Dead Sea. The most rewarding and memorable thing about the trip was meeting new people who I identified with, and left with the feeling that I will no doubt return to this intriguing place. —James Totah

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Service Learning


February 2013 photos by scott paton and Elizabeth Cleere

Project Senegal 2013

Elizabeth Cleere, Service Learning and CAS Coordinator


uring the February break, 13 student delegates and two chaperones traveled to Senegal to visit and volunteer at Ecole Natangué, the K-6 public school in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in M’bour that International High School has been supporting for the past seven years. This unique service and cultural trip began with a tour of Dakar and a visit to the Island of Gorée, home of the historic “House of Slaves” that thousands of Africans were forced to pass through on their journey to the Americas. The following week was spent in M’bour, where the students volunteered at Ecole Natangué, a nearby orphanage, and an organic agricultural cooperative, conversed and made friends with English students at a local high school, and were immersed in the local culture, visiting local markets, touring a nearby village, and taking lessons in Senegalese cooking and dancing. As delegates representing International High School, the students also had the opportunity to witness how the $7,500 they and their fellow students had raised for Project Senegal during the past year will be used. The bulk of the money, $5,500, will go directly to Ecole Natangué, providing food for the students at the school and paying the salary for an extra teacher in each class of fifty students in the kindergarten. The students also had the honor of presenting a $1,000 check to the principal of another local elementary school in the same neighborhood that has no outside support, a $500 check to pay for a room for a disabled boy named Doudou, as well as five checks of $100 each to needy mothers of children at Ecole Natangué, who will use the money to start small businesses. The students who traveled to Senegal returned with an immense appreciation and respect for the culture and people of Senegal, along with a renewed sense of dedication to their long-term international service project, Project Senegal, which is helping transform the lives of hundreds of children and their families in the small Senegalese town of M’bour.

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Scott Paton


History Teacher

ance is all about connecting. Sure, it’s also about movement and artistic interpretation, but, fundamentally, it involves communicating. During our trip to Senegal, dancing was often on the program. We were mesmerized by a performance of one of M’bour’s professional troupes. Another put our students through the paces, on the beach no less! Our team of eager students demonstrated their agility, but most of all they showed their openness and curiosity about learning new moves – Senegal style! They watched intently as the Senegalese women led. They looked at each other for reassurance; their timid façade faded, and slowly the Americans caught on with grace and skill. Travel allows for this wonderful opportunity to come into contact with other peoples and to learn from them. Some might prefer the safety of watching foreign lands through their bus window, but, really, nothing quite equals the chance to interact. The International High School trip to Senegal provides an opportunity to build stronger bonds across cultures, and our experience was indeed all about connecting with the country and its people. At the core of the trip was Ecole Natangué. Nearly every day was spent meeting students, learning their names, playing with them and helping them, in turn, to learn. We got to know many of the teachers and developed an appreciation for their stories, the challenges that they face and the great successes they have enjoyed. For example, Marie, the director of the school, was raised in a village,

had gone to Dakar to study and risen through the ranks of l’Education Nationale Senegalaise on the strength of her earnest hard work and talent. Her husband, Soulaye, helps a collective of women in the community to grow vegetables and fruits. We enjoyed his fine sense of humor and his generous interest in teaching us about agricultural techniques. Gave all of us Senegalese names. I also enjoyed meeting Mr. Sene from a nearby high school. He teaches English, and I marveled at the fluency of his thirdlanguage capabilities. Turns out that he has never left Senegal – not even to visit neighboring Gambia – and yet he has refined his English with the modest means available to him. He told me that he’s worked hard on perfecting his accent by watching American movies! But Ecole Natangué’s mission also extends to serving the students’ community. Elena, the dynamic founder of the school, has developed a whole series of adjunct businesses and services geared to training and offering lowcost help for a gamut of daily needs. There is a hair salon, a restaurant and a tailor, among others. And a health clinic is to open soon. Many of the residents of the community are recent immigrants from rural areas and, torn from their family bonds, have found themselves precariously in need of assistance. Health care is a critical need. Students were keen on asking questions: were reproductive counseling and birth control to be offered at the new clinic? In a predominantly Muslim and Catholic country, that’s a good question. The answer, of course, was yes. The burden of unwanted pregnancies weighs too heavily on the women of the community, offered Elena. Each of the students came prepared to study a facet of Senegalese society and they were amply dedicated in getting their answers. Upon a visit to a madrassa in M’Bour,

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Abby Rochman walked right up to the Koranic school’s director and gently – but firmly – asked if he wouldn’t mind answering some questions on film. He obliged, bien sur! Seemingly everywhere we went Iris Feldman was asking about the political situation. What did they think of their new president Macky Sall? Did they feel implicated in the political process? Tallulah Axinn’s angle on Senegalese life was fashion. How were traditional fabric and style choices being influenced by modernity? Larson Holt was preoccupied by transportation issues. He managed to find out that the new administration was planning to emphasize the rebuilding of the dilapidated train network. Alejandro Poler had current issues on his mind, so he focused his line of questioning on urbanization and migration. For Jaclyn Lee, the pressing issue was food. I’m sure she was moved to think: how better to connect with people than through food! So she went through Senegal sampling its cuisine, and in the process, Jaclyn documented the rich traditions of food preparation. As for me, I was intrigued by the idea of Negritude – the philosophical platform of African consciousness and pride that Leopold Senghor, among others, had long championed. What I wanted to know was how that vision has evolved since his passing from the scene. The questions that followed offered me a strong sense of the confidence that Senegalese feel about their heritage. And yet, there is an underlying unease about the future. Senegal, of course, has changed since its independence in 1960, but in some ways still confronts the same major challenges. I met Senghor at a UNESCO conference in Paris many years ago. I asked him if, having relinquished the presidency, if he was still confident of Senegal’s place in the world. He thanked me gently for my question and suggested that I ask his fellow citizens. It’s taken a while, but I’ve gotten my chance. The process is ongoing, of communication and dance, of inquiry and of connecting with the people of Senegal.

