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Please join us for our upcoming ES Christmas Concert on Friday, December 14th in the Performing Arts Center


e have an extra-special finale this year that features a song about peace for all children called “Christmas Wish.” Because of the song’s message, our older ES students have been learning about children living in war zones and the fact that many people in the world don’t have some of the things we take for granted. Our students really want to help and would like to donate money to help children affected by war. We decided to sell T-shirts to raise money for children living in war zones. The money raised from the T-shirt sales will be sent to the charity “War Child,” an international organization that helps to protect, educate, and stand up for the rights of children in war. The T-shirts are just one way for our students to help. If you would like to contribute as well, we will also be collecting donations on the day of the Christmas concert.

PUBLICATION INFORMATION Ad Astra is published three times a year by Ruamrudee International School. Its objective is to report on happenings at Ruamrudee International School. At least 1,400 copies are printed per issue to send directly to all students and their families. Ad Astra is also distributed among our faculty and staff and is published on the school website. The RIS family is a large and growing community of international citizens.


Editor Elisia Brodeur Graphics Design/Layout Sornchai Pongheamwattana


Rajeepan Techapahaphong

Printed by

Media Printing Plus Limited


6 Ramkhamhaeng 184, Minburi, Bangkok 10510 Tel: +66 (0)2 791 8900

4 Message from the School Chaplain Father Leo Travis

At School 5 New Health and Wellness

Program in High School Richard Moore 6 RIS Welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to the Srikaranondas Charity Concert Sudarat T. Attanawin 8 Fun Run and Mini Marathon for the Baan Nokkamin Foundation Ms. Shirley Gamble 9 Peace Week @ RIS Ms. Shirley Gamble and Elisia Brodeur 10 Official Blessing of the New Seelos Residence Entry Patricia Hughes 11 Active Parenting Classes, Fall 2018 Mathias Sanders, Richard Curtis, and Caroline Scott 12 The MS Rocks House-Team Challenges and Friendly Competitions Elisia Brodeur 14 Stellar Commendations For Ruamrudee’s IB Diploma Program Timothy Pettine 15 Blood Drive @ RIS 16 Cancer Awareness Week @ RIS 17 My Paperless Class Antonio Luna 18 RIS International Food Fair

Outside of School 20 Building Bridges and Deepening Cultural Ties Christine Whitmarsh 22 World Scholar’s Cup: Global Round Tom Wash 24 MUN: A Beginner’s Guide Bruce Gao 26 Tech Club’s Trip to Microsoft Prima Suntornwipart 27 Homework, A Poem Venichaya (Nene) Tangchalermkul

Service Learning 28 Lending a Helping Hand to

Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School, Loei Ms. Shirley Gamble 30 The Butterfly Effect Committee’s Annual Trip to the Father Ray Foundation Mint Pongphaew 31 Laos Dam Fundraiser Kancharos (Opal) Trakulsujaritchok

Our Amazing Students 32 HS Senior Convocation 34 ES Student Is a Champion on Ice Elisia Brodeur 36 RIS Representing at the 2018 HotWave Music Awards 38 The Handmaid’s Tale, Transformational Text 42 HS Talent Show 43 Huge Success at the World

Championship of Performing Arts Elisia Brodeur 44 Internship at Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Chemical Engineering Winnie Quangkananurug 45 Internship at Synchrotron Light Research Institution Pathid Liamtrakoolpanich 46 Kamphaeng Phet Public Hospital Internship Tonghatai (Jointjoy) Aiemsakul

Our Awesome Teachers 48 RIS Welcomes New Teachers Our Amazing Alumni 62 From RIS to Cornell, MIT &

Beyond: Aukrit Unahalekhaka’s Advice to STEM Students Tatiana Kunwongse 64 #EatOutRIS: Alumni Eateries Michael Sawatsewi 67 Alumni News Roundup — November 2018 68 Inter-School Alumni Sports Spirit 69 The Jeremiah Singers’ Tribute to Mr. Joe 72 Photos of the Day Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018



s School Chaplain, I feel it is right that I jot down a few ideas about the morning assembly at RIS. I was privileged to witness that this Thai tradition began at RIS in May 1957, on the Opening Day of the school. It is the Thai Tradition for all schools to begin each day with an assembly for all students and teachers. The Head of School or a teacher began the assembly with words of welcome and announcements for the day. Teachers were sometimes invited to congratulate a particular group of students. Prayer and the raising of the Thai flag during the National Anthem were an important part of assembly. The assembly set the day in motion with good ideas, religious faith, and confidence in our peaceful country. Ten minutes each morning was considered important for the day to begin at RIS. Over recent years, personnel unfamiliar with Thai traditions altered our schedule so that each section would have assembly only once a week and the whole school would have assembly on Fridays. I was disappointed. Having a daily “boost” for the whole school each morning was similar to moms and dads telling their child to have a good day as they sent them off to school each morning. Family farewells for the day are especially worthy when mom or day says, “Be good! Bye, now. We love you.” Today, our RIS assemblies, with the sections alternating days throughout the week, are still important. The words of the school leaders are important. Teachers’ announcements and invitations to students to receive congratulations or for groups to perform, are all part of our daily assemblies. Praying together each day also gives encouragement and an aim for the day. I listen and am happy. May God bless you.

God bless you.

Father Leo Travis C.Ss.R. RIS Catholic Chaplain


Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Richard Moore


his year, RIS has launched the new HS Health & Wellness course, which is a requirement for all current grade 9 students. The purpose of the class is to help students develop the skills they need to enhance their holistic health. The particular emphasis in the grade 9 course is on their social, mental, and emotional health. The intention of the course is that these learned skills will help students be happier and more successful in terms of their goals and tasks throughout high school, college, and later in life. A special classroom was designed to encourage collaborative work and a more comfortable setting in which to share experiences with their teacher and peers. Last year we gave RIS students in grades 8–10 a comprehensive survey from the Minnesota-based Search Institute to provide additional guidance for the course curriculum. Along with input from a student task force comprising HS upperclassmen, it was determined that students at RIS were particularly concerned about stress, depression, technology balance, lack of sleep, and social interactions.

This semester, our grade 9 students have joined more than 6 million others around the world in taking the VIA (Values In Action) Character Traits survey program. The students have studied how being aware of their positive traits can help them engage in more fulfilling interactions with others. Before the October parent-teacher conferences, the students created Technology Responsible Use Agreements (RUA), for their family/at home and as a school, for the Class of 2022. These are signed agreements between the students, parents, and the school to help students manage their digital use more effectively. Later this year, the students will participate in the Johns Hopkins University Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP), along with learning and presenting about various mindfulness strategies and other stress-reducing practices. The new grade 10 Health & Wellness course starts next year. It will continue to develop students’ holistic health skills, with an emphasis on physical and environmental concerns such as nutrition, infectious diseases, lifestyle diseases, and reproductive health. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Sudarat T. Attanawin, Director of Strategic Initiatives/HR


or the fourth consecutive year, RIS has been privileged to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to a private birthday concert in honor of Ajarn Manrat Srikaranonda, aged 90, and Mrs. Laorwan Srikaranonda, aged 72. The delightful event, which took place on August 4, 2018, was filled with music and songs performed by Ajarn Manrat’s daughter, his son-in-law, and two of his granddaughters, along with the Royal Thai Air Force Band. Ajarn Manrat is well known for his diverse musical talents. He was a pioneer of jazz music in Thailand, a court musician, and a member of the Royal Or Sor Wansook Band, which was assembled by the late King Rama 9. Ajarn Manrat was honored as a National Artist in 1992.


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As in previous years, the concert featured the musical talents of the Srikaranonda family. Both Indhuon and her husband, Artas Balakauskas, are the country’s top concert pianists. Manrat’s son, Pathorn, is an accomplished jazz musician, while grandchildren Asta and Andre Balakauskas captivated the audience with their impressive Jazz renditions. Ending the birthday charity concert on a joyful note, Her Royal Highness sang one of Ajarn Manrat’s old classics, which put a happy smile on everyone’s faces. Integral to this special celebration were the charitable donations made in support of the Father Ray Foundation. All proceeds from the concert went toward the education of children under the care of the Redemptorist Fathers.

RIS conveys its warmest gratitude to Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand for her presence at Ruamrudee International School for the Srikaranondas Charity Concert and for her decades of work and personal advocacy to promote education in Thailand. We wish to express our gratitude to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, HRH Princess Soamsawali, Ajarn Manrat Srikaranonda, and Mrs. Laorwan Srikaranonda for this milestone in our history and for a memory that will be long-lived by all who were in attendance. Our RIS family wishes our honored guests many blessed years of health and happiness. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Ms. Shirley Gamble


ne of our school-wide Service Learning projects is with the Baan Nokkamin Orphanage to raise money for the children’s education and school tuition. They have several branches and we have a lot of interaction with the Bangkok one located near RIS on Seri Thai Road. For the past few years they have arranged a Friendly Celebrity Football Fundraiser at RIS, but this year they arranged a 5K Fun Run and a 10K Mini Marathon instead. The run took place on Sunday, September 16th at 6:00 am. The course was the length of Ramkhamhaeng Soi 184, with the start and finish line at Gate 5 of RIS. Everyone who participated received a free T-shirt and medal. The 5K runners who finished in the top 10 of their gender and the 10K runners who finished in the top 5 in their gender and age also received a trophy.


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Congratulations to our 5K trophy winners Will, Katrina, Patt, and Ms. Claudia Schmitz and our 10K trophy winners Thon, Mr. Tyson Churchill, and Mr. Craig Molla! I am so very proud that 160 RISians were willing to come to school at 5:30 am that morning and that they were also able to raise 100,000 baht in pledges for the orphans. It was a great success, and we look forward to it becoming an annual event.

By Ms. Shirley Gamble and Elisia Brodeur


ach year, RIS celebrates Peace Week to raise awareness among our students about the importance of peace in the world. We began Peace Week this year on Monday, September 17 with a special all-school Peace Assembly in Godbout Hall. Father Travis began with an opening prayer and a call to begin to heal parts of the word. He stated that “the world needs our help…. It is time to reach out to those in need. It’s embedded in the hearts of each of us.” The ES Choir performed a moving rendition of “A Song of Peace” and encouraged the audience to join in. That was followed by the Belle Voix and Vivace choirs singing the a cappella version of “The Prayer of St. Francis” by Sebastian Temple. Representatives from the MS recited the lyrics to the song “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson, which was accompanied by a slideshow of heart-wrenching images of conflict. We also had a group of special visitors from the Father Ray Foundation School of the Blind who had traveled from Pattaya. RIS had invited these children to visit our HS values classes with Mr. Mussa’s students to share their experiences and do some activities together. Our visitors later joined our special assembly and sang four songs, including the all-time favorite “You Are My Sunshine,” which inspired the whole audience to join in.

The program ended with a special video presentation put together by high schoolers Maren and Elizabeth that showcased several faculty members and administrators answering the question “What does ‘world peace’ mean to you?” and sharing their ideas about how we can obtain world peace. The two girls concluded their peace message by reminding us that there are many different ways to promote peace, that small changes add up to a big difference, and that by keeping an open mind we can change the world in more ways than we realize. Various peace-related activities were held in each section throughout the rest of the week. These included displays, art pieces, peace messages, and a Peace Scavenger Challenge in the MS where students worked with their advisory groups to complete challenges representing different values necessary for peace. MS Counselor Ms. Caroline explained that “this experiential activity allowed the students to better understand key values that are necessary for peaceful communities, such as cooperation, trust, negotiation, and problemsolving. Our MS students also raised 15,000 baht by hosting a healthy bake sale, the proceeds of which were sent to Oxfam to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami Indonesia at the end of September.”

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By Patricia Hughes


wonderful gathering was recently organized by Father David to celebrate the completion of the extension of the Seelos Residence. The addition includes a grand entry where all students and visitors will now enter the building. We are pleased with the increased security system with a monitored, single entry, in addition to an identification system that limits access to the building. The initial celebration started when Seelos students gathered to hear Father Travis speak about the accomplishments of the Blessed Seelos. Father Travis told stories of a very compassionate, dedicated priest who was renowned for supporting and working with youth during his life. A more formal celebration took place on Friday, October 5, which is the feast day of the Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R., after whom the Residence was named. Father Travis performed an official blessing of the photo of Father Seelos as well as blessing the new addition. We were pleased to have in attendance the Vicar General; Father Alberto and the General Consultor; Father Sebastian from the Redemptorist General Government in Rome, Father Apisit, Father John, Father David, and many members of RIS administration, as well as several staff members. The feeling of gratitude at both ceremonies was prevalent among


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those in attendance; we feel grateful that we are part of a strong tradition at RIS and proud that the school continues to grow and improve for our students. The framed picture of Blessed Francis Seelos remains in the new entry to remind students to aspire to be active community members, yet compassionate as they strive to excel in their academics.

By Mathias Sanders, Richard Curtis, and Caroline Scott


arenting is simultaneously one of life’s most challenging and rewarding experiences. Whether your kids are grown adults or toddlers, raising children demands heaps of patience and endurance. Childrearing is hardly ever easy, but it enriches our lives with the spirit of family that few of life’s enterprises can match. Parenting also affords us plenty of opportunities to learn about ourselves and reflect on those principles that guide our lives as we navigate this amazing and complex world. But many times, being a parent can overwhelm us. We often question ourselves: Are we making the right decisions? How can we improve relationships with our children? Where did all the food go? Parenting teenagers can be particularly challenging. The teenage years are a time of intense emotional, physical, and mental changes along with an increased desire for independence. This is why RIS offers Active Parenting of Teens, a parenting class designed to help parents during these complicated and confusing years. By offering Active Parenting of Teens, RIS aims to provide a forum for parents to share experiences with others, learn some tried-and-true parenting methods, and receive guidance and support from the school community. Active Parenting of Teens focuses on winning cooperation with our teenagers, establishing reasonable boundaries, and staying informed about the potential risks our kids face during these transformative years. The class is structured as a place where parents can share ideas and feelings, learn from other parents, and develop skills that can improve communication and understanding with our children. Participants also receive a Parent Guide that can be used long after the class sessions are completed.

