Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Principal's Message

I hope that all staff and students have returned rested and ready for the start of another busy year ahead and that all parents have enjoyed and made the most of the valuable time spent with your children during the holidays. There are a number of challenges that we will face this year and I know that together we will make sure that this year is a successful one. We heartily welcome all of our new staff and students as they become members of the KIS community.

With regard to the new Principal job search, I had a meeting in Chennai with the Search Committee in early July and the committee has shortlisted four good candidates. I will provide more details of their interview process early in the semester. At this point I would like to thank Anita who gave up much of her holiday to manage the administration of the applications. Also this semester we have the move of grades 7 & 8 to Ganga Campus, the review of our process for MYP and the introduction of the PYP in the Elementary School all on the agenda. In addition, we hope to get permission to start building on Ganga Campus soon.
This summer has been a very busy time on all our campuses and I can only extend to our Vice Principal Kaisar, Finance Director Ganga, Dean Sam, Human Resources Aruna and Maintenance Manager Mr Bheeman and the maintenance department, our sincere thanks and appreciation for the Herculean task that was undertaken in moving grades 7 and 8 down to Ganga Campus, building the classrooms and the extended dining room there that the additional students necessitated and preparing Swedish House, our newly purchased dorm, for our grades 4 to 7 boys. All this, along with the regular repairs and maintenance that occur every summer.

It was with deep sadness that we learnt of the passing away of the mother of Mr Godwin (Finance office) and Mr Selwyn (Travel office) on 8 June. Some of you would have also heard that Mr S Peter’s (Food Services assistant) 16 year old son met with a tragic accident early in June and battled for his life at the Apollo Hospital in Madurai. Sadly Wieben died on 3 July 2009. Our heartfelt condolences go to Godwin, Selwyn and Peter and their families on their loss.
Congratulations to Bryan Plymale and Isabel Fernandez whose baby girl, Daniela Keith Plymale Fernandes, arrived on Saturday, 11 July 2009. Both Isabel and Daniella are doing well (and Bryan too of course!).

Geoffrey Fisher


Survey Response

When parents, students, alumni and staff were requested to respond to the new format of the Principal's newsletter there were a total of 150 responses of which 93 (62%) were positive. 17 (11%) preferred the old format, 36 (24%) said they would get used to the new format and 5 said they hated it. The respondents included, 56 (40%) parents, 48 (35%) students, 29 (21%) staff members, 8 (%%) alumni and 2 (1%) friends of KIS. Thanks to everyone who responded and for the moment then, we'll be keeping the blog!


August calendar dates

31 July - 2 August - Grade 12A camp
1 August - Hiking season begins
3 - 7 August - CARE week
7 - 8 August - Writers workshop
7 - 9 August - Grade 12B camp
14 - 15 August - Book fair
20 - 22 August - Boys' soccer in Ooty
21 - 23 August - Grade 11A camp
27 - 30 August - TOK presentations
28 August - Staff recital
28 - 29 August - Girls' volleyball in Ooty
28 - 31 August - Grade 11B camp


New Staff in KIS

KIS welcomes new staff to the KIS community as follows:
Beth Dagitses is from Michigan and joins the PE department. Her son, Aaron will be entering grade 9. Beth’s interests include community service, drama, school year book, soccer, student government and band.

Sonny Deenadayalan is a KIS alumnus (Class of ’81) and joins us as KISCO Coordinator. Sonny and his wife Nandini are joined by their two daughters Neha and Sruti who will be entering grade 5 and 9 respectively.

Alika Khosla joins KISCO as Development Officer. Alika enjoys camping, choir, drama, hiking, nature study, school magazine, school year book, debating and choir. She is living in her own home in Kodaikanal. Samanthea Laitflang, alumna from the class of ’97, joins the Learning Support department. Her interests include community service, drama, Sunday school, reading, writing, poetry and music. Sam comes with her husband, Gian Sealy (Class of ’96).
Sandhya Paul will be teaching Middle School Science. Her interests include community service, school magazine, sketching and cartooning.
Akila Rajagopalan joins the Mathematics department. Akila enjoys drama and Sunday school.

Stephen Smoot & Youngju Lee have come from South Korea. Stephen will be teaching English and Youngju joins the Second Language department. Stephen’s interests are camping, philosophy and chess. Youngju enjoys camping, hiking and painting. Stephen and Youngju have a daughter Hannah who will join grade 5.

Anita Solomon joins us to teach English in the Middle School. Anita enjoys community service, drama, school magazine year book, Sunday school, cooking and baking, worship leading and counseling. She is joined by her husband Daniel and sons, Joshua (grade 11), and Benjamin (grade 9).

