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MICA (P)107/09/2010

A Singapore American School community service publication

April 2011 Volume 13, Issue 6-10/11

Writing in Paradise


By Serena Sung-Clarke and Samantha Daynes Grade 8 Students


he palm trees swayed in the breeze and the water lapped against the beach. Hammocks held kids scribbling in their books, while others swam around in the water, splashing one another and laughing. Stretched lazily across the water was a neat arrangement of rustic looking cabins and rooms on stilts, just above the ocean’s reach. The aroma of sizzling food slithered its way to hungry students. Where is this place?

In February, 22 grade seven and eight students went to Telunas Beach Resort on Sugi Island, in the Riau Islands of Indonesia, for a writing camp. Richard Tulloch, the writer and creator of the show Bananas in Pajamas, taught us. Twice a day we had sessions with him, learning tips on writing poetry and short stories. We also learned to observe the world and to smell the roses. A large part of our writing observations happened on outings, such as the waterfall hike and Continued on page 4

7 Harmony in Beijing

11 Great Leaders

12 The New AP Revealed

Editor’s Note

Passion? Or Doing? By Tamara Black Assoc. Dir. of Communications


y daughter has always had a passion for stories. She writes stories. She tells stories. She reads stories. She films stories. She even acts out stories. I think her first spoken phrase might have been “Once upon a time…” I know those words began the first sentence she ever wrote. So it was no surprise when in the program bio for the recent Middle School production of Get Smart she wrote that she hopes to “…become a professional actress or anything that has to do with the film industry…” I’m pretty confident that story telling will always remain a driving force in her life one way or another.

Contents Regular Features 3

From the Superintendent’s Office


From the SAS PTA


Booster Club News

Highlights 5

Translating Poems Into Music


Brass Explosion!


The King of Time


Michelle Kwan: Visit with a Champion


Awesome Ape


Summer Makeover for SAS Facilities

Interestingly enough, Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, speaks against searching for passion as a source of motivation. He suggests that we take a look at what we’re actually doing. Because the activities in which we find ourselves engaged, the hobbies that take up our time, the things we do for fun—those are the motivating forces that can transform our lives. Ultimately, Dan Pink advises that we de-emphasize passion and re-emphasize doing. But what if our passion IS what we are doing?

NewsFlash is published monthly during the academic year except September and January by the communications office of Singapore American School. It is distributed free of charge to the parents, faculty members and organizations served by the school. We welcome input from the community associated with Singapore American School.

Recently, my Google Alerts feed delivered a number of stories relating how passion-driven students, educators and schools are transforming education. The articles exemplify what happens when passion and doing come together in an educational setting. Learning happens.

Editor: Tamara Black, Associate Director of Communications Layout Design: Alfi Dino Photography: Karen Cortezano

In this issue of NewsFlash you will find story after story of how passion combined with doing can deliver an exemplary—and a transformative—educational experience. For example, on page 5 you’ll read how composer John Sharpley wrote music set to poems authored by SAS eighth graders. A daughter learned what it takes to be a great leader (page 11) through her mother’s commitment to Singapore’s economy. And Michelle Kwan inspires us all (page 18) by sharing the message of how to be a true champion with children around the world. So is Mr. Pink right? Should we de-emphasize passion and re-emphasize doing? I don’t think so. I think we should emphasize finding our passion and then doing something with it. Then we can truly transform the world. And live happily ever after.

Contacts General Inquiries and Comments NewsFlash Submissions Tamara Black, Deadline for NewsFlash submissions is the first of the month prior to the proposed month of publication.

Singapore American School 40 Woodlands Street 41, Singapore 738547 Tel: 6360-6303

NewsFlash is printed on 100% recycled paper.



From the Superintendent’s Office By Brent Mutsch, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools


hat is the purpose of Singapore American School? What is the school seeking to accomplish through its daily partnership with parents? In what ways does SAS serve to transform the manner in which students see the world? The mission of Singapore American School is to provide each student with an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective. It is through the mission that we are empowered to create the vision for what we daily are working to accomplish with each student. The mission, affirmed by the SAS Board of Governors in December 2007, has guided the work and decision-making that occurs at the school on a daily basis. What does this mean for us? In seeking to provide each student with an experience that serves to develop skills, talents and passions, we place an emphasis on providing extraordinary care for the welfare of each student. Although SAS is one of the largest international schools in the world at 3,880 students in preschool through twelfth grade, there is a continuing emphasis on successfully meeting the educational needs of each student. The school has been deliberately organized at both the division and the grade levels to create smaller, welcoming learning environments that create a strong sense of community for each student. What does it mean to provide an exemplary American educational experience? Exemplary is defined as “worthy of being an example.” SAS is deeply committed to providing students with an American educational experience that is the benchmark against which other schools compare both their programs and performances. We systematically review, revise and develop the curriculum to align what students learn with what is considered to be best practices. We strive to remain current in regard to professional practice, annually providing opportunities for professional growth and development of our faculty and staff in alignment with strategic priorities. The commitment to continuous improvement is one of the qualities that has served SAS well during a 55year history. SAS has continuously redefined itself through the desire to be a school that is exemplary.

Additionally, the school provides students, in collaboration with parents, with a wide variety of opportunities to travel and further develop an international perspective. By expanding the scope of the learning environment well beyond the Woodlands campus, students connect with other cultures in ways that enable them to develop a broader and deeper understanding of the world. This understanding is translated by many of our students into a commitment to contribute in positive ways to the betterment of the global community. This was most recently illustrated by the dedicated manner in which students reached out to Japan in response to the horrific tragedy caused by the earthquake and tsunami. In the months and years ahead, the SAS mission will continue to serve as the lens through which both individual and school-wide decisions will be aligned. In defining the mission of SAS, we have successfully translated the purpose of the school into a vision that has contributed to greater clarity, consistency and coherence between our actions and our primary purpose. This combination of mission and vision daily assists SAS in becoming a more exemplary school.

place an “ We emphasis on

providing extraordinary care for each student.

SAS is committed to providing students with an international perspective. Being located in Singapore— an international community that embraces a respect for diversity—significantly contributes to our ability to further develop an international perspective. As our students literally rub shoulders with students from all points on the globe, students daily are engaged in developing a broader view of the world. This development of a global perspective is enriched by the diversity of our students, parents, faculty, staff and administration.


