Newsflash: April 30, 2020

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Admin Notes

It has been another busy week of remote learning, with all community stakeholders continuing to persevere in these challenging times. Thank you all for your continuing efforts. After six weeks, it seems we are getting more used to the new style of teaching and learning, and yet I know some are still struggling in areas. This is understandable, and for those of you who are – whether you be student, teacher, or parent – please do not just lapse into an assumption that you are alone. Reach out, and someone in our community will be there, willing to help. Due to the lack of physical contact, it is just more difficult for them to know you need it.

Many of you will have seen the latest IATF recommendations that President Duterte has approved, and may have questions on how that will impact us. For now, we continue to be in ECQ conditions until the end of May. I will send an Infobrief out to your registered email shortly, providing a summary of the implications of the new recommendations (which are plans for moving from the current ECQ to a GCQ). I am just seeking a few more details on aspects of the conditions, as it is not clear how some of the recommendations will play out in our local context. Regardless of the outcome, I encourage you all to keep focused on what you can do within your sphere of influence and remember, this challenge does have an end, we just need to do our best to get through the tough times, until we emerge.

Finally, I enjoyed meeting with our graduands virtually today, joining their lunch meeting to chat, and consider how this year’s graduation might look. Obviously we will need to adapt to some form of virtual ceremony, but we are still looking at exactly how it might look. Our other end of year assemblies and ceremonies will also need to be adapted to the environment, and more details will be provided closer to the time.

Have a restful holiday tomorrow (Labor Day)!


Dr Gwyn Underwood

Elementary News

by Mr. Glenn Davies, Elementary Principal/PYP Coordinator

Dear Elementary Community,

CIS is a member of several international educational groups that help us remain connected and ensure we continually strive to meet the highest educational standards. One of these groups is called The East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS). There are currently 163 schools in association with EARCOS, representing approximately 150,000 Pre-K to Grade 12 students.  The CIS association with EARCOS provides an amazing amount of support by enabling us to connect, share, and learn from other member schools. Each year CIS hosts an EARCOS-sponsored professional development weekend workshop to train our teachers. We also invite teachers from other EARCOS member schools to attend these workshops.

CIS Teachers at the 2019 CIS EARCOS Weekend Workshop

This week I joined an EARCOS hosted Webinar, enabling me to connect with 35 other school leaders across the region. During the break out room sessions, I had the opportunity to connect with several international school principals and school heads. The principal of a school in south China said their school began remote learning on February 4th, while the school in Daegu, South Korea, started remote learning in mid-February. Myanmar also began at a similar time to CIS, and like CIS, each of these schools has had to travel their own remote learning journey.

I again express my gratitude to you as a community for your support of CIS and the way in which you have been so dedicated to your children’s ongoing learning. I know this has been incredibly difficult.

Boredom Breakers
As tomorrow is Labor Day holiday, I have again included our Boredom Breakers document compiled for us by Mr. Eerik Sirkkola, our Grade 3 teacher, which is full of activities your children could engage in tomorrow and over the weekend.

If you have not had the opportunity, I would like to encourage you to watch the remote assemblies we have held over the past two weeks with your children. I have been very motivated by these events and believe these are strong community builders for us all.

I also encourage you to regularly visit our ES Remote Learning Community Website with your children to continue to see the learning that is taking place across the school community.

End of Year Reports
As an additional piece of information, teachers have begun to work on writing their end of year report cards. As a significant portion of this semester has involved remote learning, you will receive a survey on May 14th asking you have some input into the report. This survey will be designed to gain as much information from you and your children in the easiest and quickest way possible, as we certainly do not wish to burden you with extra work. I hope you enjoy the extended weekend with your children.

PHE Remote Learning Dance Off

Our students participated in a dance off organized by Coach Jay where they were challenged to dance to the steps of Fight Song. This song is dedicated to all our Covid-19 frontliners!

Ask the College Counselor

A huge number of universities and colleges have gone test optional. This means they will not require standardized test scores as an admission requirement especially for the Class of 2021 & 2022 who are mostly affected by the postponement of test dates. Please check the specific university website for details.

The College Board is committed to offering future test administrations when it is safe for a location to open. Please check this link for more information on future tests and refund policies.

Summer activities/camps are not required in college admissions.Admissions officers will view this positively on any college application because it demonstrates how a student uses their free time whether to learn something new or participate in a service activity. There are a number of online options which have been sent out via email to Grades 9, 10 and 11. There are free and paid online options. Please check your email for these options.

