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Volume 11, Issue 6-08/09 - February 2009

MICA (P) 160/08/2008

A Singapore American School community service publication


Singapore American School - A Learning Focused School Teachers teach teachers Pg. 9

SAS Enrollment figures for year 2009 Pg. 9

PTA County Fair February 14 Pg. 20

Content Page

Board of Governors

Regulars 3 - Calendar Highlights 12 - Booster Club News 18 - SAS PTA President’s Letter

Garth Sheldon Chairman of the Board

Bart Broadman Vice Chairman of the Board Chairman Finance

SAS Highlights 4 - A Learning-Focused School 8 - Teachers at CFC “Keep it Simple and


9 - Hygiene Kits for Amelio School

- News from Admissions

10 - MS Band at Inaugural World in Singapore Concert Ravi Agarwal Board Member

Joseph Anderson Chairman Curriculum

11 - First Lego League 2008 - Singapore 14 - Moving Beyond Power School to Responsibility 16 - Fall Knowledge Bowl - IASAS Cultural Convention

Kirk Hulse Chairman Trust

Rudolph Muller Board Member

Devin Kimble Chairman Facilities

Bon Park Chairman Advancement

NEWSFLASH is published monthly by the Communications Office of the Singapore American School. It is distributed free of charge to the parents, faculty members and organizations served by the school.

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE Singapore American School 40 Woodlands Street 41 Singapore 738547 Tel: 6360-6303 SAS Website: Editor: Beth Gribbon Staff Editor: Junia Baker Layout Design: Joey Lew

We welcome input from the community associated with Singapore American School

Marybeth Shay Board Member

Maria Warner Wong Board Member


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

Sheila Wang Board Member

Catherine Poyen Zemans Board Member

March NewsFlash Deadline: February 23, 2009 Publication Date: March 16, 2009 April NewsFlash Deadline: April 6, 2009 Publication Date: April 27, 2009 Email Community News Input to Email Trading Post Input to Trading Post advertising is restricted to non-commercial items only from SAS students, parents and staff

Calendar Highlights

February 2009

* Campus Mosquito Fogging, every Sunday 5:00pm – 7:00pm


ECC & PS Principal’s Coffee 8:30am – 9:45am (PS Faculty Lounge, P220/221) 10 PTA Board Meeting 9:30am (PTA Office) IASAS Math Exam 8:00am – 10:00am (Auditorium) 11 Alternate Dress Day 12:45pm Students’ Early Release; PM Preschool is cancelled 12 Grade 4 Mother Daughter Tea 4:30pm – 6:00pm HS Student Led Drama Production 4:30pm (Theater Studio) 12-15 AMIS Middle School Honor Band Festival (Manila) 13 HS Student Led Drama Production 4:00pm & 7:00pm (Theater Studio) 14 PTA County Fair 10:45am – 4:00pm (Auditorium/Auxiliary A/B/MS/HS Gym/Playfield)

March 2009 2


HS 3nd Season Sports Awards Night 7:00pm (Auditorium/Drama Theater/Theater Studio/M301/ S204) 17 Booster Club Meeting 10:00am (H301) 18 HS Class Polo Dress Day 20 MS Parent/Teacher Conferences; No School for MS Students 20-28 HS Interim Semester 21 Fighting Fish Invitational Swim Meet 7:00am – 6:00pm 25 Alternate Dress Day 27 Faculty-In-Service (No School for Students) 28 Cub Scout Pinewood Derby 8:00am – 2:00pm (MS Gym)

* Campus Mosquito Fogging, every Sunday 5:00pm – 7:00pm

IS Parent Coffee 8:15am – 9:15am (5th Grade group room, I311) MS Parent Coffee 10:00am (M301) 2-6 Grade 4 Swim-a-thon 3 Grade 8 Registration Information 7:00pm (Drama Theater) 4 HS Class Polo Dress Day 5-7 IASAS Art & Music in Kuala Lumpur IASAS Dance /Drama/Debate/Forensics in Singapore 7-8 Grade 5 Community Service Telunas Trip 9 HS PTA Coffee 10:00am (H301) 9-10 Grade 4 Swim-a-thon 9-11 HS Asian Film Festival 3:15pm (H301) 9-13 David Schwartz Visiting Author in IS 9-14 IS/MS/HS Music Festival Week 10 PTA Board Meeting 9:30am (PTA Office) 10-11 HS Interim Semester Presentation Night 7:00pm

Alternate Dress Day Students’ Late Start 10:00am; AM Preschool cancelled EASA Geckos Concert 3:15pm – 4:30pm 12 IS/MS/HS Band Concert 6:00pm & 7:30pm (Auditorium) 12-14 HS SINMUN (French School) 13 IS/MS/HS Strings Concert 7:00pm (Auditorium) IS Specials Quarter Progress Reports Go Home 14 Girls’ Softball Exchange in Kuala Lumpur ACSIS Track & Field Meet 8:00am – 2:00pm (UWC) MS Basketball Tournament 8:00am – 3:00pm (MS/HS/Super Gyms) IS/MS/HS Choir Concert 4:00pm – 6:30pm (Auditorium) 16-17 PS/IS Parent Teacher Conferences; No School for Preschool – Grade 5 17 Booster Club Meeting 10:00am (H301)


