ISF Newsletter January 2022

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Our Mission A laboratory for learning where we collaborate to add meaning to a shared future. Our Vision We aspire to build communities of creative makers and doers.

THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF FLORENCE NEWSLETTER, January 2022 Editor-in-Chief Tanya Bruckner Editor Sue Yiannakis Design and layout Tess Hitchcock Printer Tipografia Color Print Cover Photo Tess Hitchcock ISF alumni, families, faculty, and friends are welcomed and encouraged to submit ideas and articles for consideration. Inquiries may be addressed to:


IN THIS ISSUE... COMMUNITY From the Head of School, David Ottaviano


From the Board, Cathleen Compton


Welcoming Tony Pascoe. Interview


Grazie, Ms. Grassi, JS Italian Program Teaching Team


President Harris, Interview


NB: Notabene, Niccolò Bagnoli ‘19


Upper School 5 Essential Agreements


CAS Philosophy, Sue Yiannakis


Who is Malala Yousafzia? Georgia Dick, Grade 5


CAS: Olive Tree Maintenance, Ginevra Fontana, Grade 11


ISF Is Going To Space! Yasmin Yalcinkaya + Andrea Antoniazzi


EVENTS Make Santa’s Wish Come True, Benedetta Fantugini


Middle School STEM Club, Ossi Yosania


TEDxYouth@Florence, Michael Landolfa


Rock Band ECA, Mark DiFlorio + Students


Teacher Pantomime, Rachel McCue


Fall Fun Fitness Festival


Festival of Song


Dante + Beatrice In Florence, Tanja Kustrin


School Sport, Denley Jones + Toby Dean


PE at the Junior School


Art Friday: Jeff Koons


UPCOMING IB Art Exhibition




• Embrace, foster, and promote diversity within our community; • Draw upon the unmatched learning opportunities of Florence; • Recognize the impact of our actions on our interdependent world and promote a culture of solidarity.

WELCOME TO 2022! We had a very good fall semester and we were relatively unaffected by the pandemic, other than continuing to change our procedures as a result of the government mandates. At the International School of Florence, we are firm in our belief that the success of our children and that of our school is possible only when all members of the community are working together. To form a positive partnership, we all must understand our responsibilities, embrace a shared commitment to collaboration, mutual respect and work to ensure open lines of communication. ISF is committed to providing a quality, modern education for every child, supported by our values and guided by our mission.

We strive to send clear and regular communications to all members of the community by selecting ISF we are sure that you see a good match for the educational needs of your child(ren). You believe and trust that ISF is the right school to support the social and emotional growth of our children and you share in our mission and vision and support our values. Trust, mutual respect, and transparency are all essential for the success of any organization and ISF believes strongly in these ideals. The enrollment contract, policy manual, student code of conduct, and parent-student handbooks spell out our expectations for all members of the ISF community. It is so important that you familiarize yourself with the content of each document. In our continuing struggle with the pandemic, we depend on parents even more than usual to support the school through your choices at home, and that you contribute to our community values as you weigh your actions. Together, we can protect our children, their education, and our community.

The Mission of our school is: “A laboratory for learning where we collaborate to add meaning to a shared future” and our Vision is: “We aspire to build communities of creative makers and doers.” We are committed to providing opportunities for all children to secure the academic, social and emotional skills to prepare them for their future. ISF is committed to MEANINGFUL LEARNING AND STUDENT AGENCY:

With our re-enrollment contract sent to families this year and to all new families, your signature underlines your agreement and your commitment to the International School of Florence, to our mission, and our community.

• Cultivate growth through a meaningful and inspiring learning experience; • Provide relevant innovative methods of student and professional learning consistent with inquiry; • Empower students to take ownership of their learning experiences; • Ensure that student wellbeing is at the core of our practices; • Promote and honor home language learning in recognition of our unique identities;

David Ottaviano




requires certain administrative figures that can equally serve a slightly larger community while also enabling us to diversify our income streams so that we can achieve the wider goals set out in the strategic plan.

We begin 2022 with determination and enthusiasm. We continue to work to provide as normal a learning experience as possible despite the lingering Covid virus. And we greet this 70th Anniversary Year with our eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead.

ISF continues to look for opportunities for students in the surrounding community of Florence. This month, our Art Friday student docents were at Palazzo Strozzi unpacking the Koons exhibit for visitors; soon they will begin work on the upcoming Donatello show. The versatility of our students is also highlighted through the partnership of ISF with The Florentine newspaper where student journalists have a chance to write for an international audience and learn from Helen Farrell, the paper’s Editor-in-Chief. Our Junior School children had the exciting experience over winter break of singing in costume in a Hershey Felder film about Dante.

The message of our Winter Forum was that the Board is dedicated to supporting high-quality education in the classroom today, while also taking action to bring ISF forward to reach its goals. The Board is committed to building strong and deep leadership to support our teachers and to bring the best and most dedicated people to ISF. We are so pleased to welcome Tony Pascoe to the Junior School and thank Nicky Shamash for her important contribution since the summer. We await the arrival of Sharyn Baddeley and, together with our current Head of School, David Ottaviano, are already working on her transition to ISF.

We want to thank all the active community members who work with us – students, staff, parents, and leadership. We wish everyone the best in the coming weeks.

