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SECONDARY SCHOOL - Mr Andre Casson


Dates to Remember

Monday, 28 April – Wednesday, 30 April

Tabitha Mother’s Day Stall

8am – 4pm
Monday - Corridor outside AISPA Senior School
Tuesday – Wednesday  - Level 2 Junior School

Monday, 28 April – Friday, 2 May

Year 11 DP Bio/ESS, Preliminary HSC Biology/Geo Camp

Chang Mai  - Year 11 Students

Monday, 28 April

Yr 10 IGCSE Exam Stimulus Workshop

Year 10 Drama Students

Wednesday, 30 April

ACSIS Athletics Meet
12U & 14U Girls and Boys

4.30pm – 6.15pm
(Students to leave AIS at  3.10pm)
Singapore American School
Years 6-9 Selected Students

Friday, 2 May

IGCSE Yr 10 Art Exam

Year 10 Art Students

Sunday, 4 May

Senior Musical Rehearsal

10am – 4pm
Coral Dixon Theatre – All cast and Musicians

Information subject to change, correct at date of circulation. 

Parents are urged to check their child’s Assessment Calendar on the Student Portal.  This will provide details of forthcoming assessments.


Dear Parents,

ANZAC Day is a most significant part of the Australian culture.  The Secondary School marked this important day with our annual ANZAC Day Assembly.  This year we were visited by two serving officers, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Doyle from the Australian Army and Commander Brendan Oakley from the New Zealand Navy.  Both of these men are fathers of students at AIS.  Both of them have served their countries in armed conflict.  Both have lost mates to war.  At the assembly they recounted the ANZAC story to the students and explained the significance of this day to the emerging Australian and New Zealand nations.  Perhaps more significantly they shared their experiences of war and loss.  They gave a human face to the conflicts that are still occurring throughout the world.  Their honest and open account touched all in the assembly hall.  The School is immensely grateful for the contribution of Lieutenant Colonel Doyle and Commander Oakley.  Our students are the leaders of tomorrow.  It is my firm hope reflections like the ones they shared this week will impact their decisions in the future.  Lest we forget.
Another important part of the Schools commemoration of ANZAC Day is the Dawn Service at Kranji War Memorial Cemetery.  The School Choir performs at this event each year.  Their contribution to the solemnity of the days is significant.  I am immensely grateful to the Music Department who work collectively to prepare our students for this event.  In particular I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Ms McKerrow and Mr Hughes who take the lead with this activity.  The School Captains laid a wreath at the service as a symbol of the appreciation that we have for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
It was wonderful to meet with so many parents and students at the Parent/Teacher Interviews this week.  An open dialogue about learning is one of the essential ingredients for academic success.  I would urge all students to take on board the suggestions offered by their teachers during these interviews and formulate a plan that will support their preparations as they head toward their examinations at the end of this term.  I would like to thank Ms Johnston for her coordination of this event and the School Captaincy Team who were in attendance to assist parents in locating teachers.

I was reflecting with a parent on Wednesday evening about the format of the Parent/Teacher Interviews and the “speed dating” nature of proceedings.  We were discussing the format of this event compared to a similar activity in an Elementary setting.  In an Elementary School one teacher will have their class for the majority of lessons and will have a longer individualised slot, 30 to 45 minutes with each parent.  The construct of secondary education is that students are taught by subject specialists.  To that end students at AIS will have eight or nine teachers who interact with them each week.  Given that we increased our interview slots from five minutes to eight minutes starting last year this means that parents will have 64 to 72 minutes of interaction with their children’s teachers.  The time with each individual teacher may be relatively short but this is to facilitate the breadth of subjects that each student undertakes.  Moreover, the teachers are working to be succinct in their information transfer to ensure the time is utilised effectively.  I hope all parents found the interviews a positive experience.  I welcome any feedback that you may have from this event.

As I type our Football Team (soccer) is competing in a Cognita run tournament in Madrid.  The ability to access events with schools throughout the world is one of the many positive aspects of belonging to an organisation that governs so many schools.  As a school we already availed ourselves of some of these opportunities with the Cognita Games in Asia and the Netball tour to the UK.  I am most excited by the experiences that these events will afford our students.  Reports from the tour so far have been very positive both in terms of the sporting and cultural opportunities.  I look forward to hearing more when the team returns.  I am grateful to Mr Capstick, Mr Harrow and Mr Olley who are in Spain with the team.

I mentioned in Newsletters last year that we have a budding Ski Champion in our school – not a bad effort for someone living in Singapore.  Year 8 student, Madi Hoffman, has been a member of the Australian under-age ski team for the last few years.  Membership in this elite program sees Madi out of AIS for the entire Term 1 each year.  During this time she trains and competes in Australia, Europe and the North America. 

2014 proved to be a break out year for Madi at the Whistler Cup in Canada.  She competed in three events securing a gold, silver and bronze medal.  The gold was in her pet event the Slalom.  The Whistler Cup is a very important event in the ski season with over 400 competitors taking part.  For Madi to secure a medal in each event as well as winning gold for Australia is a remarkable feat. 