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Singapore American School - A Learning-Focused School By Mark Boyer, Assistant Superintendent for Learning


he intent of this article is to provide a systemic overview on the directions that the Singapore American School is pursuing to further enhance student learning, including the unique context of education at SAS, organization for learning, leadership, curriculum renewal, assessment and partnerships. The Singapore American School is now in its 53rd year as an international American school and continues to receive recognition as a leading international school in the world through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Overseas Schools, the College Board and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A key to the success of this school is the synergy created by an outstanding faculty and staff, students who are ready to learn and supportive and committed parents. Although SAS is the largest international American school in the world, great effort is made to create a “small school feel” through providing a broad range of day-time and afterschool opportunities so that each student feels involved and a part of the school community. A student is at SAS for an average of 3.5 years. Students transition in and out of the school at the start of the year and in the middle of the year; 69% are U.S. passport holders and 31% come from 49 different countries; 21% receive support beyond the classroom to further their academic development. School admissions include a broad range of abilities, interests and learning styles, and programs continue to be developed to address these diverse needs and interests. Given this diversity and democratic approach to education, it is worth noting that the “average student” scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills are in the upper quartile in grades 3-8 as compared with all U.S. and international norm groups (including Private School Student Norms),


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

which shows strong overall student performance. Math continues to produce the highest ITBS scores in grades 3-8, with the most consistent gains in elementary math. In regard to school norms (including Private School Student Norms), all math totals are in the top tier of the 95-99 percentile range as compared with the performance of U.S. and international schools. In the eyes of the College Board, SAS is a flagship school for high school Advanced Placement programs. SAS is an international school leader in its offering of 29 out of 33 high school AP courses, numbers of students participating in AP courses, numbers of students who take AP exams and student scores on AP exams. Student performance on the AP Chinese Language exam has ranked SAS as the top performing school in the world for the past two years, and other AP programs also show top rankings. In the past four years, 80% of SAS graduates have matriculated to colleges and universities in the United States, while others have matriculated to institutions in 22 other countries. Many families, including families of foreign students, select SAS as their school of choice because of the continuity of U.S. education from SAS through to university. At the same time, alumni report strong academic success in colleges and universities throughout the world. High school counselors work individually with students to identify the “best fit” for their abilities, talents and interests. As a result, graduates attend a wide range of institutions, including specialized art and business schools, public universities, small liberal arts and science colleges and the most selective Ivy League colleges. Feedback and surveys indicate that nearly all graduates are pleased with their selections of colleges and are experiencing success. Starting in fall 2009, two additional high school counselors

will be available to further support individual student attention for overall counseling and college placement. Based on the affirmation of the school’s accreditation process and recommendations (by a 10-member team which conducted a five-day intensive review of the findings of 500+ members of SAS faculty, administrators, support staff, parents and students), SAS is in motion on a few new fronts. The overall approach for this work is in how we collectively create a learning organization with a shared focus on student learning. The Mission and Vision of the school guide our way. Mission: The Singapore American School is committed to providing each student an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective. Vision: The Singapore American School inspires a passion for learning, encourages emotional and intellectual vitality, and empowers students with the confidence and courage to contribute to the global community and to achieve their dreams. Organizing for Learning A subtle and yet profound shift occurred among administrators four years ago when we discussed Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In this discussion administrators affirmed the outstanding strength of the SAS faculty and staff in their commitment to excellence. The shift was about how SAS can better support the expertise and strengths within the school and function from a genuine belief that we all share a commitment to the best possible education for our students. We agreed that our collective “hedgehog” clearly needed to be student learning. This shift led to the formation of Professional Learning Communities (in grade level teams and departments); coaches in mathematics,

literacy and technology to support the needs and interests of individuals and teams; identification of consultants for team needs; and shifts away from traditional and individual pre-planned classroom observation evaluation to team-initiated collaborative projects focused on student learning results. These processes have increased high standards of consistency and agreement on what is important for students to know, understand and be able to do. A next phase in this evolving work is to develop efficient faculty processes and opportunities for purposeful articulation and communication across grade levels and divisions, so that the longitudinal progress of students is optimally supported. All of the school’s objectives in its five-year Strategic Plan are focused on the quality of student learning: Mission/Vision, Student Learning, Finance, Advancement, Communications, Alumni Relations, Human Resources, Technology, Board Governance, Facilities. It is worth noting that an HR Department emerged this school year to further ensure that SAS continues to attract and retain the best faculty and staff. Departures of faculty from SAS have continued to decline over the past two years, and hundreds of applicants aspire to work at SAS. Leadership Because of the shift to a more proactive and collaborative structure with faculty, it became clear that the approach to instructional leadership among administrators needed adjustment. Although management responsibilities always make a significant demand on administrators, they agreed that greater prioritization needed to be established for leadership focus on student learning. To support this shift, a UK-based company called Fieldwork Education is working with administrators this school year and next school year to support a series

SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Singapore American School - A Learning-Focused School of protocols focused on “Looking for Learning.” This approach focuses on what the student is actually learning. Administrators go into classrooms on a weekly basis and talk with students about what they are learning, so as to have professional conversations with faculty on how to best support the advancement of student learning. Fifty-seven faculty have opened their classrooms for these administrator training-practice sessions. Once again, this approach aligns to the collaborative model that SAS is pursuing. In addition to leadership development for administrators, SAS is opening teacher leadership development for its faculty through involvement in the Principals’ Training Center, a two-year trainers’ program in Understanding by Design, and a two-year Educational Leadership Certificate program. Curriculum Renewal Numerous input and feedback systems are in place to identify and synthesize important considerations on student learning (i.e., student surveys, parent surveys, faculty surveys, parent coffees, parent-teacher conferences and meetings, parent-administrator meetings, school accreditation input from faculty and parents, review of internal and external assessment data on student performance, external consultant evaluations and recommendations, benchmarking with other U.S. and international schools, review of international curriculum models, administrator feedback, analysis of demographic data, networking with other professionals in the field, and board reviews of recommendations). SAS is a school that serves a diverse constituency, and continual development on-cycle and off-cycle addresses various areas of interest. At the end of this school year, SAS will have completed a six-year cycle of curriculum revision in all subject areas and grade levels to ensure that


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

the school is aligned to an exemplary U.S. standards-based education that reflects the recommendations of professional associations and the contextual needs and interests of the school. All of the school’s curriculum is transparently shown on the school’s website, and many of these documents have received international recognition. This year’s adoptions are in the areas of science, physical education, health, as well as a K-12 technology framework. The articulation of a rigorous and engaging curriculum has been completed for science, PE and K-12 technology integration. The completion of the health curriculum is expected later this spring. One area of significant change that was unanimously echoed by faculty and parents was shifting elementary science from its current textbook/ literature-based approach to a more hands-on approach. Through the enthusiastic support of 36 elementary teachers who conducted “pilots” this year, we are pleased to share that there will be a hands-on approach to science in all K-5 classrooms next school year. Where we have had a unique and powerful science lab experience in Primary, next year we will also have a science lab in Intermediate. Therefore in addition to hands-on exposure to science in the regular classrooms, elementary students will have the opportunity to experience science in a specialized science lab. The high school has recently received approval for an Alternative Energy course next school year. The new technology framework provides better clarification for the use of technology as an integrated tool for learning throughout the curriculum and reflects current professional association recommendations. The PE curriculum affirms and refines several of its areas of involvement with students, particularly with its emphasis on developing life-long

interest in different kinds of physical activities. English/RLA entered the “Study Year” this year, and new areas of opportunity and growth are now being explored. Although there are significant strengths in this subject area at SAS, there are also some areas that will receive added attention and rigor. Based on its #1 ranking in the world for AP Chinese language, the school is in strategic development within other areas of the Chinese language program. In short, there is continuous work in curriculum and program support on the curriculum cycle and off-cycle. The next six-year cycle of curriculum development will provide upgrades on the school-wide curriculum and more emphasis and support on classroom unit development that powerfully transfers the school curriculum into classroom practice. All of the AP courses have completed this unit development and have been audited and approved by the College Board. Many other teams throughout the school have pursued these efforts, and this will continue to be a wellsupported area for the next six years. Assessment The 2002 and 2008 WASC (school accreditation) selfstudy recommendations stated a fundamental need for more coherent assessment practices within classrooms and for clearer division and school reporting of progress. In fall of 2009, SAS will have a Director of Assessment to support these needs and interests of the school. To provide professional support for faculty, administrators and parents, the Director of Assessment will focus on the following: • Generate better school-wide understanding and agreement on best practices for varied types of assessments, particularly common assessments • Provide support for faculty in the development and use of

assessments in their classroom units • Facilitate use of assessments that support student learning and facilitate the discontinuation of assessments that produce little or no particular value • Assist in the potential alignment of assessments to show longitudinal progress of student learning in subject areas and assist in parent communications and understanding of student progress • Assist administrators in the development and use of data for showing division and school-wide student learning progress and for identifying specific areas for further support and growth Partnerships Because of SAS’s educational stature in the world community, various conversations continue to emerge on exciting possibilities for the future. The Chinese Ministry of Education has expressed interest in aligning some of its programs, services and stellar teachers with the SAS Chinese language program. A meeting with members of Raffles School indicated that there may be mutually beneficial opportunities. Jay McTighe’s offer to provide the Understanding by Design trainers’ program through SAS was a strong vote of confidence for the quality of the school. The College Board recognizes SAS as an important educational hub in Asia and has begun dialogue on ventures that may feature SAS as the Asia provider for some of their educational interests. The most important partnerships, however, are the partnerships created among staff, parents and students . In addition, SAS is blessed with extraordinary parent involvement through the PTA, Booster Club, Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC), Arts Council, Community Library, Speaker Series and various other types of division and individual classroom support that make a multitude of needs and dreams a reality.

Our “talent meritocracy” As Fareed Zakaria noted in the May/ June 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs, a hallmark of U.S. education is its ability to develop the critical faculties of the mind. It is because of this point that the U.S. produces so many entrepreneurs, inventors and risk takers as well as more engineers per capita than China and India combined. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former Minister of Education in Singapore, recently referred to this U.S. brand of education as a “talent meritocracy” that looks at ways to develop people’s talents to the fullest. While we believe there are important and essential areas of learning for all students, we also believe (through our school Vision) that it is our educational responsibility to help students to understand and realize their talents and dreams.

their interests and depth of study. SAS alumni loudly echo that the depth, scope and unique opportunities that they experienced at SAS have served them well in college and in life, and it is energizing to see how they continue to be connected to a school where they have a feeling of belonging . . . even if here for only a short time.