Continued from front cover a visit to the nearby Jang village. One such outing was an hourand-half hike to the Black Pool waterfall. Our assignment was to note something that we thought no one else saw. We saw grasshoppers, birds, snakes, monkeys, cows, dogs, chickens and evidence of boars. At the beautiful waterfall, we jumped off tall, mossy boulders into the icy black water then hiked back down the trail and headed back to Telunas by boat. In our writing workshop that afternoon, we wrote haiku about the unique, little observations that we had made on the hike. As always, the food at Telunas was incredible. After dinner, we played a few drama games to get to know one another better. We also had an evening writing workshop that required us to sit in silence under the night sky and make sensory observations. This activity resulted in many beautiful and descriptive poems. On the third day, we rode longboats to Jang village. Local kids who had just come from school raced around and greeted us in their purple and yellow uniforms. We were prepared for the visit, having learned some Indonesian phrases such as selamat pagi (good morning), Siapanamaanda? (What’s your name?) and terima kasih (thank you). The local people showed us a few special places in their village. One was a house used to make krupuk (fish crackers). The women worked tirelessly kneading fish cracker dough, beating an egg mixture and making fish paste. We never imagined that so much beating, grinding and time went into making these tasty crackers. We then went to see the place where longboats are constructed. The boats take nine months to make and cost over S$1,000 each, a year’s salary for most families! Almost all the boats in the village are used for fishing. Last, we went to the village primary school. The students all gathered in the small courtyard and loved posing for pictures with us. Our group enjoyed talking and playing


with them. They laughed with delight when we said something in their language. Unfortunately, it was soon time to go, and we all clambered into the boat and said mari (goodbye). In our workshop that afternoon, we talked about our experiences and learned more about the villagers before we wrote short fictional stories about the village and the people we met. After dinner on our final night we had a bonfire on the beach and performed funny skits, roasted marshmallows, told stories and riddles, and went shrimping by flashlight.


On the last day we said goodbye to Mr. Tulloch, to the beautiful Telunas Resort and to all the friends we had made, but we knew we would never forget the magical experiences and memories. Thank you to Mrs. McDowell, Ms. Hall, Mrs. Walker, Mr. Tulloch and the staff at Telunas for arranging such a wonderful trip for us! Everyone had an amazing time, and we encourage next year’s grade six and seven writers to attend the camp. We walked away inspired to write and full of new ideas and experiences to share with the world.

Translating Poems Into Music By Kristin Symes MS Choir Teacher


he Middle School Tiger Choirs, with the support of the SAS PTA through the Office of Learning, have commissioned John Sharpley to write music set to five poems authored by SAS eighth grade students. The poems were chosen from a competition led by MS RLA teacher Rebecca Clark and composer John Sharpley. The selected poems were written by Shannon M., Asim R., Vivian W., Lane P. and Audrey T. The Tiger Choirs will premier the song cycle on Tuesday, May 24 at 7:00pm in the drama theater. John Sharpley, composer, performer and teacher, has had a unique and multi-faceted career that spans geographic and cultural borders. Born in Houston, Texas, he earned a doctorate in composition from Boston University, and bachelor and master degrees in music from the University of Houston, as well as diplomas for piano, violin and composition at the National Conservatory of Music in Strasbourg, France. His composition teachers include Michael Horvit, David Del Tredici, John Harbison, Betsy Jolas and Leonard Bernstein. Some of our middle school students interviewed John Sharpley. Here are their questions along with his answers. Was there a theme you focused on when picking the poems? - Shiv S. There was not a theme per se but rather a search for emotionally honest poems that would inspire me. I also wanted only five poems for the sake of balance and time duration. It was not an easy process! But once made, the act of composition flowed like a river! In the piece, “Where are You?” why did you use so many flats and overlapping parts? - Alison P. The many flats have to do with particular keys chosen to fit into an overall harmonic structure and to suit the vocal range and color. In this case it is first E flat minor then C minor. The overlapping voices may represent or suggest the psychological multiplicity and fragmentation that arise from my interpretation of the text. When you were writing the music to my poem, “A Silence Settles In” did you immediately think of the intro having cell-phones and other sound effects? - Shannon M. Yes, the idea came almost immediately and was as visual as it was aural. How do you know where to put a climax? - Nicole S. Great question! However, a better question might be “where do you put everything else before and after the climax?” I may not approach the creation of a work in a linear fashion. I may even start with the climax. This becomes the point to which all others connect. Then it is a matter of balancing the energy, just like writing a short story or novel.

How are you able to make those moods/emotions in your pieces? - Rica R. I am delighted that you recognize them. A particular emotion begins first inside me. It evolves. Consequently I am able (hopefully) to translate it into music. In “Jazz It Up” why change mood in the middle? - Taka S. I wanted to reflect a growing excitement that would turn toward exhilaration, which I saw as a dramatic possibility for the poem. What’s your most successful song? - Max D. If you mean most popular, it might be some of my film work or the arrangement for the song Lotus I did for the rock group R.E.M. This is music that may have gone out to hundreds of thousands of people. If you mean most successful artistically, then I cannot easily nor readily answer your question. Who inspired you to write music? - Sasha H. My mother was the first to encourage me to compose. I was three years old then! Later it so happened that many of my friends played a musical instrument. Consequently, I wrote for them to perform. Composing just grew from there. These days I am potentially inspired by just about anything. What type of cookie do you like? - Mila R. Oatmeal raisin, freshly baked, especially when they’re hot! (hint, hint) Yummy!


Brass Explosion! By Brian White MS Music Teacher


ast year, Top Brass and SAS music teacher Rebecca Davidson created and organized the Brass Explosion!, Singapore’s first ever international brass music festival. David Smith, CEO of Top Brass and the associate principal trumpet of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), said that the goal of the event was to “bring together musicians of all levels from renowned professionals to student brass bands from all over the world to teach, learn, perform and inspire one another.” If you were at the festival’s gala concert, you know that goal was achieved. Thirty-five SAS students performed with Singaporean students as well as students from other international schools. Professional brass players from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Beijing and Switzerland gave recitals and master classes. The culmination of the gala concert was a performance of the Desford Colliery Brass Band, a world-renowned brass ensemble. The Brass Explosion! will take place again this year, so if you have a brass student, keep an eye out for announcements from your child’s music teacher. One of the unexpected outcomes from the Brass Explosion! was a desire to have more outlets for brass musicians in Singapore. Several key proponents of brass band music, including Davidson and White, met earlier this year to organize a traditional British brass band. Its first concert was January 31 and was a huge success. Davidson said that it was “amazing seeing so many brass



musicians come together in the spirit of creating beautiful music. There were Singaporean music school students, symphony orchestra members, CEOs of business who still love to play their instruments and music teachers from international schools.” Besides Davidson and White, HS music teachers Brian Hill, Steve Bonnette, student teacher Mya Scarlato and SAS parent Liesel Duhon (not pictured) are vital members of the ensemble. “We spend so much time teaching music all day, it’s great to actually get the chance to play and perform. It’s a way to recharge the soul,” says Bonnette. “It’s been an incredible educational experience for me,” says White. “I’ve never played in a British brass band before and I didn’t realize how much I really didn’t know about it.” Brass bands in the UK were traditionally part of the social life of many blue collar workers. Miners and factory workers would get together to play music and socialize. “We’ve sort of created the same thing here in Singapore…musicians of all age levels and backgrounds come together to do something they are passionate about. I love it!” The next performance of the Brass Band Society of Singapore will be on April 30 in the Singapore Botanical Gardens and will feature music from the silver screen. More details about the concert will be sent out through the various music classes as the date gets closer.