Our work on the Board as dedicated volunteers is to be accessible and transparent as we guide the school forward in collaboration with leadership, parents, staff, and students. Currently, at Gattaia and Tavernule, ISF is at capacity. While we work with the Senior Leadership Team to address this in the short term, we will need to make decisions about how to grow. As we said at the Forum, and based on expert advice and research, our goal is to bring the size of the school to a larger but still medium level of about 700-850 students. This will afford students a wider curriculum and will provide a more varied after-school experience, such as an orchestra or band and more competitive sports teams. In addition, and because we are seeing unusually high levels of demand to join ISF, a slightly larger school will also make economic sense, as a full-range international school

Cathleen Compton Chair, on behalf of The ISF Board



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As I have met with different stakeholders including students, staff, parents, board members, and leaders I have felt one common thread throughout our chats - a genuine pride in the teaching and learning happening each and every day within this learning community. Along with this pride came a desire to continue to take the strengths of the school and leverage the Mission and Vision of ISF towards continuous improvement to best serve our students - what a wonderful community to join!

Interesting question and one not easily answered since often our greatest influences are relatively unseen and unmeasured. I’d say some of my greatest contributions are celebrating and sharing the collective expertise of any school I join - teaching and leading can be isolating experiences (even if you are surrounded by students) but if we can find a way to share the expertise of each educator widely across the school then we raise our collective expertise and best serve our students and families.



My wife, Cecilia, and my 3 year old son, Tony Jr., will be joining me in Florence a little while after I arrive. Cecilia, a Panamanian, is working through the end of the US Citizenship process and we are hopeful it will wrap up early in the new year. Additionally, we are hoping to have Tony Jr. vaccinated before the shift over to Italy and for him to start in Early Years in the Junior School in the Fall.

I don’t see myself as an unlimited fount of knowledge and expertise, so similar to my past contributions described above, I hope to continue to celebrate the strengths and guide the school as we grow and refine our teaching and learning in constant pursuit of excellence for our students.



When I was in high school I had the opportunity to intern as a classroom aide in the very same classroom that I was a grade four student in for my former teacher, Mrs. Ohnmeiss. She was an excellent teacher and a pragmatic mentor that helped me explore teaching and learning in a way that cemented my interest in working with young students. After this experience I was hooked and headed straight into an Elementary Education program at university.

I’m an avid reader (currently reading a classic Agatha Christie mystery as well as a book on school leadership around feedback cycles), I have been a skier for many years so I’m excited to try a new set of mountains in Italy, I like to walk/hike/be outside, and I enjoy movies of all genres - especially on pizza and a movie night with my family.

IF YOU HADN’T BECOME A TEACHER, WHAT OTHER PLANS DID YOU HAVE FOR YOUR CAREER? I have always been interested in helping people, so I had considered a career in medicine and when I was a younger high school student I explored criminal justice (law enforcement) before deciding on teaching. I still have the greatest respect for those in medicine and law enforcement for how much they support our communities.





Ms. Grassi, dopo ben 35 anni di insegnamento alla nostra scuola, ha deciso di andare in pensione.

Ms. Grassi is retiring after 35 years of service at our school. Throughout her career at ISF, she has taught Italian and Italian literature to Junior School, Middle School and High School students.

In tutti questi anni ha insegnato Italiano e Letteratura Italiana dall’ Upper School, al Middle School e al Junior School. E’ stata coordinatrice del Programma Italiano del Middle School, del Junior School e del CAS.

Ms. Grassi has had different roles over the years which include Junior and Middle School Italian Program coordinator as well as CAS Coordinator.

Con passione e dedizione ha fatto crescere molte generazioni di studenti della nostra scuola, che ancora oggi la ricordano con profonda stima e affetto. In tutti questi anni è stata un punto di riferimento e una fonte di ispirazione per tutti i suoi colleghi.

With passion and dedication, she has impacted the lives of our students who remember her with deep esteem and fondness. Over the years, she has also been a role model and a source of inspiration for all of her colleagues.

I suoi molteplici interessi le permetteranno di trascorrere questa nuova fase della sua vita in maniera serena e gratificante.

Her several personal interests will keep her busy in this new stage of her life in a peaceful and satisfying way.

Auguri Ms Grassi!!!

Best wishes, Ms. Grassi!!!


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Hello! I'm Niccolò, an ISF lifer from the class of 2019. Growing up within its walls, ISF fed my love for mathematics, which I've been studying for the past two years at École Polytechnique in Paris. Yet, craftsmanship is my passion, and I want to share it with you all.

months. One of them was last year's edition of Artigianato e Palazzo, where I met many talented Florentine and non-Florentine artisans. What I guessed to be a good deed for my city recently turned into a startup aiming to value the artisan's lifestyle.

The tourist blockade gave Florentine artisans a severe blow in 2020. Last March, I chose to support them by visiting their workshops and sharing their stories. Doing so taught me what it truly takes to be an artisan and that craftsmanship should be lived to be fully experienced.

Hoping to have caught your attention, I invite you to follow me in discovering the beauty of craftsmanship and authentic Made in Italy production!