In the end, we know that we are fortunate to offer a U.S. educational program within Asia because of the richness of successful educational approaches that are around us. The educational exchanges that take place across school systems within the region are inspiring and stimulating. There is much we all have to learn from one another, and this is what it is about when a school commits to being learning-focused. In the end, we each need to be mindful of the decisions that best serve our unique contexts and clientele, but our common purpose is clearly how to best serve the diverse abilities, interests and learning styles of our students. While educators at SAS are certainly focused on academic rigor, SAS also places high value on service for others, Core Values (compassion, fairness, honesty, responsibility, respect) and the emotional, social and physical development of its students. Whereas some school systems tend to specialize within a tight field of choices, the educational approach at SAS is a comprehensive liberal arts education with a multitude of opportunities for students to pursue

SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Teachers at CFC “Keep it Simple and Succeed” By Shabari Karumbaya, PS Resource Teacher Photos by John Yungclas


he Caring for Cambodia (CFC) Teacher Training program has adopted the mantra “Keep it Simple and Succeed.” In the past, SAS teachers and CFC volunteers made teaching materials in Singapore and carried them to Siem Reap. This time, we helped Cambodian staff to make their own teaching materials. Kaye Bach, who coordinates training in the CFC Schools continually promotes this philosophy of simplicity and sustainability. Our focus this trip was clear: teach shared reading and questioning techniques to primary school teachers. The theme was “hygiene,” which tied into the Cambodian curriculum. For this purpose, we used three big books, superbly illustrated by Amelio School alumnus Penn Rithy. This talented young man has been sponsored by the Amelio family and is currently attending art school in Phnom Penh. “Savy’s New Lesson,” one of the books, was written by SAS teacher Shabari Karumbaya. Fourteen bleary eyed SAS teachers bearing hundreds of hygiene kits arrived via tuk tuks at the Siem Reap Villa hotel on November 27. After breakfast, we set off to the Teacher Training Center. It was a joy to see how much the school has improved over the past few years. The formerly bare classrooms were transformed with colorful bulletin boards, charts and murals. Unchanged were the eagerness, enthusiasm and radiant smiles of the Cambodian teachers we had come to train. The attendees were 15 CFC primary school teachers, three


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

Ministry of Education officials and three teachers from a non-government organization. Day one began at with a PowerPoint presentation on shared reading by SAS teachers Michelle Morton and John Yungclas. Ung Savy, the dynamic superintendent of the CFC schools, translated. Soon after, we broke into three small groups of eight to ten CFC teachers and three to four SAS trainers. Each group had a translator, and there were many amusing moments while we struggled to adjust to this unfamiliar way of communicating. Lessons began with a demonstration of shared reading by the SAS trainers, after which the Cambodian teachers took turns practicing. Shared reading of text is not a common practice in Cambodia, and teachers had to start by learning basics such as how to use an easel and pointer. After this session, each group made game boards, concentration games or posters. Day two began with a presentation on open and closed questioning techniques by SAS teachers Barbara Procida and Pearl Morris. This crucial skill needed a great deal of practice. Each group of trainers then worked with a new group of teachers. The basic lesson on shared reading was repeated with a new book and a new

game/activity to use with the book. Post lunch, the groups rotated again. At the end of the day, teachers left with three big books each and enough material to use in their classrooms. A total of 60 big books, 150 game boards, 450 concentration games and 100 posters were created. The CFC schools finally had the tools for reading related activities. We could not have asked for more! None of this would have been possible without the vision of Jamie Amelio, the dedication of Savy and the expertise of Kaye Bach. This effort also came together, thanks to weeks of preparation on the part of Sarah Farris and Jenny Redlin who are the enthusiastic and capable SAS/ CFC teacher trainer coordinators. Natalie Bastow and her team of parent helpers prepared the big books and assisted with hygiene kits. A quiet revolution is taking place in the CFC schools, and we at SAS, are humbled and proud to play a small part. According to the Jet Star inflight magazine, "50% of Cambodia’s population is below the age of 15. Cambodia’s future is beautiful." We think so too.

Hygiene Kits for Amelio School By Kathleen Higgins, Grade 5 Teacher


uring the month of November, students were busy shopping, collecting and organizing hygiene kits to be given out to the parent community at the Caring for Cambodia Amelio School in Siem Reap. It was a huge act of kindness for students and parents to support the 13 SAS teachers who participated in a teacher training program for the teachers in Cambodia during Thanksgiving break. Students were generous and supportive not only in contributing but also with assisting in collating the kits. Packaging was discarded and items packed in plastic baggies since we did not want to contribute to the trash problems in Cambodia. Each hygiene kit had a comb, washcloth, bar of soap, toothbrush and

toothpaste. Students of the 13 SAS teachers contributed enough items to fill 850 kits. A highlight of the weekend was when the teachers and the Train family from SAS handed the 850 hygiene kits to excited parents who had been invited to attend an information morning on hygiene and to receive a hygiene pack (or two) for their families. It was standing room only in the Teachers’ Resource Center. It was a humbling experience and a tremendous team effort. There were many other donations from SAS families, which we carried to the school that weekend. Their kindness and support made a difference in the lives of the small community in Siem Reap for which we are all extremely grateful.

