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CLOSING THE GAP: SAS SPACELAB EXPLORES NEW FRONTIERS IN SPACE

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JOURNEYS

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On The Cover As six high schoolers started their journey into unknown territories, it took them a year to plan, collaborate, and research Singapore’s first experiment to be sent to the International Space Station. We partnered with award-winning photographer and Nikon ambassador Scott A. Woodward to capture the spirit of this trail-blazing team that set out to apply content knowledge to new frontiers. Read more about the results of the experiment and a legacy of innovation that marks the learning journeys of students at SAS, on page 7.

Online https://www.sas.edu.sg/journeys

Editorial team Kyle Aldous Kinjal Shah Vanessa Spier

Design team Haziq Hairoman Amos Ong

Communications interns Clara Borreguero, Class of 2018 Sara Khan, Class of 2021 Rachel Kitzman, Class of 2018 Martin Shih, Class of 2020 Rahini Takalkar, Class of 2021

Contact communications@sas.edu.sg

Connect

Š 2017 Singapore American School All rights reserved. II

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I S S U E

CONTENTS 01

What is Personalized Learning?

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10 Mistakes You Should Allow Your Middle Schooler to Make

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Then and Now: High School Gym

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Captivating Classrooms: Student Life Center

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Alumni: Finding Her Own Space

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Alumni: The Nomadic Birth and Life of SAS Alumna Donna Woolf

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Five Minutes With Ron Starker

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Alumni: Squash Court to the Superdome

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Word on the Street

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Alumni: Traveling the Distance

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Why Kids Struggle

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Alumni: The Connections That Count

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After-School Fun The Eagle Way

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Notable Mentions

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Alumni: Soldier of the Year 2017

Featured 39

Sue Nesbitt: Intellection, Achiever, Learner, Harmony, Developer

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JOURNEYS III


What Is

Personalized Learning? Educational leaders have been talking about personalized learning for nearly 100 years, but it is only now that personalized learning is being realized in schools around the world. What does personalized learning at SAS really mean, and what will it do for our students?

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By D r. C H I P K I M B A L L Superintendent Singapore American School has more than 60 years of outstanding results, and has long been known for excellence in delivering a balanced and rigorous American curriculum. By traditional academic measures, our students are among the most competitive in the world. In addition, they exhibit strong character, leadership, and resilience, while showing compassion for others through service. SAS is an amazing place and our students are demonstrating their potential daily. Increasingly our school needs to prepare students for a future that is moving rapidly and is difficult to understand. In most cases, we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist today, or at least not in their current form. A strong academic foundation alone is no longer adequate— and our parents, business leaders, colleges, and even our kids know it. We will always provide students a rock solid academic foundation, but beyond that foundation the best schools will need to innovate with the application of student learning in a broad range of contexts. It is the application of their knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will distinguish our students for college, and ultimately prepare them to be contributing members of society in a competitive and rapidly changing world of work. Like many leading private schools today, SAS continues to identify and focus on the skills that students will need to master for the unknown future that they face. At our school, we call these skills our desired student learning outcomes. These outcomes include character, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, cultural competence, and content knowledge, and serve as the direction and substance for the school’s academic programs. When we consider how to best deliver on the promise of our vision and our relevant desired student learning outcomes, we know that it will best be delivered in a personalized learning environment, catering to where each student is in their learning journey. While personalized learning has been talked about in education circles for decades, never before have we had the tools and expertise to personalize learning like we can today. The more personalized the learning for each student, the more likely we are to tap into their full potential and capability. Personalizing learning is an ambitious goal, but increasingly we have the building blocks in place to make it possible. But what will personalized learning really look like at SAS?

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What personalized learning is

Personalized learning is student-centered, grounded in each learner’s profile, and characterized by competency-based learning progressions, customized learning pathways, and flexible learning environments. Students take greater ownership of their learning, while also developing meaningful relationships with each other, teachers, and members of the local and global communities. Each student’s progress toward clearly defined learning goals is regularly assessed against clearly defined levels of performance that connect to a curriculum focused on the SAS desired student learning outcomes. Students follow a customized path that responds and adapts based on their learner profile, which includes their individual learning progress, strengths, needs, interests, and goals. Student needs drive the design of the learning environment. All operational elements— including staffing, space utilization, and schedule— are dynamic and respond and adapt to support students in achieving their learning goals.

A personalized curriculum has in place the academic standards that a student must meet, but provides the opportunity to meet those standards in ways that are unique to the needs of our learners. It goes beyond knowledge to a focus on skills that align with our DSLOs. In some cases it may impact pacing, while in other cases it may impact how the curriculum is delivered. Personalized learning provides students the opportunity to pursue interests, passions, and ultimately purpose, which in turn inspires students to work harder, become more focused, and learn more. When learning tasks are constructed in this way, students are challenged to think, advocate for themselves, and align their learning with their strengths and interests. Customized pathways allow students choice in what they study—think elementary iTime or genius hour, middle school TRi Time, and high school Catalyst projects and Advanced Topic courses—and how learning is demonstrated

While we are changing some of how and what students learn at SAS, there are other aspects of the SAS education that will not change, including the excellence for which we have so long been known, and the foundational learning—or core content knowledge—that is required to achieve that excellence. While students will learn in ways that interest them and at a pace best suited for each individual, the adults in our community will ensure they are challenging each student appropriately according to that student’s profile. As we develop the framework for personalized learning at SAS, we are specifically working on competencybased learning progressions, customized learning pathways, and flexible learning environments. Over the past several years our teachers and Office of Learning team have been further defining our DSLOs, have been developing our learning standards, and they are now working on the progressions through which students will advance. Examples of competency-based progressions include our proficiency-based world language program and our K-8 reading and writing continuums

While learning progressions describe the scaffolding of skills in a content area or grade level, customized pathways give students the opportunity to link learning experiences together to further develop an area of interest or content area like math and science, the

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humanities, performing arts, or athletics. This “voice and choice” for students gives them the knowledge and skills they need, and as important, gives them agency to take responsibility for their own learning. The flexible learning environments required to best implement personalized learning are materializing in several places throughout the school, and are a primary driver of our recently completed facilities master plan. These spaces are characterized by flexible spaces for various groupings of students, hands-on learning opportunities, connections to the outdoors, areas for group learning as well as individual learning, and the effective use of technology. The more spaces like these that we have, the more students we can provide a second-to-none world class education. Flexible learning environments at SAS include the early learning center, new kindergarten hubs, the sixth grade A-side classrooms, and high school Catalyst and Quest program spaces

Personalized learning is not individualization. Individualization asks teachers to accommodate learning needs for individual learners by customizing instruction. Personalization connects learning with interests, talents, passions, and aspirations by asking students to actively participate in the learning process.

While personalized learning isn’t a new concept, it is only now that we are truly able to realize its potential. Today more than ever we understand how the brain works, how social-emotional experiences can impact learning, and how technology can enable learning. We’ve been working for years on the pedagogy, teaching practices, and facilities impacts, and have been assembling the best educators in the world to teach, coach, and guide our students. We are ready for a new era of learning at SAS, and we are thrilled to partner with the wider SAS community during this exciting time in the life of the school.

At SAS each teacher and leader believes that every student can learn at high levels, that every student is unique, and that we, as educators, can have a major impact on a student’s life. While admirable, to fully realize our vision and act upon these beliefs, we have to personalize learning for each child. Doing this involves making the learning environment more flexible, making the learning journey transparent to students, and giving students the ability to deeply explore a broad range of interests. We believe that SAS can be amongst the most effective schools in the world, even as the world changes around us. Our students will choose more, learn more, be better prepared for their futures, and feel more connected to our school than ever before.

What it is not

The intended results of this work?

Personalized learning is not technology centric; instead technology is used as a tool as appropriate to present content and gather evidence of student learning. Personalized learning is not independent study— in fact, the role of the teacher remains absolutely essential for student success. Personalized learning is not a “free for all” but is instead built on a foundation of a guaranteed and viable curriculum that ensures core knowledge and skills are addressed. Personalized learning does not ask students to work in isolation or at the expense of the whole child; instead it requires a strong focus on collaboration and socialemotional learning. 4


Then 1968

The Balestier gym at the King’s Road campus officially opened in 1968. It was the first time in school history that basketball and volleyball games could be played played indoors. The scoreboard on the far side of the court was constructed by a group of students. Before the creation of the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) conference, the gym played host to competitive games with local schools like the Anglo-Chinese School and of course to the annual faculty/student volleyball game.

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In 2014 the Woodlands campus high school gym received a makeover that included automated retractable bleachers, a fresh new wooden floor, and all of the technology necessary for play-by-play and livestreaming. The eagle logo at center court was designed in 2014 as a Catalyst project. The gym plays host to everything from local friendlies to IASAS championships, and even the continued tradition of the annual faculty/student volleyball game.

Now 2017

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ClosinG T h e SAS Spac By KINJAL SHAH Communications Writer

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G

G a p: ceLab Multiple logistical setbacks, launch cancellations, and hundreds of hours of research, planning, and collaboration—Singapore’s first experiment sent to space by high schoolers finally found its way back to SAS. The result? Read on to discover more!

Singapore, June 2, 2017. 4:40 a.m. Walking along dimly lit streets, six Singapore American School students made their way to the offices of Bhattacharya Space Enterprises for one of the most exciting days of their lives.

guided by SAS Robotics coaches Meredith White and Bart Millar—had been meticulously planning, collaborating, and researching to set up an experiment to study the effects of microgravity on mutations in bacteria.

Along with their mentors Dr. Bidushi Bhattacharya, CEO and founder of Bhattacharya Space Enterprises, and Priyadarshini Majumdar, a National University of Singapore graduate, around 20 people waited for the moment of truth—for the screen to light up— indicating that the Dragon spacecraft was launched into orbit, carrying the first ever experiment sent to space by high schoolers in Singapore.

On June 4, 2017 at 5:00 a.m. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States, and sent the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The experiment ran for about a month, and was brought back before the start of the new school year.

The air was thick with nerves and excitement as the minutes ticked by. The wait was excruciating. Forty minutes later a message appeared on the livestream screen: “THE LAUNCH HAS BEEN CANCELLED.” The beginning For over a year, student leader Sunita Srivatsan and her team of five—Jaclyn Chan, Keshav Jagannath, Annie Kim, Madeline Smith, and Devansh Tandon,

Senior Keshav Jagannath, head of integration, creator of biocapsule, Keshewnut: “The real success of this project is not that we have data from an experiment that was in space for 30 days. Rather, it is the the learning through the process. Every setback, every failure, and every hiccup taught us so much, and the team worked tirelessly to solve problems. We are now better learners. Regardless of the careers we pursue, I know the things we learned here will aid us in projects we undertake in the foreseeable future.”

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We ventured far into the realms of science—exploring ideas that we don’t normally encounter in classrooms. That’s what makes this project so special. I think I can say for the whole group that all of us are now more resilient in character, and have better problem-solving skills. — Senior Annie Kim, finance and public relations coordinator, sought-after lab assistant

The results “The dynamic of this team is incredible. Each one of our members handled intra-team conflict efficiently, resulting in a smooth run. The ability to learn from mistakes, whether our own or of others, and to build upon those learnings was something we all took away from this project,” said senior Devansh Tandon, head of biology and experimental design, team clown, and chief scientist. As the last screw locking the microcapsule fell to the table, the team carefully wiggled the lid off, to unveil the experiment that had cost them precious time the past year. A million things crossed their minds. A million things that could have gone wrong. The broth bag could have leaked; the pumps could have malfunctioned; the bacteria could have died. At this point in time, it was anybody’s guess. When the team took a close look at the biocapsule, they knew the experiment had worked. It was apparent that the bacteria that was given broth with melanin had grown a lot more than the non-melanin control group. A few days later, Sunita Srivatsan (Class of 2017) graduated from SAS, and began looking ahead to her next journey at Princeton University. She said, “SpaceLab was an extremely enriching experience for me, primarily because of the opportunity it provided to pursue a real world application of science in such a cool, unique context—sending something to space!”

