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the eye

Singapore American School

Sept. 21, 2011

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Vol. 31 No. 1

Vibes Day aims to lower stress Students tie-dye and Crayon their way through Peer Support’s first Good Vibes Day

LUNCHTIME PERFORMANCE. Senior Amar Kaul leads peer supporters in the lunchtime performance of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Photo by Pamela Chan

PLAYING FOR AN AUDIENCE. Upperclassmen watch from above as peer supporters sang on the first floor of the cafeteria. Photo by Pamela Chan

By Megan Cosgrove High school students left their white and navy uniforms at home and boarded their buses decked out in neon and tiedye for the first Good Vibes Day on Friday, Sept. 9. In order to “spread the happy,” Peer Support has decided to reduce past years’ annual Wellness Week, from a series of health themed days to a monthly event, says junior Rachael Hyde, head of the Good Vibes Day Committee. Each of these days will serve the dual purpose of lifting school spirits and raising awareness on a chosen aspect of student wellbeing. Dominique Pratt, co-president of Peer Support, says their intention for the first Good Vibes Day was “to make the school feel a little more friendly and happy. We want to relieve stress for everyone in anyway that we can.” Students filtering into school that morning first noticed the cafeteria with its meters of paper covered tables and crayoned messages from Peer Supporters. During lunch, upperclassmen hung their Crayola masterpieces over the balcony while others sang along with the ukulele-strumming, tambourine-shaking students who serenaded Friday’s crowd with the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude.” Throughout the day, short bursts of music signalled class changes instead of the regular chime and, by first break, all of Peer Support’s one hundred preordered shirts had been swept up by tiedyers in the foyer. Peer Support Co-President Maya Kale said that she will not reveal any specific information regarding future Good Vibes Day, but “they should all be surprising.”

DYE AND DRY. Tie-dyed shirts hang in ARTISTS AT WORK. Crayons and paper attract the attention of juniors Johnny Goode, Brendan Bieker, Andrew Crema, Xavier Basilla, Raymond Hohensee, and Alex Berenger. the foyer. Photo by Pamela Chan Photo by Monica Chritton • 40 Woodlands St. 41, Singapore 738547 • • (65) 6363 3404 • MICA (P) 130/04/2010



Sept. 21, 2011

New Faculty

Student elections draw record number of candidates

New focus on spirit rather than fundraising brings elevated level of competition for cabinet offices

John Gaskell

Chemistry As an “Air Force brat”, John Gaskell moved all over the Midwest but calls Colorado home. This is his first time overseas. “I don’t see myself as a scientist who happens to teach as well, but as a teacher who teaches science,” Gaskell said. Gaskell has a daughter who is a sophomore in college. - by Theresa Ellsworth

Saylar Craig

FST Geometry Math teacher Saylar Craig says he was part of the “dorkestra” crowd in high school - kids who hung out with the music, theater and math nerds. Craig who will be working with IPAU this year, considers himself lucky to have seen a Nirvana concert just months before Kurt Cobain’s death. Craig says that “Darth Vader’s Theme” is perfect for math test days, and “Barracuda” by Heart is his theme song. - by Emily Nelson

StuCo line up. Senior candidates await their turn to speak at the podium. Photo by Lia Qiujano.

By Kiran Siddique Student council elections concluded on Sept, 9. with a record pool of 77 candidates competing for 17 possible spots.

The winners of this year’s freshmen elections are Callum Nesbitt as president, Brett Moody as vice president, Sanya Seth as treasurer, Katherine Yenko as secretary, and Allison

Wenner as communications director. The sophomore vice president is last year’s Class President Pamela Chan; James Choi as treasurer; Adam Tsao as secretary; and Simon Grigg as communications director. For Junior Council, Nikhil Nilhakantan is vice president; Chelsea Lin is treasurer; Liam DuPreez reclaimed his previous position as secretary, as did Annika Hvide, who was re-elected by her peers as communications director. Seniors elected Max West as their vice president, Rin Okumura as secretary, Kanishka Wijayagunaratne as treasurer, and Bryce McConville as communications director. Students believe that this year’s elections were affected by the size of the candidate pool.