News from Admissions By Ellen White, Director of Admissions


t’s February 2009 and the Office of Admissions is off to a good start in the year of the ox. Second semester enrollment is at 3,848 students. We would like to admit more students but cannot because we do not have enough spaces, particularly in the Early Childhood Center and the Middle School. The fear that many families would leave Singapore because of the U.S. financial crisis has not materialized. Student withdrawals for December were consistent with 2007. This will come as a surprise to many in the SAS community. Each day we get calls from people who assume that spaces have opened up because “hundreds of American families have left Singapore.” This isn’t true. As you move in to the new year, please update your records. Parents, if you’ve moved or changed telephone numbers, please send an update to If you have questions about making your records current, please contact Catherine Mendez, who handles the information technology for this office. For those of you with questions regarding admissions, please contact me or Admissions’ Specialists Ylva Bracken and Farouk Maricar. Students and parents first met Ylva when she worked in the high school counseling office. She’s a dynamo with a big heart. Farouk has been with this office for 14 years. His knowledge of SAS is invaluable. Receptionist, Sue Matrwee, is at her desk from 7:30am to 4:00pm to answer telephone calls and receive documents. Sharmilla Abdul is our newest recruit. A graduate of Republic Polytechnic , she is a hard worker and a fast learner. We look forward to our continued work with students, parents and families in the year ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai and Happy Niu (New) Year!

SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


MS Band Performs at Inaugural World in Singapore Concert By Brian White and Rebecca Davidson, Middle School Band Directors Photos by Brian White and MOE


pparently the word is out. The quality and artistic achievements of our Middle School Tiger Band program are attracting attention, and this time they have spread beyond our SAS community. Two months ago MS Band Directors Brian White and Rebecca Davidson were contacted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and presented with an invitation for Advanced Band students to perform in the inaugural World in Singapore Concert. "When I heard the concert was going to be performed at the Esplanade, I couldn't pass up this opportunity for our students," said White. The idea for the concert originated a couple of years ago when MOE began seeking opportunities for Singapore students to have more exposure to the international community. Their threepronged approach included sending students on educational trips outside Singapore, inviting international speakers and performers to work with students here and making connections with the large international community residing in Singapore. The World in Singapore Concert was designed as an opportunity to promote friendship and collaboration through music. The concert was held on November 24 at the Esplanade and featured 630 musicians from six international schools and eight local schools. Performances included traditional band music, Indian dance, Scottish reels, Broadway songs, Japanese hip hop, a Mozart piano concerto and


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

an Indonesian angklung ensemble. The grand finale by a 300 member strong ensemble made up of the SAS Middle School Advanced Band, Tanjong Katong Secondary School (TKSS) Band and a 200 member choir performed "The Power of the Dream" and "Please Give Me Wings." "It was an amazing learning experience for me and my students," said White. "The first thing I realized was that in the Singapore educational system, students at the end of Secondary School are about two years older than our 8th graders." The music that the students were asked to perform was quite challenging as it was geared toward students with more playing experience. "I was very pleased with the hard work and preparation our SAS musicians did to learn the music. They stepped up to the challenge and performed beautifully." White had the honor of conducting "The Power of the Dream," written for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. This included the opportunity to rehearse with the TKSS band. "What an eye opener," said White. "I wasn't sure what to expect as I had heard that the local schools only practice on Saturdays. Despite this the TKSS Band was fantastic!" SAS and TKSS students met for the first time the day before the concert for a mammoth sevenhour rehearsal. This was also the first rehearsal with the combined 200-member choir. "It was a little shaky at first, but the students stayed really focused and were determined

to make it a great performance." Students from SAS were also lucky to have the opportunity to work with guest conductor Uichi Kajiyama, who flew in from Japan to conduct “Please Give Me Wings” (“Tsubasa Wo Kudasai”). On the night of the concert, the Esplanade concert hall was packed. MOE had purchased all of the seats and then given the tickets to the participating schools and honored guests. “Its level of commitment to this project was awe inspiring.” " Middle School Principal Devin Pratt was one of the honored guests and said "... the finale with our Advanced Band playing in a 140 member band with the choir of 200 was powerful. I appreciated the opportunity to have our students perform in the Esplanade and to be there to see the product of their talent and commitment." "MOE should be commended for recognizing the value of bringing students together in this manner," said Davidson. "Our SAS students were surprised and humbled by the level of performance exhibited by students of the participating schools." In addition to the musical value of the experience, SAS students were able to mingle and mix with the TKSS band students between dress rehearsals and performances. "SAS students were played games and took photos with TKSS students, phone numbers were exchanged, and we've broached the idea of an additional collaborative endeavor in the future."

IS Eagles Win Rising Star Award at the First Lego League 2008 – Singapore Competition By Min Gui, Ph.D. (mentor) and Ajay Dalmia, Ph.D. (coach) Photos By Min Gui and staff from Heartware Network


he SAS Eagles, the Intermediate School’s First Lego League (FLL) team, won the Rising Star Award in FLL 2008 – Singapore competition on January 11. Forty-eight teams participated in the competition at the National Library from 8 am to 7 pm, including three rounds of robot competition and research and technical presentations from each team. FLL is an exciting and fun international robotics program that ignites enthusiasm for science and technology in kids ages 9 to 16. Each year, more than 135,000 children from 40 countries participate in FLL. This is the 10th FLL season. The theme for the competition this year was “Climate Connection.” The SAS IS Eagles share their experiences below: “I was born to love Lego,” I told the journalist who interviewed us during the competition. I was so glad that my mom introduced the FLL to us, and helped to set up our team. Although the performance of our robot was not that good, our research presentation and technical presentation went very well. I enjoyed watching other teams’ robots and learned a lot. When our team name (SAS-Eagles) was called for the Rising Star award, we all shouted loudly and ran to the stage to receive the trophy. That was exciting. Richard Niu, grade 4 My older sister was on an FLL robotics team in Houston, and since then I have wanted to be part of a team. We built and programmed a LEGO MindStorm RCX robot. It was so much fun presenting our research and technical projects to the judges. I really liked meeting the other teams from the Singapore schools and seeing the way they built their robots. Although we did not have many LEGO blocks or motors to work with or as much time as other teams, we did our best with what we had. We worked hard and had lots of fun! When they announced that we had