If there is anything in particular you are looking for and is not on any of the forwarded emails for summer programs, please email Ms. Basa at

A number of universities have planned to visit the school virtually. The schedule for virtual college visits will be determined after agreement between the institution and CIS to allow for time zone differences.

There will also be a Virtual College Fair sponsored by Education USA on May 7 at 2:00pm – 5:00pm. Please check details on how to register if interested in this link.

I would like to discuss college plans with the college counselor, how can I set up a meeting?

Please email Ms. Basa at A virtual meeting will be scheduled and you can invite your parents to the meeting if they wish to join.

Middle and High School News

by Mr. Dale Wood, Middle and High School Principal

As we conclude our sixth week of remote learning, which we had until recently hoped would be our last, I am convinced that one of the most important factors in getting through this situation positively is perspective. One of my favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, a text I discovered just after finishing university, which was a difficult time in my own life. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was imprisoned in four concentration camps (including Auschwitz) during The Holocaust, the suffering of which our situation pales by comparison. The inmates in the camps were overworked to the point of exhaustion, were physically and  emotionally abused, were confined in inhumanely cramped barracks, and were intentionally underfed in order to hasten their demise. Frankl noticed something astonishing while in these horrific camps, that the inmates who shared their meager rations with those who were sick or needed them more inexplicably and counter-intuitively fared better health-wise compared to those who selfishly hoarded their rations or stole food from others. He found that what set apart those individuals who were more altruistic was a determined focus on seeing beyond their suffering and finding purpose in it. A transformative psychological perspective allowed them to transcend their suffering and even defy the scientific facts of what their bodies needed to survive.

From his experiences, Frankl developed a new school of psychology which became known as Logotherapy (literally healing through meaning). According to this approach, the search for meaning in life is understood to be the most fundamental motivational force in human beings, and logotherapy assists individuals in finding and pursuing this meaning. Another central tenet of this framework is a belief in free-will, that as humans we are free to adopt a stance toward both the internal and external conditions in which we find ourselves. In other words, we have free will regarding how we respond to our adverse situations.

This approach relates to our situation as we may be struggling to find value and meaning in our circumstances; we are told that we need to arrive at acceptance and express gratitude within this crisis, but this is often easier said than done. One of the primary ways Frankl identified for realizing meaning in life was by making a difference in the world through our actions, our work, or our creations; Frankl referred to these as developing “Creative Values.“

Next week has been calendared to be our school-wide Arts Week. To lead in, I would like to highlight the creativity of our students in the midst of our current situation. Not only is creative activity a way for our students to make a difference in the world, but it also helps them develop a sense of perception and find meaning beyond the current crisis. As a welcomed by-product, in many cases artistic creating also gets our students off their screens for a while.

Grade 10 Art

Just after the Covid-19 situation was gaining intensity and we began doing remote learning, our Grade 10 Art Class started a project creating illustrations relating to the crisis which would provide a positive impact on their viewers. Students were free to explore any concept, art style, process, or technique and they had the option to choose the medium, whether digital or traditional. The goal was for our students to offer a counterpoint to the media which tends to report on this crisis with negativity and stoking our fears. Several weeks later, the students have completed their pieces and we want to share them as a source of inspiration in the midst of these unsettling times. – Sofia

Our purpose for this piece was to try and inspire people during our time of coronavirus. I drew inspiration from the fact that even in quarantine, many people sing together despite being confined in their own buildings and rooms. I illustrated that in my artwork by having a cityscape stripped of colour. Having a bustling city depicted devoid of life expressed the apocalyptic feel of this situation. However, in the midst of all the muted colours and somber mood, there is a bright musical song that brings hope to the people. – Luna

Since Corona has become a worldwide problem, I set the background theme as space. The tree represents the blood in the lungs because the main symptoms of Corona are related to the lungs. The reason for the color white is because white symbolically is clean, clear, nice, and it shows and represents healthiness. The flowers on the bottom are called Spider Lilies. The red spider lily represents passion, independence, and reunion. The blue spider lily means “until the day we meet again”. I chose to draw this flower because it is beautiful and the meaning of each flower shows the feeling of all people in a positive way. – Jodi

In this artwork, I wanted to convey the messages of social distancing and of sharing love in these harsh times. The green representing COVID-19 while the light pink representing one’s love and personal space; in times like these we each need to make sure that we still abide by social distancing through having personal space and that we give to support those working at the front lines. Even though we may not see it as we’re stuck inside our homes but everyday front liners are risking their health to help those in need, so I wanted this artwork to also serve as a reminder for people to give them support as they tackle this disease head-on every day. – Sofia

