Page 1




Students entering: PreK 3–KG, Gr 1–5 Gr 6–8, Gr 9–12

Full Day: 34,000 baht Half Day: 17,000 baht

WHAT WILL STUDENTS LEARN? PreK 3 – KG Courses will include: • • • • • • • • •

Art Studio Dramatic Play Sensory Play Light Table Numeracy Cooking Gardening Writing Library Time

Gr 6 – 8 Courses will include: • • • • • • •

Journalism Workshop STEM Design Lab Next-Level Vex IQ Robotics Challenge Survival Tactics Crash Course Physical Education Multicultural Perspectives Experience Culinary Arts

Gr 1 – 5 Courses will include: • • • • • • • • •

Math, Reading, Writing, and Speaking Physical Education Tinker Lab Exploratorium Exciting Science Experiments Computer Coding Animation Studio Aquatics Class Making Healthy Snacks Khon Dancing

Gr 9 – 12 Core Classes for Credit and Electives, including:

• • • • • • • • •

English Math SAT Prep Science Music Values PE Visual Arts Technology

REGISTRATION OPENING SOON! ES & MS Summer School Coordinator: Jeremy Kes, HS Summer School Coordinator: Paul Thompson,

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 1,300 copies are printed per issue and sent 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.


Managing Editor Elisia Brodeur Graphics Design/Layout Sornchai Pongheamwattana

Printed by

Media Printing Plus Limited


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

4 Message from the School Chaplain Awesome Events 05 Chinese New Year Learning Story Marnie Augello 06 Wai Khru Ceremonies 07 Mealworms, Caterpillars, and Moths! OH MY! Jennie Thompson 08 ES Art Show Elisia Brodeur 10 Japanese Cultural Festival 12 Season 1 All-School Sports Assembly Elisia Brodeur 14 ES Christmas Show Elisia Brodeur 16 ES Games Day 18 Launching Word/Play, the RIS Literary Review Marianna Hane Wiles 20 RIS Proud to Host Prestigious ELLSA Conference Elisia Brodeur and Alis Gorcea 22 Grade 10 History Comes to Life on Campus Elisia Brodeur 24 2018–2019 MS Knowledge Bowl Elisia Brodeur 25 MS Games Day 27 RIS Swim-a-Thon, 2019 Matt Smith 28 HS Knowledge Bowl and Spirit Week Elisia Brodeur 31 ES Religion: Recollection Day Sariya (Ahya) Angeles-Ahmed 32 IB Art Exhibit: “K” 33 Ruamrudee International School Early Years Campus Sudarat T. Attanawin 34 RIS Expands its Presence with the Launch of a New Campus in the Ratchapruek Area Sudarat T. Attanawin

Amazing Students 36 Gr 11 Student Launches

Nonprofit: Eyesaver Kritin (Bomb) Vongthongsri 37 VEX Thailand Robotics Competition Robert Golding 38 RIS 3rd Grader on MasterChef Junior Thailand Elisia Brodeur

40 First Place at Carnegie Hall! Elisia Brodeur 41 MS Band Member Earns Place in AMIS Honor Band Festival Elisia Brodeur 45 U11 Girls Soccer—Embodying the Spirit of the Phoenix Shasta Miller 46 Our Christmas Gift: Fundraising for Charity “War Child” Kim McDonald 49 MS Skating Champ! Elisia Brodeur 51 World Scholar’s Cup Going to Regionals Tom Wash 52 IB Biology and IB Environmental Science Trip to Khao Yai Divi Maheshwari 54 RIS Students Make History at Theatre Festival in Vietnam Sarah Abrams 57 Three Reasons Why Students Should Take the “AP English Language and Composition” Class Thanakorn Pun Rojanasasitornwong

Service Learning 58 Service Learning @ RIS Ms. Shirley Gamble 60 Christmas at Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School Ms. Shirley Gamble 61 Library Project for Sarnelli House Amy Sabpisal 62 Lending a Helping Hand to Baan Nok Kamin in Uthai Thani Ms. Shirley Gamble 64 A Land of Red Roads and Fun Pannawee (Biew Biew) Sakulwannadee 65 National Honor Society: Service and Community Christy Jefrin James Chandrajith

Awe-inspiring Alumni 67 RIS Student Earns Perfect IB Score Elisia Brodeur 69 Chef May’s RIS ‘Meat Lover’ Chef Table 70 Alumni Five on Thailand Tatler’s Generation T 2018 List 72 Minburi Night Shoots with Bouquet 73 Alumni News Roundup 74 RIS at Jesus Christ Superstar 76 Photos of the Day Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



s School Chaplain, my desire is always to foster the spirit of Ruamrudee International School. The heart is very important for the spirit, and in order to be worthy people, our students need to have the right spirit to make progress in the future, otherwise everything is done for their individual advancement, in other words, focusing on what’s good for them. One of the wonderful things we do so well at this school is nurturing that spirit by reaching out to help others. From the very beginning of the school in 1957, the Sisters from Malaysia realized that we needed to help the poor in our local communities. The Sisters would travel along the tributaries of the river to find the huts of the poor people. Sometimes our students went with them to see how they could help. They noticed that most of the people didn’t have pots and pans and that the children needed more clothes. They made sure to find things that the people along the river could actually use and brought these things to them. Through their help, they were embodying the spirit of caring. This spirit developed dramatically when we moved to our campus in Minburi. We began a separate department for Religion and Values, and that has become the department that oversees the development of the spirit and values of the children. We currently have lots of teachers, including our two Sisters from the Philippines (Sr. Gladys and Sr. Micah), as well as Mr. Jaffereli, who teach and model good values for the children. A group of our students recently went to Chiang Mai because they heard that one village had no water. They looked for ways to support a program to supply clean water and raised funds for a couple of years. Now the system is up and working and the people of the village are able to drink clean water. That’s the spirit of reaching out to people in need. We also have many other programs that prompt our students and community members to help others, like the Blood Drive and the Give Care, Give Hair programs. These are beautiful gestures of caring and they are so easy to do. These are just a few examples, but they show the spirit of RIS and are all done for a good purpose, which is to nurture our students’ sense of empathy so that in the future, when they become important people, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., they don’t just sit behind their desks but they will always remember to be thankful and to reach out to people in their neighborhoods and give them help and glimpses of happiness. We want our students to have this spirit of giving, of helping people other than ourselves so they are also able to live a decent and happy life. I’m very pleased that our teachers and students still nurture this beautiful spirit, which we have preserved for so many years. And I’m thankful that RIS teaches our students to have a good and open heart for people in need. Thank you very much. God Bless You!

Father Leo Travis C.Ss.R. RIS Catholic Chaplain 4

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

AWESOME EVENTS by Marnie Augello


alking about the Chinese New Year was an activity that every KG1 student had an easy time doing, and the students shared a true connection of experiences. Some of their observations were through students who have visited China, have ancestry from China, or have moved from China to Thailand. These experiences were welcomed, honored, and brought to life through storytelling, an author study, and integrating discussions about traditions into our units of inquiry. Every student was excited to talk about the dragons, lions, fireworks, and lanterns they themselves have experienced and witnessed during Chinese New Year celebrations. So as part of our science unit “Forces: Pushes and Pulls” we made craft lanterns and experimented with the depth and transformation of every push and pull that could happen to these paper creations. And while dragons are always a hot topic in storytelling, the KG1 students intentionally chose to write a Chinese New Year story with three dragons as their main characters. It was through our Author Study of Grace

Lin that the students were able to come up with an ending; they realized that the lonely yellow dragon we kept talking about was probably the New Year’s dragon waiting to be brought in. Finally, what is a learning process without a celebration and presentation of learning? So we put on a show! We put on three theatrical performances and invited parents and classes from PreK 2–grade 5 to attend. Theater performances allow for a voice that honors the actions and thoughts of the whole class, even those who don’t speak the language or those who don’t feel comfortable participating in large-group discussions. Performances especially allow for a space to explore roles and personas that students might not otherwise feel comfortable using unless on stage.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n January 15 and 16, RIS students of all ages celebrated Teacher Appreciation Day with a variety of wai khru ceremonies. During this special annual celebration, students pay respects to and express gratitude for their teachers. A typical wai khru ceremony is a formal Thai ritual that involves students recognizing their teachers’ hard work, reciting the wai khru chant, and asking for their teachers’ blessings of their studies. Most often, students offer their teachers flowers while bowing deeply. The different flowers represent symbols of students’ qualities, specifically: • khem flowers, which form pointed buds when closed, symbolizing sharp wit • ya phraek, or Bermuda grass, which grows quickly and is resilient, symbolizing perseverance and the ability to learn • khao tok, or popped rice, which symbolizes discipline • eggplant flowers, which bow low before fruiting, symbolizing respect and humility


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

I went to one of the ES wai khru ceremonies and was immediately struck by the solemnity of the event and how conscientiously the students performed their roles and tasks. Their behavior was very respectful and they had evidently practiced a lot beforehand. Many parents attended the ceremony and were also recognized and honored as being important in the children’s lives as their first teachers. A few courageous students sang the wai khru chant in Thai while rest of the children repeated phrases in unison, for a powerful effect. The chant was then translated into English, and I caught phrases such as “honor teachers… pay endless respect...hard work and wisdom...lead students to acquire values...succeed in their endeavors…” The students then approached the teachers on their knees to present their flower garlands. The teachers and administrators were visibly moved by the expressions of thanks and showering of appreciation.

by Jennie Thompson


his semester, the second grade has been investigating lots of different insects during their science classes. They have learned all about the body structures of mealworms, caterpillars, and silkworm moths. Additionally, our students have witnessed the life cycles of these bugs from egg to adult. Students cared for the insects as the bugs ate their way through their eggs, devoured leaves as larvae, and metamorphosed into their adult forms. As a culminating project to demonstrate their learning, the second graders were challenged to design their own insect (real or imaginary) out of recyclable materials. We invited all of the elementary students and teachers to vote for their favorites. Students from all grade levels participated in the action, and the winners are in!

Thea Eliza Matei from Ms. Supen’s 2-1 class won for her glittery butterfly, and Sky (Sudfah) Rattanaveroj from Ms. Jennie’s 2-2 class won for his colorful caterpillar. Congratulations to the winners and to ALL of the second graders for their CREATIVITY, RESOURCEFULNESS, and KNOWLEDGE! Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


he first ES Art Show of the school year opened in St. Luke’s Gallery on Dec. 3rd and ran through January 10th. The show’s theme was “discovering the art studio process through the eyes of our ES students.” Rather than being a typical art show that displayed only final pieces of art, this show featured students’ projects at different stages of the studio process from six different art centers—drawing, fiber arts, collage, sculpture, painting, and ceramics. The work of every elementary student, from PreK 3 through grade 5, was represented in the show. The 5th graders had the additional challenge of being tasked with helping to decide how to organize the show. Ms. Robin helped guide the students through the creative process and challenged them to expand both their art knowledge and skills as they worked. The students did not save all of their “messy beginnings and explorations,” but all of the work, from the practice pieces through to the final but incomplete pieces, show “the students’ growth in their art skills and in each step of the creative process.”


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

To create any piece of art, the students work through a series of six steps, regardless of the subject matter or the differing art forms or the art center being used. First, the students brainstorm possible project ideas. They then do research to help them plan out their project. This is also the point at which students begin exploring the various materials and tools available and try out new techniques. This gives them the practice they need to gain both the confidence and skills necessary to successfully complete their work. After creating their project, students critique their work with two classmates and the teacher to help them make their artwork better. Revising includes making improvements to their work based on the critiques. This step also includes writing an artist statement that goes on display next to their artwork to help show some of the thinking behind the project. The students then share and reflect on their work by having it displayed in the art gallery for all to see and by participating in a museum walk with their art class, where they get to reflect on their own and others’ work. The PreK and Kindergarten students work on different themes. For this show, for example, the Kindergartners

worked on Tree Line Projects after they had studied and been inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of trees. According to Ms. Robin, the intention was to give these students an opportunity to “create their own unique tree pictures using the drawing technique of repeating lines to create movement while exploring different materials in the drawing center, such as pencils, colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels, pens, and markers.” The 1st through 5th grade students, meanwhile, were learning to become authentic artists by starting with an idea and progressing to a finished product. Because everyone works at different speeds and has different goals for their work, what ended up being on display were some completed projects but also some “works in progress.” Students were given the opportunity to use any of the art tools, materials, and resources while choosing the technique(s) and subject matter for their final work. The 1st graders chose from the drawing, painting, or sculpture art centers, and the 2nd graders chose from the painting, collage, or fiber arts centers. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders were able to choose from any of the six art centers: ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, fiber arts, or collage.

The entire show was an impressive display of our younger students’ art and a great way to see and understand the amount of work and practice that needs to take place before a piece of art is considered “final.” As with so many things in life, so much of the learning and experience is through the process. The end result is just part of the journey. Special thanks to Ms. Robin and Mr. Owen for all of their work and extra time required to plan and present an art exhibition. If you didn’t get to attend the show, here are some samples of the students’ artwork. The next ES Art Show is coming up: April 1–28—mark your calendars!

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



he Japanese Cultural Festival was held in the High School on November 9, 2018. Many students, teachers, and staff came to the HS breezeway during lunchtime to enjoy several aspects of Japanese culture. Thanks to a lot of support from the RIS community, we raised 16,753 baht from the Japanese food sale. All of the proceeds were donated to the city of HIROSHIMA for the preservation of the A-bomb Dome. Here are some comments from our students about the experience.

Japanese Food Sale “Our class made Japanese curry-rice for the HS to enjoy. I enjoyed the cooking process as I didn’t know how this delicious meal was made. We definitely didn’t make enough for all the people who were eagerly lining up to try, after only a short duration until we ran out!” — Adina, IB Japanese Ab Initio Y1 “This year, we sold chocolate bananas that helped raise money for the Hiroshima Dome preservation. There was lots of food, like takoyaki and mochi, that one could enjoy while engaging in Japanese activities, creating a lively atmosphere that was memorable. I had a lot of fun at the festival.” — Angie, IB Japanese B Y2 “Japanese 1 sold dorayaki (basically pancakes with red bean filling). We split up the jobs in class and were given time to do so. I was in charge of the pancakes along with T, a freshman in the same class. On the day of the festival, the class came together and put everything into motion. Half of the class was doing a performance but they also helped put in the red bean filling before lunch break. The selling wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was an enjoyable experience for my last year in high school, and I got the chance to talk to my classmates more than I usually would.” — Kwan, Japanese 1 10

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

“I sold rice dumplings and bracken-starch dumplings at the Japanese Cultural Festival. Most people didn’t know what rice and bracken-starch dumplings were and the difference between the two different dumplings so I tried to answer their questions. Then they enjoyed eating them. I was really happy to share my favorite Japanese sweets.” — Mina, IB Japanese A Y2 “We sold okonomiyaki and takoyaki during the Japanese Festival. We cooked okonomiyaki on a hot plate during Japanese class in the morning. There were many people who lined up to buy the okonomiyaki and

takoyaki, so we had a busy time selling to them. We enjoyed selling the okonomiyaki and takoyaki.” — Nozomu, Japanese for Native 1

Japanese Songs and Dances “Along with selling food, our class also did a performance. We sang the theme song of Doraemon. It was a short performance with the addition of a beautiful Japanese harp, which was played by Ms. Megumi. After practicing for several days, we finally had the chance to perform the song. It was short and sweet, good for beginners like us and it gave us a chance to experience a new aspect of the Japanese festival.” — Ananya, IB Japanese Ab Initio Y1 “Our class staged a mini performance of 2018’s popular J-Pop song, ‘Lemon’ by Yonezu Kenshi. We prepared and practiced for the performance decently beforehand, but we encountered some technical issues onstage. However, we gave our best performance and I think we were able to show a new side of Japanese pop culture.” — Yui, IB Japanese A Y1 “We performed a Japanese pop song called ‘It’s the Right Time’ by Daichi Miura. We picked the song according to our preference in music. We practiced as much as possible, using our flex block and lunch time to make it as perfect as possible. It would have been nicer if we had memorized the song lyrics, but it was

quite difficult because we aren’t fluent in the language, but we managed. It was a good opportunity to show our talents. I like that my friends got to see me perform something that wasn’t in English. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to perform.” — Ivy, Japanese 1

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


ust before the Christmas break, RIS had a rousing assembly to celebrate and honor our many student athletes who participated in Season 1 RIS sports. From our youngest players on the many U11 teams to our seasoned Varsity athletes, all of the Season 1 sports teams were honored as they were introduced. Each team paraded through the center of Godbout Hall to the enthusiastic cheering and clapping of the rest of the school community. Mr. Todd was a passionate emcee whose energy and excitement generated a palpable buzz of team spirit. Although he was almost outdone by our vibrant and colorful mascot, the Phoenix, who really got the crowd going with his larger-than-life antics. Our talented HS Jazz Band, directed by Ms. Claudia, played the first few songs as the U11 girls and boys basketball teams made the inaugural entrance, running down the center aisle with a few theatrics thrown in. Next up were the U13 boys and girls tennis and basketball teams, followed by the U15 girls and boys basketball teams, who made a more casual entrance (because, you know, they’re teenagers), but they also received a rousing applause.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

The Junior Varsity boys and girls volleyball and soccer teams came next. Hot on their heels was the Varsity boys and girls cross-country and soccer teams. Our Varsity boys soccer team were runnersup in the SEASAC championships. We also learned that a few of our JV and Varsity team members are still in middle school, so these student athletes have a bright future ahead of them. The penultimate group to be celebrated was the Varsity boys volleyball team. They placed 2nd at BISAC and SEASAC. They were also awarded the highly coveted Best Sportsmanship award at SEASAC. The final team to be celebrated was the Varsity girls volleyball. These committed and talented players won 1st place at both BISAC and SEASAC! After each team reached the front of Godbout Hall, they gathered on the stage with their respective team members. By the end of the assembly, there was an impressively large group of RIS student athletes gathered with their dedicated and hard-working coaches. Mr. Todd thanked all of the athletes, coaches, and parents for their support and cheerleading. Here’s to a great second season of sports at RIS!

