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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

Awesome Events

5 Grade 1 Writing Celebration Kelly Patten 6 Curtains Up Drama Workshop Elisia Brodeur 8 The Power of Emergent Curriculum Kyleigh Pharris & Callie Chavers 10 Make! An Hour of Exploration Alison Clare 11 ES MUN Reflections 12 ES Star Kids! Elisia Brodeur 14 Grade 7 Peace Conference 16 Visiting Artist: Woodworking Expert Elisia Brodeur 18 MS Students Attend the 10th Annual MUN Conference Olivier Fernandez 19 HS Student Council Induction Ceremony 20 RIS Hosts SEASAC Swimming Matthew Smith 22 IB Art Exhibit: “23:59” Pavla Poch 24 Classic All-American Musical Bye Bye Birdie “Rocked” the PAC! Sarah Abrams 28 Teachers’ Variety Show 2019 Jointjoy Aiemsakul 30 Ad Astra Day at Ruamrudee International School Ratchapruek Campus Sudarat T. Attanawin 32 RIS Songkran Assembly

Amazing Students

33 Math in Art Craig Molla 34 Class of 2019 36 The World Scholar’s Cup 2019 Kanapol (Pung-pond) Glinpu & Tom Wash 39 Virtual and Augmented Reality in Science Class Paphasorn (Pair) Chotjinda & Tatpol (Team) Boonme 40 Google Science Fair Regional Finalist Kritin (Bomb) Vongthongsri 42 Word/Play HS Writing Contest Winners Are Published and Celebrated Marianna Hane Wiles 44 Grade 6 Horse Rider Extraordinaire Elisia Brodeur 46 iGEM: International Synthetic Biology Competition Elisia Brodeur

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THAIMUN Award-Winner and UC Berkeley Ambassador Elisia Brodeur RIS Student on The Voice Kids Thailand Elisia Brodeur

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A “Heart” of Gold Sabrena Baiagern Bye Bye Birdie: Gratitude to RIS Mentors Hedda Joy Tady Tan PreK 4 Integrated ELA/Visual Arts Project Elisia Brodeur 1st Annual RIS Community Golf Tournament Vortex Cannons at Lunch Elisia Brodeur School Nurse Appreciation Day HS Senior Success Stories Elisia Brodeur RIS Canteen Updates and Upgrades Remo Bryan Nyffenegger RIS Students Attend Ministry of Foreign Affairs CEO Forum Natapanu Nopakun HS Chemistry Experiments Elisia Brodeur The Sacrament of Confirmation The Celebration of the First Holy Communion

Community Connections

Service Learning 69 70 72 73 74 76

4th-Grade Marketplace Nicki Ruthaivilavan The Camillian Home Fair Caroline Scott & Elisia Brodeur RIS Soi Dog Club’s Trip to the Soi Dog Foundation Nattamon Tokaeo & Sila Visutvatanasak An Unexpected Gift Pacharamon (Menthol) Danwachira Spectrum’s Movie Night Divi Maheshwari & Pleng Jitklongsub MS Plastic Collection House Team Competition Monchida (Sky) Sukontaman

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#IWenttoRISToo: Alumni Commentary Alumni News Roundup RIS at the Elephant Boat Races Photos of the Day

Awe-inspiring Alumni

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s Chaplain of Ruamrudee International School, I would like to thank all of the teachers and students for a wonderful school year. It has been a beautiful year of success and advancement.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the parents for being generous with their time and in sending their children to our school. It is my joy every morning to notice that the parents are often on campus. I see them at assembly or coming and going in their cars, and I appreciate their dedication to their children. I can’t walk fast enough or far enough anymore to greet each parent individually, but I’m very happy to greet them all in the morning and to see their happiness. Thanks to all of our parents for being so generous with their care and love. After the parents, I’d like to offer a special word of thanks to our teachers. I know that they are very dedicated to the children. I notice them giving honor to our students at assembly, calling them up for awards for good conduct or service or grades. Our teachers try to be very close to our students and respect them with words of thanks and congratulations. It gives me joy to see our teachers so concerned about our students. Our parents also see this care that the teachers are giving to their children. It gives me great pleasure to see that there is such unity at RIS. Our motto, union of hearts, is a doctrine we live by. We do truly care for one another; the parents care for their children, the children care for their parents, and our teachers care for the children. RIS is a school full of unity. And so I thank the teachers for your care throughout the school year and for helping RIS to rise high. To the students, I recognize that many of you are incredibly talented. Our students shine with excellence, such as during performances in the PAC for Christmas and Easter, when we are treated to beautiful singing and acting. Our students’ talents are developed through our teachers’ wonderful programs and through their devotion and spirit. I am particularly proud of our Senior class. Many of them have been invited to prestigious universities around the world. The universities reps who come to our school recognize that our students are exceptional. It gives me great pleasure to know that universities are interested in our students and that they will have a beautiful future once they graduate from RIS. As a school, it is our greatest desire for our students to have success and happiness, now and in their future lives. As we end the school year, I wish to thank all of you for accepting me as one of the “old gentlemen” of the school and for ensuring that our school is a place where we are all united through the gracious spirit of love and unity. God Bless You!

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

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by Kelly Patten


irst graders are natural storytellers. You would be surprised at how much we know about grandma’s best friend’s birthday party! At the beginning of first grade, students write personal narratives and learn how to zoom in on small moments. So they share about a time they fell off their bike or rode a scary rollercoaster. They practice telling stories in the first person, using the word “I.” During our realistic fiction unit, first-grade students take narrative writing a step further. They build on their skills as storytellers and write stories in the third person. They create pretend characters and settings, think up adventures for their characters, and write a book series. We prepared for this unit by sharing some of our favorite realistic fiction stories. Cynthia Rylant’s series, Henry and Mudge, is a great introduction to character development. Then we explored classic first-grade stories with realistic problems and solutions, including Knuffle Bunny and Ira Sleeps Over. Once our students gain a strong understanding of how realistic fiction works, we set them free to write! During daily writing lessons, students practice skills such as adding details, showing a character’s feelings, and writing dialogue. As the students grow as writers, they bring their stories to life. At the end of the writing unit, our first-graders chose their best pieces of realistic fiction to publish into a book. This year we were inspired by Mo Willems’

blending of photographs and drawings to illustrate the Knuffle Bunny series. Our students used a green screen app to merge photographs of realistic settings with drawings of their characters. Once our books were complete, we were ready to celebrate! On March 15th, grade 1 students gathered in the ES Multipurpose Room to share their published stories with classmates, teachers, and administrators. The students gave positive feedback to their peers on stickers, which they pasted on one another’s book posters. First-grader Ploen shared, “It’s really fun to read with friends. We get to share our stories with friends in a different class and they get to read to us too.” Students in all grades regularly publish writing pieces and celebrate their accomplishments. RIS hosted a Family Writing Celebration on May 17th for grades PreK 3 through grade 2 to celebrate our students’ growth in writing! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n early April, some of our younger ES students (PreK 3, PreK 4, and KG) had the opportunity to take part in a drama workshop run by Curtains Up. According to their website, Curtains Up is “Bangkok’s longest running drama school…” that teaches “all aspects of theatrical performance, which include acting, singing, dancing and even magic!” I got to watch the group work with our PreK 4 students and was as thoroughly entertained as the kids were. The workshop presenters—Alex, Sonya, and Trinidad— introduced themselves to the students and talked about drama and acting, which they explained as essentially “getting to pretend to do different things.” For this workshop, the PreK 4 students were going to act like robots. First, they learned about the three rules of the workshop; when they were acting and they heard either “freeze,” “be quiet,” or “sit down,” they had to replicate those actions. They practiced the rules by moving around the room in different ways according to the directions, which included moving like a kangaroo, a tiger, a snake, a bird, and even a penguin!


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The young students continued to practice as they were instructed to move around the room in different ways, such as taking little steps or wobbly steps. It was really fun to watch—partly because there was lots of giggling as they moved. They were excellent at following directions and all but the shyest students took part. Next, they got to react to sounds—when Alex played a tambourine, the students were told to make soft, gentle movements. When she played the drum, the kids were to respond with stiff, hard, robotic movements. The students were very engaged as they pretended to have a “robot body” made of metal and practiced making specific “robotic” movements with different parts of their bodies. They moved around the room according to their robot instructions and talking to each other in robot voices. Then Alex read aloud a poem about a lazy child who didn’t want to do any chores. In the poem, the child decides to build a robot to take care of the jobs she doesn’t want to do, like cleaning and cooking. The robot gets faster and faster at its jobs until... it goes out of control!! Then the robot starts to fall apart, which

makes a mess on the floor so the child then has even more work to do! The students learned that they were going to put on a robot play of the poem! They practiced various household chores as if they were the robot in the story, which of course involved lots of jumping, yelling, and robot-like movements. Then the students got to make robot masks with glitter and sparkly paper. For the actual performance, Alex read the poem aloud while the student performers brought their robots to life. The actors reacted to the tambourine and the drum to know whether they should make hard or soft movements. The “robots” began by sleeping and then slowly coming to life, moving around doing their jobs (cleaning, cooking), then getting faster and faster until they finally “fell apart” on the floor. After the show, the students were invited to share their robot names. While we heard plenty of invented and well-known robot names, several students stayed in character: “I. Am. A. Robot.” They wrapped up by playing a few rounds of “What’s the Time, Mr. Robot?” One of the students got to decide what time it was and whatever time he or she said, the “robots” took that

number of steps. Once most of the students got to the front of the room, it was suddenly “Robot dinner time!” and all of the squealing robots ran back to the stage. By the end of the workshop, even the shiest child who didn’t want to participate at the beginning was fully immersed in the fun. They all had a great time and were somehow still full of energy! I imagine that several “robots” went home that day and demonstrated what they had learned about acting and performing. Special thanks to the workshop leaders from Curtains Up. Our students are very fortunate to have such engaging and active experiences in their school days! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Kyleigh Pharris and Callie Chavers

“Any curriculum is the outcome of someone’s choices among all the things in the world that are for children to learn. In an emergent curriculum, the choices are made by the children and by the adults who know them.” —Jones & Reynolds, “The Play’s the Thing”


he children of PreK 4 are scientific thinkers, problem solvers, investigators, and creative artists. Our children are continuously experimenting and using their prior experiences and conversations with others to create theories about the world in which they live. The children enjoy experimenting to create a deeper understanding of general topics that 4-year-olds tend to love; rainbows, space, dinosaurs, animals, and art. The children have used paint in many settings and times, so it’s something that every child in our PreK 4 classrooms is familiar with. Considering our children’s love of investigating and their skill set as scientific thinkers, it’s no wonder that they began to test their theories and expand their general understanding of others and themselves through paint. The children would carefully dip a paintbrush into a jar of paint, brush the paintbrush on the side of the jar, and then stroke their skin—not paper. They painted both sides of their hands and up their arms, toward their elbows. As the children painted their skin, they were extremely focused and a sense of calm and ease came over them. This continued for quite some time, and body painting became the preferred activity in both classrooms.


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As PreK 4 teachers at RIS, we foster the Reggio Emilia approach to education: we believe that teachers learn alongside children and that through observation we can find the deeper meaning behind the children’s play. As we collaborated and discussed what the children were doing in our classrooms, we were surprised to learn that the children in both classrooms were exploring similar things with paint. Through the Emergent Curriculum framework and child-and-teacher questions, we began to document what the children were doing and learning, then we connected this to the Common Core Early Learning Standards. Through Emergent Curriculum, we were able to examine what was happening in our classrooms and collaborate to discover a course of action to propel the children’s common interest into an investigation to study. We brainstormed possible learning encounters that could take the investigation further, knowing that we needed to continue to observe the children carefully. As teachers, we watch how the children respond to different learning encounters, which then instructs us on how to respond further. With Emergent Curriculum, it is critical to follow and listen to the child’s voice. We introduced the children to the French artist Yves Klein. Klein’s artistic passion was driven by the color blue. His passion propelled him to create the most beautiful shade of blue, which is now known as the International Klein Blue (IKB). Klein used his blue to paint human and animal bodies in his different works of art. Our PreK 4 children studied Klein’s paintings and discussed what they noticed, questioned, and how the paintings

would have been easy for us to redirect them to not paint their skin and to paint the paper instead. But rather than asking the children to stop, by choosing to watch their actions carefully, we were able to take a reoccurring exploration and expand it into a greater learning experience. It is clear now that the children were curious to learn more about artists and how they share their art with others.

made them feel. The children began to incorporate his techniques into their own body paintings and moved from painting their hands and arms to painting their feet and legs. The children were free to explore painting as they wished. We provided the learning space and the materials to clean their bodies when they were finished. Introducing Klein’s art transformed the investigation because it showed the children that another artist had also enjoyed painting bodies to create artistic representations to share with the world. This validated the children’s art techniques and expanded their understanding and explorations further. As they continued to study Klein, the children began asking questions about where art is placed after the paint is dry. Some of the children had prior experiences with their families attending art galleries or museums, and this led the investigation to explore where art goes after it is completed and dry. This guided us to take the PreK 4 children to the art shows on campus. The children attended two IB Art exhibits and one ES Art Show. They learned about the etiquette of attending an art show and began to notice similarities and differences between each gallery. This exposure to three art galleries and observing how the art is presented to others sparked the children’s curiosity to create their own art gallery so they could share their body paintings with other members of the community. This led to the creation of the PreK 4 Art Gallery.

Through this process, we have learned to trust our children, to listen to their thinking, and to challenge ourselves to connect the curricular standards to their interests. When we embrace children’s natural curiosities and inquiries, they are more engaged in the learning process and they have ownership over their learning. We are telling the children that what they think, theorize, and question is important. We are empowering them to be the drivers of the content while using our professional lense to connect these ideas back to the standards to further their development. It can feel uncomfortable, at times, to give this much ownership to the children, but it is completely worth it! The PreK 4 children and teachers have learned alongside each other and have seen how the Emergent Curriculum truly creates a learning space that is inclusive of all learners. Without the children’s voice and the teachers’ willingness to listen and co-construct investigations with the children, the creation of the PreK 4 Art Gallery would not have been possible. Applying the Emergent Curriculum has formed a deeper learning community in our classrooms and has taught the children that all people are continuously learning. Through collaborating as a community, greater understanding is acquired.

When we take the time to listen to children we are able to learn more about who they are as learners and how to further expand their knowledge and understanding. When the PreK 4 children were painting their bodies, it Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Alison Clare “Playrooms and games, animals and plants, wood and nails must take their place side-by-side with books and words.” — Angelo Patri


he Elementary School and Middle School are making a conscious effort to advocate for tinkering, making, engineering, and designing to be included in the daily lives of our students. We are doing this not just because it’s fun—although it is—we are doing this because tinkering, making, engineering, and designing are powerful ways to learn. Students become problem solvers, critical thinkers, and incredibly empowered to learn when they have opportunities to work on projects that are similar to the projects they encountered during Make! An Hour of Exploration. Make! An Hour of Exploration was an after-school event for RIS students and their favorite adults to come to school, have fun, and build something together. ES teachers, MS teachers, and Science Lab assistants collaborated to design activities for students from ages 2 through 13 that would allow them to make and explore. Many MS students also designed exploration stations for the younger children to discover. There were about 20 exploration stations spread between the MS and ES breezeways and courtyard!


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Students and families got to discover the properties of physics as they built rocket launchers and balloonpowered cars. Students were experimenting with chemistry and exploring mathematical inequalities through art. They were solving engineering problems through building and creating mazes. Most importantly, our RIS students, families, and teachers were smiling and laughing while working together to learn, grow, and make!


n February 22, RIS sent 18 ES students to the Model United Nations Conference at the Overseas Family School (OFS) in Singapore. This was our school’s first-ever elementary MUN trip. Organized by Mr. Olivier Fernandez and chaperoned by Dr. Josh, Ms. Tami Weeks, and Ms. Sabrena Baiagern, our 18 ES students were among a total of 286 fourth and fifth graders attending from 8 different international schools. Here’s what a few of our youngest MUN delegates had to say about the experience: “I enjoyed the MUN [trip] ...mostly because of the fun I had at the meetings. I learned many new things about the topic of endangered animals and about the UN goals. I loved the experience and liked being in a new school and making new friends. I also made closer relationships with the people at RIS and from other schools, having to cooperate with them. I think I did pretty well because I was debating pretty well, although the debating was harder than I thought.... Overall I enjoyed the MUN and I hope to [do] it next year too.” — by Akarin (Khem) Poolsawat “I learned so many things from the MUN Conference! Everyone in the committee got to try debating and learned about the job of the delegates.... I also learned how the UN works. If a country has a problem and needs suggestions or help, then that country brings their problem to the Secretary General. Then the Secretary General gives the job to the right group within the UN. After that, the countries meet to debate and suggest solutions.

