Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Principal's message

You have all heard about the terrible accident involving Keon Hee Lee. As you know Keon Hee died on the morning of Thursday 19 November 2009.

Keon Hee’s parents, who were at his bedside, decided to return to Korea with his body in order to hold a funeral and memorial services there. They left Madurai on the evening of the 19th having completed all formalities and arrived in Seoul on the evening of Saturday the 21st. A simple and very moving memorial service managed by the Korean students was held in the school chapel on the evening of the 19th and on Sunday the 22nd of November the entire school gathered at a Memorial Service on the covered courts. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Mr & Mrs Lee and their family at this tragic time.

Our response has been, as expected, of great sadness but huge support. As this was review week we have allowed students to manage their own time on campus with all staff available to support and be supported by the community. In addition we have altered the last week of semester by:
• rearranging examination timings
• putting in place systems to allow for the recognition and compensation of a lowered level of performance in these exams
• cancelling the Christmas banquet
• arranging a full set of counseling and support opportunities as needs require

As is always the case, crisis brings out the best in a community and it is with a sense of humility that I recognize just how powerful this community is and how privileged I have been to witness it come together with warmth, love and huge care to support all its members as we go through the grief and upset associated with such an accident.
On another note, as with every November, we have had a lot of grey cloud and rain accompanying us as we move towards the end of semester. Unusually, a cyclone visited us for a week during which we had well over half a meter of rain. Such a downpour accompanied by some strong winds has taxed out maintenance staff, particularly as leaks have developed, trees fallen over, power lines come down, generators stopped, etc. I am pleased to report that we have coped well with these additional strains.

Through November school life has continued to be full and vibrant with wonderful gymnastic displays, music concerts, plays, assemblies and other events which continue to contribute to the vitality and diversity of this school. May I congratulate all students and staff who have given so much of their efforts during the semester. You will see within this newsletter other reports covering the life of the school.

I am very pleased to let you know that Mr Adrian Moody will be visiting the school twice next semester as he and I continue to work towards a smooth transition. He will be here for both the Executive Committee of Council and the Council of Directors meetings and will also take the opportunity of getting to know as many of the staff and students, and the school, prior to his taking over in June 2010.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all every blessing for this Christmas season, in the hope that you will be able to enjoy the time with your family and to renew those crucial bonds that so enrich our lives.

I look forward to being in touch with you next semester.
Geoffrey Fisher


Vice Principal's update

“Education is not a product: mark, diploma, job, money in that order; it is a process, a never ending one” -Bel Kaufman

The month began with completion of our “staffings” which was indeed a way of adding a nurturing element to the educational process. Two of our students sat for the IB November 2009 examination in Tamil B SL. Other IB students were busy completing their IB orals in German, Spanish and French. Alongside on 7 November we had a large number of students, especially from the senior class, sitting for the last SAT 1 and 2 examination. The extended essay supervisors met up with their students to tell them what research work they are expected to do during their holidays. The IB Coordinator collated together the holiday work set by the IB teachers and sent it to the students and the parents.

On the side lines we had the NHS talent show, gymnastics program, environmental science quiz, Christmas party for the elders staying in Corsock and Social Experience department using its new jeep to start its food distribution program along with its usual activities. Here it might also be worth mentioning that two of our students, Elena Dutt and Deki Penden who performed well in their Buddhism and Hinduism course were chosen to go for a week long program at the Tibetan Children's Village School, Bylakuppe in Karnataka State (see article included in this newsletter).

Time management and multi-tasking are important skills which all students at KIS need to learn while enjoying their weekends and pursuing their overall educuational experience!

Our Elementary School teachers started November off with an in-house IB workshop – “Making PYP Happen”. This of course has spurred them to get going with their Program of Inquiry and Unit of Inquiry. Interesting and enriching days are ahead for the Pre-K-5 teachers. Training of all the teaching staff by Rubicon Atlas in the use of the curriculum mapping followed. It goes without saying that staff were as usual busy with getting the exaination papers prepared and of course marking them before going off for a well- deserved holiday!

After the review days all got into the examination mode which was suddenly disrupted following the tragic accident that happened the previous week. However the students showed great resilience and strength of character in coming to terms with their sadness and moving on from it. It was decided to postpone the examination schedule and extend deadlines in order to facilitate the grieving process.

I would like to thank the students and the staff for their hard work, cooperation and their valuable contribution. We wind up yet another fruitful semester with a commitment to return with renewed resolve and determination to put in our very best while also recognizing ourselves in the larger context, that which is larger then the self.


Message to KeonHee

You know,
I have this one question in my my mind.
It's an important question
Because I keep on asking it,
Over and over again.
You wouldn't think it's so important
By just looking at it.
It's such a small word,
It only has 3 letters......