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


ES Christmas Show

by Elisia Brodeur


he much-anticipated annual RIS ES Christmas Show, “Our Christmas Gift,” took place on Friday, December 14th. Every student in the Elementary School, from PreK 2 through grade 5, took part in the show, which was performed in front of such a large audience of parents, family members, fellow students, and faculty that literally no one else could be squeezed into the PAC! The show opened with Thailand’s Royal Anthem followed by opening remarks and a blessing from Fr. Travis. Each song was introduced by well-dressed and highly poised emcees, all of whom had memorized and practiced their lines and delivered them with confidence and flair. Grades 1–5 performed their own songs, while our youngest students in PreK 2–KG performed a song all together. Each song was the epitome of a production, complete with choreography and outfits that matched the song’s theme.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

A mainstay of this holiday show is the nativity scene that stars our 5th-grade students, some of whom had speaking parts. But this year’s show also featured a moving rendition of “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” sung by the ES Choir, and lovingly dedicated to Fr. Travis with gratitude for his loyal support of RIS throughout the many decades since the school’s inception. This year’s Christmas show had two finales! The first, sung by the grade 3–5 students, was called “Christmas Wish.” The students wore their red “RIS Peace” T-shirts and sang in front of a backdrop of slides showing children living in war zones with text that explained the goal of fundraising for the charity “War Child.” While that was a very poignant performance, the Grand Finale was the essence of joy and the pinnacle of the show’s organization and planning as every ES student took to the stage to sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas / Have A Happy, Happy Holiday.”

As always, the show brought down the house and was a beautiful and heartwarming beginning to the holiday season. Much thanks to Ms. Kim and to the many, many other faculty and staff members who worked behind the scenes to put on such an incredible show. If you couldn’t make it or you’d like to see it again, here is a link to the video of the Christmas show:

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



his year the ES had two Games Days: one just for the PreK and Kindergarten students on Friday, January 18, and a separate day for our students in grades 1–5 on Thursday, January 24. It was the first year we tried a “carnival style” Games Day, where each student was given a “passport”—a laminated card that they took to each station to be checked off by an adult. They could take a maximum of 3 turns at each station. Students who finished their passports (visited every station) were eligible for a prize. Prizes included extra recess time, lunch with the ES Principal or PE teachers, a variety of art supplies, some toys, and—of course—sparkly slime! The students loved the freedom of movement and being able to go to the different stations with their friends.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Several of the stations were very popular, the dunk station in particular! Mr. Dan, Mr. Matt, and Ms. Cris O’Malley all volunteered and were dunked several times, much to the students’ delight. The Tropical Slip n’ Slide was another big favorite and got faster and faster as the day went on. In an effort to be eco-friendly, students brought their water bottles with them instead of generating a lot of plastic waste. Thanks to all the staff who organized in advance and to the many helpers on both days who worked to make sure that everything ran smoothly. Both days were hugely successful: the kids had a lot of fun while getting plenty of exercise.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



the RIS Literary Review


by Marianna Hane Wiles


n December, the Redeemer Cafe hosted a book launch party for the new RIS Literary Review, Word/Play. The small cafe stage was set up with microphones, creating an intimate and cozy yet inviting and open space. The newly published writers—all students in the first semester Creative Writing class—introduced themselves and read excerpts from original pieces written in a variety of different genres, including cliff-hanging horror stories, ode poems, screenplays, and dystopian stories. A few students performed a group reading of another student’s play, and several students took turns reading parts of a collaborative story. Many audience members, including fellow students, teachers, counselors, and administrators, reported being struck by the readers’ confidence and poise; it takes guts to perform in front of an audience, especially when it’s your own work. At the reading, additional copies of the books were made available to the audience members, and each student took home their own copy of Word/Play. The idea to launch an RIS Literary Review developed from my desire for the Creative Writing students to see their hard work in print and to share their creativity with the RIS school community. As a former book editor myself, I know how rewarding it can be for authors to hold a printed book in their hands and see their names inside. When I approached the high school administrators about the idea, Mr. Jim and Ms. Sara immediately said yes, and suggested that I work with the Ad Astra team to help with the book design and publishing process.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Ms. Elisia, who agreed to be our editor and production coordinator, was just as excited as I was, immediately seeing the value, both pedagogically and personally, in having the students experience the publishing process and ultimately see their work in print. Since we both have professional experience in the publishing industry, we knew the work involved in producing a book and were looking forward to sharing that creative process with the students. The Creative Writing students not only wrote the creative content of the book but were also involved in many of the steps in the publishing process, including selection of texts and images, editing, design, and marketing. In early meetings, students generated suggestions for the interior design and layout, which were shared with Mr. John, our brilliant book designer, and they decided what content they wanted to include in the book. One student, Tim, suggested that we create a “shared story” in the style of the writing game “exquisite corpse,” where each student contributes a section of the text. The class embraced this idea, collaborated to choose a setting and original characters, and even voted on several key plot points as the story, “Hectic Holidays,” developed. Later in the publishing process, students wrote their own author bios, added original photos or drawings to illustrate their writing pieces, and voted on the title and cover art, which was chosen from a selection of photos submitted by students in the class.

Mr. John took all of these ideas and suggestions and created a beautiful layout. Ms. Elisia and I ensured that the book looked as professional as possible; we added a title page, a copyright page that included acknowledgements of the students’ artwork, an introduction, and a table of contents. Once all of the content was in place and triple-checked, the final files were sent to the printer. It was such a thrill to see the book come to life! The student writers agreed; one said “The creative process of the book took a lot of time and effort, but in the end everything was worth the hard work to see how it all played out.” When I first shared the idea of creating a literary review with these students, they were both excited and nervous at the idea of committing their work to print. This semester’s creative writers blew me away with their willingness to try new things and to revise and improve their work over and over. When student writer Ong Phetplai saw his work in print, he said “It felt great! While writing, I was living the moment and enjoying it to the fullest, and at the end letting it all go [after revision]. I could relive my memories for the first time again by reading Word/Play.” Another student reported, “Talking in front of an audience was a bit nerve-wracking, but it all worked out in the end. Everyone had a lot of manners and it was a great end to

the year.” The book launch was a successful culmination of a great project and an experience I hope the students will recall with pride. I’m pleased to announce that the second issue of Word/ Play is currently in production and will feature the work of this semester’s Creative Writing class. However, this issue will include something new. The current Creative Writing class has agreed to open up the book for other contributors, and so we will be hosting a writing contest that is open to the whole high school. If you are a high school student and would like your original creative work to be published in the next issue of the RIS Literary Review, we invite you to contribute an original short story or poem. All submissions will be anonymously evaluated and the best pieces will be included in the spring issue of Word/Play, which will launch on May 23rd. Mark your calendars now to join the celebration! To submit your writing to the spring Word/Play HS writing contest: 1. Write an original short story or poem, between 1–5 pages long 2. Give the work an interesting title and include your full name and nickname in the Google document 3. Share the Google doc with 4. Deadline is Monday, March 25th Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


By Elisia Brodeur and Alis Gorcea


n January 26th and 27th this year, more than 200 educators from around the world came to RIS to attend the prestigious annual ELLSA conference. ELLSA, which stands for “English Language Learning Specialists in Asia,” is a community of international teachers, all of whom volunteer their time to be part of an organization for EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers in Asia to “connect, collaborate, and advocate for the teaching and learning of ELL students.” ELLSA is managed by a board—a group of 7 teachers who meet (virtually) once a month to organize chapter meetings, their newsletter, and the annual conference. RIS ELD teacher Alis Gorcea has been on the ELLSA board for the past 2 years. One way ELLSA educators stay connected is through ELLSA chapters (groups in specific locations) as well as through Twitter, using the hashtags #ELLchat and #ELLSAPD. And once a year, international schools bid to host the annual ELLSA conference. According to the ELLSA website, the purpose of the conference is to “bring together international school English language learning specialists in Asia for professional development and networking. Topics include the latest


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

research-based ideas, models, strategies, and tools used to facilitate ongoing improvement in the teaching and learning of English language learners across the curriculum.” Last year RIS applied to host and our bid was accepted, and thus RIS came to have the honor of hosting the 6th annual ELLSA conference. Several RIS teachers and faculty members—including Alis Gorcea, Darcy Coonan, Maria Richardson, Michael Dempsey, Madeleine Bystrom, Tonya Parham, Dan Bench, and K. Noi— took on specific roles and worked together for almost a year to organize the conference. As soon as RIS was awarded the bid to host, Alis secured the speaker, Andrea Honigsfeld, a highly regarded educator, author, and consultant who is considered an expert in the field of co-teaching. The overarching theme of this conference was “Collaboration: Promoting Professional Partnerships,” which incorporated three strands: establishing and sustaining relationships, co-assessing and data analysis, and differentiation within the content areas. There were 30 speakers all together: Andrea, another guest speaker, and 28 individual presenters who were selected to give

workshops on topics within each of the three strands. The team made sure the range of topics were applicable to all three sections—ES, MS, and HS—so there would be content relevant to all the teachers attending. Orchestrating a successful conference requires a lot of planning ahead, coordinating logistics, and consideration of multiple details. Among other things, the team had to build a website, organize hotels and shuttle buses, create and design registration forms, arrange for food and snacks, purchase gifts and prizes, and secure sponsors. RIS was proud to be one of the sponsors of the conference, along with WIDA, EARCOS, Boonrawd Brewery Co. Ltd, Home Fresh, and the guest speaker herself, Andrea Honigsfeld. One of the ways the team managed and oversaw the conference was by purchasing an event app called Whova. All of the conference details were uploaded to the app so attendees could read about the sessions and workshop descriptions, select and enroll in the workshops they wanted to attend, and check in upon arrival. All communication was done through the app during the conference itself. Guests could even create and comment on any conference-related topic discussion board, and the organizers could check attendance and post announcements.

The opening ceremony took place in the PAC, where several people gave introductions and announcements, including RIS Head of School Dan Smith, James Dykman (ELLSA Board Coordinator), Ms. Alis (Conference Chairperson), and Ms. Darcy. They were followed by RIS students performing a beautiful Thai dance, and Andrea’s keynote speech kicked off the first day of the conference. Both conference days consisted of a selection of presentations, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. The atmosphere was engaging and lively—people were sharing experiences, asking questions, having collaborative conversations, moving around the rooms, and participating in activities; the participants were really enjoying what was going on. The first day wrapped up with a social in the Redeemer Atrium, and then some attendees went out for dinner at a beautiful local Thai restaurant, Chomna. The final day of the conference mirrored much of the main schedule of the first but ended with a closing ceremony in the PAC, during which certificates were awarded to participants and the presenters were given gifts. There was also a fun raffle with a lot of gifts, ranging from Thai mementos like elephant keyrings, elephant pants, and coconut lotion to professional development books from Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


Andrea, and a wireless printer that connects to a phone to print pictures. The first prize was a ticket to a WIDA workshop!

“Collaborative teaching, the central theme of the workshop, was well presented and broadly discussed in several workshops.”

An extra-special mention goes to the 21 RIS students who volunteered their time over two days to make more than 1,000 desserts—including cheesecake, oreo mousse, brownies, and cookies— for the guests.

“Having a lot of opportunities to interact with teachers from other schools, both during workshop sessions and outside at break times.”

The conference was excellently engineered and well received. Both in person during the conference and through the (anonymous) post-conference survey, the organizers received a lot of positive feedback: “This was easily the best, most relevant conference I have ever been to as an educator.” “I loved the general positive atmosphere, with teachers who are not afraid to share their ideas and resources with each other. I look forward to attending the next one!”

“RIS is a lovely school and it was great of them to host. All the RIS staff were incredibly supportive and helpful.” “Thank you very much for all the work, organization, and positivity that went into making this a very worthwhile conference to attend. I will definitely come again and recommend it to others.” “Thanks for all the hard work and making such a pleasant, informative event. Spending the weekend working isn’t something I look forward to, usually, but this made work both immediately useful and fun.”

by Elisia Brodeur



ur 10th grade history students recently took part in a trench warfare battle simulation on Godbout field. The exercise, called Power and Pride, was designed to simulate the mass slaughter that took place during World War I. The classes were divided into two alliances comprising teams of fictional countries that fought against each other. Each group was supplied with ammunition (water balloons, water guns, and wet sponges) that they used in a battle to take over the other countries on the field.

was better protected. The intended outcome of this battle was a stalemate, where most students were “eliminated” during battle. The ultimate goal was for the students to gain a better understanding of the harsh reality that no one really “wins” in war.

One side attacked a fortified position that was held by the opposing team. While the attacking team had the advantage of more “soldiers,” the defending team

“The students have spent the last five weeks learning about the causes and consequences of WWI. This unit was organized to contain several experiential

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Jake Curtis, Sarah Boulware, and Michael Clardy were the teachers at the helm of this hands-on, sensory experience. Mr. Michael shared some of the background of the project with me:

components, including the large group simulation. In the simulation, each of the seven World History II classes represented a country from a fictional region called ‘The North.’ The object of the simulation was to win ‘points for national pride,’ or PNPs. These points could be won by creating national propaganda (posters with slogans from their country), building militaries, establishing effective alliances, and taking over various colonies. Each of these methods of winning points was designed to teach one of the ‘MAIN’ causes of the war: M = militarism, A = alliances, I = imperialism, and N = nationalism. The countries eventually battled each other in the ‘War Room’ of Redeemer Hall. The battles were conducted by rolling dice. The number of dice they rolled was determined by the size of their country’s military. These battles took place over the course of two weeks during milk break and flex block. One of the simulations we ran involved students crawling on their stomachs across ‘no man’s land’ as if they were on a reconnaissance mission. We converted one classroom into no man’s land by blacking out the windows, using dry ice to create fog, and knocking over chairs and tables to create obstacles. During the

simulation, we played thunderously loud sound effects from a war scene. The students were guided through a visualization exercise that culminated in them opening a ‘special package.’ That package was a ziplock bag that contained half a baked potato that had been sprayed with a liquid that replicated the smell of death. Upon the teacher’s instructions, the students punctured the bag (and the potato) with their thumbs. The objective was to give them the sensation of actually grabbing the remains of a dead soldier who had been left in no man’s land. The wretched smell drove home the overwhelming sense of not being able to escape the horror of the situation. Now that the battles are over, the students will go on to incorporate these events into a persuasive essay where they explain whether or not the fighting and loss of life were worth the costs. Using these experiential pedagogies helps the students become more immersed in the topics they are learning. We hope that by providing them with such visceral experiences, they are creating more cognitive anchor points to help them remember and understand how this history unfolded.” Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur



n December 18th, the last day of school before the Christmas break, Middle School students and teachers gathered in Godbout Hall for the annual MS Knowledge Bowl. Dressed in holiday, um, attire… Mr. Kevin and Mr. Felix were the lively emcees for the event, which featured two rounds of a Jeopardy-style quiz along with a series of themed challenges.

