the eye Singapore American High School
September 15, 2004/vol. 25 no. no 1
Of 100 possible spots in the Terry Fox 100, only 78 students signed up. Faculty and Athletic Council members also joined in the relay-style run, and all participants were rewarded with ice cream at the end of the hour. The ofﬁcial Terry Fox run takes place on Sentosa on Sept. 18. Eighty-seven percent of the money collected goes to cancer reasearch facilities around the globe. Photo by Laura Imkamp
Terry Fox 100 raises cancer awareness at SAS by Sam Lloyd For those who think the mile is a challenge, imagine running it 3,339 times over a period of 143 days with only one leg. Canadian Terry Fox did just that 25 years ago to support cancer research and began a tradition that has survived to this day. On Sept. 8, that tradition came to SAS for the high school students and faculty ran in the “Terry Fox 100 Run,” a noncompetitive relaystyle run-walk in which participants were arbitrarily split into teams and assigned to a lane. Each lane sent off two runners at a time, who traveled halfway around the track (200m) before passing off to the next. “Seventy-eight people signed up originally, but some faculty came out and ran, so we had about 85-90 total,” Principal Paul Chmelik said. “We got one or two PE classes out too.” Physics teacher Ian Page was a major proponent of the run in the high school. “The whole idea is to inspire people to think about cancer research, to take part in the Terry Fox Run, and to donate to research,” he said. “The main thing is to get people involved.” The actual Terry Fox run includes a 2.5-mile (4 km) fun run/walk and a 5-mile (8 km) competitive course. Singapore has hosted the run since 1993, and is just one of 51 countries around the world to do so annually. In 25 years, the Terry Fox Foundation,
has raised over $360 million internationally for cancer research. Terry Fox was an average, athletic 18-year-old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1977. His right leg was amputated six inches above the knee. At 21, with a synthetic leg in place, he embarked on a marathona-day (26 miles/42 km) journey across Canada to draw attention and funds to cancer research. He called his run the “Marathon of Hope”. F o x developed lung cancer during his run and stopped in Thunder B a y , Ontario, 3,339 miles (5,373 km) along. He died soon after. Middle School students also ran Thursday, though on a different course. Their run was named after Gerri Hickman, a middle school teacher who died of cancer in April. “The big incentive [for the run] came from the middle school, due to the death of Mrs. Hickman.” Page said. Although the run took place throughout the school, different
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sections took different approaches. “Every division is trying to deal with [the run] in their own way,” Deputy Principal Dave Norcott said. “We [did] our Terry Fox run out on the track to prevent conﬂict with other divisions.” On Tuesday Sept. 6, Norcott announced the decision to place a 100-volunteer cap on the Sept. 8 run. He believed the change would make numbers more manageable and focus the run more on those who recognize its value. “ W e want people to come who want to be there, people who appreciate sacrifice,” he said. “It is an activity which requires people to participate actively, to make a commitment toward something, in this case, cancer research.” Page agreed. “I think the way weʼve done it is better than to force everyone to do it. Itʼs been a success in that people were enthusiastic about it,” he said. “Itʼs good to get more people involved, but itʼs better to get people who want to do it, I think.” Students signed up for various
If youʼve given a
dollar, youʼre a part of
the marathon of hope.”
reasons. “Basically, there are three reasons why I did this run,” sophomore David McKenzie said. “First, because itʼs for a good cause, cancer research. Second, itʼs a good workout and we can get some school bonding. Third, Cross Country made me! Skipping class was also a bit of a factor.” Many students were driven away by the inconvenient timing of the run and the short opportunity for signing up. “Iʼm a lazy guy,” senior Michael Palomaki said, summing up another popular reason for giving it a miss. According to math teacher David Rops, an organizer of the run, one of its purposes was just plain exercise. “Itʼs good to broadcast the message of exercise,” he said of the run. He believes it will help students take an approach to life “beyond pencil and paper.” Rops also hopes that the run will encourage students to sign up for the ofﬁcial run on Sept. 18 to aid cancer research. “Hopefully, people will partake in Terry Foxʼs vision and dream,” Rops said. The entry fee for the run is $25 for adults, 87 percent of which goes directly to cancer research institutes around the world. In the words of Terry Fox, “If youʼve given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope.”