“It was a stunning number.” junior Bryan Quah said. “I’ve never seen this many people running for student council in my high school life.” The considerable number of people running did not turn out to be an issue, veterans of the elections said. Sachith Siriwardane, a junior who has participated in all student council elections since his freshman year, said the large competition “did not affect the running process at all.” According to Annika Hvide, what changed was not the elections, but Student Council itself. Hvide said the Student Council was more money oriented in past years. “This year,” Hvide said, “it’s more about unity.”

Tall tales drive expectations Freshmen find entry-level fears ‘much ado about nothing’

By Erica Huston Incoming freshmen arrived at SAS with preconceived notions of what their first day of high school would entail. The general consensus was primarily one of excitement with a mixture of anxiety. Concerns ranged from being able to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night to the possibility of hazing at the hands of their upperclassmen contemporaries. Gabriel Zink, in his second year of SAS, heard rumors about hazing, but said that it wasn’t as bad as he Adam thought it was going to be. “I was kinda scared of hazing Miller you know, seniors. I heard about the Weight Training senior freshmen egg day, where you Lifeguarding put an egg in a person’s mouth and First Aid CPR close it with your arms,” Zink said. Outdoor and Freshman Sanya Seth feared that Indoor Sports every move she made in high school Adam Miller taught in the primary would be accounted for when it was and intermediate divisions before time for her college applications. switching to the high school physical education department. “[In High School] I was a jock but had friends in all the groups of high school, so I hung out with super smart kids, the popular kids, the motor-heads, the visa students, the band kids, the skaters, the punks and the wastoids,” Miller said. “My friends called me the common denominator.” Miller said Mr. Criens was his biggest fear in moving to the high school. - by Sanjna Malik

“I feel like everything counts now,” Seth said, “you have to get stuff done.” Another concern among freshman is stress over the amount of assigned school work, but Seth feels that success in high school is largely dependant on the degree of a student’s organization. “You shouldn’t stress about coming into high school because it’s just not worth it. High school is a place where you can’t slack, not put things off to the last minute and you’ve got to be organized,” Seth said. “[The workload is] kind of the same. I go to sleep at the same time [as last year],” freshmen Phillip Kerger said. Freshmen soon figured out that upperclassen weren’t as frightening as they feared. “No one’s really targeting the freshmen,” freshmen Allison Wenner

Comic by Ed Khoo.

said. Freshmen Kennedy Bastow felt the jitters on her first day. “It was a completely new school

and I didn’t know where to go to, where any of my classes were and the class schedule,” Bastow said.

Summer means adventure for globe-trotting students

Darlene Poluan

Algebra 1, 2 Geometry Math teacher Darlene Poluan grew up in Manado, Indonesia, where she remembers napping in a guava treee in her front yard. When she was 12 years old, her parents moved to Los Angeles. While working on her Bachelors at UC Berkeley, Poluan traveled to Singapore to conduct undergraduate research comparing American-based curriculum at SAS to the math curriculum in local schools. She joined a band during her stay in Singapore and played in clubs and coffee. Someday she wants to be a fulltime jazz singer, but for the time being she said she enjoys “living the American dream” in Singapore. - by Olivia Nguyen

HELPING HAND. Junior Atikah Scott poses with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the second destination of an Italian roadtrip with her mother. Photo courtesy of Atikah Scott.