In the time that passed after your fall
Many of us have lived with hope.
Hoping against all odds
That you would come back to us.
Because miracles do happen you know?
But no, it was not to be.

Why? or perhaps Why not?

It is not wise to keep on asking a question
For which there really is no answer.
We have to accept this.
We have to come to terms with the fact that,
You are no longer with us in person,
But your spirit will live on in our hearts
Because you were greatly loved.

So let's not ask this question anymore
But turn to the Dhammapada, the Buddhist text,
Where it says:

The traveller has reached the end of his journey!
In the freedom of the Infinite he is free from all sorrow, the fetters that bound him are thrown away and the burning fever of life is no more.

He is calm like the earth that endures; he is steady like a column that is firm; he is pure like a lake that is clear; he is free from Samsara, the ever returning life in death.

In the light of his vision he has found his freedom: his thoughts are peace, his words are peace and his work is peace.

Elly Oenema
Health HoD


Careers update

I am delighted to inform you that University of Alberta, Canada, has offered KIS a scholarship of $ 10,000 (Canadian) for 1 nominated student from Kodaikanal International School called the University of Alberta India Select High School Scholarship. KIS is one among 5 other selected schools in India to receive this scholarship offer. The other schools are Bishop Cottons Boys School, Delhi Public Schools, Dhirubhai Ambani International School and Pathways World School. It also gives me immense pleasure to inform you that Madhav Vaidyanathan has been invited to New York University Abu Dhabi to attend a candidate choice weekend where students will get an opportunity to tour the campus, meet faculty and administration. Madhav and Jin U will be leaving for Abu Dhabi on the 26th of November. NYU AD will be paying for their trip which includes flights, visa costs and pocket money. Only 3 students from Indian schools have been selected so far out of 50 applicants from 25 school and 2 are from KIS! Madhav’s research paper topic is, “To investigate the factors affecting the environmental conditions of the United Arab Emirates, and through that propose a societal model based on “Green Development” after weighing the economic challenges and opportunities”.

NYU AD will then select only 100 students from across the globe to study at what they call their Global Campus. Hope our students make it. Both of them worked very hard on their research paper and application. I am proud of them.

Christine Fernandes
Careers & College Advisor


Admissions update

Suddenly we’re at the end of the semester! It's been a very traumatic time for us all this last few weeks and we are feeling glad to move on and spend some time with our families and thank our blessings for our health and the sense of togetherness that the recent tragedy has made us so aware of.

Over the last two months we have had a total of 90 enquiries, 38 of those being from outside India. Our January total enrolment looks to be heading towards 590, and numbers are on track for a 600-620 enrolment in July 2010.

In January Admissions heads to Bangkok to hold an information reception for prospective families. All are more than welcome to attend and alumni will receive further information regarding this function through the Alumni directory.

A trip within India is proposed for February. We will target Coimbatore, Bangalore, Goa, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi. Please keep an eye open for further information about these events in the new year.

In order to maintain our internationalism, the Admissions office seeks to attract diversity in our student body. One way of doing that is by accepting visiting students, those wanting to join the school for a shorter period (6 months to 1 year) – perhaps more for the “KIS experience” – cultural rather than academic. Visiting students could be described as those demonstrating the following:

• academic ability
• independence in both their learning and living environments
• an interest in the arts and sport
• a commitment to social service
• a sense of cultural awareness
• a concern for global issues
• a willingness to cooperate with the KIS Code of Conduct

Additionally, for children of alumni, KIS could provide:

• fees under the local schedule
• meet and greet at the Chennai including an orientation to India to be held at Mahaballipuram
• escort to Kodaikanal (these 3 provisions at cost to the student over and above actual fee)
• accommodation in school dormitory
• an academic / social / cultural advisor
• schedules that include a combination of classes (for audit if necessary) which will provide the learning of / exposure to Indian geography, language, music and dance, and / or modified to meet the students’ interest / needs
• time both in and outside of the classroom to participate in intensive social experience
• opportunities to interact with people in the local community to further enrich their learning / experience.
• participation in field trip week
• Long weekend chaperoned excursion - a hiking / camping experience, a trip to Periyar Wildlife Santuary, Kovalam Beach …
• Participation in Winter Tour

If you would be interested in learning more about opportunities to study at KIS, please contact the Admissions office.

The Admissions office is very excited about the Russell Devalois Scholarship, the intent of which is to attract an Indian student who is likely to excel academically and one who can contribute to the public service, artistic or athletic life of the school. The scholarship will enable a student who may not otherwise be able to afford the education that KIS provides. We hope to start receiving applications for same by February 2010 so that the recipient is well in place for the start of the 2010-2011 academic year.