The topic of our MUN Conference was Endangered Species. We had to do research and write what our country (Norway) thinks about this problem and how our country would solve it. We also researched why the animals were endangered and why they need immediate assistance…. It was an awesome experience, and I look forward to going again in Middle School. Thank you to Mr. Olivier, Dr. Josh, Ms. Sabrena, and Ms. Tami for... creating a memorable lifetime experience!” — by Chatrawee (Book) Ampanyuth “My experience at MUNOFS was phenomenal and exciting. I had the chance to make new friends and gain knowledge. I felt very scared on the first day but then I felt more comfortable by the minute…. On the second day, we debated and learned many ways to protect animals. We also had fun and enjoyed our time there. The fifth graders proved that we can do the work that other grades have been doing just as well. Overall this experience was a great one that I will never forget.” — by Parin (Fa) Pasutharachati Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n Wednesday, April 10th, more than 50 ES students, from PreK 3 through grade 5, shared their many performing arts talents on stage in the PAC before a riveted audience of RIS parents, family members, teachers, and fellow students. There were so many acts—34 in all—that the show was divided into four groups, each introduced by its own ensemble of emcees and featuring students from the whole range of grades. The show opened with a cute skit reminding the audience to turn off their cell phones, followed by a welcome by Father Travis. The first group kicked off with a cool 5th-grade rock band. The rest of that group showcased individual student’s musical talents on the


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piano, khim, and drums, as well as vocal soloists and dance and vocal groups. The second group included piano duets, solo dancers showcasing signature Fortnite dance moves, and one group of dancers who really got the crowd going. The third group changed the pace a little with an elegant ballet performance, a dramatic speech, a kindergarten pianist, and a quartet of sisters who sang and played a song from Beauty and the Beast. The emcees introducing the final group noted that to put on a performance like this, “takes a lot of talent and hard work” and that “many famous performers started out just like this, at their school talent show.”

The group featured three outstanding piano soloists— some were so little that their feet didn’t even reach the pedals, a trio who choreographed their dance moves to a Taylor Swift song, a ukulele solo, and a secondgrade hip-hop dancer with some skilled moves. The final act was a violin soloist who performed a rousing song from an Avengers movie. The show wrapped up with all of the performers dancing and singing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Beyond the sheer range of talents, the show also featured lots of sparkly dresses, hair bows, cool suits, and coordinated outfits. All of the performers had evidently practiced a great deal and were excited to be showcasing their talents. I was impressed by their

bravery—particularly the solo acts. It takes a lot of nerve to get on stage in front of a crowd, especially if you’re the only person on that big stage! A show like this also gives our students a creative outlet and validates the importance of learning and honing skills beyond academics. As Dr. Josh said in his closing remarks: “This kind of show lets [our students] shine in other ways.” Many thanks to our indefatigable director, Ms. Kim, for all the work she put into preparing for and managing the show, to the light and sound crew, and to all of the many ES teachers and TAs who helped with every aspect of the logistics, both before and during the show. It was an outstanding production!

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his year’s 7th-grade Peace Conference took place on Friday, March 29th. The goal of this humanities unit is for students to learn about, spread awareness of, and suggest solutions to world conflicts. The 7th graders got to choose one of three current conflicts to study in depth: the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the conflict in Sudan, and the Syrian conflict. They particularly focused on the various causes for the conflict, looking for patterns between that conflict and other conflicts around the world and learning about which human rights have been violated as a result of the conflict. After organizing their research, the students wrote essays and prepared displays. The students then worked on presentations that included specific features, such as a timeline of the conflict’s significant events, detailed maps, important facts, and images. They also had to come up with and explain their own proposed solution to the human rights problems that were violated. The culmination of their work was to present their findings to other students, teachers, and RIS community


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members during a science-fair style Peace Conference, which was held in the courtyard and breezeways of the MS building. The students explained their poster boards and answered questions about the conflict they studied and presented their ideas for possible solutions to the human rights violations. The Humanitarian Aid organization Amnesty International also had a booth at the Peace Conference and representatives interacted with students. They brought a refugee with them who has created a social enterprise called CHAMALiiN, which benefits refugee women. We invite you to check out the organizations’ website: The humanities teachers feel that the students learn a lot about human rights issues that people around the world endure every day. They also note how the students rise to the challenge of creating unique solutions to major global issues and that throughout the learning process the students become more aware of the impact that they can have, personally, on these situations.

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by Elisia Brodeur


arlier this semester, I learned from the MS art teacher, Mr. Aaron, that he had arranged for a visiting artist to come to RIS to work on a community art project. Nucharin Wangphongsawasd, or K. Nuch as the students called her, is a Thai woodworking artist based in Bangkok. She agreed to come work with RIS students of all ages, in age-appropriate capacities, to help her create a large installation sculpture: a series of isometric wooden frames. I observed K. Nuch working with 5th and 12th graders. Ms. Robin introduced K. Nuch to the fifth-grade class, telling them that she “makes her living from her own art” and that they were going to work together on a piece of art that would ultimately be on display at school. K. Nuch explained that a previous group of students had helped her cut and shape different lengths of eucalyptus wood and that this class was going to shave off the bark using pocket knives. After a demonstration on knife safety, K. Nuch warned that the students that “it may look easy but it takes patience” and that they should work gently and not too quickly.

wood. A few students also got to use a saw to cut off knots on the wood. Needless to say, the older students really enjoyed using these kinds of tools.

The students worked in small groups, taking turns using the knives to strip the bark from the eucalyptus. They took their work seriously but it was clearly a more challenging task than they were expecting. When Ms. Robin asked them about the experience, they admitted that it was “hard to cut the wood,” although others said that it felt “very satisfying.”

How did you come up with a project that all the students could help with? I knew there were too many kids to work in the wood shop, and I wanted a project that would allow everyone to use hand tools. It was good for me, too, to try something different.

The next group of students to help were the senior (Year 2) IB art students. They got to choose between using an ax to split the wood, a knife to shave off the bark, or a blow torch to blacken the outside of the

While the students were working, I talked with K. Nuch about how she got into woodworking, what drives her as an artist, and what advice she would give to aspiring artists. She was really easy to talk with and very generous in answering my many questions. Why did you choose eucalyptus wood? It’s affordable, sustainable, and good for hand tools.

How long have you been a professional artist? For about five and a half years. It’s taken me a while to consider myself as an artist because my background is in industrial design. I also call myself a maker and a designer. I tend to resist labels because, at the end of the day, we’re all human. What did you study in school? My undergrad degree was in industrial design. Then I worked in a small design company for two years before going to graduate school in Rochester, New York. I moved back to Thailand in 2013, which is when I began to establish myself as an artist. How did you discover woodworking? I have always been drawn to furniture. For my master’s,


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I looked for courses where I could learn about furniture design, and that’s where I discovered woodworking. The wood facility was amazing and I quickly realized that I loved working with my hands and with the machines as well. How did you hear about RIS? Mr. Aaron contacted me because he was looking for someone to help him improve his woodworking skills and knowledge about machine safety. I helped him tune up the machines in the woodworking shop, and while we were talking, Mr. Aaron mentioned the visiting artist project. I decided to try it and see how it goes. Do you go to other schools as a visiting artist? I have worked as a visiting lecturer and instructor before, mostly with older students. For the last couple of years, I’ve been teaching at universities, mostly in Thailand. I also taught in grad school and have done an artist residency before. This is very new to me though as I haven’t taught young kids before, but they have good energy and are excited to work with their hands. It’s been a helpful learning process for me, too. What do you hope the students get out of this experience? I hope to give the kids a feel for using inexpensive, local materials and tools so they can take those skills and use them on other projects. They’ve also been able to use hand tools that they wouldn’t use every day. I think it’s important that they know they can use their hands for something besides their phones! After all, we evolved to be humans using tools! Thai people especially like to use their hands; it’s part of our culture and I like to encourage that. What is your process as an artist? I work slowly. My ideas evolve as I’m working with the materials. I know I’m onto something when things start

to feel right. Some days I start over completely, and that’s OK. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to keep making them. Get out of your comfort zone. Be afraid and do it anyway—that’s the way to gain more confidence. And don’t force everything to be perfect. No matter how old you are, you still need to learn to be who you are. People often compare themselves to others who have been in the field for many years, but they forget that we only see the end result; we don’t see the whole process. So give yourself some time and space for yourself and for your work to grow. What are your future plans? I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and continue working on becoming a successful Bangkok artist. I’ve been very busy with teaching recently so I would like more time to work in my studio. I enjoy my own company! Where is some of your work displayed and how can we see it? I had a show at the Serindia Gallery in Bangkok, and I have a permanent piece on display in the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia. A family also commissioned me to make a piece for their home in Khao Yai. It’s like a mixed sculpture on canvas, similar to my Room Series, which you can see on my website: There are several examples of my work there. K. Nuch also gave a presentation to our 4th graders about her life as a professional artist. She shared her artist statement, explaining that her works are “inspired by repetitive patterns from nature and manmade objects” and that she “focuses on experimenting with Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


types of progression through different woodworking techniques.” She told the students that art has always been a safe place for her and “where she felt comfortable.” She talked about how she works—in quiet, in her own studio—and where she gets her ideas: “I just start working with the material and explore. I push it to see where the limitations are.” The students asked K. Nuch if she tracks her progress as she’s working and were delighted to hear that she does record her

thoughts and images of her ongoing work so she can reflect on her processes—just like they do in their art classes! The students were audibly impressed with the pictures of her artwork and thought it was cool that she is a local artist. What a treat for the whole RIS community! I encourage you to stop by the installation on the ground floor of Redeemer Hall to see the collective work of our students, guided by the very talented artist Nucharin Wangphongsawasd.


n Thursday, 21st February MS students traveled to Singapore to participate in the 10th annual Model United Nations conference hosted by the Overseas Family School (MY-MUNOFS). RIS was one of 22 international schools participating in this conference. There were a total of 587 students ranging from grades 6–8 who spent the three days debating the world’s most vital and pressing issues. The 10-strong delegation from RIS, led by Mr. Olivier Fernandez, began their committee sessions on Friday, 22 February with excitement and drive. The RIS students represented South Africa in nine different committees. The delegates debated 26 prominent global issues on a wide range of topics, such as ending sanctions against Iran, measures to end violence against migrant workers, protection of all rainforests, prohibiting tariffs and trade barriers, measures to achieve global education for girls by 2030, and encouraging healthy food consumption, among others. Our MS students took a prominent leadership role in this year’s conference by submitting or co-submitting


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resolutions. At the end of the three-day event, RIS emerged as one of the most passionate delegations at the conference. Our delegates were ardent and active in submitting resolutions, offering amendments, and raising their placards to ask points of information—and their performance did not go unnoticed. This year’s MY-MUNOFS trip was an outstanding success; all of our delegates were able to contribute to fruitful debates, and we came out of the conference more practiced, more aware, and better able to discuss the global issues that surround and affect us today. All of the students remarked that they found the trip to be an extremely educational and valuable experience, as well as a truly fun event as they were able to socialize and connect with students from all over Asia and beyond.


uring the annual high school student council induction ceremony, the outgoing student council officers pass the torch to the newly elected leaders. The event includes the ceremonial passing of “the secret book,” which the current officers present to next year’s officers and is followed by a farewell speech by the outgoing Student Council President, this year, Wilawan (Singrhu) Poltanawasit. Singrhu recalls early on appreciating both big and small traditions at RIS. During her time as SC president, she aspired to create new school events and initiatives and is proud of the many successful events organized by the student council—such as games day, the talent show, the knowledge bowl, and spirit week. While she also admitted that not all of their initiatives were a complete success, Singrhu acknowledged that none of the events could have been accomplished without all of the members and reps of the SC, all of whom have inspired

her. She noted that the new freshmen have a lot of energy and assured everyone that “with this upcoming set of council members, you will be in good hands.” She will keep the memories and impact of her time in the student council with her forever. After Singrhu’s speech, Mr. Dan, Head of School, led the induction and honorary swearing in of the newly elected officers. They took an oath during which they pledged themselves to the student body and swore to fulfill their duties to the best of abilities and to serve the school and the whole student body, among other assurances. During his closing remarks HS Principal, Mr. Jim, shared that some of his fondest memories of this past year at RIS have been events and activities arranged by the student council. He thanked the outgoing executives and welcomed the new members, noting their collective dedication and efforts as a conduit between school administration and students.


Incoming Officers 2019–2020

Grade 9 Chachaya (Jazz) Ousangdikul Harry Smith Purisha (Risha) Kulworasreth Monchida (Sky) Sukontaman Grade 10 Nichatorn (Belle) Tangkuptanon Purisha (Risha) Kulworasreth Chanya (Grace) Thanglerdsumpan Thitivorrada (Namphueng) Meanchainun Grade 11 Kornkran (Marwin) Keeratitejakarn Smitanan (Sense) Sangkagoon Sila (Thun) Visutvatanasak Tarisa (Kate) Chanpong Grade 12 Voraya (Wow-Wow) Vorapanyasakul Kritin (Bomb) Vongthongsri Pattichon (Brux) Pongprapapant Tayapa (Bouquet) Ungsrisawasdi Kantabhat (Boom) Pimolsaengsuriya Vice-President Kornkran (Marwin) Keeratitejakarn Wilawan (Singrhu) Poltanawasit President Sila (Thun) Visutvatanasak

Thank you to the outgoing officers for a job well done during the 2018–2019 school year, and congratulations and best of luck to the incoming officers for the 2019–2020 school year!

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by Matthew Smith


t was 6:00 pm on a Saturday evening, and for many hundreds of spectators and athletes in attendance, the Phoenix Pool was about to say farewell in the most exciting fashion. It was the closing event of SEASAC Senior Swimming 2019—the boys 4x100 freestyle relay. At Mr. Tim Pettine’s booming instructions and the sound of the official’s whistle to prepare for the imminent race, a hush came over the pool deck. I’m talking eerie ‘pin-drop’ silence. The lead-off swimmers for each relay team climbed the blocks and positioned themselves for the start, with nothing but victory in mind. Quiet continued as the swimmers took their final breaths before the plunge. Then the spine-tingling silence that had engulfed the SEASAC pool deck for half-a-minute was suddenly replaced by a thunderous roar from the crowd as the swimmers leaped off the blocks like wolves after wounded prey. Over the next few minutes, deafening cheers, screams, and cries bellowed from the bleachers, as one by one, the swimmers dived, streamlined, muscled, kicked, turned, pushed, and pulled their way to the finish. It was a thrilling way to bring this wonderful meet to a close, and a fitting exit for the many senior swimmers who were saying goodbye to SEASAC swimming for the last time.


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Looking back on the two-day meet, I can honestly say that we successfully met our goals as the host school. We had begun the SEASAC swimming journey almost 12 months prior, once RIS learned that we would be hosting. From that moment on, many months of meticulous planning, by both the Athletic Department and the Aquatics team, followed. All the long hours of organizing, purchasing, scheduling, preparing, and laboring paid off in spades once the competition began. The championship got underway on Thursday, February 28th, when more than 250 swimmers and coaches from SEASAC-member schools began arriving in Bangkok. The RIS Student Athletic Council, which consists of our finest student representatives, did a wonderful job greeting and escorting each arriving school from the airport to the gorgeous Grand Fourwings Convention Hotel, which would be the swim teams’ home away from home for the weekend. A first for SEASAC swim meets, the opening morning of the competition held a very special surprise for the student athletes. With the help of the entire RIS middle and elementary school population, an exciting “athlete parade” welcomed all the swimmers to RIS in a way they wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Each elementary school

class had “adopted” a school, ensuring a continuous roar of support for each team that entered the pool deck. It goes without saying that they saved the loudest cheer for the end when the mighty RIS Phoenix Swim Team strolled on deck. For the RIS swimmers, they will undoubtedly remember that moment for the rest of their lives. Once the parade and welcoming ceremony were completed, it was time to get down to business. Throughout both days of the competition some of the most exciting races for the 2018–2019 season were on show for all to see at the Phoenix Pool, and our now famous MC, Mr. Tim Pettine, made sure to add as much spice as possible for each and every event. Swimmers were blistering the pool, with over one-third of the individual and relay events securing new record times. However, I must say that when I look back on SEASAC Swimming 2019, it wasn’t the gold–medal winning relay teams or the record-breaking individual swimmers that will be etched into my memory for years to come. Instead, it will be the look of excitement that each

swimmer, coach, and spectator carried with them for the entirety of the championship. It is an honor to host such a prestigious event, and I am proud that RIS could provide so many memorable moments for these young student athletes to carry with them in the years ahead. Special thanks must go to Mr. Todd Parham (RIS Athletic Director) and Ms. Joei Khaosa-ard (Athletics Director Assistant) for the long hours they put in organizing such an amazing event. From the moment the teams disembarked their planes on Thursday to the final goodbyes as they left the hotel on Sunday, Mr. Todd and Ms. Joei made sure each swimmer and coach was well taken care of. I would also like to recognize the efforts of the entire aquatics team. RIS owes you an enormous amount of gratitude for making sure the event went so smoothly. There were hundreds of intricate details that made this meet a success, from the marshaling to the equipment set-up to ongoing maintenance. Without your unwavering support, SEASAC Swimming 2019 would not have been such a huge success. Phoenix pride! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Pavla Poch


hrough hard work, perseverance, challenges, and triumphs, the Y2 IB Visual Arts students showcased the culmination of their work from the past two years at the launch of their art exhibit, entitled “23:59.” The exhibit was a collection of the students’ artwork created for their IB Visual Art portfolio. The students were able to get personal with their peers about what they were most proud of and about some of the challenges they faced throughout these past two years. Amy Sabphisal acknowledged that “The last few days before the exhibition were very surreal. I still remember the giddiness I felt when I saw my framed paintings, embedded behind clear glass. I felt like a real practicing artist! And the pride I felt when I saw people observing my work—as if we were in an actual gallery—was indescribable. Additionally, it was very interesting to see how different people interact with the artworks and the questions and interpretations they had.