The challenges ranged from fun PE-based activities, such as using straws to suction ping pong balls and drop them into a basket, to name-that-movie and name-thattune games, to a final series of tricky questions that revealed how well the students “know their teachers.” It was a close competition, but ultimately the Cobras beat the Tigers by a mere 20 points to claim first place.

Representatives from each of the six MS House Teams— the Golden Gibbons, Pink Elephants, Black Bears, Emerald Cobras, Titanium Tigers, and Blue Hornbills— were on stage to answer the challenging questions, which included topics such as Thai culture, sports, arts, and social studies. At the end of the round, the students were given one Final Jeopardy question on which they could wager up to 600 house team points!

The event culminated in a Teacher Dance-Off that, besides pure entertainment, served as a fundraiser for the Camillian Home. The students were required to raise a minimum of 10,000 baht for the teachers to even start dancing. After some gentle coaxing, the target amount was secured and 24 MS teachers took to the stage in a battle to see just who has the coolest moves. There were five elimination rounds, the winners of which were

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

determined by MSC representatives. Each round went for 2 minutes, one of which judged the teachers on their enthusiasm, creativity, and energy. It’s safe to say, there was plenty of that! But the final champion was Mr. Kevin in his outlandish Christmas suit, who secured his victory by busting out some impressive Fortnight dances. There was one final danceoff between a group of students and a very tired Mr. Kevin. The judges couldn’t decide who was better and declared a tie. The final House Point standings were: Hornbills: 1,462 Bears: 1,620 Elephants: 1,912 Cobras: 1,960 Gibbons: 1,978 Titanium Tigers: 2,227 (making them the Semester One Champs!) But the true victory of the day was the money collected for the Camillian Home. The danceoff raised a total of 15,700 baht, which goes to care for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs. What a fantastic way to end the first semester!

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

by Matt Smith


t was a steamy Monday for January and clouded with haze for much of the day. But not even unfavorable elements could stand in the way of launching the RIS Phoenix Swim-a-Thon for the second year in a row. Now an annual fundraising event, this year saw more than 75 swimmers band together to exhibit the true meaning of Ruamrudee’s principles of “Head, Hand, and Heart.” The RIS Swim team completed a marathon innings of two hours in the water, counting each and every lap in attempt to raise as much money as possible for the Baan Nok Khamin project in Uthai Thani—a highly respected charity for underprivileged orphans. Initially, our goal was to raise 50,000 baht, which would help to pay the construction costs for self-sustainable projects in the orphanage, such as chicken coops, a fish pond, and vegetable gardens. However, thanks to the efforts of our 75-plus swimmers and the support of the wider RIS community, we were able to raise an incredible sum: close to 310,000 baht!

Each and every swimmer who participated in this event deserves to be applauded for their magnificent efforts. However, I do want to take this opportunity to highlight some outstanding individual performances: • Jaye Ruh (a student from the RIS Swiss Section) swam over 250 laps and raised more than 44,000 baht! • Newcomer Matt Napraprukchat (grade 11) collected 62,000 baht in sponsorships from his family and friends. • Bene Puengchanchaikul (grade 5) raised over 25,000 baht. • And our youngest swimmers, first-graders Nina Chiaranaipanich and Pleng Tuaycharoen, combined their efforts to swim more than 25 laps … and they are just 6 years old! Very well done, swimmers! Our school community could not be more proud of the efforts you’ve shown in trying to make this world a better place through a union of hearts!

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur pink, Class of 2020 — red and yellow, and Class of 2019 — green and blue. The Knowledge Bowl was, as always, a sensational display of imaginative themes, magnificent stage displays, striking costumes, and outstanding performances. This year’s themes were The Galaxy (Freshmen), Ancient Egypt (Sophomores), The Greatest Showman (Juniors), and The Hidden Kingdom (Seniors).


ebruary 11th–15th was this year’s High School Spirit Week, which saw students dressing up in a range of themes to express their school spirit and earn grade-level points. This year’s themes, determined by the student council, prompted a lot of creativity and a blaze of color. Monday was Squad/Twin Day, where students got to “twin/squad up with their BFFs.” Tuesday was Meme Day. Since anything can technically be a meme, the students needed an image or source of their meme to accompany their outfit. Sticking a meme on their shirt didn’t count. Success was judged on creativity and the closest resemblance to the replicated meme. Wednesday was LGBTQ Day to show pride for the LGBTQ community. Outfits had to include either all 6 colors of the LGBTQ flag or 3 items of purple clothing. Thursday was Relationship Status Day, where outfit colors were meant to indicate current relationship status: red or pink for dating/in love, yellow for talking to someone, green for single, and blue for bitter. Friday was Class Colors for the Knowledge Bowl: Class of 2022 — purple and Grey, Class of 2021 — black and


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Each team of teachers who represented their respective Classes made an elaborate entrance before taking to the stage for their round of jeopardy-style questions on such topics as capitals of nations, artists’ names, cartoon characters, and general trivia. Our teachers were whip-smart and lightning quick with their answers. That was followed by each group of Class representatives making their entrance into Godbout preceded by dazzling choreographed dances, gymnastics, music, lights, and props. By the time the seniors took to the stage, the room was buzzing with boisterous energy. This year saw the introduction of a new element to the Knowledge Bowl called Helping Hands. The student reps had a lucky draw to see which of the Helping Hand strategies they could use, ranging from “phone a teacher” to “doubling the points” for an answer. After a bumpy start because of some technical glitches, the teams took turns dominating the different categories. After some controversy, the seniors were ultimately declared the winners. Here are the final points: Freshmen: 2,100 Sophomores: 800 Juniors: 2,050 Seniors: 2,700 Congratulations to all the participants and planning crews for another impressive and memorable High School Knowledge Bowl!

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

by Sariya (Ahya) Angeles-Ahmed, Grade 4-3 people who are not as lucky as us. It was a day of working together as a team and showing respect to each other and most especially to God. We learned this from the activity shared with us by Sr. Micah. We also learned to respect God and to give Him all our thanks. The short videos shared by Fr. David, our main speaker, taught us about kindness, happiness, and helped us realize the unconditional love our parents have for us.


n Saturday, January 19, most of the students from the grades 3–5 Religion classes of Sister Gladys gathered together at school for a recollection. Recollection Day is about bringing the Religion students to work together, to learn more about God, and be reminded about the importance of being kind, respectful, caring, mindful, happy, and all the other values that makes up a person of good character. It was a day to learn more about ourselves and others, each other’s values, and a chance to get closer to God through team-building activities and spiritual time. During our Recollection Day, some of the most important values we learned are to be kind, be thankful, and be appreciative of what we have because there are some

After the sharing, we received the Sacrament of Confession, asking God to forgive our shortcomings and to be determined to become good children, then we thank God in the Sacrament of the Holy Mass, which was presided over by Fr. John. Our day concluded at the Father’s house, where we were invited by a parent to have lunch. Since it was also Father Apisit’s birthday, we merrily sang him the Happy Birthday song and had a bountiful lunch together. It was a very meaningful and fun day that we spent with ourselves, with others, and, most especially, with God. This Recollection Day made us realize how important it is to be a good person by simply being kind, respectful, mindful, happy, and caring for each other. Not only did our understanding, connection, and respect toward God grow stronger, but we also became closer to God and to others.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



he Opening Reception of the IB Visual Arts Year 1 Exhibition “K” took place on Thursday, January 24, 2019, at St. Luke’s Gallery. The extraordinary artwork of the Year 1 IB Visual Arts students—Jew, Ryu, Maple, Jinny, Pun, Jay, Nat, Lily, Okie, Menthol, and Seang Proh—was on display, along with their thoughtful, and often thought-provoking, Artist Statements that described the thinking and feeling behind each piece, the message they wanted to convey, the artist(s) who inspired them, and why they chose that particular medium. Several faculty members, parents, and fellow classmates came to see the talented students’ work and to enjoy some tasty refreshments. Have a look for yourself!


Ad Astra Volume 26 November 2019

Ruamrudee International School Early Years Campus: Memorandum Of Understanding Signing Ceremony by Sudarat T. Attanawin, Director of Strategic Initiatives/HR


n January 15, 2019, RIS School Director Fr. Apisit Kritsaralam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Khun Jetana Kitcharoen and Khun Patcharamat Warachit, the CEOs of Brain Education Service, Company Ltd. The MoU formalizes their academic partnership and provides a framework of cooperation between the two entities for the establishment of RIS Early Years Campus (RISE), for children from PreK 2 to Kindergarten (ages 2 through 5). The new campus, located in the eastern Bangkok suburb of Praya Suren, is designed to build a strong foundation for young children’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. The facilities will support learning and allow free-flow movement between indoor and outdoor learning environments. The children are encouraged to wander through the open grounds scattered with butterflies, a vegetable garden, and rice plots. A wooded area with trails leads to play areas and tree houses. The “Seed to Table” program includes a greenhouse and pesticide-free planting beds where the children can begin a lifelong appreciation of fresh, healthy foods. At RISE, we believe that each child has an innate disposition for learning and a natural inquisitiveness

that can be intentionally and carefully nurtured. Teachers will implement the curriculum through keen observation and ongoing reflection of the children’s interests and needs. With a foundation built on the Reggio Emilia Approach, our highly experienced and qualified faculty will facilitate learning through an experiential educational approach. The children will learn and create using their senses, thereby harnessing their intrinsic curiosity and planting the seeds for future academic success at the RIS Minburi Campus. “The ultimate goal for RIS Early Years Campus,” according to Fr. Apisit Kritsaralam, RIS School Director, “is to ensure a safe, inclusive setting where the strengths and needs of the youngest members of our school community are recognized and where memorable beginnings are crafted.” Under the aegis of the RIS Leadership Team, an education at RISE will mirror the blueprint of its mother campus in Minburi with its robust curriculum and high standards of education. Also present at the signing ceremony were Fr. Meechai Udomdej, Mr. Dan Smith (RIS Head of School), Mr. James O’Malley (HS Principal), Mr. Joshua Fritts (ES Principal), and Ms. Jessica Seim (ES Assistant Principal).

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


RIS Expands its Presence with the Launch of a New Campus in the Ratchapruek Area by Sudarat T. Attanawin, Director of Strategic Initiatives/HR


uamrudee International School announced a significant expansion of its presence in Bangkok with the launch of a new campus that occupies a 17,600 sq. meter plot in the Ratchapruek area that offers a range of first-class facilities. The new RIS Ratchapruek campus, or RISR for short, soft launched on January 20, 2019. It will initially offer classes from PreKindergarten to grade 5 beginning in August 2019 and will expand to grade 12 in subsequent years. RIS Ratchapruek has a modern design with an innovative learning environment for each age group. It features state-of-the-art facilities including a 25-meter indoor swimming pool, shaded rooftop courts, a multipurpose hall, and an indoor sports halls for badminton,


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

basketball, netball, and volleyball. Classrooms, music halls, science laboratories, a library, and an art center consolidate RIS’s stature as a beacon of educational excellence. RISR looks forward to creating a truly inclusive and supportive learning environment in the Ratchapruek area “where there is a lot of energy, growth, and enthusiasm to embrace a really valuable education,” said Mr. Daniel Smith, Head of School. The launch opened with welcoming remarks by Fr. Apisit Kritsaralam, RIS School Director, who echoed Sydney Harris’s words that “the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” and that “any school can build leaders, but RIS builds good leaders.”

The launch was well attended by more than 250 guests including prospective parents, students, alumni, Redemptorist Fathers, teachers, distinguished guests, administrators, and staff. The event was made even more special with the presence of RIS alumni from all walks of life who provided glimpses into the school’s past with stories that highlighted over 60 years of RIS’s colorful history as a proud institution. Entertainment was provided by some of our current ES students along with a special performance by alumni Michael Sawatsewi and Debbie Scott Klongtruadroke, both from the Class of ’96. The afternoon was an affirmation of our strong community, one that exemplified the meaning of Ruamrudee: a union of hearts.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


AMAZING STUDENTS by Kritin (Bomb) Vongthongsri


2016 investigation by the Ministry of Health in Thailand showed that a whopping 72% of primary school-aged children in Thailand are visually impaired. Among the detected conditions, refractive errors and amblyopia, or lazy eye, were most prevalent. Although easily preventable, the past decade has seen an increase in these ocular disabilities, which present dire consequences to health, education, and the economy of Thailand. Left untreated, severe diseases can lead to blindness or even death. Moreover, children who lack proper vision struggle to build a strong academic foundation and often grow up without the skills for a financially stable profession. Unable to afford adequate healthcare, the following generations are affected hereditarily and are forced to repeat the pattern of their predecessor’s lives. To combat these ocular disorders that plague Thai society, “Eyesaver” was created—a nonprofit organization whose mission is for every child in Thailand to get his or her eyes tested. Eyesaver plans to distribute screening kits to schools all over Thailand. The kits target both refractive errors and amblyopia, serving as a preliminary test that can identify eye defects. With instructions aimed specifically towards school teachers, institutions can now introduce eyecare programs that most Thai schools lack. Parents of students who are shown to have an eye disorder will


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

be notified of their child’s condition along with the recommended course of action to resolve the issue. Eyesaver is ready to take action but needs sponsorship to be fully initiated. Each school will require one screening kit, which can test approximately 400 students. Each kit costs around 200 baht (including shipping). A donation of 200 baht can save 400 children from future hardships they might have to endure. Corporations who sponsor 10,000 baht or more will appear on the kit and will be thanked in Eyesaver conferences and workshops held throughout Thailand. If any parent is reading this and is willing to offer a donation, please contact me by email: or phone: 096 942 5093. Thank you in advance for your support!

by Robert Golding


n Saturday, February 2nd, Phoenix 1, Ruamrudee International School’s VEX team, took part in the Thailand VEX Robotics Competition, which was held at NIST. The VEX Robotics Competition is the most demanding and competitive robotics competition in the world, and the fact RIS is competing at this level and against other top schools after only two years is a real testament to our students’ abilities and determination. To prepare for the competition, team members worked together to design and build a semi-autonomous robot that can maneuver around obstacles and solve challenges. While working together, the students are also learning and practicing an equally important set of skills: creativity, collaboration, strategic thinking, problem solving, and perseverance. The RIS team made it to the finals after a thrilling semifinal—a draw of 17-17—and then a win in the rematch. The RIS team lost in the final match, securing second place overall. Not only did our team make it to the finals but they won the prestigious Design Award. This award is given to the team that has the best robot design as determined by their engineering notebook that details their design process and an interview with the judges.