2018 marks the second consecutive year that this course has been offered at RIS. Last year, the course was offered only in the High School. However, based on abundant positive feedback and requests for a Middle School offering, we have expanded the program to reach parents of students in both sections. These courses are facilitated by the HS Dean of Students and the MS Counselor. We also have plans to offer a similar course soon in the Elementary section. Here is some feedback we received about the most recent Active Parenting of Teens classes: “I learned a lot! The homework was helpful and it’s great that we get to keep the book to refer to. I also liked the fact that it was OK if we didn’t get to do the homework one week and were just encouraged to go at our own pace. Most helpful were the reminders that this is a process and that implementing change requires patience and time.” “We shared good experiences between families and how to solve teen’s problems.” “This is a very good course for parents who have teenage kids. I would like school to continue and expand to more parents. This will help parents to understand more about teens and understand different types of parenting styles and open our minds to change. This [course] helps parents to teach our teens to become better people and to prevent, filter, or screen for risks in the future.” Please contact Mr. Richard (HS), Ms. Caroline (MS), or Ms. Breanna (ES) for more information about the courses, including upcoming class schedules. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Elisia Brodeur


he Middle School at RIS not only offers our students many opportunities to explore a range of passions and projects with many different curricular options, but the MS faculty—and sometimes students—plan and organize an assortment of weekly or monthly challenges. These “extra” activities ensure that our students are engaged, stretching their capabilities, delving into their creativity, exploring new software and digital platforms, and using their free time thoughtfully. Above all, these events encourage our MS students to have fun at school. As Hilary G. Conklin, Ph.D, states “Giving students occasions to learn through play not only fosters creative thinking, problem solving, independence, and perseverance, but also addresses teenagers’ developmental needs for greater independence and ownership in their learning, opportunities for physical activity and creative expression, and the ability to demonstrate competence.” TIME, “Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too” Here are some of the fun house-team challenges and friendly competitions that our MS students have been participating in over the past 4 months.


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For students who like to be active—and for those who might not otherwise choose to be—there are the everpopular Lunchtime Intramural Games, such as the Ping Pong Tournament and Bench Ball tournament. During the Halloween Costume Contest organized by Ms. Caroline and the MSC, students and teachers were awarded points for costumes that fell into several categories: Most Original, Most Creepy, Most Silly, and Best Dressed Duo. Currently, Mr. Jonathan is hosting BreakoutEDU games at lunchtime. The MS has purchased some BreakoutEDU

Unique Phoenix, Halloween, and Dream Castle. Here are some of the winners from last year: Halloween pumpkin Spooky House Moving Ghost Changing House

kits—along with access to about 800 different pre-made games—that allow teachers to turn a classroom into a content-themed escape room. Groups of 4–6 students can work together to solve the puzzles. One of our students, Vic, initiated and hosted a well-attended all-school chess tournament in the MakerSpace at lunchtime.

Another MS favorite is the Reading Bingo Challenge, where each student gets an electronic sheet of Bingo squares containing categories such as reading a new genre or a reading books whose theme underscores of our Principles of Phoenix (PoPs): Head, Hands, and Heart. Each box on the Bingo card indicates a type of book or reading-related task that students should fulfill. And each time a student completes that challenge, he/she gets to shade in that square. The goal is to fill in complete rows, which add up for house points. A completed Bingo sheet earns 70 house team points!

The Pixel Art House Team Challenge happens in November, where students get to vote for the winners. This year there are four different themes: House Team Mascot,

Next up is the Basketball Challenge. Are you ready, MS?

We are seeking eight exceptional 8th-grade male students for this year’s cultural exchange. Students should be in good academic standing and have a desire to share their family’s home and customs with an 8th-grade boy from Germany. Students should also be confident and willing to adapt to a different country’s customs. Please contact Ms. Shirley at or Mr. Felix for an application form. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Timothy Pettine, International Baccalaureate Diploma Coordinator

“Purposeful, ongoing reflection is integral for growth and development.”


ince 1998, Ruamrudee International School has held the distinction as an “International Baccalaureate (IB) World School” where students have the opportunity to earn the prestigious IB Diploma, an internationally recognized credential that challenges students’ intellectual and personal growth. A critical reason for our students’ success in the IB Diploma Program can be found in the ongoing process of honest reflection that is foundational to all learning. This past March, RIS hosted a visiting team from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) as part of our five-year self-study process. Over three days, the visiting team observed classes, met with members of the school community, and inspected facilities to ensure that our school was complying with the policies and practices of the International Baccalaureate Organization. Our six-month self-study was conducted by a team of high school faculty, students, and parents who examined all aspects of our IB Diploma Program by gathering data on collaboration, student achievement, professional development, and—most importantly—the approaches to teaching and learning that support students over the course of their two years in the program.

Commendations While the aim of the self-study is to identify areas for growth in the IB Diploma Program, the IBO’s final evaluation identified specific commendations that demonstrate why RIS is an elite college preparatory school: • Ruamrudee International School demonstrates a commitment to forming partnerships in the wider community to support the teaching and learning of all children and in their mother tongues; 14

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• Ruamrudee International School implements a language policy that is sensitive to the different linguistic needs of the school community; • Ruamrudee International School believes all students can be successful by providing support systems for students with special needs; • Ruamrudee International School is commended for integrating the role of the librarian directly into the IB Diploma Program’s core as the coordinator of academic research; • Ruamrudee International School employs a robust and well resourced counseling system; • Ruamrudee International School has a committed action plan to promote observed language development in all subject areas; • Ruamrudee International School provides a program of studies with balanced offerings across subjects; this is highlighted by offerings in the Human Sciences (Economics, Psychology, Business Management, History, and Global Politics) and Experimental Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, and Computer Science). Further results from the self-study have helped us initiate changes to the school-wide schedule, such as: • accommodating collaborative planning time for teaching and learning • providing flexible time for students to meet with teachers or receive academic assistance • promoting student agency in creative, actionoriented, service projects The IBO’s evaluation of our program affirms our belief that an IB education at RIS provides college-level skills in research and critical thinking, while promoting selfefficacy as a core attribute of success. For over 20 years, IB Diploma students at RIS have scored consistently above world averages and have earned placements at

prestigious universities in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Each year, RIS IB Diploma students are also selected for highly competitive medical school programs that value thinking skills and the rigorous construction of knowledge that is standard for highperforming learners.

own excursions into all areas of knowledge. Additionally, the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) requirement is a research-based approach that allows students to develop collaborative strategies while instilling empathy, health consciousness, and international mindedness.

But success in the IB Diploma is not only about academic achievement; IB Diploma students choose their programs and are empowered to develop their

If you would like to know more about the IB Diploma Program at RIS in the High School, please contact Timothy Pettine, the IB Diploma Coordinator. 2015




Number of candidates registered in the session:





Number of diploma and retake candidates in the session:





Number of candidates who passed the diploma:





Number of subject entries in the session:





Average points obtained by candidates who passed the diploma:









Highest diploma points awarded to a candidate:





Graduating Class Cohort Size





Average grade obtained at the school by candidates who passed the diploma:


he first of our twice-annual blood drives took place at school on Friday, September 28. Organized by the HS Red Cross Committee in conjunction with the Thai Red Cross Society, the event was well run and well attended. A total of 87 donations were made, which means that 261 lives will be saved! Thank you for helping us make a difference. We hope you will join us again next semester on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, for the next blood drive.

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n behalf of the National Cancer Institute of Thailand, along with the Butterfly Effect Committee, Habitat for Humanity Club, Eco Merits Club, and Muse Club, the HS Red Cross Committee would like to thank the members of the RIS community for showing their support during Cancer Awareness Week (November 6–8, 2018). The sea of yellow (for bone marrow cancer) on Tuesday and pink (for breast cancer) on Thursday was a powerful message and visual reminder, and it was great to see our school community come together to raise awareness. As a community, we were able to raise 15,096 baht, which will be donated to the National Cancer Institute of Thailand for cancer research. In addition, more than 30 hair donations were made on Wednesday during the Give Care, Give Hair event. All of the donated hair

will be used to make wigs for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment and may be experiencing side effects such as hair loss. A special mention to Mr. Bren, Ms. Karen, and Mr. Ben (in our PreK 2 community) and Ms. Marnie (in KG) for raising awareness in their classes about prostate cancer (Movember) and for promoting awareness of cancer among our younger ES students. Of course, a huge shout out to Ms. Sabrena and all of the students in the HS Red Cross Committee who worked so hard behind the scenes making all of the ribbons and raising as much awareness as possible on campus! And last, but not least, we would like to recognize the following individuals for donating their hair:

Grade 7 Grade 1 Primasinee Sae-Heng (Wern Wern) Thitilapa Sae-Heng (Ivy) Preeyanit Poolsawat (Khao Pun) Grade 2 Grade 8 Kulisara Viriyayodyiem (Xin) Veerinrada Pianapitham (Praifah) Wimolsiri Glinpu (Pun Pun) Grade 3 Chaniti Srichatphirun (Ryo) Pailin Bunditvorapoom (Yao Yao) Monchida Sukontaman (Sky) Grade 4 Grade 9 Natprima Sae-Heng (Wawa) Palika Sridurongrit (DC) Kittaporn Tanyabutr (Friend) Grade 5 Parinlada Viktoria Wright (Vicka) Grade 10 Tanatcha Mitkasem (Ink) Grade 6 Kawinna Chinprasithchai (Pinpin) Pattanan Tang (Claire) Shivanshi Sharma Sasinipa Nopakun (Noei) Nattamon Tokaeo (TaTa) 16

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Grade 12 Sirintra Chakphet (Flame) Ananya Ahuja (Naz) Parisa Sukheepod (Risa) Voraya Vorapanyasakul (Wow-Wow) Teachers/Staff/Admin Chonticha Kaewwangnam Elisia Brodeur (SAO) Lauren Pasquazzi (ES) Pimlada Neeranun (HS) Relative/Parent of RIS staff or student/former RIS student Sasima Aeimsanudom Suthasinee Huang Siriluk Nanthachaiporn Supatcha Saothong Parent of Claudia Liu (grade 12)

By Antonio Luna


have always thought about how much paper waste we create in my classroom alone. I knew it was substantial. And while knowing that changing just one class in a school won’t solve the global problem, it could certainly be a starting point. I believe there are major benefits to creating a “green” classroom. Going paperless in the classroom reduces paper waste, which means less energy is being used to make paper and fewer natural resources are being destroyed. Going paperless gives students the opportunity to connect to environmental issues, and it creates teachable moments. It also allows us, as a learning community, to introduce new technologies and new ways to approach learning. At the same time, businesses are looking for employees who have 21st century skills, and a paperless environment can foster new ideas on how to do things in a classroom. My students are now exclusively using a website, computers, and whiteboards as their classroom materials. All assignments are turned in electronically, which helps with organizational skills (no more misplaced/forgotten/ eaten-by-my-dog papers), accountability (turned-in times get registered electronically), it cuts costs (no

more photocopies), and of course, there is no waste— it’s a 100% clean classroom environment. The students also don’t have to carry textbooks to class anymore, and the fact that resources are available online helps me pay attention to individual students’ needs. With this system, now every student can find his or her own pace for learning and access their classroom resources from anywhere at anytime. Of course, not everything is a benefit, and we are finding some bumps along the way. One of the drawbacks we are dealing with, for example, is that the website set-up process is time-consuming. As a solution, we created a template ( for students to follow so they can set up their personal portfolios outside of class time. As we come across challenges we adapt our response by collecting more information from our students (online surveys, direct communication, etc.), conducting educational research, and reaching out to colleagues who are having similar experiences around the world as we continue to strive for a better learning environment for our students. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018



Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018

Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL By Christine Whitmarsh

Celebrating Chinese New Year with our guests from Germany


or the past 5 years, Ruamrudee International School has participated in a cultural exchange with Collegium Josephinum Bonn (CoJoBo) school in Germany. Father David and I were the chaperones this year, and we collaborated with the teachers from CoJoBo to create another memorable program.

an opportunity to learn about the impact of the Death Railway in Thailand. The students also got to feed and bathe the elephants at Elephants World, which many of them reported to be the highlight of their trip. At school, they learned how to make som tum and pad thai and how to perform basic Muay Thai and Khon

The German Exchange Program involves hosting a German student in Thailand for two weeks and then living with a German family for two weeks during the summer break. It is a powerful opportunity for all students involved, aimed at building bridges between very different cultures and deepening cultural ties to help our community become more globally minded. In February, eight boys from the CoJoBo school flew from Frankfurt to Bangkok to experience firsthand what it is like to live in Thailand. On their first day at RIS they got to see how Chinese New Year is celebrated at our school. We gave them Chinese New Year shirts to wear and they enjoyed watching the traditional dragon dance. Later in the week, we took our exchange students to see the River Kwai Bridge in Kanchanaburi. Many of the students knew about World War II but this gave them 20

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Learning how to make pad thai with RIS HS students

RIS students on a tour of Bonn with their host families dance moves. Many of the exchange students did not want to leave Thailand and said that they would return someday with their families.

Mr. Karl leading us up to Burg Eltz Castle

Shortly after the school year ended, seven RIS students, Fr. David, and I eagerly boarded a plane bound for Germany. We were greeted by many happy families who gave generously of their time. The city of Bonn was home to Beethoven and is located on the famous Rhine River. As well as visiting quaint areas of Bonn, we got to tour Eltz Castle, which is still privately owned and is in excellent condition. As the days progressed, our students made connections between the two countries and gained a greater appreciation for how different cultures arrive at happiness in different—and not so different—ways. Reflecting on their experience, here are some of the things our students had to say about it: “I was very nervous at first but then I was proud of myself for joining the exchange program.”—Jadon “I will always remember the beautiful city of Bonn.” —Palm “All the food in Germany is good. I think the easiest way to describe this exchange is exciting. Exciting in the way you get to meet new people, make new friends, and partake in a totally new culture.”—TJ

Posing in front of Beethoven’s house in Bonn We are seeking eight exceptional 8th-grade male students for this year’s cultural exchange. For further details, please see page 13 of Ad Astra.

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By Tom Wash


total of 24 RIS students, from MS and HS, traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this past June for the 2018 World Scholar’s Cup Global Round. They were accompanied by Mr. Tom Wash, Ms. Narumon L’Huillier, Ms. Judith Byrum, and many parents and family members. We had 8 teams in all: six Junior teams and two Senior teams. Three of our six Junior teams competed in the Skittles Division (ages 11 and 12). The other three Junior teams competed in the Jerries Division (ages 13 and 14). Out of our 8 teams, 5 of them qualified for the Tournament of Champions (TOC) at Yale University. There were over 4,000 scholars from all over the world at the Global Round. And every single one of our 24 students won medals. Here are some of the highlights. The full list of medals and trophies follows.

Junior Teams Skittles Division: • Ivy / Phoom / Krit: won 2nd place Trophy for Team Bowl in the Skittles Division and TOC QUALIFIERS • Pear / Tara / Boonboon: in the top 10 teams in Writing; Boonboon also placed 7th overall in Writing in the Skittles Division


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• Elle / Grace / Minna: each received silver medals in individual events and a silver in Team Writing Jerries Division: • Jamie / Pear / Praew: in the top 50 for Team Bowl in the Jerries Division and 3 top 50’s in individual events. They were our school’s top scoring Junior team and were TOC QUALIFIERS • Biew Biew / DC / Amee: in the top 50 for Team Writing and TOC QUALIFIERS • Kan / Einstein / Jet: each received silver medals in individual events The top Junior scorers were Boonboon (in the Skittles Division) and Pear (in the Jerries Division). Pear was our overall top-scoring Junior scholar.

Senior Teams • Biew Biew / DC / Amee: in the top 50 in Team Writing and TOC QUALIFIERS • Kan / Einstein / Jet: each received silver medals in individual events • Fong / Jack / Foster: won silver in Team Debate and gold in Team Writing as well as numerous individual awards and were TOC QUALIFIERS • Jackie / Int / Karn: won silver in Team Debate and Team Bowl as well as numerous individual awards and were TOC QUALIFIERS Jack was our overall top-scoring Senior scholar. Congratulations to all of our incredible scholars!