Harmony in Beijing By Stephen J. Bonnette HS Music Teacher

Har-mo-ny (noun)

1. Friendly agreement 2. Notes sung or played together However you define it, the world is in dire need of more harmony. If you are a linguist, you’ll probably know that amis is French for friend. In mid-February, 23 SAS middle school student-musicians enjoyed the opportunity to make many new friends through the medium of music. Whether sharing a stand or standing shoulder to shoulder, the experience of preparing and performing exquisite repertoire with equally talented and passionate peers from around the globe can be life-changing. The Association of Music in International Schools (AMIS) advances the education of students and teachers around the world by developing their understanding, knowledge and appreciation of music. Through the performance and study of music, young people celebrate cultural diversity, gaining sensitivity to global issues. The community of the International School Beijing played marvelous host to more than 140 high school students from 23 international schools. A balance of rehearsals mixed with culturally enriching activities made for a memorable adventure. Lynne Gackle, choral director from Baylor University, and orchestral conductor Dr. Matthew Speaker of Fort Collins, Colorado did a masterful job preparing their respective ensembles for an inspirational, culminating concert Saturday evening. Repertoire highlights included Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, choral works by Mendelssohn and Bizet, and a combined work for orchestra and women’s work by Carl Ashley and Katherine Mansfield, A Joyful Song of Five, commissioned especially for the event. A rousing spiritual by Moses Hogan provided an exclamation mark to the first staging, expressing perfectly what everyone on stage was feeling – I Got Music Down in My Soul!


The King of Time By Jeff Devens, Ph.D. HS Psychologist


hen I was in seventh grade, a friend received a Mattel electronic football game from his parents. It was 1983, and the gaming revolution was taking hold in Minnesota. Soon after, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Cold War Missile Command, Tempest and Pac-Man followed. By today’s standards we would be considered gamers. These games didn’t simply occupy our time, they cannibalized it…and we would have it no other way. By the time I was in the latter part of high school, however, the games had lost much of their appeal. Still, a few kids continued to game throughout high school and beyond. Fast forward to 2011 when gaming platforms have changed considerably, and so too has the language used to describe gamers. It’s not uncommon to hear such terms as addiction and dependency being referenced when describing those who play online games. While no formal diagnosis of gaming addiction exists in the West (yet), increasingly psychologists are noting similarities among gamers and those identified as addicted to chemical substances. As such, when it comes to concerns that parents raise regarding their children’s gaming, psychologists frame questions around the follow terms: salience, mood alteration, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. To a greater or lesser degree these terms define the level of the problem. Having noted the above, I want to emphasize that I DO NOT believe that gaming in and of itself is inherently addictive, nor do I believe that gaming in its myriad of manifestations ultimately leads to compulsive behaviors. Rather, the purpose of this article is to help parents understand some of the warning signs of addictive patterns of behavior. If you have concerns with your child’s gaming use, I would encourage you to take proactive steps to address it. If need be, this may include speaking with your child’s counselor. By and large gaming is an increasing area of concern that parents have noted in their child’s computer use. Monitoring software that allows parents to regulate site locations and the amount of time kids spend online gaming are helpful tools in teaching and promoting balance.

With the myriad of changes taking place in gaming platforms, parents and kids have some great opportunities to enjoy another form of play. As with all things, moderation is key. Without your guidance and direction, kids tend to overindulge when it comes to media consumption. Now, back to my ongoing game of Angry Birds. Salience: As an activity, how important is gaming in a person’s life? Does gaming dominate their thinking and behavior? For example, when a person is not online are much of his or her conversation, thoughts and actions geared toward the next gaming experience? Mood alteration: How does a person feel as a result of gaming? Some people experience a high or feelings of euphoria as a result of gaming; others may feel a sense of despondence between gaming sessions. Tolerance: Are increasing amounts of gaming required to achieve desired mood altering effects? For some, this is a gradual buildup. For others, it morphs from one platform (game style) to another. Withdrawal symptoms: When required or requested to cease and desist their gaming, do your children experience protracted moodiness and irritability? Conflict: Are there ongoing interpersonal conflicts that occur between the person and parents/spouse around them not being accountable and responsible in other areas of their lives (i.e., school work, job, household responsibilities, other interests) as a result of gaming? Relapse: Have there been repetitive reversions to earlier patterns of habit around gaming, despite attempts to stop?

Visiting Author: Linda Sue Park


ingapore American School recently hosted PTA visiting author Linda Sue Park. During her visit, Ms. Park met with students and presented at a special parent session. Ms. Park is Korean-American, and during her presentations she shared stories from her own life growing up as a second-generation American citizen.


Ms. Park writes for children of all ages, from picture books to novels. While she writes in different genres, many of her books are Korean historical fiction. In 2001 she was honored with the Newbery Award for her novel A Single Shard, which tells the story of Tree-ear, an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters’ village.


Global Giving that Makes a Difference By Arriel Vaz Grade 11 Student


n the wake of the poverty and starvation that has occurred throughout the world, it is evident that the only solution is to equip children with the knowledge and tools to escape this vicious cycle. With the emphasis put on education at SAS, it is obvious that our resources should be shared with others who may benefit from them. Global Giving is a club that is dedicated to providing less fortunate students of communities throughout the world with textbooks and other learning tools. As curriculums change often, many pristine books and textbooks are discarded. Global Giving raises funds to ship these materials to schools that cannot afford textbooks. Every few months, box loads of books are shipped to various

places globally such as Laos, the Philippines, and Tanzania to benefit schools and students. However, books aren’t the only resources that are needed in these communities. Some schools lack simple necessities such as clean tap water. Recently, Global Giving supplied clean running water for a school in Tanzania. A student at that school was also provided an entire year’s worth of tuition. Through these donations, Global Giving aims to enable and equip students of other schools with the education that will enable them to escape poverty.

Hope for Haitians By Audrey Forgeron MS Hope for Haiti Club Facilitator


eads bowed, two eighth grade students diligently painted hearts on sandals. Was this art class? No, it was the Tops n Flops event at the County Fair. A small group of dedicated MS students planned and hosted this charitable event to raise awareness about the plight of the people of Haiti and to allow the SAS community to reach out in a meaningful way to them. The root idea for the event was brought to us by Dylan P., grade 6, who hosted a similar event in New York City last year. Our research, which followed Dylan’s inspiring presentation, indicated that, among other things, Haitians are short on clothing and footwear. After some debate, we decided on our theme of Tops n Flops. Once they agreed on the theme, the students went to work. They contacted a number of suppliers of flip flops, investigated tee shirt vendors and sourced paint. They made posters and planned the layout and operation for the event. They also held two bake sales in order to raise funds to cover costs. At the County Fair, they hosted a booth where people decorated plain tee shirts or plain flip flops with messages of hope in French and Creole. They had a great turn out! Preschoolers to high school students enjoyed painting the sandals and shirts with bright, happy decorations and then adding the messages of love and hope. At times, there was no room to squeeze in any more artists!