Sadie Strange will be one of the dorm parents in Swedish House. Sadie enjoys cooking, baking, camping, choir, drama, community service, hiking, gardening and interior decoration. Sadie and her husband, Peter, who is already on staff as an English teacher, came to us from Sherwood College, Nainital.

Uma Sundarajan will teach Tamil and also Indian Dance. Her interests include community
service, drama, dance, music, yoga and badminton. Uma lives in her own home in Kodaikanal with her husband Vasudevan and children, Samyukta (grade 10) and Swati (grade 6).

· Zai Whitaker is back! She will resume her responsibilities as HoD, ESL department.

Travis Fondow comes to KIS as a volunteer for this academic year. Travis is from St Paul Minnesota. He will help in the Second Language department teaching Spanish. His interests include camping, community service, tennis, track & field, hiking and scuba diving.

Akansha Gupta (Class of 2000) is volunteering for this academic year and will provide administrative support in KISCO and the Alumni office. She enjoys camping, community service, drama, school magazine, year book, racquet sports and track and field.

Jonas Hauke comes from Hildesheim, Germany and will assist in the Social Experience department as a volunteer. He will also help with camping and activities.

Denton Josey is from Florida and will volunteer for this academic year. He will assist in the ESL department and also provide dorm support in Loch End dorm.

Coco Lammers is from the Netherlands and has come to KIS through Princeton in Asia. She will help in the ESL, Art and Music departments. Coco enjoys band, camping, community service, hiking, nature study, photography, school magazine, arts and yoga.

Mousumi Sinha Babu, Soumen’s wife, will be volunteering in the Social Studies department. Mousumi enjoys camping, choir community service and hiking. Mousumi and Soumen have two children, Ayaneel (grade 2) and Archit (PS).

Laure Stevens-Lubin is from the US and she joins the English department as a volunteer for this academic year. Laure will help with Journalism, Creative Writing and Art. She is here with her husband Timothy and their children, Jacob (grade 10) and Leo (grade 11). Laure’s interests are photography, school year book & magazine, community service, drama, nature study, hiking and equitation.

Archana Trivedi has joined us as a volunteer and will be teaching Hindi in the Elementary School. Archana and her husband Pramod, (Hindi teacher and HoD Second Languages department) have two sons, Ashish (PL) and Pravar (PS).



Congratulations to Shanti Vedanayakam who has been awarded a PhD in Educational Administration from Lorenz University, USA.

Bettina Rieck (Class of 2006), a German exchange student to KIS, was touched profoundly by the SoEx program at KIS and as a result founded Nampu, a nonprofit organization in Germany. Nampu means "hope" or "believe" in Tamil. Bettina has gathered interested people to serve as members of this organization to raise funds for Shenbaganur Orphanage here in Kodaikanal. Partnering with the KIS SoEx department they have so far succeeded in building a cow shed, have worked to build toilets and supply other provisions for the children at the orphanage. If you would like to join Nampu or get more information, contact Bettina at: bettina_rieck@googlemail.com
Way to go Bettina!

Congratulations also to Atul Deshpande whose recent article on Amertya Sen's new book published in mid July, "The idea of Justice", will be published under the title "Justice - Amertya Sen's Alternative Approach" in a Marathi newspaper "Sakal" and a Marathi research journal "Arthasamvad".


Its all happening in the SoEx department

Social Experience & ToK teacher, Bryan Plymale and Isabel Fernandez, Spanish teacher, who tied the knot of marriage earlier in the year welcomed Daniele on 11 July 2009. Both baby and mother are doing well and father is doing REALLY REALLY good!

Social Experience HoD Mathew Joseph has just announced his engagement to Cath Butler, RE HoD. Mathew and Cath plan to marry this October. All members of the KIS community are thrilled at the news and wish them the very best as they embark on this new journey together.
Congratulations Cath and Matthew and Bryan and Isabel!


From the Vice Principal's office

Highlights of KIS Diploma May 2009
  • Highest number of students since 2003 doing KIS Diploma (105)
  • All students were awarded the KIS Diploma
  • Amy Kim, the valedictorian for 2009, had a cumulative GPA of 3.887 and her cumulative credit was 333.5
  • 50.48% of students were in the category ranging from excellent to good
  • In 2009 the 7 students in the excellent category did the full IB Diploma
  • In the very good category 10 out of the 11 students did the full IB Diploma (the remaining student took IB certificates in 4 subjects