Phoom Krit Ivy/Phoom/Krit


Silver Silver Gold Silver Gold Gold Silver Silver

Team Bowl (Trophy) Elle Grace Minna Elle/Grace/Minna


Challenge Writing Debate Writing Challenge History Writing Team Writing Champion Teams Bowl

Silver Silver Silver Silver Silver

Debate Writing Debate Writing Team Writing

Silver Silver Silver Silver Silver Silver Gold Gold Silver Gold Gold Silver Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Silver Silver

Debate Writing Challenge Arts Writing Challenge Debate Writing Challenge History Challenge School Top Scholar Champion Scholar Team Bowl Team Debate Team Writing Debate Writing Challenge Arts Challenge Science Challenge Special Area Debate Challenge Arts Challenge Science Challenge Special Area Debate Writing Challenge Social Studies Challenge History Challenge Science Challenge School Top Scholar Champion Scholar Team Bowl Team Debate Team Writing



Biew Biew

Amee DC/Biew Biew/Amee Kan Jet Einstein Fong

Pear (Gr 6)

Tara Boonboon




Pear (Gr 7)


Silver Gold Silver Silver Gold Silver Gold Gold Gold Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Silver

Foster Jack


Karn Int



Debate Writing Challenge Arts Writing Challenge Arts Challenge History Writing Challenge History Team Bowl Team Writing Debate Challenge History Challenge History Da Vinci

Silver Silver Silver Gold Silver Silver Gold Gold

Debate Writing Challenge Science Debate Writing Debate Writing Challenge Social Studies Challenge History Challenge Science Challenge School Top Scholar Champion Scholar Team Bowl Team Debate Team Writing Champion Teams

Gold Silver Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Silver Silver Gold Silver Silver Silver



Silver Gold Silver Gold Silver Silver Gold Gold Silver Gold Silver Silver Silver Silver

Silver Gold Silver Silver

Writing Challenge Science Debate Challenge Social Studies Debate Challenge Arts Challenge Social Studies Challenge History Challenge Literature Challenge Special Area Challenge Science Challenge Team Bowl Team Debate

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By Bruce Gao, Grade 9


o, you’re considering joining this organization called MUN, either because you want to or because your parents coerced you into becoming a member. MUN is different from most “academic competitions” in that it’s not a competition, per se. MUN stands for Model United Nations and is designed to emulate the functions and committees of the actual United Nations. The United Nations is a supranational organization that was formed in 1946 in the aftermath of the Second World War as a platform to allow diplomatic personnel from all nations to negotiate world issues publicly and consider their perspectives. The UN is divided into several committees to discuss issues pertaining particular themes, such as the Security Council or the Human Rights Council. At every conference, they will try to pass resolutions or reach an agreement by all member nations to follow specific rules; however, resolutions are very weak and they are not binding. The UN has five permanent security council members: the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK. These nations can use veto powers to block resolutions in the Security Council. This is a very brief snapshot, just some basic information regarding the UN, so I suggest you do your own research regarding how the UN functions. You should also visit the UN’s official website. I also recommend that you watch actual UN conferences to see the UN in action as all the procedures in an MUN conference are based on actual UN conferences. Furthermore, it’s helpful to study all of the committees because, as delegates, you will be divided into different committees, all of which have different purposes and modes of operation. Actual research begins long before you are even assigned your country. First, you should obtain the basic background knowledge required for MUN, focusing heavily on diplomacy and international relations. The best way to grasp how international diplomacy operates is to study geopolitics. What is geopolitics, exactly? Geopolitics is the study of international relations as influenced by geographical variables. Grab a world map, locate countries that share close diplomatic relations or have alliances. What do you notice about their physical relationship? Locate active conflict zones. What do you notice about them physically, and why


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did that war start? Who are the belligerents and what do they want? Locate areas under active territorial disputes; what do you notice about their geography? Do some countries benefit from war? Locate trade routes, sea lanes, and other channels of transport and communication; try to understand why they are important. Find a bunch of world maps from different eras and notice how they have evolved over time. What caused these changes? Mark areas abundant in vital resources (minerals and fossil fuels for example). What do you notice about their part in conflicts, dispute, and diplomacy? The answers to these questions are a great introduction to geopolitics. I also recommend procuring a few books. The first books you should look to buy are Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert B. Kaplan, and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John J. Mearsheimer. There are definitely other books beyond these ones; these only give you a general idea of geopolitics, whereas others will inform you about specifics, say Russo-American relationships and North Korea. For websites, I suggest Geostrat, an independent organization providing information and detailed analysis of current events and the Council on Foreign Relations and Geopolitical futures. As you continue your laborious research of geopolitics, you will need to read the news every day and pay special attention to international events. In addition to simply knowing about international events, you should also analyze them for how they can affect communications between nations. Think back to the geopolitical prompts I

mentioned earlier, what do you notice? Why do nations act the way they act? What are their reasons? The most intense part of your research is when you are assigned your nation and the debate topic of your committee. First you need to thoroughly research your country, especially in areas of governmental structure, the political spectrum of the current administration, international relationships and the military. Study the debate topics, they are often major geopolitical trends or events. Study their history, current developments, and what your country’s stances are, again thinking back to those prompts I gave. As a delegate, you will be representing your nation in UN conferences; therefore, the most important issue to focus on is being an accurate portrayal of your country. Remember, as a delegate, you are basically the mouthpiece for a nation. So when you write your resolution, you should make sure it benefits your nation in some way, while at the same time making sure it is appealing to other delegates and helping out the world. Lobbying is very important to ensure delegates decide to sponsor or co-submit your resolution. In this case, do make some compromises to ensure you get allies for your resolution and find common ground between you and your sponsor and co-submitters. Remember to know your country’s enemies and allies, that’s why country research is important. Try to rally your allied nations to support your resolution and, in the case of resolutions dealing with economic-related issues, your trading partner nations as well. With enemy nations, you may attempt to get them as well, but you’d have to do it realistically, based on the actual administration of your country. In some cases, countries just cannot get along. As a delegate of Israel, for example (which I represented in the Singapore conference), don’t attempt to get countries like Iran or Syria that don’t even recognize Israel’s legitimate existence as a nation. Plus, Israel probably won’t try to fix relationships with these nations either under the current administration. For the sake of accuracy, don’t try to work with them too much because for the overwhelming majority of the time, they won’t be on your side. On the opposite, always try your best to get your allies and trading partner to support your resolution. Perhaps you don’t feel brave enough to submit your own resolution in the first few conferences. That’s fine, but

remember, it’s always good to push yourself and submit resolutions. If you don’t want to be a main submitter, perhaps be a co-submitter and help others write their resolutions. Be a sponsor as well. Don’t forget to speak a lot and be an active delegate; making speeches is a useful way to persuade others to your cause. It’s also good to make POIs and ask questions. It is useful to question the speaker to gain an extra snippet of information that may be useful for you, whether it is to decide who to vote for, what the resolution is trying to accomplish (if the speaker is being vague), and to consider revisions to your resolution if the speaker is criticizing your resolution. Proposing revisions is another technique to master, and when used properly, can really ensure that the resolutions will at least benefit your nation in some way. Revisions can be used to add or edit the document, which is often used to assist allied resolutions. Revisions can also be used to delete other delegate’s arguments, this is more aggressive. It is often used to weaken resolutions that go against your country. By deleting clauses that are the harshest to your nation, you would have to justify this revision, as it will be debated and voted on. Resolutions are voted on at the end of a debate. To vote, you simply raise your country’s placard in one of three positions: vote yes, vote no, or abstain (not voting). How you vote should depend on whether the resolution backs up your country’s cause, so look at the resolution very carefully to make an informed decision on how to vote. The last thing to remember is to stay calm. MUN can get pretty tense, and at your first conference, it is quite normal to feel nervous and experience anxiety. If you adhere to all the procedures your teachers briefed you on, you will succeed—even if you forget certain aspects or elements. Remember, as long as you participate actively and keep a cool head, you will be fine and enjoy the occasion immensely. I am confident that upon the conclusion of your debut conference, you will most definitely be looking forward to the next conference. MUN is a great group to get involved in; it’s a great way to learn about current geopolitical events and trends and to learn how the often complicated system of international diplomacy works in an engaging and fun manner. I recommend every one of you to give it a shot, and if you are intent on joining, ask your MUN teacher for advice as well, because I could only write so much in a magazine article. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Prima Suntornwipart, Grade 12


ech Club, formerly called the Student Tech Association, is a recently established HS club with a modern vision and a passion for innovation. With the rise of globalization and the IT sector, technology has increasingly become more and more important to our lives. From healthcare to entertainment, demand for innovation and creativity has soared in the past few decades and the youth are keeping up. On September 21st, the members of Tech Club were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Microsoft Thailand in Bangkok. After an inspiring speech from the Managing Director himself, Dhanawat, we had seminars where current employees presented to us about their daily life, among other topics. We got to trial their cognitive services—programs that recognize emotions and speech and can translate between languages, their augmented-reality technologies, and even learned about advanced features that are not yet available to the public. For example, we saw a demonstration of a realtime crowd monitor that is used to track demographics and that can recognize your age, identity, and current mood. The same technology is already being used as a driver monitor for PTT Global Chemical truck drivers who are traveling between Rayong and BKK and often get drowsy or tired. When the program senses a driver nodding off, it will alert people to call and wake them and thus prevent an accident. In addition to these workshops, Tech Club members also got an exclusive tour through the working space of the office—an area where most visitors are not allowed.


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The life of an employee of a high-level tech company was extremely fascinating. Unlike the conformist rows of partitions and piles of paper found in most headquarters, the Microsoft office was furnished with colorful sofas and staff members exclusively using Surface devices. Employees were completely mobile; they were allowed to walk, sit, or stand wherever they wished because a tracking system that implements wifi can be used to locate anyone at anytime. Apart from the freedom, there were also various amenities available to employees, such as food/ice cream, massage chairs, and more. In fact, most of the employees were not even in the office because they can choose their own work times and locations to be as efficient as possible! A career in a modern, innovative company sounds attractive indeed. “The visit to Microsoft gave me an idea of how top companies in the tech industry operate and helped me to decide what to study after I graduate from RIS.” Patt, grade 12 I am very grateful for this opportunity to take my club members to explore such a powerful global company. After all, a job in tech is a very real possibility for the members of Tech Club.

by Venichaya (Nene) Tangchalermkul, Grade 6

The thing about homework, Is that it is essential, If to it we shirk, In the shadows, teachers lurk, For they know the consequences, As they cheer and sneer, You must be on your defenses, Or else they’ll be near, You can’t escape the paperwork No matter how hard you try, ’Cause no matter where you are, In the shadows they will pry, And then when they’ve captured you, You must pay the price, Not in gold or valuables, But your own precious Life, So I peacefully call upon, Students far and near, If you do all your homework, To all teachers, you don’t fear. -HOMEWORK-

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By Ms. Shirley Gamble


very year during the Christmas break we select an additional Redemptorist project to support with some of the money we raise from our schoolwide Walk-a-thon/Run-a-thon fundraiser. Because the Redemptorist Fathers are celebrating their 70th anniversary of working in Thailand this year, we decided to look for a project earlier in the year. We have selected the Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School in Loei, Thailand, where former RIS Director Fr. Edward Kane started one of his first missions in 1951. Later, in 1954, Bishop Clarence Duhart built St. Rafael Church there. In 1964, Fathers Weerapong and Harry Thiel built the primary school, which was originally named Mandapitakwittaya but is now called the Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School. In May, I traveled to Loei to meet with Fr. Udom Deelertpradit and the various faculty members to see what they needed most and reported back after determining the three main things they really need help with. 1) The students had no real desks and chairs, they sat mainly on various old abandoned items or unwanted office furniture; 2) they had only a makeshift first-aid corner inside the faculty workroom with two bed frames and a pillow but no mattresses, and 3) the surrounding school fence and walls had not been painted in years. With the whole summer available, our HS students decided not to wait for Christmas break but to go help in July instead. This also gave several Seniors who


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really wanted to help but who were graduating soon the chance to participate before heading off to college. Fr. Yuthana and I were able to take 16 students and 2 alumni for 4 days in July to complete as much of the work as possible. The recently graduated seniors and alumni, along with 11th grader Int, were able to put together 80 sets of desks and chairs, sand them down, and shellac them. Our more artistic students painted various animals, hopscotch games, and the complete Thai & English alphabet on the cement floors of the playground areas. The rest took on painting the school fences and walls with me. Luckily it didn’t rain and we were able to complete the work in 3 days, which gave us one last day to rotate so we could provide all 441 students at the school with an additional 2 hours of English games and activities. A big thank you to RIS parents Khun Lalita, for providing all the paint for our project; Khun Jantima for sponsoring

two complete bookshelves filled with many books; and Khun Kullavan and her medical friends from “Give for Life” for providing extra first-aid and medical supplies. And of course we can’t forget to thank the villagers who hosted us in their homes during our stay. We will be returning to visit the Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School on December 19–22, and we look forward to seeing all of the children there again. Here’s what some of our students had to say about the experience: “Being a part of the Loei trip was such an incredible experience for me. Once we arrived at the school and stepped down from the van, the quote: ‘You can make a difference’ instantly appeared in my head. The kids gathered around our van to welcome and greet us as if we were someone they’ve been waiting for forever, which caught me off guard. I’ve never imagined that I can posses such value to someone as much as this before. After the trip, with no hesitation, I told myself that I had to go back there, no matter what. They filled our missing definition of life with love, and now it’s our turn to pay them back for what they deserve.” Pim (12-7) “Building the desks and chairs was a new learning experience for me. At first, it was fairly difficult, as we had to get the feel of the equipment and material. The staff taught us how metal pieces would be welded

together first and then the wooden components had to be fitted onto the frame with screws. Then the wood had to be sanded down with sandpaper to remove any splinters.” Int (12-5) “We painted numbers, the Thai-English alphabet, and several animals on the playground floor for the children during breaks so they can have fun while learning. It was a really meaningful experience as we got to know the kids and explored northern Thai culture alongside helping them.” Angie & Mika (12-6 & 12-7) “I went to Loei to help paint the school along with doing an English activity with the students there. It was very rewarding to do the English activities with the children and the painting for the school. The villagers were extremely friendly, and I’m looking forward to going back there again in December.” Karn (12-4) “The kids at the school were super sweet and friendly. I was also very touched by how genuinely excited and happy they were to see us. I remembered that on the last day before we left, the kids were already asking me when I would be back again. And that was when I knew I would definitely be going back. My friends and I have planned for this next trip to be part of our CAS project, in which we will be doing additional fundraising for them.” Prim (12-7) Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Mint Pongphaew, Grade 12


he Butterfly Effect Committee had its annual trip to Father Ray Foundation Pattaya on June 8th and 9th to visit the children and adults with disabilities and to donate items such as children’s clothes, new stationery sets, toys, and other goods. Our committee’s goal is to help teach and introduce innovative ideas to help people with disabilities find potential jobs and make a living for themselves. We reckon that the best support we could provide them with is a stable career instead of money. With the belief that a small contribution can have a profound effect, we began to create the change we have always wanted to see. Many of the people who joined our activities were disabled adults from the vocational school center. During this trip, we were successful in introducing to them to new and convenient ways to paint and customize fabric bags using a relatively simple method that utilizes special markers that can be colored and printed onto the bag by ironing it. This method allows the disabled people to conveniently express their creativity and style in their work. They can design their own bags using the special markers that we donated to print messages or use the templates we provided for them to create something that would reflect their ideas. This way they get to be involved with every step of making the product. Moreover, the tools we used to create this fun and useful activity can be easily found at the vocational center or in nearby shopping centers, which will allow them to get the materials they need whenever they want to explore these activities for potential ways to earn money.