As was affirmed by Council in February 2009, KIS is conscious that in order to attract a broad range of students with a healthy socio-economic mix, a scholarship program be established. Alika Khosla (KIS Development Officer) is working to have four scholarships available one each over the next four years. The first scholarship will be offered from July 2010. Two will be supported with funds contributed by the Council and two with funds raised through the KIS Development office. For further information please contact Alika on

Next week staff and students will start heading down the hill. Before we know it, though, the campus will be abuzz again – with blue skies and sunshine above.


Religious Education update

In Religious Education courses at KIS, we strive to create interesting and stimulating courses that will not only enrich students on their spiritual journey, but will also expose them to other faiths, building respect for the practices of different people. The following article, written by Kyle Mitchell, is one such example of what the students studying Buddhism did recently.

This semester I taught a Hinduism/Buddhism course for grades 11 and 12 and a World Religions course for grade 10. While brainstorming on how to make the courses more engaging and memorable, I happened to visit my wife’s grade 3 and 4 classroom. I was amazed at how they had transformed their classroom into the rainforest while studying the rainforest and I decided to give it a try in my high school courses. Since my units on Buddhism were overlapping for my grade 10 classes and my grade 11 and 12 classes, I figured that we could work together to turn our classroom into a Buddhist museum.

I began by generating ideas with my students about the museum and we came up with certain topics and artwork that we wanted to display. The students researched the topics and worked together to create informative posters and even small models of things like prayer wheels and a Zen garden. Other students actually brought in Buddhist symbols of their own to add to our museum. Two of my fellow teachers, who are followers of the Buddhist faith, brought in objects from their home and set up an authentic Buddhist shrine that included butter lamps, incense, rice, thangkas, holy scriptures, a stupa and a statue of Buddha. It took a community effort, but it the end, we did turn our classroom into a Buddhist museum.

Not only did our classes benefit from this transformed classroom environment, but the grade 3-5 students incorporated this into a field trip experience and were directed through our museum by the grade 11-12 students who acted as tour guides for the day. We even had our Dzongkha (language of Bhutan, a Buddhist country) teacher bring his classes down to teach his classes inside the museum, taking advantage of the wide variety of symbols and Buddhists objects. Overall, the project was fun, informative and engaging for all who participated. The students were able to gain a deeper knowledge and respect for the Buddhist faith and I was able to use their work as a helpful environment for teaching.

Kyle Mitchell
RE teacher
Kyle came to Kodai from the USA and has been working at KIS in the RE department for the last 18 months. His wife Lynea is the grade 3-4 teacher in the Elementary School.


Atlas Rubicon Curriculum Mapping Workshops

The Atlas Rubicon Workshops were conducted at three levels: core team, all teaching staff and system administrative training.

The online Core Team training was on 17 October 2009 was held from 8.30 to 12 noon. Ben Zang from Portland, Oregon, USA. The online workshop was through voice conferencing and was attended by the Vice Principal, ISM and the coordinators. The workshop covered the following areas:
• Roles and Responsibilities of Core Team
• Mapping Fundamentals
• Features of the software
• Basic/ Advanced Analysis Tools
• Professional Learning Community (PLC)

This was followed by all teaching staff getting a 4 hour in house workshop in Curriculum mapping by Collin Mason, Atlas Rubicon personnel. The workshop had two four hour sessions per day and carried on over three days -17 - 19 November 2009. This had more of a “hands on approach” and it covered:

Actual Curriculum Mapping
• Overall Context and Objective
• Browsing School Maps
• Develop Functions
• Using the Unit Planner
• Aligning to School Standards and Objectives
• Linking to Other Documents
Analytical Use of ATLAS
• Identifying Gaps and Repetitions
• Searching Curriculum to Address Questions
• Profiling the Use of School Standards
• Evaluating the Mix of Assessment Strategies
• Identifying Best Practices

The feedback from the staff was very positive and many were also happy now to be part of the online PLC. The PLC members are from worldwide best of IB and other international schools and this sharing of resources and ideas will surely be mutually beneficial. The KIS professional development policy now aims at building a professional learning community -which has a shared mission, vision and values, enhances collective inquiry, believes in collaborative teams, experimentation, action, results and continuous improvement. This is one of the concrete steps taken in this direction.

The systems administrators' training was attended by our ISM, Vice Principal and the administrative secretary in the VP’s office. They looked at what was the Overall Approach to Administration, their functions and then Collin gave them a walk through.

It was indeed an enriching time for all of us. Our thanks go to Ben Zang, Collin Mason and back end team of Atlas Rubicon.