Here’s what some of our team members had to say about the experience: “The VEX Robotics Competition was not only fun but taught us many useful lessons. For example, our talent surely helped us win the matches, but it was the strong teamwork and bonds that got us to the finals.” — Lalida Nithirojpakdee “VEX has introduced me to a novel field of technology: robotics. This experience was truly astounding and if possible I would like to continue participating in the VEX Robotics Competition in the future. It was a pleasure to work with the RIS VEX team. Overcoming various hardships had led to us developing priceless bonds.” — Kritawat Kraiwitchaicharoen (Jackie) “It has been a pleasure to be able to take part in VEX Robotics alongside such a hard-working group of people who persisted throughout the competition, finally landing second place and the Design Award. Through the process of working on the robot, valuable bonds were made with each other and many memorable shared experiences that will never be forgotten.” — Visa Theerapatra Thongdee Our RIS teams are already planning for next year’s VEX Competition. If you would like to be involved please email Robert Golding: Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur What happened after that? I started to work with Ms. Kun, one of the senior Pastry Chefs in the restaurant. She ultimately became my cooking teacher. I started by reading old cookbooks. The first thing I cooked was a simple carbonara dish. How did MasterChef Junior come about? My dad asked me if I wanted to apply to MasterChef Junior. He explained that it would be quite a bit of pressure. I decided that I was OK with that, so I decided to audition. How did you get onto the show? The first round was a video of me cooking. I made carbonara with flaming cheese on top and a panna cotta with strawberry sauce. I was invited to the next round of auditions. For that, I made creme brulee and jam ahead of time and did the decorations live at the audition.


arlier this year, I talked with KC, a 3rd grader in Ms. Cris’s class, to find out how this 8-year-old chef earned a place as a contestant on the popular TV show: MasterChef Junior Thailand, a competitive cooking game show series adapted from the British show, Junior MasterChef. MasterChef Junior Thailand airs on Ch7HD (35) Sundays at 6:20 p.m. More than 2,000 children from all over the country applied for a coveted spot on the show. Forty children were selected to be on the show, and only 26 of them got their MasterChef Apron. How long have you been at RIS? For 3 years, since 1st grade. How long have you been interested in cooking? Since I was 4 years old. What got you interested in cooking? My family owns a restaurant, Jitpochana Park, which serves good Thai food. I would sit in the kitchen and watch the cooks work. Then I started to wonder if I could cook, too. At first I helped in the bakery, making tarts, creams, and creme brulee. I also made my own butter and cream.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Three weeks later, I heard that I had made it to the next round of auditioning, where we had to cook in front of the show’s actual judges: Chef Pom, Chef Ian, Chef Ink. I made filet mignon in a peppercorn sauce. For getting that far, I was awarded a MasterChef Junior certificate. Then I had an interview with owner of the show and the creatives. They asked me many questions, including whether I could sing—because I had to be entertaining as well as good at cooking! How did you feel about being invited on the show? I felt good, especially when I got to see the MasterChef kitchen! How many kids made it onto the show to begin with? 20 boys and 20 girls—40 in all, then down to 26 for the Apron Challenge. How did you prepare to be on the show? My dad invited Chef Mark Cawley, my uncle and grandfather’s friend, to teach me. He’s a good teacher and helped me learn how to be organized. I worked with him every single day after school at the restaurant. How did you feel about filming the first episode? I was worried and wondered if I would make it. It was quite scary! I had to make a dish with Japanese scallops,

called Hotate with Wasabi Sabayon, and I had only one week to practice making it. How did you calm your nerves? I practiced meditation and ways to breathe that would calm my nerves. I also did singing therapy and worked with RIS alumna Maleewan. How did the filming work for the show? Each episode took most of a whole day to produce. There were two weeks between each taping session so we had two weeks to practice. How far did you get and what did you make while on the show? I made it to the sixth episode then I had to withdraw because I was not feeling very well that day. I got to make hotate, risotto, cupcakes, nam prik ong, and take part in two team challenges where I got to work with the other Junior MasterChefs. For the first team challenge we made pork chops, which was hard. We also had an Infinity Choice, which included ostrich, frog, and crocodile. I won best dish for my Crocodile menu, which I put in the pressure cooker because if you don’t cook it well it tastes like rubber. Tell me more about the team challenges. I learned from the first team challenge that we needed to be organized. For the second team challenge, I got to be the Team Captain for the Blue Team. We went to the Cartoon Network Waterpark in Pattaya and had to serve fast food to all of the people visiting the park that day. I believe that fast food and fine dining go together, so we made guacamole because it is filling and it’s good for you. What’s your secret to making really good guacamole? You need to scrape out all of the avocado especially the part nearest the skin because that is the tastiest part. But the real secret is in the seasoning, but I can’t tell you what it is because it’s a secret! What is your biggest take away from the experience? Friendships, both here at school and with the other MasterChef Junior competitors. I met up with all of the MasterChef Junior kids in December. We got to swim, cook, and play Bingo.

What is the most important thing about cooking? The most important thing is that your workspace is as clean as possible. Also, you have to pay attention to the details, like noticing how hot a pan is so you don’t burn your ingredients. And you need to be patient! What are the hardest things about cooking? Being organized and preparing ahead as much as possible. What is your favorite thing to cook? My favorite things to cook are deconstructed coq au vin and soufflés. I have a “KC Signature Soufflé.” It’s top secret! I’m more interested in savory food than sweet food because sweets require a lot of patience. Dessert is my favorite, but I find it hard to be patient because I want to eat it right away! Who are your heros? Chef Mark Cawley, my nanny (who helps me clean up after cooking), my dad, and my mom. What are your plans for the future? I plan to keep cooking! I have launched a new YouTube channel, which I would love people to subscribe to: “Cooking English.” My goal is that it will help me earn money for a Chef’s Table at the restaurant. I’m planning to make 9 courses for 9 people at a time. That’s a total of 81 dishes! My first Chef’s Table is coming up on March 14, which is my birthday. You are welcome to come try my food! I hope to have a lot of Chefs Tables and to get to go on a Disney Cruise. Then I want to open a restaurant and get a Michelin star. Please check out and subscribe to KC’s YouTube channel, Cooking English: UC1tj7NFkO26C7hu1IXpTd0Q?view_as=subscriber to see him cooking his favorite dishes. He speaks in English with Thai and has English subtitles. You can also find KC on other social media platforms: Facebook: or Instagram: kcthelittlechef Twitter: @kcthelittlechef Congratulations, KC, and best wishes for much success now and in the future! Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n December 22, 2018, our very talented 6th grader Siri (Mac) Chaikul had the distinct honor of competing in an international vocal competition in New York at none other than Carnegie Hall. The competition, organized by American Protégé, is an “International Vocal Competition...designed for singers who would like to challenge themselves in a very competitive environment. The competition is open to solo vocalists and vocal groups of all ages, nationalities, and countries,” according to their website. We are delighted to report that Mac was awarded First Place in the Broadway/Musical Theatre Repertoire Category (for Juniors, age 11–14), “for the extraordinary dedication and achievement in the field of music performance.” Not only did he earn that coveted prize but Mac also received the Judges’ Distinction Award, which is given to only 6 outstanding participants from the entire competition, across all age groups, and from all over the world. Well done, Mac! Here is a video that Mac put together—and edited— that features a recording of him singing at Carnegie Hall with a compilation of photos from the event: I recently talked with Mac’s dad to find out a bit more about how this prestigious opportunity came about.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

How did Mac come to participate in this competition? Mac has won several prizes over the last year, including a spot in the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra during their talent search and first place in the Singapore Lyric Opera ASEAN Vocal Competition 2018. He also won the Gold Vocal Junior prize in the 6th Hong Kong International Youth Performance Arts Festival even though he didn’t attend in person because he was auditioning for something else at the time. Mac decided to audition for the American Protégé International Vocal Competition as it’s a huge honor to participate. He submitted a video of his performance at the BSO concert for his audition. This competition also gave him the chance to visit New York and, of course, to perform in Carnegie Hall.

What did Mac think of performing at Carnegie Hall? Mac has heard a lot about Carnegie Hall; it’s a privilege for musicians to perform there—it’s as distinguished as the Royal Albert Hall in London! Mac was extremely proud to be able to perform in this very special venue where many well-known artists get to perform. It’s a great accolade that Mac got to sing there at just 12 years old! What do you think makes Mac’s performances so special? He just loves singing and performing, he loves to be on the stage. He transforms into a totally different person— it’s like he truly comes alive. His goal is to engage with the audience and make them happy, which he does. What else did Mac enjoy about New York? It was Mac’s first time to the States and the first time there for our family as a whole. Mac loved New York! We got to see the Broadway musicals Frozen and Wicked. Mac also wanted to see Aladdin but we ran out of time. He was so impressed by the live performances. He actually wanted to stay in New York and audition for musicals but we explained that he needs to finish his education first!

What is Mac working on right now? He’s practicing and concentrating on his singing, mostly songs from musicals, classical pieces, and Thai songs. He has 4 or 5 voice teachers because we’ve come to understand that the voice is an instrument that has different ranges of voice and tones; it’s different for each artist. So Mac needs to learn how to use proper breathing techniques and singing styles that suit his voice. How much does Mac practice? Most days he practices at least an hour, both singing and playing the piano. According to his teachers, the best singers also need to know how to play the piano. Sometimes his practice is less formal, like when he sings along with YouTube videos, but it’s just as useful because it helps him to improvise. What’s next for Mac? He has auditioned for something but we can’t say what that is just yet. Let’s just say that you will be seeing Mac perform publicly in the near future… Watch this space!

by Elisia Brodeur


he Association for Music in International Schools, or AMIS for short, hosted the “Asian Middle School Honor Band” at the Shanghai American School (Pudong Campus) on January 23–27, 2019. This was one of 17 events organized by AMIS for the 2018–2019 school year and the 20th annual AMIS Middle School Honor Band Festival— the first was held at The American School in Paris in 1999. The purpose of this honor band is to gather talented band instrumentalists in grades 7 and 8 to give them the opportunity to work together as a concert band with guest conductors from within the international community. Places in the band are determined by auditions that are judged “blindly” (no name or other identifying information is attached to the audio recording) by international school band teachers who are members of AMIS.

The guest conductor this year was Sophie Holbrook, originally from Palo Alto, California, and currently the Band Director for grades 5–8 at Seoul Foreign School in South Korea. Ms. Holbrook studied trumpet performance at San Francisco Conservatory and holds degrees in music education from Rutgers University and Boston University. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


Seventh-grade trombonist Phoom Punpeng was the only RIS student to make it into this elite ensemble. This is a remarkable achievement for any student, but it’s even more impressive since Phoom is only in 7th grade and this is just his second year of playing the trombone. Phoom is a member of the RIS Middle School Band and also performs with the RIS Jazz Ensemble, which is primarily a high school ensemble. I spoke with both Ms. Claudia and Phoom to hear more about this wonderful experience from each of their perspectives. Ms. Claudia How did this experience come about for Phoom? Being an international school teacher, I knew about AMIS and its honor bands and festivals. I mentioned this particular honor band to my students, both last year and this year. A couple of band members auditioned and Phoom was selected. A total of about 80 band members from 14 different schools were selected perform in this Honor Band in China, the vast majority of whom are 8th graders. So it was a great achievement that Phoom was selected. Tell me more about the Asian Middle School Honor Band Festival and the purpose of it. The festival is a celebration of music and gives the selected musicians the opportunity to play in an advanced ensemble. Most of the students in this band are used to being some of the leading players in their school band; this gives these hard-working music students a chance to experience an additional challenge. They also get to perform more difficult music

in a larger band than they may be used to playing in. Phoom is usually in a class of 12, which combines to an advanced band of about 30 for our end-of-semester performances. How does the committee choose who gets to play in the Honor Band? I imagine a lot of talented players audition. I haven’t served on an audition listening committee before but I know that a successful audition needs to be very strong. There are only a certain number of spots for various instruments, there’s a goal of instrumentation they’re aiming for, but only the top players are selected so you need to be at a certain level. For example, this year there were no bassoon players in the group and only two French horn players but there were nine flutists. More students typically choose to play the flute, so a student could be an incredible flute player but his or her chance of being selected for the band would have depended on the number of other flute players who auditioned. As a band teacher—and a musician yourself—what did this experience mean to you? Although this was not officially considered professional development, I learned so much from simply being there and getting to talk with other band teachers and directors from around Asia. It was so beneficial for me to be around a group of teachers, all excellent musicians and educators, who really know how to communicate with middle schoolers. In particular, I loved watching Ms. Holbrook work and rehearse with the kids. I also got to talk with the student musicians about highlevel trombone-specific challenges, which was a good experience for me as a trombone player myself and for the students for them to learn more details about their instrument. Tell me more about the festival itself, what did Phoom get to do there? The students got to work in small groups and all together to learn several pieces of music that they would perform during two concerts. One concert was during the day for the ES and MS students who attended Shanghai American School (the Pudong campus). The other was a Gala Concert, which took place in the school’s Performing Arts Center during the evening and was live streamed. A recording is available on YouTube:


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

While there, Phoom also auditioned for and was selected to perform a short solo during one of the concerts. About three-quarters of the ensemble auditioned for these short solos for each of the instruments. There were a total of 6 trombones and 2 were selected. Phoom had to play in front of the whole band. I was very proud of him for doing that. The musicians also had skype conversations with two of the composers of pieces they performed. What was the thinking behind talking with the composers? It gave the students a chance to ask questions directly. Some examples were “Why did you pick this piece?” “Why did you choose the key signature?” “Why did you choose that name for the piece?” “Why did the composer write certain parts they way he did?” One composer even shared a video of himself singing an early draft of the piece. What do you see as the value of this experience for Phoom and other band members? Phoom has learned so much by being around other young excited student musicians. I hear a difference in his playing. I’ve noticed that he has a bigger, fuller sound and has started attempting more challenging things, like higher notes. This also makes him a good model for other students. Taking part in something like this is good motivation; it gives students a tangible reason to practice and the drive to get better than they already are. External motivation is always helpful! It gives us a reason to achieve. Musicians need to work on specific skills, but we typically want to play the things we’re already good at and avoid the harder things that aren’t as much fun to play—it’s just human nature. But we only get better when we spend time working on the things that we need to get better at. Opportunities like this provide the motivation students need to dig in to the things they might otherwise shy away from. Phoom What was the audition process like? I was given a couple of pieces to play—a scale and two études (short musical compositions). I did most of the practicing at home but recorded the audition at

school with Ms. Claudia. I was a little bit nervous at first, but after the audition was over I felt relieved and was curious to know the results. I was very excited to know I made it into the Honor Band. You were the only student from RIS to go to the festival, did you get to know kids from other schools while you were there? Yes, I made friends with a boy named Henry, an 8th grader from Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) who came to play the flute. He was also the only kid from his school. We were both staying at the same homestay. I met some of the students from ISB (Bangkok), there were about 20 of them and they were very friendly. I also met some students from SAS (the host school) who were very welcoming as well. What did you think of staying with a family from the school, as a homestay? It was a really good experience. I learned about Chinese culture, including what they do at home and what food they eat. The family taught me what to say for Chinese New Year and advised me what I should do at the dining table, which is not the same as in Thai culture. What did you think of the guest conductor? She made it really fun. She showed us some activities that helped us breathe more smoothly while playing, which made all the musicians sound better. She also encouraged us to ask her any questions. She can play every instrument in the band and so was able to support each musician. Which were your favorite songs that you performed? The guest conductor chose the music, and all the songs were based on the theme of light. My favorites were “Luminescence” (because it was fun to play) and Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story. We also played “Chasing Sunlight,” “Looking at the Stars,” “March Militaire,” and “Earth Dance.” What did you learn about being in band that you didn’t know before this experience? I learned that we have to be aware of everything around us: the conductor, our friends, the audience…. All of it. Also that musicians need to make adjustments as we play, without being told. Will you audition again next year? Yes, for sure! Ms. Claudia tells me that the song you played the solo on was a very “different” piece that included “neon plastic whirlies.” Tell me more about that! Yes, the whirlies make a distinctive sound. The song was called “Whirlwind.” Everyone in the band played 5 notes in a repeating pattern. When the conductor asked who wanted to do a solo, I volunteered. I had to audition on the spot, in front of the rest of the band. The first 2–3 notes were a bit shaky because I was nervous, but then my confidence grew and I was able to finish the audition and was chosen to do the solo. How do think Ms. Claudia prepared you for this experience? Since I joined band at the beginning of middle school, it’s been easy for me to be on the stage and not be scared. Also, every Christmas and end of the school year we have one concert, so I felt prepared for this event. For the trombones, Ms. Claudia gave us some techniques that made us sound better, one of those is the habit of sitting up tall.