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One of the things I learned from the exhibition was the importance of thinking critically about how [my] artwork would communicate its meaning. Many of the visitors did not read the descriptions. However, they were still able to understand the artwork because each and every one of us had allocated so much time brainstorming compositions to get the best results possible.” The IB Art exhibit was a tremendous success, with parents, administrators, teachers, staff, and students from all grade levels attending. The exhibit also had a special visit from a future generation of RIS students: Ms. Lauren’s and Ms. Christine’s PreK 3 classes. The high school artists guided their little friends through the artworks and helped to ignite their curiosity as the 3-year-olds searched to find their favorite pieces and marked them with stickers. It was a great experience for both generations of students, connecting through the common language of art.

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he 2019 spring musical production of Bye Bye Birdie, which featured performers from all sections of RIS— and even some parents—was the result of more than four months of intense preparation by students, teachers, and crew members. During that time, the performers learned choreography for several dance numbers, mastered complex harmonies, and even shared some of the roles as part of our double-cast production. That’s right: this year’s production featured not one but TWO leading casts. It was a huge undertaking that required countless hours of focused rehearsals, learning how to collaborate as one whole ensemble to coordinate all of the high-energy chorus numbers, set transitions, and diverse character relationships. With more than 80 people either onstage or backstage for each of the 6 performances that took place during the first week of March, it was an exciting culmination of everyone’s hard work. We were proud to show off the many talents of our RIS student body and to bring the joy of this classic all-American musical to the PAC stage. Drama teacher and Director Sarah Abrams reflected on why the Performing Arts department “double-cast” the show, as well as on some of the successes and challenges of that choice: “We were completely amazed at the amount of incredibly talented and brave performers who came


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to audition this year. At first, we planned to have a traditional casting structure with some understudies for the leads. However, we quickly realized that it would have been impossible to choose between some of the performers. When the idea of double-casting came up, we were open to it but worried because it would mean a tremendous amount of work for everyone as we would essentially be preparing two versions of the show. Although it did mean a lot of work and many hours in rehearsal, there were many special moments that demonstrated how the double-casting impacted the shows in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. Those who shared roles bonded in positive ways as they and supported each other and created their characters together. Having more people in the lead roles forced the students to take extra risks and share more of themselves with the ensemble. As with most performing arts projects here at RIS, the show developed beautifully and took on a life of its own in countless ways. As much as I will remember the incredible week of performances, my lasting memory of the experience that will stay with me always is what the actors brought to the work and what they shared with one another.” Ms. Sarah asked some of the student performers, adult performers, and parents of performers to reflect on their experiences. Here is what they had to say about being part of this year’s wonderfully over-the-top musical:

“Every musical theatre production is different; each brings challenges and joys that cannot be predicted before the rehearsal process begins. As a long-time performing veteran, I often forget how scary the first audition can be. This year, we not only saw a large number of students who auditioned for the first time, but we also had some wonderful adults who showed the students that, if you are lucky and wise and brave, you can continue to challenge yourself throughout your life. These adults are living examples of what it means to be a “lifelong learner.” It is always beautiful to see the older students mentor the younger ones, and in this production, it was equally touching to see the students mentor the adults who were on stage and in rehearsals with them. More than any other experience that I have had here at RIS, this year’s musical fully embodied our Union of Hearts. Thank you!” SHELLI ROYHANS - Music Director “I think half the fun for me was being able to perform on stage with my daughter. We both share a love of performing. I also enjoyed being backstage during the show and seeing how supportive the students were of one another. Middle School students were interacting with high school students, and it didn’t matter their age difference because everyone was working together to put on a good show.” PATRICIA CLARDY — Teacher and Parent Performer

“My son Daniel played the title character, Conrad Birdie. We really enjoyed the show—it was a vibrant production and fully entertaining and it touched our hearts to see our son’s natural performance as an actor. Acting the lead role has given him great confidence and a desire to perform more in the future. It was really a turning point. All of the actors had a wonderful performance and our school’s modern theater and technical facilities made it a success. I know it takes a team effort throughout the whole year and lots of hard work—it was such a big production! Thank you to RIS and to Ms. Sarah for training them with a professional touch.” MARIYAM JEEJO — Parent of a Performer “Tanik kept his role a big secret from us, saying he didn’t want to spoil it. We were amazed when the curtain opened and we saw Tanik comfortable acting, singing, and dancing on the stage in front of a few hundred audience members. All of the actors looked very real. For many of them, if we didn’t know them from before, we would have thought they were professional actors and singers. In addition, the scenery, lighting, and sound were outstanding. We enjoyed it very much and went to three performances in a row. This musical really pulled the potential out of the students, and especially from Tanik. As a result of [the performing arts teachers’] dedicated effort put into Bye Bye Birdie, we now realize what Tanik is capable of.” PIYANUCH SRIWATTANA — Parent of Performer Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


“Bye Bye Birdie was such a fun experience for me! I’m someone who doesn’t usually participate in events like these, but it’s my sisters’ last year at this school, so I thought “why not?” I joined as a memory for me and my sisters. When I got the role of Randi MacAfee, I was super happy. I loved working with the cast and the backstage crew and made some new friends too! What surprised me was how well my part turned out. I was really stressed and overwhelmed by rehearsals every day from 3–5 pm, but it was worth it. The musical turned out GREAT and also built my confidence!” WANNRAYAR (JK) AKKARAJIRAKARN — MS Performer (Double-Cast—Randi) “I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with my own kids, not as a teacher or a parent, but as a member of a cast—almost as a peer. Having this shared commitment was a rare treat, a type of bonding through a shared experience. Although I have taught many of the students in the show, working with them outside of the classroom setting allowed me to see some of their uniqueness and character. There are so many ways students benefit from participating in a musical, but foremost is the opportunity to develop self-confidence and responsibility. One aspect that may get overlooked is the relationships that they develop with other students during the course of being in a show. This is truly community-building in the strongest sense. Students are required to work with each other, communicate, give feedback (both supportive 26

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and critical), and problem solve. This experience creates a sense of community and collaboration that serves as a model for healthy, authentic engagement for the varied endeavors that lie ahead of them in college and beyond.” JUSTIN DAWES — Teacher and Parent Performer “This is my life’s work: 8 years of training, 5 years of musicals, 2 years of lead roles, and 5 months of my life was put into every performance. I enjoyed the journey overall this year because the people involved had made it so much more meaningful.... I prepared for my role by practicing at home as if I was performing onstage. Experimenting with body language, expressions, and reflecting on the character of Rosie, helped me understand who she was as a person as well as helped me to find myself within her. This year, new talent stepped forth. I was surprised at how diverse our performing arts community has become. It was heartwarming to see more males step up. I feel that these young men will be inspirations to others as well. The environment that our mentors have given us has helped us much more than we could have ever imagined.” TYRA TAN — HS Performer (Double-Cast—Rosie) “This was my first time being in a musical and it was more difficult than I expected. There were many lines

and dances that I had to memorize. I enjoyed dancing with a lot of people and doing a lot of dramatic facial expressions. This experience has helped me with my confidence and...I got to know the high schoolers better and made a lot of new friends.” SASINIPA (NOEI) NOPAKUN — MS Performer (Chorus) “I signed up for the musical to help coax myself out of my shell because I used to be extremely anti-social, shy, and lonely. But participating in the musical has given me an experience that I could not record or document, only feel. It has been like a dream. All the time I spent working with other people for the play, I think has helped me become more social, both consciously and subconsciously.” TANIK SRIWATTANA — HS Performer (Double-Cast—Albert) “My experience of being part of this year’s musical was magnificent and unforgettable. The best part was getting the chance to connect and build relationships with more people and share our commonalities. To prepare for my role in the show I had to step into the mind and body of what it was like to be a 15-year-old teenage girl again, especially one living in the late 1950s where what was considered the ‘norm’ back then is different from what is considered the ‘norm’ today. It was also challenging to choreograph the numbers

without incorporating modern-day types of dancing. Although it started off quite tough, it was a wonderful experience.” EMMA WOODING — HS Performer (Double-Cast—Kim), Choreographer “I took part in a musical for the first time in my life! Besides thoroughly enjoying exploring myself, I also enjoyed being a witness to the culmination of a great passion for the Performing Arts, the diligence and hard work behind the scenes, and strong foundations being laid for character building. What surprised me the most? Bonds of friendships being tightened backstage among the students, when they encouraged and uplifted each other. There were life skills built and memories created.” NISHA PINTO — Parent Performer “I was so nervous about performing that I seriously considered backing out a week before the show. But I’m really happy that I chose to stick with it and push myself way beyond my comfort zone. I thoroughly enjoyed being a member of both wonderful casts and feeling the energy and camaraderie backstage. It was also an honor to witness the students’ growth and confidence in the days leading up to the play. So much work goes into a production like this; we are very fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and staff. It was truly a privilege to be part of it.” ELISIA BRODEUR — Parent Performer

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by Jointjoy Aiemsakul


n March 27th, 2019, the National Honor Society hosted the annual RIS “Teachers’ Variety Show: My Teacher’s a Star!” as their last fundraiser of the year. All money raised was for the Good Shepherd’s Orphanage Scholarship that supports the girls there in their higher education. This year there was a total of 12 wonderful acts performed by faculty and staff from across each school section, including comedy skits, salsa dancing, musical acts, opera singing, magic tricks, and more. Through ticket sales from the show, we raised a total of 18,000 baht. The Good Shepherd’s Orphanage is a local nonprofit organization that we have been supporting for more than a decade. Each year, NHS members visit the girls at the orphanage to strengthen the bond between our two institutions. On April 6th, 2019, we had the honor of presenting a check to the Good Shepherd’s Orphanage


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Sisters in the amount of 65,000 baht, an accumulated total of the money from our fundraisers this school year. We are filled with joy to have been able to fulfill our goal and to contribute to this good cause. All members of the National Honor Society would like to express our gratitude to each of the teachers for their immense hard work, time, and dedication to our fundraiser. Without their participation, this year’s Teachers’ Variety Show wouldn’t have been such a huge sensation! In addition, this year’s show wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our amazing advisors, Mr. Jeff Gepner and Mr. Taylor Siedell, as well as diligence from Wow-Wow Vorapanyasakul (NHS President), Divi Maheshwari (NHS Vice President), Em Chotitamnavee (Treasurer), Belle Tangkup (Fundraising Committee Junior Executive), and our other fellow NHS members.

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


IS administrators and a group of over 140 prospective RIS Ratchapruek parents came together on Monday, May 13, 2019, to celebrate the tradition of academic, service, and cultural excellence at Ad Astra Day, which is Latin for “to the stars.” The event was an opportunity to share the achievements of RIS in the last six decades and its vision for bringing the best possible education to the Ratchapruek community and its vicinity to create the leaders of tomorrow. Mr. Daniel Smith, RIS Head of School, welcomed parents and explained the RIS vision and mission that focuses on the development of each child’s Head (Knowledge),


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Heart (Kindness), and Hands (Skills). He went on to address the strong links between RIS and RISR, providing governance and quality oversight, together with staff training and exchange opportunities, as well as inter-school curriculum collaboration.

Mr. Matthew Fahey, RISR Founding Principal, and Ms. Madeleine Bystrom, Director of Teaching and Learning at RIS, emphasized RISR’s commitment to maintaining the ethos and values of RIS, focusing on dynamic, inspirational, and student-centered teaching, as well as its workforce strategy to recruit and retain the highest quality staff at all levels. Mr. Remo Bryan Nyffenegger, RIS Canteen Manager, provided information about the importance of nutritious food and the canteen’s role in educating and promoting healthy eating at RISR while ensuring a coordinated and comprehensive approach to delivering nutrition

programs, food safety, and environmental programs that are aligned with RIS. Members of RIS administration, Fr. David Ketsurin, C.Ss.R; Ms. Sudarat T. Attanawin; and Ms. Tam Fawcett were also present at the event. There was a true atmosphere of celebration, collaboration, and community, with parents and distinguished guests alongside the school management team. Two wonderful performances by Class of ‘96 alumni Michael Sawatsewi and Debbie Klongtruadroke Scott, along with RIS students Logan (grade 4) and Landon (PreK 4), marked the occasion and showcased the multitude of ‘Ad Astra’ talents!

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he annual Songkran water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. It is a celebration that embraces goodwill, love, compassion, and thankfulness, and is a time for Thais to show respect for their families and ancestors. On April 11th, the RIS community was treated to a rich and colorful all-school Songkran assembly organized by the Thai Language and Culture department. The assembly featured spirited renditions of both traditional and contemporary Thai dances that represented different aspects of Thai culture performed by students from each section of the school. The festivities concluded with a palm watering ceremony during which student representatives poured scented water into the palms of administrators, teachers, and parents—a delightful way to usher in the Songkran break.


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by Mr. Craig Molla


here is much math involved in creating beautiful art: symmetry, geometry, and measurements to name a few. But mathematics is not always visible in art—unless you are looking for it. Many artists intentionally take advantage of mathematical findings, such as the golden ratio, to make their artwork realistic and beautiful. Angles and perspective can also be described using math.

researched famous mathematicians like M.C. Escher, Sol LeWitt, Jacobus “Koos� Verhoeff, and Brent Collins. They were looking at how math is used in these areas and specifically what they found to be beautiful, interesting, or challenging. Then the students created presentations to display what they had discovered. It would seem that math and art are intricately linked.

The students of Math 12 investigated different topics, including geometry and architecture, as well as

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Ackararatchdechar, Napattsatorn Ahuja, Ananya Aiemsakul, Tonghatai Amonpitak, Natnicha Anantarangsi, Patarapornkan Anuchitlertchon, Chayutapol Anurakwongsri, Nutcha Apiluktoyanunt, Hannah Apinyakorn, Kornpoj (Chester) Borirakpanich, Nitis Bulpakdi, Thanaphol (Richy) Bunajinda, Rawin Chakphet, Sirintra Charnchainarong, Chakorn Chen, Yilin (Foster) Chenananporn, Pansit Cho, Kyu Young (Kyle) Cho, Yoon Seo (Julie) Chotitamnavee, Kachachan Chunekamrai, Puri 34

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Chutichetpong, Chutiwat Danwachira, Pichamin Dema, Dechen Choki Fu, Da (Jerry) Fujiwara, Moeko Hamanee, Puri He, Yao Han (Hannah) Isarabhakdi, Natasha James Chandrajith, Christy Jefrin Jearaphun, Kanokwan Jeeratantorn, Punika (Grace) Kalombe, Brooke Kanjanaranee, Wiphu Kapur, Tarush Khantee, Sahathai Khomin, Korranit Kiatkamolwong, Papitchaya (Sydney) Kim, Minji Kowithananont, Supasuta (Sara)

Kuewsupakorn, Supakit Kungsamutr, Jirach Laowahutanon, Pharunyu Lee, Hyun Jung (Lily) Lee, Na-Kyum (Gina) Lhendup, Thinley (Tim) Limsiwilai, Pasut Liu, Chanisara (Claudia) Lwin, Hunta Mateekusontan, Sirilak Mateekusontan, Sirirat Mitchell, Maddox Mitkasem, Teetat Nakwek, Navin Nganboonsri, Tanakorn Niamtan, Jiratchon Ojha, Karan Orfuwong, Chairote Panachaisricharoen, Natthanich Paramesirikuntorn, Kornkanok

Parham, Cooper Park, Heonho Pathomtajeancharoen, Athiwat Pawataungsunit, Punthutchat Penpoo, Kwan Perenchio, Sarasvati Angelina (Angie) Phopiboonsuk, Kessupa (Gracie) Phunjamaneechot, Sirapat Pichetpongsa, Wichapas (Harry) Pienvichit, Niranart (Nina) Pimolsaengsuriya, Kantabhat Pisitkasem, Thanachanoan (Jeff) Poltanawasit, Wilawan Pongphaew, Chanamon Pongprapapant, Pattichon (Brux)

Poommak, Piampeetii Poopatanapong, Chonlawat Poovapat, Chayapa Pornpattarachai, Danainanth (Kris) Powanusorn, Nucha Prateepmongkol, Panitporn Promsit, Parichamon Purohit, Kanishk Pusansa-ard, Chamaiporn Rithirueng, Sila Ruiz, Jeriz Lance Dumapal Sabpisal, Passavudh Sabpisal, Pichayapha (Amy) Saengjun, Premsak Sailuenam, Sakura Saisim, Vimolnath Sangrat, Praj Kambhu Sanitsom, Pitithep Saochan, Nattanaree (Ivy) Sasiprapha, Sasidej

Satianvatidkul, Siripa Sawangsamud, Jack Sharma, Pulast Sheik, Akheelullah Shafiullah Smith, Maren Somrit, Tariya Anna (Tara) Srivanich, Pongpapas Sriwattana, Sasid Sudsawad, Hathaithip Suebsang, Tanunnut Sugibuchi, Mika Sukheepod, Parisa Sundaresan, Karthikeyan Suntornwipart, Prima Sutiteannarong, Akkharaphat Tan, Tyra Dominique Tanprasert, Lily Tanthiptham, Jirawatchara (Alex) Techatanates, Phutanate