In the coming weeks, the club will finish decorating the rest of the tops and flops. Then they will be sent to school children and needy adults in Haiti. The Hope for Haiti Club would like to thank our sponors Deo Silver Pte Ltd for donating 200 tee shirts and Havaianas for donating 60 pairs of flip flops. We would also like to thank Santa Fe Movers for shipping the items to Florida. From there, they will be shipped to Haiti through the generosity of The Reading Room Haiti.


Contemporary Indian Authors By John Johnson HS Librarian


hen, from time to time, writers come through Singapore, the SAS libraries are happy when they are included on their itineraries. In December, running guru Chris McDougall, wearing “Five-Fingers” shoes, expounded on his footwear theories, which were inspired by an isolated Mexican tribe. In April, the library will host Dipika Rai. She is in Singapore for the launch of her novel, Someone Else’s Garden. Booklist (February 2011) furnishes this synopsis: Lata Bai gives birth to her seventh child in a field outside her small hut in the village of Gopalpur, India, while her eldest daughter, Mamta, prepares for her impending arranged marriage. Mamta’s father, Seeta Ram, cannot wait to be rid of her. She is, after all, a girl, whom he has (barely) fed and housed, and “someone else’s garden,” whom he no longer wants to water. Mamta has great hopes for a loving marriage in which she will have a place of her own. But when Mamta can no longer stand her husband’s cruelty, she runs away to the city, where she attempts to create her own true life.


ipika Rai, a free-lance journalist, who has written for 30 magazines world-wide, lives in Bali. About her book, she says, “Writers often panic at the thought of lack of material; luckily for me it was the opposite because I was born in India: the land of stories. Someone Else’s Garden wrote itself, as each character somehow literally came to life and commanded his or her own dialogue and destiny.” Watch this space and other SAS announcements for the time and date of Dipika Rai’s talk.

Queen of Dreams

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Chitra once more spins a fresh, spellbinding story of transformation. Rakhi, a young artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California, is struggling to keep her footing, with her family and her world in alarming transition. Her mother is a dream-teller, born with the ability to share and interpret the dreams of others, to foresee and guide them through their fates. –

If You are Afraid of Heights by Raj Kamal Jha

If You are Afraid of Heights by Raj Kamal Jha: A man and a woman meet in a midnight road accident and fall in love. A reporter arrives in a small town to uncover the story of a child’s rape and murder. A young girl, shaken by a series of suicides in her neighborhood, worries for her parents’ safety. Three seemingly separate stories, and yet interwoven themes and recurring motifs suggest a connection between the strands: a crow flying overhead, a sky-scraper larger than any built before, a dog missing part of its tail, a news report. –



Great Leaders By Shannon Henretta Murray Grade 8 Student


car ride through a security checkpoint. A security detour while we wait for the bus. A bus ride and then more security. Finally, we arrive at the Istana, the White House of Singapore. A red carpet leads into a grand hall. We are escorted to our seats by elite military officers. There we patiently await the arrival of President S. R. Nathan. We are here to watch my mom, Deb Henretta, group president of Procter & Gamble, receive the Public Service Friends of Singapore Medal from President Nathan. The medal is Singapore’s most prestigious award for international business leaders. My mom received the award for helping to grow Singapore’s economy, for bringing new jobs to Singapore and for serving on the board of the Economic Development Board. She also served on the Economic Strategy Committee to develop a growth plan for Singapore. In her acceptance speech, she said, “I am honored to receive the Friends of Singapore Public Service Medal. Singapore is a vibrant, global city that has opened its arms to me and to companies like Procter & Gamble. Singapore has become a home for business, a home for talent and a home for innovation. And with a warm welcome, it has become a home for me and my family.” Besides helping Singapore, Henretta runs a $15 billion dollar business for Procter & Gamble in Asia. She is chairperson of APEC’s Business Advisory Council (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) and meets with U.S. President Barack Obama, President Hu Jintao of China, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, presidents from Vietnam, Korea, Mexico and Chile, and prime ministers from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada each year at the Key Leaders Meeting. My mom does all this while still trying to be a good mom and find

ways to juggle her work with family needs. She has to travel a lot, but she tries to be there for important stuff like sports competitions and choir concerts. After receiving her medal, we went to a reception and dinner to celebrate. I met President Nathan and showed him a photo of the first time I had met him on National Day in 2008. He was amazed to see how we had both      

changed and even called his security agents over because they were also in the picture. The president autographed the photo for me, and I got my picture taken with him and my mom. I thought how lucky I was to be there with two great leaders.


the eye Singapore American School

March 8, 2011

Vol. 30 No. 4

The “New AP” Revealed As College Board Unveils “New AP” Program, reactions from SAS Teachers and Students Vary By Viraj Bindra to cut. Starting next school year, College Board’s The procedure was similar for many of the planned changes to its Advanced Placement courses, and the courses with the most change curriculum will affect students at SAS and were AP Biology and AP United States Histoaround the world. ry, both of which are among the most widelyThe 2011-2012 school year will see taken Advanced Placement classes and tests. changes in AP German Language and Cul“It is a move from simply learning huge ture, AP French Language and Culture and amounts of content to being able to apply AP World History. The last two are offered at knowledge either through science practical SAS. The changes planned for these courses situations or historical thinking skill,” Packer are relatively minor, but begin to reflect the said. “This frees up time for teachers to really general theme of the College Board’s “New help students apply their knowledge, which AP” program – conrequired reducing A lot of how this change the material for some ceptualization and application rather than courses.” will turn out depends memorization. The New Curriculum: The Eye spoke on the teacher. For me, Improvement or Step with Trevor Packer, Backward? the Vice President of if the standard of the College Board who But while the intent pioneered this new of the changes seems to new curriculum falls too initiative, in a phone be to provide teachers interview to shed a bit far below my standards, with a better opportumore light on the monity to help students my students will still tivation behind these master material, Dr. new changes. does not necbe taught Dr. Melsom’s Melsom “The trend shows essarily embrace the that AP students are biology – a collegiate level new“Icurriculum. doing better in college, don’t think [the which is great,” Packer new curriculum] is an biology course. said. “But colleges improvement; it’s simhave voiced that they Biology Teacher, Kim Melsom ply a change,” Dr. Melwould like students som said. to have stronger abilities to practice or apply Current and past AP Biology students tend their knowledge.” to agree. Senior Serena Grace, who took the class last year and has briefed herself on the The Road to Change changes, disapproves of the manner in which Packer said that in 2002, the National Re- College Board is modifying the course research Council released a report criticizing quirements. the current state of AP Biology. Working to“It seems they are inappropriately trimgether with the National Science Foundation, ming down the material,” Grace said. “Instead College Board then confirmed criticisms that of taking out the Ecology unit so more time the curriculum depended too heavily on rote can be spend on difficult material, they are memorization of facts and neglected adher- trimming every unit down, and taking out imence to practical portions of biology, were portant key terms and ideas. For example, you legitimate concerns among colleges and high no longer have to know the words that define school teachers. After committee meetings, the process of mitotis: interphase, prophase, et College Board began the difficult process of cetera. You just have to know the overall prodetermining which components of the course cess, which gives kids the ability to fudge the



