Monday, March 29, 2010

Principal's message

I write this as I try to sort through the happenings of the last month. You will all have probably heard that last month we had a protest by the High School (grades 9 to 12) students over the course of a day. This was followed by the Chairman going up to Kodai to meet with the students and staff. I, sadly, have been observing this from the Netherlands and trying to think what I will need to do on my return to Kodai next month.

In the short term I am glad to say that life has returned to normal at the school. The students are back at work, the examinations loom and the other functions of the school are up and running smoothly. Some of the issues raised, namely discipline policy and communication, are in the process of being reviewed and those changes identified and agreed by the management have been implemented. What will take longer however is to dig down to find the background, to heal the wounds created by unwise or untruthful allegations and to move the community on. I look forward to being part of that process on my return. Until then I would ask that we all look to ourselves and to what we can contribute to the community as we set about preparing for next year and the arrival of the new Principal.

The community has in the meanwhile enjoyed various activities during the month.
• Alumni week was held in Kodaikanal early in March and a number of alumni visited and also participated in assemblies, some workshops, our Field Day events held on the 12-13 March and also the Alumni induction dinner for the Class of 2010
• The Fly Baba All India Ultimate Frisbie tournament was a huge success, enjoyed by all and with the KIS team “the Sholakadoos” , the undefeated winners
• The Middle School play, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was thoroughly enjoyed in an open air setting on the Middle School campus on Ganga compound
• The KIS soccer league is underway and the much awaited Kodai Open Soccer Tournament takes place in April

May I take this opportunity to wish the KIS community a happy and blessed Easter and a restful long weekend. There is much ahead in the second quarter of this final semester with the IB mocks coming up early in April and our seniors preparing for their graduation.

I look forward to writing to you again early in May when I return to Kodaikanal.

With very best wishes
Geoffrey Fisher


Vice Principal's update

'However much we stumble, it is the teacher’s burden always to hope that with learning a boy’s character might be changed and so the destiny of a man! ’-William Hundert in the film- the Emperor’s Club

March is usually a busy month both from the perspective of academics and extra curricular activities. The end of quarter was marked by the usual focus to get the assignments and tests missed submitted before the grades are finalised. The day’s protest by the High School students meant readjusting the deadlines due to the loss of one teaching day. However, K-8 academics went off without any disruption in the Ganga campus.

The senior class was busy getting ready to submit their internal assessments in Math, Social Studies and Science. Also it was time to get all the CAS forms filled out and completed. The IB teachers had hectic work - getting the students to submit their internal assessments, correcting them, submitting the marks to the IB, getting the samples ready to to be sent off to their various destinations. The IB office was abuzz with ensuring all was on track and securing the last IB requirements in before IB mock examinations start after the long week end. One working day was declared as a non-instructional day - a ‘catch up day’ and it worked ‘magically’ to get all the IB students ready for submission of their final inernal assessments. Time management and multi- tasking are important skills which were put to use by one and all!!

The Vice Principal and the MYP Coordinators formed the self study group for IB Middle School program evaluation with the Heads of Departments. Meanwhile, the departments completed a section of this self study document which they were required to do within a two week time frame. The Careers & College office was also busy following up on applications made by the Class of 2010 to the different colleges and universities. Furthermore, we had university representatives come to KIS to make their presentations to our students.

In the midst of a demanding academic period came Field Day, All India Fresbee tournament, the Middle School play - Tom Sawyer and KIS returning from Ooty tasting victory in the cricket match with Hebron. A Rock Show took place, High School Formal, Canteen, other usual week end Social Experience activities and the additional and special Youth Rise programs.

As the month approached its end, we have just received the news that KIS received the NESA award for Community and Service at the Bangkok Conference which three of our teachers’ attended. Rati Gopinath the Head of Learning Resources had the honor of making a presentation on Special Educational Needs which focussed on how KIS deals with this issue.

The month of March was hectic, varied, challenging and had its challenging moments but through it all the KIS spirit prevailed - Unity amongst Diversity. I would like to thank the students and the staff for their hard work and cooperation to keep focussed on their tasks and priorities in all the flurry of other activities!