won the award, I was happy for us! I am sad that it is over for now. Ethan Hall, grade 5 When I first started FLL, I had a high expectation of what was going to happen. So as we prepared for two months, my team and I felt negativity spreading around us. Although we did not feel ready, we still gave all our effort and tried our best. After 12 hours of programming our robot and presenting to the judges, along with 47 other teams, I had learned a lot. In the end, when they announced that we had won, my team and I screamed that we had won SAS its first FLL trophy EVER! Jay Shim, grade 5 The first time I went to an FFL meeting, I had no clue what it was all about. My team members were new and older. I was nervous! The best part was that my dad was going to coach and guide us through it all. Even though this was a new concept for me, I focused and learned fast and soon gained my team’s respect. Soon I got so involved that I even designed my team’s T-Shirt. I want to thank my dad, Miss Min, Emily Hall (7th grade) and all the parents for helping us. The best part for me was the research presentation. I really enjoyed this experience. FLL was so FUN! Anjali Dalmia, grade 3


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Moving Beyond PowerSchool to Responsibility – Shifting Emphasis from the Product to the Process By: Jeff Devens, Ph.D. / High School Psychologist

make. With these thoughts in mind, I have four suggestions for helping teens take responsibility for their learning:

The chief aim of parenting teens is helping them take ownership of their learning while simultaneously holding them accountable for the age appropriate academic choices they make.


little over four years ago SAS moved from a traditional paper-based grading system to the online format known as PowerSchool. Technically defined, PowerSchool is a web-based student information system that displays data regarding a student’s academic progress to parents, students, teachers and administrators. While PowerSchool provides “realtime” data regarding academic progress, grades alone do not offer a composite of a student’s ability nor do they provide an understanding of the efforts that are applied toward earning those marks. A challenge that PowerSchool presents is what I term the “SO-WHAT” factor. SO you can view your teen’s progress on a dayto-day basis; WHAT purpose does this serve? The chief aim of parenting teens is helping them take ownership of their learning while simultaneously holding them accountable for the age appropriate academic choices they


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

1) Discuss academic expectations at the start of each quarter: Provide a venue where you and your teens are able to communicate what grades you, and they, believe they should be able to earn in their respective courses. Be realistic. Answers to this question should be based to a large degree on past academic performance. During these discussions, talk about the consequences should they fail to make consistent progress toward the goals. As an aside, I encourage parents not to use bribes or rewards. Kids need to understand that the “rewards” for learning are the intangibles, such as gained knowledge, increased self-confidence and a healthy boost to self-esteem. 2) Stop asking your teens if they have finished their homework or even if they have homework. Sadly, an inordinate amount of parenting energy is focused on compelling teens to complete homework and earn “good” marks. When parents persistently question their teens, hyper-manage their schooling and become “emotional” over their academic performance, they may perceive that they are being proactive and supportive, but their teen interprets this as incessant nagging, which inevitably leads to conflict. Cajoling, bribing, yelling, bartering and even threatening will ultimately produce minimal long-term positive results. Teens tend to think with their emotions. When parents get caught up in this cycle of emotional reactivity, they end up on a proverbial treadmill with the only byproducts being increased stress,

I encourage parents not to use bribes or rewards. Kids need to understand that the “rewards” for learning are the intangibles, such as gained knowledge, increased self-confidence and a healthy boost to selfesteem. tension and ultimately frustration. Their primary charge with respect to their teen’s schooling should be reinforcing agreed upon consequences, not monitoring daily homework. If parents follow suggestion one, their conversations with their teen no longer have to center primarily around schooling (imagine what that would be like). While it is true that teens may occasionally need parental guidance, they own their learning. Doing this does not mean parents are abdicating their responsibilities. Their consistency in enforcing consequences breeds an environment of predictability, which in turn contributes significantly to stability in the home. By the time children reach middle/ high school, they should have the tools to self-regulate and complete their school work on their own. If this is not the case, then when discussing academic expectations, present your concerns, talk about possible solutions and implement an agreed upon plan. For example, if you know your teen has difficulties with concentration, staying on tasks and focusing, then he or she has no business having any unnecessary electronic devices in the room while studying. This isn’t about punishing them by taking

things away but rather helping them understand that you want them to own their learning. For now, they need your help and guidance in setting up a conducive study environment. 3) Ask the teacher: When you “see” via PowerSchool that your teens’ grades are not meeting agreed expectations, talk with the teacher first, not the counselor or school psychologist. In my work with students who are struggling academically, the primary question I ask teachers is whether they believe the students are working to the best of their abilities. If the teacher believes they are, then it’s not so much about trying harder, studying more or meriting out consequences, but rather recognizing that for that particular subject, this may be the best they can do. If, however, the teacher believes the student is not working to his or her potential, I ask for specific examples so I can address these with the student. My charge in this regard is to help the teen understand