Île de Gorée

Louise Wurzelbacher, Grade 11

It was on our first day, after a long and exhausting plane ride, that we traveled to the famous Île de Gorée. After taking a ferryboat to the island, we enjoyed our fabulous first meal in Senegal – the traditional fresh grilled fish and rice, for most of us. During the meal, we were serenaded by a modern-day griot (traditional Senegalese troubadour) playing a traditional instrument called a kora. After lunch we walked to the House of Slaves, where we learned what happened to the thousands of Africans who were held prisoner there before being shipped off to the Americas. Some of them would try to escape this horrible prison and jump into the water to swim to safety. These attempts to escape usually failed, as there were many sharks in the water that would tear them to bits. Following this sobering history lesson, we wandered the shady streets of the island and got our first taste of Senegalese culture, represented by the bright and vivid clothing and jewelry that the Senegalese wear every day. Running slightly behind schedule, we rushed back to the dock, fearful of missing the last ferry off the island. Our trip could not have started on a better note.

Volunteering at Ecole Natangué Clara Hancock, Grade 11

The four days we spent with the students at Ecole Natangué were truly the highlight of our trip. The kids always had huge smiles on their faces, and they were never too shy to come to look at you or simply hold your hand. Most of them were still learning to speak French, so the easiest way to communicate with them was by playing games, taking pictures, or using facial expressions and gestures. They always asked for our names and never seemed to forget them. Helping the teachers in various classes also gave us insight into the importance of education in Senegal. I loved the fact that all the kids were eager to participate in class and so enthusiastic about learning. Some of us were lucky enough to teach a class, but we first had to follow the Senegalese practice of creating a very meticulous lesson plan. During the time we spent at the school we were able to establish friendships with many of the children. One day I organized a mini soccer game with some 5th grade girls. The next day, one of them led me to an upstairs classroom, where the girls I had taught soccer to the day before were dancing, eager to teach me some Senegalese dance moves. This was a fun and unforgettable cultural exchange

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that showed me I could easily relate to and have fun with these girls, even though we come from such different backgrounds. On our last day at Ecole Natangué, the three kindergarten classes came out to the courtyard, where they sang the national anthem and then danced for us, along with their teachers. When we saw the kids jumping around, laughing and dancing, we all decided to join in. We sang and danced with them, and also taught them our favorite childhood songs. Later that same day, one of the 5th grade students I’d made friends with, a girl named Oumou, called me over and handed me a notebook that contained a beautifully written letter, a collage, and a picture of herself. She told me to write her whenever I could. I feel the relationships I made at Ecole Natangué were very real, which is why I cherish Oumou’s notebook and plan to stay in contact with her. I’ll never forget my experiences at Ecole Natangué, a beautiful school filled with passionate teachers and energetic children. I know that we all would love to go back, both to volunteer and to see the friends we made during our time at our sister school in Senegal.

The Market in M’bour Sylvie Sutton, Grade 10

One of the most interesting experiences for me during this life-changing trip was our visit to the market in M’bour. Our first visit to a Senegalese market was on our second day, where everyone still felt exhausted and tired from our long first day in Dakar. Nevertheless, everyone was wide awake when we arrived at our destination and were greeted by a plethora of small stands with men and women dressed in bright colors trying to sell you things. They were very friendly and persistent salespeople, successful at convincing you to buy three of the same necklace. The farther and deeper you got into the market, the more crowded it became, permeated with colors and smells. At the end of the market, you were rewarded with a view of the beautiful ocean, with bright red and orange boats (or pirogues, as they are called in Senegal) lining the shore.