By Monica Chritton Sydney, Australia, was the destination on their minds when junior Atikah Scott and her mother, kindergarten teacher Linda Scott, were planning their bi-annual trip to visit relatives on an early July night. The Singapore Airlines website had more to offer. “We were looking at flights online and we noticed that the flights to Milan were really cheap,” Atikah said. Together they decided to drive around Italy since Atikah had never been to Europe before. Atikah and her mother got off the plane in Milan, rented a car and drove to Pisa, Florence and Venice. The pair finished their journey with a bicycle trip around the Italian Alps. While a number of SAS students either participated in SAT prep. or visited relatives over the summer, others chose more adventurous alternatives. Juniors Vicente Valenzuela, Shashank Jejurikar, and Brandon Zhang, took the opportunity to volunteer for three weeks in Auroville, India. The Auroville website ( says that the community draws people from over 45 different nations and is centrally focused on human unity. Auroville citizens use

no money. Instead, everyone does camp called “So You Want to be a their share of work for meals. Each Doctor?” Doctors representing speingredient is vegan and is not in any cialties talked to campers about mediway processed. Since volunteers are cal school and their personal experinon-citizens, they must pay money ence of practicing medicine. for the duration of their stay but are This camp was not all lectures; the not exempt from doing their share in highlight for Anderson was the opthe community’s work. portunity to examine several cadavers “My job was to first hand. catch rats so I had “When I first saw to set up traps and if the zipped-up body we caught any rats, I bag on the table, I would have to travel was freaking out ina couple kilometers side,” Anderson said. out in the open to set “I couldn’t look away them free,” Valenzuefrom it, and I couldn’t la said. Valenzuela believe that I was was also assigned as a couple feet away a cook. from the dead body.” The boys travelled Sophomore Sarah Anderson Anderson obon motorbikes and biserved various bones cycles. Opting for the and organs on other motorbikes, Valenzuela said that they days. might have had a little too much fun. “On the inside of the body, we “I did some crazy stunt with the saw the whole digestive system. The bike and the exhaust pipe went on my lungs were removed so we could see leg and burned me. Brandon crashed them separately.” into a car on the last day.” Next summer, Anderson hopes At the end of the day, the trio to attend a similar medical camp at would up with other volunteers dis- Cambridge. cussing politics and philosophy until “If anything, the camp just conearly hours of the morning. firmed the fact that I want to be a docOn the other side of the world, tor.” sophomore Sarah Anderson was at a three week long Brown University


I couldn’t believe that I was a couple feet away from a dead body


Sept. 21, 2011

An Eye Staff Editorial

The Fatal Distraction Internet more distraction than

Expect the unexpected

“Clean slate syndrome” kicks in every fall when we buy new notebooks and say goodbye to summer. We are one year older. We make new goals and discard the ones we failed to meet last year. We expect to return from summer to see a transformed SAS, and in a way, it is. Our friends have grown a few inches taller, and the campus does not look quite the same. Once the small changes are accommodated though, it’s easy to think that each year is just like any other, but this year, expect the unexpected. Expect to see new faces in the faculty and administration who welcome experimental methods of learning. Not only are they passionate about what they are teaching, they also want to get to know their students. Classes should be geared less towards plugging grades in the grade book and more about plugging students into the heart of content. Expect to grow accustomed to Fort SAS with its prison-like revolving gates and high-tech ID cards that can track student’s movements and maybe even their thoughts. Security personnel softened the transition, though, by enticing us in with cold juice boxes on the other side of the gates and assuring us that the new measures were for our safety. Expect to see more spirit activities and Good Vibes Days. Student Council created a prom committee so their main focus can be on putting the pep back in pep rallies instead of fundraising for prom. Peer Support promises monthly Good Vibes Days instead of the annual Wellness Week to maintain the energy throughout the year. Only six weeks in to the school year, there has already been a durian-dog eating contest and a crayon happy, tie-dying Good Vibes Day. Friday’s Survivor contest a Student Council event. Expect The Eye to continue to inform students about issues that affect them and to draw the community closer together with stories about its members. Each year is filled with highs and lows; we will try to portray SAS in all its parts which may mean confronting controversial issues. We will endeavor to do that responibly and fairly. There is change in the air and students and teachers have, so far, risen to the ocassion. Just remember to expect the unexpected.