Termsinwanich, Thanagorn (Tony) Thamnukasetchai, Vichayaporn Thanawong, Pimapsorn Thantassanee, Thanjira Thaweephan, Prim Thepyasuwan, Nattapat Towiwat, Pawin (Mac) Trangadisaikul, Boonyada Treemethawee, Treedanuch Tsai, Sih-Sin (Iris) Tshomo, Sangay Unakul, Mick (Mickey) Ungolan, Poom Urairaksa, Saranporn (Asma) Vacharakasemsin, Maythirikit (Jasmine) Vataniyapramote, Tharit Vessalert, Dolpornprom (Elizabeth)

Visutvatanasak, Pranpreeya Vitoorapakorn, Poonyapa Vitoorapakorn, Punnawat Vongphakdi, Mitratorn (Ben) Vongthongsri, Papichaya Vorapanyasakul, Voraya Mina Watanabe Wiggamanunt, Phanthira Wiwatwanont, Kantiya Wong, Burut Wongwasanasong, Akaravit (Louis) Wooding, Emma Wu, Zehuan (Jackie) Yawe, Su Htoo (Cindy) You, Jungjoo (James) Yuen, Kevin Yuenyongchongcharoen, Vitu-passon Gibson Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019



nce again this year our school’s World Scholar’s Cup teams, coached by Mr. Tom Wash, went on to compete at the Bangkok Regional Round on March 24th and 25th, hosted by Brighton College. We ended up being one of the best schools at the event. Every team qualified for the Global Round at Beijing and many came back holding several trophies and medals. Some highlights include placing 7th place overall for the Junior division for Pear R., Tara N., and Boonboon P.’s team and 2nd overall in the Senior division for Prima S., Pung-pond G., and Bomb V.’s team. While these achievements are outstanding, all of our scholars worked hard throughout the season leading up to the competition and had an amazing time at the event. Well done, scholars! by Kanapol (Pung-pond) Glinpu, Grade 11

How About Them Scholars??!!! World Scholar’s Cup Regional Round 2019 “This year, the World Scholar’s Cup scholars worked with the theme ‘A World on the Margins.’ While they studied and competed, they: • practiced the skills of debating, researching, writing, organization, teamwork, strategizing, and speaking and began the journey to being an effective public speaker • practiced working as a team in all things and learned how to rely on one another • looked at the mysterious and the mystifying in the Special Area category 36

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• studied group behavior and how people become marginalized in the Social Studies category • learned about stories seldom written about and why those stories are neglected in History • peered into the technologies that may or may not enable or empower the marginalized in Science • analyzed art and artists on the edge of “what is art?” • enjoyed music from and about the disenfranchised in the Arts and Music category • read poems, stories, and longer works about the marginalized and peeked into the lives of the characters in famous scenes in Literature RIS sent 5 Senior teams and all 5 were in the top 12. We had 4 of the top 10 Scholars in the Senior division. Of our 13 Junior teams, 2 were in the top 10 and 6 were in the top 20. We had 8 scholars of the top 25 Scholars in the Junior division. These students are amazing.” — Tom Wash, WSC Advisor Feedback from others in the school community: “Yes, these kids are amazing...and the topics are fascinating, but the students have told me many times that they couldn’t do it without you, Tom. THANK YOU!!” — Madeleine Bystrom “Other schools who were at the Bangkok Round last year had total admiration for the RIS team. Our scholars achieved so much, individually and in teams, but they

remained grounded—this was an observation voiced by the founder of WSC himself!—and proof of Tom’s excellent mentoring. Best of all, many of our RIS parents got to see Tom’s work with their children in action.” — Hedda Joy Tady-Tan

Complete Results of the World Scholar’s Cup Regional Round JUNIOR DIVISION MINNA/GRACE/KHAO PUN: Team medals in 3 of 4 events— • 7th in Challenge • 4th in Writing • 5th in Bowl • 8th Overall MINNA: 2 gold medals in Challenge, silvers in Debate and Writing, and a top 34 Overall Scholar GRACE: Gold medal with a top 15 in Writing KHAO PUN: 2 8th place gold medals in Challenge, top 12 in Writing, and a top 35 Overall Scholar ALEX/VICTOR/RYOTA: Silver medals in Bowl and Overall Team ALEX: 2 silvers in Challenge and a silver medal in Writing VICTOR: followed up last year’s Regional Championship with a 10th place Overall Scholar, as well as 3 golds and a silver in Challenge with a 1st and a 2nd, a gold medal in Debate, and a gold medal in Writing RYOTA: gold medal in Challenge IVY/PHOOM/DONOVAN: Team medals in all 4 events, top 10 in Challenge, and a top 17 Overall Team IVY: a gold medal in Debate, 3 silvers in Challenge, a silver in Writing, and a top 27 Overall Scholar PHOOM: silver medals in Challenge, Debate, and Writing DONOVAN: 2 gold medals in Challenge; silvers in Challenge, Debate, and Writing; and a top 24 Overall Scholar EINSTEIN/TUN/KAN: gold medal in Debate and silvers in Bowl and Overall Team EINSTEIN: a gold medal—7th in the Challenge Special Area—and silvers in Challenge and Debate TUN: gold medal as top 50 Debate and silver in Challenge

KAN: gold medal in Challenge and a top 25 Debate, silver in Challenge, and a top 43 Overall Scholar PRAEW/JAN/JA-JAR: Team gold medals in 3 of 4 events and top 11th Overall Team PRAEW: 3 golds and a silver in Challenge—2nd and 3rd, a gold in Debate, and a top 26 Overall Scholar JAN: gold medal for top 40 in Writing and silver in Debate JA-JAR: 2 silvers in Challenge, gold medals in top 20 Debater, top 11 in Writing, and a top 16 Overall Scholar AOM/DEENA/LISA: Some of our youngest scholars were awarded a silver medal in Writing AOM: gold medal top 20 in Writing VASU/BALL/BOSS: Team medals in 3 of 4 events VASU: gold medal in Challenge BALL: gold medal in Writing, a top 14 Debater, and a top 21 Overall Scholar BOSS: silver medals in Debate and Writing ELLE/RAINBOW/PUN: 9th in writing and silver in Debate ELLE: Elle’s emergence as an 8th place Debater, with a silver in Writing, and a top 30 Overall Scholar RAINBOW: a gold top 25 in Writing and silver in Debate PUN: silver medals in Writing and Debate NEUI/MINNIE/ICE: Our youngest scholars, with 2 golds and a silver in 3 out of 4 events NEUI: gold medal with a top 36 in Writing MINNIE: silver medals in Debate and Writing ICE: silver medals in Challenge Special Area, Debate, and Writing PEAR/TARA/BOONBOON: Team medals in all 4 events— • 14th in Bowl • 10th in Debate • 8th in Challenge • 2nd in Writing • 7th Overall PEAR: gold and silver in Challenge, top 33 Writing, silver in Debate, and a top 31 Overall Scholar TARA: silver in Challenge, top 10 in Writing, top 21 Debate, and a top 19 Overall Scholar BOONBOON: 4 golds in Challenge, placing 3rd, 8th and 9th; top 13 Writing, silver in Debate, and a top 13 Overall Scholar Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


BEAM/MORN/JET: silver medals in Writing and Bowl BEAM: silver medal in Writing MORN: silver medal in Writing JET: 3 golds in Challenge, placing 1st, 2nd and 9th; a top 38 Writing, and a top 39 Overall Scholar GINO/KRIT/TOD: with 2 of our youngest scholars, a gold in Writing and silvers in Bowl and Overall Team GINO: 1st place in Challenge History and 2 silvers in Challenge KRIT: gold medal and a top 23 Writing TOD: gold medal and a top 44 Debate and a silver in Writing BELLE/TANG TANG/PEEMAI: one gold and 2 silvers in 3 of 4 events and a top 16 Overall Team BELLE: 3 golds and 2 silvers in Challenge with a 4th, a 5th and a 7th, top 33 Debate, top 34 Writing, and a top 11 Overall Scholar TANG TANG: gold and silver in Challenge, a top 39 Debate, and a top 25 Overall Scholar

SENIOR DIVISION PRIMA/PUNG-POND/BOMB: Team medals in all 4 events— • Team Bowl Champions • 2nd in Challenge • 2nd Overall PRIMA: following last year’s Regional Championship with a 4th place Overall Scholar and 3 golds; 3 silvers in Challenge, placing 4th; a top 22 in Debate, and a top 22 in Writing PUNG-POND: 1 gold and 4 silvers in Challenge, silvers in Debate and Writing, and a top 30 Overall Scholar BOMB: 2 golds and 2 silvers in Challenge, placing 7th; silvers in Debate and Writing, and a top 28 Overall Scholar PEAR/SUSHI/NUPRARE: 8th Graders competing against Seniors. Team medals in 3 of 4 events— • 5th in Challenge • 4th in Bowl • 6th Overall PEAR: 4 golds and 2 silvers in Challenge, including 1st in Challenge Literature, 5th, and 7th; a top 14 Debater, a silver in Writing, and 9th Overall Scholar SUSHI: 2 golds and 3 silvers in Challenge, including


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placing 8th; a gold in Debate, a silver in Writing, and a top 24 Overall Scholar NUPRARE: a gold medal in Challenge BELLE/SIA/ALICE: Sophomore girls setting a new school record of 10,298 points in Debate! Team medals in all 4 events— • 7th in Challenge • 7th in Debate • 8th Overall BELLE: 4 silvers in Challenge, 4th place in Debate, a top 37 in Writing, and 10th place Overall Scholar SIA: gold medal in Debate, and silvers in Challenge and Writing ALICE: 3 golds and 2 silvers in Challenge, placing 4th and 8th; a top 16 in Writing, a silver in Debate, and a top 12 Overall Scholar FOSTER/GINA/JACKIE: 2 golds and a silver in 3 of 4 events— • 10th in Bowl • 12th Overall FOSTER: a top 12 Writing and a silver in Debate GINA: silver medals in Challenge and Writing JACKIE: 4 golds and a silver in Challenge, including placing 1st in the Challenge Special Area, a 6th and a 9th, a top 20 Debater, a silver in Writing, and 6th place Overall Scholar BIEW BIEW/DC/PAT: Competed in the 1st Senior Division round. Team medals in all 4 events— • 5th in Writing • 9th in Challenge • 11th Overall BIEW BIEW: 3 silvers in Challenge, a silver in Debate, and a gold top 35 in Writing DC: placed 6th in the Challenge, including a silver, top 24 in Writing, silver in Debate, and a top 25 Overall Scholar PAT: 3 golds in the Challenge, including placing 4th, a top 27 in Debate, a top 13 in Writing, and a top 14 Overall Scholar

by Paphasorn Chotjinda (Pair) & Tatpol Boonme (Team)


n our grade 8 Science classes, we got the opportunity to learn science concepts through the use of virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual and augmented reality shows us a 3D image that gives us a more indepth view of what we are learning about. This type of learning combines hands-on aspects of learning with concepts, which are being made very clear through the images. With the virtual reality experiences, we can move our heads around and view the objects/images from different angles through the use of the VR headset. Augmented reality displays images by focusing a phone over a marker sheet. We have studied fossils, rocks, and cells in great detail through the use of VR and AR. These technologies have allowed us to view exhibits in museums, visit archaeological sites, look at scientists doing their work with special tools, and examine the details of objects. All it requires is that students download an application on their smartphones. The whole process is then directed by the teacher in class. And we are the very first ones in the whole school to use this amazing technology! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n early May, I learned that RIS junior Kritin (Bomb) Vongthongsri had been selected as a Regional Finalist for the Google Science Fair Competition. This is one of the biggest STEM competitions in the world, second only to the Intel Science Fair Competition. Out of thousands of initial applicants, 100 Regional Finalists were selected, one of whom was Bomb. The Regional Finalists each won a laptop, among other prizes. From that group, 20 Global Finalists will be selected to present to a panel of judges at Google headquarters in California for the chance to be the grand prize winner. I talked with Bomb to learn more about this incredible achievement. How did get involved with this fair? One of my goals was to write and publish an academic paper while I’m in high school, and I already have a project I’m working on with a professor at Burapha University, so I figured why not apply? It gives me a good chance to prove how effective and applicable my project is in the real world. It’s also a great experience and something I can be proud of. What is your project? The official title is: “Effect of Extraction Solvent on Removal of Excess Ligands in As-Synthesized Silver Colloidal Nanoparticles.” Bomb’s summary on the Google Science Fair website opens by stating that “Over 90% of chemical industries depend on catalysis.” He explained catalysis to me as “a substance that


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makes a chemical reaction go faster and requires less energy.” He wants to broaden the scope of the relatively unexplored field of nanotechnology, which essentially involves reducing things to nano size (we’re talking atoms and molecules). When a catalyst is smaller, it’s more effective. Bomb has been working on changing the morphology of nanocatalysts to see which configuration is the most effective in chemical reactions. The smaller the nanoparticles are, the longer they last. Producing nanoparticles with a longer life span consequently reduces the resources needed to make the catalyst. And when you have more efficient processes, you can save energy and time. The benefits are applicable to virtually every industrial process, such as waste-water management and pesticide production. Here is a link to the full project description, including the results, on the Google Science Fair website: What was the selection committee looking for? They were looking for how applicable the project is and the magnitude of its impact, so I emphasized the effects rather than the science itself. We also were expected to communicate the idea to everyone, not just to scientists, so I tried to make it understandable to a layperson. We needed good methods to show the data so I used a lot of visuals and graphs, and the calculations had to be accurate, even if the results didn’t show what we intended.

What other events have you been involved in? Earlier this year I entered a competition for “World of 7 Billion,” which was a video contest. I worked with another student from Bangkok Christian School. I wrote the content and he produced the video. We won first place in the High School Sustainable Resource Use category. You can watch the video here: I also went to Oxford, England, to present my project findings at a small conference there. How old were you when you realized you were interested in science? I have wanted to be a doctor since first grade, which is when I started at RIS. I’ve been inspired by dad, who is an ophthalmologist. Now I want to be a biomedical engineer so I can make, adapt, or modify machines for doctors to treat patients using new technology. I’m especially interested in innovation. What advantages do you think you have as an RIS student? In Thai schools, students just learn theories and do calculations based on problems vs. real-life situations. I really like the learning approach here, especially because a lot of it is hands-on. That gives an instant connection to what we’re learning. We also have a lot of resources here. When I encounter a problem in my research, I know how to find an alternative approach to a solution. Who are your teachers at RIS? Mr. Sean Fisk, who I really like. He makes us think. In one of our classes, he asked us how to determine the concentration of a colored solution, but he didn’t give us the method to find the answer. We spent an entire hour figuring out how to obtain that number. No one succeeded. But it was a really fun and valuable class because it was the first time I had encountered an

actual problem in science. We had to use our common sense and background knowledge to determine how to solve the problem. Mr. Ross Kuhl is also one of my teachers. He talks like a Nobel Prize winner and is the smartest person I know. I think he could literally teach every subject. What lights you up about science? The process of finding the best methods to work on a problem. When the results are positive, I know that all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off. I also like the real-world application of science. In fact, I believe that’s the whole point of it: to be able to improve our current world through technology. We can never be perfect. That’s why science has to exist. What’s on the horizon for you? I’ll be going to the Materials Research Society conference in Boston in December. It’s the biggest material science conference in the world. There will be lots of professors and students there as well—over 1,000 of the world’s smartest scientists, actually. I will present this same project, although I will have done further work on it by then. Ultimately, I hope to get into Stanford University for a degree in material science and/ or biomedical engineering. Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Marianna Hane Wiles


hat if every creative-minded student in the high school was given an opportunity to have their original poetry or short stories published and celebrated by the RIS community? This was the idea behind this semester’s high school writing contest, which was sponsored by Word/Play, the RIS literary review. The second issue of Word/Play was organized and published by the students of the HS Creative Writing class. When discussing how to make this semester’s edition different, one student suggested the idea of a writing contest. As a class, the creative writing


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students determined the contest criteria, designed the marketing materials, and promoted the competition to their classes and their friends. We had an impressive number of submissions for each category, and as you can tell from the number of runners-up, it was hard to choose the winners. To make it a fair contest, all of the contest submissions were judged blindly; we were looking for pieces of writing that were original and engaging, publicationready, and an example of “good writing” in that particular genre. The creative writing students who

read, discussed, and voted for the winning poems and short stories did not know who had written each piece until after they selected the pieces that best met the specified criteria. Since there were so many wonderful entries, we decided to honor one winner and several runners-up for each category. When we emailed the winners and runners-up, they were excited and honored that their short story or poem had been chosen for publication. Many of the runnersup noted that they had written their pieces for fun and were surprised that someone else would want to read them, much less publish them. Eve, the short story winner, told me “The email came as a sudden surprise. I was astonished. Never before had I ever thought that my story would be published! I was extremely happy and hugged my mom (who was driving) in the middle of our conversation about something else and then explained to her what happened. It was a great day!” Congratulations to Eve and to Poom, the winner for poetry. Congratulations as well to all of the runnersup! We’re excited to celebrate their accomplishments on May 23rd during the launch of the summer issue of Word/Play. All of the winners and runners up will receive

a free copy of Word/Play and can brag that they are now published authors! A huge thank you to everyone who submitted. I encourage those students whose work didn’t get selected to continue writing and to submit again for next year’s contest. 2019 Short Story Contest Winner Jinjutha (Eve) Liangwatthanako, junior Short Story Runners Up Anita Kritsanapraphan, sophomore Zehuan (Jackie) Wu, senior 2019 Poetry Contest Winner Sirapat (Poom) Phunjamaneechot, senior Poetry Runners Up Narisa Chakrapeesirisuk, sophomore Vitu-passon Gibson Yuenyongchongcharoen, senior Maxima Suntornwipart, freshman Varin (Junn) Watunyuta, sophomore Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


talked with 6th-grader Chunna (Jubu) Aomkaew about her love of horse riding and competing. Jubu is quite the accomplished rider! When did you start riding horses? When I was around 4 years old. I went to Hua Hin and saw some horses on the beach. I was really drawn to them and wanted to learn how to ride. It made me feel happy, and I immediately loved it. Where and how often do you ride? I ride 5 days a week at the Horse Lover’s Club in Pathum Thani. Do you have your own horse? Yes, his name is Peter Pan. He’s a chestnut-color gelding with a white stripe on his face and on his back and white socks on his back legs. He’s around 9 or 10 years old and is 154 cm tall. Do you have to take care of the horses? If I don’t have homework, then yes. I wash and brush the horses. The groomer usually takes care of the horse before I ride, and I take care of the horse after I have ridden. Tell me about the competitions you have been in and what you have achieved. I took part in the Queen’s Cup Competition and got 2nd place and 3rd place (90 cm), 1st place team competition, 3rd (80 cm), 4th (80 cm), and 5th (105 cm) Navamin’s Cup. The centimeters are the different heights I jumped over. There were 55 competitors (boys