Our generation will face challenges like never before. Visiting artisans opened my view to a wholesome lifestyle we must not ignore. Sustainability is vital, and artisans can limit waste in endless ways. Their workshops are home to knowledge and skill, two often undervalued resources. Sustainability motivated my visit to Venice's Architecture Biennale last summer. On that occasion, I met three young, passionate artisans who showed me how beautifully they preserve their heritage. I pleasantly attended many handcraft-based events during the past




WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AT ISF? The United States. Three years; since 8th Grade. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES ISF UNIQUE? The strong relationships between the faculty and the students. TELL US WHY YOU RAN FOR STUDENT COUNCIL PRESIDENT? I ran because I am passionate about the Student Council. I joined the Middle School Student Council when I was in 8th Grade, and since then I’ve wanted to be the President of the High School Student Council. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD STUDENT COUNCIL PRESIDENT? The number one thing is that you need to be a good leader. If the President of the Student Council cannot lead, then nothing will ever get done. The President also needs to have a positive attitude, because a positive environment will make other Student Council members more engaged and eager to do what we want to do. IN YOUR NEW ROLE, WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU PLAN TO DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AT SCHOOL? My plan is to bring the ISF students together more often. An example of what we could do is that In the United States they do something called tailgates, it’s a type a social gathering where the community hangs out before a sporting event, there’s food, music and fun, I was thinking that maybe we could do a tailgate before ISF soccer home games. We could also do book drives, high school dances (COVID-19 pending), and more. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU WANT TO TACKLE THIS YEAR? I would like to bring back homework club and tutoring after school. It would be very nice to have that again, especially if IB students would like to tutor as a CAS experience and if 6-10 Graders would like any help in their subjects. It would really bring the student community together. WHAT DO YOU THINK CAN BE IMPROVED ABOUT THE CURRENT HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT COUNCIL? We need to execute on our ideas, there is a huge difference on the number of ideas compared to the number of things that we have done for the school. There are a few reasons why this is the case, but one of the reasons why this is is that the Student Council is too focused on coming up with solutions for problems and not actually taking action. We need to focus on one idea at time, and then act on it.


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We care about our own learning and will attend all classes on time bringing with us the proper materials needed to work in the lesson.

We care about the learning of ourselves and others and will show respect for all people and property at ISF, contributing to a purposeful learning environment in every class.

We understand that the use of technological devices on school grounds is intended to enhance our learning; we will not use devices to distract or harm ourselves or others.

We care about promoting a safe and supportive environment in which everyone can flourish. We are aware of how we relate to each other and communicate our ideas, thoughts and feelings inside and outside of the classroom.

We are responsible for keeping the school campus areas tidy and will recycle all materials, respecting the world and our environment.




The ISF Upper School Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme for Grades 11-12 empowers students to take ownership of their learning experiences, by reflecting on how they can contribute to a better, more peaceful, more sustainable world. CAS at ISF recognises that learning that happens outside a classroom, through the three strands of CAS, whether through acting in a musical (Creativity) playing sport (Activity) or working with refugee communities (Service), is just as important as what happens inside. CAS supports both personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning.

student has a ManageBac account, on which they keep their CAS portfolio. During the 18-month CAS programme, students have three compulsory interviews with the CAS Coordinator in which to discuss and monitor their progress. REACCREDITATION COMMENTS “A review of the documentation, conversations with the CAS coordinator, teachers, students and parents provide many examples of community projects, external speakers, visits and field trips that enhance learning within the DP programme. The school takes full advantage of a wealth of opportunities to interact with the Florentine community outside the School.”

Our CAS programme offers a broad and balanced range of school and student initiated experiences, which are both internationally minded and uniquely Florentine, reflecting our mission and vision. Our teachers, coaches and members of the school community who offer CAS Experiences as part of our Extra Curricular Activities are qualified, passionate professionals, dedicated to nurturing understanding of our individual and shared responsibility for the impact of our actions on our interdependent world and promoting a culture of solidarity within and beyond our community. Students are expected to carry out a minimum of three Experiences per trimester, in addition to which, each student must complete an Extended Project, which must last for at least one month, and should show initiative, perseverance, developing skills such as collaboration, problem solving, and decision making. The Extended Project can address one or more strands. Each

“Conversations with teachers and students provide a comprehensive range of examples of student action and service-learning opportunities. These include student-led model united nations, student led clubs such as human rights club, tutoring club, links with Tuscan environmental society and a partnership with the local Angeli di Bello organisation and other community projects. Conversations with the CAS coordinator, the CAS handbook and student reflections show evidence of sustained action developing all learning outcomes. Commendation to the school for a comprehensive CAS programme that allows students to develop attitudes and skills that allow for responsible action.”


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ECA CAS EXPERIENCES Flomun Tuskan Times Soccer TEDxYouth Student Council Yearbook THIMUN Figure Drawing Strozzi Project Literary Cafe


Experiences I was able to place myself in the world, gathering solid evidence of my extremely lucky and privileged position in life... In moments of stress and uncertainty I will remember those who live with these constantly. This will be very important and will give me the advantages of perception and benevolence."

The CAS Coordinator conducts exit interviews with students at the end of the CAS programme. This is what CAS meant to some of our students: “The CAS Experiences have provided me with a variety of skills within the area of design that can help me find a job in the future. It has also given me the knowledge of different organizations in the area that I can help out in my free time to have something to do.”

“It was good to have experiences outside of your comfort bubble and to interact with people that you usually don’t see every day. For example when I volunteered at an elderly home I spoke with people who were suffering from either mental illnesses or debilitating physical conditions and usually from a lower socio-economic background so it was very interesting to see their perspective.”

“As a whole experience, I learned about local and global communities and had the opportunity to use my time and talents to benefit others as well as myself. I became a good communicator and much more openminded.”

“Sometimes, especially in the city, we’re really closed in our own bubble – in our own life. Sometimes we’re even egoistic, thinking only about our own and then when we do or go out of that bubble and meet the real world it’s like a slap in the face and it’s really something that changed my mindset. It completely changed the way I looked at things and the way I faced the community around me.”