Working in the Fields with the Women Jaclyn Lee, Grade 10

On the third day of our trip, we traveled from the school on horse-driven carts to visit an organic agricultural cooperative run by mothers of the children who attend Ecole Natangué. This project was organized by Natangué Senegal, the non-profit founded by Elena Malagodi (grandmother of 9th grader Dawn Cardenas) and her husband Luigi. Natangué Senegal, our partner in Project Senegal, raised the funds to build Ecole Natangué and continues to support it, along with other projects in the neighborhood. The land for this project was bought with funds donated by the Lazio region of Italy, where Elena and Luigi come from, and all profits from sales of the organic produce grown there go to the women. The local person in charge of this project is a man with a great sense of humor named Soulaye, who happens to be married to Marie, the principal of Ecole Natangué. As we hopped off the horse carts that brought us to the fields, full of fresh fruits and vegetables ripe for picking and eating, we saw something quite different from the other places we had visited in Senegal—Dakar, Gorée Island, the market and town of M’bour. Here, we were completely engulfed in nature - what one might call the “heart” of Senegal. I felt like I was discovering the country’s true essence, experiencing a sense of life and connection to the earth seemingly lost to someone living in the urban landscape of San Francisco. Arriving at the fields, I was first struck by the bright sun shining down upon abundant fields with rows and rows of growing plants. I could hear the sound of water trickling out of a hose, reviving the beautiful fruits and vegetables in this tranquil, natural environment. The dry, arid landscape surrounding the green fields and fruit trees isolated us from the rest of the world. Away from the cars on the street and the merchants in their shops, we truly felt one with nature. From a female perspective, I also felt a sense of pride to see the women joining together as a community to earn money to support their families. We were there to help, so we quickly got to work. Some of us were given hoses to water the crops, while the group I was part of was sent to harvest. We walked to several fields of ripe, turnip-like local vegetables and were shown how to pull them out of the ground. There was something very satisfying about kneeling down to the rich soil and pulling out each individual vegetable, ripping off the leaves that protruded at the top. After we had piled all the turnips together, we each carried an armful to a large, round water basin to rinse them. I felt a strong sense of teamwork and community as we all came together to gather food – a basic necessity of life for all human beings, regardless of where we come from. After we finished working, Soulaye took us to see a jujube tree and urged us to try its fruit, which was fresh and ripe, full of delicious juice that had an unforgettable flavor. Then we had a snack consisting

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of soda and cookies. While we were still eating and drinking, the Senegalese women began to play the drums and dance—the traditional way of ending a work day. Everyone gathered in a large circle as the women, including Marie, showed off their moves and dancing skills. One by one, the Americans joined in. Even though our efforts probably weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as those of the Senegalese women, everyone had a lot of fun and it was the perfect end to a productive afternoon.

A Visit to Marie’s Village and the Salt Pools Juliette Bobrow, Grade 10

On our fourth day in Senegal we were invited to visit the small village where Marie, the principal of École Natangué, was born and grew up. It took us about forty-five minutes to drive there from M’bour. As we passed through several villages on the way, the children would smile at us, wave, and sometimes shout, “toubab!”, which means “white person” or “foreigner” in Wolof. When we arrived at Marie’s village we were greeted by her mother, who shook our hands and invited us into her home. Later, her father arrived; he was extremely kind and very interested in our trip. During the time we spent in Marie’s village and other villages in the area, I was struck by how different the ambience was from that of a fishing town like M’bour or the capital city of Dakar we had visited on our first day in Senegal. There is an air of calm and relaxation in the villages and even the markets there, in sharp contrast to the overcrowded, somewhat overwhelming market in M’bour and the crowded streets of Dakar. After saying goodbye to Marie’s family, we all loaded onto carts pulled by donkeys, a common mode of transportation in Senegal. As we headed towards the ocean and the salt pools where most of the villagers work, the scenery changed completely. The landscape was very barren, with the occasional baobab tree, and there was no sign of civilization. Finally we arrived at our destination, the salt pools where the women and girls in the village work collecting salt. Most of the girls in our group got into the pools with the Senegalese women to help scoop up the salt into buckets, which was really fun. We then got to carry the salt we had collected on our heads. The Senegalese women made this look very easy, sometimes doing it without even stabilizing the bucket with their hands, but it proved to be somewhat difficult for us because the buckets were heavy and the path was uneven. Nevertheless, being able to immerse ourselves in the work of the women was an amazing experience. One moment from this day that I will never forget is when we were riding back on the donkey carts. The wind was blowing strongly that day, and all of a sudden my hat flew off my head. Instantly, a boy from the village who was accompanying us to the salt works jumped off the cart to retrieve it. This was such a touching gesture, which I believe truly demonstrated the considerate and helpful nature of the Senegalese people we met on our trip. All in all, it was a memorable day that gave us an unforgettable glimpse of a different way of life.

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Inside a Sacred Baobab Tree Iris Feldman, Grade 10

After our visit to Marie’s village and the nearby salt fields where most of the villagers work, we all packed back into our van and began driving down a dusty road surrounded by flatlands and a few scattered trees. We stopped to have a picnic lunch next to an enormous mango tree not far from a small group of huts. When we realized we hadn’t brought anything to sit on, Marie walked over to the huts and returned with some large straw mats she spread out on the ground. I assumed that she knew the people who lived in the huts, but she informed us that they were complete strangers who were simply happy to lend us their mats and trusted us to return them. While we were enjoying our dessert – the best papaya I had ever eaten – we were joined by a group of lazily grazing goats. After lunch we drove to the largest and most sacred baobab tree in Senegal. Baobabs naturally hollow as they age, and this famous tree is said to grant wishes and rebirth to those who enter it. Our visit to this baobab tree was one of the most “touristy“ things we did in Senegal, but it was still amazing. We learned from our guide that baobab trees can live to be two thousand years old and that this particular one was eight hundred years old. We had to slide, slip and scramble our way through a narrow entrance, escaping from the stifling afternoon heat into a huge hollow inside the tree. There we were greeted by cool air, darkness and a multitude of bats. Our guide instructed us to put both of our hands on the inside trunk of the tree and make our wishes. While dodging the shadowy army of frequently urinating, low-flying bats, I thought to myself, “This’d better work, this’d better work!” After the exercise in flexibility that constituted our exit from the baobab, we were directed to the people around us selling keepsakes. After some bargaining and buying I had a short conversation with the man who was wrapping my gifts. Apparently he had yet to meet a French-speaking American, because even after I had told him we were from the U.S., he asked, “So you’re German?” Afterwards I located the Senegalese guide who had led us into the baobab and asked him questions about my research topic – the politics of Senegal. He willingly gave me all the information he thought I should know. As with all the Senegalese people I talked to, he wanted me to truly understand the high value the Senegalese place on their democracy. At the end of our conversation he gave me a Senegalese bracelet, a small clay cup his grandmother had made, along with his address so that I could write and ask him any further questions I might have. He told me he was glad and deeply touched to have met a foreigner who was interested in Senegal because he wanted the world to know that Senegal is