Deputy Principal Dave Norcott hands out ice cream to runners and athletic council members after the one-hour relay run. Norcott also ran in the event.
Top: Bottom: Principal Paul Chmelik highﬁves freshman Rachel Fink at the ﬁnish line. Photos by Laura Imkamp
2 features Tracy Van der Linden “I think I have the best job in the world.”
Professional dancer and ISKL graduate comes to SAS By: Nicole Liew Tracy Van der Linden, the new High School dance teacher, moved to Singapore from the International School of Kuala Lumpur to work at SAS. Linden said SAS is an excellent school with outstanding facilities and great students who are easy to get along with and very cooperative. “I think I have the best job in the world because I get to teach what I love,” she said. Linden was born in Sydney,
Australia, but lived in Queensland, Holland, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where she graduated from ISKL. She danced professionally in arts festivals in Malaysia and Melbourne and taught dance in Eumemmerring College and Beacon Hills College. Lindenʼs main style of dance is contemporary. Linden started her dance education when she was 3 years old and has attended several dance studios around the world. She is in charge of the high school dance program. She said she loves every minute of her job and wouldnʼt change anything about it. Apart from dance, Linden said she enjoys running and just hanging out with friends. She owns a very large, Old English Sheepdog named Koning. Linden said dance is her passion. “I love the way it allows you to express yourself using movement and music,” Linden said. “Itʼs my way to just have fun and let loose.”
Kim Criens “I’m not totally a newbie.”
By: Barbara Lodwick Criens has been an expat all his life, living in Cairo until he graduated in 1997 from Cairo American School. “Iʼm not totally a newbie,” Criens said. Criens was at SAS three years ago, but left to go back to the Netherlands, where he taught at the British School Netherlands (BSN) and the American School of The Hague (ASH). At ASH he was the assistant Varsity Girlsʼ Basketball coach, and Varsity Baseball coach. Criens said he left the Netherlands for no other reason other than to come here. Criens hated the weather, the trafﬁc and the one-hour commute each way from Amsterdam to the school in The Hague. Criens said his best high school memories were those of playing volleyball, basketball and baseball, He said his baseball coach took his team on a trip to Northern Europe for the International School Sports Tournament. The team not only
Criens returns after three-year break in Netherlands won, but they had an experience that members would remember for the rest of their lives. “[Some experiences] I wouldnʼt want to share with the paper,” Criens said. He still plays volleyball every Wednesday when the faculty gets together to play against one another. Criens said he thinks that if the best six or seven got together, they could beat the Boysʼ Varsity Team. He also helps the Girlsʼ Varsity setters, doing drills and improving skills. Criens, passionate about surﬁng, said he is going to Bali over the no-activities weekend with nothing but board shorts and, “maybe, a toothbrush.” Criens said the best place he has ever surfed is Dreamland, Bali. He likes the French beaches because they are sandy and soft to crash on. Criens teaches Soccer, Flag Football, Rugby, Indoor Sports, Weight Training and Safety/First Aid.
September 15, 2005
Of the 10 teachers joining the h only three are brand new to SAS, w up from middle school or are return somewhere else.
Former teacher packs kids off By Michelle Lee For Sunanda Widel, art has been a passion, a career, and a ground for many amazing opportunities. “[Art] was always the thing I did best,” she said. Widel realized her talent at the age of seven and said she has never stopped learning and developing her artistry. In high-school she took her O-levels (British standardized test)
“High school students are more self-directed and advanced.”
in art, and continued with advertising and graphic design in college. Her current expertise is with printmaking, and she loves printmaker Janet Turnerʼs work. Other recent inspirations include Belgian impressionist Adrien Jean LeMayeur. She is currently working on paintings of her own, and draws upon nature for inspiration on her odd days off. Widel loves to paint in Bali and one of her favorite experiences as an artist was a ten-day painting trip to Bali. “The people, the beaches, the scenes are just beautiful,” she said. Widel worked as an art teacher at both the elementary and high school department at SAS.
