RIS AD ASTRA - Climate Action for PEACE

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4 Message from the School Chaplain

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 to all students and their families. Ad Astra is also distributed among our faculty and staff and is available 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 www.rism.ac.th info@rism.ac.th

RIS Is Going Green

5 Going Green on Campus Ms. Elisia Brodeur 7 The Eco Team Petchkla (Diamond) Sukontaman 8 Keep to Share Project Bouquet Tayapa 10 RIS Peace Assembly Ms. Elisia Brodeur 12 #BeTheChangeBKK Ms. Tarren Mulligan

Amazing Students 13 14 16 17 18

RIS Student Presents Invention to HRH Princess Sirindhorn Pathid (Pat) Liamtrakoolpanich iGEM Team Heading to the 2019 Giant Jamboree in Boston Ms. Elisia Brodeur 2019 BISAC Champions! Kancharos (Opal) Trakulsujaritchok ISB Basketball Tournament Champions! Mr. Orestes Jackson A non-profit founder, CNN-featured public speaker, and Harvard precollege student—at 16 Irawadee (Bai-dteuy) Thawornbut 21 The Maiden Who Could Dream Unyakorn (Miu) Patrathiranond 22 World Scholar’s Cup at Globals in Beijing Thitilapa (Ivy) Sae-Heng 25 Amazing Archer Sirapop (Mag) Kiatchaipipat 26 Red Cross Students’ Internships at Sirindhorn Hospital Thitivorrada (Namphueng) Meanchainun, Kanpichaya (Bebe) Intarapuvasak, Nutradee (First) Narupaves, Tanapat (Pond) Rojanasasitornwong 28 Winner of “The Voice Kids Thailand 2019” Siri (Mac) Chaikul 30 Two Weeks as an Architecture Student Pacharamon (Menthol) Danwachira 32 Genetic Testing at Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital Pariwat (Winnie) Quangkananurug 33 Tackling a Real-Life Problem with Coding Marwin Kornkran 34 First Firearm Classifier on a Mobile App Pimlapus (Pim) Tanpisuth

PoPs In Action 36 38 40 42 44 46 47 49 50

A Family of Athletes Ms. Christine Whitmarsh David Rochela: Professional Footballer Visits RIS! Mr. Borja Ferraz National Honor Society Induction Ceremony Ms. Elisia Brodeur Friendships in Unexpected Places Hsin-Yun (Katrina) Cheng High School Spirit Week and Games Day Ms. Shirley Gamble NIST Falcon Friendly Tournament Ms. Shasta Miller AP Seminar: A New Research Course in HS Mr. Jeff Gepner Home Alone: A Safety Course for Students Ms. Linda Lund Senior Convocation, Class of 2020 Ms. Elisia Brodeur

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Our Biggest University Fair Ever Mr. Said Gorhayeb and Ms. Christine Collings Cancelling Cancers Phasakorn (Ball) Chivatxaranukul, Voraruthai (Belle) Puengchanchaikul, Jirat (Gino) Chiaranaipanich, Vasu Duangudomdej, Victor (Vic) Phisitkul, Tayut (Choke) Meanchainun Give Care, Give Hair Ms. Sabrena Baiagern RIS at the ISB Bangkok International Choir Festival Ms. Sarah Hanson MS Representing at Regional Make-X Robotics Competition Mr. Jonathan Bennett Grade 4 Cardboard Challenge Ms. Nicki Ruthaivilavan RIS Students Win ‘Go’ Competition Boonyavee and Namon Uthaisang Saving 3 Lives at a Time Ms. Sabrena Baiagern

Awesome Events

56 57 58 60 61 63

Our Excellent Teachers

64 RIS Welcomes New Teachers

Awe-Inspiring Alumni 74 77 78 80

#IWENTTORISTOO: Alumni Commentary #RIS94Reunion Alumni News Roundup Photos of the Day Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019



t this time, I’m struggling a little bit with my vision going away and my ears not hearing as they should and not being able to walk very well. But I can see from my emails that we have many focus groups for WASC [the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the organization that gives our school’s accreditation]. In my position, I really appreciate all of the areas that the focus groups are discussing and paying attention to (Organization for Student Learning; Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Support for Student Personal and Academic Growth; and School Culture and Environment). It makes me happy to see that our leaders and faculty members are so invested in our school’s environment, culture, and the good health of our students. My hope, as the Catholic Chaplain, is to create an atmosphere at school where the students, according to their own faiths, focus on the spiritual side of their lives and are filled with joy. An example of this would be the morning assembly, when we say a prayer to the heavenly Father. It’s my focus of importance to raise our mentality and our spiritual living to a higher level. The same as the WASC focus groups have great aims, so my aim for the children is to spiritually guide them to be loving and caring. I want us to make sure that all students at our school have good friends and that their days are filled with joy, that, despite all of their studies, their hearts should go home happy and filled with the knowledge that they had a good day here at Ruamrudee. Recently, we had a beautiful assembly where I was inspired by the children talking about peace for International Peace Day. The children singing and speaking were an inspiration to all of us. I am proud to be able to look at our surroundings and know that the atmosphere here is safe and healthy for our students and that RIS is a place of peace for everybody who comes; teachers, parents, secretaries, workers… we are all one big family for peace. As the Catholic Chaplain, my history here goes back all the way to the founding of the school in 1957. I recognize that among the priests of our school, 25 of them have now passed on to their eternal life. Their work has finished. I see that these priests, my friends who I respect, were my forerunners, and I now take their place and see what they hoped for our students over these many years of RIS. It’s my chance to say to you, let us sing a song of joy to our Lord. Let us lift our minds and try to be honest, to be good, to be loving. Thank you, teachers, for all of your work and the work of the WASC focus groups. I am no longer capable of working with you, but as one of the leaders in the school, I pray for each of the focus groups that things develop for our students. And always I pray that our students can go home with a song of peace in their hearts. Let us all sing a song of joy to the Lord, our God. Amen. Thank you. God Bless all of you.

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

Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019

by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


elcome to a new feature of Ad Astra: The Eco Corner. My intention for this section is to showcase our community initiatives so RIS can leave less of an environmental footprint. Here are some of the ways we are currently working to “go green.”

new water fountains/refill stations on campus that are designed to refill reusable water bottles. These water stations keep track of how many bottles have been refilled and, therefore, how many single-use plastic bottles we have not purchased and subsequently discarded.

Water Refill Stations By now, we all know that single-use plastic bottles are harmful—and often deadly—to wildlife on land and sea and, despite efforts to recycle, are rapidly piling up in our landfills. In December 2018, Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society announced that 90.5% of “the estimated amount of plastic waste ever made has never been recycled. Estimated at 6,300 million metric tons, scientists calculated that around 12 percent of all plastic waste has been incinerated, while roughly 79 percent has found its way into landfills or become litter.”1 “Around the world, almost 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute.” That’s how the following eyeopening article on Reuters.com begins: https://tmsnrt. rs/2m0h7GI. Check it out and watch the shocking animated GIFs to get a real and relatable sense of the issue. Furthermore, “It takes 22 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic and double the amount of water found in a standard 500 ml bottle. There are communities in the world that don’t have access to this much fresh water for their entire lives.”2 Depressing, isn’t it? As a way to combat our continued support of avoiding plastic bottles, RIS has installed four

At the time of printing, we have refilled a total of 26,411 on campus alone. We can do our part by choosing not to buy single-use plastics and instead keep refilling our bottles. Let’s see how high we can get those fountain counts!

RIS Canteen Our canteen is doing its part too. Most of the takeaway containers are now made from biodegradable plant products including corn, sugarcane, and cassava. While biodegradable options are much better than our former petroleum-based plastics, several people are bringing their own reusable containers. You can also get a 5-baht discount if you bring your own cup/mug to our coffee shops. Our canteen manager, Mr. Remo, has also been working to implement more environmentally friendly practices by minimizing plastic waste, recycling materials as much as possible, using composting stations for organic waste, and introducing biodegradable product packaging. Biodegradable plastics around campus include takeaway containers, cups, straws, forks, and spoons, and plastic bags. Watch this space for further updates!

Peace Week The United Nations’ theme for this year’s Peace Week (September 16–19) was Climate Action. There were many efforts across campus that week to raise awareness of environmental issues. In the Middle School, the MS

1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/ocean-plastic-pollution-solutions/ 2. https://pickwaste.com/2019/02/15/plastic-bottle/ Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


Saving Energy on Campus Here are some signs we recently made to go in classrooms and other places on campus to remind us all to do our part to save energy. Most power plants generate electricity by burning coal, crude oil, or other fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and therefore global warming. We are doing our part to help the environment by using less energy, decreasing emissions, and conserving resources.

Leadership Team chose colors to represent climate concerns and awarded house points for students who wore the day’s designated color, such as blue (to represent the oceans) and black or grey (to represent air pollution). The Outreach Group in the MS Leadership Team also educated MS students about the amount of plastic bags used each month in Bangkok. Last year Ms. Patty met a teacher at the servICE conference who is known as “the plastic bag man.” (His students taped plastic bags to him and took him to convenience stores in different parts of Bangkok to raise awareness that the average person in Bangkok uses up to 200 plastic bags a month!) The Outreach Group used a similar idea to design an art installation covered in plastic bags to display in the MS courtyard. They also sold reusable RIS bottles to encourage students to stop purchasing plastic water bottles and instead use their reusable ones when buying drinks on campus. An MS parent also demonstrated how to make eco-bricks, which is a way to reuse soda bottles and plastic bags. The bags are stuffed into the bottles to create a strong “brick” that can be used to build structures! 6

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Turn Off Your Engine! We have also posted signage to remind all drivers to turn off their engines while waiting in our parking lots. An idling vehicle contributes significantly to air pollution. “An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion. Exhaust emissions contain a range of air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. These can affect the air quality of the surrounding environment and the air we breathe,” according to Britain’s Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Read on to learn more about the recycling efforts of the MS Eco Team, heed a parent’s call to action, learn how some RIS students are recycling juice boxes to produce furniture for schools, and more projects and initiatives around campus that we learned about during the Peace Week Assembly. No matter how big or small, as individuals and groups, we can make a difference.

by Petchkla (Diamond) Sukontaman


i, my name is Diamond. I am currently in the 7th grade, and I am the leader of an exciting new club in the Middle School, The Eco Team. The Eco Team’s main focus is doing projects that encourage the Middle School to save Mother Earth by helping to solve environmental issues. One of our latest projects in the Middle School was the “House Team Recycling Challenge,” led by my sister Sky. This project was very successful because we were able to recycle close to 60 kilograms of plastic waste in just 3 weeks. And this was only from the participation of the Middle School section. Imagine if we continued this “House Team Recycling Challenge” for the whole year? We could collect about 720 kilograms of recycled plastic waste from the Middle School section. Now, try to envision if the whole school started recycling and it lasted for a year. We would be

able to gather about 2,160 kilograms of plastic waste. Recycling will not just save us and help with climate change, but it can also save sea life like whales, turtles, and dolphins. According to National Geographic, whales can die from eating just 6 kilograms of plastic. Since we recycled 60 kilograms of plastic, we could have saved possibly 10 whales from dying from plastic. We would like to invite everyone to join the Eco Team! If you would like to join the Eco Team, please come to our meetings during lunchtime on Day A. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at petchklas25@rism.ac.th or jenniferg@rism.ac.th. We are happy to hear any ideas that will support The Eco Team. The more you support the environment, the better our lives will be. Don’t just think, let’s do it together by joining the Eco Team today!

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by Bouquet Tayapa How did you come up with the idea for Keep To Share? Ever since I was little, I witnessed plastic bottles being recycled. Thai people see value in used plastic bottles and glass because they can be sold in exchange for money. But people typically overlook the value of UHT/juice boxes so these cartons often end up as trash. Therefore my older brother and I co-founded Keep To Share, which aims to increase the utility of UHT cartons in the eyes of Thai citizens. My brother initiated the engineering aspect of it, while I continue to expand it to the business world. How did you decide to make furniture out of recycled UHT cartons? In Thailand, there are many schools that don’t have basic furniture. Recycled UHT boxes can be made into tables and chairs as well as other products, such as eco-canteens and roofs, due to its resilience to sunlight (chipboards) and/or water (eco-boards). Tell me about the goal and mission of Keep to Share. The goal of Keep To Share is to raise awareness that UHT boxes can be recycled and to provide underprivileged Thai schools with supplies and furniture they need, such as tables and chairs, which can be made from these recycled cartons/boxes. By giving tables and chairs to the schools that collect UHT boxes, we are showing these students—the future generation—that these used cartons have great value so they will be more willing to recycle them. 8

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What is the process of making furniture out of recycled juice boxes? After being collected, properly cleaned—the boxes need to be aseptic (uncontaminated), and folded, the UHT cartons are crushed into smaller pieces. The crushed pieces are then placed in a heated compressor. Next, the tiny chips are put in a cold compressor to be strengthened and solidified. After that, the newly formed chipboards are trimmed as needed. Finally, they are fully transformed into sustainable, environmentally friendly furniture and products. Where does the school furniture go once it’s made? The school furniture gets donated to underserved Thai schools. We have formed a partnership with True Corporation (True Connext ED), so the furniture can get to underprivileged Thai schools under True’s care. Who else is in the group? A lot of my friends at RIS help out with different Keep to Share activities, such as when we go on trips to underprivileged schools to teach students about recycling UHT boxes and attend meetings with large companies. Earlier this year, many RIS

students (including Bomb, Neen, Panithi, Pinky, Ping Ping, Phet, Phoom, Raksit, Whawha, Victor, Yumi, and Zigma) traveled with us to an underserved Thai school to donate desks and chairs made from recycled UHT boxes. We also educated the students there about the proper way to recycle, clean, and fold the boxes. Keep To Share also has partnerships with leading Thai companies such as CP All (7-Eleven), the Siam Piwat Group, Tetra Pak, and SIG Combibloc. We aim to promote the campaign and to set up more collection boxes for used UHT cartons. What other groups or committees do you belong to at RIS? I co-founded a club at school with Victor called Financial Investment. This club aims to educate RIS students about stocks. We hold stock competitions (the winner is the one who makes the highest profit in their portfolio investment) and also organize events

such as bake sales to raise funds, which can be donated to Keep To Share to fund our trips to Thai schools. This not only familiarizes RIS students with the concept of stocks but also increases their awareness of recycling and sets an example for future generations that generating profits is not the only thing we should keep in mind—we should also consider the well-being of our environment. Do you have a long-term vision for Keep to Share? Yes! Recently, I introduced Keep To Share to the business world. After contacting CP All (7-Eleven), they have agreed to set up donation boxes for UHT cartons at some of their stores. This will help increase the number of cartons we can collect. For the past few years, we have only had a few collection boxes set up. We also had the opportunity to work with Kasetsart University’s Scrap Lab to collaborate on new ideas for what other products the eco-boards can be made into, such as raincoats and outdoor blankets. Unfortunately, due to technological limits, we cannot produce these products—yet. The good news, nevertheless, is that we are working toward it. My long-term vision, which I believe we can achieve in the near future, is that products recycled from UHT boxes will soon be produced and sold in places such as 7-Eleven. When this day comes, we will be able to generate profits that will greatly benefit Thailand’s economy in a sustainable manner. Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


ach year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The [UN] General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” — www.un.org/en/events/peaceday

we can do in an effort towards a more peaceful world, but the biggest difference we can make is actually with “the millions of little things we do every day.” Bringing peace of mind to others, taking care of the Earth, doing your homework, and apologizing are examples of things that make a difference and help to bring peace to the world.

The United Nations’ theme for 2019 is “Climate Action for Peace” to draw attention to the importance of combating climate change as a way of protecting and promoting peace throughout the world. This aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action, which calls for “immediate action by all to lower greenhouse emissions, build resilience, and improve education on climate change.”

Ms. Shirley, the Master of Ceremonies, told us that the RIS Peace Assembly is her favorite day of the year. Before we enjoyed programs from each of the three sections, she shared with us what students across the school had been doing to recognize and celebrate peace, such as making peace posters, creating a peace tree with hearts, analyzing quotes from Nobel Peace prize winners, and writing peace messages on ribbons. All of the students’ creative and thoughtful works were displayed around campus.

Mr. Dan, Head of School, opened our annual peace assembly with a story about a time he did not feel very peaceful. He was traveling with his family in Prague when he suddenly realized that he had lost his backpack that contained his family’s important documents. He rushed back to where he thought he had left it and discovered a family guarding his missing bag. The relief at finding the backpack brought him a great sense of peace. Mr. Dan went on to say that it’s easy to talk about the big things 10

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Then representatives from each section presented their pieces for the assembly. The ES choir, directed by Ms. Kim, opened with a moving rendition of “Make a Difference.” The Middle School Leadership Group had devised a dress-up house team challenge to represent different environmental issues and encouraged all students to participate.

The Outreach Team explained that climate change is affecting every country on every continent: weather patterns are changing, weather events are more extreme, and greenhouse gasses are at their highest level ever. The result is that humans are endangering our food security, overburdening our planet’s resources, causing massive movements of people, and consequently affecting everyone. The MS students urged us to realize that every human is part of the solution. Then they showed a short but sobering National Geographic movie about climate change featuring actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The students from the grade 10 World Religion class followed with their presentation “How We Can Find Peace.” They implored us to protect the earth because it’s the only one we have. Right now we’re not doing that; there are huge garbage patches in the ocean, vehicle emissions and electricity generation have caused

global temperatures to rise, and therefore the polar ice caps are melting. In turn, coastal cities are projected to flood. By 2032, the city of Bangkok is expected to be submerged underwater. Experts agree that humans have contributed to the cause. According to the UN, in just 11 years from now, the damage we have done to our planet will be irreversible. The HS students called on us all to do our part to protect the environment by using reusable bags, buying produce at local markets, and choosing reusable water bottles. Before Father Travis gave the closing prayer, he thanked everyone and reminded us that we should watch out for one another and take care of our world “in simple little ways.” He reminded us that we are all united—it’s in our very name: Ruamrudee, a “union of hearts through caring.” Our message to the world is that we want all nations and peoples to unite to help one another in peace. The future is for people to love one another.

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by Tarren Mulligan, MS Parent


ne of my favorite books of all time is The Giving Tree because it teaches us a valuable lesson.

It’s a touching story that teaches us about loyalty, compassion, unconditional love, and so much more. The story tells how a tree gives a boy everything he wants and continues to give until it has no more left to give, but the tree still loves and supports him. For me, the message is clear: as consumers, we continue to take and want and are blind to the impact on our planet. Just like the tree in the book, Earth has always provided us with all that we need—food, water, and shelter. And how have we treated Earth in return? What have we taken from our planet that can never be returned? How many more species will go extinct before our children have children? Greed has turned the needs of people into multimillion-dollar industries that profit from the demise of the planet that we call home. Do we continue to sit by and watch, or do we take a stand?

