Parent Bulletin – March 16th 2012

Message from the High School Assistant Principal:

Dear Parents,

Today marks the end of the third quarter of the school year. The year is flying by and we are making headway on the plans for all those end of year activities, while at the same time preparing for the next school year. School budgets have been set, textbooks and materials ordered and new faculty has been hired. Next year, the high school will have 13 new faculty members to replace existing teachers who have decided to move on to other appointments at the end of this year. We’ll also have 3 teachers moving up from ISM’s middle school to join us full time in the high school.

We are following up on the final student course selections for school year 2012-13 and soon we will be able to go about building the HS schedule for next year. Mr. Brown describes the job of schedule design as “a fascinating game of three dimensional chess!” I never really enjoyed playing chess much, but Sudoku, Hitori, Hashi and Kakuro, well that’s another matter! However it is described, the job of creating next year’s high school schedule is a huge jigsaw puzzle, with times, blocks, terms, rooms, teachers, students and courses making up the thousands of pieces needed to complete the puzzle. Now that I have the data, I hope to make a start on it next week so that, when I travel to Shanghai in April, I can complete it under the guidance of experts from Pearson (the creators of our scheduling software).

The grade 12 IB/AP “mock” exams start next Thursday, March 22nd and will run until the following Thursday, March 29th (not March 26th to 28th as shown on the printed calendar). As Mr. Brown said in his bulletin two weeks ago, “the senior exams are a very good rehearsal for the actual IB/AP exams. A good lead up to these exams has been shown to be excellent preparation for the IB exams which, this year, start on Wednesday May 2nd.” The Grade 12 mock exams next week make up a large part of the second semester grade for the seniors, so they serve two purposes; firstly to assess the learning that has taken place this semester and secondly to give them a taste of and to prepare them for the IB/AP exams in May.

I cannot reiterate strongly enough Mr. Brown’s remarks in a previous bulletin “Having completed all their college applications, extended essays and IB internal assessments, it would be a shame if seniors do not perform in their school exams or even worse their IB exams in May. We sometimes hear a few rumors about this time of the year from seniors who have already been accepted to their university of choice, that their IB exams do not matter. This can not be more from the truth. Universities ask us for final transcripts and have been known to withdraw offers where clearly a student has not completed their senior year to the best of their ability. We are obliged to report to Universities any significant drop in student performance.”

On a different note, our Model United Nations delegates arrived home safely on Monday after an excellent few days in Beijing for the BEIMUN conference. This is the first time that our MUNers have travelled to Beijing; in the past they have been part of the THIMUN conference in The Hague, Holland but in order to reduce the long travel time to Europe (and the Carbon footprint associated with this travel), the Beijing MUN Conference was chosen as a replacement. Accounts of the trip from both our participating students and the accompanying faculty all indicate that this year’s conference was a huge success.

Finally, once again, last night, I was fortunate enough to be present for another display by our amazing musicians. The “Great Works” concert showcased the talent of our Jazz and Symphonic Bands, Orchestra and combined Choirs. For me, the highlight was the finale piece – Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” – in which the 60 strong choir accompanied by both the Orchestra and Symphonic Band really raised the roof. Well done to all the students who took part and a big thank you to the teachers that nurture this talent.

Warm Regards,

Mike Dickinson
High School Assistant Principal