Campus ‘toons

Klara Auerbach

a learning tool for students

Growing up is confusing. Getting a straight answer from anyone is hard. Getting the right answer is even harder. As children, we were told that fruits and vegetables were good for us; they will help us grow. Why then, is the “Apple” sitting in our backpacks doing the opposite? Our worlds now revolve around our 15-inch MacBooks. With our entire lives now being completely digitized , it is easy for us to believe that this change is for the better. However, what seems to be a modern convenience could be a burden in disguise. Unlike adults, teenager’s brains are less capable of maintaining attention for long periods of time. To a high school student, one new Facebook notification, no matter how insignificant, is more tempting than a class or lecture. The constant access to the Internet and its distractions is creating a significant new challenge to focusing and learning. In a 30-day period last school year, the site most requested on the SAS network was not The New York Times or Wikipedia but, you guessed it, Facebook at 3.6 million hits. Numbers reveal that most Internet activity at school is not for education-

al purposes. As much as we enjoy our endless trolling on YouTube and Facebook, we cannot deny that they are the main distractions in our lives. Quite simply, we lack the self discipline to favor schoolwork over the Internet’s more alluring siren call. The interactive digital experience is connecting us all, but the satisfaction of an immediate response is making real interaction less likely. After all, you cannot send someone a smiley face or a funny YouTube video if you’re talking to them face to face. To receive the most out of our education, we cannot approach it with the expectation of instant gratification that we have when surfing the internet. Learning is a gradual process. A process that does not provide immediate solutions. A process that cannot be fully accomplished by a quick Google search. In order for us to lead successful and purposeful lives, we have to find a happy medium between the real world and the virtual world. As the digital world takes over our lives, finding this comfortable “in-between” will become harder, but also increasingly important.

Club officers spend summer with Papua New Guinea project

By Danni Shanel

Seniors Emma O’Connell. Maya Kale and Elizabeth Creech were the guests of honor in a cultural show in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Emma O’Connell.

the eye Singapore American School 40 Woodlands Street 41 Republic of Singapore 738547 Phone: (65) 6363-3404 Fax: (65) 6363-6443


Gold Award


International First Place

Editors-in-chief: Anbita Siregar, Megan Cosgrove; Managing editors: Monica Chritton, Tyler Stuart, News Editors: Ash Oberoi, Danni Shanel; Features Editors: Olivia Nguyen, Sana Vasi; Op-Ed Editor: Klara Auerbach,Arts & Entertainment Editors: Kate Penniall, Kiran Siddique; Sports editor: Erica Huston; Photo editor: Pamela Chan; Copy Editors: Emily Nelson, Megan Talon; Reporters: Klara Auerbach, Pamela Chan, Monica Chritton, Megan Cosgrove, Theresa Ellsworth, Erica Huston, Edward Khoo, Sanjna Malik, Emily Nelson, Olivia Nguyen, Ash Oberoi, Kate Penniall, Quin Reidy, Danni Shanel, Kiran Siddique, Anbita Siregar, Tyler Stuart, Megan Talon, Sana Vasi; Adviser: Mark Clemens The Eye is the student newspaper of the Singapore American School. All opinions within these pages are those of their respective writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Singapore American School, its board of governors, PTA, faculty or administration. Comments and suggestions can be sent to the Eye via the email address, At the author’s request, names can be withheld form publication. Letters will be printed as completely as possible. The Eye reserves the right to edit letters for reasons of taste and space.

By Ash Oberoi After spending a day delivering books to rural New Guinea schools, seniors Emma O’Connell, Maya Kale and Elizabeth Creech went from village to village picking up families for a ride in to the big cultural show. “The back of the flat-bed truck was completely packed with all the locals, and they just kept singing the same traditional song over and over again,” O’Connell, president of Growing a Future Organization (GAFO), said. O’Connell, Kale and Creech, all GAFO officers, spent a week in June in Papua New Guinea, using their time to get a first-hand idea of the basic needs of local schools. The main aim of the club is to provide long-term support for these schools. These goals were what drove Jason Adkison to sponsor the club. “That is, to get an organization... on their feet...and make them so that

they’re not looking for donations or hand-outs, but rather get them started in doing something in their own community,” Adkison said. Club members devised initial goals before embarking on their trip. One idea was to grow coffee in New Guinea and sell it in Singapore, but, after seeing the state of the school, GAFO saw problems in these schemes and began working to create new ones. On their last day in New Guinea; O’Connell, Kale and Creech were the guests of honor at a cultural show put on by the students. The governor was also present at this event, and he made a speech and a large donation to the school. “[The students] came...wearing tribal clothing, that was passed down from generations before them, and they did a big dance. It was kind of like a parade,” O’Connell said.