I know it’s hard to face the facts, but we are all guilty of causing great harm to our only home. Let’s put our Principles of the Phoenix into action and take a stand. Although I wish I could, we can’t all be as influentials as Greta Thunberg, who is possibly one of the greatest activists of our time. But we can still be our own heroes for our homes, our school, and our greater community. It takes only a few simple but DELIBERATE choices, and they are all within the realm of possibility. Here are some ways we can “go green”: • Use hydro bottles or flasks for all your drink needs • Say no to plastic straws or carry your own bamboo or metal straw • Use reusable bags and say no to plastic bags • Eat less meat • Take your own reusable containers to buy food • Arrange community clean-ups with friends and neighbors • When possible, repurpose, reuse, reduce, and recycle We have made these small changes in our home and our habits and I feel proud because we are doing our part to take care of the planet. I take my own reusable bags everywhere, even to 7/11. Everyone in our family has a reusable bottle for their hydrating needs. We are aspiring to become a meat-free family and have started making alternative meal choices when possible. When buying food at a market we always take our own reusable containers, avoiding plastic bags and styrofoam containers. As much as possible, I buy used items or, if new, I keep my purchases local. We have also started making ECO-Bricks, which we will use to make our own garden furniture. I also continue to educate my children about the deliberate choices they need to make and to share those ideas with their community. My question for you is: What changes are YOU willing to make? Let’s show that RIS cares about everything we do that affects our planet. Share your going green journey on social media with the hashtag #BeTheChangeBKK. Let’s make mindful choices and be the change we want to see.


Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019

by Pathid (Pat) Liamtrakoolpanich and Ms. Elisia Brodeur


ongratulations to Pathid Liamtrakoolpanich, a current RIS Senior, for being chosen as one of seven—out of 51 teams—at the 12th Global Student Innovation Challenge for Assistive Technology (gSICAT). As a result, he was invited to represent Thailand at the 13th International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology (i-CREATe 2019) in Canberra, Australia, this past August. The other seven presenters went in teams, but Pathid presented his invention by himself to none other than Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Pathid had designed and invented the “Gerimo AddOn,” which automates the movements of a traditional walker. This automation can help sick and elderly people because they need less strength to move it than they would a traditional walker. I spoke with Pathid to learn more about this incredible achievement. I learned that he has been a student for 12 years and has been interested in science and technology for as long as he can remember. It took him 6–7 months to work on the idea and prototype of the “Gerimo AddOn.” He faced some challenges during the process such as the motor being either too heavy or not having

enough force. It was difficult to find a motor that was light enough but that also operated at an acceptable speed and with enough force to move the walker. Pathid said that his teachers at RIS gave him the foundational knowledge he needed to be able to create the Gerimo and that he was honored to be able to present his invention to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at i-CREATe. When I asked him what was next for him, he says he’s currently working on his applications for university. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors, Pathid! Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


I met with the iGEM team earlier this semester to discuss their progress over the summer. I learned that while their main goal had stayed the same—to help Thai farmers and subsequently Thailand’s economy—their process had changed. To better explain the science involved in the project, here is a description from the team’s grant letter that they sent to several companies requesting funding for the project and their trip to Boston:

rate of rice so that farmers are able to farm and harvest more frequently throughout the year. Nitrogen is a very important element that helps with plant development and growth. Our solution is to genetically modify plants to be able to fix nitrogen by themselves so that they are less dependent on the environment around them. In order to model how this might work, we extracted Nif genes, or genes responsible for the mechanism of fixing nitrogen, from a naturally nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Azospirillum, and transferred them into E.coli as part of two different vectors, pGem and pCambia. With that process done, we transformed the inserted gene in pCambia into a bacteria called Agrobacterium. Agrobacterium has a special characteristic of transferring a portion of its plasmid into plant cells. Our project can allow plants like rice to fix their own nitrogen and promote growth and development in these plants. As the output of these crops increase, farmers also increase their income leading them to have a higher standard of living. In order to achieve our goal, we collaborated with Dr. Maliwan Nakkuntod at the Faculty of Science, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok. Her lab provided us with technical guidance, facilities, and necessary equipment.”

“RIS_BKK’s iGEM project focuses on agriculture and synthetic biological applications. Our aim is to help increase productivity by increasing the output of local crops, like rice, in order to improve the lives of Thai farmers. This can be done by increasing the growth

I talked with the team members about their experiences working in the lab at Naresuan University, which is in Northern Thailand. The team went there twice this summer, the first time for 5 days and the second time for 2 days. The students booked the flights themselves

his is a follow-up article to an interview that appeared in the June 2019 issue of Ad Astra. First, I would like to express my regret about an omission in that issue. I inadvertently left out Natakrit (Eke) Ratanachai among the list of iGEM team members. My apologies, Eke! As a reminder, our HS iGEM team, RIS_BKK’s iGEM, is the first-ever high school team from Thailand to participate in iGEM, an international synthetic biology competition. The final round of the competition, the 2019 Giant Jamboree, happens at the end of October/ early November, when our team and their RIS advisors travel to Boston, Massachusetts. They will be among 300+ teams showcasing their work and competing for medals and prizes as they are assessed on a range of scientific and communication criteria. The team will also get to celebrate their achievements and network with iGEM teams from more than 40 countries.


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and stayed at the professor’s house near the university while the professor was away. At the university, the iGEM team learned how to use most current lab equipment, where the environmental safety procedures are more formal. They got to use sophisticated tools, such as extremely accurate micropipettes and a biosafety cabinet. They also learned how to make their own agar—a biological culture that’s made from seaweed derivatives and used as a media in which to grow bacteria. At RIS, the science lab technicians prepare the agar for them. Now the students have a better understanding of how it’s made and appreciate that it’s a tedious process involving many steps. Their days at the lab started at 10:00 am and didn’t finish until 10:00 pm because the students had to stay up late to review that day’s results, discuss procedures, and plan what they would do the next day. It was challenging because they had had no previous experience in the lab. But they got a lot of help and guidance from three university students and a professor. All of the iGEM team members enjoyed working in the lab—it was a new and interesting experience. In order to qualify for a gold, silver, or bronze medal at the iGEM competition, the team knew they had to fulfill all of the very specific project and presentation requirements. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to finish all of the elements of their project in the allotted time frame. They had all of the charts ready and were waiting on only a small part of the results. But they knew they needed all of the parts to be eligible for a medal. So, collectively, they made the very hard decision to cut out part of their project. They decided to discontinue the BioBrick (DNA sequences that have a defined structure and function) so they could dedicate the rest of their time to working on the other requirements of the competition.

Although out of the running for a medal, the team could still win other smaller prizes and awards. Tongue in cheek, they told me that they figured that because they had gone through this much time and effort, they may as well continue. Joking aside, they enjoyed the process and are also keenly aware that their project has not only helped them in their learning but it might also help Thai farmers in the future. They’re also mindful that they are starting the pathway for other RIS students to carry on from where they left off. This team began with no experience, but now rising RIS students will have these students as their mentors. The team’s goal and expectations for the Giant Jamboree are to “just enjoy it.” They’re looking forward to learning from and being inspired by the 3,000 other students who’ve been working on projects just like they have. Our students also noted that the normal team size for this competition is 8–15 students, but they have only 7 team members. They also pointed out that they will have the opportunity to meet other cool people at the competition, including professors from different universities and companies who might be willing to fund their project. Between now and then, the team plans to finish their wiki page, send their grant letter to a petrochemical company and 3 or 4 other companies, write their research paper (which must be 6 pages with pictures), and work on their 20-minute presentation that they will deliver at the Jamboree. Before they leave for Boston, the team will give their presentation in front of all the HS teachers at a faculty meeting. Go Team RIS_BKK’s iGEM! We wish you exceptional success. You’ll be able to read about their experiences and the results of the iGEM 2019 Giant Jamboree in the spring issue of Ad Astra. Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


An Interview with Varsity Volleyball Team Captain Kancharos (Opal) Trakulsujaritchok by Ms. Elisia Brodeur How long have you been at RIS? Since Kindergarten. I’m a senior now, so 13 years. How long have you played volleyball? I’ve played for about 8 years and have been on the RIS Varsity volleyball team since 8th grade. I’ve also played on a team with Thai kids. How often does the Varsity team practice? We practice four times a week—every weekday except Wednesdays. We usually practice until 5:00 pm, although we used to stay until 7:00 or 8:00 pm. What do you do during a typical practice? First, we stretch first, then run, but practice varies each day. The first ball is very important in volleyball, so we practice that and then move on to serving and then spiking. We typically practice our own positions, so how we would play during a game. Tell me about the team this season. There are currently 5 seniors on the team, but many of us have been playing volleyball together since U15, so for about 4–5 years, which is why our bond is very tight. I think that’s one of the reasons we won this season. Who is your coach? Mr. Komson and sometimes his son, Kom, who is the JV Coach. Sometimes Mr. Komson’s wife, Ms. Noi, also coaches us. Once in awhile alumni come back to practice, too, including some of the students I played with when I was in 8th grade.

Which other schools did you play against this season? We’ve played ICS, BPS, St. Andrews, Harrow, the NIST tournament, and several other teams although we didn’t play ISB this year. Do any particular games stand out to you, wins or losses? We lost to NIST at the NIST tournament. We didn’t even get a set from them. We also lost 3-2 to BPS the week before BISAC. But during BISAC our team talked a lot and there was a lot of team bonding. At first, we just wanted to do our best. Surprisingly, we ended up beating NIST and BPS. NIST and RIS have had a friendly rivalry, ever since I was in 6th grade. I’ve played against the NIST setter and several of her teammates over the years. What is the secret to this team’s success? Volleyball takes a lot of teamwork, so we’re a very close team. Of course, we’re affected by things outside of volleyball and each of us has our down moments, but we do our best to keep our emotions in check. We spend a lot of time practicing and are all very committed. We try not to skip practice, even if we have a test or need to study we do whatever it takes to show up, even if practice ends up being shorter than usual. How did it feel to win the championship? I felt really proud of my team; we went through a lot together. We were down 11-2 for a while but still kept up our morale. When we won, it was kind of like a


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“WHAT??!!” feeling. I think we were half confused but also really happy. We won BISAC last year as well, so now we have won two championships back-to-back. But it was an especially sweet victory for us seniors, as it is our last year. What advice would you give to younger RIS players? You have to know how to manage your time well. I would also tell younger players that commitment and passion are very important. If you play without motivation, then it’s like you’re not playing at all. What’s next for your team? SEASAC is coming up in Singapore the second week in November. I’m feeling excited about that and want to do well. But I don’t want to think about winning, I just want us all to play our best. I hope the RIS boys’ SEASAC team does well too.

Anything else? I would like to thank my teammates. Our team is very mutually supportive, we’re all there for each other. I’m also thankful that I got the chance to be the captain of this wonderful team. I usually care about others more than myself, so it’s hard to keep other members in check as well as myself. I’m thankful for their commitment, time, and motivation to improve every day. I want to thank them for making my last volleyball season a great one with lots of good memories. I would also like to thank Mr. Komson, who has been my coach since U15. I’m grateful for how he believed in us from the beginning. He’s a great coach—he spends time studying how the other teams play and his strategies are smart. We know that he always wishes the best for us and takes care of us, even if it’s outside of the volleyball court.

by Mr. Orestes Jackson


he ISB Basketball tournament took place on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Prior to that, the U15 Boys Basketball team had played three games, two of which they won and one they lost. The first game of the season was against Shrewsbury in Godbout Hall. It was the only home game the team has played so far and it was really fun playing in front of the RIS crowd. The crowd was really supportive and that helped the team win a big game. This team is very competitive; they do not give up when things aren’t going well. At the ISB tournament, they trailed in all three games but they fought back. You cannot ask for more than that as a coach. The team went on to win all three games they played, beating Shrewsbury, ASB, and ISB.

ISB, in particular, is always a tough opponent in basketball, and it takes a complete team effort to beat them. The players gave that effort in the tournament and I’m very proud of the way they played. It always feels great to win, but it feels even better when you beat a good team. The players were very excited to win those games and get their 1st place medals! Our final regular-season game is a home game against Harrow on October 28th. After that, we will play in the BISAC tournament on Saturday, November 2nd. Hopefully, we will bring the same level of energy and competitiveness to that tournament.

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An Interview with Irawadee (Bai-dteuy) Thawornbut by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


recently sat down to speak with new RIS student Irawadee Thawornbut, a junior in high school. A self-described social entrepreneur, Irawadee founded a company called Sandee For Good, which, as defined on her website www.sandeeforgood.com, “curates nonprofits’ wishlists.” The site functions as an online store where people can arrange for donations to nonprofits all over Thailand. Its goal is to counter the difficulty of equally distributing donated goods, to rural areas in particular. Irawadee is also a junior research scientist in neural engineering. This past summer, she recorded a series for CNN that recently aired on national TV, presented on the main stage at the Techsauce Global Summit, studied pre-college astrophysics at Harvard, and volunteered at a farm in Slovenia that didn’t have running water or electricity. Irawadee is already extremely accomplished and has done so much for someone her age, yet she displays a level of wisdom and humility that is rare in those much older than her. I hope you enjoy reading about her experiences and goals as much as I enjoyed speaking with her. Why did you choose RIS? I chose RIS because I know current and former RIS students, two alumni from the start-up community in particular, who highly recommended RIS to me. They’re


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such kind, open-minded people. I’m always inspired and blown away when talking with them. One of the reasons they said they love RIS is because the school supports you if you have activities outside of school— basically it’s OK to have interests and passions beyond school work. When I heard that RIS fosters that kind of community, I knew I wanted to be in that environment. What are your impressions of RIS so far? I really like all of my teachers and the fact that they work alongside us to help us achieve our best. I feel very supported as a new person; everyone cares what I am going through as a newcomer. My friends are super genuine, too. I also noticed that people are very active here, which motivated me to explore other extracurricular options. I’m on the soccer team and am also a member of the STEM club and the Habitat for Humanity club. Which courses are you taking? I’m doing the IB Diploma Program. The courses I’ve chosen are: HL (Higher Level) Math, HL Physics, and HL Biology, SL (Standard Level) Thai, SL English Literature, and SL Psychology. Because I’m doing the Diploma Program, I’m also doing the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) component, writing an Extended Essay, and taking Theory of Knowledge.

You live on campus in the Residence @ Seelos Hall. What’s that like? I love living in the Residence. It feels like a family. The houseparents are very warm and caring—they are always checking in to see how the students are doing and are open to give advice or anything they can help with. I feel truly welcomed and very much part of the community. It’s also nice to be on campus because I can go right back to the dorm without having to travel and I get to use the campus facilities. The summer you were taped for a series on CNN. Tell me about that. It’s called Young and Gifted and is a series of interviews with young activists and/or entrepreneurs in Thailand who have a range of passions. Each segment follows one of these young people’s everyday lives. I was nervous about the whole idea of it at first; I didn’t expect that my social entrepreneur efforts would be captured by the eye of CNN! But the CNN crew were amazing and encouraged me to be as natural as possible. The videographer was especially great at putting me at ease. He’s such an interesting man; he’s been with CNN for years and has covered many of their big events. The series aired on TV in October and will be available on the CNN website. You can see the trailer here: cnn.it/2WjlsTh.

Global tech leaders give talks at the summit, and I got to talk on the main stage along with two other young entrepreneurs. One was a 16-year-old from India, Akshat Mittal, who founded ChangeMyIndia.org—a business he sold to the Indian government. The other was a 10-year-old, Kaede Takenaka, CEO and Co-Founder of KIDLetCoin, a blockchain platform that educates children about cryptocurrencies by rewarding them for doing chores with cryptocurrency. The moderator was Linda Liukas, an author from Finland, who has written books about coding for very young children. She believes that children need to learn how to code and use computers from a young age. I met so many inspiring and amazing people of all ages, which fueled me up for the work I’m doing. I realized that there are many other people out there who are experiencing different things and doing their part to improve the world. Although it was nerve-wracking, I was completely energized by the experience. From there you went to study astrophysics at Harvard Pre-college. What was that like? At Harvard Pre-college you can experience what it’s like to go to college by taking the same courses that firstyear undergrad students take. In the astrophysics course I took we got to use the database from the GAIA satellite

What is the Techsauce Global Summit and what did you do there? The Techsauce Global Summit is an annual two-day event in Bangkok at CentralWorld. It’s a tech gathering for people all over the world—CEOs, investors, and technology specialists—who come together to learn about emerging trends in the tech industry. More than 10,000 people attended. The Co-Founder of Techsauce is an RIS alumnus (Aim) [Amarit Charoenphan], although I didn’t know I would be going to RIS at the time. Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


and Python coding language to analyze data. We used the data to create graphs and models of star clusters to determine the age of the stars and discover trends, such as whether the stars are getting bigger or smaller. It was a fascinating course taught by astrophysicist Morgan MacLeod who’s a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and whose research focuses on stellar encounters in binary systems. Our class of 15 students quickly became really good friends. It was a great experience and choice for my summer. You also volunteered while living without running water and electricity at a farm in Slovenia. What did you do there? It was with a group called Erd Kinders, which means “children of the earth.” The founders of the camp wanted to teach us to appreciate and connect with nature, to be mindful of our actions, and to be thoughtful about the impact our actions have on other people. Their goal was for the children attending the camp to be able to live sustainably and manage without the technology they’re used to. The camp was on a farm where we had to take care of sheep and horses, among other tasks and chores, which allowed the children to take a step back and truly live in nature. I was there as a mentor to share my experiences with the 10- to 13-year-olds and help them formulate their own ideas about technology. As well as working the farm, the children took courses to make them aware of technology such as AI and 5G. They were good critical thinkers, well aware of changes that are happening, and able to formulate their own ideas and advocate for themselves. One 13-year-old girl who lives on the farm raised the money she needed to buy a horse she wanted and now looks after it; she’s a very responsible, very mature young woman. In the end, everyone, old and young, mentor and student, learned from one another. Many people could benefit from such a course. 20

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While I encountered a variety of completely different experiences this summer, from attending a tech conference to living on a farm and other things in between, I feel that, despite their differences, I was still moving in one direction: to further understand this world and the people living in it. What’s coming up for next for you? I have an interview at UNICEF East Asia/Pacific Headquarters. They contacted me because they heard me talk at the Techsauce Global Summit. I went to the Regional meeting and then they reached out to me again. The interview will be used as a blog post for the Global International Day of the Girl campaign. [Editor’s note: Since this interview, Irawadee’s article has been posted on Unicef’s website. It’s an excellent blog post, which you can read here: blogs.unicef.org/east-asiapacific/girl-no-longer-valid-excuse] What are your future goals? I’ve always believed in this quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In the future, I want to mix engineering and entrepreneurship to create innovation that can benefit people’s lives and solve global problems. Although I’m still figuring out what that will be, I am sure that, as an innovator, I will always listen to the people I’m innovating for and try to meet their needs to truly improve how they live. I’ve had eye-opening opportunities to meet with people working with young girls in rural areas all over Thailand. I found out that many of them don’t chase their dreams, not because they don’t have the ability, but because they were never told that it’s possible for them to do so. As a young girl privileged enough to have a family that believes in me and what I do, I want to inspire other young girls all over the world who may or may not yet think that they can do/ be anything they want, with no gender norms stopping them. I want to spread the message that while you can’t choose where you were born, you do have all the power in this world to choose who you want to be.

by Unyakorn (Miu) Patrathiranond What follows is an excerpt from (the middle of) a myth that Miu, a 6th grader at the time, wrote in Mr. Jordan’s Humanities class. The assignment was to use some of the elements of a myth to write a narrative appropriate for young readers. Miu also created the art that accompanies this piece. I think you’ll agree: this is a very talented young writer and artist!