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With support and guidance from thousands of miles away, the team of five pressed on to collect quantitative data. Studying a representative sample from each data set—in space with melanin, in space without melanin, on earth with melanin, on earth without melanin—offered surprising results. Whereas the earth experiment’s melanin versus non-melanin bacterial cultures grew to a similar size, the space experiment’s control bacteria had grown to a larger area than the melanin-treated bacteria. The results indicated that team SpaceLab’s hypothesis was incorrect. It could have been any number of factors: from the pool of data being too small to conclusively determine anything, to it being merely an anomaly. Junior Madeline Smith, mechanical-biological integrator, who took a course in DNA, recalls: “We kept going no matter how late we stayed at school, or how many hours we put into the project on weekends. Through collaboration, we learned how to accomplish tasks efficiently and to achieve the impossible.” Possibly in the future, one of them will continue to research the effects of melanin in space and come to a different conclusion. “Now that we’ve dipped our toes into space research, we’re inspired to continue to waddle through the vast universe, the unknown,” said Kim.


Being part of the SpaceLab project has taught me the importance of collaboration, quick thinking, and sound decision-making. I was able to gain hands-on experience in programming and electrical systems. Through the many setbacks, our team emerged stronger as we experienced firsthand the importance of resilience and grit that come before success. — Senior Jaclyn Chan, head of software and hardware, four-year robotics veteran

What’s next for SpaceLab at SAS? The SpaceLab is soaring higher than ever this year. Now an official club at SAS, the SpaceLab has a new team working on an electrochemistry experiment testing the crystallization of both copper and bronze in microgravity conditions. Under the guidance of high school faculty Fred Crawford and Ian Page, the experiment hopes to open up new dimensions for electrical wiring in the future. The club received 66 applications at the beginning of the year. Rigorous selection criteria, coupled with student interviews and faculty feedback led to team of 11 students chosen to work on the new experiment. The selection criteria included technical skills, personality, and the ability to work on a team. Building a team of upperclassmen and underclassmen will ensure that as students gain experience, they will be able to mentor newcomers in the future, and sustain the program. Overall, we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received to make this a successful project. We had wonderful teacher sponsors, Ms. White and Mr. Millar, constantly keeping us on track. Dr. Bidushi Bhattacharya and Priya Majumdar were always there for us, ready to answer any questions. There was Dr. Howell Ivy, head of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California, who greeted us with a smile every Wednesday morning during our Skype calls. We thank the SAS administration and the SAS Foundation for helping us fly full speed with our work, and the SAS community for the interest you’ve shown towards our project.

Both Crawford and Page participated in a week-long training session in San Jose, California, meeting with Howell to scope the project needs and demands. According to Crawford: “It is an amazing opportunity for kids to be able to explore something like this, conducting passionate inquiry and research to accomplish a goal they may not necessarily be able to achieve in a normal classroom setting.”

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art I’m p re t a y th rmo to sa furthe cial e l ab er nd eing dustry, a g comm ssible b t s cce e in erin e ju m I lov he spac e pione more a really a ty’s i t I t i h n t f e o of lik ma s ake part rts to m It feels rs of hu p thing g . e e effo eryone fronti lps ke jugglin e e v f to e g on th which h iddle o rk. n , i o m t work lopmen in the paperw e e v i v t de rspec ules and e d in p sche

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ith a one w ations e m o l s does national re ace How r sp e in int es in the (Class e e r v g l e de alcom hems find t Brittany B t how her bou try? indus 07) talks a e reality. 0 of 2 am becam dre

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On June 1, 2017, we received a message through the Singapore American School Facebook page:

By KINJAL SHAH Communications Writer

Whoa! What are the odds?! On June 4, 2017, the SpaceLab at SAS sent Singapore’s first experiment to the International Space Station (ISS)—one of the biggest events in SAS history— and an SAS Eagle was in charge of an integral part of the mission! Surely this was serendipity doing the thing it always does! And we wouldn’t want it any other way. Brittany Balcom (Class of 2007) sends science experiments to the International Space Station. At NanoRacks, Balcom is the Internal Payloads Coordinator focusing on pressurized payloads inside the ISS. She is the liaison between customers, NanoRacks engineers, and NASA officials, assisting to complete all of the processes needed to get a payload to space, operating on-orbit, and in some cases even returned to Earth. 13 JOURNEYS

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In August last year, Balcom reached out to some of the science teachers at SAS, knowing that sending experiments to space would be an amazing opportunity for high schoolers. Lo and behold, they were already planning one! However, it was only when she was helping her supervisor organize the paperwork for the module, did she realize that the SAS experiment was one of them.

she realized she had never considered it an actual career field aside from her childhood astronaut aspirations.

How does someone with a degree in international relations find themselves working for a market leader that helps students and researchers send experiments to space?

The summer after graduating from Marshall University with a degree in International Relations, Balcom worked as a barista, saving money to accomplish her childhood dream and moved to Lexington, Kentucky to take geophysics classes at the University of Kentucky. The money lasted only a year. Not wanting to go into debt for a non-degree, Balcom moved to Baltimore hoping it would get her closer to the jobs in Washington, DC.

It was only in the summer of 2011 that it dawned on Balcom how much she loved space and everything to do with it. As she watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos,

For the next two years, Balcom focused on saving money by selling books at Barnes and Noble, followed by a customer service job with an investment


newsletter publisher, and later working on the content management system for a defense contractor’s e-learning program. Her patience and hard work paid off. In 2013, Balcom was accepted into George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, with two different scholarships, making her dream financially feasible. While in grad school Balcom took internships in different facets of the space industry: one at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), one at a consulting company, one at George Washington University doing academic research, and one at a private launch company. She soon realized research wasn’t her game. Balcom longed for a more hands-on role in the industry and ultimately found one as an Internal Payloads Coordinator by responding to a job posting she saw on NanoRacks’ Twitter account. Today, Balcom is a jet-setter, flying from one end of the country to the other and across the ends of the globe. But it wasn’t always like this. Her first ever plane ride was the move from West Virginia, US to Singapore at age 15. The second was a band trip to Hong Kong as part of the SAS entourage, where she had to sheepishly inform Mr. Hill and her bandmates that she still didn’t understand how the airport worked. She will always remember the stunned looks. Having lived in West Virginia for nearly her whole life, Balcom was thrilled and eager to get to SAS. Coming from a school system where some of her friends and

classmates had never even left the state, let alone the country, Singapore was an eye-opener in many ways. Most of her new classmates had been traveling and moving frequently since birth. Although she had no real expectations of SAS, Balcom was continually surprised and amazed at how different the school was and how many opportunities were presented to her. Balcom not only found musical groups to join but also ended up deep diving into new areas of interest. Between great teachers sparking her interest in subjects other than music (Mr. Dodge with history; Mr. Rops with statistics; Zhu Laoshi with Chinese) and the abundance of new extracurricular activities, she tried to cram as much as she possibly could in two high school years. A keen and curious learner, she even taught herself the Chinese 2 curriculum the summer before her senior year so she could skip into 3 and learn more before graduating.

department, and enjoying time at “the benches” with her friends. According to Balcom, “Space needs everyone, not just rocket scientists! Even if a STEM field isn’t for you there are still ways to get involved in space, especially as it becomes more commercialized.” What’s next on the card for Balcom? “I have no idea,” she quips. “Maybe I can learn some technical skills like programming.” Balcom suggests students look for schools under the space grant program when researching colleges in the US. These will provide extra opportunities to get involved in space activities and meet people in the industry, even if one chooses to major in an area unrelated to space. The space industry is wide and varied. From national security, satellites, and launch providers, to space education, scientific research, policy, and even advocacy, opportunities abound!

A horrible first experience with public speaking at her old high school made her want to tackle the issue head on. Joining Model United Nations, and even extemp, Balcom made it to IASAS. She thoroughly enjoyed and participated in the band, jazz band, and orchestra, played bass for SAS singers, and was part of Tri-M, and the Chinese Honor Society. Recalling her favorite moments at SAS, Balcom fondly remembers traveling within the region for IASAS, and Interim Semester trips, preparing for chess and Yulefest with the whole performing arts

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Feeling inspired to replicate a Mr. Hoe classic at home? Find the full recipe at www.sas.edu.sg/recipe.

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By R A H I N I TA K A L K A R Communications Intern Already in his 28th year at SAS, Ron Starker is a familiar face in the middle school library. Rahini Takalkar catches up with this recently published author who has an ever-present sense of humor and is full of amazing ideas! How long has your family been a part of the SAS community and where were you before? I started working at SAS in 1989 as a high school counselor. I began my career teaching and counseling in Oregon Public Schools. From there I went to St. John’s International School in Brussels, and then to the American International School of Vienna. Describe your job in three words. Innovative, challenging, and fun. What attracted you to teaching/education? When I was in college I majored in psychology and education. Teaching and counseling offered me the opportunity to continuously learn while helping others. What is your favorite part of the SAS community? Over 1,200 individuals enter the middle school library each day, so I get to interact with an amazing range of ages, nationalities, and professions. It is this “library community” that I most enjoy. What is the atmosphere at SAS like as compared to the other schools you’ve worked at? SAS is pretty high octane, the pace is a bit faster than most places I’ve worked and the breadth and depth is hard to match. My colleagues are highly talented and the kids here are fun to work with.

Who is your role model? My role models have changed throughout life, but I would have to say right now, my wife is my best role model. What are your top three restaurants in Singapore so far? Acqua e Farina at Rail Mall, Delhi Restaurant at Race Course Road, and Sushi Tei—I like all of their outlets. What are your goals for this year? Slow down a bit and become more mindful. What’s one book you would you like to see become a movie? I would really love to see a comedy version of the book Transforming Libraries: A Toolkit for Innovators, Makers and Seekers (This a shameless plug for my new book—now on sale through Amazon.com). What is your fondest high school memory? Setting school records in the 440-meter and 880-meter races in track before the days of metric. Where is your dream vacation spot? I would like to go to the Arctic or Antarctica regions before they melt, and travel to the moon.

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By KINJAL SHAH Communications Writer

A Christmas mouse comes by and does naughty things around the house. He also helps Christmas come early! Decklan A., pre-kindergarten

Celebrating the girls’ festival by decorating dolls with my family and lighting up lanterns. Lisa H., third grade

I go to China with mommy every year.

Our family celebrates Christmas on December 24 every year! Julie H., eighth grade

Going to Tekka Centre and buying banana leaves to cook Venezuelan hallacas. The shopkeeper even has Latin music playing and I’m transported back to South America! Omar Rachid, middle school teacher

Chloe P., preschool

Eating turkey and ham for Christmas. Norah B., fifth grade

We go back to the US every couple of years and it’s tradition to have a huge feast with our extended family upon arrival and once before leaving. Kai Suherwan, twelfth grade

Going back to the US with my family every Christmas and seeing my grandparents. Baking scones and having afternoon tea. Hannah Olsen, elementary school teacher

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Lincoln B., seventh grade


We ship internationally!

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Geometry World History

Language Arts

Algebra Science

WHY KIDS

Struggle By D r. J E F F D E V E N S High School Personal/Academic Counselor

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Although students take academic achievement more seriously in their junior and senior years, many experience a slump in their progress. High school psychologist Dr. Jeff Devens shares how we as parents, teachers, or coaches can help them achieve a balance.