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Additionally, we got the chance to interact and meet with the children from the Children’s Village. We taught these children to make and design gel candles, which can be used for decoration or potential sales products. The children played several games and participated in meditation with our committee members before they returned to the village. This was a memorable experience for me as well as other Butterfly Effect Committee members as we got to bond and work together as a small group to help make a difference in the lives of these individuals who have the potential to be as great as any of us.

By Kancharos (Opal) Trakulsujaritchok, Grade 11


truly devastating event, the collapse of a dam in Laos on 23 July 2018 led to widespread destruction and homelessness, affecting nearly 70,000 people. After this incident, a group of us decided to create a project to help these people in Laos. We designed T-shirts to sell with the words “stay strong Laos” printed on them in order to show our support for the people who were suffering. By selling 600 T-shirts, we collected a total of 161,770 baht, including some donations from

students in our school. We received massive support from communities outside of school as well as within our own RIS community. Our goal is not for this project to become a social trend. All we hope is to have a community of 600 people, wearing our T-shirts, to show support for Laos. Even if it’s only 600 people out of the whole of Thailand, we believe that 600 people can make a difference.

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n August 23, we celebrated our Seniors as they officially became “The Class of 2019.” The muchanticipated RIS Senior Convocation Ceremony is one of the most meaningful events in the life of a student at RIS. The ceremony took place in Godbout Hall, which was filled with the rest of the HS community—students, teachers, faculty, staff, parents and family members— and a highly festive atmosphere. After the blessing ceremony, each student was invited on stage to be congratulated individually and be given their graduation pins and gowns. Wearing their new robes, the Seniors then returned to Godbout Hall to thunderous applause. Principal Dan Smith gave a moving speech to officially welcome them as the Class of 2019. After the recessional, the Seniors took the celebration outside and posed for fun photos with family, friends, and classmates. Congratulations, Class of 2019! May this year be filled with experiences and memories to treasure for the rest of your lives.


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What is your favorite thing about skating? I love to spin the most but sometimes it gives me a headache! I like the challenge of doing hard things. There are many different styles of spinning: single-foot spins, two-feet spins, camel spins (holding one leg), sitting spin, and spin combinations (a 90-degree spin and a sitting spin).


arakorn (May) Napaprukchat, a 4th grader, has been figure skating since she was 7 years old. Since then May has participated in many competitions and now, at the age of 9, she has already accumulated many awards for her skating. May is currently a member of ISI (Ice Skating Institute), an international ice-skating organization that holds competitions separated by level and age. Skaters can become members as young as age 2. The ISU (International Skating Union) is the other sport federation that manages ice-skating sports throughout the world. The ISU separates its competitors by level only, and members can be as young as 6. This means that a 6-year-old could compete against a 16-year-old. At end of November, May will take a skating test to see if she wants to compete in the ISU. Earlier this year, I sat down with May and her mother, Hannah, to find out how this young champion on ice has achieved so much in just two short years. (At the time of the interview, May was at the Freestyle 2 level but was planning to skip level 3 and test for Freestyle 4 in October.) How did you know that you wanted to learn to ice skate? My friend invited me to join a skating class, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to learn how to skate. How old were you when you realized that you really enjoyed skating? I was 7. I took my first figure-skating class at the Sub-Zero Ice Skate Club on Sukhumvit (the Ekamai branch), which is where I still practice.


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What’s the hardest thing about skating? Jumping in the air, the axel. It’s very hard and I could get really hurt. Sometimes I fall, but I get back up and keep skating. What is some of your favorite music to skate to? An instrumental song from the (Hollywood) Geisha movie where I get to dress up like a geisha in a pink costume. That’s my favorite show. I’ve only won gold with that routine. I also like “Keep on Dancing,” which is from a Barbie cartoon. Do you take classes or have a skating teacher? Both. I work one-on-one with a teacher. I’ve changed teachers with increasing skate levels. My teacher is very strict. If I get any of the details are wrong she will make sure I fix them! Hannah: The teacher will watch her composure and give feedback, such as improving her posture. The teacher pushes her to advance quickly; she’s strict but supportive. May’s current coach, who just graduated from Chulalongkorn University with a BA, has been approached by Disney on Ice. Do you get nervous before a competition? If so, what helps? Sometimes I get butterflies. My coach tells me to focus on the music, close my eyes, and relax. Sometimes I pray with Buddha. Hannah: It’s mostly me who gets nervous! The coach helps a lot with nerves as she deals with the psychology of competition. The coach doesn’t let her students watch the other competitors. Instead, she has the students sit and wait for their turn to compete and be mindful as they listen to the music. You did really well at your most recent competitions. Tell me what you won!

In August I skated in Skate Asia 2018 in Bangkok at Central Rama 9. Hannah: It was a 4-day competition. May won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals—a medal for all 6 of her routines: - Freestyle 2: gold medal - Open Freestyle Bronze: gold medal - Footwork FS2: gold medal - Artistic FS2: gold medal - Character Spotlight FS2: silver medal - Rhythmic Ribbon: silver medal May: I skated at Skate Chiang Mai 2018 at the Central Festival Sub-Zero Ice Rink in July. Hannah: May won: 2 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal - Solo Freestyle Bronze: gold medal - Character Spotlight FS2: gold medal - Artistic FS2: silver medal - Footwork FS2: silver medal - Freestyle 2: silver medal - Rhythmic Ribbon FS 2-3: bronze medal What other shows and competitions has May taken part in? In 2016, May participated in Skate Asia (Malaysia), Hong Kong, and Bangkok. In 2017, she skated in the ISI World Championships (Recreational) in California (USA), in the UAE, Skate Bangkok, and Skate Chiang Mai. And in 2018, May also competed in Skate Japan and Skate Beijing. Her coach wants her to practice more before she participates in other competitions. How often does May practice? Four times a week, two weekdays and both weekend days. During competitions, she will practice every day. She’s typically on the ice for 2 to 3 hours, 1 hour for her lesson and then the rest for practice, which is the homework her coach gives her. What are you most proud of? Hannah: Sometimes a skater falls because of holes in the ice created by other skaters, which is just unlucky. When May falls, she usually stands up very quickly and carries on. Some other skaters quit when they fall. Who arranges all of May’s skating activities and competitions? May: My mom and the coach. The coach decides the songs and the program.

Hannah: The coach’s uncle also helps. He makes the costumes and edits the songs to fit the length of the competition, which is between 1 and 1 1/2 minutes. He will design the song to match the choreography. I do May’s hair and makeup and help the coach’s uncle with the costume design. Skating competitions sound like an investment of time and money! Hannah: That’s true! We have to pay for the travel ourselves, including the accommodation, airfare, and the coach’s fee—but we can share the coach’s fee if other competitors are going to the same competition. Once you reach the national level in the ISU, the gold team level has sponsors. I hear that you are about to move up to another skating level (Freestyle 4) soon. What is involved in that test? May: I have to do a sit spin, a flip, a loop, a half loop, and dance steps. I have to do one main Freestyle 4 routine, like a solo performance as if it’s a competition. Hannah: She has to perform flawlessly in order to pass. The makeup and outfits don’t matter, but her posture and position does. But May can already do almost all of the Freestyle 5 moves. What else do you enjoy besides skating? This year I started swimming and I’m on the RIS Phoenix White team. I like to play with my friends on the monkey bars on the playground. I also like making and selling slime. Why did you choose RIS for May’s education? Hannah: RIS has a good reputation, and my friends’ daughters graduated from RIS and went to good colleges. May’s brothers moved from St. Joseph school, so May moved here, too. May’s older brothers are in grades 10 and 11. My son who’s in grade 11 also swims and is on the RIS Phoenix Gold team. Do you have any ideas about what you want to do in the future? May: I would like to be a skating coach. My teacher started coaching when she was in grade 10. I want to be a professional ice skater! Congratulations on your incredible achievements. We wish you all the best in your next tests and competitions! Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018



IS was well-represented by student bands at the HotWave Music Awards this summer. For those who don’t know, HotWave is a prestigious music competition for Thai students. Each band is required to play songs produced by the GMM Grammy label, but the musicians are required to rearrange as many aspects of the song as possible to show their creativity—only the lyrics must stay the same. Each band wears their school uniform to represent their school.

The other band is called Distance. Most of its members are from the Class of 2021, except for Peem, who’s a Senior in the Class of 2019: Supanat (Mark) Kongsawad - Drums Natakrit Ratanachai (Eke) - Guitar Natchanok Phungtam (Miu Miu) -Vocals Tawin Ekkapong (Peet) - Guitar Sahathai Khantee (Peem) - Bass Wongsatorn Onraksa (Trong) - Keyboards

An initial 800 bands submitted entries to the competition. One of our three bands was knocked out in that round, which reduced the entries to 200 bands.

Distance’s song #1: (395,239 views at the time of printing!) Distance’s song #2: (160,003 views at the time of printing!)

The second band, called AwakeN, consists of four RIS students: Kong Kraibhubes (Kong) - Guitar Alexander Anthony (Alex) - Bass Tanaphol Nantinkamol (Khaophun) - Drums Jinjutha Liangwatthanakol (Eve) - Vocals You can follow these links to hear the songs they performed: AwakeN’s song #: (74,807 views at the time of printing!) AwakeN’s song #2: (10,348 views at the time of printing!) 36

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Distance made it into the top 9 of the competition— the top 1% of all entrants! They made it into that last round, earning the 9th slot, by online voting and the marketing efforts of one of HotWave’s sponsors, Clean and Clear. Distance won 40% of all the online votes! The final round of the competition was held at CentralWorld on Sunday, September 16th. The top 8 finalists had the opportunity to be signed to the GMM Grammy label and be awarded a cash prize of 500,000 baht.

The competition was fierce and the results were close. Distance didn’t make it into the top 3, but we are very proud that they made it as far as they did. I met with Mark and Eke to learn more about how their band came to be and what it was like to make it to the top 9 of such a prestigious competition. How would you describe your music? Alternative. We experiment with other genres. How did you get together as a band? This band was started because of HotWave. The rest of band was already playing together, but Eke joined because the band wanted another guitar player and bass player. Who writes your songs? We don’t write our own songs as the competition is always a cover of a GMM Grammy song, but we have to rearrange the song. The lyrics stay the same but everything else is supposed to change. That’s how we show our creativity. How often do you practice? Usually once or twice a week but nearer the competition we practice every day for about 3 hours each day. Do you get nervous before you perform? Not so much. There are some butterflies but it’s fun to perform and feels good to be on stage. What’s your favorite thing about performing? When the audience cheers. How do you balance this commitment with all of your other responsibilities? We try to get as much work done in class and during breaks. We’re also both in sports teams and clubs.

We’ve been practicing as a band from 6:00–9:00. We get home around 10:30 and then have to do homework. For the last round, we got home around midnight. It’s harder now that our workload has gone up because we are Sophomores. Tell me about the HotWave Festival. Where was it? The first auditions were in four different regions of Thailand. We represented the eastern area of Bangkok. The initial round was a video submission, and there were 800 entrants. Of those, 200 were chosen to move to the next round, which was in Bangkok. That round was televised and taped and 39 bands made that cut. Those 39 bands were then separated in four groups and out of those, 16 groups moved on. The last round left 9 bands in the finals. How many people attended the televised rounds? There were about 100–200 people in audience—at a big concert hall, but there will be more at the finals. What happens in this last round? Competition rules are that all the bands in the final get signed to the label. But being in 9th place, we wouldn’t get the same level of support as the winner. Here’s what a few of the HS administrators had to say about our RIS bands: “These kids are really talented and representing RIS well.” — Mr. Richard, Dean of Students “(Our) bands are incredible! What a proud moment for RIS to have [them] representing our school in that way and making us proud!” — Ms. Sara, HS Vice Principal Congratulations on your success! RIS is very proud of you. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


Description of the assignment: The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel written by Margaret Atwood, is a speculative fiction text set in the United States in the “near future.” The Gilead, a theocratic totalitarian government, has recently staged a coup d’état and has instituted new laws in hopes of increasing birth rates in a society struck with an infertility phenomena caused by several socio-political and environmental factors. The Gilead’s oppressive regime controls the social rights of its people—Offred, a “handmaid,” is owned by the state and is forced to bear children as a pseudo surrogate for Gilead officials. The story of Offred’s attempt to find her own freedom and autonomy is told through her first-person point of view, and readers are struck with empathy toward the struggles she faces.

In their Higher Level IB English course, students were asked to take a section from this novel and transform it into another textual genre, either a poem or a drama, while remaining true to the novel’s original themes and the author’s purpose. The results were extremely creative and showcase a combination of RIS students’ capacity for critical thought, academic achievement, and artistic craft. We have shared a selection of their work here, but you can read several more pieces by scanning this QR code:

Student’s name: Angie Title of student work: Birth Dimmed light, in a minimalistic antique room with Janine on the bed, scrambled in tension with messy hair and dirty white sheets against her. Handmaids surround the bed at a fair distance, talking softly to each other in a reserved manner. Harmonizing is apparent. The level of noise increases with the speed of chatter like crickets. Aunt Elizabeth is at the head of the bed.

Janine’s movement curiously like cats. Outer handmaids follow in a wave.

White light on, accompanied by a loud slap of wooden sticks. The noise stops.

Janine flinches in pain and lets go of the ice in her mouth. A handmaid far away rubs rusted metal together to the beat of her breath.

Janine goes back to bed and is given ice. The handmaids retreat and one handmaid does one long scratch on a chalkboard while Janine sucks on ice. Handmaids: Breathe!

A Martha: Breathe! Handmaids: Expel, expel, expel. Janine pants heavily. Janine: No, no, no, oh no, oh no, oh no noHandmaids: Breathe. Breathe.


Janine: (Panting heavily) I want to walk. Please.

Rusted metal plates are knead against each other. Wooden sticks are hit.

Janine walks around her bed while handmaids stare and lean towards her, watching each and every one of

Outer handmaids: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me.

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Janine flinches in a striking pain. Handmaids around the bed contract arms, twisting, while handmaids behind Janine flinch and slowly fall to the ground one by one. Aunt Elizabeth: Dim the lights! Tell her it’s time. The handmaids that fell disappear from the scene to both sides. Two Marthas lead Janine to the Birthing Stool. Janine hunches over that her hair covers her presence. A loud slap of wooden sticks.