The Maiden Who Could Dream


yx looks at Zeus, his pale body on the floor. He slips his blade back into its holder and looks at the floor beside Fatia. He can’t bear to look at her. He’s broken the one and only promise he had attempted to keep, to change. Nyx looks at his hands and tries to convince himself it was for the better. But in the end, he hasn’t changed. He couldn’t change. He couldn’t change who he was deep down. He wasn’t a kind maiden or a king, he was Nyx. And Nyx was the only thing he could be. Tears fell from Fatia’s eyes. She could barely breathe. Nyx took a deep breath and started walking towards the crowd, who parted on either side to make way for him. “Let’s go, Tia,” he said calmly. Fatia stared at him in disbelief, anger rushing through her veins. She instinctively reached for Nyx’s hand. “Nyx, do you realize the severity of what you just did? Never in a million years would I have thought that you were the one who killed Zeus in my dreams, and now—” Fatia pauses at the sight of Nyx’s face, who is staring at their hands. Fatia slowly realizes what she has just done. Her pale hands became gray and cracked - similar to Nyx’s. She looks up to his face and starts to cry again. “What’s happening to me?” she asks. “I told you about my curse! Look... I—” Nyx brushes a hand through his hair, not knowing what to do. A mix of emotions rush through them both. Nyx has just managed to kill two people in the same day, breaking his promise twice. Nyx holds back tears and thinks of what he can do to save her. “Tia, follow me, now,” he says urgently. He runs towards the south of town, Fatia following closely behind. After a while, Fatia couldn’t run any further. She leaned against the nearest tree and breathed heavily.

She was running out of energy. I mean, who could blame her? She was dying after all. “Nyx… where are we going?” She asks. Her voice was close to a whisper. “I— I don’t know. Maybe the hospital or—” Fatia offers a weak smile. “Nyx, you can’t stop a curse.” “I know, I just—” He hits the tree in frustration. “I didn’t know it would all end like this.” “Don’t cry. Everything happens for a reason.” “I promised you I would change and… I didn’t. I’m sorry,” he said, softly. “Don’t blame yourself. In the end it was probably my fault. I can’t change who you are, and I shouldn’t have forced you to.” She sighs. “In the end we aren’t that different from humans. Drunk on the idea that love, and only love, can fix everything.” Nyx looks at Fatia, seeing her in a different light now. “No, you didn’t force me to. I could’ve been anything I wanted to be, heck, I could’ve even chosen not to change. But out of everything I could’ve been, I wanted to be yours.” He glances at Fatia’s arm, the curse was spreading up to her elbow at this point. “But, if what you said is true and everything happens for a reason, then maybe we just weren’t meant to be. Even if I wanted you to be.” Fatia looks away from his eyes. They both couldn’t bear to look at each other. Fatia looks up at the sky, when a thought comes to her. “Nyx, can I ask you of one last favor?” “Of course.” “Bring me to . . . You can read the complete story here: bit.ly/32nsqZR Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Thitilapa (Ivy) Sae-Heng


his summer, our school’s World Scholar’s Cup teams went to compete at the Global Round in Beijing. As a result, 11 of the 15 teams that participated qualified for the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. Everyone returned with medals and some even with trophies. Some astonishing achievements were Ivy, Phoom, and Donovan’s Junior Division team placing 24th overall and 8th in Southeast Asia. Pear, Tara, and Boon Boon’s team placed 3rd in Team Writing in the Junior Division and set a new school record for the event with 8,115 points. In the Senior Division, Pung Pond, Bomb, and Titan’s team placed 26th overall and 14th in Southeast Asia. In addition, Ja Jar and Jackie did an exceptional job receiving the School Top Scholar Award.


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Each scholar worked very hard throughout the entire competition and all of their efforts paid off. All of the team members had lots of fun and made unforgettable memories at the World Scholar’s Cup Global Round in Bejing.

SENIOR RESULTS FROM THE GLOBAL ROUND BEIJING TEAM CHALLENGE Silver Biew Biew, DC, Pat Foster, Jackie, Pim Pear, Sushi, Nuprare Gold Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan DEBATE CHAMPIONS Silver Pim Pat Biew Biew Sushi Pear Foster Gold Titan Pung Pond DC Jackie Bomb

Pat Biew Biew Gold Pear Foster Pung Pond Sushi Jackie

TROPHY & GOLD Biew Biew, DC, Pat Pear, Sushi, Nuprare

CHALLENGE SUBJECTS 1 Silver Art Nuprare 2 Silvers Spc/Art Pim 2 Golds His/Sci Pat Soc/Lit Foster 1 Silver, 2 Golds His/Soc/Sci Titan 4 Silvers Spc/Lit/Soc/Art Sushi 3 Silvers, 1 Gold Lit/His/Soc/Art DC 2 Silvers, 2 Golds Spc/His/Art/Soc Biew Biew 5 Golds Soc/His/Lit/Sci/Spc Jackie Soc/His/Lit/Sci/Spc Pung Pond 1 Silver, 5 Golds Sci/Art/Soc/His/Lit/Spc Bomb Lit/Art/Soc/His/Sci/Spc Pear


TEAM DEBATE Silver Pear, Sushi, Nuprare Gold Biew Biew, DC, Pat

TEAM BOWL Gold Foster, Jackie, Pim Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan

Foster, Jackie, Pim Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan TEAM WRITING Silver Biew Biew, DC, Pat Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan Foster, Jackie, Pim Gold Pear, Sushi, Nuprare TOP SENIOR SCHOLAR Jackie CHAMPION SCHOLARS Silver Pear Pung Pond Gold Bomb Jackie REGION TOP TEAMS Silver (Southeast Asia) Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan CHAMPION TEAMS Gold Foster, Jackie, Pim TOC QUALIFIER Pear, Sushi, Nuprare TOC QUALIFIER Biew Biew, DC, Pat TOC QUALIFIER Pung Pond, Bomb, Titan TOC QUALIFIER

JUNIOR RESULTS FROM THE GLOBAL ROUND BEIJING TEAM CHALLENGE Silver Praew, Jan, Ja-Jar Minna, Grace, Khao Pun Einstein, Tun, Kan Gold Ivy, Phoom, Donovan

DEBATE CHAMPIONS Silver Boonboon Grace Tara Ball Praew

Jan Pear Gino Gold Pun Tang Tang Belle

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Ja-Jar Elle TEAM BOWL Silver Praew, Jan, Ja-Jar Aom, Deena, Lisa Minna, Grace, Khao Pun Pear, Tara, Boonboon Gold Gino, Krit, Tod Belle, Tang Tang, Peemai TROPHY & GOLD Ivy, Phoom, Donovan WRITING CHAMPIONS Silver Tod Vasu Elle Jan Krit Kan Pun Minnie Grace Einstein Tun Phoom Ice Gold Ball Donovan Praew Jet Ivy Pear Minna Boonboon Tara TROPHY & GOLD Ja-Jar CHALLENGE SUBJECTS 1 Silver Lit Minnie Lit Morn


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1 Gold Spc Elle Sci Ice 2 Silvers His/Art Krit Soc/Art Pear 1 Silver, 1 Gold Art/Spc Tun Spc/Art Ball His/Art Tang Tang Spc/Sci Ja-Jar 2 Golds His/Spc Khao Pun 2 Silvers, 1 Gold Spc/His/Lit Minna Sci/Lit/Soc Tara 1 Silver, 2 Golds His/Art/Spc Boonboon Spc/Soc/Lit Einstein Sci/Art/Spc Grace 3 Silvers, 1 Gold His/Soc/Art/Sci Vasu Spc/Sci/Art/His Ivy 2 Silvers, 2 Golds Sci/Art/His/Spc Jet Spc/Sci/Art/Soc Praew His/Soc/Art/Sci Phoom 2 Silvers, 3 Golds Lit/His/Art/Sci/Spc Belle 1 Silver, 4 Golds Soc/Art/His/Lit/Sci Gino Spc/Art/His/Lit/Sci Kan Sci/Art/Soc/His/Spc Donovan TEAM DEBATE Silver Pear, Tara, Boonboon Belle, Tang Tang, Peemai Gold Elle, Rainbow, Pun Praew, Jan, Ja-Jar TEAM WRITING Silver Gino, Krit, Tod Elle, Rainbow, Pun Minna, Grace, Khao Pun Ball, Morn, Jet Vasu, Minnie, Ice Einstein, Tun, Kan

Gold Ivy, Phoom, Donovan Praew, Jan, Ja-Jar TROPHY AND GOLD Pear, Tara, Boonboon SCHOOL TOP JUNIOR SCHOLAR Ja-Jar CHAMPION SCHOLARS Silver Belle Gold Ja-Jar REGION TOP TEAMS Silver (Southeast Asia) Ivy, Phoom, Donovan CHAMPION TEAMS Silver Minna, Grace, Khao Pun TOC QUALIFIER Gino, Krit, Tod TOC QUALIFIER Praew, Jan, Ja-Jar TOC QUALIFIER Gold Pear, Tara, Boonboon TOC QUALIFIER Belle, Tang Tang, Peemai TOC QUALIFIER



An Interview with Sirapop (Mag) Kiatchaipipat by Ms. Elisia Brodeur How long you’ve been at RIS? This is my second year. I’m currently in grade 11. Tell me about how you got into archery. I like to play FPS (first-person shooter) video games— Overwatch is one of my favorites. I especially enjoy playing the character Hanzo, who uses a bow and arrow. I suppose I got inspired by him. I started playing FPS when I was about 13. Do you still play video games? Yes, and I still play FPS games with my friends and other players as Overwatch is a multiplayer game. I also like to play OSU and League of Legends. When did you start “real” archery? When I was 14, so I haven’t even been an archer for two years. Where do you go and how often? I go to AF archery in Bangkok. At first, I went every weekend but now I go about once a week. What kind of bow do you use? I use a compound bow. Archers who use compound bows can compete internationally at a very high level. Compound bows are used at the World Games, but recurve bows are used in the Olympics. Both types of bows can be used in the World Archery Championships. Do you ever get sore? My right shoulder and my upper back used to hurt, but with more practice not so much anymore. Tell me about when you started competing. About half a year ago I participated in a national

competition and placed 4th. After that, I felt that I should try harder, so I aimed for a medal in the Princess Cup this year. I began to practice as much as I could. During summer break, I practiced 6 days a week for 8 hours a day, as well as going to the gym for cardio. What was your most recent competition? I recently participated in the U16 Compound Archery contest at Fashion Island and was awarded a gold medal. There were about 15 other archers. I shot a 279 and 282 (the maximum score is 300). That’s impressive! How did you feel about that result? I felt as if my hard work actually paid off, and it has inspired me to keep going and to try harder. My goal is to medal at the Nationals, which are at the National Sports Authority of Thailand, so at the moment I’m practicing as much as possible. This year, the World Archery Youth Championships were in Spain. Next year, it will be in Southeast Asia. This year I’m in the U17 age group. My goal is to compete in the World Archery Championships in Southeast Asia next year. Do you have other hobbies or passions? It seems that everything else I do has become something to benefit archery. What do you like about RIS? I like that it’s a big campus and that the people here are open-minded. There is also a good choice of subjects. I’m taking AP courses. My favorite subjects are economics, physics, and math. Do you have any long-term plans for archery? I think it will be a hobby for a while. I’m not necessarily looking to compete at the international level. But time will tell! Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Thitivorrada (Namphueng) Meanchainun, Kanpichaya (Bebe) Intarapuvasak, Nutradee (First) Narupaves, and Tanapat (Pond) Rojanasasitornwong


uring the summer (July 23rd–31st), four of our grade 10 students had the chance to serve internships at Sirindhorn Hospital. Here’s what they had to say about their experience: “The hospital internship was a wonderful experience for me. It wasn’t like the other hospitals I’ve been at. Patients were crowding in the halls as a speaker announced queue numbers. People were either waiting at the medicine counter or waiting in line to meet the doctors. And there I stood, at the hospital doorway, frozen. I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to do for the first two days. We were assigned to help measure patients’ weight and blood pressure. But most of the time, we just stood in our school uniforms, being stared at by the patients. By the third and fourth days, I realized that the amount of work we did didn’t matter. It was the value we put into doing [our tasks] that was indispensable. We started talking with the patients. Most of them were elderly, so it was a delightful feeling to see their smiles appear as we talked. However, we also encountered patients who were not so happy. One old lady was crying in pain because of her broken arm. It was one of the saddest moments of the internship because we couldn’t do anything to ease her pain. That was when I learned that working in a hospital requires being emotionally strong enough to withstand many empathetic situations. Throughout the internship, one nurse named P’ Su guided us really


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well. She had a motherly aura that I admired very much. She looked and sounded very much like my aunt, which made me feel a connection with her. The last few days of the hospital were very memorable. I felt comfortable talking with the patients and orthopaedic surgery (OPD) nurses. They were all really welcoming and even bought us fried bananas to eat. To conclude, the hospital internship gave me valuable lessons. It didn’t matter how important our tasks were, it was the value we put into doing them that mattered and how it resulted in a smile on other people’s faces.” — Thitivorrada (Namphueng) Meanchainun (10-4)

“My experience during the Sirindhorn Hospital internship was an unbelievable journey that I will keep forever in my memories. I was filled with great excitement and nervousness but, most importantly, an eagerness to learn. I encountered a series of hardships in the beginning: I had to work under pressure, I saw conflicts in the hospital, and I had to put my tolerance to the test. But I needed these experiences and obstacles to grow as a better individual. I was able to learn professionalism, ethics, and communication skills. This internship was an eye-opener for me, broadening my views on the diverse careers available in the medical field. I was also able to gain knowledge and the foundation that I needed to understand the importance of and the implications that come with healthcare in Thailand. During the internship, I was placed in different departments, which allowed me to see doctors and nurses working together on different cases, including a small operation to reconnect a detached finger. Throughout the internship, I was assigned to do small tasks, such as measuring patients’ blood pressure, weight, and height. Every moment was a moment to value at Sirindhorn Hospital as I witnessed lives being saved. I will be forever grateful to have had this opportunity.” — Kanpichaya (Bebe) Intarapuvasak (10-4) “The hospital internship was a unique and extremely valuable learning experience that allowed me to gain many lessons, both about medical practices and about life. The first day I arrived at the hospital, I was filled with excitement and nervousness. The atmosphere was so new and different from what I am used to in hospitals. We were assigned to help measure patients’ blood pressure and weight, and I was delighted to have the chance to help them with even this small act. I had the opportunity to meet many elderly patients who told us stories about what happened to them and why they were there. I found this part of the internship to be the most interesting. We were also able to witness medical procedures performed by doctors and nurses. These were the most educational and beneficial as they were being done on real patients with real health conditions. The Sirindhorn Hospital internship was one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.” — Nutradee (First) Narupaves (10-7)

“The Sirindhorn Hospital internship was a fascinating experience that allowed students to experience the daily lives of medical workers in an actual hospital. I got to witness a lot of different responsibilities of the medical staff that I wasn’t aware of before, such as calming down patients before an operation. At first I didn’t know what to expect from the internship, however, I was excited. When I arrived, I was greeted by a kind nurse who cared about giving me and my friends the best possible experience. She grouped us into pairs and directed us to different rooms, telling us that we would be rotating from day-to-day, allowing us to have the whole experience of the hospital. I was taught a few basic medical procedures, such as how to measure a patient’s heart rate or taking their blood pressure. While doing these procedures, I got to chat with the patients. They would then tell me about their backgrounds and their families. I found these conversations the most meaningful because most of the patients were elderly and wanted someone to sympathize with their stories. I listened and assured them that they were going to be fine, no matter what medical procedure they were going to undergo. This always made them smile, which also made me smile because I felt happy to make someone’s day brighter. These interactions are one of the main reasons I have a passion for the medical field because I will get to assist a lot of people in getting through their obstacles. During the rest of the two-week internship, I got to explore a lot of different medical practices, such as the surgery of fractured bones or the treatment of a burn. Getting to witness all of these cases was exciting because I never knew what to expect from the patients. The operation was also thrilling because I got to watch the doctors apply different methods to help ease the pain of the patients. Overall, this was an unforgettable experience where I got to witness a lot of cases and patients. The internship also helped to confirm my decision to go into the medical field because I want to help more people in the future. I am forever grateful to be offered this experience and would strongly recommend this internship to anyone who wants to pursue work in the medical field or if they just want to see what it feels like to work in a hospital.” — Tanapat (Pond) Rojanasasitornwong (10-5)

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An Interview with Siri (Mac) Chaikul by Ms. Elisia Brodeur Congratulations, Mac! Tell me about this incredible experience! How many times did you appear on the show? To audition for the show I first had to send a video of myself singing. After that, I did a live audition in front of other people, but they weren’t the actual judges from the show. Then I did a live audition on TV when I sang “Memory.” Once I was chosen—by Mam Patcharida—I was grouped with two other kids and all three of us sang A Million Dreams in the battle round. There were four “battles” in this round and each coach chose two singers to go through to the semi-finals. There were 8 singers left, and the winners were decided by audience votes. We were separated into two groups by lucky draw. The first four were in Group A, and the remaining four were in Group B. This meant that singers from the same team could end up battling each other. I was the very last one to sing! After the commercial break, they announced who won in each group. Then there were only 2 singers left, myself and one other. For the Grand Finale, we each sang our original audition song. Then we had to wait for the votes. [You can watch Mac singing “Memory” for the Grand Finale here: https://youtu.be/XQRsN7Gdt6w] What was it like to be competing on live TV? It was very scary! Because I was the last one to sing at the semi-final, I had to sit and watch everyone before

me. When it was almost my turn, I forgot to ask the makeup artist to put lip balm on my lips, so they were dry and tight. I told myself “You can do this!” [Here is the link to see Mac singing “Chandelier” for the live show: https://youtu.be/e3PlQ0O1P80.] How long did you prepare? For about 2 months, altogether. I had lots of singing lessons with several teachers. They chose the song “Memory” for me. How did you feel leading up to the final? It was terrifying because I stood there waiting but the coaches don’t react initially. I wondered if it was going to be me or someone else. What was it like waiting for the result of the finale? I held my breath and kept my face down. I thought my heart would stop beating. It was so scary! How did the voting work? By text. Viewers had to text a code number, mine was TVK8, to a specific phone number during the commercial break. So they only had a few minutes. I found out later that my vote score was higher than the other singer by half.