“CAS helped me to open up my mind and to actually understand the situations that other people live in and the way that we can contribute to making them better, to making other people - who maybe don’t have the things that we have - feel special even for just moments or for one day because at the end of the day that’s what matters: that you feel you have a purpose......I feel like I’m a different person after doing CAS.”

“....with Angeli per un giorno – it was very touching to interact and just have fun with these kids who come from unfortunate backgrounds and to see just how simple it is to cheer them up.”

“The main thing I learned from CAS is my position. Through Service




were against letting girls go to school. They decided that girls and boys couldn't mix. They wanted to outlaw education for girls. Malala was more determined than ever to finish school.

Malala, a 17 year old girl, stood in front of thousands of people to accept a Nobel Peace prize towards equal education which she almost lost her life for. People are so very fond of her, and this is the story why. Malala with a Nobel Peace prize

THE TALIBAN RETURNS TO THE BIOGRAPHY The Taliban became stronger and stronger through violence and intimidation. As they became stronger, so did their rules:

EARLY LIFE Malala was born July 12, 1997 in Swat Valley, Pakistan. She lived with her mother, her father, her two brothers, and 2 chickens. Malala's father ran a school and taught at it too. So Malala flew right into school. Not all families sent their daughters to school. Some couldn't afford it and others thought a woman's place was “in the kitchen.” But when Malala was about ten the Taliban took over.

• men could not shave • women had to cover their faces • movies were banned Radios throughout Swat Valley crackled with the Taliban celebrating. Fear spread through Malala's hometown. Classrooms that once were full, lay partially empty.


Malala's father fought back, he appeared on TV to stress the importance of education. A reporter went up to Malala and asked her for her opinion on the situation. She said,“How dare the Taliban take away my basic rights!”

The Taliban was a group of strict Muslims that demanded that everyone follow the Islamic Sharia law. They said that women were to stay home and if they went out they had to wear a burqa (a garment that covers the body, face and head) and they had to be accompanied by a male relative. While the Taliban grew, so did their strict laws. Girls' schools would be shut down if not taken over. The Taliban told Malala's father to close his school but he refused.

When they came home there was a letter on the school gate, it read: “The school you are running is western…you teach girls…stop this or you will be in trouble.”


However, threats did not bring down or scare Malala. She and her father kept demanding equal rights. They sent letters to everyone. Malala threatened, “If this generation is not given pens then they will be given guns by the terrorists!”

In 2008 the BBC approached Malala's father to get a female student’s take on the situation. Despite being worried for his family's safety, Malala's father agreed to let Malala write the blog. The blog was named “Diary of a Pakistan School Girl” she wrote under the alias of “Gul Makia,” a heroine from an old folk tale.

But the Taliban became worse. They started patrolling the streets with machine guns, beating anyone who was out past curfew.Bombs blew up at night, businesses that did not follow rules were gone by the next day. Then the terrible radio incident happened…

EDUCATION Malala thrived in school. Not only could she speak her native Pashto language but she could also speak fluent English, Urdu, and Pakistan's national language. But the Taliban who controlled the area at the time

“All girls' schools would be shut down by January 15, no girls will go to school.”


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Before the deadline they dropped bombs on schools as warnings. But bombs did not silence Malala.

When they came back home to Swat Valley after 3 months the fighting had stopped. But everything was different. Shops were destroyed, grey skeletons littered the streets. The school was peppered with bullet holes. But there was school for everyone.

ACTIVISTS The BBC wanted a girl to write something about schools closing. Fearing beatings, bombs, or maybe even worse, everyone refused…. Malala volunteered.

OLD LIFE The efforts the Taliban made to ban school made headlines. But Malala was back at school, however her life was never going back to how it was before. The Taliban made international headlines. People guessed Malala was Gul Makai. Malala was famous for her blog. By the end of 2011 she was super famous. The Taliban started sending death threats. They announced that Malala was on their hit list. The police told them that they should leave but Malala refused to be silenced. Malala's mother feared for her daughter's safety, so she insisted Malala take the bus. Although her mother was scared she was proud.

Activists like Malala grew more and more mad. Finally, the Taliban started allowing girls 10 and under to go to school. But Malala was 11. Malala and her friends pretended to be younger than they really were. It was extremely dangerous. If you were caught you would have been publicly beaten or maybe worse. Existence became more and more difficult. The Pakistan army started to fight against the Taliban. Screams and gun fires filled the air and no one had the courage to go outside.

THREE SHOTS One day Malala was on the bus when it came to a sudden stop. A man came on to the bus “Who is Malala?!” he said in a strong tone. No one spoke, they all glanced at Malala. That was enough for the man. There was silence.

THE EVACUATION In 2009 the army told everyone to evacuate everything on the road. Taliban members watched as 2 million people left that day.

…3 shots rang out…

Tears streamed down Malala’s face while packing some clothes, but when she reached for her school books her mother said that there was no time. Malala hoped that they would still be there when she got back. Malala and her family would be traveling in a neighbor’s van. The Taliban had taken everything from her; she prayed that they wouldn't take her home.

Malala was taken to a hospital in a helicopter. Hours passed in a swirl of confusion. As word spread through the streets journalists packed the hospital. Hours stretched into days, her brain was swelling. Doctors performed multiple surgeries on her to stop the swelling, and it worked! She got better!

Refugees came to other villages outside of Swat Valley. The United Nations Refugee committee opened camps for housing people, but they became full quite quickly and bad cleanliness led to disease spreading.