Grade 9B Design Technology Class

by Ms. Gerri Ancajas Jumao-as, IB Art / Design Technology Teacher

Our Grade 9 Design class has been investigating different food preparation methods, skills, and dishes for their unit on Food Preparation. Students have been exploring different cooking methods and different types of dishes. They also had to grasp the techniques in food preparation through formative exercises in hands-on cooking. With the Enhanced Community Quarantine, students were challenged to plan and prepare a dish with the available ingredients they have at home. They cook this dish and serve it to their family at home. Here are some time lapse videos of the students as they prepared their dishes.

Grade 8B Visual Arts Class

The Grade 8B class has been investigating different skills and techniques for their unit on Drawing. Students have been exploring various techniques on how to approach drawing, specifically in creating portraits. They also researched different portrait artists to get some ideas on how to render their own. They had to grasp the techniques in drawing through formative exercises with hands-on drawing practice. They applied their skills and included some influences from specific artists in creating their own self portraits.  Here are some of our students’ works with their personal reflections.

Dennis, artist studied – Diego Fazio

I think that I am improving in drawing. I have drawn realistic art for about 2 months. Every time I am starting to do the tonal value I feel more comfortable and feel more easy about doing it. Of course I still need a lot of improvement, but I think that I am improving. Comparing this work with my facial portrait the first time, I think that now it is completely better than before. I think that each part of my face is getting more detailed.

Sofia, artist studied – Käthe Kollwitz

I think I have really improved in terms of my drawing skills. I am able to create more accurate drawing proportions and details now that I have practiced more. There is a big improvement on my face because it looks more realistic than when I first drew my draft. I learned not to be scared of making a portion too dark and erasing some parts to make lighter tones. My final work is way more neat and clean than my draft.

Mahati, artist studied- Mary Stevenson Cassatt

The background consists of various plants and leaves, along with a hanging lamp. I arranged the leaves in such a way that you can almost see the entire leaf, and it is big enough to cover a lot of space. I put the lamp right above the book, and the flowers also cover a corner. This adds a bit more variety, rather than just green. With these elements, the portrait looks very fun and unique.

Bella, artist studied – Frida Kahlo

I definitely think that my art skills have improved because my attitude towards art has changed and I have started feeling more open to it. It is not as frustrating to draw as it was before and, when looking back at my old work, I notice a great improvement. Before, I barely knew anything about art but now, after all the lessons and drawing exercises, I am able to draw more accurately and learn skills in a faster way. Although my drawing skills are not as good as I would like, I have become better at skills I deem very difficult such as creating tonal value, drawing facial features, and making the piece look more realistic. I do see a change in my previous study compared to my final one as I have become more detail-oriented and I know my weaknesses. 

Liam, artists studied-Pablo Picasso

I improved my drawing skills because I got used to drawing with a grid. It is easier to draw with a grid because I did it before with the drafts and now I know what to do. I think the proportions are the same as the drafts but I struggled less on the final portrait because I already know what to do. My shading also got better as now I know where to shade. I also now use a tissue now which helps a lot with blending the tonal values.

Sam, artist studied – Vincent Van Gogh

I realized that my drawing is more similar to my actual face due to accurate measurements of figures on the face. There were some hardships that I encountered during the practice sessions. But this time I was able to resolve those errors or difficulties such as creating the tonal values and drawing eyes. I have developed more confidence in terms of the coloring of a portrait fitting in with some dark themes by choosing dark blues and light blues as basic colors and other opposite colors for the arrows and so on. Furthermore, when it comes to tonal value, it looks more natural than any other drawings that I have created in the past. 

Grade 6 & 7 Music Class

by Natasha Arnsby, Music Teacher

Our Grade 6/7 Music Class has been experimenting with a timely piece of music entitled High Hopes. Students have been tasked in their unit to learn about triads as a type of musical chord and to construct and perform different triads along with a bass line. Students have previously created arrangements of different pop songs with an awareness of the harmonic structure founded on the bass line and chord progression, as well as learning how to analyze the overall structure of a song including the different sections (e.g. verse, chorus, bridge, etc.).

Students this week worked on an assignment building on their knowledge of music theory and applying it in a creative way. They were tasked with notating the melody of High Hopes, adding chords and a bass line to enhance and personalize their own version of the song. Students were also asked to experiment with three different bass lines and percussion elements to create multiple versions and evaluate which one worked best.

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