“High school students are more self-directed and advanced, ”Widel said. She no longer ﬁnds herself teaching new techniques but, instead, advises students on how to build on their already developed individual talents. Expatriate life isnʼt new to Widel, as she has lived as an expat since the age of ten. She has spent the last 12 years in Singapore with husband Peter Widel who teaches fourth grade. With both her daughters having graduated from SAS, Widel says her goal is to devote herself entirely to art. “[There is] always room to learn,” she said.
Teachers move over from middle school to teach in high school departments by Ravindran Shanmugam Of the ten new high school teachers this year, only science teacher Simon Bright, english teacher Kerry Thomas and PE teacher Tracy Van der Linden, are completely new to SAS. Both art teacher Sunanda Widel and PE teacher Kim Criens have enjoyed stints at SAS before. These additions make up 270 faculty members who teach about 3000 students - a ratio of just over 11 students to one teacher. English and social studies teacher Joseph Thomas previously taught at the Taipei American School and the American Community School of Athens, as well as English and AP Spanish classes in schools in Massachusetts.
Other new teachers are PE teacher Ilse Veenbaas, formerly a teacher at the elementary school. Veenbaas is ﬂuent in English, Dutch and French. New PE teacher Ursula Pong was a middle school PE and dance teacher, while part-time social studies teacher Jeff Devens moved to high school from middle school counseling. Math teacher Cam McNicol is also new to the high school. McNicol taught math in the middle school for two years and was previously at the International School of Manila. He also taught in his native New Zealand, including a ﬁve-year stint as a Mechanics/Computing Instructor in the Royal New Zealand Navy. He is here with his wife Zeeb, who teaches science in the middle school.
McNicol said that he sees a marked transition between grades eight and nine, with high school students quickly becoming more mature and “reﬂective.” “While a teacher has more power in the middle school, I enjoy the more stimulating environment”, McNicol said. “I also donʼt have to be on [studentsʼ] backs all the time.” Jeff Devens has an equally impressive resume. Even as he provides counseling services and teaches Social Studies, he is enrolled in a PhD program with Capella University. Devns was a middle school counselor and humanities teacher.
September 15, 2005
features 3 Photos by Laura Imkamp
high school this year, while the others moved ning after a few years
ning Teachers Carrie
Thomas “It is fun to have so many diffferent nationalities represented here.”
Marketing director, teacher in South Africa comes to SAS
By Denise Hotta-Moung The move to Singapore took Carrie Thomas thousands of miles away from her Oregon home of nine years but she said it was an easy transition and loves international life. Thomas explains that living overseas has put her in an environment where everyone is more open minded and ﬁnds it “fun to have so many different nationalities represented” in one community.
Prior to teaching, Thomas was a marketing director for KPMG. After a “good ﬁve years,” Thomas wanted a change and hoped to move overseas. In 1993, Thomas and her family moved to South Africa where she taught computer and math courses at the American International School in Johannesburg. Though South Africaʼs crime rates were high during this time, Thomas says the experience of living there was more exciting than worrisome for her. Thomas moved back to the US in 1996. She said that she missed living in an international environment and
Simon Bright “This is a new level. Everybody here is outstanding.”
by Catherine Ward Chemistry teacher Simon Bright remembers a 1994 volleyball game against the Japanese National Team as one of the toughest he ever played. “It turned into a war,” Bright said. “It was the single best game we [the team] ever played.” He recalls his teammates running into the stands to retrieve rogue balls. Besides playing volleyball on his universityʼs team, Bright also played for the Canadian National U-Team. At the university, he received a degree in biochemistry and later returned for a teaching diploma. Bright played professional volleyball in France, Japan and Australia. His volleyball career began in high school. After playing professional volleyball for three years, Bright became a chemistry teacher in British hoped to get the opportunity to return overseas. This year, Thomas was offered a job teaching at SAS, giving her the chance to live abroad again. Thomas works part time teaching geometry and algebra. Her husband, Franke Thomas is the new deputy principal at the SAS Middle School. Thomas enjoys living in an international community but ﬁnds it hard to be away from her family and friends in the U.S. Mariko, Thomasʼ 14-year-old daughter, half-jokingly added that the cool weather and gas stoves are two things that she missed. Thomasʼ son Micah, is in ﬁfth grade.