Bullets did not silence Malala for long. She won many prizes for freedom of education and is happy, healthy, and loved.

Malala's 12th birthday arrived but there was no celebration, no cake, no one even remembered. Malala made a wish: she wished for peace.

Langston-George, Rebecca, and Janna Bock. For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story. Raintree, 2016.





In October, I spent my evening with olive tree maintenance with my mom. We have a field of olive trees at our house and with olive cultivating season coming around, the trees are best to be given a treatment of sorts.

In total, we did 3 trees (my mom already worked on the other trees the day before while I was finishing up my homework to be 100% free the day after) and it may not seem like a lot - but they were the most difficult trees to cut and to climb up due to little space between branches, too much open space in the middle, majority of the branches being higher up, having to get up and off with minimal cuts and damage... It was very hot though, working in the sun for hours with no wind, unlike yesterday and I did cut myself climbing up and down the trees. I also got a hole in my shoe from the climbing - kinda humorous.

It was really simple work actually - we just had to cut extra tree branches that almost act as weeds in order to help with growing olives. Too many of these extra branches with no olives make the reproduction much more difficult due to energy being concentrated on these useless branches rather than on the olives themselves. It was a fun experience because I was able to climb up trees and get the smaller branches with gardening scissors while my mom used the bigger gardening scissors to get bigger branches and areas which I couldn’t reach. I had to be careful and only cut the weed-like branches as well as try to not make the growing olives fall while maneuvering around the tree. I also had to be very careful when climbing, not only because I had sharp scissors in my hand but also because Olive trees have very delicate wood. They are deceiving, you’d think they would be able to hold you and then all of a sudden you’re on the floor... Dangerous but also very fun. I haven’t climbed up trees in ages and it was fun to feel like a child again despite the labor.

Nonetheless, I was able to learn about the trees as well as help out with the environment by taking care of the trees and enjoy a lovely day outside too. It was worth it and hopefully we’ll be able to have enough olives to make homemade olive oil.


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Last October, a group of six students from Grade 9 and Grade 10 started a computing and electronics club, under the supervision of Ms Yalcinkaya. In the club, students use Raspberry Pi, a low cost credit-card sized computer, that was developed at the University of Cambridge to promote Computer Science among teenagers. With Raspberry Pi, they can learn how to code and how to connect and control small electronic devices, like cameras, sensors and motion detectors.

that took part in the project proposal phase this year. The proposal of our students was finally accepted at the end of November, and they will have the opportunity to run it on board the ISS in April or May this year, a great achievement and a fantastic opportunity for them. Students have now until the end of February to write and submit their code for the experiment. To facilitate that, they have received an exact copy of the Astro Pi that is on board the ISS, so that they can test their code fully before the final submission. After the experiment, they will receive all the data collected from the International Space Station, they will have to analyse it and write a final report. The ten best reports will receive an award. Well done!

Following the suggestion of Ms Yalcinkaya, the members of the club decided to submit a project for the Astro Pi Mission Space Lab (, which offers students, whose projects are accepted, to run an experiment for 3 hours on one of the two Raspberry Pi computers that are on board of the International Space Station (ISS). Students worked hard to come up with their designed experiment, which involves using a gyroscope and a magnetic sensor to track the real time position of the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. After they submitted the first proposal, they received feedback on some critical issues in their project. The students, though, were very quick to fix these problems and change their design to make it viable. There were a record number of 800 teams from 23 countries


MAKE S ANTA’S W I S H CO ME TRUE Ma rta ca p p elli Fonda z i one The Martacappelli Foundation would like to thank you for the amazing work done for “Make Santa’s Wish Come True,” a project run this past Christmas by a group of Upper School students guided by Nina Hohagen. A great team of generous and hard working elves dedicated time and effort to this cause, making every child of the foundations’s good list wish come true. The incredible gifts were donated to 28 children that unfortunately had to spend the holidays in one of the houses dedicated to families with fragile and sick children living in a transitional supportive home for single mothers. Every year the kids write letters to Santa waiting for a little miracle. And this past Christmas the students of ISF made it possible. Collecting, writing Santa letters and wrapping up presents with love and care. Thanks to your support the magic of Christmas got delivered to each house, and the joy and happiness of this season shone thanks to your generosity. These children had the opportunity to celebrate for a moment, forget about their pain and enjoy their innocent heart, BECAUSE OF YOU. Thank you again for your ongoing support,


MI DD LE S C H OOL ST E M CLU B Ossi Yo s a n i a During this trimester’s Extra Curricular Program, Middle School students engaged in various STEM activities. Students worked in groups to make models of wind turbines, scribble robots, and engaged in a bridge building competition. In addition, each student was challenged to make a race car with a catapult system from popsicle sticks and used bottle caps. All the cars were tested in a race. The winning car had to be able to run smoothly for as far as possible on a straight runway. Students also worked together to test the acidity levels of various liquid household materials (soap, shampoo, vinegar, coffee, milk, etc) using pH paper and red cabbage juice indicator.

Benedetta Fantugini Vice President Fondazione Martacappelli

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Welcome back, TEDxYouth@ISF! After a skipped year, TEDxYouth@ ISF returned on November 27th, 2021. The event included seven ISF student speakers from grades 9 to 12, one former student, a student from the Canadian School of Florence, an ISF teacher, and a professor from the European University Institute. In addition there were three musical performances by four ISF students from grades 10 and 11.

talk. Bravi! Each one of them will surely claim that the experience of delivering their talk on stage and under the spotlight was worth all the effort. However, recognition should not be reserved only for the speakers and performers. Behind the scenes another group of ISF students worked very hard – first laying the logistical groundwork for the program and the event, then helping the speakers refine their talks. The TEDxYouth@ISF 2021 Organizing Committee was made up of nine ISF students from grades 10 and 11. Each one generously gave their time in several after-school meetings per week, from September right up to the show itself, in order to produce a professional-quality event.