“I don’t understand how Kevin ended up in this situation. He made his own choices regarding which classes to take and what universities to apply to, and now he’s blaming us for the consequences of his poor decisions!” These sentiments, shared by Kevin’s father, were spoken with an air of urgency. Kevin, a twelfth grader, was having what could best be described as a crisis moment. Actually, there were several crisis moments in the course of the past few months, culminating in him not wanting to return to school. I began our conversation with a few questions. “What were some of the positive life choices Kevin was making that led you to believe he was ready to take on such a challenging academic load?” And, “why didn’t you and Kevin heed his college counselor’s advice regarding reach and out-of-reach universities?” My intention wasn’t for him to assume a defensive posture. We needed to develop a plan to help Kevin re-engage in his learning, and quickly. Graduation was in a few weeks. However, when Kevin received the disappointing but predictable news he was not admitted to his first, second, or third choice universities, he figured, “What’s the use in finishing high school?” Fortunately, with a bit of tough love and support, we were able to help him step back into his choices and figure out plan B. Kevin’s life journey wasn’t going to be a straight line. It would include a few twists, turns, and detours along the way. This semester I have met with a number of students—interestingly mostly juniors (grade 11)—hitting their breaking points. Why? They are facing the prospect of earning one or more “B” grades (meeting the standard but not exceeding

it) for the first time. Based on their past academic performance they believed they could continue on the same trajectory. However, they failed to plan for the cost of taking multiple higher-level courses when combined with extracurricular commitments, lack of sleep, and subsequent emotional dysregulation. The grades students earn are not wholly a measure of intelligence or academic ability as much as they are a reflection of a balanced life. When kids take on too much, there will be costs. The students I have met are feeling the weight of their choices, believing, like Kevin, they could do it all at high levels. They can’t. By design, high school challenges students. In fact, academic rigor is an intentional component of the high school curriculum. Interestingly, survey data completed by SAS high school students (N=546 in the sample) noted that 70 percent of their stress is associated with school-related tasks (i.e., courses of study, tests, quizzes, projects, etc.). Further, 39 percent of responders noted they do not believe they have positive coping skills to deal with stress. In recent seminars with students, counselors emphasized the need for balance, including utilizing organization and time management strategies. These skills, commonly referred to as executive functioning, also include task initiation and emotional regulation. The primary driver for determining what courses should be taken, or even what universities to apply to, should not be based solely on a student’s past grades. If those grades were earned as a result of parents sustaining their child’s executive skills, the entire learning process will intensify (with all sorts of emotional drama) through the remaining years of school.

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ORGANIZATION One of the primary school-related tasks of parents during their children’s elementary schooling years is helping them organize their academic world. This may include the use of binders, folders, postit notes, calendars, and other tools. The point is to model multiple ways of organizing and finding strategies that work for each child. There is not one right way to organize. The question is, do your child’s organization strategies produce the desired outcomes? If not, keep working at it. Some kids will need direct instruction, others will learn through trial and error. What about their study space? Does it invite learning or detract from it? This space includes what they are doing with technology. In some cases, kids may need to have enticing distractions such as phones removed from their study space.

TIME MANAGEMENT What time does your child return home from school and when do they go to bed? For many, the time is approximately six to seven hours. However, students participating in extracurricular activities have fewer. Sixty percent of high schoolers surveyed reported spending three or more hours per night on homework. This leaves three to four hours for other activities, assuming they go to bed between 10:00 p.m.and 11:00 p.m. Interestingly, one of the primary ways teens report reducing stress is through the use of social media. Paradoxically, they also report that social

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media causes stress. Mapping out a timetable and discussing break times for social media will be a necessary step. Lastly, have a cut-off time for the use of technology and phones. Interestingly, 79 percent of responders in the survey noted they were not required by parents to remove technology from their rooms by a specific time each night. With unfettered access to technology, kids will wander.

TASK INITIATION Task initiation refers to the ability to begin schoolrelated tasks without prolonged distractions or procrastination. One effective strategy for task initiation is using a timer. Estimate the amount of time it takes to complete an assignment, set the timer, and begin. Breaking up larger tasks into smaller, manageable portions may also be helpful. Telling others what you plan to accomplish and by when, and using rewards or penalties (i.e., if I don’t complete this project by this Thursday I won’t go out on Friday) can also be effective strategies.

EMOTIONAL REGULATION Dr. David Gleason, visiting author and clinical psychologist, noted in his book At What Cost, “Much of a teenager’s response to the world is driven by emotion, not reason.” The premise of his book is that kids are kids, not mini-adults. Dr. Gleason’s contention, based on years of work with students attending top-tier middle and high schools throughout the world, is we—parents, teachers, administrators, and coaches—are expecting too much of kids when they are not


developmentally ready. For example, a teen’s ability to take advanced courses is more than a function of cognitive ability, much more. Doing so also requires (and reveals their) emotional maturity. With developing brains yet to form the executive capacities for functioning with balance, is it any wonder that kids struggle with emotional regulation? This sometimes manifests in anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and in some cases, suicide. Kids who possess the intelligence to take multiple higher-level courses but lack emotional regulation will incur psychological costs. If your teen is struggling with emotional control (remember this is a developmental process, not something to be rushed), limiting courses and extracurricular activities may be a necessity. These are uncomfortable but necessary conversations to be had.

70%

of students’ stress is associated with school-related tasks

39%

of these responders noted they do not believe they have positive coping skills to deal with stress

Teens mature at different rates, for various reasons, throughout the seasons of adolescence. In a few short months, high school students and current eighth graders will begin the process of signing up for courses for the following school year. My hope is that, together, we can partner in helping kids grow to develop healthy study habits and lifestyle choices as they move towards adulthood.

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JOURNEYS 24


After-School Fun

The Eagle Way

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By C A R A D ’ AVA N Z O Staff Writer When the elementary school chimes ring at three o’clock each day, most students head for the buses. But around 300 students walk in the opposite direction, congregating in the cafeterias before heading off to a classroom, gym, or field for an hour of fun, friendship, and skill development. This year Singapore American School has instituted a new approach to the elementary activities and athletics (EAA) program, and kids are enjoying new opportunities as a result.

What’s all the buzz about when it comes to the elementary activities and athletics program? Along with Eagle Pathway options and a host of new offerings, the newly revamped EAA program has been well-received in the SAS community.

Started in 2004 with 15 classes, EASA, as it was then known, expanded over the last decade to offer a range of after-school activities and sports to our youngest learners. Choices were not always coordinated within EASA, with other divisions, and with the community sports and activities (CSA) program, however. Also, students were limited to three classes, and some sports teams involved try-outs, gradings, and cuts. Options were also relatively expensive, especially compared with the free activities and sports offered to SAS middle and high school students. In order to follow best practices for such a program, a review was included in the school’s research and development exercise. This resulted in a number of recommendations to make extracurricular offerings more accessible to our younger students and align them with CSA’s and other divisions’ programs. Specifically, the revised EAA program offers “Eagle Pathway” options that match IASAS activities, including art, dance, drama, music, debate, Model United Nations, and six sports (athletics, baseball/softball, basketball, rugby/touch, soccer, and volleyball). Other options are also available, from Animation to Yoga for Youth, with a total of 117 classes offered this season. Students can take five classes per week, and costs for many classes have dropped. All elementary-school faculty are now involved, giving students contact with different teachers in a fun and relaxed setting. W i n t e r

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The new EAA program is designed to help students try new activities, both to expand their horizons and to develop healthy habits and interests. The sports program, in particular, has been modified based on the internationally recognized Long-Term Athlete Development Model, which identifies strategies to help children participate in sports in more healthy, balanced, and enjoyable ways. By removing barriers such as try-outs and cuts, this model promotes younger children’s long-term health and well-being, while also giving them the foundations to progress toward high levels of athletic achievement. EAA now encourages all kids to try different sports, which are taught with a focus on fun and ageappropriate skill development. Two Eagle Pathway sports are offered per age group per season, and these rotate throughout the year to cover all six sports for all elementary students. CSA provides further athletic options, and both programs contract with outside academies to provide high-quality, professional coaching.

“The new EAA program is designed to help students try new activities.” Judging by the numbers, the changes have been positively received. Student participation has increased by around 50 percent, with over 1,300 class spots taken in the current season. Besides the Eagle Pathway options, students have many other options involving crafts, languages, literacy skills, martial arts, mind stretch, recreation, social skills, and technology. EAA coordinator Bryan Coole notes that he has been pleasantly surprised to see some “niche” activities prove attractive to students. “The Board Games Club, for instance,” he says, “has appealed to kids who want to try something different and have fun with friends in a relaxed environment.” Counselor Colleen Steigerwald explains that some activities may interest parents who see particular relevance for their children. “The social skills classes help kids develop social awareness and emotional well-being. Students who sometimes find social interactions challenging may enjoy a class like Lego Club, which teaches social skills in a fun, novel, and non-threatening environment,” she says.

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The updated after-school program has proven a success, but Coole says it is still work in progress. “While we have made the major changes, we are now collecting data, fixing problems, and learning how to maximize our resources and facilities,” he explains. The program will continue to evolve based on parent feedback, student demand, and ongoing research into how best to offer exciting and rewarding after-school options to our youngest students. Judging by the smiles on students’ faces as they head off to be mad scientists, hip hop dancers, rainforest rovers, or soccer stars for an hour, the new and improved EAA is off to a very good start!


Orienteering, junior coders, debate, taekwondo, track, Irish dance, little engineers, Spanish junior journalists, sewing and dressmaking, Chinese calligraphy, reader's theater, little cooks, ballet, math olympiad, volleyball, Shakespeare comes alive, odyssey of the mind, girls coding, classic capers, basketball, social skills for boys, literature in the kitchen, STEM explorations, jewelry-making, minute to win it, Orienteering, junior coders, debate, taekwondo, track, Irish dance, little engineers, Spanish junior journalists, sewing and dressmaking, Chinese calligraphy, reader’s theater, little cooks, ballet, math olympiad, volleyball, Shakespeare comes alive, odyssey of the mind, girls coding, classic capers, basketball, social skills for boys, literature in the kitchen, STEM explorations, jewelry-making, minute to win it,...

A special

first

Oliver Twist was the first all-elementary school musical presented at SAS, to great acclaim! Teacher Beth Burrows, who led the twice-weekly activity, reflects on the experience:

“There is nothing I love more than seeing the smiles of young performers as they bow to their audience after a production. The pure joy and great sense of pride that they feel is contagious. Being a part of this musical production was magical and transformed all involved by creating new friendships, building confidence, and strengthening skills both on and off the stage. Sixty-five third, fourth, and fifth graders came together as strangers and left as a family.”

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JOURNEYS 28


and By RBACH H E M N LAURE SNER EINGES CHRIS B cipals ool Prin h c S e l Midd

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How can you guide your child through setbacks and mistakes without solving their troubles for them? Middle school principals Lauren Mehrbach and Chris Beingessner offer some tips to help your child start building that tolerance for discomfort and failure.

Making mistakes is a part of life and though undesirable, mistakes actually help us learn and grow. As parents and educators, our aim is to “grow adults” who can navigate life’s ups and downs and manage the discomfort of mistakes. In order to do this, we need to allow our students to make mistakes and experience failure in a safe environment, with us coaching them. If we don’t allow them to live with natural consequences and experience adversity or discomfort when they are young, they will not have the skills needed to deal with these situations when they are older. Some researchers talk about it as “building tolerance for discomfort, an emotional callous if you will.” (Abraham and Cordner) We experience discomfort all the time as adults—delayed flights, rejection by a partner, being passed over for a promotion. We’ve all read numerous tales of university freshmen who crumble when they have their first setback with no parent there to intervene on their behalf. In order to help your child start building that tolerance for discomfort and failure, here are 10 mistakes that you should allow your middle schooler to make. These will help them build resiliency, gain confidence in their capability, and learn that they can survive even those “big mistakes.” 1. Let them get a bad grade. Most kids don’t like how this feels. As parents, if we force them to study, check their work, and over-edit their writing, we aren’t letting them see what they can do on their own. Inevitably, they will come up against an academic situation where their regular study and learning strategies don’t lead to an excellent grade. If we interfere too much, they won’t know how to manage when they don’t do well. 2. Let them forget their musical instrument, PE uniform, homework. When we bail our children out when they forget something, they aren’t incentivized to set up systems to ensure they have everything they need for school. What we are inadvertently teaching them is that they can’t manage without a parent “saving them.” 3. Let them run out of money on their lunch card. Teaching our children financial literacy starts with being aware of the cost of items, having a budget, and managing the money one has to spend. Students are often unaware of the cost of items in the cafeteria, let alone the amount of money left on their card. Give your child a budget for lunches, and make them stick to it. They can always pack a lunch from home (not you pack it!) if they run out of money or decide to buy their friends some frozen yogurt.