Kaisar Dopaishi
Vice Principal


InerSchool program - Bylakuppe

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of escorting two students from KIS (Elena Dutt, grade 12 and Deki Peldon, grade 10) to Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement just two hours outside Mysore, for an intensive week of religion, international relations and global awareness. These two young ladies were selected by their Religious Education teacher (Kyle Mitchell) to attend the 11th annual Interschool Program sponsored by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which took place from 11-17 October at the SOS Tibetan Children’s Village School in Bylakuppe. This was the first year KIS was invited to participate in this workshop that brought together representatives from ten other Indian and Tibetan High Schools throughout South India for a week of discussion on difficult topics such as religion while learning the value of being a globally responsible citizen.

During this week of new cultures, adventures and even friends, the participants were involved in a number of activities designed to help them learn about a variety of different topics revolving around the larger theme of universal responsibility. They had the opportunity to listen to religious seminars on the Tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam by spiritual leaders, each of which was followed with question and answer sessions that allowed the students to fully grasp the nature of the different traditions. Throughout the week the participants also took an active part in organized debate sessions, poster presentations, a school-wide debate, community service at a nearby elderly home, a workshop on conflict resolution and visits to the various places of worship they had learnt about.

After such an intense week of scholarly debates, religious studies, cultural and global awareness and learning how to understand difficult issues such as world conflict, I am happy to say that the students who represented KIS worked very hard to learn one of the most important difficulties of our day: the importance of listening with understanding. In that sense, I think it is safe to say that KIS students are well on their way to becoming responsible and articulate global citizens. Hopefully, KIS will continue being able to send students annually to this well-rounded and educational program.

Ms Coco Lammers
ES teacher and PIA volunteer


KIS Giving

Preparing the 2009-2010 Annual Fund brochure this month required some thoughtful reflection about all that KIS stands for. Many things came to mind….choices, tradition, opportunities and community, are a few. The most outstanding quality of Kodaikanal International School, in my mind, is COMMUNITY. The commitment of staff and students to one another intellectually, emotionally and spiritually shone bright and clear in the face of tragedy this month. The sense of community is undeniable, but Aalim Javeri, incoming Studco President said it most honestly when he spoke at Keon Hee’s memorial service, “we are not just a community, we are FAMILY.”


Accomplishments & Appreciation

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” - Pericles

Bob Dudley (Class of 1943), was a friend and classmate of Russell De Valois. With Bob’s generosity and determination, he and the Class of 1943 have ensured the creation of the Russell De Valois Scholarship Fund - a legacy that will truly go a long way in rewarding deserving students while following KIS’ tradition of offering a quality education.

KIS is happy to announce that in January 2010, applications will be accepted for this prestigious scholarship for the school year commencing July 2010. Advertising for the Russell DeValois Scholarship is being placed in print media across the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The scholarship will be awarded to a student of grade 9 and will see them through Grade 12. Academically strong students with outstanding personal qualities including proven community service, leadership qualities and extra-curricular involvement are encouraged to apply.

All of us at KIS would like to THANK Bob Dudley for his continuous and loyal support of Kodaikanal International School.


KIS Annual Fund 2009 - 2010

I received a very thought provoking letter recently from a KIS alum regarding the fundraising for Kodai. This letter was full of many questions: Among them, “What is the mission of Kodai for its students now?

Design ’94 states the following General Objective:
The school shall strive to be a healthy microcosm of the global societies in community. It shall recognize and encourage the distinctive differences in persons, nations, and cultures, and at the same time affirm the unity of humankind. The lifestyle of the school will therefore reflect this healthy tension. Here, students and staff shall learn together in theory and practice how to bridge differences between themselves and others, which is the difficult art of peacemaking.

Also from Design ’94, School Values:
Kodaikanal International School values the following guiding principles as preeminent for all aspects of its community life:
Concern for Others

When you make your 2009-2010 annual gift to Kodaikanal International School, you are confirming that you believe the values KIS upholds are important.

Thank you for supporting education that matters.

Judy Redder
Foundation Officer


To Give or Contact

Your support helps protect the programs, the places and the people that KIS has so carefully invested in for over 100 years. To make a gift, please go to
If you would like more information about KIS initiatives or making a donation, please contact:

Judy Redder
Foundation Officer/Annual Fund

Alika Khosla
Development Officer/Major Gifts

Gerald Nichol
Executive Director/ Kodai Friends International

Note of error:
It was brought to our attention that some long time supporters of KIS were omitted from our list of continuous donors in last month’s newsletter. Please accept our sincere apology if your name was overlooked. We are currently updating our database to avoid these mistakes in future.


Calendar dates

8 January - PS retreat morning, workshop afternoon
9 January - PS workshops
10 January - dorms open
11 January - new students orientation
12 January - first day of classes
16 January - hiking season resumes
21 - 23 January - AMIS participation
22 - 24 January - grade 9 camp
26 January - Republic day / SoEx carnival (no classes)
29 - 31 January - grade 7 camp