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not a third world country lost in turmoil, but rather a democracy comprised of politically involved citizens who care very much about their leaders and their country.

A Visit to the Orphanage Tallulah Axinn, Grade 11

Our visit to the Vivre Ensemble Orphanage was on one of the last days of our trip. We had been volunteering all week at Ecole Natangué, where the children were all happy and very energetic, and I was a little worried that when we visited the orphanage we would be confronted with unhappy and neglected children – a reality I wasn’t sure that I could handle. To my surprise, the orphanage was very nicely kept and organized. As a matter of fact, we learned that the French government sends juvenile delinquents convicted of theft or other non-violent crimes to work in this orphanage for around 6-9 months to help straighten them out and give them a more positive outlook on life. Our tour of the orphanage consisted of visiting separate rooms of children of different ages, ranging from newborns to four-yearolds. In each room, we got the chance to play and interact with the children. It was obvious how much they needed physical contact, and it was nice to be able to brighten their day, if only for a short time. At the end of our tour, while we were walking through their courtyard where several children were playing, I suddenly saw two boys from my classroom at Ecole Natangué I had been particularly close to. Both of them seemed to carry so much love and joy, but now I understood why these two boys, in particular, always seemed to crave my affection and attention. Seeing the reality of the lives of these boys who wanted nothing but to be loved made my heart wrench. There was nothing I wanted more than to be able to give them all the time and affection that I could, but we had to go. The visit to the orphanage was one of the most memorable parts of the trip for me, but it was also the hardest. I didn’t realize how much of a lasting effect that visit would have on me, but I know I’ll always have a place in my heart for those two boys.

A Dive-Roll Out of Our Comfort Zone Alejandro Poler, Grade 10

Visiting Senegal was like stepping across an important threshold in my life; it has helped me transition from being a student who lives in the world to one who has seen the world. I feel I have become more familiar with the spectrum of the Human Development Index that makes up the inhabited regions of our planet. Whether or not I am now a true global citizen, I am certainly closer than I was before I stepped off the plane in Dakar. After this trip, it has been difficult to return to my comfortable niche in my upper middle-class family in California without being troubled by the grim predicaments we witnessed during our stay in M’bour. Everyone knows about the “poor kids in

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Africa”, but they don’t really exist for you until you have seen them with your own eyes. My eyes are now open wider, and I think I can speak for all of my fellow travelers when I say we have been struck by a profound sense of moral responsibility to do what we can to help the kids we met in Senegal. Of course, what the world will need in six years will be different than what it needs now. Nonetheless, this voyage was a rare opportunity that has inspired me to dream up theoretical solutions to current issues based on firsthand information. I think, for now, the best thing I can do for the world is continue with my education so that I will be better prepared to receive and actively engage in the world when I venture out into it again.

Thoughts on a Quote from Senghor Larson Holt, Grade 10

The civilization of the twentieth century cannot be universal except by being a dynamic synthesis of all the cultural values of all civilizations. –Leopold Sedar Senghor My trip to Senegal left me with some unanswerable questions. Why is it that I have the life that I have? And what makes me worthy of all that I have, while a poor Senegalese single mother with a heart condition and five

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kids to support can’t afford the basic necessities that we “toubabs” take for granted – like running water, three meals a day, relatively good health and hygiene, a good education? Yet, with all the seeming inequalities of material wealth and development versus extreme poverty that we firstworlders are shocked by when visiting a fishing village of 15,000 like M’bour, Senegal – the main thing we noticed is how incredibly joyous and happy the Senegalese people seem to be, in general... not to mention hospitable, generous, and eager to engage in a cross-cultural meeting of the minds, despite the extreme adversity that most of them seem to face. Compared to us, most of the people I met in Senegal are pretty poor. But what they’re poor in is just money and material goods. And in the real scope of things, how important are these things? Maybe the truth is that the “first world” has been corrupted by material goods and the over-importance of money. People shouldn’t be measured by the material goods that they have; they should be measured by their human qualities, their human journeys, their growth as people, and their human aspirations. Take the example of Marie Diagne, the director of the Natangué school which International High School supports. She grew up in the small village of Djilas, about 120 km from Dakar, in a very off-the-grid community of people who usually continue the family business, be it small commerce, livestock, or salt farming. She came to M’bour, “the big city,” to attend middle school, challenging the norms of her society in order to dream big, and here she is now – the head of a growing, thriving school. Maria isn’t rich or famous, but her story is an inspiration to me, a story of growth, dreams, and aspirations. The quote I began with is from Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal’s first president and the man we can thank (at least in part) for West Africa’s peaceful decolonization. Each culture, religion, ethnicity or civilization may have its own interpretations of happiness, of the meaning of life, of wealth, and of personal growth, but I believe that what we approximately 7 billion human beings should do is to unify these ideas in the “dynamic synthesis” that Senghor speaks of. All the money and material goods we have can’t change the ways of the world we’re in, but I’d like to think that this idea can.