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How did they do the announcement? I think it was something like… “And the winner of this year’s The Voice Kids 2019 is TVK8, Mac Chaikul, from Team Mam!” There were lots of dramatic pauses!

How has RIS supported you during this time? All of my friends and the faculty and staff have given me positive feedback and encouraged me. And they also cheered me and voted for me. I was very grateful.

What went through your mind when you realized you had won? The other singer was singing in the Thai style, so I assumed that people would choose her. So I couldn’t believe it when I won. Then I was crying because I was so happy.

What do you like best about middle school at RIS? I have a lot of great friends and the teachers are kind. There are lots of fun things to do, especially in our AMPed projects. There are many fun classes I enjoy, like Culinary Arts and PE.

How did the show end? They blasted glitter everywhere. Then the emcee thanked everyone, including the sponsors and the coaches. Then all the coaches came up on the stage as well as the 8 singers who made it to the semi-final.

Do you have any tips for other children who want to follow their passions? Don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from reaching your dreams. For me, what works best is taking deep breaths and close my eyes and focusing on what I’m about to do. I would say just do your best and nail it.

What did you win? They gave me a big sign and a trophy. It was a disc with all the signatures of the coaches. I also won 500,000 baht. I will also get a recording contract to make a single.

Congratulations, Mac! RIS is extremely proud of you and wishes you much success for whatever comes next.

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by Pacharamon (Menthol) Danwachira


was looking out a window in the city of London, trying to figure out how to create a box mechanism, among twenty others who all had their faces buried in their creations. The silence of the room was constantly abrupted with the calling of three names “Sara,” “Matei,” and “Ernest,” our three tutors for the course. Eight hours of thinking and creating each day in a supportive and creative environment was an unforgettable memory. It was as if they were floating around the building waiting for us to reach out for them. That was how I spent my summer in 2019. Having an interest in both the arts and science, I have wondered what I wanted to major in since middle school. Realizing that I wanted to combine my passions in both fields of studies, I was intrigued by architecture when I started to observe how space and building designs can affect the mood and sense of a place. These thoughts encouraged me to try architecture to see if I would really enjoy it. Surprisingly, over the past few years, only about two RIS students have applied to study architecture each year. Consequently, I registered for the Summer Program at The Bartlett School of Architecture. On the first day, I expected to be creating a model. Instead, the summer program was completely different. My tutors allowed my friends and me to explore different areas of the campus to find small design aspects that are often overlooked. The next day, we went to a pumping station. The first question that went through my head was “Why a pumping station?” We sat for two hours on a train and walked for 30 minutes to get there. The Crossness Pumping Station was in a perfect location where waste could not be pushed back into the Thames. Instead, it would enter into the ocean. An appreciation for pumping stations is often neglected.


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However, without sewage pumping stations, Londoners would be sick from the bacteria and viruses which are transmitted through wastewater. After the Crossness pumping station was created, it couldn’t be seen because everything was underground. Therefore, the creators created another Victorian architecture design at the pumping station to show how skillful they were. There were cast-iron patterns on both sides and dozens of Corinthian columns in the building. It amazed all of us, and we wondered how they did it without advanced technology. After we got back to school, I went to the park to search for inspiration. I observed the interactions between humans and grass. Grass is often overlooked in Asian countries as we have grass and warm weather all year round. In contrast, in London, most people appreciate the grass because they prefer warm weather over cold. After that, we had an initial meeting with our tutor to discuss our ideas. I presented my idea of a grass picnic mat, which replicates the characteristics of grass and soil. I observed how grass folds and spread outs when it is sat on. Then I created a small mechanism where two leaves would support each other and bounce back

up when they are touched. Furthermore, I developed a mechanism for soil. In order to achieve a bouncy surface, I created a square that folds when forces are exerted and bounces back up with elastic when no forces are exerted. The feedback I received allowed me to further develop the idea, which I thought was great and made it even better. Instead of making a square box, I created a hexagonal box, which is perfectly tessellated and thus can be taken apart and folded so that it fits in a backpack. On the last day of the course, I presented my work to my classmates, tutors, and professors, who gave useful feedback for areas of improvement. Seeing the development of my classmates’ ideas surprised me. Their initial ideas and their final works had been developed and changed to create something fascinating. Although I did not learn to make an amazing model, I learned the more valuable skills of developing ideas and how to find inspiration for projects. Through the course, I was able to go to a lecture by professor C.J. Lim after class, which was based on his book Short Stories: London in Two-and-a-half Dimensions. He talked about how he develops the ideas for his projects. More interestingly, he talked about the deep symbols he uses in his projects. I entered this program wanting to be an architecture student at The Bartlett and stepped out of the program

with more confidence. Most importantly, I left the summer program with supportive friends who will be going through the IB diploma and UCAS application process with me. I would like to say that there is more to architecture than just designing buildings. Some undergraduates work in other design industries after they have graduated from architecture studies. The possibilities of careers are endless. As for my final words, I would like to say thank you to my friends, tutors, and professors at The Bartlett for introducing me to a new experience of creativity.

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by Pariwat (Winnie) Quangkananurug


s most rising -seniors know, the summer before the final year of high school can become pretty hectic. College applications are just around the corner, and we are all rushing to complete our projects, activities, and standardized testing. My summer was no different. I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of test prep, tutoring, internships, and essay writing. However, in the midst of all the time spent working on myself, I also took some time to give back to society in the form of community service. This summer, I decided to make my community service activity around the topic of healthcare, more specifically, genetic testing and genetic diseases. There have been numerous improvements in genetic tests, offering better and more accurate results. As such, more and more pregnant mothers are opting to undergo testing for their fetuses. However, not every mother can afford genetic testing, as the price for just one test can be very expensive. So, with the aid of a genetic testing company, I donated and administered a handful of tests for the patients at Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachinburi. The Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital is the main hospital in Prachinburi, which means that the hospital is overcrowded with patients on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give a test to every


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mother at the obstetrics department due to budget constraints. However, I was able to convince the company to also donate an ultrasound machine, which can be used to spot any deformities in a fetus, along with its conventional uses. Going to the hospital was a very enjoyable experience. The doctors and nurses were very friendly and the patients were easy to talk to. As someone who doesn’t talk a lot, it was a nice surprise to find everyone being so welcoming to a high school kid donating a few genetic tests. I got to have pleasant conversations with all the mothers there, explaining to them what the test was and why it was beneficial for them. Although my community service was only at one hospital in one province, I think it’s a small step in the right direction. It was an amazing experience to get to meet everyone at the hospital, and I learned a lot from just one day of collecting samples and talking to people whom I had never met.

by Marwin Kornkran


n my junior year, I was very frustrated that some of my classmates didn’t do very well on the SAT. I thought about advising them to be more diligent in their studying but eventually decided against that. I wanted to not only present the problem but also to give them a plausible solution, like an engineer would do. Hence with my minimal skills in programming, I went to do some personal learning and I crafted an SAT chatbot. I thought about where teenagers my age would spend most of their time. The answer I came up with was Facebook and LINE (a messaging app widely used in Asia). I made a LINE chatbot that would help to gradually develop the skills of people my age in both the English and Math sections of the SAT. The chatbot would send a few daily test questions for practice that would reinforce the knowledge the students had accumulated from their past learning experiences and bring out their greatest potential in the standardized test. I was first exposed to programming in my junior year when I utilized HTML and CSS coding to represent my company in a business model competition. I was fascinated by the boundless possibilities of computer science, which prompted me to take my interest further. I went online and started taking Python courses from Udemy (From Zero to Python). I also continued my studies of web-based coding, such as Javascript and Node JS on Codecademy.

Because an educational chatbot had never been made before, I had to explore this by myself. I started by browsing through Medium and Stack Overflow, which led me to numerous very helpful articles. These eventually assisted me in combining all of the coding knowledge I had gathered to make my interactive chatbot. I believe that nothing is impossible and that in the 21st century, where resources are widely available, the only thing that would limit someone is a lack of passion or perseverance. Similar to my efforts at creating a LINE chatbot for the problem I saw in the people around me, I might not have started with the tools to successfully make a LINE chatbot but with some research and inquiries on the Internet, I was able to create something that could potentially enable my friends to be accepted into their dream college. Official LINE ID: Math bot: @satbotmath

English bot: @satbotenglish

Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Pimlapus (Pim) Tanpisuth


y interest in gun advocacy was kindled from my experience shooting a gun for the first time at a shooting range in Bangkok. The experience was frightening for me. I disliked the unfamiliar sound of a bullet being fired and the thought of pressing the trigger gave me a spine-chilling feeling. From this experience, I could imagine how traumatizing it could be for a gun violence victim to suffer from being shot or being involved in a horrifying incident. I also heard from the news that gun violence often comes from petty reasons such as arguments between lovers or teens from rival schools. I strongly believe that these reasons are not significant enough to cost the life of one person. In 2013, Thailand had double the gun violence rate of the United States, a country with the right to bear arms. Currently, Thailand has a gun violence rate of 3.71 victims out of every 100,000 people, which is still higher than other countries that are notorious for warfare, such as Iraq. With this rate, Thailand is second only to the Philippines for its gun violence rate in Asia. Our country has explicit gun laws, but there are still many victims of gun violence currently. I believe that gun laws must be reinforced and that we must raise awareness about this ongoing problem to reduce the number of people who are victimized and hurt or killed.


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I think online advocacy is the best way to raise awareness about a sensitive issue like gun violence. Moreover, it is easier to update factual information and current events every once in a while. I have established a nonprofit organization called Kids Against Guns to fight against gun violence. For anyone who is interested in learning more information about gun violence, please visit the website www.kidsagainstgunsth.com or go to the Kids Against Guns’ Facebook page and Instagram feed. I have been working with Thammasat University students as part of the Center of Excellence in Intelligent Informatics, Speech and Language Technology, and Service Innovation (CILS) to develop the first mobile app in the world that is able to classify eight of the most commonly used firearm brands in Thailand from bullet markings within a few seconds using deep learning. We also designed portable inexpensive hardware that can be used easily by any police officer. The bullet specimen is placed on two shafts and spun 360 degrees so a video can be taken on a smartphone. After that, the video is processed within a few seconds and the firearm brand is identified, along with the percentage confidence of the results. The prolonged process of forensic science investigations is one of the predominant causes of firearm violence

in Thailand, apart from the fact that there are so many unregistered firearms in our country. Every time a bullet is fired from a gun, the barrel compresses the bullet and leaves unique marks on it. These marks are indestructible and invaluable physical evidence that is used by the police who then create a list of possible suspects. In Thailand, professional guns are very expensive so most criminals work as a group and recycle the guns they use. As a result, identifying the firearm brand is crucial in identifying possible perpetrators. Many forensic science examiners rely on the use of the IBIS Heritage, a system with a large database that provides information on bullets from specific firearms. The system produces a ranking that allows forensic science examiners to compare the bullets in the database to the bullet specimen, allowing forensic science examiners to identify the firearm. However, there are only four professional forensic science examiners in Thailand and six IBIS Heritage systems adopted out of the 76 provinces in Thailand. The adoption of each IBIS Heritage costs 98 million baht, not including the maintenance costs that must be covered annually. Hence, the research is a significant contribution to the field and is also the first step in the acceleration of forensic science investigations in Thailand.

A few months ago, we submitted our proposal and aim of our research to The National Research Council of Thailand. Surprisingly, we were accepted to present at the fair hosted by The National Research Council of Thailand every year. The fair consisted of various projects from different companies, such as TOT, and Thai universities, such as Thammasat and Mahidol. With one poster, we presented our research to the judges who stopped by our booth and to other researchers who were interested in our topic. We presented our research as part of the Telecommunication group. There were other interesting projects there too: a developed GPS made at an affordable price and an algorithm that checks the security of the IoT system. The best part of the day was getting to meet รศ.ดร.สุธี อักษร กิตติ์, the Albert Einstein of Thailand. The results of this competition will be announced at a later date. The research will also be submitted to IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology that reviews and accepts first quartile scientific journal papers. I’ve been at RIS for 14 years. My favorite subjects in school are Physics and English. I particularly love my physics classes with Mr. Ross Kuhl. I’m currently taking IB Higher Level Physics and AP Physics C with him and was also in his AP Physics 1 class. Mr. Kuhl is the smartest teacher I have ever met; he constantly bombards us with questions that force our brains to work all the time. He has taught me the importance of understanding scientific concepts and the significance of ambition and perseverance in learning. I also like my IB English Language and Literature class with Ms. Farrah. I never realized that language has so much impact on our society and how severe gender inequality can be. I love to read Margaret Atwood’s poems. Analyzing her poems has made me realize the importance of being a responsible human being in raising awareness about the violation of human rights. Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Ms. Christine Whitmarsh

2019−20 Cross Country Team

Vin and Vij Pungprasert (brothers) enroll in a race

Vin and Vij Pungprasert (brothers) encourage each other before the start of a race


ame a school sport where students and parents can participate. A sport where brothers and sisters can be on the same team. An athletic endeavor where you feel like a family and your teammates support you in reaching your personal best. A sport where your coach gets just as sweaty and exhausted as you do. The answer is long-distance running or cross country running. The RIS cross country running team has been a season one sport for many years, but it has recently expanded to include members from the elementary section. This is a team that anyone can join and learn how to develop their own athletic drive. It’s also a sport that can be used throughout life to clear the mind and strengthen the body. Coaches Mr. Jerrid Harris, Ms. Lauren Pasquali, Mr. Nick Steinke, and Ms. Christine Whitmarsh, along with


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Coach Jerrid runs alongside RIS athletes during a fun run

Kevin and Duncan Brodeur (father and son) participate in the RIS Family Fun Run

Eleanor and Max Schnittman (sister and brother) compete together

several athletes of various ages, can be seen zooming around campus Monday through Friday (excluding Wednesday) starting at 3:00 pm. Practices vary from day to day. A strength workout might consist of running the middle school stairs and doing push-ups and squats. A distance day may include jogging on the blue lane around the lake in Perfect Place. Fun challenges are also mixed into our practice sessions. Each practice begins on the Phoenix field with a warm-up lap followed by dynamic stretching. Starting out with dynamic stretching prepares the joints for movement and gets the blood flowing to the muscles for optimal performance. We finish with static stretching, which increases flexibility and brings relief to tight muscles. The team reflects and listens to a pep talk at the end of each practice. Then the runners group huddle and yell out a phrase related to that day’s run before heading home.

During the season, the team travels to fun runs and competes with athletes from other schools. Athletes in the U11–U15 group run 3 km and the JV/Varsity students run 5 km. Their recorded times are then used to drive the runners to aim to beat their personal best. The culmination of the season is BISAC, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur this year on November 3rd. I asked some of the team members why they run. Here are some of their responses: “I like running because it is something that is never the same. It is a challenge every day and you can always try to be better. A single cross-country season is like a three-month race against yourself. I like being part of the team because there are always other teammates pushing you to run faster and faster.” — Max S. “It helps my health, both mentally and physically.” — Inle “I run to get PBs (personal bests) and PRs (personal records). It’s fun because when you beat your PR because you feel like you have accomplished something.” — Eleanor S. “I run to catch Will during practice, which is nearly impossible.” — Ken S.

Katrina Hsin stretches with teammates after a race.

“Running helps me clear my mind and relieves stress.” — Duncan B. “No pain, no gain.” — Will O. “I run for exercise, to have fun, and to make some friends.” — Kimi “If you fall 1, 2, 3, or 4 times, then you can run 1, 2, 3, or 4 times.” — Vin P. Thank you to Viboon Pungprasert (Vin’s and Vij’s dad) for the photos!

Our school’s annual Walk-a-thon/Run-a-thon fundraiser is coming up soon! Registration is 200 baht per person. All of the money raised will be used to support RIS service-learning projects. Please mark these November dates on your calendar and help us support many wonderful local, national, and international causes: • MS: Wednesday, 27 November at 7:30 am • HS: Wednesday, 27 November at 3:00 pm • ES: Friday, 29 November at 7:30 am

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by Mr. Borja Ferraz


avid Rochela Calvo is a professional footballer from Spain who plays central defender for the Thai Port Football Club (Port F.C.). I would like to start by thanking Port F.C. and especially its president, Nualphan Lamsam, for letting David Rochela visit RIS. I appreciate the club’s cooperation in making this event happen. As a professional football player David has played in for La Liga and Deportivo de la Coruña, the first and second top football divisions in Spain. He has also represented the Spanish National team in all U21 categories. Besides this, he has also played in Israel and Thailand. The first team he played for in Thailand was Buriram United F.C. Currently, he is a key player and the team captain of Port F.C. Despite being one of the most important football players in Asia, David’s best skills are not as a footballer but as a person. He is a humble man with a beautiful heart and a pure soul, and that is what I wanted our students to see—that it doesn’t matter how big of a star you are, what’s important is to stay humble and carry on growing. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was thinking about planning the season. I had only known the girls’ JV soccer team for 3 weeks and I was not sure how to plan. I texted David and described the team’s skills and characteristics and asked him what he thought I should do with them. He replied that the most important thing was that the girls enjoy playing soccer, getting some exercise, and building friendships. That’s exactly the philosophy I like in my teams: for the students to smile, have fun, and put effort into doing their best. With that approach, they improve their skills, compete in every game, and eventually the results will come.