And what a show it was! Once again the event was held at the Auditorium al Duomo in the city center. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the audience was limited to 100 students, teachers, and parents, but each of the talks and performances was interesting, inspiring, and engaging. All of the presentations were professionally recorded, and the edited videos will soon become available to watch on YouTube.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind – participant and spectators included – that November’s TEDxYouth@ISF was a rousing success. We’re now looking forward to putting on next year’s show … see you then!

As for any performance – and these talks should definitely be classed as performances – an incredible amount of effort and time was invested by each speaker in creating, developing, and practicing their




I’ve been teaching kids to rock for over 30 years, so it was inevitable that I would do so here in Florence at ISF. This year I offered “Rock Band” as an ECA for grade 9. We barely scraped together the requisite 5 members but we did, sort of. Our members are Elisa Bertamini/ Vocals, Elena Sofia Uzielli/Guitar, Susan Wang/Piano/keyboard, and Stamatios Baltos/Bass, and yours truly on the drums. We initially had a drummer but unfortunately he wasn’t able to continue.

grandmas singing and every time I traveled to Turkey they always performed on a stage or in the church. I admired their passion and courageousness and inherited the same love for music. In my younger days and years I sang just to be heard and get complimented but the older I became the more I understood about the real significance of music. It’s not about getting compliments or being famous/well known, it’s about singing from the heart, singing words that hit you hard, that explain your situations, good or bad. Music is a way of expressing the way you feel. When I am sad I sing songs that contain words that describe me. My life is not easy as it seems and like most people I experienced family issues. Music was a way of escaping reality, even love… the only thing I believed in let me down but still music is the one thing that allows me to go on and learn from my past experiences and become stronger. While for the band experience, well I love it. The members are well known to me so nothing embarrassing can happen if someone ever says something wrong. I love how it’s working out, the songs are really enjoyable and we have a lot of freedom when it comes to choices.

We chose a few songs, we rehearsed, we chose a name, “4 in 1”, and we performed. Our debut performance was at the grade 9 gratitude assembly and we played “Let it Be” by The Beatles and “Wish You Were Gay” by Billie Eilish. It was a solid performance by all and the crowd loved us, roaring with applause after each song. It has been a great experience for all of us so far and in our quest to become more cohesive, to better know and trust each other, I’ve put together an interview with the band’s 4 members. Hopefully these questions will encourage the band to think more deeply about what inspires and motivates us to play music and give all of us a better understanding of each other.

SW: I started to play the piano when I was in grade 5 because I was attracted by its melody. Generally, the path of a musician is not that easy, characterized by hours of practice and sometimes even with moments of sadness and disappointment. Although, the music taught me that if you put all your effort into it, you can achieve any goals.

WHAT MADE YOU JOIN THE ROCK BAND CLUB? ELISA BERTAMINI: Last year I couldn’t have the opportunity to sing with a band in music class because of COVID-19 and it was the thing I wanted to do the most. So when I heard that the school had a music club I knew that I had to join immediately to experience what it was like to sing with others and to have a role in the school.

After joining the band, I also had other new experiences, like how a band works, the structure of modern songs, etc. The band club, for me, is extremely good, because it is a place where everyone can work and learn as a group.

SUSAN WANG: When I was choosing what to take up as ECA, I was curious about the Rock Band. And since I play the pianoI thought it was a good idea to give it a try. Plus I could gain new experiences from it.

SB: I am learning to play guitar but in band I tend to stick to bass since I’m better at that (for now). And as a band we have good chemistry and work very well together.


ESU: I’ve only been playing guitar for a little over six months, completely self-taught. It was all very sudden, one moment I was walking by a shop window and the next I was walking home with a guitar. I’m part of a scouts group so we often play songs on a guitar around the fire, and I really loved the sound of the instrument and the general simplicity of it. I learned the basic chords and began strumming simple songs. The chords gradually became harder and the songs more complicated. I very much enjoy playing the guitar, it helps me with stress, helps me relate to music and generally makes me happy. I’ve never played with anyone before, so it was a huge challenge and I must say I was quite scared, but now I realise I had no reason to be and I’m enjoying it.

EB: I started singing when I was really young. I sang in the shower, at 3 am, in the car, in a restaurant, at home, basically everywhere thanks to the passion of my ancestors and family. I always heard both of my


STAMATIOS BALTOS: At first band club wasn’t my priority and I didn’t feel like doing it even having not tried it; but after I gave it a go I “fell in love” and found it to be the right place for me. ELENA SOFIA UZIELLI: I loved the idea of being in a group of people that enjoys playing an instrument/singing as much as I do. I wanted to be able to practice with other people, perform and in general I love the “band vibe”.