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The Fall Play

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back-à-dos | november 2012

romeo and juliet By William Shakespeare Directed by Brad Cooreman

CAST and Crew Romeo Juliet Nurse Friar Laurence Mercutio Benvolio Tybalt Balthasar Paris Prince Lord Capulet Lady Capulet Lord Montague Lady Montague Gregory, Page Sampson, Friar John Abraham, Watchman Peter, Watchman Servant, Watchman

Marc Hills Ariel Lowrey Rosalie Neal Antoine Rajkovic DeAndre Wright Morgan McMillan Sarah Mueller-Immergluck Kimberly Joly Chloe Barrs Doyin Domingo Kelsey Boylan Claire Lowinger-Iverson Ansley Echols Jeanne de Lescure Leon Martin Sabrina Halloway Maxime Breton Olivier Rheault-Hébert Eliette Chanezon

Assistant Director Stage Managers Assistant Stage Manager Costume Designer Set and Light Designer Poster Designer Choreography – Ball Properties Master Sound Board Operator

Wayne Lee Alyssa Mattocks, Kayla Rogers Abby Rochman Martha Stookey Brad Cooreman Kelsey Boylan Amelia Laughlin Nicole Kramer Dylan Gujral

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Visiting Artist

10th grader William Ramstein served as a French interpreter for Moïse Touré’s visit in February 2013.

Renowned French Director Moïse Touré Launches Awaiting Dawn Project


ver the course of the first week of February, renowned French director Moïse Touré met with students, teachers and parents from all levels of the school. His visit, which included planning, brainstorming and informational sessions, was the first step in Awaiting Dawn, an interdisciplinary artistic project that will extend through the 2013-2014 academic year. Moïse Touré’s visit culminated in a vibrant reception and conversation with the wider community at the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion. Faculty and students joined Moïse onstage in the Kahn Family Theater to share the project’s themes and process with parents and local artists. Awaiting Dawn is an ambitious exploratory project, which brings together faculty, students, parents and visiting artists. Under Moïse’s direction, it explores the connections between art, education and society, and in both the process and the product, it seeks new possibilities for artistic expression, educational exploration and community-building in the framework of a 21st-century school. To take on this challenge, the starting point is a critical and creative “conversation” with Ancient Greece, the birthplace of western theater, education and democracy. By looking back to these origins, we can better gauge

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where we have come from and probe where we are headed. Since students in the upper school will provide key leadership in the project, over fifty students met with Moïse to discuss their interests in performing, as well as in documenting the project, creating publicity, overseeing communications and providing technical support. Moïse asked those interested in performing to define their interests, and offered them three possibilities: performance in a more traditional play, performance in a contemporary chorus, or creation of performance art pieces, which could also include music, movement, photo, video or fine arts. Other conversations were with teachers at all levels of the school, who will be proposing curricular projects that connect to and dovetail with the themes of the project. As the project develops, there will also be opportunities for parents and students of the lower and middle schools to be involved. Moïse will be returning to the school in the Fall of 2013, when the various teams will meet regularly and begin hands-on work on the project. He will make a second visit in Spring 2014, when the process will move from exploration towards creation, and culminate in performances open to the wider community.

Moïse Touré: A Visionary International Artist and Ideal Partner For Our School An artist of African origins and French nationality, Moïse Touré is a visionary theater artist whose work breaks the traditional bounds of theater, reaching across disciplines and ever engaging broader social, philosophical and pedagogical questions. With his company, Les Inachevés, Touré has undertaken multifaceted projects throughout Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. In 2011, projects took him from Japan to Burkina Faso to San Francisco, where he helmed an interdisciplinary project exploring questions of personal and national identity in San Francisco’s Mission District. In 2012, he was the first French director invited by the Vietnamese government to helm a project for Vietnam’s National Theater. Dissatisfied with existing structures for theatrical production, he has created the “Academy of Shared, Intergenerational Artistic Knowledge and Practices”, which offers a structure for deeper, longer-term projects that reach across disciplines and national boundaries. In 2012, “The Academy” also received the official recognition and support of France’s Ministry of Culture.

Connections to Our School’s Mission As a school preparing the international leaders of the future, we continually seek innovative forums that invite critical thinking, demand collaboration and integrate 21st-century tools. The vision for this project dovetails with those of our school, as rigor, critical-thinking and cross-cultural communication inform its design. The participants will delve deeply into the project’s themes, drawn from Ancient Greece and Classic Tragedy, while engaging current issues and contemporary audience members. The scope of the project demands that participants examine both “where we’ve come from”, and explore, “where we are headed.”