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and girls). The youngest was around 9 and the oldest was maybe 16. I rode two horses: Peter Pan and Elmo, a horse that belongs to a Thailand Team rider who also rides at the Horse Lover’s Club. I’ve also competed in the Princess Cup, President’s Cup, and many other riding competitions. What do the competitions usually involve? I usually do showjumping, which involves having the horse jump over a fence without knocking down any poles. You need to be fast and to clear as many fences as possible. For each fence you knock over, you lose 4 points. Other competitions are dressage, where you need to walk, trot, and do medium, primary, and others. My goal is to do primary because it can be used in showjumping. There is also eventing, which is a 3-day competition that involves dressage, cross-country, and showjumping, but I haven’t done that yet. What are your favorite things about riding? The fact that I get to play a sport and ride animals. The horses teach me many things, like balance and how

to control my body language. It makes me want to understand horses better. It’s very interesting to learn from them; horses are very smart. I have also made a lot of friends at the club and at the competitions. Horse riding is my passion. What other skills have you learned from riding? Riding has taught me to concentrate on each detail and every step. If I’m going to jump a fence, I need to know how to turn and how the horse will react to the fences. If I’m scared or tired, the horse knows and can start to misbehave, doing things like bucking and running crazy. Have you ever fallen off a horse? If so, what happens? Yes, I’ve fallen more than 20 times in the six years I’ve been riding! But I always get back on. I have gotten hurt but I haven’t broken any bones, thankfully. Sometimes it makes me angry and more determined to control the horse. How long have you been at RIS and what are some of your favorite things about being a student here? I’ve been at RIS for three years now. My favorite things

are the teachers and how they teach. They really care and explain in ways that make things easier to understand. I also like that we can choose some of our subjects, like Culinary Arts. I’m really enjoying PE, too; there are lots of sports options here. I think being at RIS has helped me prepare for my future. Speaking of the future, do you have goals for riding? Yes, my goal is to jump 120 cm fences competitively by the end of the year. The highest I have jumped so far is 130 cm but not in competition. My goal last year was to jump 90–100 cm and I achieved that. In my last competition in Chiang Mai (in 2018), I felt very confident and was able to jump 100 cm there. I admire your confidence. How has that grown? By constant practicing at the club. When I look back at other riders who used to be the same age as me and are now on the Thailand Team, it helps to build my confidence. I also watch competitors from other countries who have the same goal as me, so I know I can achieve it.

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by Elisia Brodeur

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education, and competition and the development of an open community and collaboration.” — iGEM website. The foundation runs three main programs, one of which is the iGEM Competition—the leading international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology. The competition was initiated partly to promote and advance the field of biosynthesis as it’s still a relatively new field. It began in 2004 with 5 university teams and 31 participants. Last year, there were more than 300 teams and 6,000 participants. Earlier this semester, six of our 10th-grade students approached Mr. Sean Fisk and Ms. Nicole Sabet to ask if they would advise their team through the upcoming iGEM competition, which will take place October 31– November 4, 2019, in Boston. They agreed and the team began to brainstorm ideas for their project and figure out who else could help them. I talked with the team members—Phoomphisit Dejchaiyasak, Matchamon Pianapitham, Jitboon (Peme) Puttharugsa, Nattakit (Ping Ping) Tankongchamruskul, Nithan (Tan) Tantitanawat, and Anna (Mook)


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Watunyuta—and with Ms. Nicole, to learn more about this exciting opportunity. How did this come about? We were in Mr. Sean’s class talking about biology when we discovered the program and learned that we qualified to participate because the competition has a high school track as well as undergraduate and graduate tracks. We also found out that our team is unique: We will be the first-ever team from Thailand! In fact, this map, from iGEM, shows how well-established this program is in other countries: That dot in Bangkok is our team! What drew you to this particular competition? Most of the team members are interested in biology and chemistry, biochemistry, or other subjects related to the medical field. A project like this requires creativity and collaboration. It’s also an opportunity to see how

the things we learn in class apply in real life. And we’re partly doing it because it’s fun. One student told me that “if [he] didn’t think it was fun, [he] wouldn’t do it.” So what is synthetic biology, anyway? Synthetic biology is a branch of science that connects biology and engineering. It’s essentially harnessing biology to do a specific kind of work, especially one that involves technology. Did you know that many plants are actually more complex than your phone? It’s using biology as a lens to solve a real-life issue, for example, genetically modifying plants, bacteria, or yeast. Tell me about the project you are planning to work on. We wanted to address a big issue and find ways to help solve it so our project can have a big impact. We brainstormed a lot of ideas. Our most plausible idea right now concerns nitrogen fixation (a process in which nitrogen in the air is converted into ammonia or related nitrogenous compounds). We want to develop bacteria that can take nitrogen out of the air and put it in the soil. We will have to develop a synthetic model though because we’re not allowed to test on multicellular organisms. Our goal is to make the process faster and figure out a way to apply it to other crops as well. Since Thailand is an agricultural country we wanted to work on something that benefits the culture and this seems like an appropriate fit. It’s a challenging project; ultimately we’ll be doing work at the gene level. That’s our current thinking, but our idea could change. We will have to do a lot of research first! What do you have to do for the actual competition? We have to present all of our work, documents, and findings at the competition. Since we are in high school, our information might be a bit limited. But we know that our team will need to adapt and be willing to learn and work toward the same goal. We also need to create a website and a poster and build a social media presence. I understand that your team is also being supported by Mahidol University. That’s great! How will that work? We went to Mahidol University to meet with the Asia representative for the competition. Some of the professors at Mahidol are interested in collaborating with our team and have offered to provide laboratory and technical support/expertise. We’re excited to work with the professors at the university—many of

them have already done lots of research on bacteria. When we visited, we were able to see some ongoing projects, and it was interesting to watch the scientists conducting experiments. This partnership also opens up opportunities for us and lets us make connections at the university level. Ms. Nicole mentioned that our students represented RIS very well during their visit and that they were engaged and seemed comfortable in a university lab. She also said that the professors know that our students are committed to the competition and receptive to the fact that they are supporting an HS team, even though they typically work with undergraduate/graduate students. So what’s next? We will go back to Mahidol University during the summer and collaborate with the professors there. We’ll also get to use their labs, which is great because they have equipment that we don’t have here at RlS, such as an electron microscope. We are considering writing some grants and will start to post on our Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts. You will be able to follow us @ RIS_iGEM. What’s your ultimate goal for the competition? We are aiming for the gold level. (The students are aware that this is an ambitious goal and understand that they will learn so much simply from the process and attending the Giant Jamboree—the official name of the competition in Boston.) We’re excited to meet other students our age and to share our ideas and learn about their projects. Lots of companies will be attending the event, so there will be many networking opportunities with universities and synthetic biology companies.

Mr. Sean and Ms. Nicole have been very impressed with the team’s enthusiasm and initiative thus far, and the students noted that their advisors have been really supportive. I could sense that there’s a lot of mutual respect. I plan to track the team’s progress and so will be checking in with them again after the summer break to see how their preparations are going. Be on the lookout for updates in the next issues of Ad Astra! In the meantime, you can learn more about the competition and iGEM on their website:

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by Elisia Brodeur


recently sat down with 10th grader Nichatorn (Belle) Tangkuptanon to learn about some of her recent achievements: winning the Best Delegate Award at this year’s THAIMUN Conference and her ambassadorship for UC Berkeley’s Business Academy for Youth program. “I didn’t join MUN until my freshman year. Since then, I have gone to many MUN conferences. Last year, I attended mostly local conferences but this year I leveledup to international conferences as well as additional Bangkok conferences. The most recent conference I went to was IASAS MUN in Manila, Philippines. I prefer to be a delegate in the same committee each time so I can specialize. I like debating for ECOSOC, which stands for the Economic and Social Council and comes under the overall authority of the General Assembly. We debate about environmental and social issues and sustainability. At first, I wasn’t familiar with the formality and pace of the debates at MUN conferences and contributed mostly by writing resolutions during lobbying time. But to succeed, you need to take a leap of faith and gain experience. Once you’ve given at least one speech at a conference, it becomes a lot easier. I’ve also found that it’s not so much how often you speak, it’s more about how much you listen to other experienced delegates. This year, as a sophomore, I got the chance to become part of the Executive Team in the MUN Club as the Treasurer. It’s been a great experience, especially for the RIS MUN Conference in February. As Treasurer, I’m responsible for maintaining all of the financial records for the club, making sure that payments are being made, coordinating with the activities coordinator (Ms. Shirley), and helping with fundraisers, etc. I was also able to represent RIS during the SEASAC MUN Conference in March this year. It was a big international 3-day conference at Harrow International School. Initially, I felt intimidated and thought I wouldn’t be speaking much, but after listening to other speakers I was inspired to speak more. I ended up speaking


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several times (I made more than 30 POIs—points of interest) and gave 5 speeches. I received an honorable mention as the delegate of Iceland. The next biggest conference was the 6th annual THAIMUN at the end of March. (I’m also in WSC and was at Regionals the weekend before so I had to juggle my priorities, but I managed to research and study for both events.) On the first day at THAIMUN, I represented Nepal and submitted the main resolution. I spoke a lot and made several passionate speeches and POIs. At the end of the first day, the Chairs approached me and asked if I would change countries to be the delegate of China, which is obviously a much bigger country to represent. As a delegate for China, I had to debate about China’s Social Credit System, which essentially a national reputation system that uses facial-recognition software to watch Chinese citizens and award points, or credit, for good behavior. Chinese citizens can lose points if they do things like jaywalk or if a child plays too many video games. If a person is caught doing something “wrong” on CCTV, that person can be publicly shamed. If a person has only a few points, they are restricted and

can’t do certain things like book flights until they earn more credit. The system is meant to protect people who behave well and underscore the notion that the things you do have consequences. It’s intended to promote good citizenship, but it obviously gives rise to a lot of human rights concerns. As the delegate of China, I had to support the Social Credit System, submit the main resolution, and ask other delegates to support it as well. It’s challenging to go against your own values and opinions, but you just have to do it. As you can imagine, it was a very heated debate. I argued that although the system does invade people’s privacy, it is actually fair for everyone. I pointed out that if government officials are corrupt, they can also be blacklisted by the system. It also increases trustworthiness and prevents problems and scandals. For example, a lot of fake things are made and sold in China. If a business is caught making fake products, the owner’s social credit points will decrease. The majority of the house ended up voting for my resolution to pass, but ultimately the China Social Credit System could not be supported by the MUN because it goes against human rights. During the closing ceremony, I was anxious to find out who won the Best Delegate Award. So many of the delegates were very qualified and eloquent, but I also really wanted to get the award, especially as it was my 6th MUN conference. When the Chairs announced that the delegate of China had won the Best Delegate Award for ECOSOC I was totally speechless. My prize was a certificate and a free 8-week SAT English course worth about 30,000 baht. It was such a great feeling to win!”

Belle also talked about her ambassadorship with UC Berkeley: the Berkeley Business Academy for Youth. She first went to UC Berkeley when she was in Middle School, as a rising 8th grader, for their summer MS Entrepreneurship Program. Only 50 students were accepted into the program from across the globe. She had a lot of fun and found it to be a good handson experience and introduction to the concepts of business. She had to write and present at a showcase on the last day and was inspired to work harder and gain more knowledge after being with students from other countries who were also passionate about business. Last summer, as a rising 10th grader, Belle went back to UC Berkeley to take part in their Critical Thinking Program, which is a more advanced version of the business academy. She got to explore new technologies that are emerging in the business world, such as cryptocurrency and blockchain. She now feels as if she better understands these concepts as they relate to business; if people use only cryptocurrency then some businesses risk becoming less relevant and could eventually lose customers and profit. Belle worked as part of a team to come up with recommendations for the Visa company to handle emerging disruptive technologies. Belle also attended Ronald Reagan’s Leadership Institute last summer, where she developed an action plan to help homeless people in Thailand using GoFundMe. She shared this idea with her friends in the US and her contacts at UC Berkeley. That’s how she learned about the UC Berkeley ambassadorship. The director of the BBay Ambassador Program wrote back, “I am proud that you have taken the social entrepreneurship learning

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and applied it to help the people of Thailand. You are to be commended. Your leadership, enthusiasm, and creativity exhibited during the program are a great fit for this International Ambassador program.” In her position as an ambassador for UC Berkeley’s Business Academy for Youth, Belle has been working to recruit students from Thailand for UC Berkeley’s programs. So far she has shared her experiences with RIS students and students at MUN conferences. Belle feels the programs are educational and interactive and particularly suited for middle school students because

it gives them an opportunity to be exposed to the field of business while experiencing new ideas and learning how to keep an open mind. She recently spoke to parents during an MS Parent Coffee Talk and explained what the students would be learning in both programs and answered questions about the application process. If you are interested in having your child attend either of the UC Berkely programs for the summer of 2020, check out the website: If you have any further questions, feel free to email Belle at

by Elisia Brodeur


mong 6th grader Siri (Mac) Chaikul’s rrecent achievements, he was the only child chosen to perform with top professional singers and orchestra performers with the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra during their concert “Music From Great Movie Musicals,” which took place on April 10, 2019, in the Main Hall at the Thai Cultural Center. Mac was one of the highlights that night because he was the youngest performer and also because he goes to RIS, “a well-recognized school,” as stated in the concert bulletin. But even more recently, on May 13th, Mac was featured on The Voice Kids Thailand 2019 (Season 6). But Mac’s journey to the TV show started back in 2017, with his first live audition at age 9. While he didn’t make it beyond that, his audition became a turning point that inspired him to recommit to his passion. Mac was determined to go back and try again. I spoke with Mac’s father, Sirasate Chaikul, to learn more about this exciting development among Mac’s already acclaimed accomplishments. “For this audition, Mac had to submit an online application along with a video clip of his singing—a segment from his performance at the Singapore Lyric


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Opera competition. About a month later, Mac was notified that he had been selected to be a contestant on the show. About 2,500 other children applied and only 300 or so applicants were selected for a live audition at the studio in mid-December. As part of being shortlisted on the show, Mac was required to participate in a workshop. But Mac wasn’t able to attend because he was performing at Carnegie Hall in New York on those dates. He and his family were very sad that they had to turn down the workshop and assumed that Mac would be cut from the show. But when the staff of The Voice Kids Thailand realized why Mac couldn’t attend and that he had been awarded first place (with distinction) for his performance at Carnegie

Hall, the show’s producer decided to make a special case for Mac and allowed him to go straight to the blind audition. Mac didn’t know about this until after his performance at Carnegie Hall.

Afterward, one of the other voice coaches, Lula, asked Mac if he likes to sing Thai songs as well. When he said he did, she asked him to sing one. So Mac sang a Thai pop song, completely off the cuff and did an incredible job.

At the workshop, more kids were shortlisted until 130 kids remained. From that group, a total of 48 children can be selected by the four voice coaches during the televised blind auditions. Mac chose to sing “Memory” by Andrew Lloyd Webber from the musical Cats, partly because he was inspired by the lyrics. Mac also wanted a recognizable song that has been sung by many famous singers. He especially loves the version by Sarah Brightman and chose to sing it in the key of A because it uses more operatic notes.

Mam Patcharida has been a famous Thai pop star and was also a voice teacher for RS Productions. She is a more traditional voice coach, who focuses on the styles of musicals and Thai pop music. Now she coaches many top stars and singers in Thailand.

Mac and his family found the blind audition to be nervewracking because the voice coach didn’t turn around until about halfway through the song. Mac was also having an allergic reaction to something environmental and had been sneezing all day. Mac loved performing although he was pretty nervous, especially because no one turned around for a while. He started wondering if he was good enough. But the voice coach, Mam, was waiting for him to hit the high note. When she turned around, Mac and his whole family were so happy.

So what happens next? Mac will go on to perform with the other 48 winners in the next round, called The Battle. If he gets through that round he will move on to the semifinals and then the finals. If Mac is chosen as the ultimate finalist, he will win 500,000 baht and a contract with Universal Record Company. The winners are chosen by popular vote via text. Be sure to look for Mac every Monday on PPTV Channel 36 at 8:15 pm. And don’t forget vote!!” Here is a link to Mac’s blind audition performance on The Voice Kids Thailand: At the time of printing, Mac’s video had 197,316 views!