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JOURNEYS 30


4. Let them be late and miss the bus. No one is going to wake up your child for school when they are at university. Middle schoolers should be able to get themselves out of bed each day. Don’t prod them or have someone else wake them. Set the expectations and watch them figure it out. Make sure that they have to pay for a taxi out of their pocket money, or do a series of tasks to pay you back if they do miss the bus! 5. Let them use public transit and get lost or feel the pride of accomplishment when they don’t! Take advantage of our efficient and safe MRT and bus system in Singapore, and let them venture out. If they get lost, they will learn how to get back home and be better equipped next time. And if they don’t get lost, they will have a great feeling of satisfaction. Scaffold this as you need to­—ride with them the first time they are getting themselves to the cinema or violin lessons, or let them use the MRT only with a buddy. 6. Let them miss an important deadline. Don’t remind them over and over to do something that matters to them. Let your child miss auditions for the school play or forget to turn in a paper—and live with the natural consequences. We’ve all been angry with ourselves when we missed a deadline and that feeling helped motivate us to develop systems to keep it from continuing to happen. Make sure your kid has that same opportunity. 7. Let them wear smelly clothes that they didn’t launder or that missed the laundry basket. We want our children to be self-sufficient when they leave home. Chances are, they’ll need to do their own laundry once they head to university. You’d be amazed how many third culture kids don’t know how to use a washing machine. Help them develop these habits when they’re still at home; it will make them a better roommate and partner in the future. 8. Let them be ashamed of themselves for doing something that was unkind or untruthful. We often rush to console our children when they are feeling badly, but those bad feelings are our conscience speaking, and we want our children to listen to their conscience. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, but don’t let them off the hook for what they did. Help them reflect on how their actions lead to the negative feelings and plan for how they might avoid doing the same in the future. 9. Let them leave unfinished homework because they didn’t manage their internet time. All SAS middle school students set home use agreements before they brought their laptops home. Take some time to revisit the agreements, and enforce them. By limiting the time students have access to the internet, they will have to prioritize their homework over more social endeavors. When they don’t, let them have the uncomfortable conversation with their teacher about why they aren’t prepared for class. If you hover and ensure they finish, they won’t live that natural consequence.

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10. Let them set a goal for themselves and don’t intervene if they aren’t going to achieve it. If your child has a personal goal they really want to meet (making a sports team or academic club, or achieving a certain grade in a class) and you see that they aren’t taking the steps needed to meet it, let them fail. Be there to console them when they don’t meet their goal, and help them think through a plan for next time, but don’t bail them out. How can you guide your child through setbacks and mistakes without solving their troubles for them? Help them figure out how their actions contributed to the problem. What part did you play in this? What did you do or not do that led to this situation? Help them plan for a similar situation in the future. If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently? If a similar situation arises, what are some steps you’d follow to avoid this outcome? Help them articulate exactly what they learned from the mistake. What did you learn from being called on and not having any responses prepared? What did you learn about posting things online without thinking? This is a big list, and definitely challenging for many of us as parents. Some of our kids make many of these mistakes all the time! Maybe start small, choose a few that you think will help your child most? Or set some boundaries like, “You get one free pass per semester when I bring you something you forgot. Only one, so use it wisely.” Parenting is tough, and middle schoolers can seem like a mystery. Good luck and don’t hesitate to contact your child’s counselor or teacher for help! Sources: Kim Abraham, Marney Studaker-Cordner, and the contributors at Empowering Parents.

Some great blogs and articles about parenting teens: Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D., “Social Challenges of Middle School,” Psychology Today, January 9, 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childsadolescence/201701/social-challenges-middle-school/ Debbie Pincus, “10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Do Better in School,” Empowering Parents, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/10-ways-motivate-child-betterschool/ “Helping Middle Schoolers Navigate Their Social Lives,” PBS Parents, http://www. pbs.org/parents/parenting/raising-girls/friends-social-life/helping-middle-schoolersnavigate-their-social-lives/ Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner, “Negotiating with Kids: When You Should and Shouldn’t,” Empowering Parents, https://www.empoweringparents.com/ article/negotiating-with-kids-when-you-should-and-shouldnt/ Nancy Darling, Ph.D., “What Parents Should Know: Adolescents Are Like Toddlers,” Psychology Today, September 2, 2010, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ thinking-about-kids/201009/what-parents-should-know-adolescents-are-toddlers/

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By KYLE ALDOUS Director of Communications

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Does setting goals keep you motivated in the long term? When it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, is there a better way to do things?

The Babylonians made promises to pay debts and return borrowed objects. Medieval knights reaffirmed their commitment to chivalry. Romans would make promises to the god Janus, who January is named after. For centuries we have been setting goals at the start of the new year and for centuries we have overwhelmingly underperformed. A 2017 Statistic Brain Research survey found that only nine percent of people who made resolutions last year kept their resolutions. Why?

“It’s not the end result. Don’t think about winning the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you need to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.” Process—what a boring word. It doesn’t involve the latest life hack, app, or tracking technology. Instead it is an intense focus on performing at the highest level possible right now, in this moment. What’s the difference between goals and processes?

With access to thousands of productivity, goal, andhabit apps for our smartphones and 144 million Google search results to the question “how to achieve my goals,” one might assume we would be making some serious progress.

If you’re a student, your goal might be an A in a class. Your process is the series of tasks you set up for studying, taking tests, working with teachers, and anything else you might do to accomplish your goal.

The problem is that we’re too focused on the end result­—the goal.

If you’re an athlete, your goal might be to earn a spot on an IASAS team, or to win an IASAS championship. Your process is the series of activities you do each day to become a better athlete, teammate, and competitor.

If we’re going to set goals we should embrace the “set it and forget it” mentality. Set your goal and then obsess over the process. Lose yourself in the process. That is how perennial winners do it. It’s how individuals achieve sustained success over long periods of time instead of simply yo-yo’ing between various goals. Nick Saban is arguably the greatest active college football head coach. He has five national championships and in the past six years with Alabama his team has only lost eight times.

Now imagine if you completely removed the goal and focused everything on your process—what would happen to your results? Does focusing on an IASAS championship win you the championship? No—the daily grind of a well structured process will lead you to victories well beyond one championship game.

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JOURNEYS 34


Forget about everything else but

the task at hand.

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We get hung up on “goals” and “goal setting” because they are fun and exciting to think about. It’s fun to imagine winning an IASAS championship or opening an acceptance letter to our first choice school. It’s not always fun to focus on the process. An interesting thing happens when you focus on the process. What was once an outlier activity that you had to sometimes force yourself to complete slowly becomes your new normal. Have you ever looked at the schedule of a hall of fame athlete? Former NBA player Kobe Bryant was notorious for his process. He was obsessive. In fact there is an entire Reddit sub feed filled with dozens of Kobe Bryant training stories. We read stories like this and think, “I could never do that.” For Bryant, “that’s just a Tuesday night.” The process was normal. It was part of him. As we train ourselves to consistently focus on the task at hand slowly we develop our own “new normal.” “The first night we all got into Las Vegas last summer for the USA Basketball camp, I heard Kobe [Bryant] went on some 40-mile bike ride at night through the desert,” [Blake] Griffin says. “Forty miles? At night? “When I found out about that bike ride, I was so tempted to ask him if I could go next time.” “I love that stuff,” Griffin says. “I love all those stories.” The story Griffin heard turns out to be true. And it goes something like this: Bryant told his longtime trainer, Tim Grover, that he wanted to add in bike training to his summer conditioning. Grover researched a trail in Las Vegas, rented three bikes—one for Bryant, one for himself and one for Bryant’s security guard—and on the night before the first day of practice, they each put on headlamps and headed out to the trail and rode. “We finished up around 2:00 a.m.” Grover said. “And we were back in the gym working out by 7:30 a.m. in the morning.” —Ramona Shelburne, Sports Illustrated, May 4, 2013

At Singapore American School we have consistently ranked high in all outward measurements. Our students outperform their global peers in every standardized test available. Our college acceptance rate each year is 100 percent. We have some of the best teachers in the world. By all accounts we are a dominant force in the world of education. But over the past three years we have begun implementing subtle changes that will move our students from great test takers to being armed with an understanding of what it means to pursue the process. Failure is no longer a fear-inducing word. We are teaching students how to enjoy the process. To be successful over a lifetime requires more than the ability to cram for a test. It requires a dogged obsession with daily incremental progress. That’s what our students are learning every single day. This year as you look ahead to 2018, figure out the processes you’re going to adopt that will lead to the type of long term success you’re seeking. And then forget about everything else but the task at hand. W i n t e r

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JOURNEYS 36


Taking The Reins By SERENA KHAN Eighth Grade

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Peer Counsel is an integral part of SAS middle school. From World Language Week to the Cancer Awareness Run, and even assemblies, Peer Counsel students stretch their learning through school activities and service projects.

Peer Counsel believes middle school is a place where students are accepted, heard, and are free to be themselves. Middle school experiences allow students to learn, have fun, and reach beyond their comfort zones. Peer Counsel members exhibit core values and strive to create a community that is inclusive, compassionate, and one where its members develop positive relationships. The purpose of Peer Counsel is to give students an opportunity to develop leadership skills by organizing and carrying out school activities and service projects. This year Peer Counsel has planned ten events which include the fall dance, October assembly, and Cancer Awareness Run. As one of the four leaders of Peer Counsel, I was involved in all activities. From planning the dances and talent shows to meeting with Vietnam American International School, my favorite event has been the 2016-17 talent show. The talent show is where all students can come and perform for an audience, and the judges decide who has the best and most unique talent. One reason I think the talent show is my favorite is because it is really open to anyone, and gives people an opportunity to get over their fears and perform. Last year we had about 13 acts which ranged from middle schoolers singing, reading poetry, and even tap dancing for about 100 people in the audience. The talent show isn’t just about performing and putting your talent out there, it is also about facing your fears, making new friends, and having a good time.

I offered and ended up leading this committee. Never having been a leader before, I was scared. However, I had some help from fellow members and friends. Through planning this event I grew a lot—I became stronger, more vocal, and confident. Being a leader first seems like a daunting task. But after my experience, I learned that leaders aren’t just about being the boss, it is also about influencing others to accomplish an objective and directing everyone in a way that makes it more coherent and cohesive. A good leader is one who is always three steps ahead, looks out for people, and demonstrates what is possible. Join Peer Counsel if you want to experience leadership and help plan school events. The experience is very useful in real life and helps develop a well-rounded personality. Peer Counsel was extremely important for me not only because I got to help plan school events but it also helped shape my character and who I am as a person. I got to know lots of people and made amazing friendships. If you think you’re interested, check out our website at peercounsel.blogspot.sg or shoot us an email at pc@sas.edu.sg.

Although it was an overall success, the process wasn’t as smooth. We faced many challenges. For example, not having enough people, not enough drinks, and clean up after. We quickly overcame these as we invited some non-Peer Counsel friends to help out. W i n t e r

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JOURNEYS 38


SUE NESBITT: INTELLECTION, ACHIEVER, LEARNER, HARMONY, DEVELOPER* By MARTIN SHIH Communications Intern

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This past year, counseling became two different departments: the personal and academic counseling department and the college counseling department. The counseling department wanted to devote time to two significant areas of the SAS high school experience—social-emotional learning and guidance through the college application journey. With multiple changes, there was a glaring need for someone to lead the student life department. A new position in the counseling department was created— the Dean of Student Life.