Mary Johnson

Guided learning Long-time substitute Mary Johnson joins the faculty this year as a full-time learning support teacher.The Wyoming native, who is fluent in Spanish, German and French, is an ex-military officer who says she joined the army to see the world. Johnson said she was initially worried about being accepted in the community but was surprised by students’ loud applause during the first assembly. “I was so touched by that. I should have yelled back, ‘I love you guys.’” - by Danni Shanel

Cathy Casey

Middle and high school nurse Cathy Casey said she was a high school jock who played basketball and tennis. The Ireland native is the new full-time nurse. Casey goes to Cambodia three times a year to work with Singapore charity First Hand, caring for children rescued from human trafficking and others who are handicapped. Casey has two children, thirdgrader Sean and two-year-old Billy. - by Ash Oberoi

Barton Millar

Psychology AP Psychology Economics Barton Millar grew up in Minnesota, but spent the last 11 years in Portland, Oregon, teaching in a high school IB program and coaching a competitive robotics team. He says he acquired some memorable medical experiences while there. Walking down the hall of a city hospital, Millar ran into a friend working as an attending surgeon,who was confused about his current patient. The surgeon call Millar over and asked a favor of him. “I stood in an operating room with my index finger in a patient’s open artery, while the attending surgeon made a phone call.” - by Kate Penniall

Jackie Osborn English 9

Jackie Osborn comes from the small town of Tipton, Iowa which has a total population smaller than that of the SAS student body. Osborn is familiar to students who remember here from after completing one semester with teacher Amy Zuber-Meehan as a student teacher. Osborn was a four-sport athelete in high school but found contact rugby in college. “I’ve been in the National Women’s Rugby team division one tournament for three years,” Osborne said. - by Erica Huston



Sept. 21, 2011

Benefit in studying with friends By Olivia Nguyen On the first day of school, sophomore Rachel Issenberg picked up her schedule and went to her French class. She sat in a corner of the room waiting to see who her new classmates would be. A good friend, Zarima Greco, entered the room and the two sat next to each other, feeling more secure and comfortable in the class. Teachers and counselors think having friends in class are a distraction, but new research proves that with willpower and hard work, students can maintain their GPAs by studying with friends. UCLA professor Andrew J. Fuligni and his former graduate student Melissa R. Witkow conducted a research project that surveyed 600 students in the Los Angeles area. The majority received higher grades by studying together. Some SAS students doubted that friends can actually help boost grades rather than sink them. “I feel like I don’t benefit and I get distracted when friends are in my classes,” sophomore Nic LaBranche said. Some students like LaBranche struggle to stay focused when their

UCLA study shows friends who study together get better grades

Having friend who focus helps keep me on track, and that’s the most important thing. Junior Sonia Parekh

ming for tests, students help each other study by sharing different studying techniques. “When I study with my friends, we ask each other questions on the study guide and answer it. I feel like it does benefit me,” sophomore Bri Goulding said. Counselor Trevor Sturgeon said that being in classes with fewer friends expands students social circles and teaches them ways to work well with others. Recent research has revealed positive benefits that substantiate the growing trend of students switching out of classes to be with “I think it’s good in high school friends. Photo by Kate Pennial for students to have a variety of dif“It’’s really easy to contact your ferent teachers, teaching styles and peers are next to them, but when it keep me on track, and that’s the most friends and ask for help; you also feel people, because in reality that is what comes down to actually collaborat- important thing,” Parekh said. Not only can friends steer friends more comfortable talking to them,” people are going to experience both ing, junior Sonia Parekh says focusin college and in life,” Sturgeon said. in the right direction, they are more junior Matt Conklin said. ing is the key. From homework help to cram“Having friends who focus helps approachable when asking for help.