Outer handmaids: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. Handmaids lean towards Janine, closing her presence. Janine disappears. Grape juice spills from the bed to the floor. Aunt Elizabeth holds the baby high and is jubilant. Aunt Elizabeth: Oh, it’s a girl, poor thing. but so far so good. Everything in place? Are there two hands? Two eyes?

The Commander’s Wife comes in to beside Janine, carried by the Wives on a stool. The handmaids lose expression and hold hands.

The Wives begin to cry.

Janine: Oh no, no, no, oh no, oh no, oh no no-

Wives: Aw, Angela. Angela! Oh, she’s perfect! Oh, she’s wonderful!

All handmaids follow Janine to surround her in a circle. Another loud slap of wooden sticks. Handmaids: (Softly chanting) Push, push, push. New handmaids join the commotion little by little, taking towels from Janine’s bed, throwing them on her in hopes of cleaning the spilled blood, kicking the paper cups on the floor towards Janine. They stiffen up to chant.

Serena Joy: Angela.

Handmaids push the Wives to the back and lean close to the baby, congratulating Janine. They leave the room. Offred smiles wearily. Aunt Elizabeth and the Wives leave the room with Angela in their arms. Offred: That is her reward. She’ll never be sent to the Colonies, or be Unwoman. And what about us?

Handmaids: (Softly chanting) Push, push, push. A handmaid scratches the chalkboard, but this time slower and heavier.

The handmaids leave the room except Offred, as she falls to the floor, isolated with her belly.

Student’s name: Kachachan (Em) Chotitamnavee Title of student work: Echoes From the Days Long Past A Shakespearean Sonnet We slept in what was once a lively gym; We walked in what was once a greener space; The memoir from the past holds true and grim -We lived in what was once a joyful place.

Why hope? Why wish? Why dream or fantasize? For all it leads to is abject despair; For all those who I’ve seen dissent demise; Their minds left maimed and their bodies left bare.

The echoes of the days long past belie What truly lies beyond the sunny past -Where girls have danced, now handmaids mutely cry; Where games were played, now angels stand steadfast.

‘Tis only with reluctance we endure, For lives that do resist end premature.

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Student’s name: Tonghatai (Jointjoy) Aiemsakul Title of student work: Five Stages of Grief I - Day to Night Why is it that night falls? When darkness lifts into the sky, it’s rising not falling like dawn.

That’s one of the things they force you to do, that little sacrifice, that snuffing out of love, done for my sake in exchange for a kill in myself

A black sun behind cloud cover, like smoke from an unseen fire, looking in the east a brushfire, a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy like a thick curtain covering the eyes, a wool blanket.

but it was a meaningless kill, because they were waiting for us. Was it the neighbor, passport forger, who wished us that much evil—we can never know. Like being in an elevator cut loose at the top, falling, falling, reminding us that God’s eyes are watching.

Night has fallen, then your weight press down on me like stone. In this night there’s no breeze, no need for modesty or coverage. In summer we wear long-sleeved nightgowns to hide the temptations for our own flesh. II - Handmaid to Man Down the lawn a man emerges from the spill of darkness, a white oblong face brimful of hunger for luxury that we both can’t indulge. I have no rose and he has no lute, and as I let the curtain fall between us the night takes him away. The commander’s words are true: One and one and one and one doesn’t equal four. There is no way of joining them together— neither can Nick or Luke but one or the other. III - Wife to Husband Can we call this happiness, the arms around me, false security, walking through the rooms, here and there: unpacked furniture, messy tables, empty frames hung from walls, capturing the house we made our life. I seemed never to have known before, the cat was a burden, a nuisance, a red sign to our escape; first it had to be an it, and it had to be killed— that was how Luke took care of her. 40

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IV - Handmaid to Handmaid Tonight I will say my prayers, no longer kneeling at the foot of the bed or knees on the hardwood of the gym floor; no Aunt Elizabeth standing by the double doors arm folded, cattle prod hung on her belt, or Aunt Lydia striding along the rows of kneeling night-gowned women, hitting our backs, feet, bums, arms, just a flick, a tap; recreating an image of Christmas-card angels, regimented in our robes of purity, a part of it was for aesthetic, the other, she’d say, for little pain to clean out the mind. V - Handmaid to God Oh God, thanks for not creating me a man, make me fruitful, mortify my flesh, let me be multiplied and fulfilled, grant me the ecstasy of abasement, a right to moan and cry. My God, Who Art in the Kingdom of Heaven, I wish you would tell me Your Name, help me get through it, though maybe it’s not your doing, I’m sure it’s not what you meant. I have enough daily bread don’t waste my time on that now it’s time for forgiveness but there are more important things provide us a Heaven hell we can make for ourselves

temptation is the next cause of the fall from innocence to knowledge Oh God, I’d rather not know, many don’t know, just lean your weight forward and not fight.

If I were You I’d be fed up, sick and tired, how can I keep on living when I feel so lonesome, alone in front of a wall, in hope as they say on the gravestones Oh God, it’s no joke, Will You deliver us from evil?

Student’s name: Anonymous Title of student work: Going to Get Groceries *Offred and Ofglen enters from left side* *Narrator enters stage from right side* Narrator: The infamous country of Gilead, formerly known as the United States, is a unique place, with a unique society and social structure. Here we see the Handmaids in this society. Today, these two exquisite specimens of Handmaids, Offred and Ofglen, seem to be out for groceries. In the country of Gilead, Handmaids are ever only allowed out in pairs, in fear of the male predators who freely stalk the roads. Naturally, these men will only keep to themselves, but can attack if an opportunity of weakness arises. The Handmaids keep to the sides, and do not make eye contact, a defense mechanism they have developed through experience. Even though they are of the female gender, and without any male protectors escorting them, they are quite safe. Unlike the old system of the United States, in the Republic of Gilead women do not need to fear for themselves every time they go out of their homes. Alongside other handmaids, they make the trek to the grocery store in mutual silence. They know that words will only bring them trouble. *They join a group of women in line for groceries* Once upon a time, in the days of the United States, women would have been able to walk down the road however and whenever they want. However, this lead to attacks on women and the roads were soon realized to be too dangerous for them. The flaws and cracks of the United States, intensified during the Great Wars, became its downfall. In a great revolution, the Knights of Gilead overthrew the government and took over the country. In the vision of returning their country to the old, pure ways of yore, and following the book of God. Now, women are safe.

*A pregnant handmaid walks towards the group* Unbeknownst to the two, a rare specimen of the handmaids approach from behind. A pregnant woman, a sight which is exceptional to behold in this day and age for the country of Gilead. We can see that the handmaids around her stirring at her sight, obviously disturbed by this act of boasting. Not many people get pregnant easily in Gilead anymore, a consequence of the fallout from the Great War. Thus, a specimen like this should’ve been kept home for protection, but it seems as though this one came to gloat among its sisters. *Offred and Offglen leave the line and walk back towards the left side of the stage* Rather than stay around any longer, our two handmaids leave the gathering and begin their trek home. *Group of tourists enter from right hand side of the stage and approach Offred and Offglen* On the way back, a group of people approach them. These are what we call tourists, people who have come here for the sights, they appear like aliens in this drab landscape around them. You can see that their clothing is bright, colorful and varied, making them stick out like sore thumbs around the people here. It looks like they are from another world, in many ways, they are. They approach the two handmaids and ask a question. Tour Guide: “Are you happy?” *Narrator walks off stage* Offred: “Yes, of course.” *Lights dim* *All characters walk offstage* *End Scene* Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018



Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018

By Elisia Brodeur


his past summer, 6th grader Ada Chunhavajira auditioned for a chance to compete in the illustrious World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA), an annual international competition that takes place at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in California. WCOPA covers every area of the performing arts in 500+ categories, from singers and vocalists to models and musicians. This year was the 22nd anniversary of the competition, which is televised worldwide. According to host Adam Havener, WCPOA is the “ultimate global contest for aspiring performers and entertainers.” This year was no exception with hundreds of performers representing a total of 68 countries. The judges represent all aspects of the entertainment industry—casting directors, agents, managers, producers, songwriters, and music industry reps. It is a 2-week competition, and the first week sees hundreds of performers competing during two rounds of eliminations. For the finals, each act is limited to a 1-minute performance, and the winners are selected based on their entertainment and marketing value. Ada, who was 12 years old at the time of the competition, blew her competition out of the water. I met with her parents to learn more about her incredible success. Tell me about Ada’s recent success at WCPOA. Ada participated in all 10 musical styles/categories (pop, etc.). In her age bracket (10–12-year-olds), she medaled in 8 out of the 10 categories, receiving a total of 2 gold, 3 silver, and 4 bronze medals. She was also awarded a 9th medal for her piano performance. She was the only competitor from Thailand to come away with so many medals. At the end of the competition, it

was announced that she had won the most number of awards across several age groups, all the way up to the 15-year-olds. One of the judges is from California and owns a production company. At the end of the competition, she approached Ada and awarded her a scholarship of $5,000 to arrange one song. The production company owner will work with Ada to mix the song and is hoping that Ada will travel back to California next summer to record it. What other shows and competitions has Ada taken part in? This was Ada’s very first competition, so her incredible results were a wonderful surprise. How long has Ada been performing? Once Ada was accepted to perform in the competition, she had only 4 months to prepare. She had 5 different teachers over the summer to help her with singing, dancing, acting, piano, etc. How often does she practice? Ada has only practiced informally up to this point, but now she will have one lesson a week. What other talents does Ada have? Ada has been playing the piano for 5 years, since she was 7 or 8. She’s now at Level 5. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


What drew you to RIS for Ada’s education? RIS focuses on all aspects of a student’s education. Not only are the students expected to study, but they are also able to play sports and study music. That’s how Ada discovered her love of music. As student at RIS since Grade 1, Ada was able to learn with the very talented Ms. Kim and Ms. Hye Sun, who has since retired.

only 3 spots for Thai children. If she wins, she will qualify to perform in London. But now that she’s back at school, we would like her to continue to focus on her education and pursue her musical talents as she can. Here at school, Ada can continue singing and is given many performance opportunities, such as being invited to sing at high school celebrations.

What are Ada’s future plans to compete or perform? Ada has applied for a spot in the Pacific International Talent Show, which is coming up in Tokyo. There are

RIS wishes Ada all the best in her upcoming competitions. I suspect we will be hearing more about this young lady’s success in the future.

By Winnie Quangkananurug, Grade 11


uring the first week of July, I went on an internship at Chulalongkorn University’s department of chemical engineering. The aim of the internship was to get first-hand experience in the field of chemical engineering. Although the first day was only an orientation of the laboratory’s many pieces of equipment, the days following consisted of listening to the students presentations of their projects and then replicating and helping afterward. Each of the days I attended I worked on a certain project, ranging from industrial adhesives, film cable connectors, bullet proof plate coating, to silicone molds. Even though I only worked in one part of the chemical engineering laboratory—the polymer lab— each project was distinctively unique from the other, making my internship very interesting to attend. In just one week, I was able to grasp a fair amount of learning experience. What was really surprising to me was the diversity of knowledge used in the field. Although the name suggests that there are only two fields incorporated, chemistry and engineering,


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chemical engineering uses knowledge from a variety of subject areas, such as biology and economics. The wide range of ideas that can be used in chemical engineering just goes to show how easily an idea or experiment can be considered to be a part of chemical engineering, really expanding the field of what we can study in just one subject when compared to other majors. Something else that I was able to observe was that chemical engineering is extremely math heavy as projects include combining precise amounts of various substances to create a new material. Math plays a big part in determining the quantity of the substances being used to the smallest decimal place to make sure that the experiment goes as planned. As a whole, the experience at Chulalongkorn University was very enjoyable, mainly due to the surrounding environment created by the graduates. I would like to thank all the graduates who took me under their wing to make my week-long internship turbulence-free. On the same note, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Rimdusit, the professor who gave me the opportunity to receive the internship in the first place.

By Pathid Liamtrakoolpanich, Grade 11


his summer, I was fortunate to be accepted into an internship program at the Synchrotron Light Research Institute (SLRI) in Nakhon Ratchasima. This institution is unique because it is the only one that can produce synchrotron light in Thailand, and it is the biggest of its kind in the ASEAN region. There, I gained a thorough understanding of synchrotron light. Synchrotron light is a type of electromagnetic wave. To generate these waves, electrons must possess an energy level of approximately 1,200 million electron volts (1.2 GeV). To achieve this feat, the electrons must achieve a speed close to that of light. The particles are then stored in vacuum tubes where the pressure is 10-11 Torr. These electrons then pass through an undulator consisting of dipole, quadrupole, and sextupole magnets. The undulator generates a magnetic field perpendicularly aligned with the movement of the electrons. Under this effect, the electrons are forced to change direction and travel in a circular ring. This specific sequence causes energy to be emitted from the electrons in the form of electromagnetic waves, called synchrotron light. The synchrotron light is then sent through a specially made tube called a beamline, where it is used to obtain a detailed analysis of the molecular and atomic properties of the substances in question. I was assigned to work at Beamline 2.2, a beamline that employs energy-dispersive mirrors to conduct an

X-ray absorption spectroscopy test on the substances. There, I was asked to carry out different tasks, such as simulating a dipole magnet and figuring out the magnetic field generated. Synchrotron light was then used to determine the effects of the reformation of carbon dioxide under the magnetic field produced. When carbon dioxide is fused with a hydrogen atom, it turns into various hydrocarbons, which can then be turned into energy. It is theorized that by applying a magnetic field, the carbon dioxide will reform into longer chains of hydrocarbons and, as such, provide more energy. Through the use of the magnet I created and an analysis of the carbon dioxide under synchrotron light, the effect of the magnetic field on the reformation of carbon dioxide could be obtained. Completing these tasks proved to be a very valuable experience. It helped me understand what a job at a research institution such as the SLRI entails. Furthermore, it gave me the opportunity to witness how research meant for publication is conducted—each and every error has to be accounted for and the precision of each measurement has to be extremely accurate. It is very different from the experiments I have previously conducted in the school science lab. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