*These are Sue Nesbitt’s top five strengths as per the CliftonStrengths assessment—formerly known as StrengthsFinder.

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Small in stature but strong in grit, one of my first experiences with Sue Nesbitt was climbing the tallest mountain in Timor-Leste during an Interim Semester trip. Leading a group of 20 students up a mountain at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of the morning, Ms. Nesbitt set an inspiring example with her commanding presence and gentle demeanor. This petite lady was also my counselor in 2016-17 and guided me through my hectic and fast-paced freshman year. I’m eternally grateful for all she has done for me during that time—from patiently answering all the questions I had to the various schedule change requests. When I found out that Ms. Nesbitt was the Dean of Student Life, I couldn’t help but beam with pride! I had an opportunity to sit down with Ms. Nesbitt for a chat about her new position. According to her, “This is a new role for both SAS and me. The expectation is that a Dean of Student Life has their finger on the pulse of student life and enjoys helping students overcome any problems they might face. I’ll go the next step to emphasize that the job is all about relationships. Few factors in education have a greater influence on a student’s school life than a caring relationship with a teacher, counselor, or administrator.” “We don’t realize how the simplest caring word or gesture can have a huge impact on a student or family and students may not always agree, but caring also includes discipline. Ignoring when a student makes a mistake is akin to not caring. I make mistakes all the time and appreciate it when it is respectfully pointed out. The other piece of this job involves supporting students in their social emotional learning. This has always been an important issue for teenagers as they enter an age of ‘storm and stress’. Teens are in search of independence and due to this there is a real tug and pull between parents and kids. It doesn’t help that there is increased pressure for students to perform at high levels day in and day out,” she says.

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Ms. Nesbitt applauds the administration for recognizing the challenges students face by devoting an entire department to personal and academic counseling. Originally from Canada and a third culture kid, she has worked at SAS as a counselor for the past eight years. Ms. Nesbitt was cautious of accepting the new role at first. A behind-the-scenes person who prefers propelling kids forward, Ms. Nesbitt candidly admits that she thought it required a big personality. Nevertheless, it felt right and was a great natural extension of the counseling role. Transitioning to Dean of Student Life, she went through a rocky start. There were obvious disruptions in a steady routine developed over time in her work as a counselor. However, stepping outside her proverbial safe zone, and trying her hand at something new was challenging and exciting at the same time. Not surprisingly, the new job came with new responsibilities. She was glad to hold on to her counseling role—something not very typical for a Dean of Student Life. “I need this. Counseling is my oxygen,” she quips. So what does a Dean of Student Life do? One role is to strive to make the new student life center a vibrant and welcoming place for students to hang out and have fun together. She wants all kids to feel welcomed and accepted, and be able to call this place their own. It’s not for nothing that you’d find a foosball table, board games, books, and more at the student life center. On a day-to-day basis, she supports the advisory program, House Council, and Student Council executive teams, acts as a sponsor to Peer Support, and is also involved in the light discipline of students, oversees attendance issues, dress code violations, and breaching of SAS core values centred around respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion, and kindness.


The role of Dean of Student Life is not without its challenges. There are kids who have stormy home lives, students who base their self-worth on a grade, and some who are lonely—feeling invisible both at home and at school. It is not easy helping students deal with some of these issues. A typical work day is extremely busy and different. No one day looks the same. On most days her office is filled with people—parents, teachers, students, and guests visiting SAS. It’s definitely an occupation that requires you to think on your feet. “What’s the most challenging part of your job?” I asked her. “Remembering the names of SAS students and being extremely frustrated with the inability to do so,” she said. And how does she work towards rectifying that, I wondered. Not surprisingly, she does something that only Ms. Nesbitt would do: pore over the pages of previous yearbook issues! With a warm smile that lights up the room and a big heart that inspires the students around her, it is easy to see that her favorite part of the job is interacting with students. Every interaction, she says, is energizing and thoroughly enjoyable. “SAS students are the reason why I get up for work every morning,” she adds, “I am also very thankful for my colleagues. I work with a team of fun, smart, and generous counselors and teachers who remind me that while the work we do matters, never ever take yourself too seriously, otherwise, you lose perspective on what really matters in life. Relationships.”

What does it take to be a counselor? 1. Be flexible. Anything can happen and counselors need to be able to adapt. 2. Be humble. Everyone can learn from one another. 3. Be wise. Wisdom comes in all sizes, shapes, genders, and ages and we must be ready to accept all of it. 4. Be empathetic. Educators need to care. A lot.

“I need this. Counseling is my oxygen.” W i n t e r

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1 2

1

Come in. Take a break. Strum a guitar and sing along, or pick up a book. Or, you can always challenge your friend to a fun game of foosball.

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2

Working on a team project? Need to have a club gathering? Make yourself comfortable on the couch and brainstorm your way through meetings or presentations.


3

Students learn more when they feel known, cared for, and connected to their school. For that reason, the student life center is designed to build and foster relationships.

4

Personal academic counselors have offices within the student life center so they can be easily accessible to students and parents who want to have a serious conversation or just a quick chat with a counselor.

4

3

Student Life Center The student life center—the living room of our high school—is designed to foster relationships, providing a place to recharge, receive and give support, and contribute.

With spaces well-suited for studying, club meetings, discussion, and celebration, the student life center is a central component of the high school experience. It is a space to relax and recharge. Facilitating learning opportunities outside of the classroom, the student life center offers an inherently spontaneous and student-centered atmosphere that fosters a culture of excellence, extraordinary care, and possibilities.

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JOURNEYS 44


By N AT E TAY L O R Eleventh Grade and WEI EN (JOHN) TSAO Tw e l f t h G r a d e

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The Tioman Islands lie off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea. A nature reserve ringed by beaches, the site is known for picturesque diving, beautiful corals, sea sponges, and even shipwrecks. Every year the SAS Advanced Topic Environmental Science students visit the island to study the natural world and work together to collect and analyze data.

The Advanced Topic Environmental Science (ATES) course­—previously Advanced Placement Environmental Science—has always been a long-standing subject at Singapore American School designed to allow students to pursue learning that concerns the natural world and how it interlinks with the colossal but imperative concept of sustainability. This course took it a step further by bringing students out into the field where the real learning took place. During fall break, Ms. Martha Began, alongside three teacher assistants, led 14 students from the class to Pulau Tioman off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia. The experience started off in the wee hours of the morning at school where students boarded a bus that took us through the immigration checkpoints and northwards. The long drive eventually brought us to the port of Mersing. After enduring another tireless two-hour ferry ride to Genting on the western side of Tioman, we continued with a trek to our eventual destination at Melina Beach Resort. Intensive fieldwork awaited us. From water quality testing to soil sampling, beach profiling and even coastal surveying, we took on the responsibilities of ecologists. We observed, we interpreted the surroundings, and we worked together collaboratively in the collection of qualitative and quantitative data. We were also introduced to a multitude of tools and new concepts that bridge knowledge from textbooks with its applications. Throughout the trip, we traversed the variety of tropical natural ecosystems that the island offers, such as the reefs in Pulau Tulai (a smaller outlying island off Tioman), Paya mangroves, rivers, and densely overgrown rainforests. On one of the days, we also undertook a thought-provoking role-play stylized debate on how different stakeholders can present their perspectives and produce solutions to combat the dwindling rhino populations from the illegal animal trade and industrialization. However, what really made a mark in our learning process was the anthropogenic impact observed that has created a disturbance in the environment.This includes the widening tourism industry that has degraded the coastal and offshore regions of Tioman and the lack of regulation in the Malay villages’ lifestyle posing a threat to the rich biodiversity that inhabits the island. Human impact on Tioman has thus contributed to the rise in pollution from untreated litter and increased boat traffic, exploitation of natural resources in agricultural uses, and illegal fishing, as well as the inception of invasive species.

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By SAS EXECUTIVE SERVICE COUNCIL

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Whether it is sending emotional support to those in the Americas or offering financial support to NGOs working to rebuild lives in South Asia, the Help for High Water campaign brought the community together to serve the needs of disaster-stricken lands across the globe.

It started with a Reuters notification about a category four hurricane barrelling towards the Texas coast. Just a few hours later the storm had been given a name—Hurricane Harvey—and brought the world’s attention to climate change instigated crises that would dislocate over 32,000 civilians and flood over 28,000 square miles of the greater Houston area. The initial outpouring of support from the Singapore American School community surpassed all expectations, and yet a wave of subsequent disasters left our community with the need for a centralized initiative. Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the Southeast Asian floods soon followed, furthering the call to action within SAS. Students and teachers from across the school gathered to brainstorm, eventually developing the idea for a campaign to support victims from disasters across the globe. Help for High Water was born. Given the immediacy of these disasters, the Executive Service Council—an elected body of high schoolers—quickly took charge of the initiative, catalyzing the development of an elementary, middle, and high school team to run the campaign in each division. The first decision the council had to make was where to donate the funds raised. The areas affected ranged from highly metropolitan cities to large swaths of farmland—from the Texas coast to the mangroves of South Asia.

non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to combat the flooding in South Asia—BRAC in Bangladesh and Goonj in India. Letters of support would be written to the victims in the Caribbean and Texas, given the overflow of monetary aid to the regions. Partnering with high school service club Global Issues Network, lessons about climate change were created and brought to elementary school classrooms. During Market Days organized by grades three, four, and five, students were encouraged to make items at home—bracelets and slime—to sell. All of the funds went towards the schoolwide campaign, and our incredible elementary school students raised over S$2,000. The middle school students participated in a coin craze, competing against grades and houses to raise the most funds, resulting in an astonishing S$8,117.69. High school students were encouraged to start individual service club initiatives. READ Bhutan and Butterflies for Nepal banded together for a flood awareness day, raising over S$600—all going towards the larger campaign—in addition to further opening the eyes of the student population to the vast devastation instigated by the inundation. Overall, the Help for High Water campaign raised S$14,700! As these schoolwide fundraising campaigns often do, Help for High Water brought out the best in SAS students as they worked together in response to the needs of disaster victims.

Intending to support the neediest demographic, the council consulted with administrators to reach a consensus. Principal beneficiaries would be W i n t e r

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SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL

DESIGN. CREATE. SOAR. At Singapore American School, libraries don’t just house books. They inspire imagination. With a maker space, 3D printers, virtual reality, and audio and video production studios at their fingertips, students flock to the vibrant space every free moment they get. Backed by passionate mentors, guest speakers, artists, and authors, students find peers who share their enthusiasm for designing and creating, and ultimately yield new discoveries about themselves. SAS is a place where inquiry goes far beyond the classroom, where minds are stimulated, new skills are developed, and where the spirit is free to soar.

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By KRISTINA DOSS Staff Writer

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Born on an ocean liner, Donna Woolf (Class of 1963) made the headlines! Here she shares snippets of a life lived across oceans and continents, and the diversity she came to appreciate.

A pregnant woman in San Francisco boarded the S.S. Lurline after World War II ended, determined to journey across the vast sea to meet her husband who was in the Foreign Service and stationed in New Zealand. Luckily, the luxurious Matson ocean liner had been converted into a hospital ship—complete with three doctors and 20 nurses—because by the time the ship docked in Hawaii, the young woman would have more than luggage in tow. “My story was worldwide news, because not many babies were born on ships at that time,” said Donna Lurline Woolf of her birth. Eventually, Woolf would grow up to lead a nomadic life like the ship she was born on and embark on a successful career as a foreign service officer like her father. Woolf, who attended Singapore American School from 1957 to 1960, recently took a trip down memory lane with Journeys magazine to some of the places she has lived and worked over the years. Singapore, of course, is chief among them. Thanks to her father’s Foreign Service career, Woolf moved to the Lion City from Tokyo in 1957 and immediately enrolled in sixth grade at SAS, which had just opened the year before.