Key Themes and Starting Points To answer 21st-century imperatives, what can we learn by looking back to the foundations of Western Civilization and to the deep questions of morality, choice and destiny offered up in Greek Tragedy? What must we invent and mobilize to create a performance event today as rich, relevant and potent – in form and content – for a 21st-century community as a Greek tragedy would have been in Athens in 300 B.C.? In the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, 300-500 B.C., there were three core, interconnected institutions: The Academy, the Theater and the Democracy. Through the Academy and the Theater, the city’s intellectual and artistic life was bound to its civic and political life, i.e. to the Democracy. In the Academy, thinkers probed important moral and philosophical questions, which in turn permeated the Theater. Notably, Greek tragedy invited citizens to consider questions ranging from the concrete (what is the price of war?) to the philosophical (What is destiny? Justice? What separates man from beast? Man from god?). The work of the Academy and the Theater hereby reflected and nourished issues at play in the Democracy. Indeed, Theater was considered so integral to the citizen’s education that he who failed to attend the major theater festival lost his right to vote. Fast forward to 2012. In this era of iPads and iPhones, of Facebook and YouTube, in which the world is vast and “flat”, and the possibilities for gathering information, voicing opinion and sharing content are increased exponentially, what are the implications for education, the arts and democracy? How are these core entities still interconnected? How are they changing – and how do they need to change to remain vibrant and relevant, to serve and complement each other in the 21st century? What are the most powerful ways to learn, to teach and engage one another? And to say what? To do what? Moreover, in this information-saturated era, what questions of morality and destiny, first posed thousands of years ago, remain “eternal” and “universal”? How vital and resonant are these for future leaders in this complex, fast-paced era with daunting challenges upon the horizon?

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Music Program

the winter concert david williamson, Music Faculty photos by matthew perifano. IB Film and Video


his year’s Winter Concert was a brilliant evening with a little bit of everything. From the middle school jazz band to original compositions by the 10th graders to some really exciting work by the juniors and seniors, there was something for everyone. The string orchestra demonstrated great leaps forward as an ensemble with their performance of Vivaldi’s Allegro in D. Female vocalists really shined: Malia Martin, Jaclyn Lee, Isabella Shin, Alyssa Mattocks, and Abby Arora, not to mention the young women in “Voice.” The boys did not disappoint either—Nathan Canada’s Beethoven performance on piano and Devon Conroy’s Villa-Lobos prelude for guitar impressed the audience with their technical ability and expressive power. The evening was capped with a performance of senior Alex Szotak’s performing a Marvin Gaye/Michael Jackson medley that demanded an encore. It was a great night and we can’t wait until the Spring Concert on May 17!

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One Act Plays

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international high school

student-directed one-act plays

January 2013

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A Friend From High School By Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller

Directed by Doyin Domingo Stage Managers: Michele Davey and Rosalie Neal Costume Designer: Annabelle Merlin Carrie The Hacker/HIV Gil Carrie’s younger sister Joy

Nicole Kramer Pauline Rigo Asher Groh Olivia Clapton- Foster Claire Lowinger-Iverson

Director’s Notes I was drawn to this piece first and foremost because of its message. We often detach ourselves from the issue of AIDS, but this piece does a good job reminding us that this disease continues to deeply affect many in our society; it cannot simply be brushed aside or neglected. It also highlights the importance of ongoing education and prevention.

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Time Flies By David Ives

Directed by Sarah Mueller-Immergluck Stage Manager: Guard Robinson Costume Designer: Elisa Tardy May Sara Fay Horace Ishan McCarthy Sir David Attenborough Larson Holt Director’s Notes Time Flies is a very cute and witty one-act play. Two mayflies meet at a party and start falling in love, only to discover that they have just one day to live. They find this out through watching the television show, Life on Earth, narrated by the well-known host, Sir David Attenborough. I chose this play because it is a fun comedy and it makes people laugh at the absurdity of the whole story. On the other hand, if you really think deeply about the inner themes of the play, you’ll notice that they aren’t necessarily all fun and games. For me, the show also represents the fact that life is short and that we need to live it to the fullest.

The Right to Remain By Melanie Marnich

Directed by Paul Grant-Villegas Stage Manager: Abby Arora Costume Designer: Annabelle Merlin

Amy Euna Bonovich Josh Robin Fierberg Peter Marc Hills

Director’s Notes The Fifth Amendment reads: “Nor shall any person… be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” That is, we have the right to avoid self-incrimination. That is, we have the right to remain silent. But sometimes something needs to be said...

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THE BLIND MEN By Michel de Ghelderode

Directed by Audrey Breton Stage Manager: William Misener Costume Designer: Camilia Zaher Fight Choreographer: Carla Pantoja


Alice Kesler Chloe Barrs Ninon Scotto di Uccio Tallulah Axinn

Director’s Notes Inspired by Breughel’s famed painting, The Blind Leading the Blind, this is the story of three men, blind from birth, making their way to Rome as pilgrims. They are stopped by the one-eyed king, Lamprido. He tries to help them, but they ignore his warnings about an upcoming danger. What drew me to this play was the difficulty that came with having blind characters: how would they move? how would they act? I also liked the dark atmosphere of this play.