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EB: I don’t have any favourite bands or singers but Olivia Rodrigo really helped me understand the way I felt thanks to the lyrics of her songs. Thanks to her I found the exact words to describe my feelings towards a certain person and understand the meaning of good influences. While SIA’s lyrics talk about life, different paths of it and obstacles that I might find in my way. Basically I like songs with meaningful lyrics but not slow songs. I prefer them to be more rhythmic. I guess you could say my genre is pop.

faster than intended. But in the end it was for the best and it honestly couldn’t have gone better. WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR GROUP AND FOR YOU PERSONALLY WITH REGARDS TO MUSIC? EB: I think that this band will go on for a lot more than we expect and will perform on more occasions like Valentines Day or next Christmas. At first I wanted to become a singer and perform everywhere but now I think that it’s more of a hobby for me. Don’t misunderstand me, I love singing and always will but I’m starting to think of other jobs in which I might succeed. But the idea of a job in a musical industry will never leave my list.

SW: My favourite type of music is pop because it can express people’s feelings and thoughts. My favourite singer Zhou Shen, especially his voice, makes his songs so emotional and expressive. SB: I like rap and pop music a lot, but it’s never bad to check out some lofi every now and then.

SW: I think the band would be bigger than it is now because through the gratitude assembly, we might inspire more people to participate. We will also play other more interesting songs and present them to an audience to expand our passion for music. Instead of my personality regarding music, I think it will not change a lot but it will become more analytical and precise.

ESU: I don’t really have a specific taste in music, I enjoy listening to indie rock, Peach Pit, Summer Salt and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few. I also enjoy more classic artists like Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Adele, Coldplay, Hozier...overall I’m an all-around listener. These are also the main genres I like to play, because they’re quite simple and don’t require particular vocal talent and ability, which I definitely lack.

SB: When I grow up I don’t feel like I’d stick to music for a job, but hopefully our band can stick together during high school and we can make the band “4 in 1” the most famous in school history (famous in school but even out of school wouldn’t be bad).


ESU: I honestly have no clue. I definitely plan on keeping up guitar but I don’t see myself playing professionally or anything like that. I see guitar as a way to connect with people and entertain those around me. I hope to stay committed and keep on making progress.

EB: I was scared at first because of my past experiences in the school performances. Once I performed and forgot the words of a song in front of everyone, and from that moment on I swore that I would never perform again because of that embarrassing moment. But in the gratitude assembly I knew that I had rehearsed a lot. I knew that singing was the thing I was born for and I knew that I couldn’t mess up this time. And in fact I didn’t. I guess the gratitude assembly really made me feel gratitude because I got to gain back the (reputation of) name of (the best) singer of grade 9 and a great performer. I’m glad the new students didn’t see me mess up but instead saw my brightest time.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE. SW: To conclude, I would like to thank my band members and Mr, DiFlorio for being so patient and very supportive, and I hope more people will join our club next year. SB: JOIN BAND CLUB TO GO TO HEAVEN!!! MONDAY AFTER SCHOOL IN THE MUSIC ROOM!!! DON’T BE LATE!!!

SW: The performance at the gratitude assembly was pretty good and unexpected. We managed not to make mistakes during the show and it turned out to be flawless, despite the feeling of nervousness that accompanied me at the beginning.

Band members have expressed a desire to continue so I am planning for next year. And we are looking for others to join, especially a drummer. The club is open to all interested students who have basic skills or better on an instrument, any instrument. Since we need to be separated by grade level, “4 in 1” is only open to grade 9 but if there is sufficient interest in other grades, I am always ready to rock. And don’t worry, if we get more members in the grade 9 band, the name can easily be updated.

SB: We all did amazing. It was definitely a great experience and it’s surprising now to look back and see how much we’ve improved, (ourselves and each other/individually and as a group?), just through our “adventures” during band club. ESU: I think it went very well! It was our first time performing so naturally we were pretty nervous and this caused us to go much




On the afternoon of the 17th of December, ISF Upper School students were transported to the magical land of ‘Pantomime’. Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other Englishspeaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year season. However, it got its origins from Roman mime, in which performers express meaning through gestures accompanied by music. But enough of the boring history! What made this Pantomime special, was that it was written, directed and performed by our very own teachers! Ms Hitchcock, Ms Walvis, Ms Heames, Ms Brown, Ms Millenaar, Ms Heywood-Lonsdale, Ms Yiannakis, Ms Kelly, Mr Stipeck, Ms Morus, Ms McCue and Mr DiFlorio all helped to bring the magical story of Cinderella to life. Of course, in true Panto style, there was an ISF twist! Poor Dandini was struggling to complete his CAS project, Prince Charming couldn’t seem to get his head around how to recycle properly and everything seemed to be measured against ManageBac scores… Although the performance skills of the teachers truly were amazing and the students laughed out loud at the witty jokes, the real magic was in the fact the teachers who took part were showing the students that they were prepared to take risks, to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to engage in something they wouldn’t usually do! And because of that not only did they learn new skills, but it really brought them together as a community. So the next time an opportunity arises that is going to challenge you (such as a school production or performance assembly…), grab it with both hands! Trust me, you won’t regret it!


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It was October 15th when I met Hershey Felder, the actor-playwrightpianist and the director of the film for the first time in the Italian garden of the Junior School introduced by Fiumi Morgan. On Monday 18th, Hershey assisted our usual Monday’s rehearsal with the Cantabile Choir.

Cantabile has performed in the Palazzo Budini Gattai in the centre of Florence. Everything has been organised very professionally. The Cantabile kids received dresses, we warmed up, rehearsed and followed the director’s instructions. The scene was beautiful. Food, decorations, flowers, Cantabile children here and there, some sitting on the floor and others on the chairs, ready to start.

Two days later I received an email: ”I would like you and kids from Cantabile to prepare Ave Maria. I would like you to sing as well. I would like the kids to accompany you. Everyone would have a costume, and we would be back crazily in the 13th century for a few hours”.

