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

Parent Bulletin – March 9th 2012

Message from the High School Principal:

Dear Parents,

I would like to thank all the parents who came to the HS Parent Coffee on Tuesday. The main topic was dedicated to the notion of Digital Citizenship. The workshop led by Brandon Hoover and David Collett had parents inputting their ideas via the school laptops to an active Googledoc, which was then used for group discussion and subsequently served as a record of the meeting.

This is a very similar process to the way that our students are utilizing information technology in the classroom. One of the elements of being a Digital Citizen is communication and I am aware that as a high school the many forms of inter and intra technological communication can get confusing and at times frustrating. I have raised this issue with the high school program leaders and we do plan to make improvements on the quantity and quality of our communication with the ISM community. To return to the parent coffee, we had a very good session which culminated in Kei Matsunami giving us a fabulous rendition of her IASAS gold medal winning oral interpretation piece. Her performance struck deep into the roots of Manila’s rich history, with a graphic account of life in Manila during the Japanese occupation during World War II.

Our Model United Nations representatives are this week debating in Beijing, while next weekend we send third season IASAS Athletes on their respective exchange tournaments. In this bulletin you will find information on HS MAP testing for Gr. 9 & Gr. 10 students, which starts on Monday, March 12 and also very important topic of timely advice to the school of your intentions to withdraw from ISM. It is very important given the few available spaces we have in the HS that we know who is leaving at the end of this school year. As soon as you aware of your plans please communicate these to school.

Kind regards,

William R. S. Brown

High School Principal