Classes took place in a black and white villa on Rochalie Drive and the student body, though small, was quite diverse. “I remember really enjoying the diversity of the student body,” Woolf said. “As SAS is today, it was definitely the school of choice for the very large expat community. There were British kids and German kids and Indian kids and Indonesians­—it was quite a mix… I had not been in a school that had such a rich mix of people.” Woolf distinctly remembers her English teacher Mrs. Biggs—a British woman who loved reading the classics to students. She “was able to read in all these different accents so these novels came alive in a very special way,” Woolf said, attributing Mrs. Biggs for teaching her a “great love of English.” Life outside the villa’s walls was just as memorable, Woolf said. Her father built an aviary, which she filled with colorful tropical birds. She even tamed two parakeets—one of which, named James B. Budgerigar, learned to say a few words as she paraded him around on her shoulder. Woolf also recalls how her family loved spending their weekends boating to the uninhabited islands and sand bars surrounding Singapore. “We would drop anchor and swim around and eat hot dogs and go back home,” Woolf said.

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Their mode of transportation on these weekend jaunts: an old police boat her parents won at an auction, which they painted pink and named the Lurline Marie after the ship Woolf was born on. Lurline Marie also happens to be Woolf and her sister’s middle names, respectively. The job of Woolf’s father as economic counselor for the US State Department added some spice to their home life too. Woolf says her father got to know Lee Kuan Yew, who would go on to become Singapore’s founding father and first prime minister. In fact, he was a guest in her family’s house for dinner. “Lee Kuan Yew was just making an appearance on the political scene,” Woolf said, describing an era when Singapore was still a crown colony of the British Empire, but would eventually become an independent country. “He was the leader of the People’s Action Party.” Woolf ultimately moved back to the States and attended Tufts University, where she studied history and political science. Although she would eventually answer the call to foreign service, Woolf said she first fell in love with film as a means of telling stories thanks to a job on a film crew. She then spent 20 years in film and television, starting at the CBS News Paris bureau and later with KQED San Francisco. In Washington, DC, her career as a television producer took her to USIA-TV, and later to the US Agency for International Development, producing news and documentaries around the world and winning over 15 national and international awards. Eventually, Woolf decided to join the Foreign Service. According to the US State Department’s website, the mission of a foreign service officer is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the US abroad. Foreign service officers, also known as US diplomats, can achieve this mission in a number of ways—from facilitating adoptions

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“What [SAS] Did teach me was how important it is to learn, at an early age, to appreciate the diversity of cultures in the world.”


and helping evacuate Americans as a consular officer, to analyzing host country’s political events and economic issues as a political or economic officer. Woolf’s particular role in the Foreign Service as a public diplomacy officer put her education, experience living overseas, and media savvy to work. She handled press and cultural affairs at embassies in Brussels, London, Tel Aviv, and Tunis. Meanwhile, her Washington, DC assignments included work on Middle East partnerships, international women’s issues, and as liaison to the Voice of America. Now, Woolf is retired but still working as a contractor part-time at the State Department in Washington, DC and gets to travel around the world. She even visited SAS’s Woodlands campus during a recent trip to the Little Red Dot for work. “I was really quite overwhelmed how the school had expanded to now be a campus of 4,000 students and when the alumni director walked me around and showed me all of these amazing programs and activities, it was beyond my wildest dream,” Woolf said. SAS may not have had the robust offerings it does now when Woolf attended the school in its early stages, but there were still great lessons to learn. “SAS was a great learning opportunity, though the school had none of the many classes and activities now being offered,” Woolf said. “What it did teach me was how important it is to learn, at an early age, to appreciate the diversity of cultures in the world.”

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By KINJAL SHAH Communications Writer

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From rowing for the Singapore national team to bagging the Soldier of the Year award, Lewis Steven Tong-Sui Walker (Class of 2015) talks about his SAS experience, and the highlights of National Service.

Not too long ago, the Singapore Armed Forces sent a poster of Lewis Steven Tong-Sui Walker (Class of 2015) to Singapore American School. The poster awarded Walker the ‘Soldier of the Year 2017’ title and read as follows: A dedicated Platoon Sergeant, he goes the extra mile to understand and positively influence his soldiers. Highly capable, he has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities during training exercises and operational duties. His conduct and performance have earned him the respect of his fellow soldiers. Born in Singapore to a Singaporean mother and an American father, Walker had just finished kindergarten at St. James, a local Catholic school that’s now a church. His parents were looking for a school and due to availability and time constraints, SAS was an ideal choice. This coincidence, if you may call it that, led to Walker spending the next 13 years at SAS and graduating in 2015 with a string of accomplishments to his name. Involved in the Technical Theater Club at SAS, Walker represented the school at the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS) Cultural Convention in his junior and senior years. All through high school Walker was a champion at rowing and rowed for the Singapore national team for about six months leading up to the South East Asian Games 2015. The team finished in fourth place. W i n t e r

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Tips for potential NS enlistees

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Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You will feel uncomfortable and there is nothing you can do to get out of it. Know that you will push through it and it will get better.

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Have a positive attitude.

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You will see different things and meet different people so be open and receptive to all those experiences.

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“My senior year was pretty much the highlight of my time at SAS,” he says. Academically, Walker was doing better than ever before. And to top it all, he was selected to compete at the South East Asian Games on the Singapore national team. In October 2015, three months after graduating from SAS, Walker enlisted for National Service in Singapore. In January 2016, he was posted to the 5th Battalion of the Singapore Infantry Regiment as a Platoon Sergeant—a batch very different from where he was initially assigned. It was a lot harder for him to adjust and adapt. “It was like starting high school mid-semester. Everyone knows where to go and what to do. And you’re just standing there thinking what do I do,” says Walker. Apart from that, it was challenging for his troopers to understand his accent, and because it’s unusual to have an American in the SAF, his race was a topic that kept coming up. The appointment had a lot of challenging parts to it like dealing with regimentation and disciplinary issues within the platoon, conducting and overseeing training for the troopers, and making sure they were ready for challenges like Brunei and Indonesia. “I enjoyed traveling to Brunei, Indonesia, and Thailand—the highlight of my time at NS.” “The Soldier of the Year Award was frankly a surprise. I was booking out of camp one day and received a text message congratulating me. I didn’t quite believe it and ignored it thinking it was some sort of a scam.” It wasn’t until the following Monday when his officer in charge called Walker into his office and broke the news to him. According to Walker, the project-based learning at SAS provided a robust foundation for his time in NS—learning how to collaborate, communicate, and manage people and teams. Walker applied to colleges during National Service (NS) and found himself accepted at the University of Toronto. He went to university with the goal of eventually attending medical school and is currently studying for a degree in Life Sciences. As a first-year Life Sciences student, he’s grateful for all the advanced courses at SAS that make college level studies a lot easier. Recently, Walker turned 21 and realized that he was not cut for medical school and would rather spend his time studying something he really enjoys. He hopes to study architecture in the future. He says, “Architecture is something I have wanted to do since elementary school.” On advice for high school seniors applying to college, without hesitation, Walker refers to the increased commitment that is required of every college freshman. “You will have a lot more freedom, but it’s up to you how you want to work. As much as university professors want to see you succeed, they will not go out of their way to push you. It all has to come from within you.”

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SEASON ONE IASAS TOURNAMENT Boys’ Volleyball Record: Gold The boys showed character and determination, making great plays, and persevering throughout the final—a fine example of the Eagle way. Girls’ Volleyball Record: Gold A great win for SAS against International School Manila for the fourth straight championship with some of the season’s most dramatic moments. Boys’ Soccer Record: Silver The match against International School of Kuala Lumpur ended in a draw. Disappointingly, the rain and lightning called off the final game. Girls’ Soccer Record: Bronze A bittersweet ending to the final day. Bad weather forced the athletic directors to call off the tournament, leading to a third place finish. Boys’ Cross Country Record: Gold Eric Silva had the fastest time overall and the top six times totaled 3999.4 seconds. Girls’ Cross Country Record: Gold The cross country girls’ team was led by Mikela Munasinge who took home the gold. The top six times totaled 4848.10 seconds.

SEASON TWO IASAS EXCHANGE Boys’ Rugby Record: 0-4 With many players new to the game, it was an opportunity to learn about performing under pressure. The strength of character in the face of strong competition and adversity continues to be a core quality of the team.

Girls’ Touch Rugby Record: 8-2 Great on-field communication, game awareness, and individual player skills contributed to some outstanding performances by the Eagles. Boys’ and Girls’ Swimming Most SAS swimmers achieved new personal bests: Olivia Morris’s 50 Fly swim beat the existing IASAS and SAS records, while Collin Schuster broke the IASAS 50 Freestyle record. (*both will have to participate in the IASAS championships to stand). Boys’ Basketball Record: Fourth The boys’ team had a difficult time handling HKIS at the Hong Kong International School holiday basketball tournament, and finished fourth. The team learned a lot from the experience and now know what it takes to be successful. Girls’ Basketball Record: Second Throughout the Hong Kong International School holiday basketball tournament, the Lady Eagles’ industrious work ethic and team spirit was evident in their competitive play and the sportsmanship they exhibited. Boys’ Tennis The Eagles fared well, winning all of their head-tohead matchups against the five IASAS teams with a combined record of 27 wins and 4 losses. Girls’ Tennis Though the girls’ tennis team is young, they have consistent talent at every level. They have a lot of potential and with improvement are going to be serious contenders at IASAS in Manila this year.

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By KYLE ALDOUS Director of Communications

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From the storied Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field to the iconic New York Knicks of Madison Square Garden, Nicole DeFord (Class of 2004) has taken a love for sports and media and created a career path that has connected her to some of the biggest professional sports teams in the world.

Eighty thousand die-hard cheeseheads pack into storied Lambeau Field each season to scream, yell, celebrate, and pay homage to their beloved Green Bay Packers. There is a 30-year wait list to get season tickets. If you want to make it in on game-day, you better know someone or you better find a job on the inside in order to get access to this American football house of worship. “In 2010 we were working on a plan to integrate widespread optical player tracking in the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers gave us a chance to run a test system that season. Before each game we would have to get our cameras set up surrounding the field to ensure we were capturing every data point possible. It was late November and I was standing inside the scoreboard in the endzone. Green Bay in the winter is frigid and after awhile I couldn’t feel my fingers. I turned on one of the broadcaster heat lamps to warm up and began working to adjust one of our cameras. I got a bit too close to the lamp and suddenly my hat caught fire.” —Nicole DeFord For Nicole DeFord (Class of 2004) walking the sidelines at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, climbing into the HVAC unit at the New Orleans Saints Superdome, getting stuck on the roof at Oracle Arena, and getting to work iconic arenas like Madison Square Garden are experiences a world away from where she began as high school student working on The Morning Show at Singapore American School. In 1994 DeFord moved to Singapore and began third grade at the BayTree extension campus. Her lifelong journey in sports began when she showed up for the first day of class and found out the classroom that year was an old, unused squash court.