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David wanted to know how many days we practiced and on which days. I told him three times a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. To my surprise, he asked if he could come join one of our practices. Wow! A soccer star was asking me to join one of our girls’ practices— that was huge. What made it even cooler is that I did not ask David to come and help—he offered to do it himself, just to make our students happy. I love being a teacher. Teaching and coaching are my biggest passions, so having the opportunity to offer this experience to the students meant a lot to me because making them happy is the most rewarding feeling I can have. And thank you, David, for helping me put massive smiles on their faces—they won’t forget this day for the rest of their lives. We agreed on all the details and got the permissions we needed from the school administration and from Port F.C., and then David came to school to join one of our practice sessions. Before the girls’ practice, he addressed the JV and Varsity boys’ teams. He spoke to the boys about the importance of being professional— both on and off the pitch, being on time to practices and games, keeping a healthy lifestyle, and communicating with their teammates. The varsity boys’ coach, Mr. Martin Ruthaivilavan, appreciated David’s visit too. He said: “I believe the team understood that it takes more, outside the training ground, to be an accomplished person. This is similar to their studies in school. Student athletes have to be disciplined to do what is best for the team and themselves.” He believes the players also took this really good advice from David to heart: “Everyone makes choices and the decisions they make can have an astounding impact on themselves and the team.” Coach Khun Prapote Unpudsa, also felt that


David’s visit inspired the Varsity girls’ soccer team and made them “want to develop themselves to become better players.” He believes that David is a model for them and that they will follow his advice—as David did of other soccer players when he was young. Perhaps the best advice the students got from David was to “not give up” and to “find yourself.” David played many sports until he found his passion for soccer. I believe our girls’ soccer teams were the ones who enjoyed his visit the most. Jeh commented that, “This visit was really special to me because I was able to meet someone professional at playing football. I enjoyed playing against the JV team and attempting to tackle Mr. David. He really encouraged me to never give up and to always try my hardest.” Varsity goalkeeper, Thetmon, said that, “This visit showed how you can do what you love with a lot of hard work and dedication. It showed all of us how, with perseverance, we can do many things and not just the common jobs shown to us. I really enjoyed how Mr. David made me perceive the occupational field differently and how down-to-earth he was, as well as how he taught us many techniques of how to shoot and defend.” Unna appreciated not only David’s soccer skills but also his personality, “David made us all feel very comfortable with his friendliness, which made it much more impactful when learning the football plays. I enjoyed learning how to shoot penalties the most because I think I improved with his advice. David also taught me how important it is to remain calm on the pitch to make better decisions and execute them better.” Pai, the JV girls’ captain, also commented, “I felt so privileged having the chance to meet such a charismatic soccer player. I had not met a professional player before, so this opportunity was definitely an unforgettable one. I enjoyed having Mr. David on the JV team while we were playing against the Varsity girls’ team. Thanks to Mr. David, we scored some goals that day! I also got

some valuable advice from him to improve my game. He told me to try to kick my high kicks around the top part of my foot, where my shoelaces are tied, and to shoot to the corners instead of kicking the ball hard towards the goalie.” Deepikka also found David’s visit very useful, “I felt very honored because I was actually meeting a professional soccer player and that meant a lot to me. I felt like I had the opportunity to learn new techniques from a different point of view. We will try even harder because he is a role model for us and we want to follow what he did, which will then also make us successful.” I am particularly proud of how our players behaved and made the most of this experience. They showed excellent manners and values, and they really enjoyed the day. However, it was not only the girls who had a great time. David told me that it was a pleasure for him to work with the students because he knows what it means for the kids so he is more than happy to do it. David said he had a fantastic day and, because he is a sportsman, where he felt the most comfortable was on the pitch practicing and training with the girls. He wanted to mention that what he was impressed the most with was the values and manners shown by our students. The girls always had a big smile on their faces and were cheerful. They also showed that they are a strong group, and he loved the way they work together as a team. JV and Varsity are two teams but only one program, and he really enjoyed seeing how the girls help each other to improve on the pitch and how they have built fantastic strong friendships between them. Last, but not least, David was amazed by the school’s facilities, commenting how great it is that the kids have the opportunity to be involved in any activity you could imagine with our excellent facilities. He said that it’s great to see the kids growing up in such a safe and healthy environment. David wanted to say thank you to our school and especially to the girls, for making him feel welcome and valued. Thank you, RIS! Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


n Thursday, September 5, 2019, fourteen HS students were inducted into the RIS chapter of the highly regarded National Honor Society (NHS). After the Royal Anthem, the ceremony opened with current Vice President Nichatorn (Belle) Tangkuptanon welcoming this years’ inductees. Belle shared that her experience of being in the NHS helped her create better balance in her life and to focus her attention on issues within the community. She encouraged all students to identify their personal strengths and to use them to collaborate and help others in their communities. Belle then introduced the following presenters who each explained the Four Pillars of the NHS: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Each pillar acts as a guideline for scholars to become better versions of themselves. Kantapat (Thai) Boonme talked about scholarship as never being satisfied with what you know; it requires tenacity. Thai stated that true scholarship is the realization of a passion and is only achieved when the knowledge you receive at school is blended and applied in real life. Chanya (Grace) Thanglerdsumpan spoke about leadership and how real leaders strive to train others and therefore to lead is a meaningful and substantive


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charge. To be a wise leader takes sacrifice and selfconfidence and requires that you grow and learn. Grace has learned to put the interests of others before her own and noted that being a leader isn’t something you can do on your own. Nattamon (Tata) Tokaeo told us that the concept of service is spreading joy and sharing, that it’s the willingness to work to the benefit of others without the need for compensation or recognition. Through experience, Tata has learned that there are many ways to give and that every day we have opportunities to be of service. Pleng Jitklongsub explained that character distinguishes who we are and guides us through life. It develops over time and encompasses self-control, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Pleng asserts that it’s OK to have opinions and to take risks and that one measure of character is being confident enough to be unique and to let others be unique as well. You are what you make of yourself and that means staying true to what you believe. All of the speeches were eloquent, thoughtful, and inspiring. As part of the ceremony, Poupee Laosirihongthong and Dollada Soothiosoth lit candles between each speech.

members do: model values, raise funds for the education of children at the Good Shepherd’s orphanage, and try to be role models for younger RIS students, “to give them a glimpse of students who are well-rounded, balanced, and constantly striving to better themselves.” In his principal’s address, Dr. Jim pointed out that the National Honor Society is about 100 years old and has more than one million members worldwide. He noted that there were so many great candidates who qualified and that being in the NHS is a prestigious honor and a compliment to our students’ work and resiliency: “The inductees are truly a reflection of our mission: balanced students. The RIS chapter of NHS and our community is very proud of you.” He went on to thank the faculty advisors, Mr. Jeff Gepner and Mr. Taylor Siedell. Mr. Taylor gave the students certificates to recognize their induction, and then invited Father Jittapol Plangklang to read the oath. Each new member raised his or her right hand and repeated the National Honor Society pledge: I pledge myself Always to seek the light of truth, To hold scholarly habits, To engage in worthy service And to lead forward in all things That shall advance the welfare of the community and RIS.

Here are this year’s 14 inductees into the National Honor Society:

Current RIS NHS President, Divi Maheshwari, gave the final remarks and explained more about what NHS

The NHS would like to thank Ms. Supannee T. and Ms. Shirley for their assistance with the ceremony.

Class of 2022 Payton Clardy Purisha (Risha) Kulworasreth Pongpol (Jadon) Laochinda Thitivorrada (Namphueng) Meanchainun Nutradee (First) Narupaves Panawee (Biew Biew) Sakulwannadee Class of 2021 Narisa (Alice) Chakrapee-sirisuk Phoomphisit (Phoom) Dejchaiyasak Diya Prabhu Nattakit (Ping Ping) Tankongchamruskul Class of 2020 Nichapa (Sandy) Chindaduangratn Tarun Das Hui Jin Joo Adina Putri Purnama

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An Interview with Hsin-Yun (Katrina) Cheng by Elisia Brodeur


atrina is a ninth-grade student athlete who has -been at RIS for two years. Her cross-country coach, Ms. Kate, reached out to me and shared that she was “so touched by Katrina’s school spirit and her SEASAC connection with her friend from SSIS (Saigon South International School) in Vietnam” that it would be great to share her story with a bigger audience. I agreed. So I spoke with Katrina last year to learn more about this special friendship that formed with a student from another school who she ultimately competes against. I hear you made friends with one of your [swimming] competitors from another school. What’s her name? Her name is Jacey. She’s half-Vietnamese and halfAmerican and is very shy. Tell me how you met Jacey. I met Jacey in Malaysia during SEASAC cross country. There weren’t enough students on our team, so we had to ask students from other schools to join our team. The girls who joined were two sisters from ISY (International School Yangon) and Jacey. At first it was awkward because we didn’t know each other. But the first relay race went well, even though we didn’t place. The following day, one of the sisters had a fever but she forced herself to run anyway because she didn’t want to let her team down, even though it was raining and her coaches tried to dissuade her. She was the fourth relay runner. I ran with her for the last leg of the race (so I ended up running twice). We finished, even though we came last. How did you and Jacey become friends? We started talking and getting to know each other and realized that we were both on the swim team as well as the cross country team. How often have you seen Jacey since then? Jacey has come to Thailand twice, once for BISAC and once for SEASAC. When she came for BISAC, we got to swim together at BPS. RIS hosted SEASAC swimming this year, so I got to hang out with Jacey again, this time at my own school.


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What is it about Jacey that you like? She’s thoughtful. When she’s not running, she cheers for the other team members. I know she also worried about our team member who was sick when we were racing in Malaysia. She’s smiley and friendly. It was easy to get to know her. It’s nice to have friends from other schools. How do you stay in touch and how often do you talk? Mostly through texting and messages on Instagram. Usually it’s to talk about swimming or running. When will you see Jacey next? We’ll get to hang out again during season one SEASAC cross country at the beginning of November. What do you like about sports in general? I enjoy the challenge. It refreshes my mind and also helps with stress. My parents are proud of my sporting accomplishments, and when I get trophies, I feel proud too. What’s your favorite distance to run? I really enjoy long distances. My current favorite distance is 21 km. The farthest I’ve run so far is 24 km, which is more than a half marathon. What does your family think about your running? My parents are very supportive. My dad supports my sports the most. I think my mom worries more about me getting hurt. But I believe that getting hurt is part of growing in sports and ultimately makes me stronger. I want my parents to feel proud of me and I don’t want to disappoint them. I’m very grateful that my parents are supportive of my sports. They also want me to have good grades, but they really want me to follow passions too.

What do love most about running? I don’t think of anything. I just go. When I finish a race, I feel accomplished because I’ve achieved something I didn’t necessarily think I could do. I don’t want to give up and am working on cultivating a no-quitting mindset. So what do you do when your mind is telling you to stop? I stay focused on what I’m doing and trust myself to know I can finish the race. If I stop, that’s when I start to feel tired. I know my body won’t feel anything if I’m at maximum capacity, so I keep going. I think “I can do it,” so I do. I know it’s important not to tell myself that I can’t do it, because then I won’t. I believe I need to think positively to be a successful athlete. Sometimes when I’m racing with others, I’m more focused on racing against myself and my own improvement. So I keep going and don’t give up. Do you ever feel like it’s too much pressure? The first time I raced against kids my own age I was scared—everyone I was competing against was taller or stronger than me. I really wanted to give up. My dad told me to keep focusing on myself, not to care about the others. I felt it was pointless because the other athletes had been running longer than me and were more experienced. Then I realized that my brain was not connected to my body: my mind was telling me to stop but my body kept going. I know that I prefer to

think positively. I also don’t want to disappoint myself, so that’s another reason I won’t give up. How long have you been an athlete? I’ve been swimming since I was 5, but I didn’t start running until grade 6. At first I hated swimming. I used to go to swimming classes with my sister and gradually grew to love it. Then I started competing in triathlons. You have to enjoy each of those sports. I don’t have a favorite, but if I had to order them, I would choose running then swimming then biking. I’m working on building my muscles. Some people believe that women should not be strong or muscular. I don’t care what they think. Who do you think has helped you become so successful? My sister, for one. If I hadn’t started swimming with my sister all those years ago, I wouldn’t be the swimmer I am today. Also my former coach from Taiwan who’s a former Taiwanese Olympic swimmer. She could really connect with the kids and talked to us on our level, she used language and terminology that was relatable. Mr. Matt is a great swim coach, too. And Coach Kate is an awesome running coach. She taught me how to be a good runner. She won’t tell the runners what to do. Even if we think we are running at our maximum speed, she sets a higher expectation. She tells us to concentrate, to set a goal, and to achieve that goal, no matter what.

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by Ms. Shirley Gamble


ne of the first projects that this years’ Student Council worked very hard on was HS Spirit Week, which was held from September 24–27, 2019. The purpose of the week is to promote school spirit, teamwork, and friendships within each grade. There were lots of secret meetings and planning sessions within each grade where students tried to figure out the best way to win the most points. The Classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 were given one week to compete against each other to show which grade has the most spirit. This year’s themes were: Tuesday: School Pride where everyone was encouraged to wear anything representing RIS—red, white, and blue outfits and of course lots of “I Love RIS” and Phoenix t-shirts and uniforms were seen everywhere Wednesday: Club/Committee Pride where everyone showed their support for one of the 16 different groups for all of their hard work


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Thursday: Kindergarten Day where everyone was allowed to go back in time and reminisce about those cute and carefree days Friday: Grade Pride where each grade wore both of their grade colors Grade Pride Day also coincides with HS Games Day when students take turns competing in a variety of physical games including the Obstacle Course, Dragon’s Nest, and Tug-of-War. After lunch, everyone headed to the various exciting teacher vs. student games. The teachers were successful in basketball, winning 66-31, but the students won two out of the three dodgeball games. The teachers and students both tied in the other sports: 5-5 in soccer and 1-1 in volleyball. (The third game had to be canceled because they ran out of time.) Congratulations to everyone for demonstrating their school and grade-level spirit!

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by Ms. Shasta Miller “Basketball is really fun. The matches are the most fun. If I practice I get a lot better at playing. You can meet new people and exercise in basketball.” — Wawa “I wanted more experience in different sports. Going to tournaments and getting medals is the most fun. You get to exercise and when you practice you get to play in the games.” — Grace


he Falcons Friendly U11 Basketball Tournament was hosted at NIST on September 28th. Our girls played four games that day and took fourth overall in the tournament (there were eight teams). We played against NIST, Bangkok Prep, Patana, and Shrewsbury. I asked the “senior” girls to interview each other and take pictures so they could encourage other girls to join the team. (It also kept them entertained in the bleachers… it was a loooong Saturday!) We have several new students on the team as well as many returning students so the interviews also offered a chance for the girls to get to know each other better. Here are the questions I had them ask each other: • Why did you join the team? • What is the most fun part? • Why should other girls join the team?

Here are their answers:

5th graders “I joined basketball because it would be fun and I could make friends. It’s fun and you meet people.” — Jira “I wanted to try playing basketball and then it was fun so I kept playing. Preparing is the best part. People should join the team to meet new people and learn to work together.” — Mim 46

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“I joined because I wanted to be like my sister. I watch her play and I want to be like her. I joined in grade 3 and loved it and wanted to continue being a basketball player. We get to play matches and they are fun. Other girls should join because it’s fun and you get to do cool tricks and play in fun matches.” — Versailles “I wanted to join sports. The practices are the most fun. Sometimes you don’t know [a sport is] good until you try it.” — Paproud “I joined because I like basketball and I thought it would be fun. Practicing and the matches are the most fun. You should join because you will get friends and learn how to do teamwork.” — Pana “I joined because I like basketball. It is fun and you can play as a team. The best part is when we work together and win. Other girls should join so they learn teamwork and sportsmanship, and if you don’t know how to play you can learn.” — Priya

“I started on team B and saw that it was fun. We played lots of people and I thought I wanted to try team A, so I joined. The best part is we play games with Ms. Linda, like bench ball, and we play other teams. Other girls should join because it helps you be active and it’s fun to play.” — Proud

4th graders “My dad says it’s fun. I watch my dad play and sometimes we shoot baskets together. It’s all fun. Others should join so we can make an even better team.” — Nippon “I joined because my mom wanted me to play a sport and exercise, and I saw my brother play. The matches and the game bench ball in practice is the most fun. Girls can learn to stretch their bodies and be active in basketball.” — Lotus

by Mr. Jeff Gepner and Ms. Elisia Brodeur


IS introduced a new class in high school this year: AP Seminar, the first year of the AP Capstone™ Diploma program from the College Board. Students typically take AP Seminar in grade 10 or 11, which is a prerequisite and provides the building blocks for the next year’s course, AP Research. According to the AP Capstone website, “Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical-thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work. The College Board developed the AP Capstone Diploma program at the request of higher education professionals, who saw a need for a systematic way for high school students to begin mastering these skills before college…. In both courses, students are required to:

• Analyze topics through multiple lenses to construct meaning or gain understanding.