And then…. “ Sound! And… action!” These magic words introduced OUR moment; a piano underscore track, a harp, a violin, flute and.. first me as a soloist and then the CANTABILE! Together with Hila Plitmann, a Grammy Award-Winning Singer!

That’s how our collaboration started. I immediately felt Hershey’s creative enthusiasm, his artistic honesty and I saw in this invitation an amazing opportunity for the ISF Cantabile Choir. Of course, my singers have been thrilled! The idea to be part of a real movie, to be on the scene in front of the cameras and the whole professional team while shooting a movie! What an experience!

It has been a fantastic experience that we will never forget. Thank you Nicky Shamash and Franco Perrotta for helping me with the Cantabile students that Sunday morning! And above all: THANK YOU, Hershey for your invitation and for such a great collaboration! We are waiting now for a premiere of this 90-minute film which features stories with golden-hued lighting, lush costumes and Florentine settings at Odeon in Florence. Coming very soon! Be ready!

Students have been working fast and hard. I arranged the song for voices while Hershey Felder arranged it for instruments. We had less than one week! The Caccini’s Ave Maria had to be ready for Sunday 31st of October. This was the day of shooting the film.


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and really enjoyed the experience showing real improvements through the game in a 4-1 loss. Mrs Grimm and Mr Gianni Iacovitti are enjoying working with the girls and look forward to further challenges ahead.

This winter term it has been pleasing to return to more normality in terms of offering sporting opportunities for our students. As a department we really value the opportunity for students to be able to compete against other like International schools developing their skills and interpersonal skills in a fun team environment. It has been a pleasure to see the students’ excitement in returning to competitive sport and they have been a credit to the school in the way they have challenged themselves to always do their best and maintain high standards of sporting behaviour. In providing these opportunities in challenging times we have followed the National COVID protocols for all youth sports and hope that we can offer more such opportunities in the coming months.

SENIOR BOYS For all of our teams we feel sport offers an important opportunity to learn about preparing for success and developing lifelong skills such as time management and organisation. The ongoing commitment to training will be important for teams as they approach future games and potential tournaments.

The U16 football team has played three games winning 2 against Firenze Sud U15 team (7-2) and the International School of Turin (3-1 - 7 V 7 fixture). The team learnt a lot through a heavy 5-0 defeat to St George’s Rome. The team is building to a tournament in Verona in March and will be playing other International school teams prior to this tournament. The senior girls’ team played against St George’s International School





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On Friday, January 21st, seven dedicated and courageous ISF Upper School students arrived at the Strozzi for a special ISF-Stozzi collaborative “Art Friday” event which was a culmination of months of meetings where the student team did research, engaged in group discussions, and rehearsed in order to learn how to bridge the visitor with the artwork in engaging and also personal ways.

Visitors were confounded by inflatable blowup pool toys or circus prizes which appeared to be made of real latex or balloons ready to pop or be easily lifted, but which were actually rendered in solid aluminum and steel capable of holding massive weight; or small common objects made monumentally huge, as in the towering sculpture in the gallery’s first room that resembled a gigantic chocolate heart wrapped in shiny pink mylar and tied with a bow reflecting the viewer in its mirror-finish bright pink steel surface.

Both the ISF community and visiting public enjoyed experiencing how these student docents shined as they offered to help explain and explore the famous and controversial American artist Jeff Koons, in a show named “Shine” for many of the sculptures’ reflective and glossy surfaces.

Students own voices captured their growth, excitement, and discovery, revealing that the experience was an ever-evolving personal and critical thinking process right through the special event night and interactions with visitors:

The students curators chose this word also because of Koon’s fascination with its double meaning come up from the German of the same pronunciation schein, where the word takes on a different color and means appearance as in to appear to be. In fact, students helped visitors explore the way that appearance, or shein, is challenged in a strange combination of recognizability of many of the objects reproduced in sculptures, whether small trinkets one might find at a gift shop or mass-produced toys, but made to challenge expectations or familiar categories, or even trompe-l’œil (trick the eye) into believing they were the real object, while in some way defying the real objects’ original properties.

I kept learning things throughout the exhibition and by the end of it, my speech was nothing like the original. I loved this experience, it was very nice to speak to strangers. I feel like I could walk up to anybody and be confident. I still don’t like Jeff Koons. I have to say that it was really nice, actually. some people did come up to me actually, and said, “I don’t think this is true, I think this could be more true,” and it made sense. Then we … argued about it. Sometimes they were right, sometimes I was right, it was very cool.



I thought at the beginning it I would be anxious, but…once I did it like once or came natural(ly)...They put me at ease. Visitors similarly recognized the special encounter with the artwork these students helped create for them, as they enthusiastically reported the engaging, revealing experiences they had which transformed the way they saw and experienced the work: It’s much easier to listen to someone that is young and enthusiast(ic)... telling you the story of the room, than…reading…which we’re bombarded with, actually. When you normally listen, it’s very much a text that is given. Whereas, through the students, every single one is different. It’s their perspective… and it keeps you there, it keeps your attention. A heartfelt thank you to Nicoletta Salvi and Martino Lami from the Strozzi Education Department who facilitated and trained the student team, ISF faculty co-lead Esther Millinaar, all of the families, students, faculty, and staff who made the special trip to visit Strozzi and give these students a chance to shine, and to the dedication and open minds ready to reflect, grow, and celebrate that they offered to each visitor.


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