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by Sabrena Baiagern


ach year the Red Cross Committee and the Thai Red Cross Society organize two blood drives for the RIS school community—one in September for the first semester and another in March for the second semester. For each blood drive, we need eligible participants: people who are at least 17 years old and who physically qualify to donate blood. Each time the blood drive is held there is always one individual who wishes, with all his heart, that he could donate blood, but he doesn’t qualify. So rather than donating blood, this person instead sends words of encouragement through email and comes to every blood drive to give moral support. This person is our very own Father Leo Travis. Before every blood drive, Father Travis sends an email to the Red Cross Committee, wishing us good luck for the event. On the day of the blood drive, Father Travis makes his way to the blood donation room to give encouragement to the donors. After every donation day, he sends his congratulations to the committee for organizing the event.


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Here are just a few of the messages that Father Travis has sent to the committee over the years: “I have the blood drive marked for the 28th… and hope to visit! May the donations reach 100!” “May September 27 and March 7 be great days of love for the sick!! God bless the Red Cross Committee!” “I intend to be there, greeting the students and teachers, and others!! God bless you!” “My heart was there to be Number 100!!!” One of the core principles of our school is “heart”: we nurture and aim to shape our students to embrace diversity, lead happy and healthy lives, and help others. Father Travis is the epitome of “heart.” He gives, he encourages, he supports, he congratulates, and he never wishes for anything in return. If we want our students to learn to help others, there is no need to look any further than our very own Father Travis.

by Hedda Joy Tady Tan


his year, 2019, is the year my daughter Tyra Tan graduates from RIS—her home for the last 13 years. The stage in the PAC has been her playground in terms of her training and experiences in theater arts, music, and Khon dance. Last year she played Ti’Moune in Once on This Island, and this past March she played Rosie in the all-school musical Bye Bye Birdie. From the sidelines, I have watched all the work that has been put into the shows over the last four years. As a parent, I can’t say “thank you” enough for the opportunities that the teachers, staff, parent volunteers, and school administration have given to the students who have had roles in our school musicals. We have a truly supportive and talented community: the student sound and tech crew, the students who do the performers’ hair and makeup, the volunteers who spend time on their weekends shopping for just the right costumes, the student choreographers and directors… The list goes on. For this year’s musical, these young people worked every day for about four months, along with their teachers. The Saturday before the show, both entire casts and crew were at school all day to ensure they would give their audiences their absolute best. The

result? Six impressive stage performances over several days that had some of our younger students working alongside our seniors. I’m grateful and proud that RIS gives these young people gifts that they will take with them for the rest of their lives—skills, experiences, knowledge, and friendships to last a lifetime. I have seen firsthand how these young students have grown in discipline, expertise, and especially in their work ethic. I can confidently say that RIS has done an outstanding job in preparing them for the world. This year also marks the 18th year that I have been part of the community of educators at RIS. This is also the year that my son will have his moving up ceremony as an 8th grader. Even more than the friendships my whole family has enjoyed and nurtured all these years, we feel much gratitude towards this institution that has become home to three generations of my family. My mother walked the halls of the high school for more than 20 years of her life as a teacher, until her retirement. With so many years of collective experience behind us, I can truly say that here at RIS, “Ad Astra” is lived. To the stars!

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by Elisia Brodeur


uring one of their Professional Learning Team meetings, our PreK 4 teachers—Ms. Kyleigh and Ms. Callie—were discussing student goals with Dr. Tenille, the ES Reading Specialist. Dr. Tenille saw a connection between the team’s inquiry-based lessons and Ms. Robin’s approach to teaching art, so she proposed the idea of them collaborating on an integrated art and ELA (English Language Arts) project. The teachers decided to make a class book and planned the project together, mapping out each step. Both classes then followed the same process to create their class books. Ms. Robin talked to the PreK 4 children about the different features of a book, such as the cover and the title page, and helped with the illustrations while the PreK 4 teachers focused on the words, settings, and plot for their stories. They began by determining which authors and books the children are most interested in. The classes had done an author study of Mo Willems and decided they wanted to create their books in a similar style, featuring Willems’ signature speech/thought bubbles. The children had also been exploring different places around campus, which tied into the concept of setting. Each class then made storyboards of books they already knew and used that same process to create the outline of their class story. First, the children had to decide who their main character would be, and then they brainstormed ideas about what their character would look like. Ms. Robin worked with the children on the visual creation of the characters, which they made with brass fasteners so they could move the characters throughout their stories. Next, they talked about what the backgrounds of their stories would look like and what materials they could use. In the story that Ms. Kyleigh’s class created, the main character, Jonny, finds a magic marker and whatever he draws becomes reality. So the students used markers to draw their backgrounds. Then they started putting Jonny on the different pages they drew and took photos.


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For their backgrounds, Ms. Callie’s class created a 3D spooky farm and used Legos to build a Legoland. Then they took photos of their hand-drawn characters—Mr. Bear, a vampire dog, and aliens—on their different backgrounds. As a whole group, the classes then reviewed their work and added more details, as well as dialogue in speech bubbles. Ms. Robin collected the final pictures and words, then Ms. Kyleigh and Ms. Callie had the books printed, laminated, and bound. Making a class book is not a new concept for PreK students, but the difference here was that it was a truly collaborative process and was structured more like an investigation, so it was developmentally appropriate for each child in the room, no matter where they are in their learning. The teachers are aiming to empower them rather than telling them what to do. The children also have a sense of ownership because the books contain their words and their artwork. By using the children’s voice, they build autonomy and begin to see themselves as competent creators.

According to Dr. Tenille, this project was essentially a text analysis at the PreK level. The children also learned about the structure of a book and analyzed text features, reflected on their experience as illustrators and authors, and developed their general phonemic awareness. They also made text-to-text and text-to-the world connections, as evidenced by the fact that they have started using speech bubbles in their other work and writing activities.

Beyond that, this project also ties into their socialemotional development. The children are now making books in class to help them process their emotions and real-life issues and situations that happen in the classroom. They’re also reading books that are technically above-level. But the ultimate result is that their confidence has grown and they now consider themselves as both readers and writers.

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he first annual RIS Community Golf Tournament took place on Saturday, May 18th at the Windsor Golf Club. The tournament was designed for adult golfers and non-golfers alike, with the simple goal of having fun with colleagues, friends, and family from the greater RIS community. The golfers could sign up to play as a team or individually and were then placed on a team. The tournament was played in a 4-person scramble format, which means that each player tees off on a hole, the best of the tee shots is selected, then all of the players play from that spot, and so on until all team members complete the hole. All participants received a tournament polo shirt and got to attend a very nice banquet dinner after the game. To add to the entertainment, there were lots of awards and prizes, including a costume contest for the best-dressed team. The tournament cost was all-inclusive and covered the green fee, caddy, golf cart, polo shirt, and buffet dinner with free-flow soft drinks and beer. The event was also a charity fundraiser. A “Mulligan Charity Pack” was available to purchase on the day of the tournament, which included benefits such as “one extra drive” and “one extra putt,” etc., with the proceeds going to the Thailand Temple for AIDs Victims. It was a really fun day, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s RIS Community Golf Tournament. Speaking of which...

COMPLETE CONTEST WINNERS Best Team Costume Team “LEO”: Richard Kemp, Todd Parham, Tim Pettine, and Joey Scott Highest Gross Score “The Lost Balls” with a score of 76, 4 over par: Dan Bench, Garrett Drake, Rob Golding, and Paul McDonnell Lowest Gross Score Team “LEO” with a score of 57, –15 under par: Richard Kemp, Todd Parham, Tim Pettine, and Joey Scott On-Course Contest Winners • Longest Drive = Richard Kemp • Shortest Drive = Thitaporn Mackaman • Worst Shot of the Day = Michael Clardy (Runner-Up = Garrett Drake) • Longest Putt = Jop Phromsorn and Pravit Wongsathitwittaya • Straightest Drive = Yimin Wu • Closest to the Pin = Rotas Mackaman, Joey Scott, and Paul McDonnell Banquet Contest Winner Best presentation / Speech = Kevin Brodeur

SAVE THE DATE! The 2nd Annual RIS Community Golf Tournament will be on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020. 56

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by Elisia Brodeur


n April 2nd, members of the HS STEM Club went ito the Middle School at lunch break to conduct some fun science experiments. President of the STEM Club, Ton Nam, revived the club earlier this year, with Mr. Sean Fisk as their advisor. Ton Nam is a junior who is taking 8 AP courses. It was his idea to come and do experiments with the MS students. He said that their goal is “to get the middle school kids excited about science—to make science seem approachable and fun and not just another school subject.” Along with Vice Vice President Pathid Liamtrakoolpanich, Ton Nam says that the STEM Club wants “everyone to have a chance to see science in a new light.” They chose to do the Vortex Cannon experiment, which is a fun demonstration involving air pressure and dry ice. It was the first experiment that got Ton Nam interested in science. The experiment required a lot of preparation and online research, including the principles behind the Vortex Cannon. Pathid mentioned that “lots of design process happened” and that they made four prototypes, the last one being the only one that actually worked. They were staying late after school to work on the prototypes and that it was the school janitors who ended up inspiring them to try using trash bags and nozzles. For the Vortex Cannon Experiment, the STEM Club set up its equipment in the MS MakerSpace, which included plastic bottles and bottle caps, masking tape,


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plastic from trash bags, and dry ice. They also came with handouts to explain the science behind vortexes. It starts: “Have you ever watched as your sink drains out if you fill it with water? If so, you would likely see a ‘tornado.’ This is known as a vortex.” It goes on to explain that vortexes also form in air, but because air is invisible we don’t typically see them. That’s where the dry ice comes in. When you put water on dry ice, it starts to “smoke,” which then makes the vortex visible. The dry ice was a big draw in and of itself, so to prevent students from touching it the experiment was moved outside to the MS courtyard. (If touched briefly dry ice is harmless, but prolonged contact can cause a burn-like injury.) To conduct the experiment, the MS students were directed to construct a funnel, which would become their cannon. They made this by taping together half a plastic water bottle, a plastic cup, and a circular piece of a trash bag. Then the HS students put a small piece of dry ice and a little water into another plastic bottle. The MS students held their cannons upside-down over the smoking dry ice and pulled back the plastic trash bag, which worked as a vacuum to draw the smoke up into their cannon. Then the students gently tapped the bottom of the bottle and the smoke came out in a puff that looked like a ring of fog. The HS STEM Club had also constructed several larger air cannons using trash cans and trash bags. These made a loud sound and would produce a significant blast of air wherever the cannon was pointed.

The MS students clearly enjoyed exploring with the various cannons and the HS STEM Club members agreed that the event was successful. That’s good because they have several more experiments they would like to share

with the MS students. Who wouldn’t want to explore instant solid crystals and liquid magnets? You don’t need to persuade me that science is cool.


chool Nurse Appreciation Day” was on May 8th. iAs there wasn’t an assembly the following week, the ES administration made a giant card for our nurses instead, which was sent around to ES classrooms for kids to sign, write a note of thanks, or draw something happy on it. Our whole school appreciates our wonderful nurses who are readily available and happy to take care of bumps and scrapes, sprains and wounds, or headaches and pains for any member of our community, from our tiniest children in PreK 2 to towering HS students to faculty and admin. We are all thankful for you! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Elisia Brodeur


n Friday, April 26th, the HS junior class gathered to listen to 13 seniors talk about their experiences applying to and being accepted into college. These seniors had been selected because they had had particular success and some challenges when navigating the college application process. They each had two minutes to share their top tips and takeaways with the juniors.

ask themselves which university seems to have the best campus, location, atmosphere, and people—for them. “Join their Facebook group, their chat groups, and start talking to other people. Talk to your admission officers and ask for older students’ contact information so you can ask them for advice. Above all, you should pick a university that makes you feel happy and as if you belong there.”

Here’s what they each had to say:

Singrhu, who will be going to Rice University to major in engineering, suggested that if the juniors know what they want to study that they should “find on a solid program and research it well.” She believes that a good student-to-faculty ratio is important and that even though small colleges may not typically have as many resources as big ones that some small private universities do.

Em was deciding between two big-name schools. He talked about how to make choices between different schools. He first warned the juniors what should not be part of their decision process, namely, prestige and where their friends were applying. He claimed that the top universities in the world will give you practically the same education, “The quadratic equation is the same everywhere, whether you’re at Harvard or at a university in the middle of nowhere.” He went on to say that published research shows that students from different universities who had the same SAT scores and GPAs earn the same salary, on average. Therefore their future success won’t be dictated by the prestige of their university. Em suggested that what the juniors should consider are costs—especially as a “better” college won’t actually help them make more money later—and fit. They should 60

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Wow-Wow shared the advantages and disadvantages of applying through Early Decision, or ED. She submitted her application to the University of Pennsylvania in early November and then had to withdraw all of her other applications and commit to going. Wow-wow recommends this approach if a student has a dream school that they want to get into, but she noted that the disadvantage is that if you get in, it’s binding—you have to go. She advises researching the school well, including the local community.

Iris applied to schools in Japan. She explained that there’s a website that shows all of the available university programs. She also advised that they usually want all of your documents to be printed, signed, and mailed to arrive before the deadline. Prim (I) talked about schools in Australia, which have a slightly different academic calendar. This means that the application deadlines are different and that some subjects don’t accept intakes until the first semester. Students can apply directly to a specific university (through their website) or work with an education consultant, which Prim recommends as “they help you through the whole application process for free and will also waive the university’s application fee.” Air applied to medical schools in Thailand. She recommends taking the ILT and trying to finish it “in one go.” She also noted that applicants will need to take the SAT subject tests and provide a portfolio, which is limited to 10 pages. She advises reading through the guidelines carefully. Prim (T) applied to universities in Hong Kong and shared those requirements, namely SAT scores and IB/AP scores. She suggested focusing on the courses students need to take, especially specific IB or AP classes, as well as extra-curricular activities because the schools will ask how those relate to the field students choose. Prim stressed that the interview process is very important and recommends asking Mr. Said for more information and contacting students at the universities. Jasmine focused on UK universities. She used that UCAS, which allows a student to apply to five universities with one application, “so there’s no need to write five different essays.” It also has drawbacks as “you can only choose one field and the application deadline is in January.” She also believes that colleges in the UK tend

to prefer the IB program “because they don’t have to convert scores.” Brux talked candidly about the realities of rejection and the importance of having a solid back-up plan. His Early Decision application to Penn State was rejected, but it didn’t stop him. He had back-up plans through early action and regular decision. He said that “Rejections are not the end of the world. They happen to everyone. They can help to make you stronger.” Maddox was forthcoming about students who have athletic aspirations. He did a college tour with his dad the previous summer and had contacted the schools and coaches beforehand. He visited 10 colleges but ended up applying to only one of them because “your mind will change all the time when you’re applying to colleges.” He wisely advised that “rejection can make you realize that other schools are just as good” and that “if you really want to play sports you will find a way, you don’t have to be on the team.” Cooper also stressed the benefit of visiting colleges before applying; he visited 8 of the 10 he applied to. He went on to talk about the value of honesty in the college essay: “Universities will be asking, do we want this student to come to this college? It’s important to find something unique to yourself and that would be good for the college as a whole.” Maren applied to both US and European schools, where the application process is different for each school. She feels that the biggest part of choosing the right school is doing good research and talking to the HS counselors. That’s how she learned about several schools and figured out which would be the best fit for her. She emphasized that a good essay will “show who you are and why you’re interested in going to that school.”

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Lily wants to go to a Korean school and had just finished her applications as they are on a different timetable. Applicants will need to take the TOEFL test and a Korean test, if not a native speaker. Students can apply to a maximum of six schools but should be aware that all of them require different applications and letters of recommendation. Mr. Said wrapped up the presentation by asking the seniors “If you believe the juniors should start working on their research now, raise your hands.” All of them

did. He went on to encourage the juniors to ask their counselors what they should be working on and reminded them that “if you can’t visit a college, you can research online.” He underscored the importance of talking to the college reps when they show up on campus and assured the students that “they will remember you and will start offering you things to get you into their colleges.” Above all, he implored the juniors to “start as early as you can. Use your time this summer to prepare and research.”

by Remo Bryan Nyffenegger


arlier this year, Head of School Mr. Dan brought iour attention to some of the upgrades underway in the RIS canteen: “Some takeaway containers in the canteen have gone to biodegradable paper and others are now made from biodegradable plant products including corn, sugarcane, and cassava. While biodegradable is a lot better than our former petroleum-based plastics, even better than that are those of you using reusable containers. New menu boards are in the coffee shops can anticipate a discount if you bring your own cup/ mug. These changes, along with many others, are a credit to Remo and his great efforts managing our canteen.” I reached out to Remo to learn more about what he and his team have been doing to improve our canteen.


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“The RIS canteen has adopted a whole-school approach to promoting healthy eating habits, following the USDA framework that ensures a coordinated and comprehensive approach to the delivery of school nutrition programs, food safety, and the environment, in alignment with schoolwide health education. The RIS canteen has implemented a variety of projects in the 2018–2019 school year. Menu planning now occurs in accordance with suggestions from the WASC Nutrition Committee. All menus presented to the community are assessed and approved by the Canteen manager to ensure quality and nutritional value. We have also started to encourage healthy choices through regular communication and the introduction of new dishes via the RIS Canteen update newsletters, parent presentations, and posters, e.g., ‘Go, Slow, Whoa.’

