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Happy Holidays to All! By Samantha Chow

As the academic term comes to an end, we wind down in preparation for the holiday season. With festive decorations all around us, decorating the Christmas tree and last minute present shopping, it is hard not to be in a jolly mood. For some students, however, this winter break won’t be completely stress-free. Year 11 students will have to study for their upcoming GCSE mock exams in January and year 13 students will be doing the same for their A Level mock exams. The SAT Subject Test results of students that sat the test on 3 December have just been released and some students are getting ready for the next SAT on 22 January 2012. But despite the amount of work we may have, it is important to take the time to soak up the Christmas spirit, spend time with our loved ones and be especially generous in giving to those in need. For the past few weeks, our writers listened to Christmas carols as we collaborated on this special Christmas edition of The Common Room. This will be the last issue of The Common Room this year, so from the team - we hope you enjoy this issue and we will see you in 2012. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST Looking for Christmas jingles? Check out our top 10 list of Christmas songs with mini reviews on page 9.

As a student-run newspaper, we emphasize the importance of listening to our readers and taking your suggestions into consideration in order to improve. Hop onto our website,, to give us your feedback and ideas for future articles and to view other issues. While you are at it, please ‘like’ us on Facebook at

THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS BAZAAR CREATES CONTROVERSY Hear what students have to say on page 5.

CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT PRESENT TO GET? Our Christmas present quiz on page 7 should give you some inspiration.


Name: Samantha Chow Age: 16 Class: Y12B Position: Editor Enjoys: Writing, traveling & cooking

Name: Ian To Age: 16 Class: 12C Position: Wtriter Enjoys: Reading, playing video games & writing

Name: On Tim Tang Age: 16 Class: 12C Position: Writer Enjoys: Blogging & chitchatting

Christmas Time in Hong Kong By Sai Ying Liu

It's that time of the year again, when shops play Jingle Bells incessantly until you inevitably find yourself humming happily along, and the Christmas lights are finally up on buildings that throw a shimmer of colour across the harbour. Who needs to go abroad when Hong Kong already has so much Christmas spirit to offer? For those looking to experience a real white Christmas, The Ice Wonderland in Tsim Sha Tsui's Centenary Garden is the best place for it. Open from 25 November 2011 to 1 January 2012, thisWinterfest event is offering free entrance. The Winterfest is complete with an outdoor ice-skating rink and festive decorations, where visitors can put on a pair of skates and glide around the rink under (artificial) falling snow! Because it is located very near to the harbour, it offers visitors an amazing view of Hong Kong at night. As well as being a great location for family fun with plenty of restaurants and shops nearby, a portion of the proceeds earned from skates rentals will be donated to charity. After all, Christmas is also about giving to others. Statue Square is transformed into an enchanting Santa-town with a skating rink this Christmas. There,visitors can listen to Christmas carols, visit Santa's Lodge, Post Office and Clock Tower. Be sure to snap some photos under the beautiful 30-metre tall Swarovski Christmas tree, constructed from 20,000,000 pieces of crystal with over 200 live action ornaments that light up every half hour between 7pm and 9:30pm. If you are interested in a more classic Christmas and don't want to get caught in the big crowds, consider ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet performed by the Hong Kong Ballet Company in the Grand Theatre at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre from 17-27 December. A world renowned ballet set to the joyous music of Tchaikovsky, this fairytale performance invites people of all ages to appreciate the grace of ballet. For the music lovers out there, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing selections of classical Bach and Handel on 24 and 25 December at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.


For a romantic Christmas, stroll along the shore at the pedestrian Avenue of Stars in TST, have a meal on a restaurant boat or ride the Star Ferry during the Symphony of Lights display – the largest light and laser effects entertainment in the whole world according to Guinness World Records! Around fifty buildings now participate in the light show, with computer operated colored lights, laser beams and searchlights performing five differently themed shows.

The Common Room Asks...

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT CHRISTMAS? Mr. Brennan Cameron: Eating apple pie and pumpkin pie. And watching Home Alone!

Sophie Burkhardt (14): Since the weather is colder, everyone becomes closer, friends, family, and the influx of couples!

Vanessa Wong (14): THE STARBUCKS DRINKS!

Kimberley Wong (16): I like the smell of Christmas trees! We order one every year, it's a family tradition. I get to go Christmas shopping with mummy and all the shops and streets are decorated with colourful lights, makes me feel happy and festive.