New planners missing daily calendar

Homework pages eliminated to encourage online schedule use By Emily Nelson When students received the new daily planner from home base teachers, they were surprised to find there was no daily homework calendar, no place to record homework. Those pages were deleted although the new planner included a monthly calendar. The pages were dropped from the planner after Deputy Principal Doug Neihart and former deputy Lauren Mehrbach polled students asking them whether or not they used planner for homework. It was revealed that a strong percentage of students are actually not using the diary,” Neihart said. Accustomed to having a homework diary throughout her first year of high school, sophomore Summitt Liu was shocked. “I wondered where the actual homework diary was, and believed they would give it to me the next day. I was disappointed as after my first

week and was even more confused when I still didn’t get a homework diary” Liu said. Senior Colin Lo said he was accustomed to using the diary to record his homework everyday. “I was so used to be handed a homework diary at the beginning of the year. I think that the [diary] is pretty much useless without the actual homework part” Lo said. “I would love to have the homework diary implemented again this year, because I would definitely use it” Lo said. While Lo and Liu were disappointed in the change, senior Marc Shaffer was indifferent. “It wasn’t that big of a deal to me, I usually just use the diary for the first few months, and then stop,” Shaffer said. Shaffer said he uses the Sticky Notes application on his computer or scraps of paper to record his home-

work assignments. With the one-to-one initiative, students now have day-long access to programs that provide paperless alternatives. “I believe that the school wants to really advance in technology, so getting rid of the homework diaries causes students to use programs such as Blackboard or GoogleDocs,” Natalie Quach said. This year, many students are using programs in class such as GoogleDocs, Dropbox and Edmodo. “Starting this year, some of my teachers are using GoogleDocs to get assignments to students. I have nothing against GoogleDocs, but it did take awhile to get used to,” senior Marietta Tanudistastro said. “My AP Literature teacher uses his own website, ‘Welcome to Mabie’s World,’” Shaffer said.

Board names new superintendent By Jacqui Geday, Eye Online After an intense and confidential six-month search process, SAS has a new superintendent. Dr. Chip Kimball joins the SAS community from Redmond, Washington, where he is the superintendent of Lake Washington School District. He starts work here July 1. “We wanted somebody who had a real vision of what students need for the future,” Board of Governors member Catherine Poyen said. Poyen said the board changed past practices and followed a more rigor-

STICKY NOTESWhile some students are indifferent about the amended homework diaries, others have been forced to scramble to stay organized. Photo by Pamela Chan

Dr. Chip Kimball set to leave Lake Washington School District next year after selling vision to SAS Board of Governors.

ous process. They created a search committee that was made up of four board members and two faculty members. Previous searches saw top candidates coming to Singapore for appearances before parents, teachers and student committees, each of which provided input to the board. In this case only two teachers were privvy to the work of Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm hired to identify candidates. High school teacher Eric Burnett was one of those two teachers.

Dr. Kimball, along with other finalists, came to Singapore for interviews with the board, search committee and the four building principals. High school principal Dr. Tim Stuart called Dr. Kimball a “tech guru.” “He’s a very confident, visionary leader.” Dr. Stuart said. “If you look at his track record, he has pushed the envelope when it comes to schools, equipping kids into the 21st century.” Dr. Kimball’s background in technology implementation includes working as a high school technology coordinator while he was completing

his doctorate at USC. He was appointed to the California Center for School Restructuring because of his work in integrating technology into the classroom. Dr. Kimball is set to make a visit on the week of Oct. 17 to get to know the SAS community. Dr. Brent Mutsch, who is leaving after five years as superintendent, will help ease him into his new positon.

More breaking news and SAS stories at Photo courtesy of Online PR News

Sept 21, 2011  

The Eye Volume 31 Issue 1

Sept 21, 2011  

The Eye Volume 31 Issue 1