To better cater to the food culture and preferences of the RIS students and the Swiss School students, we are providing more variety in our menu planning by separating the Set Lunch menu for the two schools. Restructuring and improving the Set Lunch menu at RIS at both lunch and milk breaks have greatly improved the food service. We have introduced a new NZFSA-approved C52 liquid hand soap, along with a food-grade alcohol sanitizer, S-1. These measures have been implemented specifically to reduce the microbial load of food-contact surfaces and to help implement good hand hygiene practices for our canteen staff.

environmental program. Specifically, we have implemented environmentally friendly practices by minimizing plastic waste, recycling materials where possible, initiating composting stations for organic waste, and introducing biodegradable product packaging. Biodegradable plastics around the school premises will include takeaway containers, cups, straws, forks, and spoons, as well as plastic bags. An increased number of drinking water dispensers will be installed throughout the campus to facilitate the transition from plastic water bottles to reusable water bottles, tumblers, and mugs.”

To monitor effective sanitation methods, we proactively take regular samples with Mikrocount® duo dipslides to detect food handler microbial contamination. We test for total bacteria counts, enterobacteria, yeast, and fungi. This also moves RIS forward in our efforts to become “Clean Food Good Taste” certified in the near future. Our cutlery sterilization locations in the canteen received an upgrade by introducing UV germicidal irradiation devices that use UV-C wavelengths to eliminate residual bacterial cells on cutlery. This technology has been tested extensively by leading institutions such as Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University. It has also been tested by the National Institute of Science and Technology of Thailand. The canteen management team has worked hard to pay attention to feedback from the RIS community surveys, the Nutrition Committee, and the Environmental Committee. We have worked to align canteen policies with the schoolwide RIS Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Natapanu Nopakun, RIS parent and a senior official at the Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand


he Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Ruamrudee International School (RIS) have enjoyed a long and close partnership since the founding of the school at the Soi Ruamrudee campus. Today, a number of notable RIS alumni are working in the area foreign affairs, many serving in executive positions in Thailand or as Thai ambassadors abroad, while many current RIS students are children of Ministry of Foreign Affairs parents. This historical engagement continues today, and both the Ministry and RIS has sought to expand the relationship through many activities, beyond parent-focused ones, such as having students attend important conferences or seminars to widen their global perspectives. At the same time, the Ministry also benefits from the participation of youths in many of its


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programs. For example, in April 2019, two talented high school students from RIS and Mr. Dan Smith, Head of School, attended the MFA CEO Forum at the invitation of the Department of International Economic Affairs, the main office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for promoting Thailand’s international economic relations with other countries. The Forum featured a presentation by Mr. Alok Lohia, Group CEO of Indorama Ventures, a leading global chemical industry company, who spoke to ambassadors and embassy representatives at the Vithes Samosorn Hall at the Ministry. The RIS students also met with Ambassador Vijavat Israbhakdi, former Thai ambassador to the United States, who is himself an RIS alumnus and parent. At the Forum, the students were able to learn about the company’s business plan

and sustainability efforts, to support and perhaps inspire the students who may one day have potentially high business acumen. The students also got to visit Saranrom Radio, the inhouse radio station at the Ministry that broadcasts on AM1575. Officers of the Department of Information interviewed the students on their perspectives about school, skills, and the future, and a PR piece was published on the Saranrom Radio Facebook page. It should be noted that Ministry parents of RIS students are keen to take part in many more activities for the benefit of RIS students. The Ministry parents have founded a club for the 40 plus current (and future) parents and have also created a chat group for the more than 50 RIS alumni who work at the Ministry. They

formed the club and network to promote engagement with the school and to share positive experiences, underscoring their common link as parents or alumni. This setup will help promote the cordial relationship between the Ministry and RIS, as well as support the school as it strengthens and expands further in the years ahead. In the future, the club and network will seek to involve students on various issues that will prepare them for a global-oriented future. Such activities may involve foreign affairs or United Nations issues, promoting awareness of Thailand’s Chairmanship of ASEAN business and economics, and other youthoriented activities that will expand their international perspectives.

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by Elisia Brodeur


r. Sean Fisk teaches AP and IB Chemistry and fGeneral Chemistry. He will often invite other RIS teachers and administrators to his classroom to see his students conducting cool chemistry experiments. One such invitation was to a demonstration day where guests could witness students modeling and identifying several different chemical reactions. The email ended with: “I may even let you light your hands on fire.” That’s when I decided I needed to talk to Mr. Sean and find out just what was going on in his HS chemistry classes. What kinds of chemical reactions are you talking about? We usually have the most fun in General chemistry, an elective between 10 and 12th grade, because it focuses on the practices, the things that scientists do. I show the students certain experiments that generate chemical reactions, which they then model. I like to use flashy demonstrations to indicate a chemical reaction, such as methane bubbles that look like your hands are on fire or lighting ammonium dichromate, which looks like a volcano disintegrating into ash as it burns. What are some of the kids’ favorite experiments? Anything to do with fire and flames or color changes, such when we study acids and bases. Acid-base indicators (also known as pH indicators) are substances that change color with pH. We also learn about how equilibrium can force a compound to change color back and forth. We’ve just been working on a cabbage indicator that changes color. How did this all begin? In my first year of teaching, I gave a summative exam in the lab where the students worked together with a partner to demonstrate chemical reactions. This kept it fun, engaging, and lively, and the kids were not stressed about it. It was great for me as it’s very visible and hands-on; I can easily look to see who understands the process and the skills they are trying to demonstrate.


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What’s your thinking behind inviting community members? I’ve always valued feedback as it helps me grow. I also have an open-door policy; anybody is welcome to come to my lab and watch or participate if they feel like it. A lot of people also need an excuse to get out of their classroom and this gives them one. How often do you do this during the school year and who comes? I invite the whole faculty a couple of times a year, members of my own department every few months, and team teachers even more than that. Ms. Sabrena, Ms. Nicole, and Ms. Mendy have been in a bunch. Typically five or six people will drop by over the two days of the lesson. What’s the benefit to the students? The students often provide peer feedback, but sometimes I will give the visitors a rubric and have them give the students feedback. It’s valuable for the students to hear different perspectives. What’s the reaction from the other teachers? Several teachers have become interested in using similar teaching techniques, such as argumentation, or argument-driven inquiry (the process of reasoning systematically in support of an idea, action, or theory). What that looks like is that I come up with a claim and the kids will talk it out. Then they give feedback and discuss further. I also tie different standards together through a storyline: building a logical story around them. I do this with bio standards, earth science standards, and chemistry. It offers a coherent pathway to help students understand a real-world problem. Your classes sound cool. What else have you been doing recently? We analyzed satellite data from the Mars Rover and could tell what the rocks are made of. We determined that Mars and Earth had similar origins. Most recently, we’ve been investigating the Great Barrier Reef, which has seen a 50% decline over the

last 27 years. One reason is bleaching, although that’s actually a non-chemical reason. It’s mostly due to ocean acidification, which is related to CO2 in the atmosphere that means the corals can’t grow and will eventually dissolve. We cover solutions, concentrations, and equilibrium. The content is mostly delivered via videos and POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning), where the students are given data sets that they need to crunch through and answer questions from different

points of view. In AP Chemistry, we just wrapped up an electroplating lab, and in IB Chemistry we’ve been analyzing spectroscopic data to identify organic compounds. What would you say to students thinking about taking chemistry? Come on down! Everyone can do chemistry, but if AP and IB aren’t your things then know that General Chemistry is quite different.


he Sacrament of Confirmation took place at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on April 28, 2019. There were 26 candidates: 11 MS and HS students from RIS and 15 Seminarians/students from other schools, who were confirmed by Bishop Philip Banchong Chaiyara, C.Ss.R., assisted by Fr. David Jeing Ketsurin and Fr. Yuthana Sriprapha, together with Fr. Leo Joseph Travis and Fr. Tony Sirichai. Here’s what 8th grader Jase Kemp had to say about this important milestone in his Catholic faith: “The Sacrament of Confirmation is when your faith is sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Along with this, the relationship of one’s person and Christian life strengthens. This is one of the goals we achieved while in Religion class. Over the past year, my classmates and I have been studying hard for the Reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation, learning about the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and so much more. While doing so, we participated in spiritual retreats with various activities. The culmination was the Holy Mass, the thanksgiving celebration. Personally, the experience of being confirmed was exciting because it was a once-in-a-lifetime event

and because of the way we learned. Rather than only taking notes, we got involved in activities related to confirmation, such as the retreats. Indeed, I feel blessed to have received the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.”

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he Celebration of the First Holy Communion took place on May 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Our seven First Communion candidates were filled with joy and had a special, successful, and meaningful experience with the help of our caring and supportive parents, priests, teachers, and RIS and church communities. The First Holy Communion was officiated by Fr. David Jeing Ketsurin, together with Fr. Leo Joseph Travis, Fr. Tony Sirichai, and Fr. Yuthana Sriprapha. Words from the Candidates: “I experienced being cleansed from my sins after receiving my first Confession, although at the start I was hesitant, if I say it rightly. And I felt happy when I received my First Holy Communion.” — Maria (Fahsai), grade 5 “I felt a little bit scared at the beginning, but later I was happy because I received the grace of Confession and Holy Communion, that is Jesus’ body and the Blood of Christ.” — Dominic (Dice), grade 3 “I felt nervous, but after receiving the Sacrament of First Confession and Communion, I was happy because Jesus, the bread of life, came into my life.” — Matthew (Nonn), grade 3 “I felt tired because I was not able to sleep well the night before, thinking about receiving Jesus for the first


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time. But after the celebration, I felt so happy and alive for I received Jesus, the bread of my life.” — Louis (Panngern), grade 3 “It was a great experience and a little bit scary for me. I remember when I was young, I felt jealous of my Dad because he received the Holy Communion. Now, thanks be to God, I am so happy. With Dad, we will be together in receiving the Bread of Life, Jesus.” — Emma, grade 2 “First I felt a little bit scared, but after it was good... because I received Jesus in my life for the first time, in the first in the Sacrament of Confession, then the most important, the Holy Communion, Jesus, in the form of consecrated/holy bread and wine.” — Sandrea, grade 2 “I felt so happy to receive the grace of Jesus in Confession and in Holy Communion. I was so thankful that on behalf of my companions, I thank everyone for a nice and memorable celebration.” — Sean, grade 2

by Nicki Ruthaivilavan


n a recent social studies unit, our 4th-grade istudents developed basic economic principles and entrepreneurship skills. After conducting market research, the students worked in teams to make a business plan and develop a good or service that would meet the needs of their target audience. Through this experience, the students learned about marketing, loans, profit, and charitable giving. On the day of the marketplace, business was booming! Consumers (parents, faculty, and students in other grades) enjoyed a range of products including slime, handmade notebooks, comics, drawings, and plenty of

delicious homemade food and drinks, from french fries and cookies to smoothies and snow cones! Collectively, the 4th-grade students earned 21,766 baht from the sale of their goods, all of which was donated to the Soi Dog Foundation. This charity was selected through student discussion and voting. The students chose the Soi Dog Foundation from a selection of charities that the RIS community regularly supports and opted to put the money towards medical fees for abused and abandoned dogs and cats that are being treated at the Soi Dog Foundation. Well done, 4th graders! Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Caroline Scott and Elisia Brodeur


hen the Middle School Council (MSC) members started discussing the upcoming annual Ensure Drive there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about it. Many students felt strongly that it was just not a fun fundraiser. More importantly, simply bringing in cans of Ensure powder doesn’t require much, if any, student participation, so the drive was not particularly meaningful to them. The students recognized that because there was no experience attached to it, they felt a disconnect between who they were helping and the action of raising money to help them. They wanted to get back to the whole purpose of the drive: to help those less fortunate. So they discussed other options that could help the Camillian Home, increase participation, and be more meaningful. The MSC students ultimately came up with the idea of the Camillian Home Fair. Ms. Caroline got approval from the administration, then the MSC formed a subcommittee and, through studentled discussions, developed the idea further and fleshed out the details: how they would run it, how they would share it with advisories, and the general expectations. Their main goal was to have fun while raising funds to help the children at the Camillian Home. They decided to run the fair over the course of 2 or 3 days to allow all of the advisories to participate. To present the fair to the advisories, the MSC students made a video that included example activities. Each advisory then came up with ideas for booths and activities and submitted them for approval. Then it was all about organizing the specifics and logistics, such as


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trying to get a balance of activities on different days. The advisory teachers let their students figure out the bulk of the details: what supplies they needed for their booth, how to advertise, etc. The fair had a lot of support from the parents, which was great. Several parents donated prizes; one contributed 10,000 baht worth of Sizzler coupons, one donated toys—including a giant stuffed bear, and another parent had their company, King’s Stella, come in to run their own booth. Every advisory in grades 6–8 took part in the fair. Some groups were extremely successful, others not quite as much, but the feedback from the students was really positive. They enjoyed the fact that the Camillian Home kids came to the fair and liked the fact that they got to see the people they were helping. The Camillian Home kids got a lot out of it, too, and were surprised when they learned that the fair was for them. In response to a survey sent after the fair, 94% of our students said that they want it to be an annual event.

The Camillian Home Fair raised a total of 109,328 baht! That will buy a lot of Ensure powder! In fact, the MSC raised so much money with this fundraiser that they could only buy half of the Ensure powder now and will have to buy the rest at a later date because it expires. But the fair was not just about raising money. The students felt good about participating in something that had a positive impact on others. They acknowledged that they developed a deeper sense of empathy for the people they were helping. Empathy is not something that can be taught; it has to be experienced. Ms. Patty, an 8th-grade advisory teacher, took several of the MSC students to the Camillian Home to deliver the Ensure powder. She said: “I was so impressed with our RIS Middle School students. Their interaction with the Camillian Home children was full of compassion. It was a memorable experience for all of us.” Here’s what some of the 8th graders who went on that trip had to say about the experience: “I was nervous going to the Camillian Home at first because I had no idea what it would be like, but as time went on we met and played games with the kids at the Camillian Home, which proved to be really fun. When playing the games although some kids had to sit out from time to time most everyone was smiling the whole time including me, probably due to the fact that the people at the Camillian Home we super kind, caring, generous, and humble. Overall I am so glad to have gone to the Camillian Home because it humbled me to meet these kids.” — Jase Kemp “Going to the Camillian Home was a great experience. I enjoyed every moment playing with the kids and doing activities with them. I feel like everyone at RIS should get a chance to go to the Camillian Home because you will get to meet the kids at the foundation. Plus, you will have a heartwarming experience.” — Miew P. “I learned many things by visiting the Camillian Home. Even though life is unfair for some people, at least we can make their lives a little better. What we did on that day was an excellent way to put the Principles of Phoenix to work. HEAD, HANDS, and HEART—we used them to make new friendships, link our ideas together, and bridge the gap of differences. I am incredibly proud to be part of this activity, and I hope many more students will also participate in the years to come.” — Victor C.

“This visit was a really valuable experience. I got to learn about what the Camillian Home does and how the money we raised is going to help the children. I think it’s really touching how these children are still able to smile and have fun every day even though they were born with problems. They aren’t nearly as lucky as many people, yet they’re still able to enjoy themselves with what they have. That tells me to be happy with what I have and not to take anything for granted.” — Matthew L. “Visiting the Camillian Home was such a wonderful experience! I had so much fun spending time and playing games and doing different activities there. From this visit to the Camillian Home, I not only experienced great times with everyone but I also learned that true happiness doesn’t come from when you get something, it actually comes from when you give. Thank you again, Ms. Patty, for your support and for bringing us to the Camillian Home because you helped make a great lifetime experience for everyone.” — Monchida (Sky) Sukontaman

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by Nattamon Tokaeo and Sila Visutvatanasak


he RIS Soi Dog Club’s main objective is to help abused and abandoned dogs and cats that need medical treatment. As a club, we focus on sponsoring sterilization while also spreading awareness of the stray dog and cat crisis in Thailand. The Soi Dog Club has spent the entire school year holding fundraisers and a variety of activities to fulfill these objectives, but we wondered what else the club could do to learn about what’s going on with these vulnerable, helpless animals that are scattered all over the country. To further educate ourselves, a group of students from the club set off on an early-morning flight to Phuket, heading to the Soi Dog Foundation headquarters. When we reached the Soi Dog Foundation, we were introduced to several medical staff, coordinators, and volunteers at the organization, all of whom were truly kind-hearted, beautiful people who welcomed us warmly with open arms. By the time we got settled, the sun was at its highest point, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the spacious areas of the Foundation. The Soi Dog Foundation shelters over 1,000 cats and dogs that have been rescued from conditions as terrifying as dog meat trades and quarantines during the rabies scare in Nakhon Phanom. We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to walk the dogs, which, despite all the suffering they have


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been through, were oozing with love and affection for every one of us. We could tell how much the caretakers shower these animals with adoration from the way the dogs interacted with them, how happy all of them seemed, and how healthy they were. Not only did we get to walk the dogs, but we also had the honor of visiting the Soi Dog hospital—an opportunity not everyone gets to experience when visiting the Foundation. There, we got to play with the puppies, visit the dental clinic, and most importantly, we got to see medical procedures and sterilizations happening. Our club members spent the day being educated on how the Foundation operates, ways the general public can help these animals, dissuading the purchase of dogs from pet stores who get them from puppy mills, and more. One thing the Soi Dog coordinators taught

us that especially stood out is the CNVR system: catch, neuter, vaccinate, and release. Following the CNVR system is not only cheap and quick but also ensures that stray animals are able to live safely on the streets but not produce any more offspring. This system is one solution to Thailand’s stray dog and cat crisis that has been proven effective by researchers and that has even managed to decrease the number of stray animals in Phuket by over 90 percent. It is extremely important to spread this message in order to solve the stray animal dilemma around the country.