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My takeaway from that ex never really know what th will be; all you can do is ma and do your best in that m DeFord played 11 seasons of sports during high school, only sitting out one season during her freshman year. “I’ve always been a sports fan, and I’ve always played sports. Sports shape you. I learned time management, responsibility, and organization by participating in sports. Many of these lessons and character traits developed in athletics continue to impact my professional growth and journey now.” In between cross country, swimming, and track and field, DeFord built an affinity and knack for broadcasting. For four years she worked with longtime audio and visual media teacher, Mr. Mark Clemens, on the daily morning show and in the broadcast club. The foundational skills developed during those years would prove invaluable as DeFord later interned with several media outlets, including CNBC Asia and NBC. As a math and economics major at Washington University in St. Louis, DeFord continually found herself drawn to media. She solidified that love one summer as she chose an internship opportunity with NBC over an offer from JP Morgan. “When I was in college I interned for NBC in a couple of different roles. During my sophomore year I was in a meeting and they were talking to the interns about opportunities. They said, you’re going to be asked to do a lot of things, some of them will be glamorous and some of them will not be so glamorous. There was an intern working on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien show at the time when somebody asked for a volunteer to make a coffee run. Nobody wanted to go, but there was one intern who volunteered, because he always volunteered for everything. He left to go get coffee and it turned out that it was for Conan O’Brien himself and he got to deliver the coffee directly to O’Brien. My takeaway from that experience is that you never really know what the outcome of anything will be; all you can do is make yourself available and do your best in that moment.” DeFord started her professional journey with a role at STATS, a sports analytics company, as a strategic planning analyst. STATS purchased an optical player tracking company called SportVU. After the acquisition, DeFord was named strategy and development project manager. She was immediately thrown into the deep end and began learning the intricacies of player tracking. She watched YouTube tutorials to learn how to terminate cable lines and manage the logistics of setting up a series of cameras and wires throughout massive sports venues.

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Nicole DeFord (Class of 2004) at a Pitsburgh Steelers game


xperience is that you he outcome of anything ake yourself available moment. “At SAS I was blessed with great teachers who encouraged my curiosity and helped me develop a love for learning. If you’re curious and continue learning throughout your career you will benefit regardless of the field you choose. Curiosity is part of the reason I’ve been able to grow in my career. I typically just want to know how something works or how to do something, and that’s allowed me to branch out and try new things.” While coordinating with the Houston Rockets on a project, she found herself connected to fellow Eagle John Hennessy (Class of 2002), who was working with that organization at the time. Continually curious and anxious to develop new skills, DeFord parlayed her role at STATS into a wide base of skills over the next four years before seizing a management opportunity with Al Gore’s television station at the time called Current TV. She was with Current TV during the 2012 election and participated in another acquisition when Al Jazeera acquired the company. In 2015 she returned to sports when she joined up with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, a group that was pioneering mobile streaming at the time. The experience landed her opportunities to help streaming apps for other media outlets like Fox Sports, HBO Now, NHL, and WWE. “I’ve stumbled into companies at really unique times that have led to amazing experiences. I feel like some part of it is luck. When I worked at STATS they acquired SportVU and then at Current they were sold to Al Jazeera in four months. It’s crazy how it all happened.” In 2016 DeFord was recruited by a company called Second Spectrum who had recently won a bid for the rights to do the optical player tracking for the NBA. As the senior director of partnership management, DeFord is the bridge between the organization, each NBA franchise, and the league as a whole as they collect and analyze millions of data points throughout the season. She was drawn to Second Spectrum because of the vision upper management has for the future of analytics. Together they are exploring how to enhance the viewing experience for fans by bringing alive the analytics and data collected in real-time. They wrapped up installation in the Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Pistons, just in time to start the season.

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g n i l e v a r T e h T

e c n a t s i D By KRISTINA DOSS Staff Writer

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Her heart will always belong to the lion city she called home for the four years of high school and To her classmates at SAS. Carmen Onstad Matthews (Class of 1960) walks down memory lane sharing how she loves tracking down alumni and rekindling those bonds.

Carmen Onstad Matthews (Class of 1960) usually travels around the world to attend reunions in countries such as Canada, Singapore, and the United States. But recently, Matthews found herself planning a reunion for the first time—one that transported alumni in the middle of America all the way to Asia thanks to a selection of restaurants and outings. Matthews admits she loves traveling, but her motivation for going the extra mile stems from a desire to make personal connections with Singapore American School alumni who grew up in the same time period, place, and unique way she did. “The school was so small during those early years that each person stands out distinctly,” Matthews said. “We came from so many different places and, upon graduating, scattered to places all over the world. It would be so interesting to know the different direction each person traveled (literally and figuratively) after the memorable early experiences we shared at SAS.” Although Matthews was born in Tennessee, she moved to Indonesia at the age of 10 thanks to her father’s job with Caltex—an oil company now known as Chevron. As she approached high school age, there weren’t many options for students during those formative years. The Caltex community in Sumatra didn’t have a high school, Matthews said. Teens looking to continue their education either went back to the States or an international school elsewhere in Asia.

“I was fortunate the American school (in Singapore) opened at just the right time for me,” Matthews said of SAS, which first opened its doors in January of 1956. For Matthews, who opted to forgo hostel living and instead stay with SAS families during her high school years, growing up in the Lion City was a memorable experience. “Singapore stands out as a particularly interesting place to have grown up in because of its exceptional mix of cultures that came from so many other countries,” she said. SAS’s location in the Lion City during the late 1950s stands out for Matthews too. She recalls the grand black and white colonial home on Rochalie Drive that the school was housed in; the great, big open windows in the classrooms; and the garage that was converted into a science lab. Some of her most vivid memories, however, are of the people. Classes were “very small” and “personal” back then, making it easy to get to know both classmates and teachers, said Matthews, who graduated with 11 students. Matthews also attended SAS at a time when local, Singaporean citizens could attend the school. These students, who were typically of Chinese descent, along with classmates from countries such as Indonesia, Japan, and the Netherlands, provided Matthews with lessons in diversity and cultural appreciation that one would normally have to hop on a plane or visit a library to get.

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A graduate with the Class of 1960, Matthews went back to the States to attend Harvard College and graduated with an Artium Baccalaureus (AB), or Bachelor of Arts, in Sociology. Following graduation, Matthews tapped into her knowledge and appreciation for foreign cultures to pursue a volunteer position with the Peace Corps, which took her to Malaysia, as well as a lengthy career in Seattle, Washington. While there, she worked for an international athletic competition called the Goodwill Games and, for 14 years, as the director of international programs for the University of Washington School of Nursing. Retirement and a wish to be close to family—which includes her children Chris Matthews, 46, and Amy Matthews Ryan, 41, as well as three grandchildren Norah Ryan, 12, Matthew Ryan, eight, and Frances Matthews, nine—brought her to Minnesota. The state is not only where she lives, but also served as the setting for an SAS reunion that took place from September 22-24.

Carmen Onstad Matthews (Class of 1960) standing at the end of the 110-mile Cleveland Way in Yorkshire, England.

With the support of Allen Lundy (Class of 1968) and Lisa Boehlke (Class of 1970), Matthews orchestrated a reunion that allowed approximately 30 SAS alumni plus about a dozen close family and friends to explore the wonders of Minneapolis and Southeast Asia at the same time. Reunion attendees feasted on Malaysian cuisine at a restaurant and explored Hmong Village (Minnesota is home to the second largest Hmong population in the US). SAS alumni also toured an art museum and visited the largest mall in the country (along with a “terrifying” roller coaster, Matthews said). When Matthews isn’t planning a reunion, she’s traveling to them. To date, Matthews has been to six reunions in Atlanta, Georgia; San Diego, California; Singapore; and Vancouver, Canada. At the reunions, Matthews looks forward to reconnecting with people who attended SAS during the same time frame she did. Once, thanks to the Atlanta reunion, she also had a chance to say goodbye.

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“One person from my class who lived in Georgia was quite ill and at the end of the reunion three of us went to see her and she has since passed away,” Matthews said, referring to Dianne Walker (Class of 1960; her last name after she married was Duncan). “We’re very glad we did that.” If she doesn’t find former classmates at reunions, Matthews spends her free time tracking them down. One alumna still eludes her, however: Louise Feng, who was SAS’s first graduate in 1958.

Carmen Onstad Matthews (‘60) with her fellow SAS alums Laura Danielson (Class of 1973), Heath Harvey (Class of 1974) attending a reunion in Minneapolis. Photo by Mitchell Woods (‘72).

“I came pretty close about a year and a half ago and I should make another try,” Matthews said. Matthews also spends her spare time traveling to see the world. She’s traveled throughout Asia, including Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as Penang, Malaysia. She has also embarked on long-distance walks throughout Europe—an interest that piqued when she ran across a book called National Trust Book of Long Walks in England, Scotland, and Wales by Adam Nicolson and became a reality when she celebrated her milestone 70th birthday. Matthews, now 75, has completed approximately 700 miles on famous paths, including the Cotswold Way in England and the Pieterpad in the Netherlands. The walks, she said, have allowed her to slowly explore the gorgeous countryside, quaint villages, and bustling cities in Europe and beyond. Although travel is clearly a passion, her heart will always return to her alma mater and classmates in the Lion City. “Many SAS alumni share that experience of growing up in a country that was not their original country of citizenship; it’s difficult to convey that experience to people who grew up in their home country,” Matthews said. “It’s such a joy to reconnect with other alums to recall the activities, the city of Singapore at the time we were there, the amazing food, and the state of the school when each of us was there.”

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Whether students, staff, teachers, or parents have been part of SAS for two years or 12, we consider them alumni and forever a part of the SAS Eagle family. With more than 36,000 alumni from our 60 year history, the SAS alumni network is strong and supportive and stays connected through Journeys magazine, regular newsletters, social media, an alumni directory, and a variety of gatherings around the world. Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle!

By AUDREY WIDODO Class of 2017

Time and again we hear stories that show the importance of working with others, reaching out, collaborating, and offering to put people in touch with each other. Networking and interacting with alumni can be a big asset and not just for a visible career growth. Recent graduates and students raise money, expand profiles, find mentors, and get the right recommendations! Audrey Widodo (Class of 2017), shares her story.

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One morning, waking up right before the sun rose, I went for a run. Ten miles from the University of Maryland, College Park, I jogged across a bridge that would lead me to the Theodore Roosevelt Island. There was no one else in sight except for the large looming statue of Roosevelt. He stood in the center of the plaza, surrounded by words engraved in stone. “Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.�

Those words reminded me of the dreams I had back in high school. All I ever wanted to be is a journalist with a flair in creative writing, thanks to the Advanced Topic course I took with the one and only Dr. Clark (who is also a fellow University of Maryland Terp). His love for Maryland also prompted me to choose the university as home for the next four years.

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Before starting college, I had set a lot of goals for myself: write for an online publication—HerCampus; join the figure skating team; and work as a challenge course facilitator. I soon realized that a resume and connections are crucial for any endeavor, and as a newly admitted freshman I found myself lacking in both skills and experience. With no college GPA, I resorted to requesting high school transcripts which required me to log in through the Singapore American School alumni page. As a map of Washington, DC popped up, I saw over 135 SAS alumni in the vicinity. My first impression: This is an amazing networking hub! As I filtered through the list, looking for anyone in the field of journalism, I came across Nihal Krishan (Class of 2010)— a multimedia journalist with 73 JOURNEYS

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Global Competition Review. I sought out his email from the alumni page and looked through his website. I reached out to him with the possibility of another SAS Eagle shadowing him. He responded a day later about attending a media event featuring the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Score! I was so excited that this was made possible through an alumni connection. Hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, DC on Monday, October 23, 2017, the prime minister was a featured guest speaker at the event. He spoke on what the US can gain from our small Little Red Dot, and how Boeing transactions would occur between the two countries. “In Washington—where work and play, the daily hustle and the night bustle are constantly intertwining, networking takes on a new look and feel. Mingling and schmoozing with

people—keeping up with the key players in the industry, and making your presence felt by others who could be helpful to you—is important in any career path, but within the worlds of politics and media, where information is currency, one’s network plays a heightened role,” said Krishan. Over coffee in bustling Washington, DC, Krishan and I reminisced about our time in SAS. As he chewed down a croissant with a small sambal sauce packet I had brought with me from Jakarta, we shared SAS stories—studying with Mr. Coppell, and the highlights of our Interim Semester trips to Bhutan, Croatia, and Switzerland. Krishan gave me the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a professional journalist and reassured me that I could always count on him for work opportunities in the Capitol. He said, “Spending one’s


Nihal Krishan (‘10)

evenings at a book release, a think-tank talk, a media party, or even a personal gathering, like birthdays of folks within the industry could be the difference between getting a story (for a journalist), clinching a deal (for a lobbyist, entrepreneur, businessman/woman), finding a donor (for a politician or non profit individual) or not.” It was comforting to talk to someone who came from a similar background, and it gave me a sense that even though I was miles away from home, I have an Eagle family no matter where I go. SAS Eagles are everywhere in the world, and if we use that privilege to our advantage, we can have a multitude of opportunities that we never expected to come our way. All thanks to the strong alumni network, I can connect with Eagles who have spent time in Singapore and are now reaching for the stars in every part of the world.