• Plan and conduct a study or investigation. • Propose solutions to real-world problems. • Plan and produce communication in various forms. • Collaborate to solve a problem. • Integrate, synthesize, and make cross-curricular connections.” I spoke with Mr. Jeff Gepner, the first teacher to be teaching the AP Seminar course at RIS. I asked him why RIS decided to offer this class. He explained that the students who currently take IB classes at RIS can choose to also take the IB Diploma Program, which incorporates a bigger research component and includes an extended essay. The students taking AP classes, although certainly challenged academically, didn’t have similar requirements. By introducing the AP Seminar class, RIS now offers a more thorough research program for our AP students. Running both programs at RIS results in Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


better equivalency; now all high school students have the opportunity to learn the many aspects required to efficiently conduct research, which is an immensely useful skill when they get to university. If the students successfully pass the AP Seminar, AP Research, and four other AP courses and exams, they will earn the AP Capstone Diploma. If they take and pass just the AP Seminar and AP Research courses, they will earn an AP Research and Seminar Certificate. Both of these are impressive accomplishments that demonstrate a student’s ability to successfully manage college-level academic challenges. Research suggests that students who take the AP Capstone Diploma courses do better in college and have generally higher college acceptance rates. I asked Mr. Jeff to elaborate on what the students are learning in the AP Seminar class. He explained that while the main goal is to help students develop analytical and research skills, the focus is on general topics. There is no specific required curriculum, so the class can be taught with whatever topic the teacher chooses. The point is to present different perspectives, so it helps to choose something controversial that is interesting to the students, allows them to do a lot of research, and supports debate. Mr. Jeff chose the topic of food for this year’s AP Seminar class. “Over the course of the first semester, we will explore many different aspects of food production and food consumption. We will look at the history of food production and some of the contemporary issues surrounding the global food industry through different lenses and perspectives. For example, we will explore the economics of the modern food industry along with the environmental effects and political power of agribusiness. We will look at food through a cultural and ethical lens to debate the case around controversial foods like whale meat or dog meat. We may also look at food as an art form through modern gastronomy.” For the first semester, Mr. Jeff leads the class. The focus is on learning and practicing the skills with readings and topics he provides. For the second semester, the students will choose their own topic, write two research papers (one as an individual and one as a group), and give a presentation. For the group presentation, the group decides on a central issue and each member explores some aspect of it. The group has 10 minutes to


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give its presentation, which must include a description of the issue and a proposed solution with its relative benefits and disadvantages. The students have to be able to summarize, critique, and analyze a wide variety of texts so they have been studying old historical sources, reading journal articles, and have watched a documentary. The goal is for them to become more critical thinkers so they are learning how to deconstruct, or reverse engineer, an argument as well as the importance of efficiency and clarity in their presentations. The students will also understand what style manuals are for and learn how to identify and apply different styles. The overall takeaway is that we want our students at RIS to value research skills and independent, lifelong learning. By offering this course, we know that when our students go to college they won’t have trouble doing research or producing 20-page research papers. I asked the students what they think of the class so far. Here’s what a couple of them shared: “I chose to take this class because I...like to challenge myself. This class also helps strengthen my reading, writing, and presenting skills, which I will be using in college and in the future.” — Kwankamon (Kwan) Meesomboon “I think this class will benefit me as a student as it will improve my presentation skills—now and for my future studies in college—as well as my confidence. I am learning how to choose and analyze sources correctly and how to build my credibility when advocating or debating. The teacher helps me to see texts and websites differently. And by differently I mean visualizing texts from many different perspectives and lenses. These techniques improve how I think and organize my thoughts more efficiently. I am learning how to identify which pieces of work are reliable or not, even if they are from usually credible sources. I would absolutely recommend this class to others, especially for students who are aiming to study abroad. I know it’s a new course for all of us but, in my opinion, and from what I’ve learned up until now, this is a great class to prepare you for your college years.” — Varin (Junn) Watunyuta

by Ms. Linda Lund


o you sometimes feel that you would like to be “home alone”? Or do you ever wonder what would happen if your grandma collapsed and you were the only one at home who could help? Do you feel that you’re ready to be left on your own for short periods of time, but your parents or guardians are unsure if you are ready? Ms. Linda is running a Home Alone Program for middle schoolers, which is designed to provide children 10 years of age and older with the necessary skills and knowledge to be safe and responsible in an emergency or when “home alone.” There are many things that can happen in every home that require immediate action. Does your child have the knowledge to handle different scenarios if she or he were home alone, such as what to do in case of a medical emergency, a fire, a pipe bursting, or indoor flooding? You probably know that extra attention is needed if your home includes a pool, but does your child know how to handle an unexpected visitor, a choking sibling, or online harassment? Emergencies can happen at school too. Did you know that RIS has two AEDs (automated external defibrillators) on campus? If you did, do you know where they are or how they work?

In September, Ms. Linda led the first RIS Home Alone course during which she taught 14 students to react appropriately in emergencies. Topics included basic first aid, CPR, choking, childcare, as well as online, road, and playground safety. During the course, Ms. Linda reminded students that “keeping a cool head will help a person remember how to handle an emergency when it comes time.” Ms. Linda surveyed the students who took the course to see what they thought of it. Eighty-two percent of participants said that the Home Alone Course covered a lot of material and that they found it very helpful. The majority of the students said that their favorite lesson(s) in the course taught them about emergencies, first-aid/ CPR, and childcare. A few students mentioned that they enjoyed the course because they “learned important things that they wouldn’t otherwise learn in school.” You can prepare your child with the tools necessary to be safe or help others be safe at home alone and in almost any emergency situation! The next Home Alone Course will be on November 13th and 20th from 3:00– 5:30 pm. Contact Ms. Pui in the Middle School office to sign up. The maximum number of students per course is 15.

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by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


lthough the Senior Convocation is an annual tradition, each year’s ceremony is unique for that class of seniors and undoubtedly a highlight of their senior experience. After HS Principal Dr. Jim gave the affirmation of the grade 12 students, Fr. Travis blessed the senior pins and Ms. Nichapa (Yui) Srisuk read each student’s full name as they crossed the stage in Godbout Hall to receive their pins and graduation robes. This year’s convocation was no different from others, though, in that the students crossed the stage to constant applause and excited shrieks from their peers, underclassmen, parents, and faculty. After donning their gowns and pins, the seniors then filed back into Godbout Hall in pairs accompanied by the invariably rousing Pomp and Circumstance. Many of the seniors’ faces showed palpable emotions—some nerves and more than a few watery eyes. Once to their seats, the students remained standing as Head of School, Mr. Dan, opened his address by declaring that these grade 12 students were now officially the Class of 2020.


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He continued by telling them that this year they will often find themselves saying: “This is the last time I do (such and such),” “the last field trip,” “the last final exams….” Then he eloquently drew connections between their last year in school and da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. He began with a gentle warning: “[The painting] is a lot bigger than you think. So is your senior year. There’s still a lot ahead of you. Don’t underestimate the things that might seem simple and easy.” Mr. Dan pointed out that the painting captures a climactic moment in time and that there will be many such moments for these seniors—lots of times to celebrate and to be recognized. He urged them to “keep your friends close to you and spend time with them this year,” and cautioned them that when their time is done here, it’s done. They will all be moving on to new things, so “take pictures, write notes, and take those memories with you.” Mr. Dan noted that a lot of paintings during da Vinci’s time were frescos. But da Vinci didn’t paint in that style; he had to come up with new techniques in order

to create new something new. To the seniors, Mr. Dan recommended that they “Slow down and take the time you need to do things well. It’s not too late to try something new, try a new sport, make new friends.” It didn’t take long for The Last Supper to need extensive renovations. Mr. Dan told the seniors that, similarly, “This is just the foundation. You’ll continue to grow and be different. It’s OK to go back and freshen up and become a better person. Your experiences here are meant to reflect the real world, such as your relationships with your friends, your teachers, and how your decisions affect others.” One character in the painting, Doubting Thomas, is holding up a finger in warning—a foreshadowing that he didn’t believe Jesus had risen from the grave; he had to touch him to be sure. Mr. Dan explained that the teachers and parents know what’s coming for these students and encouraged them to hold up their “Doubting Thomas finger” when necessary. To the seniors, he advised that they listen to the adults in their lives.

One of the things that made The Last Supper revolutionary was the perspective. “Perspective is an important thing to remember in your senior year. Remember the perspective of others, your parents, the underclassmen, your friends, and how you manage and run your senior year.” Finally, Mr. Dan cautioned the students to “Make sure you’re planning ahead so you don’t ruin a masterpiece.” He wrapped up by reminding them that “it’s also OK to change your plans as you go. [Your senior year] is still considered a masterpiece, and so are you.” Mr. Dan’s speech was followed by the Class of 2020 dedication song, performed by Proud, Bomb, and Ball while the audience enjoyed a video of the seniors throughout their years at RIS. Then the students moved outside where there were flowers, balloons, photo ops, and selfies galore! Here’s wishing the Class of 2020 a successful and memorable final year at RIS.

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by Mr. Said Ghorayeb and Ms. Christine Collings


n September 19, 178 universities and colleges visited RIS Minburi for our annual university fair. Of those colleges and universities, 105 were from the US. The rest were from the UK, Europe, and Asia. This meant that more than 200 college representatives were on our campus to talk with our students about the features and benefits of their colleges. Godbout Hall was alive with people, colorful banners, and excited chatter. This was our biggest fair to date. An event like this takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work and planning. The planning for this fair started more than a year ago, and our HS Counselors worked closely with the counseling teams at NIST, BPS, ISB, and Harrow to organize all of the details. Three of those schools also hosted their own fairs. All five schools also collaborated to organize a social event/reception for the university reps at BarSu at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. Many of the college reps come to Bangkok each year in September for the EARCOS/CIS Institute on International Admission and Guidance conference, so several international schools purposely schedule


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their fairs around the same time. Schools in Singapore and Hong Kong do the same. According to the EASRCOS website, the conference focuses on “the vibrant partnership among the region’s counselors and university representatives… [so they can] collaborate on topical issues and together offer solutions to challenges faced in the region.” The counselors and university reps attended workshops at the 2-day conference, followed by an open session at the Shangri-La hotel where high school students could meet with college reps. The counselors also arranged two nights of case studies, which were hosted at BPS, NIST, and Harrow. Each case study consisted of two university reps—from undisclosed universities—looking at an actual college application and reviewing it in front of the audience. The reps discuss the application the same way they do when deciding whether a student should be admitted to their university or not. The case studies give students and parents a more holistic view of the college application process and a clearer sense of what universities are actually looking for, beyond test scores and GPAs.

According to the university reps, our students, and the additional students that came to our fair from other local schools, the fair was very successful. The reps mentioned that they appreciated the good food—the canteen provided breakfast and our Culinary Arts students had baked delicious muffins, cookies, and brownies. The reps were also thankful that we had invited students from other schools and were appreciative that RIS had organized transportation to their next fair at BPS. They also noted that our students arrived at their tables with prefilled forms containing their contact information. The reps thought this was a brilliant idea as it saves them time recording those details later and allows them more time to actually talk with the students.

and ran a university fair, specifically for students to learn about Thai colleges. The fair hosted 22 local universities with both Thai and international programs and was attended by both our students and students from several nearby schools.

Our students liked that the fair offered them the chance to move beyond their comfort zones by connecting with reps in person and practicing interviews. This is very important because most college reps serve specific regions or states, which means that the reps who visit our school could be the very people reviewing a student’s actual college application. Some students were also able to talk with reps from universities that they hadn’t considered prior to the fair.

This year’s fairs, as well as most other events in the HS counseling office, could not have happened without the many contributions of our wonderful Ms. Mary Lancaster, who has spent the last 22 years supporting the counseling team at RIS. Although Ms. Mary retired prior to this year’s fairs, she came back to school ready to help on both event days. The counseling team would like to thank her for her selfless service to RIS and wish her the best of luck in her retirement.

Two weeks later, on October 7, our Thai college counselor, Dr. Tawan Waengsothorn, also organized

Our next university fair will be on September 15, 2020. Mark your calendars! Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by MS students: Phasakorn (Ball) Chivatxaranukul, Voraruthai (Belle) Puengchanchaikul, Jirat (Gino) Chiaranaipanich, Vasu Duangudomdej HS students: Victor (Vic) Phisitkul, Tayut (Choke) Meanchainun



ancelling Cancers is a -student-led organization across seven international schools in Thailand, in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University Systems Biology Center (CUSB). At RIS, we are under and receive help from the RIS Red Cross Committee. We aim to raise funds for affordable cancer treatments for all. Cancer treatments cost an average of $11,500 per month. Because of this, most people can’t afford medical treatments. The RIS Cancelling Cancers group aims to put an end to this. We strive to spread awareness about this problem in addition to raising funds to help cancer patients in need of immunotherapy.

The MS section of Cancelling Cancers raised 1,680 baht through the Ping Pong tournament, which took place on September 25th– 27th during MS lunches and milk breaks. We also raised 8,777 baht through donations and selling pink and white ribbons and selling baked goods during the Cancer Awareness Week on October 7th–11th. All of the funds are contributed to Chulalongkorn’s CUSB Project. Our future ambitions include hosting more events to raise further funds for this project. We look forward to arranging more fundraising activities. We would like to give special thanks to one of our executives, Belle, for making all of the baked goods.

Middle School Events

Elementary School Events

To date, the Middle School has accumulated 21 members in 2 separate committees: the Event Committee and the Recruitment Committee, as well as an executive council. Thus far, the project’s executive council consists of the MS Section Leader (Vasu), Co-Leader (Ball), Secretary (Ivy), Event/Activity Coordinator (Gino), Activity Coordinator Assistant (Belle), and Treasurer (Neui). Each executive has his or her responsibility, helping one another to become a successful student-led project.

The ES section also took part in the Cancer Awareness Week events. Many of the ES students dressed up in pink to help raise awareness for breast cancer on October 8. And a total of 1,500 baht was raised through donations and the sale of pink and white ribbons.

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High School Events In the High School, Cancelling Cancer is part of the RIS Red Cross Committee. We are currently split into five subcommittees: the HS Relations Subcommittee, the HS Fundraiser Subcommittee, the Inter-School Run

Subcommittee, the Sponsorship Subcommittee, and the RibbonPoster Subcommittee. Our goal is both to help spread cancer awareness across the school and raise funds through a variety of fundraising events, including Cancer Awareness Week contributions (including funds from our ribbon sales and bake sale) and a precancer futsal tournament. A total of 8,843 baht was raised. The Inter-School Run subcommittee is also helping to organize a 3K Inter-School Run: #MakeItPossible Run. There are eight international schools in Bangkok participating: Harrow, NIST, Wells, ICS, Bangkok Prep, RIS, ASB (Green Valley), and Shrewsbury. The group has been working to get

participants and to organize the logistics of the run, which will take place on November 10th from 6:00 am to 9:00 am at Nongbon Water Sports Center (https://goo.gl/maps/ GSNLbGhDciApS2bu8). Ticket costs are: Regular ticket (500 baht), VIP tickets (1,000 baht), Family of 4 deal (1,800 baht). You can register until November 9th. If parents would like to sponsor the run, please contact Vic (victorp23@ rism.ac.th). More information and the sign-up link can be found on this form: https://forms.gle/ kFm8LTLYLNPyr7JC6 The HS Fundraiser Subcommittee has also planned a futsal competition to raise funds.

Be a Part of the Team! If you are interested, please feel free to join us. We love welcoming new members. If you are in the Middle School, email Ball (phasakornc24@rism.ac.th) or Vasu (vasud24@rism.ac.th). If you’re in the High School, please contact Vic (victorp23@rism.ac.th). The MS section of the project also has an Instagram account (@cancelcancermsris). Those in the MS can join our meetings on any Day D at the Peace Pole during lunchtime. Grab your food and come join us. We look forward to making a difference with you.

Please join us in raising funds for the Baan Nokkamin Foundation by participating in and/or sponsoring runners during the Fun Run/Mini-Marathon at RIS (on Soi Chokchai). • Sunday, 17 November 2019 @ 6:00 am • The dress-up theme is “Super Heroes.” Prizes will be awarded for the best outfits! • Registration information has been sent via email

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by Ms. Sabrena Baiagern


he MS & HS Red Cross Cancelling Cancer Committee would like to thank the members of the RIS community for showing their support and awareness of breast cancer and lung cancer during Cancer Awareness Week (Oct 8–9, 2019). As a whole school community, we were able to raise a total of 20,800 baht, which will be donated to Chulalongkorn University Systems Biology (CUSB) to help patients afford cancer immunotherapy.


We would like to recognize the individuals below who donated their hair for the Give Care, Give Hair LIVE hair-cutting event on Wednesday, October 9th. A total of 25 hair donations were made. All of the hair will be donated to the National Cancer Institute of Thailand to make wigs for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment and may be experiencing side effects such as hair loss.

KG Lajita Sonchai (Lumi)

Grade 9 Pomada Rattanachote

Grade 1 Wilali Dejsunthornwat (Lali) Wilanla Dejsunthornwat (Lanla)

Grade 10 Purisha Kulworasreth (Risha) Kittaporn Tanyabutr (Friend)

Grade 2 Sirapapha Siriburanon (Jasper) Daliah Sonchai (Dana)

Grade 11 Aphinya Burapha (Phy) Yoonjee Lee

Grade 6 Voranan Puengchanchaikul (Bene) Kotchakaew Srisaman (Elle)

Teachers/Staff Ms. Robin (ES) Ms. Shasta (ES) Varangkana Kongeaid (MS) Ms. Claudia (MS/HS)

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Ms. Pum (HS) Ms. Susanna (HS) Khun Taam (HS) Parents/Relatives of RIS Students/Alumni Khun Kochaporn Akarapreechachon Khun Mai Piyanuch Sriwattana Khun Vicky Pranpreeya (Bouquet) Visutvatanasak Khun Daranee Vithawatpongsatip

by Ms. Sarah Hanson


n October 4th and 5th, nine High School students represented RIS at the Bangkok International Choir Festival. An annual event, the Bangkok International Choir Festival has been going on for the last 25 years. This year, the original organizer and conductor of the event, Dinah Helgeson, was brought back to lead the High School Choir. John Baker conducted the Middle School Choir. More than 400 students from several schools, both in Bangkok and out of the country, were represented in the Middle School and High School Choirs. During their Saturday afternoon concert, all of the singers participated in the World Premier of a song written by composer Alicia Baker called “Help to Save Our Future.” Along the lines of that piece, which was derived from poetry written by ISB High School students, much of the music was centered around themes of openmindedness, the importance of each of us taking action to help others, and having the confidence to overcome personal struggles. Our students appreciated that they were able to sing songs about issues that matter to them in their lives, and they came away feeling honored

to have been able to work with Dinah Helgeson, who modeled these principles as she worked with the students over this two-day event. Our students: Meimei Sae-yang, Mayra Rai, Milk Soponpisut, Ivy Chen, Jane Pino, Neen Bhandhumachida, Nemo Kobkuechiyapong, Pone Boonyapiwat, Deepikka Nattarajan The music: “I Love You/What a Wonderful World” by Craig Hella Johnson; “One Boy Told Me” by Tim Takach; “Help to Save Our Future” by Alicia Baker; “Don’t Be Afraid” by Jennifer MacMillan; “Flight Song” by Kim Andre Arnesen; “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith (arr. by Roger Emerson) Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


by Mr. Jonathan Bennett


or the last 8 weeks, a determined group of Middle School students has been working away in the MakerSpace. They have been preparing for the Make-X Central Thailand Regional Competition. This challenging new opportunity at our school has students working in pairs to build and program a robot that can solve 10 difficult challenges. In total, 6 teams of students will be going from our school to compete on the 6th of October. The first challenge was building the robot. As they assembled the robot, students learned how to cooperate with their partner, to check how each part should be attached to the robot, and how to position the robot’s sensors. This is a very hands-on challenge that has the students turning screws and connecting


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cables to build a robot that they believe will be best able to complete the challenges. Once the robot is built, they use a programming language based on Scratch 3.0 (the block programming language used by a number of online programming sites) to program their robot. This is a very challenging form of programming because there are so many realworld variables that can change what their robot does. It is common for a robot to run the same program twice and stop in a different place unless the students are very careful to use the right sensors to check the robot’s position and what it is doing. At the Make-X Competitions, the teams will be working in an alliance with another team from a different school to solve the challenges, encouraging each other and

representing the Principles of the Phoenix to the other schools and students present. If our students do well, there is a chance for them to advance to the National Competition in November and even the International Competition in China in December! But even if that doesn’t happen, the students are developing key problem-solving skills and teamwork that will serve them well into the future.

competition). But our students rose to the occasion and did their best.