The Fortune Teller By Monty Masters

Directed by Kelsey Boylan Stage Manager: Mariam Bergloff Costume Designer: Ninon Scotto Di Uccio Candy Matson Sound Effects Operator Mrs. Grey Candy Matson (narrator) Butler Robert Wernicke Rembrandt Henchman

Mia Fierberg Daniel Mendelson Louisa Baldi Abby Rochman De’Andre Wright William Brown Bakari Smith Steve Dvorkin

Director’s Notes I hope my theatrical adaptation of the 1940’s radio show The Fortune Teller will give you a glimpse into radio’s golden age. It’s unique even amongst detective shows because it stars one of radio’s only female PI’s and is set (and was actually recorded!) in our very own San Francisco.

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Skin Deep

By Mary Lynn Dobson

Directed by Alexandra Luce Stage Manager: Adrianna Pierce Costume Designer: Cléo Charpantier Brittany’s Mom Amber’s Mom Cristal’s Mom Arlene Bakerbass Lucy Carol Marie Ditterman Danna Jane Brunelli-Pisarello

Claire Moazed Camilia Zaher Mimi Garfinkel Cléo Charpantier Daniela Flores Jaclyn Lee Eliana Henrich

Director’s Notes After reading “Skin Deep” I was immediately drawn to the characters, as well as the comedic take on such a controversial topic. The commentary that this show offers with its backstage look at the beauty pageant industry, and its take on our perception of “beauty” as a whole, is incredibly intriguing to me. One of the things I’ve found to be most fascinating is looking at the industry through the eyes of those involved, our characters.

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Global Issues

Global Issues and Local Change

T olivier mazeas Lab Technician

IHS student Sasha Patsel presents his views at a breakout session on education in relation to global issues.

he Global Issues Club is a studentled club dedicated to tackling global issues. After a first year as an “Ecology Club”, in 20102011, where we mostly looked at the workings of nature and environmental issues (ecosystem and habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, mass extinction, biodiversity and population decrease), the need to broaden our approach and deepen our analysis was heavily felt, especially when looking at the causes of these issues in human behavior. The club then morphed to “Global Issues” for its second year to incorporate direct human issues, such as social and health issues, as well as interconnections between issues, such as the consequences of environmental degradation on human societies. We then spent the year working on various issues independently as well as on their interconnections. By connecting pieces together like a jigsaw, a broad vision started to take shape. Looking for the roots of these issues we entered into the mechanisms of our societies. We acknowledged their complexity, and faced the classic disempowerment of initiating change directly at the global level. We explored still deeper the roots of global issues and we finally entered the domain of individual behavior, a place where we could have more grasp and a point from which to start empowering ourselves. We also acknowledged that we cannot ask for others to make global change happen while we are not doing much at our own level. The local level was then set as our main focus for the following year, using the analogy of a butterfly opening its second wing if we could change individual behavior. We recognized that global issues have their roots at the very local level of the individual, even if there is sometimes a lack of local level between the individual and the global scale. At the end of the year, a member of the club participated in a conference of the Global Issues Network (GIN), a network of students around the world dedicated to solving global issues by international cooperation. We started the year 2012-2013 with one slogan in mind: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Keeping our long-term goal of solving global issues, our road map was to 1) analyze our individual behavior and make change hap-

pen (and learn from difficulties); 2) probe existing communities (school but also family and neighborhood); 3) build and extend networks with collaborative leadership; and 4) propagate change. We initially identified four global themes to tackle: food (in all its dimensions: relation to health but also to human rights), energy, waste and social responsibility. The first step above is thus to work on ourselves and experience simple difficulties, report them to the club, exchange, learn and move from there. The second step appears to be somewhat strongly related to the first as we are tightly linked to other people and change does not go unnoticed and often requires the cooperation of others, especially when you still live with your family and have an active social life, at school and outside. The importance of communication then appears quite clearly. It is also the first step to the outreach skills necessary to build networks for change. The transition from club discussion to concrete action this year is both challenging and empowering. It is still very much a work in progress. One of the first take-home messages from our initial work is that, although there is a need for improving our knowledge, this is not enough. We can see that we know things, we learn a lot, but that knowing is not equal to doing and that putting knowledge into practice requires at first a constant consciousness and effort before it becomes a habit, or a change of mindset, if you will. In a modern world where information is everywhere, it is quite easy to accumulate significant or insignificant knowledge but focusing on the meaningful and integrating it in daily life is very much an issue in itself. This is why education is so crucial and why we are now working on developing strategies for reducing the “effort” mentioned above, strategies for communication, raising awareness for individual change, advocating for community building and local change. We created a Facebook page to start developing a network. This page is of course a first step, a communication tool, also a chance for you, reader, to join us, but it is not a substitute for real-life communication and action. We are also going to start communicating and discussing with the school on the four themes of food, energy, waste and social responsibility, to see what can be improved at the school level (and how to do it). The future belongs to us and we are responsible for it, so let’s be the change we want to see in the world. Here. Now.

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What makes

French American and International


such a remarkable place?

ur teachers, the way our students think about the world around them, our diverse community, the opportunities to excel and be supported in so many arenas – the list goes on. A continual investment in our human and physical capital is integral to maintaining this dynamic experience for our students and we couldn’t do it without the help of our community. The true value of a French American and International education is hard to quantify; however, tuition does not cover the full cost of educating each child. We supplement funding for our educational and extracurricular programs with money generated from annual fundraising activities, special gifts to the school and, from time to time, capital campaigns. The generosity of the school’s supporters – our parents, alumni, grandparents, friends, and foundations – enables us to not only maintain, but also enhance the quality of our students’ educational experience each and every day. Your gifts allow us to nurture and sustain the qualities that set our school apart – thank you!