Cumulative Credit requirement analysis (grades 9-12) for the Class of 2009

  • Minimum credit requirement for the KIS Diploma is 235 (from next year it will be 250) which in itself reflects a holistic approach to education
  • All students got more than the minimum of 235 credits
  • The bulk of students have secured cumulative credit requirement between the 261-340 range (54/105 students)
  • This reflects our students’ desire to go beyond the minimum credit requirement for the KIS Diploma
  • The highest credits gained by any student was 380 cumulative credits
  • Those who are part of the KIS Diploma program from grade 9 tend to earn more credits while those students who join in grade 11 (due to the stipulated minimum transfer credit of 60 for grades 9 and 10) secure less


Admissions Update

On the 21 July, the first day of classes for the 2009-2010 academic year, this is how the enrolment statistics look:

Total enrolment: 579
Grades 11 & 12: 245
Grades 6-10 (MYP): 279
Grades PL-5 (PYP): 55
New enrolment: 163
56% male / 44% female
53% Indian / 47% non-India (representing some 28 nationalities)

We have 3 SAGE students, 6 German exchange, 2 Carey Baptist exchange and 3 visiting students – one the son of an alumnus, one from Germany and the other from France. Just today we have accepted a further German student and a three girls (siblings) who will all arrive next week.

We welcome 38 new staff children which means that housing is well accommodated and that we have a full faculty.

Highclerc has had a face lift with walls white-washed and floors polished. Classrooms have had some reconfiguration – especially in the Middle School Building which is now known as the Arts Block. Grounds have been well tidied and are looking trim and green.

Ganga Campus has undergone a major renovation with the addition of four new classrooms and an extended kitchen and dining hall. This campus now accommodates grades K-8 which number 173 students. I visited this morning and am pleased to report that teachers are smiling and kids active!

In terms of dorms, Swedish House is now abuzz with boys grades 4-7, Westover has been taken over by girls, grades 4-8 and Loch End is back to boys grades 10-12. Phelps has become our grade 9 girls’ dorm, Mayvilla grade 9 boys and Crescent Park grade 8 boys. Eight dorm parents have changed places. Whew!

Our three day orientation program went smoothly despite some last minute venue changes. Parents have now returned home and although we shared some tears with a few, they left satisfied that KIS was the right choice for their children! Kodai kids are not only being offered a solid education that will see them accepted into some of the best colleges worldwide, but an adventure through and beyond the core subjects – drama, music, PE … hiking will start next weekend, as will SoEx … first canteen on Saturday and Bendy Field will be full of “fly babas” this Sunday as ultimate frizbee fever takes hold … field trip week is not too far away. And so the semester will go – schedules formed up, activities discovered and friendships formed.

The Admissions office is pretty much back to routine procedures – cabinets emptying out as the new students’ files are taken up to the academic offices, and desks a little less clogged with pieces of paper! We know that this quiet time won’t last long and already have a number of appointments in the diary regarding July 2010 applications. The information receptions held in Nairobi in June were a success with one student firmly enrolled for this July and a prospective family visiting in August.

We look forward to the coming months during which time we anticipate as much interest in KIS as we had last year.


New classrooms for Ganga campus

Opening Scripture by Raja Krisnamoorthy
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” – Psalms 127:1

The dedication and opening of the new 7/8 classroom block on Ganga (K-8) campus was the perfect start to the first day of classes at KIS. Before grade 7 and 8 students entered the classroom for the very first time, Chaplain Raja Krishnamoorthy led staff, students, parents and maintenance contractors in the above scripture reading (Psalm 127:1) and prayer dedicating the building to God. This opening was the culmination of strenuous planning on the part of administrators, teachers, maintenance staff and contractors. Throughout numerous days and nights of planning and building, this team exemplified one of KIS foundational scriptures from Psalm 133 found in our diary, ”How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life evermore.”

God blessed on all involved in the building project with the strength, wisdom and enduring faith to complete what seemed impossible. Before the MIDCO members led the students into the building, they were challenged to lead their classes with the same strength and enduring faith to make this year a transformational year of learning at KIS for all students.

Most importantly, we thank God for his blessing on this grade 7/8 project. Next, we want to show gratitude to Mr Bheeman for his fearless leadership of the building team including maintenance crews and contractors. Lastly, thank you to members of the SMT who worked together with Mr Bheeman over the summer holiday to make this dedication and opening possible on the first day of school.