I am sure you join me in congratulating Madi for her exceptional efforts.  I think it is important to note that even though she has missed Term 1 each year since joining the Secondary School she has always returned to AIS and worked diligently to catch up on the work that she missed and consolidated new concepts.  To that end Madi has achieved excellent results each year.  She proves the adage that you should “always give a job to a busy person”.  Keep up the great work Madi.

This afternoon the Year 12 students farewelled their friend Victoria McLeod.  The Memorial Service was a student initiative with the assistance of the staff.  The students celebrated Victoria’s life, in particular her life at AIS.  The tributes were heart felt and meaningful.  I am immensely proud of the way that the students have conducted themselves at this extremely difficult time.  The teaching staff and counsellors are keeping a close eye on the students as they deal with their grief.  Should parents have any concerns regarding their children could you please contact the school immediately so we can provide appropriate support.  Additionally, I am seeking advice from several sources as we move toward the next stages in this grieving process.  We want to ensure the best care is provided for all in our community.  The support of the AIS family has been amazing over the past two weeks.  I am immensely grateful for the empathetic and caring community that symbolises our school.

Yours Faithfully,

Andre Casson
Head of Secondary School


Sail Vega Stationery Drive

Do you have superfluous stationery at home?  Would you like to think that your now not-so-loved-stationery item could be very loved by a child living in East Timor? Our AIS Sail Vega team has a collection bin placed in the Central Library, Level 4 of the main building.  We would love to see it rapidly filling with good quality items such as pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, highlighters and notebooks. 

Please check your desks and drawers at home, gather up items that you would be proud to donate, and send them to the Central Library.

If you have questions about the stationery drive or Sail Vega, please contact Cristy Gover
  cristy_gover@ais.com.sg or Meg Johnson meg_johnson@ais.com.sg

Ms Meg Johnson
Lower Secondary Teacher Librarian


Year 7 Update

One of the goals I have set myself this year is to read more from educators from around the world.  The following passages are taken from Barry Dequanne on his blog.   Barry is an educator at the American School in Brasilia. He writes about the following in regards to education and leadership; Academics, Activities, Arts, Leadership, and Service. 

I found the following two areas very interesting in relation to our students and exams. Barry has linked these to a personal friend of his and professional triathlete, called Tim.

Consistency
Tim stressed that consistency does not refer to always performing at the highest level each week, but, rather, being faithful to a carefully established plan that is designed to move us forward, in an incremental manner, toward our goal.  His words reminded me of a prior blog post about the 20-Mile March and the importance of not wavering from a consistent and iterative approach.

When preparing for a marathon, we are not going to start training by running 30km on the first day.  Rather, we will start with a short distance and gradually build up our endurance over time through a consistent adherence to an established plan.  The concept is the same for students.  Deeper levels of learning are achieved through a regular dedication to study and class attendance, rather than trying to cram for tests during short, intense periods. The former approach will normally result in lasting development and understanding while the outcome of the later is, at best, a fleeting recall of the information associated with the test questions.

Performance
I was initially surprised that Tim focused on performance rather than results, especially given that his livelihood depends on winning. However, after reflecting on his words, his approach resonated with me. By way of example, there is a significant difference between finishing a race in third place, ten seconds behind the winner, and finishing in third place, ten minutes behind the winner.  While a third place finish is a good result, it may not necessarily equate to a good performance.  A focus only on results, with the accompanying pressure and stress, may often lead to burnout, injury, and diminished performance.  In contrast, your best performances will usually lead to great results.  In terms of his professional competitions, Tim states the following:

“Some of my best performances have come from races where I have not been on the podium but I have squeezed our every bit of what I had and, as they say, left nothing out there.  I truly walked away with a smile knowing that, sure the win would have been nice, but, on that day, that’s what I had. Control what you can control.  I really try to race like that in every race. I will sprint as hard for 40th position as I would for the win: that’s me, that’s what I do, that’s what I was taught to do.”

I think I can say that we, as educators, and yourself, as parents, wish that our students/ children perform to their best.

Our job is to ensure that we can give them the right tools to achieve this goal.

Ms Chelsie Yeung and Mr Bruce McNalty
Heads of Year
7


Year 9 Update 

After the excitement of camp and holidays, it has been great to see the Year 9 students getting straight back into the swing of their school routine. They have also been wonderfully welcoming to our four new students Li Jia Hui, Jade Tang, Srihari Chandrasekar and Huang Haofeng. Well done to them for hitting the ground running as they join our AIS community.

Year 9 students have a lot on the go. Many of our students are actively involved in school sports, in our arts programs, have CCAs as well as other commitments outside school. This term in Weeks 5 and 6, they will sit their Semester 1 exams. For many of them, this combination of commitments will cause a certain amount of stress. We want to arm our students with ideas for how they can handle their stress and with a plan for managing their commitments. To this end they have all been provided with both a weekly schedule to plan their time effectively (including social and play time) and a term schedule so they can keep an eye on the big picture. They can use this to input all assessment due dates and their exam timetable, which will help them organise their study and revision plans. We will continue to spend time on this in Home Group but it is also very helpful for parents to share their own time management tips and strategies.