For more High School news, visit the Eye Online at FRQ portion of the exam.” “Though it’s a lot of work to learn all of the small details and facts, without it you don’t really get to know or understand as much as you need,” concurred senior Alexandria Couch, a current student. “Dr. Melsom compared it to an onion. Though we are not that far into the onion that is biology, if the curriculum is cut down in anyway, we’re only going to get past the first few layers.” Grace and Couch both said that given the choice, they would prefer to take AP Biology under the current curriculum. Dr. Melsom made it clear that she would not sacrifice the integrity of her curriculum. “A lot of how this change will turn out depends on the teacher. For me, if the standard of the new curriculum falls too far below my standards, my students will still be taught Dr. Melsom’s biology – a collegiate-level biology course,” Dr. Melsom said. U.S. History Not Ready for Update Teachers and students at SAS might be slightly more accepting of the changes to AP United States History, which were originally slated for the 2012-2013 school year, but have recently been pushed back an additional year. AP U.S. History teacher James Baker said that the curriculum for the class has to be made more rigorous, and has to be remodeled in a way that reinforces application. He likened the exam in its current state to a game of Trivial Pursuit, requiring regurgitation of facts. “Almost anything would be better than the system they have in place now,” Baker said. Sophomore Sachith Siriwardane is glad that College Board is making the changes.

“I think it’s a welcome change,” Siriwardane said. “This year, there’s just so much to take in, like dates to remember, events, and names. It’s just so much content and material. The only thing is, I wish [the curriculum change] came a year earlier.” SAS Should Be Unaffected By Changes The most important question is how the changes will affect students at SAS. Undoubtedly, they will reduce the quantity of information individuals will be required to process. But how will they affect test scores? “[SAS] teachers seem to be so effective teaching the courses in their current state, being able to teach them in such a way that makes the amount of content reasonable. I can’t imagine students not excelling, given the track record of teachers at your school.”

4.4 4.0


------------------------------------- 3 3.0




AP Physics B




AP Calculus AB



AP Language

This article is excerpted from The EYE, a student-written and edited high school newspaper that is produced by the journalism students of Mark Clemens.


Packer said after being briefed on SAS’s performance on AP exams thus far. Packer claims that the exams will not see a “dumbing down” effect as a result of the changes, and that the rigor of the courses will be maintained. Dr. Melsom said that even if other schools see a slight improvement in AP Biology scores, SAS’s results would be largely unaffected, given its students’ already strong performances on the exams. “According to college board, the AP scores are not expected to improve in AP Biology by having this change, but the teachers will be able to slow down the pace which is tremendously fast at this time. I feel the change should improve scores for the U.S., and that needs to occur since last year 36.6% of the students who took the AP Biology exam in the U.S. scored a 1, the lowest score possible. Obviously that doesn’t occur at SAS for any of our AP courses.” Students will see the updated AP Biology curriculum in the 2012-2013 school year, when new AP Spanish Literature and Culture and AP Latin Courses will also be introduced. As previously stated, AP U.S. History’s curriculum changes will now take place during the 2013-2014 school year, giving College Board more time to fully detail all of the changes. For a more thorough examination of the changes in each course, visit http://advancesinap.College Graphs and Graphics by Viraj Bindra and Leonel De Velez


Upcoming SACAC Workshops 2011

Third Culture Kids Date: Thursday, 7 April 2011 Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm Cost: $80 SACAC member / $95 non-member Venue: The American Club Atrium Room Facilitator: Richard Logan, SACAC Counsellor

SACAC Counselling offers psychological and counselling for a

Positive Discipline for Children Aged 7 – 12 Years Date: Tuesday, 19 April 2011 Time: 9:30am – 11:30am Cost: $80 SACAC member / $95 non-member Venue: The American Club Atrium Room Facilitator: Lissy Puno, SACAC Counsellor

broad range of issues including adjustment, anxiety, depression, child/adolescent issues, parenting

Positive Discipline for Children Aged 2 – 6 Years Date: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 Time: 9:30am – 11:30am Cost: $80 SACAC member / $95 non-member Venue: The American Club Atrium Room Facilitator: Cate Hey, Director of SACAC Counselling

and relationship issues.

For more information or to register for a workshop contact SACAC Counselling 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 Tel: 6733 9249 - E-mail: - Web:

From the SAS PTA By Mae Anderson PTA President


he annual PTA Staff Appreciation Day will be held on April 26 for our teachers and staff. This event is an opportunity for the community to come together to show our appreciation for the hard-working people who keep SAS running day-to-day. During Staff Appreciation Day, the PTA not only provides the faculty and staff with meals throughout the day, but also presents each teacher and staff member with a gift. I’d like to extend an early thank you to PTA Hospitality & Welcoming Chairs, Erma Huston and Leslie Lancaster, along with all PTA Division Representatives, Grade Level Head Parents and Room Parents for their efforts in organizing the donations and events for this day. I would also like to thank those of you who will work a shift during the day or will send in food or money to help our staff enjoy their special day. As always, these types of events could not be held without your support and generosity. If you would like to contribute,

please contact Erma Huston: On Tuesday May 10, we will hold our Volunteer Appreciation Tea and Annual General Meeting from 10:00am until 12:00pm. At this event, we will be presenting the school with a list of approved fundspending items that the PTA will underwrite for the next school year. Email invitations will be sent out soon with all the details, so please watch for this and mark the date on your calendars. This is our opportunity to thank all of you who do so much to help us throughout the year. This event is open to all SAS parents and staff. For those of you who plan to be at SAS next year and would like to get a start on planning your volunteer time, we would appreciate any information that you can provide on where you can help us. There are many events to plan and hold, many committees to staff, and a variety of PTA positions that need to be filled. Everyone in the SAS community will appreciate the contribution of your talent, time and commitment. Please email me to discuss volunteer opportunities with the PTA. Mae Anderson PTA President




PTA White Elephant Sale 2011 Saturday, May 14th, 9am till 1pm SAS Primary School Foyer

Asian Tigers K.C. Dat (S) Pte Ltd and the PTA are jointly sponsoring the 5th Annual White Elephant Sale. Here’s a chance to clean out your closets. If you are moving, or simply need more room, this is an opportunity to find new homes for your good quality used items. No vendors please!


Rental for a 8ft x 5 ft space at the Primary School Foyer costs SG $30 | The rental fee also covers the cost of an advertisement in the Straits Times as well as other publicity costs (signs, flyers, etc). | Space is limited (bookings accepted on a first come first served basis) | Interested parties should contact Karn Wong: |


Families in the Woodlands will also be having Yard Sales on Saturday, May 15th. Easy access to the Woodlands Yard Sale is via the SAS pedestrian entrance close to the Primary School that leads to Woodgrove Avenue. SAS families are welcome to park at the Primary/Intermediate parking lots till 4pm. Both the PTA Sale and the Woodlands Sales will be advertised jointly in the Straits Times. Woodlands families interested in participating will be charged a fee of SG$20 that will defray the costs of advertising & publicity (flyers, signs, maps, etc). To register as a participating Woodlands family and for more information, please contact Karn Wong:


In conjunction with the White Elephant Sale, the PTA will also be holding a Used Books Sale at the Primary School Foyer. Enjoy picking from a wide selection of books at unbeatable prices.