Archives Update

The commencement of a new academic year means more alumni to the community; welcome class of 2009 to another world of KIS.
An archive is a place where history is carefully stored and primarily used by researchers and scholars. A school archive is considered to be a records room which has documents of importance to the school. The KIS Archives has a lot of interesting material which will prove how strongly assertive and influential KIS has been for decades. “The Highclerc Herald” was a monthly newsletter started in February 1930. It was an initiative taken by some students and the first edition was brought out in 1929. It was hand written and contained miscellaneous news that the students could discover. Miss Barber, a teacher, became keenly interested and gave the students help and encouragement in producing the next issue; and this time it was mimeographed. In 1930 the students voted that the paper should be called “The Highclerc Herald.” Papers were put out once a month. Reading some of these earlier editions, proves very interesting. Articles about happenings, possible events, occasions, about new books, alumni news, riddles and jokes are featured. From 1932 the newspaper included advertisements from local shopkeepers. The amount collected from each advertisement must have been sufficient for its printing. Here are a few excerpts from 1932:

Q. “What is the difference between a locomotive engineer and a school master?”
A. “One minds the trains and other trains the mind.”
[The Highclerc Herald; February 1932]

Q. “If seven days make one week, how many will make strong?”
[The Highclerc Herald; April 1932
I also came across an advertisement for a shop called “The Reptile House.” Can anyone guess what it might have sold? Footwear, of all things!

The Highclerc Herald slowly disappeared in the early 1990s.
Thanks to Erik Speck-Rosenbaum (Class of 1970) and Venla Leskinen (Class of 1983) for showing immense interest and supplying information on the old Swedish book mentioned in the last newsletter. Though we have not reached any conclusions as to how and when the book came to Kodai, we now know a little more about its content. As we get more information, it will be published.

Tulsi Kamath, Archivist


News from the Alumni office

We’ve just concluded our summer holidays. School has resumed..... another school year, another beginning, another calendar filled with the various activities and events that make KIS so special! I had a wonderful vacation … right here in Kodai! Our two big trips included a drive up Cloudland's Peak to spend the evening there under the stars at the side of the cliff, and an explore drive down the Addukum Ghat, stopping for lunch at Sapeeti and then driving back up Laws Ghat! It was a very restful vacation. Kodai was emptied of tourists, the cloud cover didn’t produce much rain (though, now we’re paying a high price for that), the weather was cool and we were able to avoid the hustle and bustle, crowds and heat of the plains where the temperatures soared to unbelievable levels! A few alumni visited and it was wonderful to see them … some after quite a few years.

Prior to the start of any semester, especially a new school year, a lot of preparation must be done and this summer was no exception. The Human Resources department was busily preparing staff housing for the incoming staff, as well as getting many staff homes ready for the numerous shifts that took place since school closed in May! Aruna was one step ahead of each move and has done a great job. The staff of the Maintenance department were never in the office - they were running from pillar to post and back again! The tasks on their “to do” list were never ending and the finishing touches are still going on at the Ganga campus in the dining hall area. So, although the campus was deserted for the most part, quiet and spacious, there were signs of activity. As the start date approached, working hours stretched longer for not only the managers, but also the operational staff. Their hard work is greatly appreciated.

After the dread of the first meeting, the change of timings and expectations, the rewards of starting up again were evident: meeting new people, reuniting with old friends, school provided lunches, colleagues on the job and also the stimulation of new projects and upcoming events. It is good to be underway again. Already routines have been established. The adding and dropping of subjects is coming to a close for returning students and this will lend to less disruption as individual schedules are changed. Spaces are being filled on the Ganga campus in the new classrooms. The Highclerc campus seems so much more spacious now it houses only grades 9 to 12. The Quad was outfitted with new grey colored lockers - project areas were cleaned, swept, painted and readied for the new student orientation.

The “Middle School” is no longer referred to as MS (except when an old timer slips) - it is now the Arts Block where English, RE, ESL, Home Economics, Journalism, Digital Photography and Art art classes are held. The “Elementary School” can no longer be termed ES as it now includes grades 7 and 8. The impact of shifting grades 7 and 8 to the Ganga campus has affected lots of areas, right down to the intercom list! It will take us all some time to get used to the changes. Some spots, people and routines have remained the same, others have had to change.

Already this semester (not yet ten days old), we have held another successful New Student Orientation for 163 students and their individual entourages, opening day with music played by a staff band enticed us to the covered courts for the opening assembly, staff volleyball has resumed, hike signups are posted in the staff lounge and in Ms Devi’s office, textbooks have been checked out, groups like the Ultimate Frisbee club are forming, formerly bewildered new students look very much at ease in the dining hall and around campus and the students got their first homework assignments on the very first day of classes!

On top of all of these “normal” start up activities, one of the candidates for the new KIS Principal position visited KIS last weekend. Three more candidates will be visiting Kodai next week, followed by formal interviews with the KIS Council of Directors in Chennai. As you can imagine, the KIS community is eager to learn who the new principal will be. Our prayers and thoughts are with those making the decision.