Do you want to share anything else about the festival? I was grateful to get to play in the band. The overall experience was thrilling as I got to work with other musicians who are at different levels. It was very exciting to meet new friends and learn about the Chinese culture. How often do you practice? I practice almost every day, for about 30–60 minutes all together. I really wanted to play the trombone, so I was determined to be good at it. What other instruments do you play? I also play the piano and I’d like to try a new instrument, a woodwind instrument, maybe the flute or the oboe. How long have you been playing the piano? Since I was 4 years old. I just reached Grade 7.* * After this interview, I learned—quite by chance— that Phoom didn’t just “reach Grade 7,” he actually earned the highest score—96/100—in Thailand for the Trinity Piano Grade 7 Exam 2018. There is a ceremony in Bangkok in early March to acknowledge “the three highest scorers in each grade.” As if that weren’t enough, I also found out that Phoom recently took part in the 5th Trinity College London National Youth Piano Competition, Thailand 2018. Actually, he didn’t merely take part in it, he won 1st place and Best Compulsory Piece in Category III (under 16 years old), along with prize money totalling 35,000 baht! Congratulations on your many successes, Phoom! Moving forward, I suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit more about your musical accomplishments.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

by Shasta Miller


he RIS U11 Girls Soccer team this year had 15 players and three coaches (myself, Linda, and Golf). The girls had a great season and played well, both at home and when they traveled to play against other schools such as NIST, ASB, Shrewsbury, and ICS. The U11 Girls Soccer team was the first group of student athletes to be introduced at the recent Season 2 Sports Assembly because they truly embodied the spirit of the Phoenix. Here are some noteworthy details from the season: • The girls learned different passing drills, such as the Through and Square and the Give and Go • Cleo joined us from the Swiss Section (We welcome other players from the Swiss Section on RIS teams!) • Sara, Jazzy, and Simone were excellent goalies this year and made many awesome plays • Versaille and Venice are sisters, and this is the last year they will be playing on the same team because Venice is graduating to Middle School • Maple is the youngest player on the team, and she played with a fierce and strong spirit • Simone, Venice, Gephen, Chloe, Miijung, and Pan are seniors on the team and will graduate to Middle School this year

We look forward to more girls from grades 3–5 joining us for Season 2 Soccer next year! Here are some reasons our team members think other players should join the U11 Girls Soccer team: “[Playing soccer] gives you a chance to hang out with other people you see around school but who are not in your class.” — Gephen (Team Captain) “Playing soccer is fun and a good way to make new friends.” — Simone (new team member this year) “Sports will help you become confident and healthy. Those two attributes will benefit you throughout your entire life!” — Coach Linda Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


by Kim McDonald


s I was searching for songs for our Elementary School Christmas Concert, I came across one song that, from the moment I heard it, I knew it had to be the song for our first finale (for students in grades 3, 4, and 5). “Christmas Wish” is a song about wishing for peace for all children in the world, not only at Christmas time but all the time. Being blessed to live in a place where there is no war, I realized that if our students were going to be able to sing this song with true understanding and empathy, they needed to understand what living in a war zone might be like. So I set about finding some short videos that showed children explaining what their lives are like in the war zone they live in or had escaped from. I knew that when our students saw these videos of children talking about their shocking experiences that they would want to help. After researching aid organizations, I felt that that ‘War Child’ was the group that seemed to be doing the most to directly help children affected by war. I contacted ‘War Child, UK’ and then spoke with our ES Principal, Dr. Josh, and was given the green light to start fundraising.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Most of our children were shocked to see the conditions that many children in war zones have to live in, and, as I expected, they were very keen to help. We decided to sell T-shirts that could be worn in the Christmas concert, have a toy sale, and also set up donation boxes around campus and in the PAC on the day of our concert. I also created an assignment that asked our students to reflect on the videos and to make a personal connection to the song “Christmas Wish.” They could create a poster, make a piece of art, write a poem, song, reflection, or persuasive piece about raising money, etc. I was overwhelmed by many of their comments, reflections, and artwork that they handed in. It was clear that our children feel deeply for the plight of children affected by war. Ms. Elisia, Ms. Jessica, Dr. Josh, and I worked together to design the T-shirt, and Ms. Shirley and Mr. Azeem helped with organizing and processing the orders. With the generosity of our parents and teachers we raised more than 115,000 baht from T-shirt sales alone! Mr. Olivier helped to organize a toy sale, which raised about 3,000 baht, and we had an additional 8,000 baht donation from RIS teachers. And from the donation boxes we collected a further 38,300 baht. WOW!!!

We were able to donate a total of 154,300 baht to War Child, UK. The money will be used by the charity in a variety of ways. In the thank-you letter from War Child UK, they thanked RIS for our very generous donation and shared some ideas of how the money we raised can help to protect, educate, and stand up for the rights of children affected by war. If you would like to find out more about how War Child helps children or how you can help, please visit to read about their work in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, occupied Palestinian territory, and Uganda. Our school’s principles of the Phoenix, or POPs, were at the core of this project, and I feel very proud of our whole RIS community, who collectively used their heads, hands, and hearts to raise money to improve the lives of many children less fortunate than ours. I believe that many of us will continue to be mindful of the blessings we have in our lives and to reflect on this more often. Here are some samples of our students’ work on their ‘Christmas Wish’ assignment: By Ahya, Grade 4 After I watched the videos I started to think of how lucky I am because unlike the children who are in war I have food, a home, a bed, clean water, and a peaceful life... I also was really shocked. When I went home I actually tried sleeping on the floor but I know it was nothing compared to the children who have to sleep on the rocky floor. I wanted to try to not eat lunch or dinner but I couldn’t do it because I was so hungry. I ate all my food because I didn’t want to waste it. I have thought of some ways I can help the children in war: by participating in raising money for War Child and when I get something I will not waste it and I will be grateful. I wish that I could just stop the war, but I know I have to do more than that…. Many children are being killed and injured.... They did nothing to deserve this. These children should be able to live a peaceful and happy life with their family and friends…. I want these children to know that they have people who want to help them. I want to give them hope. I want them to be safe. I hope that the war will soon end, and if it does I will be delighted and filled with joy. The song “Christmas Wish” tells how there is peace and happiness at Christmas, but the children in war zones

have the opposite of peace and happiness… When it says that we need to open our hearts and eyes I think that the people who started the war need to do that and apologize and help rebuild their town or city and help the injured people. Christmas can mean that the world can be a better place for everyone because it is a time for everyone to unite and create peace. By Canoe, Grade 3 Every time I sing the song Christmas Wish I think of children in war zones, how they are suffering, and how I can help them. When I watch the videos I think of the type of people who help children in war zones, like the guy who brings them toys, Rami Adham, from Finland. Rami Adham is a heroic person in my opinion. He dodges bombs, hides from snipers, just to deliver toys to children in war zones. He made 27 trips, brought 13,000 toys, in 5 years. The connection between the song Christmas Wish and the war child videos is that it encourages people to think more about people in war zones and talks a lot about peace. I am a very lucky person compared to people in war zones and want other people to realize how very very rich they are compared to people in war zones. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


By Tobin, Grade 5 A typical human being does not realize that across the world, people are suffering, starving, and dying. Civilians are being slaughtered or captured, forced to sleep on nothing, and some dream of even one full meal a day. But for us, we take these small things for granted, we rarely think about the roof over our head, the clothes on our body, or the school we go to, or even the clean, fresh water that we drink. These are all privileges. So by singing this song, we are giving back to those in need, and telling them we are hearing them, and doing something about that. My reaction to the video was that it was so sad, I really felt bad for them and it made me want to help… They live a scary life, some with parents, some with no parents, some that don’t have a family, it made me realize how lucky I am. By Wari, Grade 4 Thailand is a peaceful country. I consider myself very lucky to be in Thailand where I have a bed to sleep, a house to live, and everything to make my life happy. Unlike Thailand, some countries are affected by war. War causes fear and loss as well as the death of loved ones. It crushes the dreams of children. Talent is wasted. If I had power, I want to create a new world where peace is spread throughout. I want to see all children worldwide having a happy life in peaceful countries. When I sing this song I feel lucky I have everything I need, like I’m making the war child kids feel encouragement to keep on hoping and I’m happy for that. I wish this Christmas will be a wonderful and peaceful time for all the children around the world. By Nine, Grade 3 I watched a video about two Syrian children. The boy was saying that all the quiet countries must wake up. Every day people are dying in Syria. The girl said that it was very uncomfortable to live in an underground shelter because they don’t have any food or water and can’t sleep because the floor is so hard. The Syrian war started seven years ago. More than 300,000 people have died. Syrian citizens don’t want President Bashar al-Assad to govern the country because he is corrupt and doesn’t care about how his citizens live. When I watched the video I couldn’t hold my tears because I really feel sorry for those children. How lucky that I am living in the peaceful country like Thailand. I can eat food as much as I want. I have an education in a good school with a safe place to run and play with my friends. I have money to buy toys and clothes. I have a safe 48

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

home that is comfortable, and most importantly I have my family. I would like to help Syrians by donating $90 through the International Red Cross, which is an organization that helps Syrians trapped in Eastern Aleppo. I hope that my donation can give food and water to Syrian children. I am going to ask my parents to buy T-shirts that Ms Kim created that will donate money to children in war zones. Last but not least I will try to persuade my relatives by sharing with them about how hard it is to live in Syria and hope that this will inspire them to order T-shirts or donate to related charities. By Bam, Grade 3 I started to realize that I am so lucky!!! The song ‘Christmas Wish’ REALLY MEANS A LOT TO ME!!! We are singing it for the people who don’t have shelter, food, water, and have bad things in their life and have wars. We are also doing another thing, which is selling T-shirts. You might think that it is silly but NO NO NO!!! We are doing it to raise money. I watched a video about people who live in places with bombs so they hid in a underground shelter. It is like a dark midnight road. They stay there for weeks and weeks until the bombs are gone and in those weeks no bed, they sleep on that floor!! Also, I watched another video about how lucky we are. Guess what? I got all the things those poor people DO NOT HAVE!!! When I listen to the song ‘Christmas Wish’ I start thinking about the poor people and making the world a better place. By Bouquet, Grade 5 I feel that we are lucky to be where we are right now. The world around us is suffering, needing food, having war, and so much more. I think that we are lucky that we have school to learn in, have clothes to wear, a house,

and a place to sleep. If you feel like you can’t take it anymore, think about these people. We have a place to sleep in while they are scattering to find a place to hide and cannot sleep because of war. Or they cannot go anywhere because of war and are starving. Sometimes life just isn’t the way you want it to be. But that’s the way life is, right? We have happy times then bad times. Today, try sleeping on the floor or try to not eating dinner. How does that feel? … Guess what you can do to help? Make peace not war. Donate money, don’t use it on a brand new phone. Eat all your food and don’t waste it. PLEASE make the world a better place for everyone. By Miijung, Grade 5 People are dying because of wars. People in Thailand are lucky that we’re NOT in war, because we are safe and have shelter. We are some of the luckiest people on Earth. Children are dying in Israel and Syria. It’s time to stop wars and think about peace and about the little lives that are at stake and the kids that are about to die, right this moment. Those kids have lives ahead of them…. But for us, we never have to think about those kinds of problems. By Proud, Grade 4 Christmas Wish is a song about how Christmas means love and peace. It is a time when people come together and people feel hope. It also tells us that we can make the world a better place. It makes me feel happy when I sing it because it reminds me that we are so lucky to not be in wars and be safe. Some of the people in the

videos are making the world a better place by helping the children who live in war zones, like the man who plays soccer with the kids and the man who brings toys to the kids. I feel sad about the people in war zones and wish I could help them. So I am happy that we will be helping them with the T-shirts and the donations.

by Elisia Brodeur


ixth-grader Nichanya Sudprasert (Minnie) recently competed and medaled in some renowned international skating competitions. At Skate Japan 2018, held at the Saitama Ice Arena in Japan, she won a gold medal for her Solo Program Freestyle 3 performance and a silver medal for her Open Freestyle program. At Skate Asia 2018, which was held at The Rink Ice Arena RAMA 9

in Bangkok, she won more gold and silver medals, this time for her Artistic Freestyle 4 and Open Freestyle programs, respectively. Minnie has been skating since she was 8 years old and is a member of both the Ice Skating Institute (ISI) and the International Skating Union (ISU). Her most recent competition was Skate Bangkok 2018. Every ISI member needs to take part in this competition to collect points to Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


compete in championships in Asia. Minnie won yet more medals at this event: a silver for Freestyle 4 and two bronze, one each for Footwork Freestyle 4 and Artistic Freestyle 4. Minnie says that what she likes most about skating is the feeling of achievement when she accomplishes something, that sense of “I did it!” That’s what pushes her to learn more and get better. Minnie also enjoys the cool temperatures in the ice rink and says that the cold breeze in her hair feels good— especially when it’s really hot in Bangkok.

This year Minnie plans to move up to the next level: Freestyle 5. Her teacher, K. Tee, is “very strict!” Minnie’s observation is that if “you do something right the first time, he’s very impressed. If you learn something but don’t show improvement over time, he gets upset. He doesn’t expect me to improve every time I go to learn with him, but at least a little bit.” Right now Minnie is working on her double-toe loop and double loop, as well as trying to perfect her double salchow. She’s also working on her spins, specifically the camel spin (where the skater’s leg is at a 90-degree angle—”the one that looks like a T”) and the I-spin (essentially a standing split with the

extended leg in front). Minnie thinks that this spin “is hard and requires a lot of stretching to get the leg straight.” Clearly, she likes to challenge herself. But Minnie “likes to work toward small goals” so she can achieve them. She doesn’t want to make a huge goal because she feels that puts too much pressure on herself. When not skating, Minnie is involved in several activities at school; she’s a member of the Middle School Council and a delegate in the MUN. She’s also playing volleyball this season. She likes to “stay active and can’t stand sitting still.” This year Minnie plans to compete in Skate Asia, which will be held in Bangkok again. And next year her goal is to take part in the new National Youth Games for figure skaters in Thailand. We wish you the best of luck, Minnie!