“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” - Voltaire

This annual  PTA  event  provides  parents  with  the  opportunity  to  thank           SAS  staff  and  faculty  for  all  that  they  do,  by  having  parents  present  a  day          of feasting! From a hot breakfast in the morning to all‐day snacks and lunch,  each  SAS  staff  member  will  enjoy  a  day  that  reflects  the  community’s  deep     appreciation for their efforts.   

Parents are  invited  to  donate  food,  money  and  their  time  to  help  set‐up         and  serve.  Everyone  is  encouraged  to  participate  to  make  this  special  day          a huge success.   

Look out for more information from PTA’s Hospitality Chair, Erma Huston,   and from your PTA Division Representatives.   Please contact them with any questions you might have. 

PTA Hospitality & Welcoming Chairs and Division Representatives: Hospitality & Welcoming Chair  Erma Huston 


Hospitality & Welcoming Chair  Leslie Lancaster 


Early Childhood Center 

Anne Duncan 


Early Childhood Center 

Quinn Fletcher 


Intermediate School 

Jo McNaughton 


Middle School 

Garima Lalwani 


High School 

Kim Hamby 




Third Annual GATE Math Fair By Ansh P., Tanvi Dutta G., Katherine S. and Andrea H. Grade 5 Students


alking down the Intermediate School hallway you may have passed an enormous sign. Curious, you might have stepped inside and been greeted by the exhilarating sight of stalls set up all around the room with parents, teachers and students hard at work at each one. You notice a parent who has thrown up his hands in defeat; he has given up. This, of course, is the Gifted and Talented Enrichment (GATE) Math Fair. Each year, GATE math students select math problems they have solved in class earlier in the year to present at the fair. They work hard to prepare the math problems for presentation by creating posters and materials to help people solve the problems. Parents, teachers and students are then invited to pop in and try a variety of math problems prepared by the students. Plenty of parents were tense as they didn’t want to be outsmarted by a child, but overall, it went well and everyone had a blast!

The GATE math students have a good time watching parents and teachers sink from levels of Oh-I’m-going-tosolve-this to Please-please-tell-me-the-answer. Students have the pleasure of seeing people like Mr. L’Heureux and their own class teachers stumped!

It was an extra fun afternoon this year, with brand new problems and even harder answers. The posters were great too—everyone could see the effort put into them. The afternoon was a blur of rushing from booth to booth and having the satisfaction of solving difficult problems. Everyone was disappointed when Ms. Shaw said, “We have to clean up now!” But students and parents had an extra treat—afternoon tea. If you’re interested in solving problems in the GATE Math Fair, then I’m sorry to say that you are too late. The event took place on February 10. If you really want to try to solve some problems, head over to room I215 in the Intermediate School. There, you will find bulletin boards covered with the math fair posters. Good luck!

MS Field Day By Peter Cuthbert MS PE Department Chair


o understand the collective spirit of the SAS middle school, one just has to witness Field Day, the biggest event of the year for this division. With more than 30 events taking place over the course of the day, the 960 MS students gave their all for their cross-grade level color teams. Some fantastic mile and kilometer times started the day off well and set the bar high for the rest of the day’s events.

team spirit, there was a bit of fun competition throughout the day as color teams collected points at each event. The climax of the day was the grade level 4x100m relay races that never fail to impress the screaming crowd and wrapped up a fun day in the sun.

A huge thank you goes out to the MS teachers who assisted by running the events and to the students for their energy and sportsmanship all day long. The MS PE teachers also deserve recognition for all of the event preparation and organization of the day.

With the high school students away on interim trips, middle schoolers had the full run of the superb sports facilities at SAS. They put them to good use with events like water polo, high jump, climbing, tennis, basketball, ball hockey and softball to name but a few. While the focus was certainly on participation and


Michelle Kwan: Visit with a Champion By Kevin F. Fox Writer & Culinary Explorer


t’s not everyday that a sports icon comes to town, much less to school. And not just any retired sports hero; this one is still active in the sport and, even more, in the business of inspiration.

so much to this remarkable young woman who achieved greatness at a young age and, unlike so many before and since, did not squander or outgrow it. But again, there simply isn’t enough space.

It was such a packed house that before Michelle even took the stage they had to change to Singapore American School’s (SAS) largest auditorium and still, it was standing room only. Many of the kids’ questions were about her skating. They flailed their hands in the air trying to get picked from among the forest of similarly outstretched arms. With each question Michelle looked into the child’s eyes and gave an answer that made everyone in the room think.

Instead, I’ll tell you about Michelle Kwan the person I met. She’s intelligent, vibrant and gorgeous. She’s imbued with a belief that, notwithstanding her remarkable achievements to date, she has a lot of work to do. Her aspirations point in the direction of people and politics. The day after our meeting she was to rush back to Boston in time to pick semester classes for her Masters in international affairs at Tufts. From there a quick jaunt to the White House to attend a dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao and an überselective list of global dignitaries. Then, hang up the gown, slip on some jeans and get back to school.

She spoke of the importance of seeking that “certain something” that is special to each individual. To focus on it, commit to it, and never give up. She talked about striving under adversity and fatigue, of never loosing sight of the goal, but also of enjoying each incremental achievement along the way. Her message was consistent throughout her talk: “Love what you do and do it the best you can and you will always feel like, and be, a champion.” I could talk about Michelle’s athletic accomplishments, about how she has won more medals than any skater in American history. But she was so much more; an inspiration to skaters of all ages, an effortless, joyous angel, gliding as much on the cool thermals above the ice as on it. Watching her skate was an ethereal experience. I know – I was there; I felt it in real time. But I won’t get into that here because there simply isn’t enough space. I could talk about what Michelle has achieved off the ice, about being a Director of Special Olympics International; and a Diplomatic Envoy for America. I could list her many visits with kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers; actors and entrepreneurs. There is


I walked into a small office at SAS where she turned and gave a smile which was not only genuine but welcoming. Extending her slender hand she introduced herself as if I might not know. “Thank you so much for coming to talk with me,” she said in a gentle voice. I was smitten at “Thank you.” We sat alone and talked about skating and her work with President Obama and the First Lady to teach children the importance good health and fitness. We even talked about food, hawker centers and chicken rice – seems Michelle is quite the foodie; girl after my own heart. When I mentioned the packed auditorium she was shocked but I’m not sure why. Ever since her early skating days, everyone came to see Michelle. And this day was no different. Which is particularly telling, I pointed out, since not a single kid there was even alive yet when she was mesmerizing the world with her artistry on ice. And Michelle, at 30 and with all her international notoriety, blushed. “I


know, right?” She grinned. “I can’t believe they even know who I am!” Michelle Kwan is the living example of the message she conveys: BE the champion you dream of being. And not just in the sport, or instrument or interest, but in everything. Because, as she shows, being a champion is about more than being good at something – it’s being the whole package. And the breadth of Michelle’s package seems to have no limit and holds the exciting secret of what she will do next, and who she will inspire along the way. Her message was consistent throughout her talk: “Love what you do and do it the best you can and you will always feel like, and be, a champion.” This article first appeared in the Singapore American Newspaper, March 2011. Reprinted with permission from The American Association of Singapore.