the cost(s) associated with those good and not-so-good choices they are making. In some cases, it is appropriate to seek expert advice to investigate “other” issues that may be attributed to learning difficulties, but this should be considered only after speaking with the teacher and implementing in-class and athome interventions. 4) Establish a time to view grades with your teen. A potential pitfall of PowerSchool is when it is used to micromanage teens’ lives. Some parents view their child’s grades as if they were stocks, monitoring their rise and fall like day traders on Wall Street. PowerSchool becomes a tool to control instead of inform. Analyzing every assignment and test score will not bring about change. Instead, ask your teens if they want your advice on what they might do differently. If they say “NO!” then don’t give any. At this point, they know what they did or did not do, and no amount of getting-after-

them will make a difference; however, parents’ consistency in following through with the agreed upon consequences will make a difference. I know of several families who log onto PowerSchool once a week. If their teens have turned in their assignments and are working to the best of their abilities, then no further discussion is necessary. However, if this is not the case, then the consequences, which were discussed by all parties and agreed upon ahead of time, are enforced. It’s important to pause and remind parents that their teens’ grades reflect their performance and not necessarily parenting skills. Teens make choices – as they should. One of the chief charges as parents is to be consistent with consequences, accountability and responsibility. When we shift emphasis from the product (grade) to the process (independent learning), we help teens understand that our primary concerns are their effort and the positive steps they are taking toward independence.

oaisjkjkjkjkjkjkjkddSsdsoaidoiodsjddddsadsajdajdssss0ajsssjldddddmmmmm Personal Accident Insurance The Singapore American School (SAS) maintains insurance for customary insurable risks, including comprehensive liability and coverage for school property. SAS does not carry medical coverage for students. It is the responsibility of parents to provide medical and accident insurance as well as personal property insurance for their children and their possessions. Families in need of personal accident policies for their children and/or a family with limited medical coverage may want to consider an individual policy through ACE. Applications for a policy with ACE can be obtained from the admissions office, the nurses’ offices or the high school activities/athletics office. The completed application and premium payments must be submitted directly to ACE, and the policy will be an individual policy between your family and ACE. Contact information for ACE and the servicing broker can be found on the back of the enrollment form. Please note that this is an option for your consideration and there is no obligation or requirement on your part to contact ACE to purchase this policy or any other accident policy.

oaisjkjkjkjkjkjkjkddSsdsoaidoiodsjddddsadsajdajdssss0ajsssjldddddmmmmm SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Fall Knowledge Bowl By Bill Rives, HS Social Studies Photo by Rives


he Fall Knowledge Bowl results are in. SAS finished 48th out of 695 schools with a score of 1,527 out of a possible 2,000. This was based on 183 correct answers out of 200 questions. There are premiums on both accuracy and speed. Questions must be answered within 1 minute maximum. Correct answers receive 5 points. Those rendered within the first 7 seconds receive a 5 point bonus, those between 8-14 seconds, 4 points, etc., with the bonus for speed expiring at 35 seconds and 1 point. The contest was won by State College Area High School of State College, PA, with a score of 1,747. Second was Torrey Pines High School of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, at 1,731; third was Bellarmine College Prep of San Jose, CA, at 1,719; and fourth was Montgomery Blair High School of Silver Spring, MD, at 1,709. Other top finishers included Henry Clay High School of Lexington, KY, Raleigh Charter High School of Raleigh, NC, North Carolina School of Science, Durham, and Lakeside School of Seattle, WA, the last foresighted enough a generation ago

to buy an early computer and time sharing arrangements for Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Class of 1973. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology holds the record for the highest recorded score. In 2004, its students tallied 1,849. How did schools in your state or area do? Look under “Knowledge Master Open,” and then go to “Recent Contest Results.” A local rival, Shanghai American School, won the small international division, with a score of 1,555, and a

rank of #32, compared to our 1,527, and #48 overall standing. Seoul International placed third with a score of 1,365. SAS also took second in the middle school division. Hong Kong International School claimed top honors. The next competition is April 17. The goal sometime, somehow has to be 1,600 and top-20 standing. As Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

IASAS Cultural Convention March 5-7


arch 5-7 are the dates of this year’s 27th annual IASAS cultural convention, which brings together high school students from the IASAS schools in forensics, debate, dance, drama, music and art. While forensics and debate are competitive, the dance, drama, music and art exchanges are showcases of the best student work. Students share their talents, participate in workshops and receive constructive feedback from adjudicators. This year art and music will be hosted by ISKL, and SAS is hosting forensics, debate, dance and drama. The community will have a unique opportunity to see performances by talented students from the six participating schools (SAS, International School Kuala Lumpur, Taipei American School, Jakarta International School, International School Manila, International School Bangkok). The 20-minute dance presentations and 45-minute drama performances are March 5-6 in the afternoons and evenings. The final competitions in forensics (original oratory, impromptu, oral interpretation, extemporaneous) and debate will take place in the Drama Theater on Saturday, March 7. See “IASAS Links” on the SAS home page for the complete schedule.


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

We regret this Thank You page was omitted in the January NewsFlash.

