The HS Blog has gone through a significant overhaul so as to streamline our communication. We hope you like the shift. Some resources previously found on this blog site are now located here on the ISM main website. The HS Blog will be used for weekly parent communication in the High School so please check back each Friday for updates below.

HS Friday Bulletin August 11

To access the full bulletin, please click here: HS Friday Bulletin Aug 11


Dear Parents / Guardians,

Welcome back to what will (hopefully) be another safe, respectful, responsible and exciting year in the high school. In the opening assembly on Monday, I spoke to the students about time and how time will pass them by at such an incredible pace that, if they’re not careful, they’ll miss the year as it flies by without them. I welcomed all the new students to ISM and welcomed this new batch of freshmen with the opening lines of the Taylor Swift song, “Fifteen”; “Take a deep breath and walk through the doors, it’s the afternoon of your very first day. Say “hi” to the friends you ain’t seen in a while and try to keep out of Mr. Birchenall’s way…” It then went downhill rapidly from there! I reminded the Seniors that there are only 174 school-days until their graduation! – I think some of them had already worked that out for themselves – and I warned them about time and procrastination; that time is ruthless and once it has gone, there is no getting it back!

Thank-you to all the parents – both new and returning, that attended last Tuesday’s High School Parent Coffee in the Little Theater. Thanks particularly to the HS PCA reps who were all there and who were extremely helpful during the new parent and new student orientation day. On that same note, I want to say a huge thank-you to Crystal Cappuccio and her team of Ambassadors who ran the student orientation activities last Thursday – Well done to you all; a great effort and a great help. The High School Parent Coffee mornings will start a little earlier this year, at 7:30am (at the request of the PCA) so that you are not kept hanging around after you bring your children to school. Here is the link to the Powerpoint that I used and here is the Year-At-A-Glance that I promised (I have gone as far as the end of the first semester for now, but I’ll add more, later). Our next one will be on September 5th in which Mr. Swan and his team of counselors will be presenting – more on this to follow.

There have been a number of changes recently – even in the few short weeks since we broke for the summer, we have said goodbye to about 60 of our high school friends but yesterday we said hello to nearly 50 new. I would like to welcome all our new families – I hope that Manila can be somewhere in which you feel happy and comfortable.

We said goodbye to some teachers at the end of last year and so we have some new ones to welcome to our ranks.
• Caroline Garner Art
• Scott Lassey Counseling
• Karen Sagall Counseling
• Kristen Baek English
• Melanie Hunt English
• Catrina Walters Film
• Monika D’Aquale Modern Language (French)
• Yuki Geronimo Modern Language (Japanese)
• Jackson Pearce Physical Education
• Scott Cameron Science (Chemistry / Physics)
• Andy Ellmers Science (Physics)
• Irsa Sarkawi Science (Chemistry)
• David Martin Social Studies (Business Management)
• Tom Sheard Social Studies (Geography)
• Emily Simbana Specialized Learning Support

We also have a new intern this year, Rose Novak, who will be working with the Psychology teachers. Welcome to you all – I hope that ISM can be both a professionally rewarding and a fun place to work.

We also have some congratulations.
• Ms. Roseleip returned to Manila with her lovely daughter, Kélani Roseleip Fossouo
• Mr. Paulson became a dad for the second time. Welcome Darwin James Cruz Paulson

More Congratulations:
• Mr. Hill and Sheila Avestruz were married this summer.
• Mr. and Mrs. Birchenall are going to become grandparents for the 2nd and 3rd time.
• Mr. Robertson – Completed his 2nd degree in Math and Physics
• Mr. Armstrong – Completed his Masters degree in Mathematics
• Mme. de Blegiers and Mrs. Dickinson graduated from the Principal’s Training Center
Well done to you all.

Next week, on Tuesday will be our annual Open House evening, which will start in the FAT at 5:0pm sharp, with refreshments outside from 4:30pm. It is a tight schedule for the evening so do please try to arrive on time so that you don’t get a tardy slip from any of the teachers. Open House is an opportunity for you to meet your child’s teachers in their regular classroom setting. It is a chance to put a face to a name and to learn a little about the courses that your son or daughter will be studying during this academic year 2017-18. The evening is different to the Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs) that are held in October in that individual students are not discussed during Open House. During the evening, you will follow your child’s high school schedule, receiving a 10-minute “lesson” from each of his teachers, who will introduce themselves and their course.

Looking forward to seeing you at Open House on Tuesday, August 15th, and to another fantastic year ahead.

Have a great weekend.