A key aspect of managing stress is to keep an eye on the big picture. When identifying their tent peg support system last term, the students looked at all the enriching and supporting elements in their lives so we want to remind them that when they are feeling a bit wobbly about any one aspect, they can use the others to stay firm. We hope they are all aware that our office is a safe space for them to come anytime they need extra support or respite.

Mrs Kath Perry and Mr Mark Weber
Heads of Year 9


Year 11 Update

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” Mahatma Gandhi

The focus for Year 11 PGD in the opening of Term 2 is Careers. Last week, students began their preparation for the Careers Expo Monday, 5 May in a fantastic workshop with our Careers Counsellor, Mrs Rhonda Vink. The aim of the session was to develop understanding of tertiary options and learning pathways. In one particular activity, students engaged in dialogue to complete quotations from famous individuals. This provoked lots of discussion, fantastic ideas and wise words!

“Energy and persistence are . . . the foundation of a successful and fulfilling career.” Emma-Jean, Cassie, Tom, Alanah, Ciara, Nathan, Lexton and Ben

“Communication – the human connection is . . . interaction and understanding” Elodie, Lauren, James, Lachie, Ben, Shant and Andy

New Students
Term 2 brings five new students to Year 11. We wouldd like to welcome Andy, Hannan, Nicholas, Austin and Phyo to Year 11 as they settle into their new Home Groups and life at AIS.

11U - Min Jae (Andy) Gil
11V – Hannan Didi
11Y - Nicholas Chu and Austin Chandra
11X – Phyo Phyo

Biology Camp
As Year 11 Biology students prepare for their camp to Chiang Mai next week, we’d like to wish them all the best. See you in Week 4!

Ms Aileen O’Donnell and Mr Haydn Flanagan
Year 11 Heads of Year


Humanities Update

ANZAC Day occurs each year on 25 April. It commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders killed in war within which these two nations have been involved and also honours the returned servicemen and women.
The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the ANZACS – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The initial response to World War I was that it would be a great adventure, a chance to see the world and would all be over in a few months.

The reality was much different. By the end of what they called “The War to End all Wars” 65% of Australian soldiers and 59% of New Zealanders were wounded or killed, a total of two hundred and seventy five thousand men. For both countries, the landing at Anzac Cove was seen as their first involvement in international affairs – a chance to prove themselves on the world stage.

ANZAC Day is a time for both countries to stand in tribute to the men and women of the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces who were, and are still, willing to fight, and die, for the security of their country.
In modern times, ANZAC Day is also a chance to acknowledge our departed love ones who were involved in military service. It is common to see the sons, daughters, and grand (even great) children of deceased military service women and men wearing the inherited medals of their loved ones to honour their role in securing present generations’ enjoyment of peace and stability.

ANZAC Day ceremonies take place throughout Australia and New Zealand, and even at the scene of the ANZAC invasion of Turkey, Gallipoli. Acknowledgement must be made of the Turkish forgiveness and respect for Anzac soldiers. This is summed up in the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the commander of Turkish troops at Gallipoli and the first President of modern Turkey.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives; 
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land
they have become our sons as well."
Mr Brendan Toohey
History Teacher – Humanities 


Art Department Update

Roving Art Exhibition 2014
As many may have noticed the exhibiting works in the corridor have been rotated with new artworks again. These works are part of the Roving Art Exhibition featuring artworks of students from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School, St Hilda’s Secondary School, Australian International School and Catholic High School, the Exhibition was indeed a great opportunity for students to learn about the different genres of art making. The works continues to showcase the diversity that the Visual Arts has to offer. These work also demonstrate that schools and curriculums reflect an interest which many students may not have been exposed too such as the paper cuts from St Hilda’s. The works remain until Tuesday Week 3 and will then be ‘roved’ to Catholic High for their exhibition. We are looking forward to next years’ show already.

Visiting Artist – Ping Chen
We were lucky enough to have the extremely expressive Tasmania-based Chinese painter, Ping Chen visit our Secondary students on Friday. His informative and personalised presentation gave our students an insight into his international life and revealed aspects of his arts practice. Ping Chen was academically trained in China in the mid-1980s under Professor Zeng Song Ling, a student of Zao Wou-ki, the French-Chinese Master. Peng Chen is in Singapore to accompany his newly opened exhibition, “Chen Ping Flies Over” at the Australian High Commission until Friday, 30 May. 

Initially his paintings appear incredibly subjective and expressive in nature; explorations of texture and colour. However, it is the artist's ambition to create paintings that are unable to be categorised into any particular style: "My work is a complex and inclusive art language. It is neither purely abstract nor purely expressive, whilst being both conceptual and realistic".

As was stated in Art Equity, “Underpinning all of Chen's works are his observations on life and the frailty of the human condition. These are truly global paintings which transcend cultures - akin to the artist's own background.”We are hoping to continue this terrific series of visiting artists throughout the year as personal experiences of artist and their practice produce lasting impressions on students and their art appreciation.

Mr Nick Coulter
Head of Visual Arts