By Tonghatai (Jointjoy) Aiemsakul, Grade 12


o say my summer vacation was memorable would be an understatement—it was exceptional. For five days I partook in an internship program in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kamphaeng Phet Public Hospital. You may be wondering why I needed to travel four hours away from Bangkok to a rural province in Northern Thailand for an internship. As a developing country, wealth inequality remains a major issue, such that the gap between the rich and the poor is evident in public and private healthcare. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but there are vast differences in patient management, facility efficiency, and medical technology (to name a few), between hospitals within the capital city and the countryside. It is solely for this reason that I chose to step out of my comfort zone and meet the reality of what a physician’s role truly is. For the first three days I was stationed at the outpatient department (OPD). My daily schedule consisted of signing in with the nurses at 9:00 a.m. and then carrying out minor tasks such as sorting documents, giving out number queues, and directing patients to their proper stations. From this morning routine, I was baffled by the hospital’s lack of management. If you thought the wait times in Bangkok were intolerable, the ones in the provinces are worse. Unlike private hospitals, where I’ve been admitted since I was young, the waiting times in public hospitals are tremendously long. Since Kamphaeng Phet is one of the only two hospitals in the province, and the largest in the area, patients from a multitude of backgrounds would arrive by 5:00 a.m. Some had slept overnight on benches to receive treatment. At this point, I realized the importance of making health programs more accessible to those who are financially challenged. My assigned physician, Dr. Chitlada Khamching, would arrive at around 10:30 a.m. I would sit on a stool near her working desk and observe as the diagnoses began. Cases were divided into antenatal care (ANC) and gynaecological conditions, which ranged from forgetful elderly patients who couldn’t remember why they were there to teenagers who had fabricated illegal abortions in order to be admitted to the hospital. There were


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moments where I wondered how Dr. Chitlada was able to handle such unexpected circumstances. In situations where a patient’s attitude couldn’t be controlled, she had a duty to decide in the best interest of her patient while also maintaining good morals. It is frustrating to see teenagers ignore birth control, preferring to receive help when it is too late. But this is what doctors are for—to help maximize their patient’s quality of life. Similar to these encounters, another case that stood out to me was where a mother was well over her reproductive age, yet she insisted on conceiving a baby. What impressed me more was the way Dr. Chitlada communicated with her patients. She carefully informed this patient with a stern but trustworthy tone that the baby would have an increased risk of developing autism, having birth complications, and an intellectual disability. Despite all these warnings, the mother’s opinion was not swayed. She remained absolute. In this moment, it was demonstrated to me that the job of a physician requires great communication skills in order to have a successful doctor-patient relationship. These skills include being forthright, empathetic, and passionate. Physicians can’t entirely deny their patients’ rights but they must work around the concern together. Furthermore, what I found admirable about Dr. Chitlada and the other intern doctors was their perseverance. A public hospital has a minimum of 40 cases per doctor

per day, and they must work quickly and with efficiency. Not all patients receive their deserved time for a consultation and some have to come back another day. This is the inconvenient truth of public hospitals. Aside from observing the physician’s and nurses’ demeanor, I followed Dr. Chitlada to watch minor gynaecological outpatient operations. These were less serious that those in operating rooms and required less time. Much to my surprise, the procedures were more bloody than I’d expected, but rather than being frightened I was quite fascinated. How could a large, metallic tool enter a human body without tearing the flesh apart? How do patients feel being exposed to onlookers? Aside from these exciting minor surgical procedures, many cases were primarily antenatal care. All day long, I witnessed several ultrasounds of young mothers. My assigned physician was kind enough to point out the different parts of the fetus on the ultrasound screen and teach me basic pregnancy concepts. For the fourth and fifth days, I was stationed at the labor ward and the antenatal care unit, respectively. There I met externs—medical students from university who gave me study advice and insights into a medical career. We got along fairly quickly, and I was grateful to have met upperclassmen who were willing to guide me. You may have expected me to have witnessed a handful of childbirths at the labor ward, but the opposite occurred. Most patients who went into labor were rushed to the hospital late at night and had a vaginal delivery. If it hadn’t been for one of the externs who led me into the wrong operating room, I wouldn’t have

seen a caesarian delivery performed. The moment the baby’s head emerged I was in awe at the birth of a life. Throughout the five days, I was fortunate enough to visit operating rooms (OR) where I got to witness myriad gynaecological operations. Some of the more notable ones were a hysterectomy (a surgical operation to remove all or part of the uterus) on an older woman, the removal of an ovarian cyst (a fluid-filled sac within the ovary), and a uterine fibroid removal (non-cancerous growths in the uterus). I consider these moments by-products of my internship as surgical cases are unpredictable. During my stay there, I began to notice the differences in atmosphere—it was my job to observe after all. Provincial hospitals encompass a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, unlike the cold aura emitted from those in the industrialized city. My experience at this hospital has, once again, shaped who I want to become in the future. I’ve gained new insights that will continue to motivate me to become a well-established doctor. To those who are planning to job-shadow a medical career: there is more to a hospital internship than walking the halls of medical wards and observing surgical procedures. With an open heart, there is so much more to learn. The internship program at Kamphaeng Phet Public Hospital could not have been possible without the support of Dr. Rotjana Khontong, the Director who granted me an opportunity to job-shadow a medical specialist that resulted in many eye-opening experiences, Dr. Chitlada Khamching, and the nursing department. Special thanks as well to Mr. Tawan Waengsothorn. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018



Dr. Joshua Fritts

Elementary Principal Hello! I’m Dr. Josh, and I joined RIS this year as the Elementary Principal. I come with over 30 years of experience as an educator and many insights into creating a truly inclusive, multicultural educational setting. Before RIS, I was: Head of the Elementary Division at The Lab School of Washington in Washington, DC; Head of Teaching and Learning for Qatar Foundation schools in Doha, Qatar; and a school administrator and teacher in Portland, Oregon. I earned my doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership from Northeastern University with a focus on teaching reading to struggling learners through culturally responsive practices. I also hold an Educational Leadership Certificate, a Masters of Special Education, and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Portland State University. While I’m proud to call myself a native Pacific Northwesterner, I have traveled and lived around the world, working with schools and speaking internationally to share my commitment to the success of all students and families.

Benjamin Tan PreK 2 Teacher

Kia ora! Gidday! Hello! My name is Ben Tan, and I am from the far north of New Zealand. I’ve also spent half my life on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. I am very fortunate to be married to Kirra Tan and we are blessed to have one little boy, Freedom Tan. Fun Facts About Me: • My son was born on a volcanic island called Jeju in South Korea. This is where I used to teach prior to RIS, at an international school called Branksome Hall Asia. Although it’s no longer an active volcano, there are countless volcanic sites to see such as the big lava tubes and oreums (volcanic cones). • I’m currently teaching 12 awesome 2-year-olds in PreK 2. • Prior to becoming a school teacher, I trained adults and teenagers at wellness centers in Muay Thai and fitness. I competed as a Muay Thai lightweight fighter for 8 years and won the Australian lightweight title in 2009. • As a child, I grew up living on a beach with my sister and four brothers. 48

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Marnie Augello

Kindergarten Teacher I’m here at RIS with my husband, Bren, who teaches PreK 2, and our daughter, Silvia, who is in PreK 4. I have taught in China, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea, and Thailand. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, I speak French but was raised anglophone. I enjoy hiking, eating, movies, and wine. I dislike CloudTalk and Italian stereotypes. I have an international rugby cap and a black belt in Hapkido.

Bren Buckley PreK 2 Teacher

My name is Bren Buckley, and I teach PreK 2. I’m here with my wife Marnie (Kindergarten teacher) and our daughter Silvia (PreK 4 student). I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and went to university in Montreal, Quebec. I have taught in Mexico, Egypt, South Korea, and Thailand. This is my 6th year in Thailand but my first year at RIS. In my spare time I like playing sports, reading, eating, and visiting new places. I’m a big history buff who likes rock climbing, scuba diving, and martial arts. I also have a black belt in Hapkido.

Tina Phromsorn

PreK 2 Associate Teacher Hi! I’m originally from New York City, but I went to high school here at RIS and graduated with the class of 1996. My sons are currently in grades 3 and 5. It’s great to be back at RIS! I like: • traveling with family and friends • watching movies in the cinema, especially romantic comedies • going to the beach—but not getting a tan! • eating all kinds of food • shopping, shopping, shopping!!! I dislike: • horror movies • polluted beaches and waters • liars • cockroaches!!!

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Breeanna Caudill ES Counselor

Hello! My name is Breeanna Caudill, and I am the ES school counselor. While I am new to RIS, I have been working as a school counselor for the past 6 years. In counseling, I practice a solutionfocused approach as well as cognitive behavioral techniques. You can find me teaching social/emotional lessons in classes, working with small groups, or spending time 1:1 with students, teachers, and parents. The best part about RIS so far has been getting to know the students and families. I have also been pleased to find that Thailand is full of great food and kind, welcoming people. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my dog, fitness, traveling, cooking, and eating. If you see me in ES 106 without any visitors, feel free to stop in and say hello!

Tennille Scheriff

ES Literary Specialist I’m Tennille Scheriff, and I am beyond excited to join the RIS team. I will be serving our students as the ES literacy specialist and am happy to support our teaching team and students in any way. This is my 20th year of teaching, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to join this amazing cadre of international teachers. Here are some little-known facts about this “low-country” lady from Hilton Head, South Carolina. I’m a: • sports fanatic • die-hard Iowa Hawkeyes fan • music lover • beach bum • bargain hunter • veteran

Karen Page

PreK 2 Teacher I am originally from South Africa, but my daughters and I have lived in Kazakhstan, Romania, UAE, Thailand, and Jordan. We love traveling around the world! Some of our favorite countries are Turkey, Israel, and Egypt. This is our second time in Thailand, and we are so happy to be back!


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Tami Weeks

3rd Grade Teacher I’ve lived in various places around the United States but will always consider the Pacific Northwest, and specifically Oregon, my home. Most recently my husband (Josh), daughter (Simone), and I were living in Washington, DC. Before that, we spent time in Doha, Qatar. My main interests outside of school are traveling, reading, and watching as much soccer (futball) as possible. My favorite teams are the Portland Thorns and both the men and women of Manchester City, but I’m always up for watching any game, any time, in any language!

Cris O’Malley

3rd Grade Teacher Greetings! My name is Cris, and I am thrilled to be a new member of the ES as a 3rd grade teacher. I’m joining the RIS team with my best friend and husband, Jim, along with our three children: Tyler (15), Megan (9), and Caleb (8). We have lived and worked in California, Florida; Bogotá, Colombia; and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. We enjoy cooking for/with friends, traveling, and outdoor activities of all kinds.

James Philip Anaya ES PE Teacher

I come from the great state of Texas, where I have lived and worked for much of my life. I worked in San Antonio, Texas, for 14 years and was in Dubai for the last 4 years. Prior to that, I was a student teacher in New Zealand, which is what lit a fire in me to consider international teaching. This will be my 19th year teaching ES PE. I’m excited to be here at this great international school that promotes such a wonderful mission. I’m also excited to learn about the Thai culture and to teach children important life skills that are a big part of my life. My interests are traveling, exercising, most sports, reading, technology, watching movies and TV series, and meeting people along my journey.

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Shasta Miller

ES PE Teacher I am from Alaska and traveled here with my husband, Kelsey. I’m the oldest of five siblings—I have two brothers and two sisters. Education: • 49th State Fellowship • I have a Bachelor of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master in Teaching from the University of Alaska, Anchorage • I studied abroad in Swansea, Wales I love to travel and have been to over 35 countries. The world is a big place and I want to see more of it! My favorite Thai foods are Khao Soi and Massaman curry, mango sticky rice, and rambutan. I’m very active and enjoy many different sports, such as • Rock climbing: I regularly climb 5.10 and am lead qualified. My last climbing trip was in Hatcher Pass, Alaska. The longest continuous climb I have ever completed was 8 hours. • Ice climbing • Triathlon: I have competed in 7 different sprint triathlon races. • Hiking: My last big hike was the Chilkoot Trail. My favorite part was climbing the golden staircase. • Scuba Diving: I got my certification in the Dominican Republic. My most recent dive was in Hawaii. I really like wreck dives and got to see turtles on the last one! I want to dive with sharks. • Biking: I like to ride my bike and want to cycle across a country—I just can’t decide which one yet! When indoors, I enjoy quilting—I completed a Star Wars quilt and am working on a controlled scrappy split nine patch right now. And I read every day. I’m really enjoying science fiction at the moment. Bits of Lore, Odds and Ends: • I signed up to run my first half marathon this year in Angkor Wat. • I have ridden horses past the Arctic Circle three times. • I went to Japan as an exchange student in high school. • I have read the entire Chronicles of Narnia out loud to my youngest siblings. • I like to read personal finance blogs for fun. • Elephants are my favorite animal. • My favorite colors are purple and green.


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Charlene MacNeil 5th Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Charlene, and I’m thrilled to be teaching 5th grade this year at RIS. I have taught for 26 years in my home province of Nova Scotia, Canada. This is my first time traveling to Asia. In my spare time, I love taking part in many outdoor activities with my family (hiking, swimming, gardening, etc.) as well as reading, cooking, and helping out with my four beautiful grandchildren. I look forward to a wonderful year working at RIS!

Sr. M. Gladys Laurente

OSB, ES/MS Religion Teacher Hello, RIS! I’m Sister Mary Gladys A. Laurente, OSB, Benedictine Sister from Davao City in the south of the Philippines. Before I came to RIS, I was in many of our missions the Philippines: in the south— Digos City and Davao City (Priory House); Malaybalay City; in the west—Zamboanga City; in the north—Vigan City, and in Manila— Cubao, Quezon City. For now, I am privileged to be part of the realization of the Vision and Mission of RIS. I’m so grateful for the warm welcome from everyone! Thailand is a wonderful place with people who are kind and calm. I’m so happy to be here!

Viveca Smith

ES ELD Teacher I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, and lived in Miami, Florida, for 13 years. I have been teaching for 15 years and have lived and taught in Indonesia, Germany, and South Africa. Things I love… • day parties • babies laughing • cooking, making art, looking at art, live music, the ocean • having strangers become new friends • discovering new restaurants, bars, and hotel gems

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Alyssa Littlejohn 6th Grade Math

Hello! I’m very excited to be teaching 6th grade math this year at RIS! I’m from Houston, Texas, where I taught 6th & 7th grade math and coached cheerleading. This is my first international teaching experience and my first time in Asia. I enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, meeting new people, reading, and cheering on my favorite sports teams!

Jordan Newman

6th Grade Humanities Teacher • I’m from Toronto, Canada. • I have a 5-year-old son named Jackson. • I like to travel, play sports, and read. • This is my fourth year living in Thailand, and I never want to leave!

Borjah Ferraz

MS Spanish and Values Hola a todos! I am from the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria) in Spain. I like to be called “Señor” Borja at school (instead of Mr.) as a way of showing the importance of Spanish. I’m teaching MS Spanish, Gr 5 Intro to Spanish, Gr 7 Values, Gr 9 Advisor, and Junior / U15 girls Soccer coach. I have combined two of my passions in the last 10 years—teaching and traveling. Before Thailand, I had the chance to teach in Spain, England, Wales, the Bahamas, and China. I love sports, dancing Bachata and Salsa, hanging out with friends, board games, watching REAL MADRID games, and school trips out of the classroom. Family is everything to me: My Mum, sisters, and my 14-year-old nephew who I love going on adventures with. Although I don’t see them that often, they are pillars in my life. 54

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Branden Watts

7th Grade Humanities My name is Branden Watts, and I’m thrilled to be teaching 7th grade Humanities at RIS this year. I’m happy to share this adventure with my wife, Wendi, and our twins, Beni and Ray. We hail from the Emerald City, Seattle. When I’m not teaching, I love reading comic books, playing video games, and spending an excessive amount of time comparing prices and features of things that I eventually never end up buying.