Ms Hedda Schuurman: I grew up in a Baha'i family and thus the present giving aspect of Christmas was not part of our tradition. So my favourite thing about Christmas has alway been the tradition of gathering together with close friends and family and sharing wonderful food. My mother used to bake stollen and other lovely Christmas breads and I try to do the same but my specialities are apricot loaf and cinnamon buns. The other thing I love about Christmas is that the pace of life slows down a for a few days. A calm descends on the world while everyone briefly catches the magic, yet fleeting spirit of the season as they warmly greet each other on the streets and in the shops.

Mr Philip Moore: Celebrating with chips... and drinks! It’s an excuse to buy myself presents, cause no one else does [jokingly].

Mr Bing Kai Wong: Watching Christmas movies! I’m an old fashioned guy. My favourite is ‘A Christmas Carol’. I love scrooge! I like watching ‘Frosty the Snowman’ with my son and ‘The Grinch who Stole Christmas’. Those are the classics. Wait... isn’t there a Hannah Montana Christmas special?! Or iCarly?

Boris Lee (17): Favourite thing about Christmas... The break I guess, from school and all.

Isobel Griffith (14): The Justin Bieber Christmas album! Dr. Martin Cox: I’m not a Christian, but I would say retail therapy. Going to a shop and buying commercial products, and eating lots of food!

Mr Edward Moon: In Hong Kong? Not having to deal with snow. My favourite part about Christmas in Hong Kong is never having to deal with snow.

Jasmine Tso (16): I love the smell of Christmas trees, decorating the house, turkey, turkey, turkey and also Starbucks specials.

Cosima Lauk (15): Definitely the Christmas songs.



Christmas Top Pick: Miracle on 34th Street




The Polar Express

A Charlie Brown Christmas Christmas



Nightmare Before Christmas Christmas


Mrs. Doubtfire


The Santa Clause


Love Actually


How the Grinch Stole Christmas Christmas

This great remake of the 1947 classic is a mustwatch whilst curled up on the couch with the family on Christmas Eve. This remake was released in 1994 and stars child actress Mara Wilson, best known for playing the lead role in the movie version of Roald Dahl’s book ‘Matilda’, as Susan Walker. The story centers around Macy's store executive, Dorey Walker, and her 6 year old daughter, Susan - who both refuse to believe in the spirit of Christmas. The plot gets interesting when Dorey hires an old man named Kris Kringle, who




Home Alone


Miracle on 34th Street

reveals that he believes he is Santa Claus. Once the authorities find out, they threaten to put the old man in a mental asylum. However, a young lawyer comes to Kris’s defense and tries to prove to the world that Kris Kringle is indeed Santa Clause. Though the plot may sound cheesy in writing, the movie really is incredibly genuine and heartwarming. It is also not just targeted towards a young audience, but can definitely be enjoyed by the entire family.



By Michelle Lam and Samantha Chow

The Christmas Bazaar A Loss of GSIS Tradition? Tuneful notes rang through the festive air, signifying the start of the GSIS Christmas Bazaar 2011. A wide array of music genres was played, showcasing the school’s ‘Big Band’, teachers’ band ‘Detention’, and several student bands. The tunes of traditional Christmas songs, such as the timeless child classic ‘Frosty the Snowman’, were heard in the upper building. Delicious aromas wafted through the air, ranging from an assortment of desserts and baked goods to traditional German and Swiss foods like raclette and sausages to the longstanding Asian Food Stall. But something was different...

This year, the Mother’s Committee teamed up with head students Natasha Brown and Dominik Lang to implement dramatic changes to the setup of the Christmas Bazaar. The bazaar, which has been held in the upper building ever since its creation, was moved to the lower building and the car park and named ‘The Game Alley’, while the courtyard food and music area remained in the upper building. Consequently, the hairspray and nail painting booths, which are run by the senior classes of year 12 and 13 and have always been located on the upper building rooftop were relocated to the car park. The game stalls only accepted tickets, rather than cash, which were sold at the entrance of the lower