New students love breaks, hate uniforms By Rhoda Severin You have seen them in the hallways. They are in your classes. More than one has asked you for directions to the gym or to the art rooms. You have never seen them before. They are the new students—all 180 of them, an army of strange faces. That means that one out of ﬁve people in our high school is new. Junior ellen Wuest comes to Singapore from three years in a Fairfax, Virginia public high school. Wuest, who doesnʼt capitalize her ﬁrst name, said SAS is smaller than her last school, but has a larger campus. So far, she is enjoying all the breaks between classes but ﬁnds that itʼs difﬁcult to make friends here since there isnʼt any one place where all students can be found during
breaks and free periods. Her main complaint about SAS is common: “I loathe uniforms,” Wuest says. Sophomore Christi Boston comes from Sylvania, Georgia, along with her Southern accent. Boston also enjoys the breaks and free periods here and likes the fact that there are more courses to choose from, although she said that the classes are a little long for her taste. She plays soccer and has signed up for the Athletic Council. Ninth-grader Kyle Carbon moved here from England, where he lived for three years. Carbon said that teachers in SAS are much nicer than the ones in his previous school. So far, his only complaint about Singapore is the heat. He added that he likes the food at SAS better than the “horrible” food in his Surrey school.
Junior Jennifer Lentz comes to Singapore from Coeur dʼAlene, Idaho, her home for the past twelve years. She is already involved in cross country and Jazz Band, and said she plans on trying out for track in third season. She did not have to negotiate stairs in her last school so she admitted that she doesnʼt like the “up and down, up and down” in SAS. Lentz has more class options and more opportunities here than she did at her previous school, as well as a multicultural environment. She said that she had no trouble adjusting to her new life at SAS. “I found all of my classes ﬁrst day, piece of cake,” Lentz said.
Volleyball pro turns chemistry teacher
Columbia. “Volleyball isnʼt a lifetime career,” he said. “Thereʼs not enough money in it to play for a long time.” Bright taught in British Columbia for six years. After hearing about SAS from a friend, he applied for the chemistry position. He now teaches chemistry and
is the assistant coach for the Varsity Boysʼ Volleyball team. Bright said he enjoys camping, ﬁshing, mountain biking, snowboarding, cooking, and watching the cartoon Jimmy Neutron. After traveling as an athlete and teacher, Bright has acquired the taste for travel that characterizes the typical expatriate. “This is a new level,” Bright said. “Everybody here is outstanding.”
No clear signal during lightning, thunderstorms By Catherine Ward Dark clouds masked the sky and rain poured onto the ﬁeld in big, heavy drops drenching the entire Varsity Girls Soccer team during a scrimmage. A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky followed by an eruption of thunder. Except for the continual drone of rain falling and occasional grumblings from the sky, silence followed. No alarms sounded, no one was told to leave the ﬁeld. Play continued. “Weʼre usually told to get off the ﬁeld [by Athletic Directors Brian Combes or Mimi Molchan],” coach Don Adams said. There is confusion and disagreement about when the threat from lightning endangers people on the ﬁeld. There are many so-called “lightning detectors” on campus. These sensors are actually designed to detect an electrical ﬁeld on the school grounds. When this electrical ﬁeld builds up to such a point that it is possible for lightning to strike the campus, a thirty second alarm sounds, and strobe lights ﬂash. Because these sensors are mislabeled as lightning detectors, many people assume that the detectors are broken because they fail to sound when lightning is visible on the horizon. This misunderstanding of the workings of SAS lightning detectors is often accompanied by a misinterpretation of school practices on what to do when lightning strikes or thunder sounds. There is no formal lightning policy, but a letter sent by Combes to coaches and some staff members asks them to follow a temporary procedure until, “we get a warning system that we can rely upon.”