Editor’s Note: The day of the competition was a whirlwind of exciting experiences and new challenges. During the competition, the coaches and mentors were not able to see the students’ robots or their code, meaning that they had to solve every problem they encountered on their own (even challenges like communicating with the other teams at the

As for the rest of our competitors, some of them are already looking forward to the Rat Race competition scheduled by another international school in Bangkok on March 17th. Others were excited about the next year’s Make-X competition. And every one of them can be proud of their hard work and dedication in the challenge arenas at the competition.

At the end of the day, Kong-Kwan and Fah of Team Sinabon scored high enough to advance to the Thailand National Competition on November 9th and 10th. We wish them the best of luck as they prepare for this next exciting challenge.

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by Ms. Nicki Ruthaivilavan


very October, students of all ages around the world are invited to participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge (cardboardchallenge.com). This challenge was inspired by a short film about a nine-year-old boy in California who spent the summer designing and building his own arcade out of cardboard. This year, as a way to incorporate STEAM into our curriculum, fourth-graders at RIS joined the challenge. STEAM activities incorporate concepts and skills from science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. Challenges require students to use collaboration, effective communication, creativity, problem-solving, and persistence. For our Grade 4 Cardboard Challenge, we incorporated the Design Thinking process in addition to STEAM skills. After watching the short film that inspired the challenge (vimeo.com/40000072), the fourth-graders learned that they would be designing their own arcade for their reading buddies. The first step in the Design Thinking process is empathy. Because all of their buddies are younger than they are, they had to consider not just


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their own interests but what would be engaging and appropriate for their buddies. The next steps asked students to define their task and begin to ideate, or brainstorm, possible ideas. Students worked in partnerships to plan their designs. When they felt they had an idea that would meet the needs and wants of their buddies, they gathered their materials and began to create a prototype. Throughout the creation process, the students were encouraged to test their designs and to make revisions and modifications as necessary. We really wanted students to embrace the iterative process that is Design Thinking. After two days of working on their arcade, we invited our reading buddies up to give the games a try. There was a buzz of excitement throughout the room and smiles everywhere as students from PreK 3 to grade 2 played our arcade. As teachers, we were impressed at how well our older students acted as role models, supporting and encouraging their younger buddies. Many fourth-grade students noted the satisfaction and pride they felt when they had a lot of “customers.�

An important part of STEAM and the Design Thinking process is reflection. Our fourth-graders were given the opportunity to think and write about what went well, what was challenging, how they felt throughout the process, and what they would change if they were to do

it again. I think the biggest testament to how important, engaging, and relevant STEAM is in our curriculum is the fact that almost all of the students said that they would like to do something similar at home, on their own. That’s powerful learning!

An Interview with Boonyavee and Namon Uthaisang by Ms. Elisia Brodeur


o’ is an abstract strategy board game. The aim of the two-player game is to surround more “territory” than your opponent. Go was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago and is believed to be the oldest board game that has been continuously played to the present day. According to Wikipedia, “Despite its relatively simple rules (there are essentially only two), Go is very complex. Almost all other information about how the game is played is a heuristic, meaning it is learned information about how the game is played, rather than a rule. Compared to chess, Go has … many more alternatives to consider per move.” Two of our RIS students, sisters Boonyavee Uthaisang (Gr 9) and Namon Uthaisang (Gr 7), participated in a Go

tournament at the Department of Physical Education Competition at the Nimitbut Building of the National Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019


Stadium on August 15th–16th, 2019. Boonyavee was the winner in the Women’s Under 18 category, and Namon won in the Women’s Under 16 category. I spoke with the girls to learn more about their impressive accomplishments. How long have you been at RIS? For two years, since 5th grade and 7th grade. How long have you been playing Go? We have been playing for a long time but we didn’t get serious about it until the last 2 years. Now we work with a teacher three days a week and practice every day. We also play online with people from around the world. What do you work on with your teacher? There are literally millions of strategies, so we usually work on a few different ones. We practice jōsekis, which is a sequence of moves. The game is divided into three separate parts: the opening game, the middle game, and the end game. We often work on one of those parts, and we’ll play at least one game per lesson. Sometimes we watch a pro play a game to study how they’re playing and understand how they think. How long does a game normally take? It depends on how long it takes you to think! A game usually takes about an hour during a competition, but a quick game can take 30 minutes. During a competition, each player gets only 45 minutes. If you run out of time, you lose. So one of the things you have to learn is how to control your time. Have you noticed that it helps you with your other studies? Yes, we feel that we learn better because we get to exercise our brains. The game involves many different strategies, so it especially helps with concentration as we have to think. What else do you enjoy besides playing and competing in Go competitions? Yes, I (Boonyavee) also play golf and play the piano. I (Namon) also enjoy horse riding and playing the violin. Are there more girls or boys who typically play Go? There are typically more boys than girls who play. So as girls, we are at an advantage. During most competitions, they don’t separate the girls and boys. Go has ranks and ratings that measure your skill level, so we are separated 62

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by levels. It starts with Low Q, then High Q and moves to Low Dan then High Dan. The highest level is Pro. No Thai player has ever been at the pro level. How often do you take part in competitions? As often as possible. There aren’t a lot of competitions in Thailand because not many Thai people play. I (Boonyavee) recently took part in the Women’s Gold Championship. I also took part in the Thailand Pair Gold and got 3rd. I (Namon) am in the Thailand National Youth Team. There are 6 girls and 6 boys on the team. The competitions are between players from different schools. I’m the only player from an international school. What are your goals for the game? We both plan to get to Low Dan by the end of this year (2019). You have to take tests to move to a higher level. For the test, you have to play against a pro (the pro gets a handicap). If you win, you pass to the next level. We ultimately want to get to High Dan, which is very hard. Would you advise other students to learn how to play Go? Yes, we highly recommend that other students learn how to play because it improves many skills and helps you to concentrate better in class. What is your favorite thing about RIS? We love the way teachers teach. They are very creative. We get to express our opinions in class without being judged, so it feels like a safe place. We also like the canteen because it has many food options that are mostly healthy. And we like that the school is big and has a lot of facilities.

by Ms. Sabrena Baiagern


n Wednesday, September 25, 2019, the High School Red Cross Committee hosted the first blood drive for the 2019–2020 school year. We were happy to see many of our veteran donors, such as Ms. Lincy (HS Math), Mr. Said (HS counselor), and Khun Pam (HS office) join us again. And we were even more delighted to be joined by first-time donors including parents, faculty, staff, and a number of grade 11 and 12 students. With the joy that comes with giving and helping out, the RIS community made a total of 77 donations, which means that 231 lives will be saved!

The blood drive would not have been a success without the hard work of the following High School students: Jackie (12-5), Flesh (12-5), Jew (12-2), Pun (12-5), Diya (11-2), Anna (11-2), Ping Ping (11-1), Bebe (10-4), Namphueng (10-4), Risha (10-1), Fourth (10-7), Su Jee (10-1), Seoyoung (10-1), First (10-7), Ching Ching (10-7), Dd (10-4), Friend (10-7), Pond (10-5), Pear (9-6), Alice (91), Seohee (9-6), Sky (9-6), and Porjai (9-3).

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Tania Carrillo

PreK 3 Teacher Hello! My name is Tania Carrillo and I teach PreK 3. I’m originally from Calexico, a small desert town in Southern California, but I’ve spent most of my life in San Diego, California. I was introduced to the world of international teaching in 2013 and since then I’ve worked in Qatar and Hong Kong. Now I’m in Thailand and am so grateful and excited to be here! Outside of work, a few of my favorite things to do in Minburi are: enjoying a good book and cappuccino at coffee shops on 164, taking a yoga class at The Master Club, and walking along the khlong at sunset. Here’s to a wonderful year full of wonder, growth, and joy!

Candice O’Connor PreK 3 Teacher

Hello! My name is Candice, and I am teaching PreK 3. I previously taught grade 1 at RIS (from 2014–2017), before my husband, Ryan, and I returned home to Canada for two years. I have been an educator for over 10 years. I’m a certified Forest & Nature School Teacher and am passionate about student-centered learning. Ryan and I are both excited to be back in Thailand and thrilled to be part of the Ruamrudee community once again! I am from Huntsville, Ontario, a beautiful part of Canada surrounded by clean lakes and endless forests. In our spare time, Ryan and I enjoy being active outdoors: hiking, paddling, cross-country skiing, and camping.

Matt Hill

Kindergarten Teacher I was born in North Carolina and raised in Tennessee, although I’ve been living in Bangkok for the past seven years. I’m now at RIS with my wife, Mary, and our two sons, Matthew and Marco. My family and I love going to the beach, seeing animals, and watching movies.


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Jennifer Voigt

Grade 4 Teacher Our family came to Thailand in 2016 when my husband, Eamonn, was hired to teach AP and IB English at RIS. I am the mother of 3 boys who all attend RIS in the Elementary section. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in art history and management. I really enjoy working with children and taught swimming at RIS for 2 years. I began teaching Kindergarten at RIS last school year. This year I’m excited to be teaching grade 4. Although I am originally from the USA, I lived in Ireland for 15 years, where my husband’s family is from. We love to travel and have visited many places around Thailand and Europe.

Holly Crawford Grade 5 Teacher

Kia Ora! My name is Holly Crawford and I’m teaching grade 5 this year. I am really excited to be here! I have a lovely class, awesome teachers to work with, and the school seems like an amazing place to be. I am from New Zealand where we are learning to speak Te Reo as well as English. Te Reo is the native language to Maori people in NZ and it is becoming more common for teachers to say a few words in their classrooms, even if they are not Maori. Kia Ora means “hello!” My challenge will be to teach my students this year some Te Reo words they can use. This is my first international teaching experience, and with that comes a lot of excitement but also some fear. I have done a reasonable amount of travel, having traveled for 9 months in 2015. There are so many more places I wish to explore, and being in Thailand gives me great access to Asia and other places. New Zealand is so far away from everywhere so it’s nice to get closer to the rest of the world. My plan was to be here for the 2 years of my contract, but after talking to so many people I can see that Ruamrudee is a great place to be and keeps people

Steve Canfield Grade 5 Teacher

I was born in Portland, Oregon, a long time ago. I met my wife, Emily, in 1997, when we both attended Oregon State University. We have 2 daughters: Zoey (age 18), Olivia (age 16), and a son, Drew (age 13). I taught in the states for 11 years and then in Doha, Qatar, for 7 years. I love going on adventures with my family!

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Megan Curtino

ES Learning Support This is my fifth year teaching Special Education. I’m currently working on a master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis. I’m a fan of adult coloring books and DIY projects. I have two sisters and enjoy traveling and learning about cultures. I love trivia, game nights, and all-inclusive resorts.

Emily Canfield ES ELD

Places I’ve called home: Oregon, born and raised (that’s a thing for Oregonians); Qatar, where I lived and worked for the past 7 years; Thailand, living the (street market) dream! But really, home is wherever I am with this crew: • Zoey (18), recently extracted from childhood and will soon start college in central Oregon • Olivia (16), brilliant artist, rockin’ guitar player, and secretly loving our move to Thailand • Drew (13), basketball star, puppy whisperer, and an all-around cool kid who refuses to wear his glasses • And, of course, husband, Steve, my Guns n’ Roses-singing, outdoor-lovin’ fool.

Brian Elshoff Grade 7 Math

Hello RIS community! My name is Brian Elshoff, and I’m teaching grade 7 mathematics this year. My roles also include department head and basketball coaching. This my fifth international school, spanning 15 years in Asia, and my 21st year in the middle-level classroom. I grew up in Michigan, USA, but my international journey began in Pakistan and continued in China, Vietnam, and Korea. During that time, my passion to bring voice and choice to middle school students and to develop students’ critical-thinking abilities has been my focus. Each day I strive to instill a collaborative, openminded, and growth-focused culture to the classroom. Joining me at RIS is my wife, Madalena, who teaches in the high school, and our two children, Torin (Gr 2) and Riley (PreK 3). Outside of school, I enjoy going on adventures with my family, experimenting in the kitchen, and trying to not embarrass myself on the golf course.


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Deepak Subudhi

Grade 7 ELD and Humanities Co-Teacher Home of Record: Richmond, VA, USA Past locations: Changsha, China; Badajoz, Spain; Richmond, VA; Santiago, Chile Family: wife (Jaffray) and daughter (Ilse, 8 months) Current songs: Froggie Went a Courtin’, Cuando Te Bese, Desfado Interests: polaroids, hiking/senderismo, the beach, sci-fi, 中文 and ภาษาไทย and Español, board games (Chess, Go, etc.), live music

Jonathan Kimball

Grade 7 and 8 Humanities I’m here with my wife, Jenny, and our daughters, Hazel (grade 1) and Ruby (PreK 3). We hail from Seattle, USA, and are very excited to call RIS and Bangkok our first international post! I teach Humanities in grades 7 and 8. This will be my 10th year teaching, all in middle school. My education includes a master’s degree from the University of Washington and a certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Writing is one of my passions. When I’m not teaching writing, I’m usually writing and playing music. I have played in rock, folk, and reggae bands for the last 20 years. I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring new experiences with the ones I love.

Richard Kemp MS ELD

I’m originally from Miami, Florida: GO, ‘CANES! My wife, Cathy, teaches art in the high school here at RIS. We have 3 boys (Scott, Jase, Max), who are also at RIS. I have taught for three years in Bangkok. My favorite sports are volleyball and softball, and I love to relax on the beach with my family.

Prasitchai Sampaotong (Khru Tan) MS Thai Teacher

I was born in Bangkok and live in Lat Phrao with my family. While I realize that being a teacher is hard, I have dreamed of being a teacher since I was young. This is my 13th year of teaching. I have taught at every educational level, from primary school to university. Besides teaching, traveling is my passion! I normally drive or fly to other provinces in Thailand. My hobbies are taking photos and listening to music, I especially like pop-rock songs. I can speak French and enjoy reading French literature. I have a cat named Mochi.

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Jessi Fisk

MS Science Teacher Greetings! I am Jessi Fisk and I’m very excited to be a new member of the Middle School Science department this year. Together with my husband, Sean (HS Chemistry), and daughters, Abigayle (grade 1) and Fiona (PreK 2), we joined the RIS community last year after teaching in Jeju, South Korea. I was substitute teaching here at RIS while completing my Masters of Education in STEM Leadership. As a former research scientist, I am passionate about science—using it, doing it, and talking about it. While not overseas, we call Melbourne, Florida, home. Sean and I enjoy cooking, doing science, SCUBA diving, traveling the world and seeing it with our daughters.

Daniel McFarlane

MS Learning Support My name is Daniel McFarlane and I’m from LeRoy, New York, which is also the home of Jell-O and known for the first all-women university in the United States—Ingham University started in 1837. I went to college in Rochester, New York, and had the honor of being an intern on Capitol Hill, working for my local Congressman while helping to provide research for amendments added to the 1986 Tax Reform Act, which is still in use today. After leaving college, I began my career in real estate title insurance. I ended up as Executive Vice President of Sales for a Fortune 250 company but gained an interest in education after volunteering at Literacy Volunteers. I found working with students rewarding, gratifying, and consequential, so I made the purposeful decision to return to school and received a Master of Education degree as well as certifications in Special Education. I have never looked back!! I enjoy traveling, reading, exercising, spending time with family, and I’m a true foodie at heart!! I’m pleased I made the decision to accept my current role at RIS as an MS Learning Support teacher and look forward to hopefully making a significant difference during my tenure.

Jayme Kern

MS and HS Learning Support I’m from Boise, Idaho, and this is my 8th year teaching Special Education. I have previously worked at RIS but taught in the ES. My husband is Josh Kern who teaches HS Art. My hobbies are rafting, camping, traveling, drinking coffee, and getting massages—mostly anything that’s outdoors. I’m excited to be back in Thailand! 68

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Sarah Hanson

MS and HS Choir Hello! I’m Sarah Hanson, and I’m excited to be teaching Middle and High School Choir (and a little bit of band) this year at RIS. My husband, Mark, is teaching Values in the Elementary School, where our children are both students. Last year, our family spent a gap year together traveling the US in our RV. We hiked in several National Parks, biked through beautiful countryside, and explored incredible cities. A highlight of our year was visiting Costa Rica, where we experienced coastal and city life and volunteered at a school during our stay. Before our life of travel began, we lived in Fargo, North Dakota. But the amazing food, kind folks, and welcoming weather here in Thailand have made us all feel really at home here. I hope to meet you in person soon!

Dan Matei

MS Culinary Arts and PE I was born and raised in the middle of Transylvania, Romania, about 50 km from Bran Castle—aka Dracula’s Castle. I spent the first 13 years of my life living under an oppressive Communist Regime. I eventually moved to North Carolina, USA, and lived there for 5 years. I have two daughters in the ES, Sara and Thea. This our 8th year in Thailand. Other than cooking, I love running long distances and trekking in high mountains.

Yujiro Fujiwara

HS Math and Tech Hello, I’m Yujiro Fujiwara. I am here with my wife, Nami, and our two kids Kai (in grade 3) and Sui (in grade 1). I am half-Japanese/halfSalvadoran, born and raised in El Salvador. I’m excited to be joining the RIS family as an HS Math teacher this year. My professional background includes industrial engineering and industrial management. I earned a master’s in math education and have 15+ years of teaching experience. Currently, I spend my free time as a Ph.D. candidate at Texas Tech University, specializing in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on STEM. My research and publication interests include students’ perceptions about science and scientists, global STEM collaboration, citizen science education, new technologies (e.g., robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing) in math and STEM education, and integrating STEM subjects, particularly with math.

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Susana Socorro HS Spanish

Hi, my name is Susana Socorro. I am the new High School Spanish teacher at RIS. I am very excited to be here and to get to know more and more about the exciting Thai culture. I was born and raised in Venezuela, but I lived in Florida, US, when I was in 7th grade. I also spent 7 years in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where I taught languages at many levels: elementary, middle, and high school, as well as at the university level. I love reading a good book (although I take forever to finish) and spending time with my family (usually doing something that involves nature/adventure). I have a 2-year-old son, Mario Franco, and am married to Nathan Meisner, who is the Dean of Students here at RIS. I have enjoyed my time in Bangkok so far, which means I’m planning to stay here for longer. Among many other things about Thailand, I love the delicious food and how friendly the people are. Thank you for such a great welcome to the RIS community!