This was probably the largest controversy regarding the bazaar in GSIS history and debates got heated before the event even took place - especially on the ‘Head Student Updates‘ Facebook page, where students voiced their opinions about the new setup. GSIS students witnessed the great debate as they watched a comment thread grow to around 50 comments with just under a total of 100 ‘likes‘. One outraged student said, “The Christmas Bazaar, which is a ancient tradition at GSIS, has really been completely ruined by this new setup! I do appreciate the effort Natasha and Dominik made to change it, but it would have been better to focus on things that are more useful than changing the setup of the Christmas Bazaar!”. He continues, “Look 1) the Christmas bazaar has always been the time where we could get creative and create our own stall (within limits) and now that has been taken from us. 2) The two-building setup will mean more walking, more confusion due to the difficult layout and less atmosphere. And 3) This shift of stalls around the place, and i will bet you guys a hundred bucks, deter frequent visitors who have grown accustomed to the old layout. I have been at GSIS for 13 years now and i can tell you that the new setup destroys what is now known as the GSIS christmas bazaar!!” Another student complained: “It annoys me how the year 7 and 8 classes get activities/game stalls like throwing a slipper at a photo of a teacher while we get stuck with throwing ping pong balls into cardboard boxes...” So how did the new setup work out? After interviewing numerous students, we found that the general consensus was that the two-building setup created a division between age groups. The new setup meant that younger children stayed within the lower building because the game stalls were there, while older students and adults stuck to the upper building courtyard area for more mature entertainment - live music, food and drinks, such as waffles, apple cider and beer for those of age, and Christmas decorations for sale in the old gym. Although younger students were clearly enjoying the array of games and activities in the lower building, many of the older students who were interviewed said that they did not even bother going upstairs in the lower building because the game stalls did not appeal to them. Some felt that this separation of the younger and older crowds diminished the Christmas atmosphere and the feeling of school community. At the end of the day however, the Christmas Bazaar raised a recordbreaking total of $90,000, representing a great deal of eating, drinking, playing and Christmas shopping. Given the controversy that the Christmas Bazaar 2011 has generated, we look forward to seeing what the 2012 bazaar has in store for us.


On the other hand, some people were more optimistic, as a student who participated in the organization of the Bazaar said: “We've never tried this setup. It might be better.”

By Cosima Lauk


The Christmas Present Quiz

Need some help deciding what to give to those you care most about this Christmas? Our quiz can point you in the right direction:

Name: Hilaire Wong Age: 14

In his/her free time, he/she is… drawing/playing an instrument playing video games/reading magazines exercising


He/she collects… video games/DVDs clothes/shoes/jewellery sporting apparel/equipment


He/she loves to eat... fruits/vegetables french fries/pasta hamburgers/hotdogs


He/she dreams about… ruling the world saving the world travelling the world


He/she is most interested in... school grades/world affairs celebrity gossip/tv shows/movies sports games


He/she is looking forward to college mostly in order to… learn experience succeed


Class: 10D Position: Writer Enjoys: Going to the beach & watching tv

Name: Nicole Chong Age: 14 Class: 10B Position: Wtriter Enjoys: Reading magazines & shopping

Name: Sai Ying Liu Age: 16 Class: 12C Position: Writer Enjoys: Swimming, watching movies & sleeping


Find your gift! the answer key

Mostly A’s The Achiever The best presents are books, personalised presents and watches. A few of the books we recommend are ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan, ‘Forever...’ by Judy Blume, ‘Crossed’ by Allie Condie and ‘The Iron Man’ by Ted Hughes. Personalised presents such as monogrammed mugs or bath towels show that you put effort into the present because it is for that specific someone.

Mostly B’s Girl:

the girly girl

This girl would enjoy receiving clothing, accessories and make up. Scarves, hats, jewellery and make up gift sets are all safe bets. Clothing is a tricky one - make sure you pick the correct sizes! Other gifts include candles, laptop sleeves and fun decorations for her house or room. Guy: the tech dude We recommend gifts such as a set of headphones, video games or DVD box sets of his favourite show. This guy likes his gadgets, so for smaller, portable options, consider presents such as mini travel speakers or a game for his portable game machine. With the tech dude, you can almost never go wrong with a gift card to a music store like HMV in Hong Kong or an iTunes gift card so that he can pick out music, movies and apps to his liking.

Mostly C’s the all-star athlete Girl: Presents should be practical and no fuss, such as cozy hoodies, sunglasses, duffle bags or equipment for her favourite sport. Hoodies and sunglasses make great presents because there are so many styles to choose from. This girl would appreciate the beauty in the simplicity of a comfortable sweatshirt and a pair of shades. For a larger present, a beanbag chair can be a great addition to the room of this comfort-lover. Perfect for lounging in, a beanbag chair is a fun and unique present. Guy: An active guy like this would enjoy receiving presents like graphic tees, sports caps and sports equipment for his favourite sport. For a more personal, memorable gift, take a ball or a racket used for his favourite sport and get his friends to sign their names or even write a little note on it, if there is space.

the girly girl




10. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (A Christmas Song) by The Carpenters A cheery Christmas classic that'll lighten the mood and warm your hearts. 9. Frosty the Snowman by Michael Bublé There's nothing chilly or cold about this lovable childhood jingle that’s sure to bring back memories of a more simple time. 8. White Christmas by Michael Bublé