Chelsea Froemming

6th & 7th Grade Humanities I’m teaching 6th and 7th grade humanities this year. I’m passionate about standards-based assessment, critical thinking in the classroom, and building relationships with students. I call Minnesota home, but I lived in Kathmandu for 2 years. I love stories—in all their forms, elephants, and the color purple. I also love to travel and will go (almost) anywhere. I’m perpetually curious and am always asking questions and looking for information!

Jerrid Harris

MS Health and Wellness Hi! I am beyond excited about my first year of international teaching at RIS (and in Asia). I’m teaching MS Health and Wellness and hope it will serve to positively empower and connect the hearts, minds, and lives of the students, faculty, and staff at RIS! I strive to live what I teach and want to serve as a resource for anyone who wishes to learn more about nutrition, fitness, mindfulness … anything! If I don’t know it, I will find it and learn with you. Teamwork makes the dream work! I LOVE sports, games, playing drums and guitar, cooking (vegan) and entertaining for friends/coworkers, reading, hiking, biking, animals…all the things. Last but NOT least, my wife will be joining me in February 2019. (She loves her job as much as I love mine.)

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Matthew Barry

Grade 8 Humanities RIS and Bangkok are my new homes! I’m teaching MS Humanities and geek out about curriculum and Problem-Based Learning. I long to see Land’s End and discover what adventures await on the other side. I have traveled to 30 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa, logging countless miles and stories. I am newly married. My husband will be joining me in Bangkok next May. He’s in the US Army and is currently deployed to the Middle East.

Patty Clardy

8th Grade Humanities Hi! My name is Patty, and my husband and I, along with our 2 daughters, are from Half Moon Bay, California. We previously taught in Costa Rica and had such a great experience that we decided to try another part of the world. We’re grateful to be working at RIS! I attended school at UCLA and pursued acting for 5 years before moving to Colorado to get my teaching credential from CU Boulder. I hope to eventually retire in southern Spain, where I can eat tapas and enjoy sangria!

Brian Schwer

MS ELD Teacher I grew up in Michigan but have also called the following places home: • Miami, Florida • Jakarta, Indonesia • Erlangen, Germany • Johannesburg, South Africa I love to spend my time • Going to concerts and music festivals. • Hiking, paddle boarding, and feeling small in nature. • Cooking with fire, listening to records, and pretending I am a mixologist.


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Candace Brendler

MS Science and Health I am so excited to teach at RIS! I am coming from teaching 8th grade math and science in Durango, Colorado. This is my first time living abroad. I have an identical twin sister, Stefanie, who lives in Seattle. I love exploring and adventuring outdoors, cooking and eating, watching movies, playing games, and spending time with friends. My favorite animal is the octopus. I once applied to NASA to be an astronaut.

Jonathan Bennett

MS/HS Computer Science My wife and I are THRILLED to be in Bangkok! I am teaching MS/ HS Computer Science and looking for interdisciplinary projects with Computer science and other subjects. I love traveling and exploring new places. I also love music, games, and reading. This will be the 15th country I have visited and the 4th country I’ve lived in. Before we moved to Thailand, my wife was a Korean “wonder woman.” She worked as a PR manager, book editor/writer, E-book saleswoman, and marketer. She will be relaxing and exploring Bangkok on a well-deserved vacation.

David Wade

AP/IB English and Film Studies My name is David Wade, but I also go by a few nicknames: Dave “The Blade” and Dwade. I’m half-Japanese/half-Texan and am a globe-trotting, Canadian-loving, filmmaking English teacher. I come to Bangkok via Austin, TX; San Diego, CA; New York City; Lugano, Switzerland; and Columbia, Maryland. The other Wadelings who are joining me in this adventure are my wife, Jenn, daughter Chloe (11), son Griffin (8), and baby Mason.

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Jim O’Malley HS Principal

Hello! My name is Jim O’Malley and this is my crazy family! I am the High School Principal and all five of us are here at RIS. I was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, but Lake Tahoe is our home in the States. We are excited to make RIS and Thailand our new home. We’re coming from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in West Africa. Prior to the Ivory Coast, we spent three years in Bogotá, Colombia. We love to travel, the outdoors, the water, and just about any other adventure!

Sean Fisk

AP/IB Chemistry Hello! I’m super excited to be joining RIS this year! Most recently, my family was in Jeju, South Korea, but home is Melbourne, Florida. This will be my 8th year teaching, the 7th teaching chemistry, the 4th AP Chem, and the 2nd IB Chem. I love boating, swimming, SCUBA diving, and sci-fi and fantasy. Star Wars is life. Teaching is a 2nd (3rd?) career for me. My background is in marine science, and I did 10 years of field research with the state of Florida, and a few as a boat mechanic. I see the wonder and beauty of science in everything around me, every day. It is my job NOT to kill that wonder for my students.

Christopher Cowherd

Instructional Innovation Coordinator I’m originally from Gary, Indiana, USA (the birthplace of Michael Jackson), but I currently consider Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home. I’ve been based in Boston, the Berkshires, Barcelona, and Beijing before Bangkok (say that five times fast!). I like to golf (poorly), play basketball and softball (slowly), and watch movies (loudly). If I were not an educator, I’d probably be running a bed and breakfast in some awesome tropical place.


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Michael P. Clardy

HS World History and Economics Hello! I’m teaching 9th and 10th grade World History as well as Economics. I’ll also be coaching the U15 rugby team. My wife, Patty, is teaching 8th grade Humanities. My daughter Payton is in 9th grade and my other daughter Catherine is in 7th grade. Bring on the adventure!

Leif Hopkins

Environmental Science/Biology I was born in Vermont but grew up as a TCK (Third Culture Kid) with international school teaching parents. My background experience was as a marine biologist. I enjoy volunteering for environmental NGOs. I love science so much that it was no surprise when I married another science teacher :) • I really like living in SE Asia and previously lived in Kuala Lumpur and Bali. • I can speak conversational Spanish and Bahasa, basic Papiamentu, Swahili, French, and Arabic. • I think that maple syrup is worth more than gold. • My passions are scientific diving and underwater photography. • I’m ready to talk about nature—anywhere, anytime!

Tracee Anderson HS Counselor

I’m originally from Washington state. Before RIS, I worked as the Assistant Director of a counseling center at a private, liberal arts college. I like monkeys and elephants, am passionate about scuba diving and playing guitar, enjoy writing, reading, walking, and I love to travel! My three grown kids rock my world! One is a fish biologist, one is a physiologist, and one is about to start medical school!

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Marianna Wiles

Creative Writing and English I’m teaching Creative Writing and 10th grade English at RIS. Before Bangkok, I lived in New York and Oregon, originally from South Carolina. My former careers include barista, editor/small-business owner, and teaching artist. I have many outdoor hobbies and favorites include hiking forests and mountains and kayaking. My indoor hobbies range from baking and cooking meals for others to board games to writing snail mail.

Julia Jones

Director of Student Support I’m joining the RIS family from Chicago, Illinois. I grew up in Michigan/ Ohio and am stepping away from my Midwestern roots for my first international position. I’m a school psychologist by training but have spent the last five years as an administrator in student services. My parents, along with my brothers and their families, are in Ohio. You will definitely hear about my nephew! I am also the proud mentor of these two amazing young ladies. I love tennis, golf, music, movies, cooking and traveling, as well as cheering for my favorite Michigan sports teams!

Debbie Klongtruadroke

Executive Assistant to the Head of School & Senior Leadership I’m half-Thai/half-Italian and attended RIS from 1989–1994. It’s an honor to be part of this school again and to see my boys Logan (grade 4) and Landon (PreK 4) become 2nd-generation RISians! RIS was instrumental in shaping who I am today as well as in establishing lifelong friendships that are still a huge part of my life! My career has been mostly in the entertainment industry as a former model, an international recording artist, and a TV host. I’ve also been a freelance writer and have worked at NIST and Shrewsbury International Schools. I love cooking Italian food for my friends and training the vocalists in my band, “Grateful the Gospel Band.”


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Kristina Sethaputra Admissions Officer

Hello! It’s amazing to be back at RIS (working and as a parent this time) after graduating from here 24 years ago! There are so many things that are nostalgic but yet so different. I’m half-Thai/halfAmerican and am married with 2 children, Ty in Grade 8 and Tyna in Grade 5. I also have 4 doggy children...which keeps the house at a constantly high energy level. We love traveling and take trips (locally and internationally) at every chance we get. Otherwise, my kids keep me very busy with their various activities, such as horseback riding, scuba diving, golf, tennis, name it. Both my husband and I are Classic Car lovers and collectors. As a hobby (which sometimes is more work than real work itself), we run a car club that puts on charity events and car shows throughout Thailand.

Timothy Wang

Houseparent at Seelos Residence #nicetomeetyou #你好nihao #houseparent #worldtraveler #foodlover #Indiandance #25yearsold #myhobbyisworking #dontcook #sunbeach #5starhotellover #hosteltraveler If you have a travel plan, then I am in!

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By Tatiana Kunwongse


oday, Aukrit Unahalekhaka is the Co-Founder & CEO of Ricult (Thailand), one of the country’s most successful venture-backed social enterprises, combining technology and agriculture to lift farmers off of the poverty line. His academic resume boasts an impressive school list, including MIT, Cornell, and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. A decade ago, however, he was a shy student whose life was divided by sports and textbooks. “Back when I was at RIS, studying in high school, I wasn’t good at talking to people,” he says. “I thought just being good at math was enough.” Aukrit recently spoke at a STEM career path panel hosted by Crimson Education. He was joined by Mike Phulsuksombati, who graduated from Stanford University, and Dr. Panuchart Bunyakiatit, who obtained his doctorate from University College London. All three professionals had a clear message to students planning to take on STEM: Work on your soft skills, they’ll take you a step farther than you can imagine. Like many top-tier entrepreneurs who work in finance or consulting, Aukrit knew that studying engineering would give him the hard skills—such as coding and analyzing—that would help him land a job in virtually any market. What he didn’t realize was how important skills such as interpersonal communication and public speaking would be. “At MIT, the classes were discussion-based. The professor would write how many times you spoke on the board, and he would rate the quality of your answers,” says Aukrit, who obtained his master of science degrees in System Engineering, Management, Entrepreneurship from the Institute. There, he quickly discovered that even though Asian students tended to have more indepth training in the sciences, it was the American and European students who could explain concepts better so they were the ones who people tended to notice.


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Luckily, Aukrit wasn’t unprepared. Although he describes himself as a “nerdy” student, it was his experience in high school extracurricular activities that helped him connect with his peers and gain the confidence to speak up in class. At RIS, he had played Varsity soccer and tennis, which allowed him to join sports clubs at the colleges he attended and make new friends. He was also President of the Math Club and the Chess Club. “The[se experiences] taught me leadership skills that help me lead my company and provided me with the fundamentals to [be successful] in real life,” he says. In his current leadership position, Aukrit often works with employees who are older than him, sometimes in their 40s and 50s. Gaining their initial respect and keeping them happy is a challenge he has to face as a millennial. And that means being able to empathize, listen, and communicate—skills not typically emphasized in STEM subjects. His advice? Pay attention in English class, audition for a Shakespearean play, or try your hand at public speaking or debate.

Aukrit Unahalekhaka (Class of 2006), second to left, is CEO of Ricult, a successful social enterprise in Thailand “When I was at RIS, I didn’t care a lot about English. I didn’t enjoy reading because I thought, ‘I don’t have to read and write that well to be successful,’ but I was completely wrong,” says Aukrit. “It took me a while in college... to be able to talk to people well,” he added.

important thing about high school is making friends. I do a lot of business with a lot of my friends from RIS at the moment, even people older or younger than me. I think the most valuable thing about RIS is the network and connections.”

Finally, for those who are gunning to be number one in their endeavors, Aukrit has this to say: “The more

It just goes to show—you never know who you may be working with in the future!

Aukrit speaks to a full house. The audience includes RIS families and high school students. Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


by Michael Sawatsewi


IS affiliation inexplicably reaches far and wide. Through the decades, food and beverage is but one of many industries you’ll find RIS alumni thriving in. One of the perks of living in Bangkok is the seemingly endless array of fine-dining choices spread out across the city. So the next time you’re looking for an exemplary eatery with ambience, Instagram-worthy dishes, and stellar reviews, why not try one of these venues by our very own RIS alumni?

Surface Kitchen and Garden Lab
 Chalee Kader (RIS Class of 1998), executive chef & co-owner; Roshan Alwani (1998), co-owner; Rika Dila (1983), co-owner & designer Surface Kitchen, one of the more popular go-to hangouts for the young, trendy Thonglor (Sukhumvit 55) crowd, combines classic French cuisine with elements of fusion and molecular gastronomy in a mostly alfresco vibe. Yet despite an array of inventive signature dishes, Surface offers a wide range of classic Euro bistro comfort food, not to mention vegetarian options, oldschool desserts, and an enormous selection of fine wines. Fresh ingredients are also often cultivated from Surface’s own seasonal garden.

 Chalee Kader, a former head chef at the French embassy,

is one of Bangkok’s most buzzed-about young chefs and restaurateurs, what with happening eateries such as The Beer Bridge, Holy Moly, and the recently opened 100 Mahaseth all within his circle. “RIS has given me a lifetime support system, taught me to pick myself up and keep moving on, even through failures,” says Chalee. “I’m still failing—and still learning today—with support from the friendships I made over two decades ago.” Surface Kitchen & Garden Lab
 Thonglor Soi 11 (across from Audrey’s Café) Open daily from 6:00 pm to midnight
 For reservations or more info, call 02-258-2858 or visit: Instagram: @surfacekitchen

From left to right: Braised ox tongue in onion layers, turmeric oil & red wine sauce / Chimichurri ‘Moss’ and its herbal flowers growing off rare filet / River prawn with lemon butter sauce and its coral with turmeric powder & sorrel leaves / Banoffee


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Via Maris
 Debby Huei-Yun Tang (RIS Class of 2000), operational director & co-owner of Foodie Collection; Chotipong Leenutapong (RIS Class of 2000), managing director & co-owner of Foodie Collection Via Maris, which is Latin for “way of the sea,” is aptly named given its number of signature seafood-centric and Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Located on Convent Road in Silom, Via Maris showcases a mix of flavors from North Africa, Spain, and Southern Italy. The head chef, Sardinian-born Francesco Deiana, takes a unique approach in experimenting with herbs and spices, such as harissa, za’atar or ras el hanout, all of which are not common to Bangkokians. He also works with local fishermen to guarantee top-quality, sustainable produce. Via Maris is the fourth project of Foodie Collection restaurateurs Debby Tang and Chotipong Leenutapong. It was inspired by the couple’s many trips to the Mediterranean region and is a slight departure from their

new Portuguese fine-dining restaurant, il Fumo, and their Italian eateries La Dotta Pasta Bar and La Dotta ‘La Grassa.’ Their award-winning Vesper cocktail bar is also adjacent to Via Maris, making for a convenient hangout for the couple’s RIS friends. “I am hugely grateful for the wonderful support of my RIS friends,” says Debby. “Ever since day one of opening our first restaurant, both close and long-lost friends have continuously visited our place. Not to mention, three of our business partners at Via Maris are from the same class at RIS!” Via Maris
 Convent Road, Silom
 Open weekdays from noon–2:30 pm and 5:30–11:00 pm; Saturdays from 5:30–11:00 pm; and Sundays from 11:30–4:00 pm and 5:30–11:00 pm For reservations or more info, call 02-236-5558 Visit, Instagram: @viamarisbkk

From left to right: Couscous alla Tapanese, Sicilian-style, with mixed local organic seafood, smoked paprika & a lightly spicy tomato sauce / New Zealand lamb, bulgur, garlic toum & lavender with infused honey / Grilled octopus tentacle, chick peas & Pimenton de la Vera / Pearl pasta with mussels, clams & a lightly spicy tomato sauce

Sourced Grocers Veena Srikuruwal (Class of 2007), co-owner; Chet Srikuruwal (2008), co-owner
 The Commons, hailed as “foodie paradise,” is a community mall located in Thonglor that features some of Bangkok’s foremost restaurateurs and artisan producers, and one of its staples since its inception has been Sourced Grocers, a delicatessen located on the Market floor. Owned and operated by siblings Veena and Chet Srikuruwal, Sourced Grocers takes pride in providing not only quality produce but being honest and diligent about the way they’ve been sourced as well. Veena and Chet continually support smaller,

independently run companies; frequently update their shelves; and welcome customers to sit and chat about the items. “Our specialized grocery section ranges from nuts and seeds to artisanal teas and many other healthy products,” shares Chet. “We offer a wide variety of cheeses and cold cuts, along with a hot kitchen, and also do catering and delivery.” 