As I look to the year ahead, I’m excited about the great potential amongst our alumni, eager to start new initiatives and new chapters, hoping to hear from you with your thoughts and advice on how best to proceed, speculating whether visits by KIS staff accomplish the goals of the school while updating alumni on initiatives happening in Kodai and whether more visits are welcome, wondering who the next visitor might be rejoicing that I have the best job in the world! I hope our paths cross in the near future … in person, by email, via a telephone call … but preferably not by Facebook - I’m still scared to death of it!

Till next time,
Julie Nichol Stengele (Class of 1980), Alumni Officer
KISAA website / directory: http://alumni.kis.in


KIS Giving

Update from Judy Redder, Foundation Officer

After the summer holiday in the US, returning to Kodai feels like coming home more than ever. I now understand more fully, the smiles that come across faces and the twinkles in eyes when an alumni or friend of KIS reminisces about Kodai. In coming “home”, I am also very enthused about the projects that lie ahead for the Foundation office. I now have a very dynamic colleague, Alika Khosla, collaborating with me who is full of many great ideas for KIS. In the coming months, we are organizing a parent and alumni event in Mumbai, launching the 2009 - 2010 (2010…already!) Annual Fund campaign, and setting up a Family and Friends directory much like the Alumni Directory.

“Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely a home, and home sweet home, for there the heart can rest.” -Henry Van Dyke


Appreciation and Accomplishments

KIS 2008 – 2009 Annual Fund

To all the alumni and friends of KIS who gave to the 2008 – 2009 Annual Fund, we THANK YOU! After one last reminder in May, alumni and friends contributed an additional $8,600 to the Annual Fund before we wrapped up this year’s campaign on 30 June. Next month’s newsletter will include a final report on the Annual Fund, acknowledge all of our generous supporters and update you on how your gifts are being used to benefit KIS.

During last semester, funds for the 2008 – 2009 Annual Fund has contributed to:
• Making major IT improvements which include new computers for the Study Hall, projectors for the new “Smartboards”, projector upgrade for the Media Room and upgrades for the Elementary School server room.
• Royalty fees for the All School Musical “BIG”
• Loch End Fitness Center additional equipment


KIS Profiles

Annual Giving Supports KIS People

The Annual Fund gives KIS the means to develop and continue programs that make this school a truly outstanding place. The Fund creates opportunities for KIS students to achieve all kinds of excellence and has a direct impact on KIS ability to attract exceptional teachers and tomorrow’s leaders. In this month’s profile, new and returning staff.

Alika Khosla, Development Officer
Hometown: New Delhi

Years at KIS: 1st year working for KIS, but during the past 2 years she has visited Kodai to conduct climate change seminars for the SoEx department

Organizations: The Climate Project (India Chapter of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth campaign)
Also independently spearheads various global environmental campaigns and human rights film festivals.

Sports: Tennis, cycling, swimming

Hobbies: Trekking, music, reading, photography

Music: Guitar and singing with church choir

Languages: Hindi, English, Punjabi, Malayalam, German

Family: Daughter, Diviya and son, George

“I would like to see a global KIS community with its footprint in every nation of the world.” - Alika Khosla

Zai Whitaker, ESL Head of Department

Hometown: Mumbai, Chennai, Kodai and Bangalore are all homes.

Years at KIS: Worked at KIS 1987 – 2000 as Dorm parent, Student Activities, SoEx, Career Counselor, English teacher and ESL. Returned to KIS ESL department 2006, took one year off in 2008 - 2009, and has now returned as ESL Head of Department.

Organizations: Crocodile Bank, Chennai and Irula Women’s Society, Chennai

Sports: Badminton

Hobbies: Walking, bird watching, writing, swimming

Music: Sitar

Languages: Urdu, Hindi, English, Tamil

Family: Husband, Peter Moore and two sons, Nikhil and Samir both KIS alumni

“I would like to see KIS go back to the pattern of small dorms”
- Zai Whitaker

Sam Laitflang, Learning Resources, ESL, Piano
Class of ‘97

“KIS gave me the skills and values I’ve needed to get through life.”

Hometown: Bangalore

Years at KIS: Attended KIS 2.5 years - graduating Class of ’97, worked at KIS 2004 in the Preschool and Learning Resource departments. Has returned to KIS this year to work in Learning Resources, ESL Department and as piano teacher.

Favorite teacher while a student at KIS: Bob Granner, English

Hobbies: Reading, eating, music

Music: Piano, clarinet

Languages: English, Hindi, German, Khasi, Oriya, Nepali, is learning Tamil

Family: Husband, Gian Sealy Class of ’96, and 3 dogs

“I would like to see KIS continue to do so well and be the school we all love.”
-Sam Laitflang