Name: Michelle Lam Age: 14 Class: 10C Position: Writer Enjoys: Reading and debating

There’s nothing better than the smooth tenor of Bublé's voice wishing us all a cheerful and wonderful Christmas in the snow. Although snow in Hong Kong would be quite alarming... 7. Last Christmas by Wham! A love story with a Christmas twist that is sure to have you wishing for your significant other. 6. All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey A surefire way to warm yourself up in the frosty winter weather, and maybe warm up the heart of that ‘someone special’ while you're at it. 5. My Favorite Things by Julie Andrews While this may not be the first Christmas song that comes to mind, it reminds us that Christmas is the time to be grateful for what we have. Give it a listen, because it is one of my favourite things, and who’s to say that it won’t be yours this holiday season? 4. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives You can be any age to enjoy classic carols and jolly tunes. This is one of those songs that reminds us that Christmas is a time for all of us to be kids again. 3. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

Name: Cosima Lauk Age: 15 Class: 10C Position: Writer Enjoys: Reading & kite surfing

What are the two greatest things in the world? Obviously Christmas and rock music, in my opinion. This song is the perfect combination of both, making this a great choice for rock ‘n’ rollers. 2. Let it Snow by Frank Sinatra Everyone loves a little bit of ‘ol' blue eyes’, so luckily for us, Sinatra has dedicated his talent to produce this lush tune for our ears during Christmas. 1. Baby, It's Cold Outside by Frank Loesser What better way to end this list of fantastic Christmas songs than with a superb track that makes you want to cuddle up with your significant other and just enjoy their company with a nice cup of hot cocoa. This enchanting little duet is guaranteed to melt hearts and make that hot chocolate all the sweeter.



Annie answers your questions in our advice column. Ask annie on our website,,under the ‘Ask Annie’ section for the chance of getting your question answered.

by Anonymous


Everyone is really excited about Christmas, except for me. My parents are in the midst of getting a divorce and I know that this means I will have to listen to their arguments throughout this holiday. At the moment, school’s an escape for me, but all my friends are going away on holiday so I won’t be able to spend time with any of them and get out of the house. What can I do?


Dear No way out, Firstly, I am so sorry to hear about your parents. It’s already hard when parents argue, but even more so during times when everyone is supposed to be happy. I think that you should try to tell your parents that their arguing affects you, because they might not even realise this as they get caught up in their quarrels, and that they should try to at least be amicable for the holidays when you’re around. If that isn’t possible, spend your time with other relatives or maybe catch up with old friends still in Hong Kong who will be able to

No way out




Help me Annie! I really like this boy at school! We’re good friends and he knows that I have a crush on him, but he likes someone else. I try to be upbeat and stay positive but it hurts me to know that I don’t mean as much to him as he does to me. He’s nice to me and says that any guy who ends up with me is lucky, but he just doesn’t see me as a girlfriend. I really think he’s something special, but the fact that he’s rejected me makes me secondguess the things I do and feel like I’m not good enough. How do I cope?

Dear Unloved, Take a deep breath and realise that a lot of girls have gone through your situation before. I know it is hard at the moment, but you will get past this. It’s good that you’ve put these feelings into perspective, but the next step is to be happy with the life you already have and move on from this guy who doesn’t realise what he’s missing. Don’t worry about this one guy, you’re only in high school and there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Every girl is beautiful in her own way and if a guy can’t love that, it is his loss and not yours.




My grandparents come to visit my family in Hong Kong every Christmas, and it’s always been very clear that they favour my younger sister. They gush over her every achievement and give her many more presents than they give me. I know they are my grandparents, but they make me feel crummy during their entire stay because they practically ignore me. How should I react? My sister is five, by the way.


Dear WIshing I were the younger sister, This is a rather common phenomenon, where relatives such as grandparents dote on the youngest child. It is just often the case that the younger child in the family needs more attention and taking care of and it doesn’t mean that your grandparents love her more than they do you. Your grandparents may not even realise that they are making you feel unappreciated, so consider speaking to your parents about it first. Your parents can act as a buffer between you and your grandparents and be more objective about the situation. But whatever happens, I suggest that you appreciate the presence of your grandparents, because life is short and you

Wishing I were the younger sister


Mr Philip Moore


Mr Robert Markwick


Mr Brad Munt

Mr Brennan Cameron


Mr Gary Green 12

The Common Room Issue 2  

GSIS's student-run school newspaper