Awesome Ape By Jasper Lawrence PS/IS PE Teacher


wesome Ape began way back in 1997 as a rope climbing challenge. With the installation of the climbing wall, the challenge morphed into a timed bouldering wall traverse in 2007. The holds on the wall are changed around every year to provide new challenges. Students at SAS begin to climb the wall in kindergarten and continue traversing in PS and IS. They then experience belaying and adventure climbing in MS and HS in two different facilities on the campus. The Awesome Ape event is a timed 15-meter traverse climb. The five PE teachers hold traverse time trials in their classes and the fastest three boys and fastest three girls from each PE class advance to the preliminary rounds. The overall fastest three boys and girls in each grade then advance to the finals. Congratulations to the 400 qualifiers from each grade level who participated in the IS Awesome Ape competition this February. The energy, commitment and skill demonstrated throughout the competition was inspiring for all! The finals were fast and skilled. Our talented climbers traversed the wall like true apes.

3rd Grade Girls

3rd Grade Boys

1. Anjali Patel (Hobson)

1. David Blankenship (Hobson)

2. Sydney Chun (Mutsch)

2. Shahab Khorasanizadeh (Hobson)

3. Anna Spitzer (Dodge)

3. Naren Mukherjee (Kennedy)

4th Grade Girls

4th Grade Boys

1. Grace Little (Redlin)

1. Jackson Carmichael (Dalland)

2. Kate Zotos (Davidson)

2. Matthew Disher (Davidson)

3. Maria DeSalvo (Davidson)

3. Jackson Reeves (Woodfield)

5th Grade Girls

5th Grade Boys

1. Chloe Shin-Gay (Kimzey)

1. Tyler Schult (Medved)

2. Maya Denzel (Bucknall)

2. William Chabala (Paxon)

3. Sabrina Gonzalez Russi (Xureb)

3. Justin Agustin (Burk)

Charity Soccer: Teachers vs. Varsity Boys


t 3:15pm on Thursday, April 28, the SAS staff, teachers and the SAS boys varsity soccer team will play the fifth annual Kamal Cup soccer game in the memory of Mohamed Kamal. Kamal was a humble, dedicated and loving friend and father. He was actively involved in sports during his school days, especially soccer. Upon joining SAS in 1997,

he was delighted to learn that SAS had a soccer team, which he joined. Although he left SAS in 2001, Kamal continued to be goalie with the SAS staff team. He died while playing for his local club team in the summer of 2005. He left behind a wife and four young children. Please join us, as a donor and as a fan, in this special fund-raising


event. The boys team won the first Kamal Cup game, but the staff has won or drawn the last three matches. A collection will be taken at the game. Donations may also be given to the HS, MS, or IS secretaries. Any questions may be directed to Mark Forgeron, room M217,


Fighting Fish Swim Meet By Helen Sweeney Program Manager


he SACAC Fighting Fish swim team held an international invitational swim meet on February 12 at Singapore American School. The meet was well attended by teams from Singapore and as far away as Vietnam. With over 300 athletes, the Fighting Fish parent volunteers did a fantastic job of running a fast meet that finished well before the

4:00pm thunderstorm hit. Many congratulations are in order to all the parent volunteers. Swimmers competed in a range of events, including the Individual Medley, Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle, and raced in five different age groups. The participants ranged from 6 & Under swimmers experiencing their first

swim meet to older athletes who have represented Singapore internationally. A special mention goes to the Singapore Special Olympics team, which had a number of swimmers participating in this competition. It was a pleasure to see special athletes compete with their peers on a common platform.

Top High Point Age Group Awards 6 & Under Girls

6 & Under Boys

1. Grose-Hodge, Reilly Southern Cross Dragons

1. Liew, Maximus SwimKnights

7-8 Girls

1. Wright, Samantha, Fighting Fish

7-8 Boys

2. Neo, Shao Quin SwimKnights

2. Bergin, Jason Fighting Fish

2. Meuter, Adelaide Fighting Fish

2. Ler, Joshua SwimKnights

3. Chritton, Thomas Fighting Fish

3. Sheridan, Delaney Fighting Fish

3. Olafson, Thor Fighting Fish

9-10 Girls

9-10 Boys

11-12 Girls

11-12 Boys

1. Jones, Emma Southern Cross Dragons

1. Chan, Liam SwimKnights

1. Hutchinson, Phoebe UWCSEA

1. Sim, Tuitus SwimKnights

2. Rotenberg, Nathalie Fighting Fish

2. Liew, Alexus SwimKnights

2. Navarro, Sophia Fighting Fish

2. Basham, Josh Southern Cross Dragons

3. Bachman, Kyra Fighting Fish

3. Chritton, Thomas Fighting Fish

3. Suters, Anna Southern Cross Dragons

3. O’Dore, Kyle Saigon Stingrays

1. Tan, Zachary SwimKnights

4. Luong, Jeremie Saigon Super Fins

13-99 Girls

13-99 Boys

1. Tan, Emelia SwimKnights

1. Yeo, Aaron SwimKnights

2. Hirsch, Mackenzie Fighting Fish

2. Ching, Joel D SwimKnights

3. Lefrancq Frojd, Josephine UWCSEA

3. Sim, Pointon SwimKnights


Team Scores 1st

Fighting Fish (723 points)

5th UWCSEA Dover Road


SwimKnights (546 points)

6th Singapore Special Olympics


Southern Cross Dragons (436 points)

7th Saigon Super Fins


Saigon Stingrays


Booster Club

Booster Club

Booster Club

Booster Club

Booster Club

From the President As the year winds down and people are thinking about graduation, summer vacation, moving, and so on, there is still a lot to do to begin planning for the next school year. It may be hard to think about, especially seeing so many begin to feel the burnout towards the end of the school year. As the Booster Club policies dictate, we advertise our elected board positions along with all of the other board positions. I have been asked why we do this even if I know people plan on continuing in their positions. It is in our policies but, more importantly, we want everyone to feel included and know that they can step forward. Often a position can have more than one person sharing responsibilities and we want to hear from anyone who might like to assist a returning board member as well. If you are interested please read the notice below and contact either Michele or myself. Susan Fay Booster President BOOSTER NOMINATING COMMITTEE 2011/12 BOOSTER EXECUTIVE BOARD NOMINATIONS The Booster Nominating Committee is seeking nominees for the 2011/12 Booster Executive Board positions – President, Vice President, Treasurer, & Secretary. A slate of candidates will be submitted at the April 12th Booster Board meeting and voted on at the May 23th Booster Joint Board meeting. If you would like to submit your name or nominate someone for consideration please contact Michele Goulding, at, Chair of the Nominating Committee. The Booster Club is also seeking volunteers for the 2011/12 academic year to chair or work with the following committees: Bake Sales, Booth Manager, Design, Honor Roll Recognition, Hospitality, Popcorn Day, Publicity, Special Projects, Social Fundraisers, Sports Team Coordinator, Uniforms and Visual & Performing Arts Coordinator. To express an interest in volunteering for one of these committees, please contact Booster Club President, Susan Fay by email at