After encountering someone who could be helpful with opportunities or mentorship, following up over email or text is even more critical.

Getting people’s personal number and using it to carefully nudge them via text is also good idea—it can be very effective for getting through to busy people. I once chased after a writer for The New Yorker for over three months, sending him weekly or biweekly emails before I finally got coffee and pie with him at his home down the street from me—to get career advice and talk about potential journalism opportunities. The chase after someone can take weeks or months but one has to remain persistent and professional, with a keen, constant eye on how one can add value to the person whom one is trying to meet with or show them how one’s previous experience makes one worth investing time in. Once one has made contact in person, making sure to weave some personal aspects of life into the conversation is desired so that an emotional bond is created and one can understand a person’s habits beyond the work realm.

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PTA International Fair 2018 February 24, 2018 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Vendor fair Used book sale Silent auction International food booths Games Raffle baskets Entertainment Teacher band performances


WHY WE GIVE A N IN T E RV I E W W I T H GA URI AND RANJ IT LA KH ANPAL By ANNE DUNCAN Former Associate Director of Advancement

How long has your family been part of the Singapore American School community? This is our sixth year in Singapore and at SAS. We moved to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2012 when our son Shivan was five years old. He’s now a fifth grader. What excites you about the education at SAS? Change is the only constant in the world and we are impressed that the focus at SAS is on equipping students with curiosity, resilience, and engagement to help them brave the evolving challenges of the future. The school recognizes that each student has their own trajectory and gives them the freedom to define it, encouraging them to take responsibility for their choices. We are touched by how much the teachers care and how invested they are in each student’s learning. There is no more emphatic validation of a teacher’s understanding of your child than when at the first parent-teacher conference, the teacher talks about your child (after knowing them for two months) with the same depth of understanding that you, as a parent, would! Why do you choose to support the SAS Foundation? We actively sought out ways to contribute to SAS when we came here. We were fortunate to receive academic scholarships early on in our lives, giving us exposure and opportunities that otherwise may not have come our way. This made us aware of the power of giving and how it can help institutions impact students on so many levels–– scholarships, research, and facilities, to name a few.

The SAS Foundation impacts the school on all fronts. The foundation contributes to everything from support services to college counseling to faculty development to facilities. Foundation gifts impact all students. Why is it important for the community to support SAS? Our children spend more of their waking hours at SAS than anywhere else. We strongly feel that the environment, facilities, teachers, and support networks at the school should be the very best possible. People often think that tuition alone is sufficient to cover all the school’s needs and priorities. However, we’ve always thought of giving to the foundation as an investment in “R&D”, if you will. Giving to the foundation empowers the school to anticipate future needs and invest in addressing those in advance. A strong foundation can push the envelope and allow the school to go from good to great in various spheres. People also feel that giving to a foundation means a big check. As someone who has worked in fundraising for a non-profit for many years, I have seen that any amount, whether big or small, makes a difference. Our years as SAS parents have strengthened our confidence and faith in the school’s ability and commitment to stay ahead of the curve in academic exposure and support, co-curricular activities, and other facilities they offer our children. Supporting the foundation is our way of empowering the school to continue to offer a world-class education to our children.

We have always sought ways to give back, particularly to institutions that have touched our lives. Supporting an institution that we are entrusting our son’s future to is a natural extension of our beliefs. W i n t e r

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1

WRITE ON!—SENIOR LAUNCHES BOOK OF POEMS

Senior Priyanka Aiyer recently launched her book poems for the sound of the sky before thunder. According to BooksActually, it is a collection that tiptoes the infinitely blurred lines between hurting, hoping, and healing. The poetry chapbook published by Math Paper Press debuted at the Singapore Writers Festival. Aiyer writes under the pen name Topaz Winters, and her writings can be found at www.topazwinters.com.

2

FOUR WINS FOR SAS AT IASAS MODEL UNITED NATIONS

The recent IASAS Model United Nations conference saw 16 schools in attendance with SAS sending a contingent of 14 delegates. Senior Aaron Graybill won the Best Judge award. Seniors Ansh Prasad and Kai Yuen Suherwan bagged the Best Delegate award while Sophie Anderson was selected as Chair for the Arab League.

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3

TEEN AUTHORS IN THE MAKING

Publishing an iBook when you’re in sixth grade? This is what our teenagers’ dreams are made of! The sixth grade A-side classes published an interdisciplinary iBook to document their learning from the first quarter of the year. Collaborating, communicating, and working as a team, they were able to launch their book in October.

4

SAS DANCING STARS

Congratulations to eighth grader Poppy L. for participating in the ChildAid concert organized by The Straits Times and The Business Times. She competed with her studio, Jitterbugs Swingapore, at the Get the Beat Asia Finals here in Singapore and they won two first places for jazz and tap. Sixth graders Anya H. and Siena Z. who also participated in Get the Beat Asia Finals won in the contemporary duo category and bagged second place for their lyrical duo. Anya H. earned platinum for her lyrical solo.

5

SAS CELEBRATES FACULTY GRADUATION

This year SAS faculty members graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Masters in Teacher Leadership for International Educators. Congratulations Jared Bildfell, Kate Brundage, Kelli Hannel Buxton, Kevin Donaghey, Tony Greaney, Simon Gustafson, Barbara Harvey, Sally Lean, George Livingstone, Kristoffer Munden, James Shin-Gay, Sean Smith, and Julie Zhang.

6

FIFTH GRADERS LAUNCH COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES

Sometimes the smallest moments in life make the biggest impression. A collection of short stories written by SAS fifth graders, Small Moments from Grade 5 documents the excitement, sadness, frustration, and triumph that come with elementary school. The book was launched in December.

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7

GRACIAS VOLUNTARIOS

Heartfelt thanks to the seven volunteers from the community who worked with middle school students in the Spanish language program. From conversing with them, to guiding them in their language progression, these volunteers helped students reach their dreams of bilingualism. Muchas gracias!

8

A TAEKWONDO STAR SHINES

Fifth grader Tahnee B. bagged gold in the fifth Daedo Taekwondo Open Championships Kyorugi, sanctioned by the Singapore Taekwondo Federation and organized by J H Kim Taekwondo Institute. She won in the Female Poom category (under 33kgs).

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9

MU ALPHA THETA WELCOMES NEW INDUCTEES

Congratulations to the newest members of the SAS chapter of Mu Alpha Theta. Mu Alpha Theta is a national high school and two-year college mathematics Honor Society dedicated to inspiring a keen interest in mathematics, developing strong scholarship in the subject, and promoting the enjoyment of mathematic. As of June 2017, more than 110,000 students are Mu Alpha Theta members at more than 2,400 schools in the US and in 20 foreign countries.

10 ROBOTICS TEAM ON A ROLL

Congratulations to the SAS robotics teams led by coaches Meredith White and Bart Millar. At the recent Formosa Vex tournament hosted at the Taipei American School, the team placed second overall. They also won the Regional Judges’ Award and the Innovate Award. One of the SAS teams was also the first ever all-girls team at the regional championship final. Go Eagles!


11 AP RESEARCH PAPER NOW

A GLOBAL EXEMPLAR

For two years in a row SAS students’ Advanced Placement (AP) Research Academic Papers have been chosen as the global exemplar. Congratulations to senior Ansh Prasad for being published as a College Board world exemplar and becoming an example for thousands of future AP Research students.

12 ELEMENTARY ED-TECH COACH

ON EDUTECH PANEL

Tara Linney, elementary educational technology coach addressed the theme of changing education trends at EduTECH Asia in November 2017. As part of the Women in Tech Keynote panel, Ms. Linney spoke to 2,000 senior K-12 and tertiary leaders, policymakers, and technologists from over 30 Asian and global education markets to discuss educational technology transformations.

13 HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR

AUTHORS PARENTING BOOK

Parenting is no easy feat. And when you have to move lock, stock, and barrel to a different country, things can escalate pretty quickly! SAS personal academic counselor and high school psychologist Dr. Jeff Devens is a 22-year veteran educator in the international school community. In his recently published book A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Overseas, he skillfully addresses many of the issues parents face while living in an international setting and raising third culture or cross culture kids.

14 TWELVE INDUCTED INTO

NATIONAL ART HONOR SOCIETY

The National Art Honor Society (NAHS) welcomed 12 new members to its family this November. The society inspires and recognizes students who have shown an outstanding ability in art. Current students welcomed new inductees, encouraging community and relationship building.

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15 CHINESE HONOR SOCIETY SAYS

NI HAO TO NEW INDUCTEES

This November a new group of inductees were welcomed into the Chinese Honor Society on the basis of academics, character, leadership, and class performance. Thirty-four of the 67 applicants, who truly demonstrated excellence in all areas, were chosen to be part of the CHS.

16 SAS TAKES SILVER IN FENCING

Senior Robert Law won silver in Division II at the US National Fencing Tournament in Utah in the Foil category beating 200 competitors. Law has been fencing since he was eight, and has won numerous international awards.

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17 QUIZZING AWAY TO THE TOP

SAS hosted the Academic Quiz Tournament against teams from NPS International School and Dulwich College Singapore International School. Thirteen SAS high schoolers who were split among four teams—A, B, C, and D—competed for a title in the tournament. All four SAS teams demonstrated amazing sportsmanship. In the end, SAS A team— comprised of seniors Katherine Enright, Tanvi Gupta, and Sam Liew—pulled through with a victory and finished out on top.

18 SENIOR PAPER PUBLISHED

IN ACADEMIC JOURNAL

Senior Ali Lodhi’s paper, titled “Neoliberalism and Political Crisis: A Postulate of the Causal Dialectics Behind the Emergent Trumpian Phenomenon” was published in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory. It was also accepted for peer-review in the Cambridge Journal of Economics.


19 HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER PART

OF COACHES COHORT

Becky Green, high school English/language arts lab teacher was awarded the title of Learning Design Coach by Global Online Academy. Ms. Green is part of the 2017-18 inaugural Learning Design Coaches Cohort which is made up of 13 coaches, each of whom has demonstrated a commitment to excellent teaching and learning in the classroom, the school, and the professional learning community.

20 *SILENCE*—AN EIGHTH

GRADER’S TAKE ON LIFE

Eighth grader Adya C. published her first book *Silence* in November 2017. About a teen girl struggling to face the realities of a broken family through poetry and prose, the book teaches readers to proudly walk into the world with scars and tears streaming down their faces while still believing they are glorious. Published by Xlibris, the proceeds from the book will go to Smile Asia.

21 MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER

ON AWARD COMMITTEE

Middle school teacher Scott Riley completed a term of service as a member of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children’s Literature Committee. The Orbis Pictus Award was established in 1989 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The award is presented by National Council for Teacher Education, which supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments through collaboration and community, shared stories, and shared experiences.

22 TEEING OFF TO A WIN

Congratulations to fifth grader Ella Y. on winning the Mandai Executive Golf Course Junior Open!

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40 woodlands street 41 Singapore 738547 Phone: (65) 6363 3403 WEB: WWW.SAS.EDU.SG QUESTIONS? EMAIL US AT COMMUNICATIONS@SAS.EDU.SG CPE Registration No.: 196400340R Registration Period: 22 June 2017 to 21 June 2023 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) © 2017 Singapore American School All rights reserved.

Journeys Winter 2017  
Journeys Winter 2017