Other than learning several important facts and spending our time with the rescued dogs, our club members also enjoyed spending several hours painting walls, sketching animal cartoons, and interacting with the adorable puppies and cats who are strong survivors of their hardships. The RIS Soi Dog Club is genuinely grateful for being able to participate in such a wonderful experience and to help out these dogs and cats. The Soi Dog Foundation truly showed us that the compassion shared among people is no different from the connection we share with these lovely animals.

by Pacharamon (Menthol) Danwachira


have been dancing for the past 10 years, but this year I started to view ballet differently. On November 23rd, 2018, I had the chance to participate in Dorothy’s Gladstone Award, a public ballet examination. I realized that, on stage, I wasn’t thinking about my steps or my placement. The only thing I thought about was doing my best. There’s a saying: “You will never regret giving your best.” I received enormous support from my family, friends, and teachers, which helped me perform to my fullest potential.

My grandma’s smile inspired me to perform at St. Louis’ Elderly Pastoral Center, a home for elders between the ages of 50 and 95 years old. I wanted to visit them and perform a ballet dance that might be new and interesting. Some of the elderly also love singing and aerobic dances, which are part of their activities at the home. However, they have never watched a ballet or Japanese fan dance.

After performing well in this event, my parents asked me to dance for my grandma’s birthday celebration. I chose to perform a Japanese fan dance for my grandmother since she loves watching unique performances, especially

I went to the elderly home on February 19, 2019, with my friend who sang Thai, English, and Chinese songs while I performed a ballet dance and the Japanese fan dance. In between each performance, my friend and I

traditional dances. This performance made her smile continuously, which signified that she enjoyed it.

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took turns talking to the elderly, which helped us get to know them more. One of the uncles told me that he was in Japan during the war. He taught me some Japanese words and shared some of his experiences in Japan at that time. After every performance, the elderly complimented us, so I can see how much they appreciated it through their eyes. I was surprised that my performances could brighten their day and made their living at the elderly home more intriguing. I can also connect this to when I made my grandma feel happy. This event not only taught me the value of sharing and giving, but it also gave me a new experience of performing for an audience that was so close. I was dancing less than two meters away from my audience, which was very different from when performing on a large stage alone where the audience is sitting at least 10 meters away. I tried to keep up the energy I use for

a normal performance while trying to utilize the space on a smaller stage. For some parts of my performance, I had to improvise some dance steps or else I would have crashed into the audience. Even though there were a few moments that didn’t go as I expected, the audience enjoyed the performance nonetheless. At that moment, I understood that dancing is not always about being the best dancer, it is about sharing and performing ballet, my passion, with others. Before we left, one of the elder uncles offered to sing a song for us as a thank you and goodbye. It was a happy song, yet most of us had tears in our eyes. Although we only spent a day with them, the smiles on their faces were so valuable to us and reflect how our performances were highly appreciated. We plan to go back to the elderly center and perform for them again. I was really happy that they enjoyed our performance. I encourage you to share your talents or passions with others as well because it not only makes them happy but ultimately it makes you feel grateful for yourself.

by Divi Maheshwari and Pleng Jitklongsub, edited by Prima (Pam) Utaisincharoen


pectrum is the first-ever GSA (gay-straight alliance) at RIS, which was started by Divi, Pleng, Pam, and Ophie as a CAS project. The premise of the GSA is to promote gay rights between the LGBTQ+ and straight communities at RIS, making every member of our community feel welcome and included. At first, we had difficulties coming up with an idea for our CAS project. Some suggested a project based around


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feminism, animal rights, or chemicals in water, but we wanted to do something unique, something never done before at RIS. Then we realized that there has never been a gay-straight alliance at RIS. After consulting with Mrs. Nicole (our CAS coordinator), Mr. Jim (the high school principal), and school administrators, our GSA idea got approved! Our next challenge was making our logo. We went through 10 designs before deciding on our current logo, which includes the rainbow flag

to represent the LGBTQ+ community. This was a really big step for us; what was once an idea had now been brought into reality and we all felt a great sense of pride. Then we were full speed ahead. We asked Mr. Tyson to be our advisor and started to plan for our movie night event. We wanted our first event to make a lasting impression on the student body so we decided to show the movie Love, Simon and to offer free food. Conflicted about our menu and costs, our indecisiveness finally came to an end when we decided to serve a range of food, from rainbow-shaped cookies and popcorn to bubble tea. Next, we discussed the layout of the room. We asked Mr. Luna if we could borrow his beanbags and couches and, without any hesitation, he was willing to help. But then we had issues with the location for our movie night. We wanted to show the movie in the CPD room as it is cozy, but it was already booked. We put aside our laziness and decided to show our movie in H408, which meant moving beanbags and couches from the second floor up to the fourth floor. We started to hang up our posters around campus. We put up so many posters that everywhere you turned, BOOM, you’d see a Spectrum poster. We posted our event on social media and asked our friends and Phoenix updates to do so too. Our advertisement game was strong. When March 28th arrived and the actual event was approaching, we were a mess. We had issues with the food and had to buy things at the last minute. We had trouble moving furniture and had problems with the projector and audio of the movie. And we STILL had no idea if people were actually going to show up. After

school that day, just as we had managed to finish setting up the room and the movie, we saw people coming into the room and heading straight toward the food. Who would’ve thought that free stuff would be a great way to attract people? We strode to the front of the room and introduced ourselves and the purpose of our GSA and movie night. We started the movie feeling anxious, but that feeling was quickly replaced with pride as we saw people smiling and enjoying themselves. That felt very rewarding. We believe our event was quite successful. Although we realize that 30 is not a big number in comparison to all of the students in the high school, we feel like our success came from the fact that we were able to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community, satisfy people with the food, and create a very comfortable and de-stressing environment for people to watch a movie with friends. We overcame our challenges and had a lot of fun together. LGBTQ+ issues are of global significance and we have taken the first step in making them significant at RIS. We love our GSA and are looking forward to future events where we will raise more awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and engage the student body. Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


by Monchida (Sky) Sukontaman


i, my name is Sky and I’m in 8th grade. I’m the current Co-President of the Middle School Council, one of the grade representatives for the Class of 2023, and I’m also the coordinator of the MS Plastic Collection House Team Competition. This contest is about the six house teams competing against each other to collect as much one-time use plastic as possible. The people behind this competition includes the MS Eco-Team, Ms. Jennifer, Mr. Mathias, and me. The house team points are awarded by the total kilograms of plastic collected; for example, 1.23 kg is equal to 123 house team points. The house team competition has helped raise awareness about recycling in many ways. The students have learned to recycle the plastic they’ve used and now know that trash can also be recycled. We know they have learned about this because some students went home and tried to find and collect the plastic waste that their family uses. The students also get to help the environment because all of the plastic we collect from this contest is going to a recycling company. This shows that by everyone taking a small action to help each other to recycle can make a big impact to help the Earth because these plastics are now all going to be recycled and not getting burned, which would make the planet hotter. No matter how small or big a person


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is, if we all work together and take action we can make a large impact. As of May 11th, these were the current house team standings: Tigers - 1,650 points Cobras - 1,269 points Elephants - 906 points Bears - 812 points Gibbons - 805 points Hornbills - 558 points We are excited to see who the ultimate winners will be when we do the final count on May 24th! Keep recycling and help keep the Earth clean!


Went to RIS Too is a recently launched RIS history and inostalgia social media page for alumni, featuring rare or forgotten photos from the 1960s to 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 go in the comments sections; some comments are humorous, cheeky even, while others are insightful and heartfelt. Here are some of our favorite 60s and

70s 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 preMinburi RIS era of earlier years in Soi Ruamrudee. I Went to RIS Too: Facebook: /iwenttoristoo Instagram: @ad.astra.ruamrudee

“Godbout Hall at the new campus is named after Father Godbout, while Elizabeth Library in the elementary school is named after Sister Elizabeth.” —Pat Namwong, Class of 1979 “I remember Sister Elizabeth! She taught sewing class in second grade! Loved that class!”
 —SooKyong Fox, 60s-70s alumna “What a great picture! I remember them well, especially Sister Elizabeth, my first religion teacher. What a sweet person.” —Jennifer Tia O’Brien, Class of 1991 Father Godbout & Sister Elizabeth, the two who had the vision of this school 62 years ago

“I definitely remember them very well. I continued to read for Father Godbout and Bishop Duhart when they couldn’t read anymore. Those were precious moments... Father Godbout continued to say mass in his room by memory until the very end. Sister Elizabeth prepared us for our Confirmation.” —Martina Sprangers, Class of 1980

Father Leo Travis, School Director circa 1975

“He gave me my first Communion! Love him” —Beatrice Rachinee Perez Pugh, 70s alumna ”A very caring priest!!” —Jude Thangarajah, Class of 1982

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Holy Redeemer Church, circa 1974 “Except for the cars and haircuts, there wasn’t much difference between [how the campus looked in] the 70s and the 80s when I was there.” 
 —Tawei Wan, Class of 1990 “Whoa! Back then you could wear skirts above the knees?!? I always loved school. It was small but cozy and warm. Everyone knew everyone.” —Jo Nontakorn, Class of 1991

Cheerleaders of RRS (Ruam Rudi School), circa 1968 “We are the Tigers, the mighty, mighty Tigers!” —Marsha Westbrook, Class of 1970 “I remember the cadence—the words, not so much! I bet Sharon Wrote [Class of 1973] remembers them all!” —Dee Bryan, Class of 1973

“My first class teacher in September 1969!” —Siraprapha Khomson, Class of 1974 “She was a wonderful teacher!” —Carol Vertley, Class of 1976 “I remember being sent to her office so many times!” —Mark S. Tang, Class of 1987 “I still remember her on my first day in RIS as a 5- or 6-year-old applicant, sitting in her office, as she kindly asked me if I could order numbers 1 to 10.”
—Rinku Mirpuri Chugani, Class of 1995 ”She was my principal during Elementary School. I remember her fondly.” —Sidharth Mahapatra, Class of 1997 Ms. Nancy Bunyaraksh, who started teaching at RIS in 1959, is among the school’s first and most beloved teachers. She is perhaps most notably beloved as an administrator, having served as elementary school supervisor throughout the 80s up until her retirement in 1992. Ms. Nancy recently passed away on April 4, 2019. 78

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“I was there! I remember being a flag-raiser for a day. It rotated. This brings back really great memories.” 
—Nachawan Israsena Na Ayudhya, Class of 1984 “Back then there was no Middle School, just Elementary School Grades 1-6 and High School Grades 7-12. So excited when we ‘graduated’ Grade 6, then entered High School in Grade 7!” —Mary Lancaster, Class of 1986

Morning assembly, circa 1974

“What every school should have—a flag ceremony before classes start!” 
 —Christal Doyle, Class of 1982

RIS vs ISB. Friendly sports rivalries since the 1960s. This is circa 1968, so technically, RRS (Ruam Rudi School) vs ISB. “Looks like something from a FIFA documentary!” —Collen Steinbring, Class of 2001 “Kids in the 60s surely didn’t skip leg days!” —Patrapon (Pound) Wongsirikul, Class of 2013

“I lived in Soi 2. This also means that I walked from Soi 2.” —Marino De Rienzo, 80s-90s alumnus “I love seeing this, and at the same time, it rips my heart out.” —Marsha Westbrook “That’s when I was there… and my five siblings!” —Peta Landers, Class of 1970 “My high school from 1967 to 1970. It was a great time in my life.” —Eric Spindler, 60s-70s alumnus 
“That soi is filled with many crazy teenage memories! Will write about it one day!” —Tuptim Malakul Lane, Class of 1970 “Those were the best days.” —Cynthia Aguilar, Class of 1971 This is really just like any top-of-the-soi sign in Bangkok, but for many who went to RIS in the span of 35 years, from 1957 to 1992, it’s an iconic image of youth, discovery, friendship, and now nostalgia.

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1. RIS alumni, along with current and former RIS faculty and staff, pay their respects at a memorial service for Mrs. Nancy Bunyaraksh, who passed away April 4, 2019. Mrs. Nancy, who started teaching at RIS in 1959, is among the school’s first and most beloved teachers. She is perhaps most notably esteemed as an administrator, having served as elementary school supervisor throughout the 80s up until her retirement in 1992. • 2. Father Leo Travis and Father Richard Thiele celebrated their 70th anniversary of religious life at a special mass at Holy Redeemer Church on the 19th of May. The event was attended by several RIS alumni as 80

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well as formers teachers and staff who came to support and congratulate the two Fathers. • 3. Atime Showbiz’s Cassette Festival concerts from May 24–26 have proved so popular that tickets sold out in 10 minutes! The nostalgia-centric concerts mark the return of 17 favorite 90s Thai pop acts, and three of them—Nicole Theriault, Andrea Suarez and [Project] H—happen to be RIS alumni! • 4. Popular YouTube vloggers & 90s alumni Louis Wattana Chuttong (Life of Bow) & Patranya Bhoolsuwan (Patranya Plates) have collaborated on their first YouTube clip together. It’s a Budapest vs Seattle cook-off as the cousins challenge each other from their

respective cities to make Thai dishes under a 100 baht! Check out the clip on the Life of Bow YouTube channel. • 5. Congratulations once again to 80s RIS alumna Kirida Bhaopichitr who was appointed earlier this year as a member of the board for the Government Housing Bank of Thailand. Dr. Kirida is also notably the Director for Economic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). • 6. Thai screen

legend and 70s RIS alumnus Toon Hiranyasub has gone viral in a Thai parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” by RadRadio.FM. The clip can be found on YouTube. In it, Toon is seen taking on Tom Hanks’ role from the original music video. • 7. 90s RIS graduates Eugene Zuniga, Ruttina Sivaruk, and Matthew Hayter represent for alumni at the inaugural RIS Community Golf Tournament held at the Windsor Golf Club on May 18th.


unique elephant-themed dragon boat races comprising 12 teams, including teams from China, the Philippines, and Malaysia, as well as Thailand’s very own Navy Seals.

arlier this year, RIS Class of 1991 alumna Mathurot aChuladul—currently the PR Manager at Minor Hotels—kindly invited the RIS community to the inaugural King’s Cup Elephant Boat Race & River Festival, held beside Anantara Riverside Bangkok. The three-day festival, from Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31, was in support of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, with proceeds going to a wide range of elephant-related charities. The event featured

Several members of the RIS community enjoyed the festivities, cheering on the paddlers from the river banks and partaking in the food fair and family activities. Evening event-goers also enjoyed pop concerts from the likes of Atom, New Jiew, J Jetrin, Singto Numchok, and the Thai Youth Orchestra. Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019


RIS Photo of the Day: 24/05/19 This morning our youngest students had their final Community Sing in the CPD room. Songs included the “Wheels on the Bus,” the “ABC song” with sign language, and even a Māori/New Zealand folk song called, “One Day a Taniwha.” Everyone had lots of fun, and it was great that parents could share this experience with their children.

RIS Photo of the Day: 21/05/19 Today our MS students opened the Shark Tank Market Day along the breezeway. This is the next major milestone for our students within their cross-curricular Shark Tank project. Students have been working hard on ways to create products that address real world issues in either how they are used or how they are made. For example, fashionable eco-friendly tote bags made from recycled materials or handmade candles that support various charities with their profits.

RIS Photo of the Day: 06/05/19 Last week our school community celebrated Spanish culture in the HS/MS Breezeway with food, drinks, and performances by our Spanish teachers and students. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Our Land, a nature conservation project that works to protect the wild flora and fauna in Thailand. The donation will also help to support their elephant sanctuary. #RIScares


Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019

RIS Photo of the Day: 02/05/19 As part of Book Week, this morning the ES students had their Vocabulary Parade and walked around the school campus. Students were assigned a word and grouped according to the first letter that corresponded with their vocabulary word. Such creativity—great job everyone!

RIS Photo of the Day: 23/04/19 Congratulations to Jotun in Grade 5, who recently took home 1st place (Robot Performance Award) at the First LEGO® League Thailand. The two-day event challenged the children to think like scientists and engineers and solve real-world problems by building, testing, and programming an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology. Well done, Jotun!

RIS Photo of the Day: 26/03/19 Recently, at the 17th annual EARCOS Teachers’ Conference held at ISB, our very own RIS teachers were included in the keynote speakers and workshop presenters lineup. Under this year’s theme, “Future Movers and Makers,” Ms. Linda Lund presented on ‘Elevating Heart Rates While Playing Pickleball,” and Ms. Lori Banks spoke about ‘Teaching for Artistic Behavior in My Art Room.” Not only was the conference professionally stimulating but it provided attendees with an opportunity for networking and building camaraderie!

Ad Astra Volume 27 June 2019