Friday, April 8 Bake Sale with Chinese Foods HS Caf 9am-12pm

Tuesday, April 12 Monthly Meeting 10am HS301

Wednesday, April 13 Honor Roll Lunch 11:25 By Invitation Only

Booster Club

Booster Club      

Booster Club

Treat yourself to the start of a lovely Mother's Day weekend by joining the Booster Club at the Home Tour on Friday May 6th. This unique experience will tour some very special houses around Singapore. Enjoy Tea Around the Globe at each home and plenty of time to explore each home. More details will follow, so watch your email.

Booster Club

Upcoming Events

Booster Club


Campout on Sisters Island By Connor M. SAS Student and Boy Scout


hile Boy Scout Troop 07 provides many services to SAS, such as performing the opening flag ceremonies at various sporting events throughout the year, and running the ever popular jail at the County Fair, they make sure they take time out for lots of other things too, particularly camp outs. If you’re into camping, serving your community, and up for life-changing challenges, please read on to find out more about what our scouts do. To become involved, please feel free to join us for a weekly meeting on Tuesday evenings, from 6:15-7:30 in room H301 at SAS. You can also check out our website at

ne Day O


e had to pack lots of things for the trip to Sisters Islands with Boy Scouts. My Dad told me that everything we needed we had to carry - but I doubted that we needed all of the things we packed. The boat ride to Sisters Islands was pretty bumpy but only 20 minutes from Singapore. The island had lots of picnic tables, shelter huts, monkeys and a few monitor lizards. Upon arriving, we set up our tents and stored our food away so that the monkeys wouldn’t steal it. Soon after, we began some scout training - using saws and axes to prepare wood for our fire. For dinner that night, one of the scouts made a delicious chili and baked potatoes. We all helped to clean up and then enjoyed a campfire with songs, jokes and skits, and some delicious smores!


wo Day T


he next morning started with pancakes, maple syrup and oranges. Following breakfast, we participated in activities including orienteering, knot tying, and first aid lessons. We wrapped up the morning with a fitness test, seeing who could do the most push-ups and sit-ups. For lunch, I helped chop carrots. We also had peanut butter and jelly. There was a bit of excitement when a storm hit

hr Day T

the camp, but the wind and rain scared away the mosquitos. In the afternoon, we did some lifesaving training, had a running race, and finished with a tug-of-war competition. It was awesome! I learned to whittle during free time. For dinner, we had left over chili and some spider dogs—which are curved hot dogs in a special sort of bread that we cooked over the campfire.



n the last morning we had our last bit of excitement. While having breakfast, a bunch of naughty monkeys began throwing nuts and seeds at us from the trees trying to


separate us from our food. I was surprised at how clever and bold they were. We left our island adventure soon after breakfast having made new friends, and new memories. Scouting is fun!

Summer Makeover for SAS Facilities By Jamie Alarcon Facilities & Services


hen the final bell rings on the last day of school, pandemonium erupts. School bus drivers blare their horns to signal the start of carefree summer days ahead. Students stream out into the corridors, their cheering drowned out by the din. The noise dies down eventually, but the campus doesn’t stay silent for long. School may be out for the summer, but SAS remains a veritable hive of activity. Summer sports, Summer Program—and, ever-buzzing in the background, summer works. “Summer works” is the deceptively simple catchall term for projects addressing safety, cyclical maintenance, program delivery, and general enhancement that are conducted over the summer holidays. It can be as simple as ordering new furniture, or as complex as building the HS Gym. Sometimes the results are there for everyone to see, like the new security fence that says welcome in eight different languages. Other times, the changes are made under the hood, like the chiller overhaul that is saving us as much as $500 in electricity charges and 1.5 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions every single school day. Last summer, there were approximately 500 summer works spread across campus.

Rigorous process

While most of the work happens between June and August, preparations begin as early as the previous November with hundreds of requests landing in the inbox of SAS project manager Francis Ang in the facilities and services office. What follows is a rigorous approval and budgeting process involving principals, the office of finance and business operations, the superintendent, and even the board of governors’ facilities committee. This summer, $7 million has been earmarked for summer works,

including projects that fall under the Ten Year Asset Management Plan.

MS/IS Cafeteria

Four projects of schoolwide interest include a major renewal of the MS/ IS cafeteria, renewal of MS science classrooms, renovation of the MS/HS pool, and the next phase of security enhancements for the entire campus. Planning and meetings for the cafeteria project began in earnest in mid-2009. The designs by Clla architects emphasize the cafeteria’s place within its surroundings, and it will be redesigned to better integrate with the outdoors. Daylight and natural ventilation will be maximized using techniques and technologies championed both by industry experts and scientific researchers. Not only will these help reduce artificial lighting and eliminate air-conditioning—saving even more energy—but they are also linked to improved general wellbeing. The exposed trusses will be covered to prevent birds from nesting there. This also results in a lower ceiling, which makes for a friendlier space. “The present cafeteria makes me feel small,” explained architect Lim Koon Yong.

MS Science

Six middle school science classrooms are also scheduled for renovation. MS science faculty worked closely with Clla to identify areas for improvement, such as smarter use of space and increased natural lighting. “Annual summer works in alignment with Ten Year Plan spending      

represent a huge opportunity for us to make a difference in the environment,” said facilities and services director Anthony Wong. “We are taking advantage of the opportunity to renew building elements, systems, and facilities to create great places to study, work, and play. We aim to create healthier environments in these older spaces or buildings.”

Swimming pool and security

The third major item is the renewal of our 15-year-old MS/HS swimming pool, which includes moving the filtration plant room to a safer location. The fourth consists of further enhancements to campus security. The air lock system of road blockers installed last summer at the front gate will also be installed at the back gate. This will give us the option to divert non-school vehicles to the back gate in times of elevated threat levels. There, they can be thoroughly screened without inconveniencing the students, parents, and staff entering the front gate. In addition, two turnstiles have been proposed for the Woodgrove pedestrian (or east) gate. The turnstiles will link to the CCTV and card access control systems and help us evaluate the need for secure access requirements in this part of the campus. The MS/HDB pedestrian gate will also be wired and connected to card access control.


PTA County Fair

Singapore American School Newsflash, April 2011  

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