SAS PTA WARMLY THANKS GENEROUS SPONSORS:  American Club  Café Iguana  F & N Coca Cola Pte Ltd  Haagen‐Dazs  Outback Steakhouse  Yeap Transport (SAS School Bus Company)  Al Sheikh Restaurant • Asian Tigers KC Dat • Bean Bag Mart • Cedele  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf • Diethelm Singapore Pte Ltd •  Donut Factory  Jerry’s BBQ  • Party Workz  • Phoon Huat • Santa Fe Relocation Services  Singapore Slingers • Shiraz Restaurant • Sodexho • Vic’s Meat   


Hop‐a‐long & Shoo‐fly CDs & Books,  ACDC Technologies, Arshiya,  Action for Singapore Dogs,  Bean Bag Mart, Cindy’s Quilts,  Coretti Fashion, Dalen Fine Art,  D’Light, Edugames Singapore,  Eden Galerie, Flashcards Factory,  Fine Weaves, Flowers by Hanis Hussey,  Gecko Song, Gifts for Guys,  Hapetex, Iggy’s Crafts,   I Kids Solutions, Illumi Craft,  Loft Collezion, Min’s Paperie,  Mosaic Accents, Name Your Ball,  New England Stationery,  Pansing Distribution Pte Ltd,  Pearls,Pearls,Pearls & More Pte Ltd,  Roe Gift Ideas, Santa Fe Relocation  Services, SAS Boosters, Silver Today,  Simply Amazing, Snappi Kidz,  Spirit of Asia, Tickled Pink,   Wiwis, XS Project 


Priscilla Chan & Sanskriti Ayyar, Singers    Linda Yang, Singer                        Philippines Dancers led by Digna Ryan    Charlotte Cheng, Singer    Priscilla Chan & Willow Johnston,  Seussical the Musical Performers     Irish Dancers led by Lynette Rock    Indian Dancers led by Arathi Nilakantan    Jamie White & Maddie Sibley, Dance Duo    Gymnastics Groups led by Liz Kajko                                    HS Dancers led by Tracy Van Der Linden                Latino Dance led by Christiane Pinto 

SAS NewsFlash – February 2009



President’s Letter

Dear SAS parents, I hope everyone has enjoyed a good start to year 2009. Let me also say Gong Xi Fa Cai to those who celebrate Chinese New Year. On January 23, we held our mid-year Newcomer Coffee in the PTA Office. If you are new to SAS, we hope that you were able to join us to find out more about the SAS PTA and enjoy meeting new friends and settling into the SAS community. If you were unable to attend the Newcomer Coffee, please be sure to stop by the PTA Sales window during sales hours and pick up a PTA “Welcome Packet.” Each packet contains a complimentary copy of the SAS PTA Directory, an SAS wall calendar and some information about the PTA. With a school as large as SAS, it is sometimes easy to feel lost in the crowd. We are here to assist in any way we can and to help you adjust to your new community. Our contact information is listed in the PTA section of the SAS website at Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about school life, and we will try to point you in the right direction. By the time this NewsFlash is distributed, we will have held our annual Gala Wine Dinner. This event was held on January 31 at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel. Shelby Pazos and her dedicated team worked diligently to put on a fabulous evening, and I would like to thank them for their efforts in organizing this event. We now turn our efforts to the PTA’s most anticipated event, in which the entire school comes together to enjoy a day of fun for the whole family. An old fashioned American tradition brought to the SAS campus, the County Fair will be held on Saturday, February 14. It is the one family day that you should not miss. We promise you a fun filled day with food, games, rides, vendor booths, entertainment, a Used Book Sale, Silent Auction and much more. As we begin the second half of the school year, we look forward to working with each of you to further develop the sense of community within SAS and to support the school in its mission. Mae Anderson PTA President


SAS NewsFlash – February 2009

New Items from PTA Sales Hop-A-Long’s Schoolhouse DVD & Storybook Gift Set – Nominated for a Best Children's Video Award, Hop-A-Long's Schoolhouse DVD set, featuring Hop-A-Long Hoss and Shoo-Fly Schunk is now available in the PTA Sales Office. The Hop-A-Long's Schoolhouse DVD Gift Set includes the DVD Series 1 with three exclusive episodes, an 8 song music CD, a full-color poster and lyrics to all the Hop-A-Long music and songs as well as coordinating story books, Manny, the Monarch & For Pete’s Sake. Developed by and featuring SAS Primary School Principal David Hoss and Deputy Principal Ken Schunk, the HopA-Long's Schoolhouse DVD set is a great gift idea for children of all ages!! $40.00/Set. A portion of the proceeds from the sale benefits the SAS PTA.

While I Was Away Living in Singapore… Journal – Created by expatriates Corrine Letts & Alison Fullick, this beautiful journal provides creative space to document thoughts, ideas, observations and photos of your life in Singapore. $25.00/Each. A portion of the proceeds from the sale benefits the SAS PTA.

SAS Zippered “Hoodie” Sweatshirt Jacket – Redesigned with a ‘hoodie’, the new SAS Zippered “Hoodie” Sweatshirt Jacket is constructed of a light-weight fleece with a front zipper, pockets, a ‘hoodie’ and the SAS logo. Sizes include PS (XXXSmall) – Xlarge. $30.00/Each

SAS Rain Poncho – Perfect for field trips, those rainy days in Singapore or as an alternative to an umbrella, the new Rain Poncho with SAS logo is available in Youth Sizes: Small, Medium and Large. $16.00/Each

PTA Sales Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 2:30pm SAS NewsFlash – February 2009


Singapore American School Newsflash, February 2009  

Newsflash, now Crossroads, was a Singapore American School community service publication.

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