To find out how you can make a positive difference – as a donor, volunteer, or event participant – visit our website,, or contact Sabra Stoner, Director of Advancement, at 415-558-2021.

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Philanthropy at French American and International

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lifelong investment

The cornerstone of our annual giving program and our largest source of revenue after tuition. Your gift supports current-year operations at the school including academics, athletics, financial aid, and faculty development.

Our annual events (Soirée des Vins, Le Dîner d’Epicure, and Annual Auction) support current-year operations while also celebrating this dynamic community and building stronger connections among families.

Capital campaigns generate support for major program development and large-scale projects that reach beyond the scope of current-year operations. Through these strategic endeavors we create optimal learning environments for our students.

Parent participation levels and the amount of money raised are two key benchmarks scrutinized by foundation and corporate donors when considering major funding for the school.

Fundraising events provide ways in which everyone can participate – as an attendee, a donor, a volunteer. Taking an active role is rewarding to both you and the school.

Current priorities include an Early Childhood Center, enhancements to our LS, MS, and HS facilities and program offerings, and additional Athletics and Wellness facilities.

Endowment gifts have a positive, long-term impact and contribute to a stable, permanent, reliable source of revenue that allows the school to better plan for current students and for generations to come. French American and International’s current endowment supports scholarships, faculty development programs and operational support. Bequests, trusts and other estate planned gifts are often used by donors wishing to contribute largescale endowment gifts.

For more information, or to actively help French American and International deliver the best in bilingual and international education, contact the Advancement Department at

Special Events


des arts et des vins Over $64,000 Raised at the 4th Annual Soirée des Arts et des Vins


rench American International School and International High School held its fourth annual Soirée des Arts et des Vins on November 11, 2012. Held in the historic Grand Hall of the San Francisco Ferry Building, the event was co-chaired by Ann Balajadia (Gabe, PK and Gregory, 1st), Debbie Zachareas (Daniella, 4th and Zachary, 7th), and Clydene Bultman (Kate, Class of 2012 and Danielle, Class of 2011). Together they hosted a wonderful party and a successful event and, with the help of the entire community, raised over $64,000 to support the school! This annual event continues to focus on bringing our internal and external communities together. Hayes Valley and Ferry Building participating vendors included Gott’s Roadside, El Porteno Empanadas, San Francisco Fish Company, Sauce, Hog Island Oyster Co., and Ciao Bella Gelato. Generous families within the French American and International community also participated and included Andante Dairy, Dalrymple’s Fine Condiments, La Boulange Bakery, Ora Caters, Oxbow Cheese Merchant, and Thompson River Ranch. To bring it all together, twenty-five vintners, importers, and purveyors poured a great selection of wines and spirits for the 425 attendees. All wine poured at the event was available for purchase and 28% of all wine sales benefited the school. The efforts of the event chairs, dedicated volunteers, participating vendors, community attendees, and wine purchasers helped make the event a huge success. Thank you! For more information on the Soirée des Arts et des Vins, or to become one of our featured participants next year, please visit our webite at or contact us at (415) 558-2014.

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he fourth annual Le Dîner d’Epicure proved to be another fundraising success raising over $50,000 for the school in a single evening. Special thanks to our event co-chairs, Kimberly Branagh and Laurie Poston, for their vision and hard work and to French American grandparents, Jim and Astrid Flood, for opening their home to our community. Demand was high for this year’s event and tickets sold out within a week! The evening was elegant and intimate and the spectacular multi-course meal was prepared and presented by Chef Amaryll Schwertner of Boulettes Larder. Chef Schwertner brought her 30 years of experience to the table and guests enjoyed six courses of inspired and innovative dishes. This year’s sommelier and wine donor was Antonio Tartaglione, French American parent and owner of Tartaglione Fine Wines. We are ever grateful to the generosity of those in our community who donate their time, talent, and treasure to support our students and the school. The fifth annual Dîner d’Epicure will take place in March 2014. If you would like to be added to our guest list, please email Sabra Stoner, Director of Advancement, at For more information on this event or other French American and International fundraising events, visit our website:

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Many thanks to all the parents, volunteers, students, faculty and staff of French American and International for making this year’s Annual Auction a huge success! 86 | La Lettre April 2013

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La Lettre Online. La Lettre is now an App!

Beginning with the April 2013 issue, French American and International’s premier publication will be available online in various formats: a standard Digital Edition viewable on PCs and laptops, and as an App for mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, droids, and tablets), available in the iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon. We are reducing the print run for the regular printed edition as part of French American and International’s Go Paperless initiative, which will significantly reduce our publications cost, and lower our carbon footprint. The standard print version will still be available (in limited quantity) on request. To access the Digital Edition, log onto To download the App for your mobile device, visit your usual app source, and search for La Lettre or French American La Lettre The app is free. Each issue of the magazine will download to your device for easy access, even if you don’t have a WiFi or cellphone data signal.

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La Lettre spring 2013  

Sharing the Dream

La Lettre spring 2013  

Sharing the Dream