 With its adherence to quality produce, it’s no surprise that the Sourced Grocers kitchen offers up some of the best meals that can be found at The Commons. “We only make food we want to eat—recipes with real flavor and without the shortcuts,” say the siblings, and indeed, urbanites can Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


often be found at The Commons enjoying freshly cooked pasta dishes, healthy plant-based salads, or New York-style deli sandwiches. Frequenters of The Commons often enjoy pairing their drinks with Sourced Grocers’ customizable cheese platters and charcuterie boards, or taking home wholesome granola bars, healthy energy balls, and craft kombucha drinks, among other items.

Sourced Grocers, The Commons, Thonglor Soi 17
 Open daily from 11:00 am–10.30 pm (closes at 11:30 pm from Friday–Sunday) 

 For reservations or more info, call 094-526-4416 or visit:
 Instagram: @sourcedgrocers

From L to R: Wonder Woman, plant-based wholesome salad / Grilled chicken sandwich with creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, pepperry rocket & homemade aioli / Sourced Grocers cheese & cold cuts platters / Brie prosciutto di Parma with fig jam

Paris Mikki

 Carol Boosaba (Class of 1997), head pâtissière & owner
 Those in the know looking for authentic French pastries and viennoiseries in Bangkok tend to look no further than Paris Mikki and its two outlets in Sukhumvit 19 and on the sixth floor of Central Embassy at Open House. Owner and head pâtissière Carol Boosaba spent almost a decade living and training in Paris. There, she trained at the hallowed grounds of Le Cordon Bleu and honed her craft with world-class names such as Ladurée and Angelina before moving back to Bangkok to open the first Paris Mikki dessert atelier near Asoke. 

 Carol bakes a limited supply of cakes and pastries using seasonal ingredients and adhering to French tradition. She comes highly recommended among the RIS community, many of whom are regular patrons. “I still keep in touch with my RIS friends,” she shares. “I’ve even made new RIS friends since relocating

back to Bangkok. But whether RIS or not, all of my friends come and support Paris Mikki—we do make the best croissants and pastries in town!” And Carol certainly didn’t just make that up. BK Magazine, as well as several of the city’s top food blogs, have all showered Paris Mikki with accolades. Carol’s list of awards include Best Pastry 2015, Best Croissants 2016, and Best Pastry Chef 2017, among others. Paris Mikki
 Sukhumvit Soi 19 & Central Embassy 6th floor (Open House)
 Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am–9:00 pm

 For more info, call 088-870-0020 (088-870-0021 for Central Embassy branch) Visit: Instagram: @parismikki

From L to R: Pain au Chocolat / Minis / Mille-feuille


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1. The Static Monsters is now the biggest strongman event of its kind in the world and continues to grow. Congratulations to Nugongid Buranasate who placed first (worldwide rankings) in the u90kg class with a 120kg log and a 380kg deadlift! • 2. TV presenter Woody Milintachinda joined the One Young World summit at The Hague where his keynote speech on LGBT and human rights was one of the event’s most inspiring moments. The clip of it has since gone viral on social media. • 3. Herbert Vongpusanachai, Managing Director of DHL Express (Hong Kong and Macau), joins the panel at The 6th Redefining Hong Kong Debate Series by the South

China Morning Post. Leaders of multinational companies discussed the use of artificial intelligence and the impact of automation. • 4. Entrepreneur Krishna Patel graces the cover of Masala and discusses how she balances her many business ventures with family life. • 5. Father Joe Maier and his long-standing mission, the Mercy Centre of Klong Toey, are featured in Through the Eyes of Children, an award-winning short film that is part of the Extraordinary People documentary series. • 6. Wonderfruit, founded by Pete Pranitan Phornprapha and Jay Montonn Jira, continues to be heralded as one of Asia’s top arts, music, and lifestyle festivals. Wonderfruit this year will be from Ad Astra Volume 25 November 2018


December 13 to 16. More info on final-phase tickets and festival highlights are available at • 7. Singer and actress Nicole Theriault recently wrapped up her run of critically acclaimed performances in Still On My Mind The Musical. The hit show at Rachadalai Theatre concluded on November 11. • 8. RIS alumni who recently graduated from the prestigious Chulalongkorn University made RIS the theme for their pre-graduation photos. Decked in iconic Chulalongkorn graduation gowns, 15

alumni from the RIS Classes of 2013 & 2014 took a walk down memory lane, posing for photos at the high school building, canteen, tennis courts, and Godbout Turf. The group also made sure to take a few photos in their former high school uniforms as well as greet and thank their RIS teachers. • 9. News anchor Tin Chokkamolkij crosses off Steve Forbes from his list of dream interviewees. The TNN24 presenter recently sat down to speak with the mogul at the 2018 Forbes Global CEO Conference.

RIS alumni win a basketball tournament in December 2016. Collen Steinbring and Jeff Liu hold up their trophy.


IS alumni recently gathered for a fun-filled afternoon at NIST’s 2018 Alumni Sports Day on Saturday, October 27, 2018. As with previous years, schools participating included NIST, Bangkok Patana, ISB, and RIS. This year’s sports day featured football, volleyball, and basketball games between the four schools, with inter-changing matches from 1:00 p.m. all the way to 7:00 p.m. 

 Alumni Sports Day is an opportunity for Bangkok’s close-knit international school community to reconnect and bond. “I’m still pretty active with sports, and I like to get together with old friends,” shares Collen Steinbring, RIS Class of 2001 and a frequent supporter of alumni sports events. Laughing, he adds: “Plus, I like to relive the SEASAC glory days!”
 Although the alumni attending the games tend to be from the late ‘90s or the 2000s onwards, the events


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RIS alumni football players (from left to right): Dan (2001), Park (2000), Collen (2001), Pao (2001), Rollei (1998), Japji

draw a diverse range of alumni players. In this year’s tournament, for example, an RIS alumnus who graduated in the 80s joined in. Now in its fourth year, the alumniexclusive event continues to grow and diversify. “Both

guys and girls are welcome [to join in the games],” Collen adds. “Or to just come watch and cheer.”

 Although RIS alumni didn’t fare so well this year, alumni from the other schools concede that the games are all in good fun and not to meant to be taken too seriously. RIS was low on players in certain matches this year, but they were in good spirits and humor and did the best they could. “We were lacking in volleyball players!” shares Dontree Riangkrul, RIS Class of 2013, laughing. “The basketball guys had to switch between volleyball and basketball during halftimes!” 

 Alumni Sports Day may be over but the friendly competition among BPS, ISB, NIST, and RIS alumni still continues. “More serious” matches have been arranged, the first being a basketball-only tournament at NIST on December 8, 2018. Considering RIS took home the trophy in a previous year, our alumni are

RIS alumni basketball players (from left to right, top row): Ham (2013), Dee (1980s), Din (2008), Ricky (2010), Benja (2008), Nate (2006), Jong Hann (2003), Jason (2003); (from left to right, bottom row) Dontree (2013), Pan (2004), Prin (2008)

hopeful. But even if they don’t win, they’re just happy to get together and play for their school once again. If you’re around the area, don’t forget to show your support for RIS and go cheer!


IS Jeremiah singers from the ‘90s and ‘00s recently gathered for a memorial concert to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passing of music teacher and choral director Mr. Jose Librodo, more famously known among his students as Mr. Joe. The event took place on Saturday, September 1, at White Café x Black, Thonglor, and was fittingly artistic, featuring musical performances and tributes from close friends, former colleagues, and, of course, Mr. Joe’s Jeremiah singers. A miniAd Astra Volume 25 November 2018


exhibition of Mr. Joe’s paintings was also on display. The event was organized by Jeremiah singers Chanawee Suthibutr (Class of 2010), Kwan Srisukri (2010), Yu Chen Chiu (2010), Lucia Dieselberg (2006), Sally Wilin Lyarug (2006), John Teeraprasert (2003), and Kitiya Le Huu (1997). Mr. Joe’s siblings, including world-renowned photographer and former RIS teacher Manny Librodo, were guests of honor. Also in attendance were Fr. Leo Travis, RIS School Chaplain, and Ms. Mars Sawatsewi, the original founder of The Jeremiah Singers and close friend of Mr. Joe’s, who also spoke at the event. In an intimate and classy setting, RIS alumni and Mr. Joe’s close friends and former colleagues enjoyed a nostalgic and spontaneous afternoon filled

with music, storytelling, art, tears, and laughter. “I have honestly never known someone so loved and remembered by students, co-teachers, parents and friends,” said folk singer and RIS parent Wee Gee Mate Suthibutr. “The musical tributes for him were just touching and nostalgic. They made you miss him more!”

Additional former Jeremiah singers at the event included Kirat Kogar (Class of 2011), Mai Kaewkoon (2009), Phed Niyomsilp (2007), Akira Banno (2001), Dava Romyanond (1996), and Michael Sawatsewi (1996).

About The Jeremiahs: The Jeremiahs were a renowned choral group founded by Ms. Mars in 1971. Alumni such as Toon Hiranyasap, Maleewan Jimena, Lincy Fung, and Nicole Theriault, among others, are but a few of the nationally acclaimed recording artists who were once Jeremiah singers. When RIS moved to Min Buri in 1992, Mr. Joe took over the group and a new generation of Jeremiah singers was born. The Jeremiahs continued representing RIS with acclaimed performances at high-profile events well into the ’90s and ‘00s.


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IS Smile Club, in collaboration with Operation Smile Thailand, was started this year to support cleft palate surgery for children from low-income families. This year we are hosting a charity concert called ‘’Rewind Concert’’ with two famous artists, TheTOYS and Cocktail. Operation Smile Thailand has worked hard to promote self-sustainability by recruiting highly qualified Thai medical professionals to conduct an

average of 10 surgical missions per year. In the last few years, they have performed more than 7,000 free surgeries for children with cleft palates in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Additionally, as a club, we are providing opportunities for RIS students to better understand the medical field by going on trips to different hospitals and observing various medical procedures in different branches of medicine.

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RIS Photos of the Day: 13/11/18 We are pleased to announce that Siri (Mac) Chaikul in Grade 6 recently won 1st place in the Junior Primary category (7 to 11 years old) during the grand finals of the Singapore Lyric Opera – ASEAN Vocal Competition 2018 held at SOTA Concert Hall in Singapore. Congratulations to Mac on his success! It’s great to recognize students like Mac who excel both within and beyond the walls of the classroom. The SLO–ASEAN Vocal Competition’s main aim is to promote Western Opera across all facets of the community within the region by providing a platform to facilitate cultural exchanges through music and recognising as well as rewarding aspiring musical talents of all ages. #RISrocks

RIS Photos of the Day: 12/10/18 Last week our first grade students gathered in the MPR to read out loud their personal narratives, which they have been working on since the first quarter. After the reading session, each student practiced giving useful feedback to their peers. Writing a personal narrative is a great way to introduce our younger students to the magic of storytelling! Great job everyone and congratulations on publishing your first book of the year!

RIS Photos of the Day: 16/10/18 Today our whole school community ended Cultural Week with the lnternational Food Fair. There were numerous performances and entertainment provided by our students, and of course, culinary delights from across the world. Thank you to all the parents, faculty, students and staff for your support and hard work in making this event another huge success! It was great to see everyone wearing their national costumes to share their pride and joy in our cultural diversity and to work as one community under the spirit of “Union of Hearts.” #InternationalWeek #RISInternationalWeek 72

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RIS Photos of the Day: 05/10/18 Congratulations to our RIS alumni graduating from Chulalongkorn University, the top-ranking university in Thailand! For the theme to their pre-graduation photos, our RIS alumni opted to bring it back home to RIS. Decked in iconic Chulalongkorn graduation gowns, fifteen alumni from the RIS Classes of 2013 and 2014 took a walk down memory lane, posing for photos at the high school building, canteen, tennis court and Godbout Turf. The group also made sure to take a few photos in their former high school uniforms as well as greet and thank their RIS teachers. #Chulalongkorn #RISrocks

RIS Photos of the Day: 13/09/18 Congratulations to Chalat “Jotun� Lertrattanachaikij in Grade 5, who recently participated in the World Robot Olympiad 2018. Jotun has competed in this annual event since 2nd grade, and his best performance was placing 8th in 2016 for the under 12 age group. This year, Jotun and his teammates placed 11th in the country for the Under 15 age group, which was quite an accomplishment considering Jotun is only 11 years old! Although he did not make it to the finals, it was an excellent experience and a great opportunity to really challenge himself in the older age group category. The World Robot Olympiad is an international robotics competition that brings together young people all over the world to develop their creativity, design and problem-solving skills through challenging and educational robot competitions and activities, as well as have lots of fun and make new friends!

RIS Photos of the Day: 03/09/18 Congratulations to KC Charnvises in Grade 3 on making it on the MasterChef Junior Thailand this season, where he will compete against 25 other talented young cooks from across the country for the cash prize of 500,000 baht and coveted title. Our whole school community is proud of KC and we wish him the best of luck moving forward in the competition! Cheer KC on every Sunday at 6:20pm on Thai TV Channel 7. #MasterChefJuniorThailand #RISrocks!

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The official launch of our new campus, RIS Ratchapruek, is on January 20, 2019, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from 13:00–15:00. If you would like an invitation, please scan this QR code for details.

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