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

World Scholar’s Cup Going to Regionals by Tom Wash


or those who don’t know, “World Scholar’s Cup is an academic competition mixed with other social activities designed to instill a desire for learning and a discovery of one’s own capabilities.” We invite you to visit our website: to learn more (did you know that there’s an Alpaca song and an Alpaca march?) and to see past and present team members. The current RIS World Scholar’s Cup teams have registered for the upcoming Regional Bangkok Round at Brighton College on March 24 and 25. This year we have 54 scholars on 18 teams: 5 Senior teams and 13 Junior teams. Our scholars have finished debate and writing workshops and are in the process of reading and discussing the curriculum. The year’s theme is “A World on the Margins,” with the following sub-categories: Special Area: Unsolved Mysteries Social Studies: On the Edge of Society History: Neglected Histories Science: Enabling Technologies Art and Music: Louder Than Words Literature: Voices from the Margins

Here are all of our hard-working team members: Seniors: Narisa Chakrapee-sirisuk, Nichatorn Tangkuptanon, Dokyum Lee, Panawee Sakulwannadee, Palika Sridurongrit, Norapat Vithawatpongsatip, Nakyum Lee, Zehuan Wu, Yilin Chen (not pictured), Suchita Thepkanjana, Manyasiri Chotbunwong, Prarepim Adunpadungsak, Prima Suntornwipart (not pictured), Kanapol Glinpu (not pictured), Kritin Vongthongsri (not pictured) Juniors: Nannaphat Suwannakul, Kittitara Chunlakittiphan, Praew Kedpradit, Pasawee Titapand, Ronnakorn Onraksa, Kan Yodinlom, Phasakorn Chivatxaranukul, Vasu Duangudomdej, Pattakit Charoensedtakul, Jirat Chiaranaipanich, Krit Yodinlom, Nabhat Thurakitseree, Worada Chinpongpaiboon, Pakamon Kerdsomboon, Risa Pienvichit, Nichanya Sudprasert, Wadwalai Rujipornpong, Chawisa Theprin, Surada Kultawaiporn, Varittha Manorotchaturong, Preeyanit Poolsawat, Varatsorn Keeratiwattanapisarn, Arachaporn Titapand, Patcharipa Jeerapat, Phantharach Natnithikarat, Nongnaphat Rawara, Boonsiri Pornjalernchaisilp, Paulpeerakom Rienchalanusarn, Rawit Thamparanon, Supawit Liangwatthanakol, Thitilapa Sae-Heng, Phoom Punpeng, Donovan DePoint Pettine, Nattanant Saryuthpitak, Issara Phoomtrakul, Voraruthai Puengchanchaikul, Victor Phisitkul, Ryota Sugibuchi, Lexuan Huang

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


IB Biology and IB Environmental Science Trip to Khao Yai By Divi Maheshwari


very year, the Year One IB Biology and IB Environmental Science students go on an ecological trip to Khao Yai National Park during their ecology unit. The purpose of the trip is to perform field work and collect real data. Students get to experience nature and at the same time do rigorous work as part of their curriculum. They get to experience what it’s like to be a biologist or ecologist working in the field. The data they collect is compiled to understand the ecosystem they are studying. Students study forest, grassland, and stream ecosystems and compile research on various flora and fauna including elephant populations based on dung analysis, biodiversity of nocturnal flying insects, plant species identification based on leaves, lichen density calculation on tree trunks, comparison between forest and grassland plant communities, macroinvertebrate sampling to calculate stream water quality, and abiotic factors to calculate stream health. Over the three days, students spend


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

9–14 hours completing meticulous field work and compiling data. The experience strengthens students’ research understanding. Initially, I wasn’t excited for the trip. The idea of standing in the sun for 12 hours a day doing lab work wasn’t a very appealing trip itinerary. And on top of that, having to wake up at 6 am, as well as getting only an hour of leisure time, was not something I was overjoyed about. I kept telling myself, “At least I have the bus ride with my friends, and at least I’m rooming with my friends, even though I won’t get to spend too much time with them,” but other than that I was dreading the trip. Saturday was the first day of the trip. It started out with a very fun bus ride with my friends: Pleng, Pisa, Poupee, and Ophie. After arriving at the hotel, we had to get ready for field work that day. I wasn’t looking forward to that as I didn’t know my teammates very well. But we all worked so well together that even collecting elephant dung (yes, that was an activity) was fun. The best part of the day was when we explored deep into the forest. For many of us, that was the first time to do so. We all marveled over the trees and at the same time whined at the vines that would smack us every two seconds. I also vividly remember pushing through the tall blades of grass in the dry grassland. The grass was so tall that it even reached over some of our heads. Although we all got cuts and bruises from going head first into the grass, it was surprisingly fun and we quickly bonded as groups together. The day ended with Poupee and Pisa teaching Pleng, Tarun,

and me how to play Mahjong. We collectively collapsed on our beds as it hit curfew and slept like babies the moment our heads hit our pillows.

help but stop to take photos of fungi to compete in the “fungal challenge,” where the team with most types of fungi wins. It was an unforgettable moment.

Sunday was a productive day. We completed numerous activities out on the field and collected a lot of data. One thing I remember about this day was getting lost in the forest. We were at this turn, and instead of taking a right, we had taken a left and our entire group got lost. All of the sudden, we heard elephants in the distance. Our teachers said that it was the first time they had ever heard elephants on site. Panic ensued. We were lost and it felt as if the elephants were coming after us. Walking faster, we couldn’t help but burst into laughter at the situation. Dr. Alan looked slightly frantic, we could hear Ms. Mendy’s voice in the distance calling out to the students to walk faster, and Mr. Leif trying his best to get us back on track... it was a truly wild experience. Even while we were running away from the elephants, we couldn’t

Monday was the last day. We gave presentations on our fieldwork data. Coming back to school, Pleng and I couldn’t stop thinking about wanting to go back to the trip. It was the most memorable trip we’ve been on. The best part of the entire experience was the bonding. Not only between students, but between teachers and students. Even to this day, we reminisce about the trip and laugh over the countless memories, especially over our bruises from the grassland and the forest. While the purpose of the trip was to expand our research and ecological experience, I came back with stronger relationships with my friends and new relationships with my teammates. I would do anything to go back and relive that trip. It was, without a doubt, the best one I’ve been on.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


RIS Students Make History at Theatre Festival in Vietnam by Sarah Abrams


n late January, six RIS students embarked on an exciting adventure when they attended our school’s first overseas International School Theatre Association (“ISTA”) festival in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our students continued to make history as they took part in ISTA’s first-ever festival in Vietnam! Over the last 40 years, ISTA has been connecting students around the world through professional drama training and performing arts experiences, so it was a very special occasion to meet in a new country. Led by ISTA’s wonderful theatre artists from the UK and mainland Europe, students came from Dubai, southern India, mainland China, Hong Kong, and all across Vietnam. The ISTA artists and young actors rehearsed and performed at the International School of Ho Chi Minh, our gracious hosts for this unique festival. In addition to creating original theatre pieces in their newly formed ensembles over the three-day festival, the students also gained inspiration from their incredible trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The theme of the festival was “GOING UNDERGROUND,” and so the tunnels served as the haunting and awe-inspiring starting point


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

for the creation of their devised theatre work. It was there that the students learned about the Vietnamese people’s determination to survive and the ingenuity of the farmers and locals to create the longest tunnel system in the world. The students learned about the anguish of war and the hardships of living beneath the ground for years, enduring attacks from above. Many of the students crawled into some of the hiding spots in the forest floor and walked through the tunnels, which were dark and damp. This hands-on-learning greatly informed their final performances, which reflected on the struggles of battle, the need to protect family and community, as well as the shared stories and values of those on opposite sides of the conflict. At the festival, special workshops that included modern dance, Vietnamese drumming, and devised theatre practices, allowed the students to work in bright studio spaces and modern black-box theatres. These workshops, combined with their training in smaller ensembles (groups of theatre artists who practice, create, and perform together) created a rich experience for our students with lasting memories.

We asked some of our students to reflect on what they took away from the festival so we can better appreciate the impact of this work on their development as artists and as global citizens.

CLAUDIA LIU, Grade 12 Quote: “I felt like I belonged. I have never felt so much positivity in one place.” What was your favorite part of the festival and why? My favorite parts would be getting to work with new people from all over the world and the foods they provided for us at the festival. Here at RIS, we don’t get as much of an opportunity to bond with people from around the world so this experience was special as it allowed us to come out of our comfort zone and bond with people from a totally different culture. As for the food in Vietnam, it’s very high quality and well cooked—the taste, the flavor, everything! Just thinking about it makes me drool! What did you walk away with? What will you remember most? I walked away with a new perspective of theater and how to build a connection between the performer and the audience. I think I will remember most how in just a short amount of time we could create a beautiful theater performance. Would you recommend this festival to others? Who should try it? Yes, everyone is extremely positive and cheerful, it really lifted my spirits up. People who may feel like they don’t fit in with others at school. It will be a great experience for you to be able to break out of your comfort zone and just be yourself. ISTA will totally open a new door for you, it’ll be a great opportunity for you to come out of your shell and try something new without the fear of being judged.

HANNAH APILUKTOYANUNT, Grade 12 Quote: “I felt like it made us bond in a way something else would not have.” How would you describe the ISTA Festival experience to someone who has never gone? I think it is a valuable learning experience because not only did we learn and improve our drama and acting skills, we got to learn and experience someone else’s culture and to meet new people. What was your favorite part about the festival and why? My favorite part was the bonding between the RIS students! Of course I liked all the new knowledge I gained and even my new friends, but what I felt was most impactful was the fact that the people who went to ISTA together became really close, and I felt like it made us bond in a way something else would not have. What was something that surprised you about the experience? The ensembles. I have not done anything like that before. The closest I had was during SEASAC Arts, but that was focused on learning in different workshops and tasters. While ISTA did have workshops, our primary focus was learning and collaborating with each other within our own ensembles. What did you walk away with? What will you remember most? What I will remember the most, I think, was just how gung-ho and voluntary everyone was! There would be multiple people wanting to do something at every moment at ISTA, but at RIS I feel like we are more reluctant to get up in front of one another and try new Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


things. It reminded me of the phrase that “If you want something, you must go get it.” Would you recommend this festival to others? Who should try it? Yes! I would recommend this festival to other people for a variety of reasons: learning, friendship, and fun. I think that theatre kids, people who want to learn more about different cultures from a unique perspective, as well as people who want to try something outside of their comfort zone are the people who should try it.

because before I realised it was happening, I had made friends with many people! Even now, I keep in contact with several of them on social media. I made a friend who creates music, just like I do. I befriended the contemporary dance teacher, a teacher from another international school, and my ISTA Artist Ensemble Mentor. I made a friend who, once we started talking, quickly bonded with me and my closest friends—there was an immediate knowing. Because this friend and I speak the same language, it allowed us to be creative together. We collaborated in a group setting and both shared the role of leader. We were like soulmates, like-spirits! I even got to understand the people who came with me from RIS—my own classmates and our performing art teachers—so much better as we chowed down on dinner and explored the city. The walks around Ho Chi Minh and the traveling together brought us closer, and to me, that is something very precious. I am always going to remember the people who taught me and the people I played with.

TYRA TAN, Grade 12 Quote: “ISTA is a breath of fresh air and a place to call a home that always travels with you.” What did you walk away with? What will you remember most? One of the artists from ISTA said that for some of the people you meet at the festival, you will form friendships that will last forever. And that struck me


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

ISTA is one of those important and special places where play is essential and play is freedom. I will remember the feelings I got from ISTA: the euphoria, the laughter, overcoming obstacles, etc. I will especially remember the panicked yet determined feeling I got when I entered the Cu Chi Tunnels and successfully got through the end in triumph. ISTA is a breath of fresh air and a place to call a home that always travels with you.

Three Reasons Why Students Should Take the “AP English Language and Composition” Class by Thanakorn Pun Rojanasasitornwong

Are you considering challenging yourself with a rigorous AP language course? Or is your child interested in taking an AP course? If so, you have come to the right place. While AP classes can seem intimidating and challenging for many students, it is worth looking beyond those concerns. As a student who has gone through an entire semester of AP English Language and Composition, my experience in the course has made me realize the perks and benefits of enrolling in this course.


rospective students, rest assured! Here are three important reasons why a high school student— like you—should take the AP English Language and Composition course:

1. Challenge yourself, be prepared for college English is the language of instruction in U.S. colleges; therefore, it is the foundation of all majors (e.g., computer science, lawyer, business) and your studies in the United States. If you ask any of the students enrolling in an AP English Language course, they would all agree that the course is very demanding. You will be tasked with writing many essays, taking extensive multiple-choice exams, and presenting a thoroughly researched speech analyzing another speech. Although this may sound like a negative aspect, it doesn’t have to be. The AP English course will foster you to step out of your comfort zone, develop critical-thinking skills, and learn effective time-management strategies necessary for success in college. Exposure to these challenges now will ensure that you will be able to handle collegelevel courses comfortably later.

2. Earn college credits, save money, be more flexible Working hard in an AP English Language

course can pay off and earn you college credits. Most U.S. colleges accept AP credits, and you may be able to skip some introductory English courses in college, saving you both time and money! In other words, this would give you the option to enroll in other elective courses, join a club, or participate in a sport. At the same time, according to the Business Insider article “Here’s What a Single Course Costs…,” you could also be saving yourself up to $6,000!

3. Impress colleges and strengthen your transcript College admissions officers are looking for students who can handle college-level courses. By taking an AP English Language course, you can stand out among a competitive pool of applicants. Since most international students applying to U.S. colleges consider English their second language, a challenging AP English Language course shows colleges that you are ready for their rigorous curriculum. In addition to appealing to elite universities, RIS offers a special weighting for students taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Higher Level courses— a 4.5 point scale. Essentially, you could be earning a higher GPA and strengthening your transcript if you give your maximum effort in such a course.

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



Service Learning @ RIS by Ms. Shirley Gamble, Service Learning Coordinator


his year we were very successful with integrating the school’s Principles of Phoenix of Heads, Hands, and Heart to show how we use our knowledge to become collaborative and resourceful students who help others in need. Besides supporting Fr. Ray’s Children’s Village, Camillian Home for Children Living with Disabilities, and Sarnelli House, we also continued with our diaper drive for the House of Hope in Nongkhai, assisting Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom in Loei, Colors of Cambodia, and the Children’s Improvement Organization in Siem Reap, which takes care of orphaned and abandoned children. This year we also helped with an additional big project to help a smaller branch of Baan Nok Khamin, located in Uthai Thani, that takes care of nine boys.

This year we promoted Global Goals #1 (No Poverty), #3 (Good Health & Well-Being), #4 (Quality Education), #9 (Innovation & Infrastructure), and #11 (Sustainable Communities) along with having fun, getting exercise, and building strength and endurance. We hope you enjoy reading about our students’ projects and accomplishments in this edition of Ad Astra.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Annual RIS Walk/Run/Bike-a-thon Our annual school-wide fundraiser took place in late November with participants donating 200 baht each to run or walk as many laps as possible in a set amount of time. Although our original goal was to raise 150,000 baht, I am proud to say that we ended up raising 177,000 baht and were able to make donations to the following organizations: • Sarnelli House in Nong Khai: 5,000 baht for diapers for babies and toddlers 22,000 baht for daily necessities and first-aid supplies • Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom in Loei: 54,000 baht for 80 sets of school desks and chairs, and a new clinic space with basic first-aid supplies 18,000 baht for 4 sets of bleachers for sports events • Camillian Home: 20,000 baht for Ensure Protein Powder for children with disabilities • MS Green Team: 10,000 for reforestation project • Fr. Ray’s Foundation: 25,000 baht for daily necessities • Colors of Cambodia Foundation: 6,500 baht and 10,000 baht from the Muse Club • Children’s Improvement Organization (a local orphanage in Siem Reap): 10,000 baht and 10,000 baht from our Phoenix Swim Team for daily necessities Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


Christmas at Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School by Ms. Shirley Gamble


uring the most recent Christmas break I was able to take 12 students to help the Mahathai Sueksa Tha Bom School with their annual Christmas fundraiser and celebration. Every year the schools organizes a Christmas Fair during the day and then has a food sale and a student performance on a huge stage for the children’s parents and families. We were invited to set up and run our own booths and also perform, so we organized games like Tin Can Alley, Ping Pong Ball Toss, and Ring Toss. The most popular game was where the kids tried to knock down as many cans as possible with a Nerf gun. Elizabeth, who had her foot in a cast at the time, volunteered to run the prize table. We also took the time to practice singing “All I Want for Christmas” and three dances for the evening performance on stage. Little did we know it was going to be in front of 500 people, but our students did an awesome job! Five of the girls who went also chose to do their major CAS project on this trip and decided to help sponsor a


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

place behind the canteen for the students to wash their hands and brush their teeth. They were able to raise 15,000 baht and sent it to the school ahead of time for their project. When they arrived they spent an afternoon painting the area to make it more colorful and inviting.