Ben Roth HS Math

Our family first left Ohio for Thailand in 2011. After 5 years at RIS, we moved to Santiago, Chile. Now, after exploring South America for three years, we are back home! I enjoy frisbee, fixing stuff around the house, taking walks around the neighborhood, and listening to podcasts/audiobooks.

Josh Kern HS Art

I’m here with my wife, Jayme Kern, who is a Learning Support teacher in the MS and HS. This is my 14th year teaching high school art and actually my 3rd year at RIS. I was here a couple of years ago, teaching in the elementary section. That’s a big part of why we decided to return to RIS. When we saw two HS positions become available, we jumped at the opportunity as that’s where our passions lie. I’m an avid photographer and am excited to be back in Southeast Asia to grow my portfolio. I have also learned a lot about beauty from spending time in the rugged wilderness of Idaho. During the summer months, I’m a river guide on the middle fork of the Salmon River. This is something I’ve been doing for almost 20 years, and it’s a big part of my life—and Jayme’s. If you notice that I look a little sad between November and February, it’s because skiing is also very important to us and something we will be missing a lot this year. 70

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John Collings HS English

I’m originally from Denver, Colorado, but have spent the last four years teaching British Literature in Seoul, South Korea. Ruamrudee is the second international school that I’ve taught at, but I have had many other occupations during my life. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry, in television and radio, and even owned a mobile DJ company for five years performing at weddings, birthday parties, and holiday events. I also have many hobbies including camping, hiking, running, writing, and playing games of all kinds. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work in Thailand and am happy that I have landed at Ruamrudee.

Nick Steinke HS Math

I’m from Redondo Beach, California. I’ve previously worked for Upward Bound and have taught in San Diego, Boston, Wuxi (China), Athens (Greece), and now here! This year I will be teaching Math 9 and 11, SAT prep, and IB, as well as coaching the U11–15 Cross Country teams. I love traveling and have been around much of Europe. I also enjoy backpacking and mountain hiking. I look forward to exploring Asia!

Madalena Elshoff HS ELD

Hello, RIS community! I’m excited to be a part of the Phoenix family this year as an HS ELD teacher. This is my 12th year as an international educator, but my international journey began before my teaching career. I’m half-Taiwanese and half-American and grew up as a Third Culture Kid attending international schools in Taipei, Tokyo, and Warsaw between the ages of 3 and 17. After completing my undergraduate coursework, I went back overseas at 22 to work in Pakistan, where I met my husband, Brian. After Pakistan, we worked together in China, Vietnam, and South Korea. This year, Brian is one of the 7th-grade math teachers at RIS. We feel fortunate to also have our children attending the school. Our son, Torin, is in grade 2 and our daughter, Riley, is in PreK 3. As a literacy teacher, I’m passionate about igniting students’ love for reading and writing, and I believe some of the most powerful ways to do this are to offer choice, foster independent reading, and to write and read alongside my students. Besides being a bookworm, I enjoy yoga, jogging, swimming, and exploring my new home in Thailand with my family.

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Christine Collings HS Counselor

Hello! I’m Christine Collings and I’m excited to have joined the RIS High School Counseling team this year. This is my 15th year as a high school counselor, having previously lived and worked in Colorado for 10 years and South Korea for four years. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and love going back to visit friends and family every summer. Here’s some trivia about me: • In college, I studied abroad in southern Spain, which ignited my love of travel. • My favorite food is sushi, but I love trying new foods. • I love reading, kayaking, paddleboarding, and watching good movies. • I changed my major in college—I had originally planned to be a journalist.

Cameron Mulligan

IB Business and Economics My name is Cameron Mulligan. I was born and raised in sunny South Africa. I received my degree in business and economic management sciences from TUT in Pretoria. I love being outdoors and am a huge rugby fan. I’m a divemaster and love to spend my free time underwater. I’m married to my wife, Tarren, and we have two daughters in middle school.

Nathan Meisner

HS Dean of Students Hello! My name is Nathan Meisner. My wife and son and I are excited to be part of RIS and to call Thailand our home. I will be serving the community as the High School Dean of Students. This is my 13th year in education. I have been a History, Economics, and Theory of Knowledge teacher, an IB Coordinator and examiner, and a Dean of Students. What I love about RIS so far is how amazing the students are, always smiling and willing to lend me a hand. A few fun facts about me include: • Pizza is a must once a week. • I love to surf. • I was born in Bangladesh and graduated from an international school like RIS. • I play basketball, tennis, badminton… most any sport. • I cook a really mean bolognese.


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Rolando Jubis

School Psychologist I feel lucky to work with exciting people who are passionate about education and learning. I also have an interest in social welfare, which I hope to develop a bit more here. I was born in El Salvador from a family with Middle Eastern roots. El Salvador is similar to Thailand in latitude, the tropical environment, and some sociocultural factors. I’m a multicultural polyglot with a US passport. I have lived and worked in international schools in a few countries, including Thailand for 5 years. I’m a licensed psychologist in the US state of Hawaii and have a doctorate in clinical child psychology. I have never been described as an adventurous person—I prefer to stay on land and don’t see the point of getting on spinning contraptions designed to whip people into a frenzy. Dealing with daily life already provides all the excitement I require. I also like animals but don’t necessarily want them living with me as I also have enough work cleaning up after myself.

Fr. Jittapol Plangklang, C.Ss.R. School Counselor

Hello RIS! I am Fr. Jittapol Plangklang, C.Ss.R., a member of the Redemptorist Congregation. Thailand is my home country. I was at RIS in 1998–1999 as a student of the intensive program, and it was a really great time among my educational experiences. I joined RIS this year as a school counselor and am very happy to be back. Throughout my different professions—as a priest, educator, and counselor, I always value and promote human dignity, diversity, human development, healthy relationships, morality, and well-being among people of multicultural communities whom I serve in various settings, such as churches, schools, and social work organizations. I have three master’s degrees: one in Religious Education from Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines, one in Spiritual Direction from Fordham University, New York, and one in School and Mental Health Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania. I also earned a Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership from Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, including a Mental Health Specialist Certificate and a School Counseling Data Specialist Certificate from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). I am thrilled to be serving RIS as a school counselor and to have the opportunity to combine my expertise in school and mental health counseling with my passion for human development and well-being, especially among students and families. Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019



Went to RIS Too is a history and nostalgia social media page for RIS alumni, featuring rare or forgotten photos from the 1960s through the 2000s. It is intended to help put into perspective the rich and vast tapestry of RIS history as well as to evoke nostalgia and encourage reminiscence. And a lot of reminiscing does indeed appear in the comments sections; some comments are humorous, cheeky even, while others are insightful and heartfelt. Here are some of our favorite ’80s photos that have been shared, along with thoughts and anecdotes from alumni, for our present-day RIS community to

enjoy. These pictures are all from the pre-Minburi RIS era of earlier years on Soi Ruamrudee. I Went to RIS Too: Facebook: /iwenttoristoo Instagram: @ad.astra.ruamrudee

Lonesome lockers along the old school hallway, circa 1980 “Jumping down those stairs though….”
 —Rowin Andruscavage, Class of 1996

Bags tossed off into the quadrangle from up above, circa 1984. An end-of-the-year ritual? “My year. I wonder which of my classmates….”

 —Nachawan Israsena Na Ayudhya, Class of 1984

 “One day, in sixth grade, a bunch of us threw paper airplanes from the third floor into the quadrangle just before assembly!”

 —John Kes, ’80s alumnus


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“Ghostly! Man! I’ve watched too many scary movies in my time! That picture just looked right out of a typical Asian horror movie!” [laughs]
 —Ben Caffin, Class of 1998 “I remember this corridor. I was in 7A. I think my class teacher was Mr. Lor. I remember my French teacher was a lovely lady!” 
 —Farah Kamal, ’80s alumna “I don’t remember lockers. They must have added them after the early 1970s!” 
 —Sharon Wrote, Class of 1973

Sports bags on a locker, circa 1980

Class of ’85, Senior Committee photo op

“That logo—love it!” —Amit Sehgal, Class of 1999 “I had one before when I was in eighth grade!”
 —Jeffrey Chen, ’80s alumnus

“Herbert, Chandra, Alfred, Mimi, and Lincy—I knew each one the moment I saw the photo! They were all my students! Best regards to them, and I fervently hope they are all doing well in life!” —Ms. Minda Pama, former RIS teacher

1985 Administrators—Fr. Griffith (center) with (from left to right) Rev. Mother Marie, Mr. Balek, Ms. Nancy, Ms. Tirabul, and Ms. Thavida

Once upon a time, when the school paper was known as RISing Sun. Student staff with Mr. Brian Gandy, circa 1986

“Oh, Father Griffith… how he did love kids!” —Maria Celeste Garcia, ’90s alumna

“Wow! First year of the RISing Sun! I think I had an “Aunty M” column and wrote reviews. Fun memory!” —Manisha Kothari, Class of 1992

“I know all of them, especially Mr. Balek, who changed my life, from [being a student who kept] fooling around with nothing to becoming a hardworking and successful person. It was thanks to him!”
 —Jeffrey Chen, ’80s alumnus

“I wrote movie reviews! I want to say Goonies and Back to the Future. I checked, but they both came out in ’85!”
 —Amy Taniya Chen, ’90s alumna

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Class of ’92 hanging out on the steps to the hall, a go-to sit-down spot in those days, circa 1987 “Exam time, surely! You wouldn’t find these faces on an ordinary day sitting there reading books!” —Emilio Malucchi, Class of 1992 

 “Life without cell phones and the Internet!” 

 —Rip Ounayakovit, Class of 1992

 “We used to sit on the church steps and play guitar, teaching each other different songs... circa 1967 to 1970.”

 —Eric Spindler, ’60s–’70s alumnus

No Uniform Day, some time back in ’89

 “Boys of the Class of 1995!”

 —Ashwini Vaidya Gupte, Class of 1995

 “I had that pair of glasses for years!” —I-Fan Kao, Class of 1995

 “Whoa! Are we really that old? I mean, the photo’s in black and white!” —Peter Bonner, Class of 1995
 “We haven’t changed that much, have we?” —Ty Chirathivat, Class of 1995

“Flashback to the ’80s! Jump-rope games were my favorite school pastime!”
 —Marisa Champoonote, Class of 1998

 “Yes! People played with you when you had jump ropes. If you didn’t, you’d just have to watch until they needed another person to join. It also mattered if your rope was pretty or not, too! And if you knew how to fix a jump rope as well!”
 —Amy Wu, Class of 2001
 “Only red or yellow rubber bands back then. And they had to be doubled rubber-band ropes! I still remember making those at home!”
 —Clare Chen, Class of 2000


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Circa 1988, when jump-rope games were still a thing


IS class reunions happen all throughout Bangkok every year... but not many classes actually make the inspired choice of organizing a grand reunion back on campus—which is exactly what the Class of 1994 did! The ’94 gang celebrated their 25-year reunion at the Minburi campus (where they spent their junior and senior years) on Saturday, August 17, 2019, by putting together an all-out affair full of fun, laughter, and nostalgia. Starting off in the late afternoon at Godbout Hall, ’94 alumni enjoyed shooting hoops and photo ops against a Soi Ruamrudee 5 sign backdrop—an ode to their earlier years at the former campus—before heading off to the Alumni Hall of Fame to revisit their class photo. Several alumni shared selfies on Facebook, pointing to their younger selves in the group shot with the hashtag #94risreunion. The gang then headed to the high school building in the evening to don RIS uniforms along with senior pins before settling down at The Phoenix Nest where more throwbacks, festivities, and picture-taking ensued.

A video recap of the RIS 25-year ’94 reunion is featured on the Facebook alumni profile Ad Astra Ruamrudee (Facebook.com/Ad.Astra.RIS). Heart-warming moments encapsulated by that video remind us and reaffirm what’s so great about being RIS alumni—friendships and bonds that persevere no matter the number of years that have passed! Thank you to the Class of ’94 for reminding us why RIS rocks!

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Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019

1. Our very own Debbie Klongtruadroke, Class of 1996, recently released a touching new Christian ballad entitled Jesus First In All (Ewing Entertainment) on YouTube. The song is described as a “prayer to aid meditation and worship.” Be sure to look up the music video, which was shot in the gorgeous locale of the Erawan waterfalls in Kanchanaburi. • 2. Congratulations to Class of 1989’s Ronald Busarakamwongs— known in the Thai music industry as Ron B—on his new R&B single I Got Cha (FLYWAY Entertainment). Ron has been keeping busy promoting the song on radio shows and TV performances since the summer. Make sure to check out the music video for this catchy Thai-English bop on YouTube! • 3. Congrats to our most recently married RIS couple, Nut Sangpattarachai and Cindy Salinthip, both from the Class of 2002. There have been dozens of married alumni couples over the decades, but not many have made the inspired move to shoot pre-engagement photos back at school—decked out in throwback RIS uniforms to boot! Nut and Cindy seamlessly blended in with present-day RIS high schoolers as they posed for prewedding photos at their favorite locations. • 4. Over recent months, Class of 2015 RIS alumna Sai Kirin Techawongtham—who lost her sight at age 13—and her black Labrador, Luther, have become media sensations and champions for social change in Thailand. Their Facebook page My Name Is Luther went viral over the summer, garnering over 100,000 followers in just two months, and has helped to change the public’s mindset regarding disabled people by raising the importance of equal treatment and accessibility within public spaces for disabled people and guide dogs in particular. Sai, who recently graduated with a degree in psychology in the United States, paid a visit to RIS in September, posing for pictures with Luther and sharing that she would be continuing her studies abroad in the near future. To support and follow Sai’s and Luther’s page, visit Facebook.com/guidedogluther • 5. RIS alumni keep moving up in the world! Our community has been especially excited to learn of the news that Google Thailand’s newest Country Manager is none other than Class of 1998’s Jackie Wang, who takes over the reins from Ben King as he heads to Singapore. Congrats and way to go, Jackie! • 6. Get inspired by world-renowned award-winning artist and Columbia University professor Rirkrit Tiravanija, Class of 1979, in a recently released Artist Talks interview! Artist Talks, which can be viewed on YouTube, is a program by the Fondation Beyeler & UBS in which contemporary artists speak about their work. In his interview, Rirkrit talks art, audiences, and community engagement with Apinan Poshyananda, one of Asia’s most renowned art curators and writers. • 7. Big congrats to Lalamove Thailand’s Country Managing Director Ravi Sethi, Class of 2008, on his recent feature in the September issue of Masala Lite! By now you must recognize Lalamove’s signature orange delivery bags zipping across the city. In Masala Lite’s cover story, “Forward Momentum,” Ravi speaks about his continual drive to improve and take on new challenges. “After you find a job that is right for you, you need to think about what value you can personally add to a company and then execute it,” Ravi shared in the interview. “I have not seen any situation where someone put in a lot of hard work and it didn’t pay off. Hard work always pays off.” • 8. Former golf champion, beauty blogger, and multitalented entrepreneur Rika Dila, Class of 1983, celebrates the 16th anniversary of the iconic HISOPARTY magazine as one of its cover stars alongside her handsome son, Leo Tejavibulya. Rika, hailed as “the empowered mom,” shares her experiences and advice on parenting today in a new column celebrating family life. • 9. Class of 2004 alumnus and Blockchain expert Sanjay Popli is featured in an insightful interview with Asia Blockchain Review (the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology). In the interview, Sanjay talks about Thailand’s blockchain ecosystem and the business landscape’s potential for growth. Sanjay particularly highlights the promotion of education to drive Thailand’s digital ecosystem. To read the interview, visit asianblockchainreview.com.

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RIS Photo of the Day: 28/10/19 Recently our school held the annual Japanese Cultural Festival at the HS Breezeway with an assortment of food, activities, and music. We raised 15,584 baht from the food sale and kind donations, which will be donated to the charity fund of the Japanese Association in Thailand. Thank you to our students and faculty who organized the event. #RIScares

RIS Photo of the Day: 10/10/19 This week, our school welcomed more than 50 participants to the WIDA International Institute event. The four-day conference provided participants with a comprehensive introduction to the WIDA standards and assessment system, as well as practical strategies they can use to scaffold language and content learning in international schools.

RIS Photo of the Day: 07/10/19 Today our school welcomed representatives from Thai universities to the RIS Thai College Fair in Godbout Hall. Altogether there were 47 universities in attendance, 17 of which provide International Programs, including Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University, Mahidol University International College, and Kasetsart University. The fair provided our juniors and seniors, as well as visiting students from 10 other international schools, the opportunity to gather information on financial aid and other helpful details about the different types of universities that are available in Thailand.


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RIS Photo of the Day: 13/9/19 RISing Coffee is a student-led service-oriented committee that aims to improve the living conditions of coffee farmers in Chiang Mai by selling their coffee at school. All proceeds go to provide a variety of necessities for the farming villages. The group is also partnered with ThaiHigh, a coffee roaster that promotes fair trade and ethical practices. Check out the purpose behind the project, as well as where the coffee you purchase comes from. #RIScares If you would like to place an order, please contact: Pisa Leelapatana (pisal20@rism.ac.th) Grace Thanglerdsumpan (chanyat21@rism.ac.th) Melissa Lemmons (melissal@rism.ac.th)

RIS Photo of the Day: 10/9/19 Congratulations to Nichatorn (Belle) Tangkuptanon in grade 11 on her recent achievement at the 6th Singapore Raffles International Music Festival (SRIMF)! Belle received the Gold Award, along with her playing partner, after competing in the Chamber Category (Harp Ensemble). SRIMF brings forth an international platform for passionate budding musicians. The event provides young musicians an opportunity to showcase their talents, foster friendships, and hone musical skills through competitions. Over the past 5 years, thousands of young aspiring musicians, teachers, and parents from different countries such as China, Malaysia, Australia, UK, America, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore have taken part in the competitions and events.

RIS Photo of the Day: 6/9/19 Today our MS students held their Games Day at Phoenix Hall and Phoenix Field. All the activities gave our children the opportunity to showcase their strength, fitness, agility, and reaction time, as well as build team spirit and encourage positive leadership. But most importantly, our students had a lot of fun and displayed good sportsmanship! Special thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to making this Games Day a success! Congratulations to the Pink Elephants for taking home first place!

Ad Astra Volume 28 November 2019