Mike Dickinson
High School Principal

HS Friday Bulletin June 2

To access the full bulletin, please click here: HS Friday Bulletin June 2

Dear Parents / Guardians,

Well, I thought that last Friday evening was absolutely lovely!  The decoration, the food and music outside the FAT and inside were wonderful – thank you to the graduation décor committee, the catering committee and the Senior Lunch committee for all their hard work and effort.  You guys did a terrific job.  The graduates looked fantastic up on stage, the speeches from Sofia Jimenez, Mr. Toze, Sammy Westfall and Mr. MacInnes were uplifting, inspiring and “senti”, and the class feature, “History” was great.  If you’d like to watch the Graduation ceremony, here’s the link – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCg0bBn8JDN2C5RqDTY7UZA

I felt extremely proud to have been the one this year that said the final words “Class of 2017, please rise.  To symbolize the conferring of your ISM high school diploma and that you have individually challenged yourself to meet, fulfil and in most cases exceed ISM’s graduation requirement, I ask that with your left hand, you move the tassel on your mortarboard from your right to your left.  Ladies and gentlemen ISM presents to you the class of twenty seventeen.”  Well done graduates – you have been a great class and we’ll miss you.

You will all know that last Monday we had to deal with a serious disciplinary infraction as a result of grossly inappropriate use of social media.  The school dealt with this as swiftly and efficiently as possible and, while it was clear that there was never any harm intended toward the school and its students, the repercussions of such a “joke” were serious indeed – and could have been much more serious still.

Every year, we work with our students through our pastoral care program, and the dangers inherent in social media are a constant theme in our discussions.  We organize workshops for our parents to make sure that they too understand these dangers, since it is primarily in the home and off campus where students have unfettered access to the internet.

We shall continue our conversations with the community about how we can best pass on the message to our students regarding their online personal security. The world we live in is as dangerous as it is exciting, and we wish to do all that we can to encourage our students to behave in ways that are safe, responsible and respectful.

Our teachers are still busy at this time of year writing report card comments for all students.  The report cards will be available through the parent portal from June 14th.  Student dismissal for the summer break will be next Thursday at 12 noon with the buses leaving at about 12:15.

This will be my final bulletin of this year.  The Dickinson’s are off to Spain and Portugal for the summer and I will turn 50 in Madrid this July (mixed feeling about that one!).  Thank you to everyone for your support in my first year as High School Principal – It has been a year of ups and downs; I’m hoping for more ups than downs next year as Dave Birchenall and I start year 2 together.  Take care everyone, have a relaxing summer vacation.

Mike Dickinson

High School Principal

HS Friday Bulletin May 26

To access the full bulletin, please click here: HS Friday Bulletin May 26

Dear Parents / Guardians,

Well, the big day has finally arrived for our Seniors.  Mr. Birchenall and I have been with them in the FAT for the past couple of days for graduation rehearsals and we’ve really enjoyed the last moments of quality time with the whole batch.  After yesterday’s rehearsal, they had a lovely lunch that had been organized by the Senior patents and PCA, during which time their yearbooks were delivered so they had time to sign each other’s and write messages of best wishes.  The afternoon was set aside for their Senior Celebration, back in the FAT, which was an absolute blast – there is some real talent in this group.  Good luck to all our seniors – we will miss you all.

Last Tuesday afternoon, our Academic and Service awards assembly went very well, with over 150 students being called to the stage to receive awards for subject, sporting, grade-level, leadership, service and excellence.  Mr. Birchenall opened the assembly with some words of wisdom and advice for the future, while I closed.  Here’s what I said:

When I was in high school, it was the late 1970s and early 80s.  I know what you’re thinking – “No, way – he doesn’t look old enough”.  I loved music, both playing the trumpet and listening to pop music.  I loved art – particularly painting and sketching.  Although I was keen a Liverpool football fan (and still am), my sports were swimming and cycling.  My trumpet heroes were Maynard Fergusson, Chet Baker and Doc Severenson.  I tried to emulate the style of Roger Dean in my artwork.  I still have the autographs of Liverpool legends Ray Clemence, Emlyn Hughes and Kenny Dalglish somewhere in my parents’ attic.  I wanted to be as good as Mark Spitz and Eddie Merkz when I swam or cycled.  My pop idols were The Police, Tubeway Army and Blondie. 

 I’m sure that many of these names mean absolutely nothing to you and why would they – they were my heroes, from my high school days.  Perhaps they mean something to some of the teachers or parents in the audience that were high school age in the late 1970s and early 80s.  I mention them to illustrate a point.  That to have someone to aspire to, is possibly as old as time – and certainly as old as me.  Did Shakespeare ever hope to be as successful as Chaucer?  Did Lebron James look to Michael Jordan for inspiration?  Does Chance The Rapper aspire to be as good as Eminem? 