Library Project for Sarnelli House by Amy Sabpisal


arnelli House in Nongkai is home to many orphans and children formerly afflicted with HIV or AIDs. Every year, RIS high school students visit them with lots of donations for each house for their basic needs and also fun equipment for them to share. We also love visiting the House of Hope to donate diapers where the young toddlers are raised. My friend Mika and I have visited Sarnelli House for 3 years in a row, and per the suggestion of Ms. Kate Introna, who is the permanent nurse there, we decided to set up a small library for the children for our main CAS project this year. It was quite alarming to realize that these children had little to no access to books and since they have very limited English, all of the books donated needed to be in Thai. This project required us to reach out to the RIS community and our friends and family to ask them to donate new or used books that are appropriate for primary students in grades 1–6. We wanted to donate as many books

as possible so that these children would have a lot of books for them to be able to enjoy. Thus, we contacted the Elementary section and asked if we could run a Thai book drive for 2 weeks. The new principal, Dr. Josh, was extremely helpful and allowed us to put a box for the donations in the ES breezeway and helped us send out an email to all of the ES faculty. We were also able to make an announcement during their assembly. We are pleased to say that the book drive was a great success with 5 full boxes of novels and even some comic books. In order to collect money for bookshelves we sold food and drinks in the breezeway at school and managed to raise 6,000 baht. In the end, we bought four colorful bookshelves, carpets, and big pillows for the library. As you can see in the photos, today the children happily lounge on the pillows in the space we turned into a library. We hope that this project will truly make an impact in their lives by opening up a world full of stories for them to practice their reading skills and allow them to use their imagination. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


Lending a Helping Hand to Baan Nok Kamin in Uthai Thani by Ms. Shirley Gamble


IS has been working with Baan Nok Kamin Foundation in Bangkok for several years now to help support the children there with the cost of school tuition, including education materials. Baan Nok Kamin is a private, nonprofit organization that helps and cares for orphans, street/homeless children, and drug addicts. When we found out that they also have a smaller branch in Uthai Thani that needed help, we were excited to help in any way we could. We found out that they own a small plot of land next to a local primary school and had built two mud houses to accommodate nine boys there. They also had a few chickens, two fish ponds, and a small garden in an effort to keep down their food costs. When we asked how we could help, they explained that they would like to have a real chicken coop or duck house so they could purchase more animals to raise who would produce eggs. They also wanted to fill the two ponds with fish so the fish would breed and multiply so they could eventually catch fish any time they wanted to. We also found out that they eat frogs and field mice to supplement their diet, so we discussed how we could build places to breed these animals instead of having to go out every day to catch them.

We determined that we needed 50,000 baht to accomplish our goals. The Phoenix Swim Team graciously volunteered to help raise the money, while high school volunteers would actually go to Uthai Thani to spend a weekend helping to build the various items they needed. I was able to take 14 students with me for the weekend trip. Luckily, we were able to travel on a teacher’s in-service day, so we were able to spend half a day with the 9 boys and their classmates at the local primary school they attended. Two of our parents (Lobster and Ong’s mothers) sponsored lunch and ice cream for all the students, and we prepared some English activities and games for them. Then the next two days we worked really hard to build the duck house and an enclosure around one of the ponds and finish the field mice house that they had already started. We also ordered fish from a local fish farm and released them into one of the fish ponds. We even got the chance to go out into the nearby fields to help set the traps to catch some field mice. The best part was when our students found out they had to actually catch the ducks themselves once we had bought them. Although a little cautious at first, they all became experts at catching ducks in no time at all! A big thank you to Khun Tum from Human Resources and Khun Sunate from our Maintenance Department who also volunteered to go on the trip due to their skilled experience. Here’s what some of our HS volunteers had to say about the experience.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

“The local school was painted a colorful bright pink and there were many young students, all looking lively. We served them lunch and sat and talked with them and gave them ice cream— some ate 6 cups! Then we played games with them, which mainly focused on learning English. The most entertaining game was the word pairing game where English words were taped to everyone’s back and they had to find their pair; the kids had fun and also learned new vocabulary words. I loved how they were curious about what each word meant and what the correct pronunciation was.” — Belle 10-1 “I was scared at first because the ducks were huge. But I gained some courage to catch the ducks when we were at the second farm because I realized that it was now or never! It was a great and fun experience.” — Mook 10-2 “The fencing for the duck enclosure was made from blue netting that was stretched and tied to a series of poles encircling the pond. The poles were made out of eucalyptus logs that we had to chop down and carry to

the pond. Before hammering the logs into the ground we had to dig a narrow hole for each log, which was time-consuming and tedious, but we were proud to have accomplished it when it was all completed.” — Kyu 11-3 “It was a wonderful experience helping to build the duck house. Catching ducks isn’t that hard, but you have to watch out for their feet and flapping wings!” — Junn 10-6 “Going on the Uthai Thani trip was a thrilling experience for me. We did a lot of service work constructing the duck house and setting traps for field mice. But the best part of going on this trip was meeting the kids. They are extraordinary kids who are very polite, strong, and, best of all, they could play all day long with wonderful smiles on their faces. I also met one of the best men I have ever met in my whole entire life: Khun Por Fhun (‘Dad’ to the orphans there). He taught all the kids to have hope and stay strong. He also taught me to stay strong. His quote was, ‘If God didn’t abandon us, then we still have hope.’ I played with a lot of the kids and asked them how their life was. They all said ‘I am happy, I have everything I want already.’ I was so humbled that they had so little but were still so happy. If I can, I would like to go visit them again.” — Lobster 9-1

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


A Land of Red Roads and Fun: My Experience with Colors of Cambodia in Siem Reap by Pannawee (Biew Biew) Sakulwannadee


h, Cambodia. A country so similar to Thailand, but different at the same time. Where the sun scorches down on you as you visit Angkor Wat and the impoverished streets are red with the natural earth. Recently, I visited Cambodia for a short service learning trip with some other members of the Muse Club. And boy, was it fun. On the afternoon we arrived some members went to a sandstone-carving lesson while the rest of us checked in to the hotel. Later in the day, while Amy and Ms. Cathy went to the Colors of Cambodia gallery to teach some advanced painting techniques, the rest of us went to explore the local countryside by ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle). It was exhilarating riding an ATV on the local farmers’ dirt roads and rice paddy fields in Siem Reap, although after a while it became quite tiring. But I enjoyed it overall. We even got to see a massive crocodile farm! We ended the day with pizza and some “fried” ice cream. The second day, we decided to become tourists in the morning and teachers in the afternoon. First, everybody went to three different temples by Cambodian carriagestyle tuk-tuks, which are quite different from Thai tuktuks, with the back seat attached to a motorcycle instead of one full vehicle. It was relaxing with the wind blowing our hair back. The pagodas and temples were naturally beautiful and ancient, preserved quite nicely, though not perfectly, especially Angkor Wat. The only problem? It was very hot! Hot and humid, to be exact. In the afternoon, we went to the Colors of Cambodia headquarters and made some generous donations of


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

art supplies and money that we had raised. It’s nice to know we can make a difference in this world. After lunch we went to the Kvean School to teach 23 young kids, aged between 6–10, the fundamentals of art, including simple lessons about shapes and color. Everybody was participating and doing their best to teach these kids art and to make their day just a little bit happier. On the final day, we headed to a master class to make copper bracelets at 8:00 in the morning. It was a very grueling process, but in the end we all made shiny copper bracelets that I still cannot believe were once dull metal. After that, we went to visit the Children’s Improvement Organization to teach English and art activities to the 39 children there. Unlike the Kvean School, the lessons we gave at the orphanage were more focused on fun activities and games. For ice-breaker activities we played hangman, musical chairs, Simon Says, and that game where you link arms and try to get yourself and your teammates out of an enigmalike tangle. After that, we headed to the classroom, where we taught the kids origami and some simple paper tricks to make their art take on a new perspective. Personally, it was very heartwarming to see all these kids so happy and cheerful, so full of energy and welcoming smiles. It was sad to say goodbye as we headed to dinner and then the airport. I still miss the orphanage. Being a) the only ninth grader on the trip, and b) extremely introverted, I knew this trip was going to

be an all-new sort of experience. I tried focusing on socializing with others and mainly having fun in general. And it worked! I had a lot of fun. I got to know my upperclassmen club members a little better, ate a lot of food, got a henna tattoo (not painful at all), and marveled at how cheap everything was in Cambodia, and that everything was in US dollars. So, would I go there again next year? The immediate and obvious answer is: yes. It’s an experience like no other, exploring a country that could be considered quite foreign to yours and becoming a little bit more connected with the actual world and not your phone. Overall, I would recommend joining the Muse Club and going on a unique service learning trip like this, not just to help others in need but to have fun and learn more about the country and its culture as well. “Over the long Chinese New Year weekend, Ms. Cathy Kemp and I were able to take 8 members of the Muse Club to assist Colors of Cambodia Foundation with their art lessons at local schools and also to visit the Children’s Improvement Organization to provide English and art activities for the 39 children there. I am personally sponsoring 6-year-old fraternal twins there, Pisey and

Piseth, for less than $40 a month each. They are so smart and eager to learn. The children there don’t have much, but they always have the biggest smiles and are so enthusiastic and happy to have us there once again. If anyone else is interested in sponsorship, please contact me anytime!” — Ms. Shirley “While on this incredible trip with several of my Muse Club members, the students were able to visit Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Bayon temples and also learn about sandstone carving and making copper bracelets from local master craftsmen. It was amazing to see how compassionate our students were when interacting with the local children there. It is opportunities like these that make me feel proud and grateful to work at Ruamrudee International School.” — Ms. Cathy “It was a great joy for me to be able to go back once again to work with the advanced art students in the gallery. I was able to share different techniques for watercolor painting and I learned about oil painting techniques, which we do not have at RIS.”— Amy (12-6) “The kids at the school were very enthusiastic to learn. We taught them about shapes and making pictures with them, and the children learned how to draw very fast. I thought it was a very good experience since we got to work with kids who were eager to learn from us.” — Raks 10-7

National Honor Society: Service and Community by Christy Jefrin James Chandrajith


he National Honor Society is an international organization that recognizes and encourages outstanding high school students who demonstrate excellence within the four pillars of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. The RIS chapter of the Society has long since branched off into several committees that coordinate various activities and services that build into each other and even go beyond our school.

The HS and ES Capacities are dedicated to providing students in their respective sections with enlightening experiences. On November 28th, for example, the senior members of the NHS at RIS — the HS Capacity — held an advisory session in which each member discussed his or her personal experiences in the AP and IB programs, respectively. Mostly this discourse explored each program’s workload, how it determined Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


or narrowed down their course selection, time management, and other such insightful questions. This was rounded off with a Q&A session in which the sophomores— the intended audience—were able to inquire more about the seniors’ perspectives and reflections on their choices. During exam week, they also held a “Cookie and Cram” session at Griffith Library where students were not only able to review for upcoming exams but also to relax. On the other hand, the ES Capacity’s “Tie-dye and Stress Ball” activities were far more hands-on and assisted their fellow committees more directly. They taught elementary students about the importance of teamwork, creativity, and service, but the stress balls were later donated to the HS Capacity to help high school students to cope with the stress of exams. I feel that despite their different actions, the result was the same; they both gave insightful exposure to life both outside and inside school. They got the ball rolling for NHS inter-section cooperation.

The Fundraising Committee used the ES Capacity’s stress balls and the HS Capacity’s cookies, as well as their own self-made charms, cards, and goodies, as care packages for stressed high school students during exam week. They also hosted the game Capture the Flag alongside a bake sale. The funds from both activities were donated to the Good Shepherd’s Orphanage, where another committee led efforts to establish and strengthen a productive relationship between RIS and the Good Shepherd’s Orphanage. The October trip to the Good Shepherd’s Orphanage consisted of three icebreaker activities (Virus, RedLight/ GreenLight, and 007 Bang) and a holiday activity (reindeer doll decorations). After all these efforts and hard work, the NHS—through the Appreciation Committee—dedicated themselves to a demonstration of their gratitude on International Thank You Day. They established a board of generic thank-you notes that students and teachers were able to take and relay to their peers. These notes were a beautiful expression of appreciation that circulated throughout our school—it was wonderful to see them fastened on people’s shirts, bags, water bottles, and other possessions. This cycle of cooperation, led by the dedicated students of NHS, has not only inspired similar scholarship in others but has also stimulated leadership, service, and commitment in our student body. This cooperation continues to strengthen character in our school.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


RIS Student Earns Perfect IB Score by Elisia Brodeur


arlier this year I sat down with RIS alumnus Panuvat (Todd) Chutichetpong, who is currently a freshman at Harvard. On break from university for the holiday, Todd was kind enough to talk with me about life after RIS, life in Boston, and his remarkable achievement in earning the highest possible score of 45 in the IB Diploma Program. Congratulations on your perfect IB score of 45! How did that feel? Actually, I initially got a 44 and was surprised because I didn’t feel I had applied myself as much as I could have. Because my university entrance had already been determined, some of the pressure was off. Then I was even more surprised when I learned that there had been a miscalculation error and that I had actually received a 45. You were one of 259 students in the world—less than 0.5%—of the 84,265 summer 2018 IB candidates to achieve that distinction. What advice would you give other IB students? I took both the AP and the IB courses, so I think I have a fair perspective on both. I think the IB is more like a marathon in the sense that it’s two years long and the work is cumulative. The exams are a compilation of what you’ve learned throughout the entire two years; everything you’ve learned, from the first day on, can be on your final exam. Time management is a vital skill in accomplishing that marathon. It’s also important to become familiar with the vision of the IB program. The IB is not just about instilling knowledge; many tasks ask you to explore the boundaries of knowledge. These extra elements teach you more about how to think. I think the IB is similar to a saying my dad has told me: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Knowing how to think about what you learn is a valuable skill that carries on beyond school. How do you feel the IB program prepared you for university? At university there’s a huge focus on exploration. The curriculum isn’t established or rigid, there are a lot of gray areas where you can explore and dig deeper. The IB program also emphasizes exploration and requires

you to elaborate on your answers to show that you understand a concept versus giving you multiple-choice options. How was the transition from RIS to Harvard? The transition was pretty smooth because the culture at both places is quite similar. The environment at Harvard is more competitive, which isn’t surprising. Harvard also challenges students to go to new limits and levels of learning, which forces students to collaborate. But I was used to that at RIS. There are also a lot of clubs to choose from, student council, sports, etc., which is also true at RIS. A key difference is that in high school you spend most of your day in school. At college, your schedule can be such that you have only one class a day. So you spend a lot more time working outside of class and on your homework. College gives you more freedom, so it’s important to manage your time and make responsible choices. In what ways is Harvard like you expected? How is it different? I had never actually visited Harvard before I went, so I didn’t have a lot of specific expectations. But I knew it would be cold! The college environment and the level of challenge is about what I expected. What I didn’t expect was such a small Thai population in the undergraduate program. There are only 3 Thai undergrads at Harvard. One student is Thai but grew up in the States, the other two are from Thailand—and both of them are also from RIS. There are other Thai students in the graduate and MBA programs, so a total of around 20 Thai students all together. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


What do you like about Harvard? The interdisciplinary nature of the classes. Right now I’m taking a new class that’s being offered at Harvard called “Using Big Data to Solve Social Problems,” which involves elements from the social sciences, math, and data science. The professor is Raj Chetty, a pretty famous American economist who specializes in public economics. I’m really excited about using data science tools to make sense of and help to solve social science problems. Did you go to Harvard knowing that you wanted to study Applied Mathematics and Data Science or did that evolve? If so, how? No, it kind of evolved. Before I was into making inventions using biotech. Last semester and the summer after graduation I started doing research with AI, diagnosing Alzheimer’s based on conversational speeches. We recorded conversations and used a program that feeds into artificial neural networks. The AI can then extract ratios of different features of speech, such as the ratio of pauses. It uses specific features of speech to deduce 136 predictors to determine whether a person has Alzheimer’s or not. But we need to train the model with hundreds of patients in order to produce reliable data. I have made several inventions and worked on projects in different fields and areas of knowledge, but I liked this last one most. How did you come up with this project? One of my close relatives had Alzheimer’s. I also read scientific newspapers and have been learning about using AI as a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s. This is already happening in the US but not in Thailand as advancements in this particular realm of science are often not relevant to the Thai language so the tools can’t incorporate AI as is. So I made an algorithm that focuses on the Thai language by modifying the algorithm used for the English language. Because the Thai language uses a higher harmonicity than English, it uses a different metric, so I needed to segment the features of speech into vowels, consonants, and pauses, etc. Where are you with this project? At the moment I’m working with a professor at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand who is working to test the AI on patients in Chulalongkorn Hospital. I can’t be involved with the hands-on testing part because I’m no longer local, but I help with gathering data. In previous tests, the AI predicted Alzheimer’s with a 93% accuracy rate. To establish further accuracy, we need patients from a bigger segment of the population. 68