A sign posted outside the activities ofﬁce, facing the ﬁeld, warns students and faculty about the new lightning sensors and precautions to take. Photo by Laura Imkamp
There are three possible responses. One, when the warning alarm sounds, the ﬁeld should be cleared immediately, even if there is no visible lightning. The second option relies on coachesʼ judgments. If there is visible lightning in the area, the ﬁelds and pool should be evacuated until ﬁfteen minutes from the last “ﬂash of light.” The third option relies on the Singapore lightning hotline (62826821) to conﬁrm the location of the storm and its severity. Molchan and Combes make this call. Combes said that the school is hoping to remedy some of the confusion. “Weʼre looking to enhance what we have with something called lightning arresters,” he said. Lightning arresters act like lightning rods and attract lightning so that it will not cause harm or danger; they attract the electricity and arrest it. These devices would be placed on SAS buildings as well as on the perimeter of the school grounds.
September 15, 2005
Larger high school lacks sense of community
“Our school is composed of a bunch of cliques.”
Even though the cafeteria can get jam-packed, students still break off into their own groups and talk to only their friends. Here, seniors and juniors sit around the same tables. Photo by Laura Imkamp
By Ted Ho The seniors sat in the Drama Theater laughing and talking loudly during the live broadcast of the service assembly speeches, while over in the auditorium their younger peers sat respectfully in the auditorium politely applauding after each speaker. With over 170 new students coming into SAS, assemblies had to be held at two separate locations as the auditorium could not accommodate
a sense of community he feels there “We should have a mandatory are other factors that can contribute hugging session in the gym,” McCabe to the school community. said. “The student council should Other students, like Lim, dislike work with the athletic council to try the way others poke fun at the and bring more people to the various concept of school spirit. games at our school,” Tomlinson “Too many people here think its said, “Weʼve got enough events here cool to make fun of school spirit or at school where people can show ignore it completely,” Lim said. their spirit.” Lim believes that the Student Norcott believes that although Council has played an important role not many students go to sporting in creating a sense of community. events to cheer on their peers, they “I think student council is the one choose to support the community in that takes the ﬁrst step, and it paves other ways. the way,” Lim said, “if it wasnʼt for “Too many people equate how student council some people might be many people embarrassed were at the to show school game with spirit. school spirit,” M a n y Norcott said. i d e a s “Last year 350 have been -Junior Sean McCabe students were discussed by recognized for teachers, the service awards and over 100 received school administration, and the distinguish awards for their services student council on how to improve to the school and the community.” school spirit. Tomlinson thinks it is Some students such as junior essential for students themselves to Sean McCabe have a different view take the initiative by participating in on our schoolʼs sense of community. activities. “We have no community,” “If a kid is feeling left out its McCabe said, “Our school is probably because they didnʼt make composed of a bunch of cliques and an effort [to participate],” Tomlinson if you ﬁnd a clique youʼre set. If you said, “Weʼve got enough events and canʼt, tough luck.” activities for students to do something McCabe said he enjoys the size of good for the school and if none of the school right now but doesnʼt want those activities interest that student it to get any bigger. McCabe also has they can create something good by some unorthodox views on how we starting their own club.” can improve school spirit at SAS.
the increase in students. Many feel that with over a thousand students, SAS has lost a little bit of the strong community it promotes. However, a strong school community is inﬂuenced by many other factors unrelated to size. “We canʼt assume that a small school equals a community feeling and a large school equals no community,” senior Leslie Lim said. Deputy Principal Dave Norcott also agrees that while SAS has
expanded greatly there are many ways that students can get involved with the school. “The challenge isnʼt 1,100 kids,” Norcott said, “the challenge we face is taking those 1,100 kids and making them feel like they are part of a community.” Student council sponsor Roy Tomlinson thought SAS was actually small compared to many U.S. schools. He feels that although size plays an important role in building
Growth in student body leads to seating problems by Alex Lloyd and Laura Imkamp While returning students crowded into the familiar auditorium, new freshmen were herded into the drama theater for their ﬁrst assembly of the year on Aug. 16. They saw the same assembly as everyone else, only in reverse. But they did not mind as long as they were still with their friends. “There was more room to spread out and sit properly,” freshman Sajan Shah said. On Wednesday Aug. 24, it was the seniors, instead of the freshmen, who found themselves in the Drama Theater. This time the speakers did not run back and forth between the auditorium and the drama theater.