Often, our heroes and idols are sporting and musical in nature.  They were when I was a boy, and they still are now.  However, I also remember having some other heroes too.  I remember that Mr. Rodgers was one of the only teachers that I actually liked (not our Mr. Rodgers – although I do like him very much – in fact, I like all my teachers these days!), but I also respected him because he respected us.  He made difficult concepts understandable and he took time and gave us time to get to grips with topics before moving on to new ones – I think he is one of the reasons I decided to become a teacher. 

 I admired my mum and dad (and still do of course) in the way they served our community by collecting furniture and clothing for people in our town that couldn’t afford to buy them for themselves.  Later they went farther afield, coming under sniper-fire as they drove an aide truck into the warzone of the Bosnian-Serbian conflict in the battle for the Balkans in the 1990s. 

I also had an academic hero; my best friend, Dave Goodier.  I was no slouch at school, but Dave was the winner of the academic awards – he was the student that needed help to carry all his medals, plaques and trophies home each year after an afternoon similar to this one.  I never wanted to be him, I didn’t even want to be like him (He supported Manchester United and hated Jazz!) but he inspired me to work a little harder at school than I would have done without him. 

 We worship our sporting superstars, placing them on pedestals to receive their medals.  We laud the football team that brings the trophy back to the hometown crowd.  These victories and successes inspire people to try harder and to do better.  I love being part of a school where academic success is as cool and as highly thought-of as non-academic success. 

 So today, we are celebrating school success, both academic and non-academic.  We’re recognizing generosity and selflessness and intellectual capacity, partly in the hope that today will inspire everyone here to do our very best in everything we do, both in and out of the classroom.  Some of you might be thinking; “but I’m never going to be that good”, “I’m never going to win an award”.  Well that’s ok.  I knew that I was never going to be as brilliant a trumpet player as Fergusson, or as gifted an artist as Dean, or as fast a swimmer as Spitz, but they still inspired me to want to do better and my best friend inspired me to want to do better academically.  I hope that many of our award winners today will inspire you to be the very best you can be and try your hardest in everything you do.

 I do hope that some of the students were still awake by that stage in the assembly and that they realize their potential by doing the best they can in everything they do.

Take care everyone, have a relaxing weekend.

Mike Dickinson

High School Principal



HS Friday Bulletin May 19

To access the full bulletin, please click here: HS Friday Bulletin May 19

Dear Parents / Guardians,

Exams are over – Yay!  It has probably been a while since many of you sat exams in a large setting, so I thought I’d share with you the scene in the high school gym earlier this week.  Before (with 420 exam desks and chairs all set and ready to receive), then after (with over 400 students in grades 9 and 10 sitting their exam).  It looks quite Dickensian (no pun intended) in the black and white that Liz Godfrey chose to finish the pictures.  It does remind us also that although we pride ourselves on being a progressive, contemporary place of learning, where inquiry and collaboration have taken over somewhat from rote learning and lecture, in many ways, there is no getting away from these traditional aspects of school life.


Speaking of traditions – Awards season is upon us.  This evening, in the Fine Arts Theater we induct a number of students (and three teachers) to some of the more prestigious Honors Societies to which we belong.  On Tuesday we have our Academic and Service Awards afternoon, where the whole high school can come together to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of their peers in all areas of school life, then, finally on Friday evening we end with the Commencement Exercises for 2017 (Graduation).  I really enjoy this part of the year when we get to celebrate together all that we are as a school – I need to employ a speechwriter for next year though!

I cannot believe that we are just one week away from graduation.  I sent an email to all the seniors and senior parents the week before last, with all sorts of information – please be sure to check your email and read this information carefully if your child is graduating this year.

But, before the Senior class don their caps and gowns for graduation.  On Monday, they have a day of “transition workshops”.  The move from the comfort and security of high school to college can be a difficult one and so, each year, our counselors provide the Seniors with as much support as we can; with presentations from alumni on cultural, academic and social transitions, diet, nutrition and cooking (with some recipe suggestions), finance, self-defense (and protection).  Then later in the afternoon, there is an optional session for both students and parents on obtaining a US Visa.  Well done our counseling team.

We still have other events to look forward to next week.  On Tuesday the IB1 (grade 11) Art Exhibition opens in the gallery of the FAT.  On Wednesday, we have the High School Dance Finale, starting at 3:30 in the Little Theater.  Also on Wednesday, the grade 11 students enrolled in Environmental Systems and Societies have a field trip to the Manila Aquarium.  Great stuff!

Take care everyone, have a relaxing weekend.

Mike Dickinson

High School Principal