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

How do you think attending an international school like RIS helped you be an international student at a university abroad? I think language has been essential; being immersed and learning in English. At RIS there are many clubs and sports and activities, which is similar to college. The rigor of the IB program was a good segue to the rigor at Harvard. The research required for the IB Extended Essay was good preparation because research is emphasized at university and will be especially valuable for my senior thesis, which I plan to start working on next year. Is there anything about your experience(s) at RIS that you feel sets you apart or gives you an advantage over other Harvard students? At RIS, the volunteer activities and the opportunity to travel to other places gave me more experiences in seeing what’s out there, beyond university and cities and civilized parts of the world. Many of my friends at university have never seen those things. The experience of volunteering in rural areas has given me a different perspective. What do you miss about RIS? I miss the bonds and intimacy of the friendships I had at RIS. Many of my classmates had also been here since first grade, so that closeness was something I was used to. I also miss the level of accountability. What do you wish you had known before you arrived at Harvard? I wish I had known to bring warmer clothes and had been better prepared for the weather! Right now there is a 45 degree differential between Bangkok and Boston. Is there anything you really enjoy about Boston? I really love the variety of foods and the access to it. There are a couple of good, authentic Thai and ethnic restaurants nearby. I’ve been to a Harvard/Yale football game, which was pretty intense but had a lot of spirit. I also enjoy the colors of the leaves in the fall. What are your current interests and plans? I’m really interested in exploring the intersections of data science, humanities, healthcare, and pure data science. Thanks for your time, Todd. We look forward to seeing what you do next!

Chef May’s RIS ‘Meat Lover’ Chef Table R

IS Class of ’96 alumna May Pataravarin Timkul is most widely recognized as a Thai model and award-winning actress who has enjoyed a lengthy career in the entertainment industry since the late 90s. However, these days, you’re more likely to find her commanding a state-of-the-art kitchen with apron and chef hat in tow than on a movie set or strutting down the catwalk. May is revitalized as Chef May, fully pursuing her longtime passion for cooking and putting her 18 years of skills as a meat specialist to good use to the delight of local foodies everywhere. Over the holiday

season, Chef May hosted an exclusive ‘Meat Lover’ Chef Table series, which even featured an RIS alumni-only session. RIS ‘Meat Lover’ guests included RIS alumni from the Class of 1994 and the Class of 1996. The ‘Meat Lover’ Chef Table events saw Chef May preparing premium imported Angus and Wagyu beef dishes using a unique combination of Thai-French techniques pulled together by the finest of ingredients. For the exclusive RIS ‘Meat Lover’ dinner held at Escape Thonglor on December 18, 2018, Chef May served up a lavish menu that included beef carpaccio, bone marrow with fried brie and apple chutney, deconstructed French onion soup, Wagyu beef with garlic ponzu, crusted racks of lamb, grilled T-bone steaks, and chocolate baked Alaska for dessert. For more updates on Chef May’s exclusive dinner events, visit her official Facebook page: Chef May Thailand at: chefmaythailand. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



hailand Tatler has been the nation’s leading lifestyle magazine since its inception in 1991, presenting an ever-engaging editorial mix of high-society profiles, glamorous events, lavish fashion shoots, and luxury lifestyle trends. The magazine recently unveiled its latest Generation T list, highlighting 50 of Thailand’s “brightest connectors, creative visionaries, influential innovators and disruptive talents.” To be featured in Tatler’s pages is a high honor. As a testament to RIS, several alumni have previously made the list, including restaurateur Chotipong Leenutaphong (Class of 2000), art curator Akapol Sudsana (Class of 1997), and music producer Montonn Jira (Class of 1996). This year, five RIS alumni are featured on the list of game-changing luminaries, some of whom also made the list the year before.

Aliza ‘Alice’ Napartivaumnuay

(Class of 2000)

Socialgiver, co-founded by Aliza in 2015, is an acclaimed social enterprise that enables users to enjoy lifestyle experiences while giving back. Businesses ranging from hotels, restaurants, experiences and more pledge GiveCards that offer Socialgiver users exclusive prices. Profits are donated to hand-picked social and environmental projects. The platform, featuring more than 200 brands, has recently been launched as a convenient mobile application. This synergy between people, businesses, and social projects has already helped more than 45,000 lives, allowing a sustainable means for customers and brands to make a positive social impact together.

Fuadi Pitsuwan (Class of 2004)

Beanspire Coffee, co-founded by Fuadi in 2013, aids Thai coffee farmers in developing, improving, and exporting highquality Thai coffee beans to compete in the global market. Fuadi is a Harvard graduate, and if that weren’t impressive enough, he’s currently completing his doctorate in politics at the University of Oxford. The son of late Thai politician Dr. Surin, Fuadi has always been altruistically committed to making a positive social and educational impact. In tandem with a passion for coffee is a sense of patriotism as Fuadi and Beanspire work to develop Thailand as an origin of specialty coffee of which all Thais can be proud.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Aim Amarit Charoenphan (Class of 2005)

Aim Amarit, alongside his brother and fellow RIS alumnus Charle Charoenphan, co-founded Thailand’s first and largest co-working space HUBBA in Ekamai in 2012. Fast-forward seven years and three additional locations later, HUBBA has now flourished into a complete interconnected network and support system for burgeoning entrepreneurs and startups, thanks in part to a massive partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs. As if that weren’t enough, Aim Amarit is also the co-founder of Techsauce, which recently organized its second hugely successful Techsauce Global Summit conference. The conference is the largest of its kind in Thailand, and the most recent one was attended by an estimated 10,000 delegates.

Earn Aukrit Unahalekhaka (Class of 2006)

Aukrit, a graduate of MIT, is co-founder of Ricult, a social enterprise recognized by the United Nations and the first of Thai origin to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among other accolades. Through the sharing of innovative technology and digital information, Ricult has assisted farmers in northern Thailand and Pakistan in their agricultural productivity, raising them from the poverty line. Aukrit’s work has garnered him recognition from the Thai government as the top entrepreneur under 35 as Ricult continues to aid Thai farmers not only in the north but throughout the country.

Panupong Tejapaibul (Class of 2011)

Panupong was only 22 when he launched Ticketmelon, a digital ticketing service that caters to a variety of events ranging from modest private events to larger-scale ones. Ticketmelon covers all industries, from music to sports to education and the arts and more. Since its inception, Ticketmelon has increasingly been recognized by organizers for its convenient interface, customized marketing support, and analytical insights. It is credited for bridging a gap in the local music scene, having snagged exclusive ticketing rights for sold-out concerts by Cigarettes After Sex and Crystal Castles, among others. In addition to his achievements with Ticketmelon, Panupong is recognized for his efforts in transforming his staff’s perspective on work-life balance by placing value on them as much as partners and encouraging office environments that are enjoyable, empowering, and inspiring. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019



IS alumna and film director Bouquet Napussorn Somlit recently visited the RIS Minburi campus on December 20, 2018, to film her latest short, an existential piece about a young woman, Tortun, who believes she is haunted by her late grandmother. Amidst the post-modern scenery of a crowded and buzzing Bangkok, Tortun is “inevitably stuck in time and memory.” Filming took place after hours in the Phoenix gym and at the Phoenix pool, which Bouquet described as “so cinematic” now. Bouquet, currently enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York, was also joined on set by her fellow alumni from the Class of 2015, Tah Natpasit Kijkornphan and Numchuem Champrasit, who were actors in the film. The as-yet untitled short film is due for release later this year, and a grateful Bouquet hopes she’ll get to show her latest work to the RIS community. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos, courtesy of Phil Siripatvanich.


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

Alumni News Roundup 1. RIS alumni from 1972 to 2018 attend the official launch event for the RIS Ratchapruek campus at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on January 20, 2019. • 2. Actress and activist Cindy Bishop kicks off the latest #DontTellMeHowtoDress exhibition at WOOF PACK. Founded by Cindy, #DontTellMeHowtoDress is a powerful social movement against sexual assault and victimblaming. • 3. Our very own Kristina MacPherson and husband Sayam Sethaputra talk love and romance and share laughs on a special Valentine’s Day edition of the popular TV show Horo Hiso. • 4. Anuruk Karoonyavanich, CEO of DBS Asia Capital, represents at FinanceAsia’s Achievement Awards 2018 where DBS won Best Asian Private Bank, Best Project Finance House, and Best Asian

Investment Bank. • 5. The Cave, the first feature film about last summer’s widely publicized Thai cave rescue mission of the Wild Boars football team, is expected to be released in July on the one-year anniversary of the rescue. The Cave is written and directed by Thai-Irish producer and filmmaker Tom Waller and edited by our very own Lee Chatametikool. • 6. Alumni Hut Naruphan Pukalanant, Fit Varat Bisalbutr, Chris Supanat Wachiralappaitoon, and Fon Tipanun Bisalbutr have partnered to launch a new craft beer brand: Suntree, available at Wishbeer bars across Bangkok and also on the Wishbeer app. The brand’s hashtag campaign is #TasteWhatYouWill. • 7. U.S.-based RIS alumni are starting to plan a reunion in Las Vegas for summer 2020. Stay tuned for more updates. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


RIS at Jesus Christ Superstar


omtow Sucharitkul, once distinguished as “the most well-known expatriate Thai in the world” by The International Herald Tribune, is an internationally acclaimed musical composer and award-winning sci-fi/ fantasy author. His novel The Bird Catcher was awarded a World Fantasy Award, the highest accolade for fantasy literature, and his 53 books have sold an estimated 2 million copies worldwide. As an artist, Somtow is also the first recipient of the Silpathorn Award, a highly distinguished honor from the Ministry of Culture for any Thai artist who has made a profound impact on the region’s culture. More recently, in 2017, Somtow won the European Award for Cultural Achievement from Kultur-Forum Europa, the first Asian artist to do so. He is heralded as a cultural ambassador and champion of international diversity through his establishment of meaningful cultural connections between Thailand and Europe. Somtow is currently the Music Director of the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Siam Sinfonietta youth orchestra. As the Artistic Director for Opera Siam, he


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

recently directed a fully staged symphonic version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar at the Thailand Cultural Center—the first officially licensed Thai production of the classic musical.

Somtow’s version of Jesus Christ Superstar has been noted for his casting of three lead actors coming from different religious backgrounds. “[It] seemed to be some kind of sign, showing the world that in this time of dissension and divisiveness in the world, we in Thailand, are able to work together in mutual harmony and love,” he says. “It is a small message from a small country, but it is heartfelt.” Somtow was particularly keen to invite the RIS community to the performances held on February 1 and 2. Because he briefly attended Ruamrudee for two terms in the 60s before continuing his studies in England, it is often overlooked that Somtow is an alumnus of RIS. Some of his earliest writings can even be found in the school’s very first Student Annual, dated 1965–1966, where he is credited as Cookie Sucharitkul. He admits to have drawn from his time at RIS as inspiration for a scene in one of his novels.

“Jesus Christ Superstar was a controversial work when it first emerged 49 years ago, [but] today’s vantage point is a very different one,” says Somtow of the production. “I’ve tried to create a version with respect for those who believe—and with awareness of the history of the period—which still allows non-believers to find within the work a story of love, betrayal, tragedy, and redemption—a universal story. [Composer Andrew Lloyd] Webber was right in labelling this a rock opera, not a musical. It does what all great operas do— transcend its time.”

Over the course of the show’s limited run, performances were attended by enthusiastic members of RIS faculty, alumni, and the Redemptorists in Thailand, including newly elected Provincial Father Michael Picharn Jaiseri, RIS School Director Father Joseph Apisit Kritsaralam, and Father Joe Maier of the Mercy Centre of Thailand. Somtow was particularly delighted to have been reunited with Father Leo Travis, whom he fondly remembers from his RIS days. Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


RIS Photos of the Day: 14/02/19 Our students are now busy preparing for the 2019 World Scholar’s Cup Bangkok Round, which will be hosted at Brighton College on March 24 and 25. We will be sending 54 scholars in 18 teams. This year’s theme is, “A World on the Margins,” and as with every year, the competition consists of the Regional Rounds, the Global Rounds, and the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. #worldscholarscup

RIS Photos of the Day: 08/02/19 Over the past month our Grade 4 students have been researching and writing biographies. To showcase what they have learned, the students “came to life” as their subjects at our Wax Museum. Many noteworthy artists, activists, inventors, athletes, and more could be found at RIS today, telling parents and teachers about their life story and notable achievements. #RISrocks

RIS Photos of the Day: 06/02/19 Today we celebrated our 100th Day of School! As part of the celebration, our ES students participated in special projects and activities, including beautiful artistic posters demonstrating the number 100 in various ways. Congratulations to all the students, teachers, and staff who made it a successful first 100 hundred days!


Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019

RIS Photos of the Day: 24/01/19 Our HS students recently carried out an experiment that looks at how the boiling point of a mixture of two fully miscible volatile liquids varies as the composition of the mixture alters. Three different mixtures were investigated across two class sections and students collaborated on data collection to interpret the results in terms of the intermolecular attractive forces between the component liquids.

RIS Photos of the Day: 23/01/19 Congratulations to our Junior Varsity Girls Basketball Team on taking home the first runner-up trophy at the UNIS Invitational Tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam. Our team defeated ISKL, ISHCMC, and CDNIS – but unfortunately lost to UNIS in the championship game.

RIS Photos of the Day: 11/12/18 This year our Middle School has been implementing the Autonomous, Mastered, Purposeful program (AMPed) during one or more of the rotating advisory days. Through the AMPed program, our students have been able to explore their interests and create something tangible to present to their peers as well as to the rest of the RIS community. Today, in the Middle School courtyard, we held an exhibition featuring students showcasing their AMPed projects so parents could see how engaging, relevant, and powerful these self-directed projects can be. #RISrocks

Ad Astra Volume 26 February 2019


congratulations! Ananya Ahuja (Naz), Akaravit Wongwasnasong (Louis), Boonyada Trangadisaikul (Yuyu), Chanamon Pongphaew (Mint), Kantiya Wiwatwanont (Aika), Korranit Khomin (Air), Niranart Pienvichit (Nina), Nutcha Anurakwongsri (Ary), Papichaya Vongthongsri (Beam), Parichamon Promsit (Atom), Parisa Sukheepod (Risa), Piampeetii Poommak (Phet), Pichamin Danwachira (Mint), Puri Chunekamrai (Book), Sirilak Mateekusontan (Pae Pae), Siripa Satianvatidkul (Fang), Thanaphol Bulpakdi (Richy), Tonghatai Aiemsakul (Jointjoy), Treedanuch Treemethawee (Tini), and Vichayaporn Thamnukasetchai (Vint).

Faculty of Medicine, Chiangmai University Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Dentistry, Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University Chulabhorn International College of Medicine, Thammasat University Faculty of Medicine, King Mongut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang Mahidol International Dental School, Mahidol University

Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, The Joint Program with The University of Nottingham, UK Princess Chulabhorn College of Medical Science, Chulabhorn Royal Academy Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University College of Medicine, Rangsit University College of Dental Medicine, Rangsit University