Instead, seniors watched a live feed from the auditorium. “I didnʼt mind,” senior Lon LeSueur. “I just think itʼs ridiculous that our school didnʼt plan ahead enough to ﬁt the entire student body in [the auditorium].” Despite the growing high school, there are currently no plans to renovate the auditorium. The need to split students is one of the effects of the rapidly growing student body. Last year, the 920 high school students were able to squeeze into the auditorium, which has a capacity of around 890. With 1,024 students this year, plus 80 teachers, the squeeze would have been too
tight. “I think itʼs pretty obvious to everyone who sat in the auditorium last year that we wouldnʼt be able to ﬁt any more students in the auditorium,” Principal Paul Chmelik said. “[We canʼt put] 1,000 students into an 890-person capacity auditorium comfortably and safely.” Executive Council advisor Roy Tomlinson agreed. “The beneﬁts donʼt outweigh the risks,” Tomlinson said. “If we jam any more people in there weʼre going to create a ﬁre hazard.” During regular assemblies, there is no particular need to keep the school together, but during events
such as pep rallies, dividing students would affect the atmosphere that the event is supposed to create. “We obviously canʼt split up the students because it would be difﬁcult to foster a sense of school spirit,” Chmelik said. Pep rallies moved from the gym into the auditorium two years ago when the Executive Council brought them back after the Administration decided to discontinue the tradition. The Administration based their decision on the lack of interest and enthusiasm shown during the rallies. “The biggest problem two years ago was the sound, and that you couldnʼt hear everyone,” Tomlinson
said. The Executive Council is working on a plan to ﬁx the problem and get all four grades together again, which will include moving the rallies back into the gym. To ﬁx the acoustic problems that vexed rally planners two years ago, the gymʼs sound system is currently being upgraded. “The sound system would have been upgraded anyway because IASAS basketball is here this year,” Activities Director Mimi Molchan said. “The issue [with the auditorium] just helped us to really speed up the completion.”
Traditional campaign techniques are still best By Joseph Sarreal A call for student council drew 50 students in this yearʼs election. Several candidates ran unopposed last year. In three separate races this year, ﬁve candidates vied for the same position. Senior Ben White reacted with some skepticism to the large turnout. “Theyʼre not actually passionate about helping the school community,” White said. “Theyʼre just doing it to put something on their transcript.” Senior class president Vrutika Mody disagreed. “Thatʼs insane,” Mody said. “I think it shows we must have done
something good last year.” The number of candidates, made junior Shruti Shekar anxious during her run for junior secretary. “I was really nervous, because Stephanie Hue was the previous secretary and I had no experience,” Shekar said. Some of the candidates hoped that mock endorsements from such notables as Garﬁeld, Snoopy and Saddam Hussein would provide an electoral advantage. Excitement brewed in the Black Box for the senior class. A group of screaming girls made the meeting seem more like a scene from a rock show rather than a student
government event. The target of their enthusiasm was Tiffany Too, a perennial contender. The senior class speeches proved entertaining for many students. Liz Bowers spoke of her past desire to pursue a career in public sanitation, while Kristin Liu based her campaign slogan on the “Survivor” theme, “Outcharge, Outlast.” Both candidates lost, Bowers defeated by Eng Seng Ng, the 13 year old everyone seemed to know and Liu in the runoff against Mike Greene. Some candidates in this yearʼs election chose the tactic of selfdegradation. Several candidates highlighted their vertical deﬁciencies,
making fun of their height, or lack thereof. Junior Sneh Shah pointed out that his shortness prevented him from stealing class funds. The next day, Shah was elected treasurer. Other candidates poked fun at their foreign heritage, adopting accents of their home countries. An ethnic accent provided Senior Caroline Joseph with a distinct ﬂair in her speech last year for Executive president. Freshman Kristen Heiner chose to address her blonde hair. She had hoped to dispel the notion associated with that shade and change the image of being blonde. Her sister, running for student
council as well, made waves by proclaiming, “thereʼs no one ﬁner than Kelsey Heiner.” The junior class disagreed and elected her opponent, Peck Yang. Nearly half of the elections were forced into runoffs. There were no clear victories in any of the positions for the sophomore class. Only after the second round of voting were the winners announced. Defeat was bitter for the losers, some of whom were visibly shaken after the results had been tallied. Raw emotions emerged as several candidates openly wept, a reminder that not everyone can win.