Kaisar Dopaishi


Text layout for people with learning difficulties

We recently received an email from Sue McBean, spouse of alumnus Dr Peter Langton Class of 55 who left Kodai after grade 7, concerning text layout for people with learning difficulties. She informs us, after her husband received a letter from KIS with justified right and left margins, that the majority of western academics have now agreed to stick to a policy of left justification of text in all areas of education in order to be non discriminatory to people with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and also those with certain eye empediments such as nystagmus. These people find it very tiring to read words that are unevenly spaced.

It was decided to print this newsletter with left only justified margins in respect of these findings and a further discussion will take place among the academic staff members and within the IB forum through the Vice Principal in respect of academic documentation.

Penny Ohana
KISCO Officer


Archives visits the ES

Last week Miss Better Swavely Granner came and shared her childhood memories of Kodai school to the elementary students. They were totally amazed when she asked, "Raise your hand if you have a TV, phone, cell phone or ipod." The students responded. She proceeded to tell them about her Kodai experience in greade 2 when none of these things existed. Mouths dropped all over!!! The students found her stories interesting and intriguing. It was a real treat to hear her perspective.

Lynea Mitchell
ES teacher


Field Day 2010

The 2010 Field Day began bright and early on Friday, 12 March with students from all three houses marching down to Bendy Field, led by Miss Kessler and our high school band. Once we arrived on the field, the captains from orange house—last year’s Field Day winners—Nadisha Sagar and Han Sol Kim ran their victory lap with the torch. Next, the grade 9 MYP students performed their respective house cheers. Finally......

The Orange house got off to an early lead, but the white house overtook them by mid-day and never looked back. The Field Day ended per tradition with all student athletes, staff and alumni eating lunch on a banana leaf around Bendy Field, with the KAC members serving them.

There were two records broken this year — both in javelin throw. Neema Tsering broke the record in the A Division and Zenden Dorji in the B Division. Divisional winners include Nadisha Sagar and Varun Vadara, Kunsang Wangmo and Han Sol Kim. Students awarded the letter “K” for achieving greater than 35 points were: Nadisha Sagar, Neema Tsering, Kunsang Wangmo, Reva Mahapatra, Han Sol Kim and Asef Ahmed.

The PE department also wrapped up fitness testing with the following High School students earning the Presidential Fitness Award: Kundan Sharma, Julian Manning, Varun Garg, Han Sol Kim, Jacob Stevens-Lubin, Rhys Dev, Siddharth Singhi and Joel Navam.

Beth Dagitses
PE department


Archives update

KIS Archives has a repository for the collection and preservation of historically valuable documents from 1901 onwards relating to the history of the school and the community. The collection consists largely of various types of correspondence, school administrative papers, internal communication reports, handbooks, newsletters, bulletins, newspaper articles, photographs, audio-visual materials etc. There are also some published and unpublished records on the history of KIS:

The History of the Kodaikanal School, by the group of 1933
· Donovan, Beatrice Witter: “Indian Shangri-La, The Yale Review”
· Wyckoff, Charlottee Chandler: “Kodaikanal 1845-1945”
· Lockwood, Dorothy: “Excerpts relating to Kodai School from Glimpses, 1929-1967”
· Photographs and papers on the histories of some of the KIS buildings

In addition to the school records we received a collection of photographs, slides and the stamp collection from Dr Nora Mitchell (former staff). We recently received some records from the KIS Margaret Eddy Chapel, consisting of Church Council minutes, correspondences, bulletins, chapel worship programs etc.

We welcome additional material. Donate your memorabilia to the KIS Archives. Your old photographs, yearbooks, letters and other memorabilia are valuable to us! Using a graphite pencil, lightly write brief identifying data on the back of the photograph (never on the front) including the full name of the person (if known) and time period when taken. The collections are carefully processed and preserved and will be kept in a secure environment, thanks to
donations from the Class of 1961. These collections are also accessible to alumni and other interested people.

We would also like to thank the following individuals for their valuable donations to the KIS Archives:
· Betty Swavely Granner (class of 1944)
· Charles G. Gosselink (Class of 1953)
· Eleanor Moyer Cunningham (Class of 1943)
· Harrison “Hank” Moyer (Class of 1944)
· Sam Schmitthenner (Class of 1944)

All told, the KIS Archives currently holds nearly 15,000 items.

Suvidha Sadasivan


Youthrise update

I have just returned from chaperoning the Youthrise group on one of the most exhilarating and
satisfying experiences I have had in a long time. Youthrise is a purely student driven initiative which was inspired by the need to take on the responsibility and active leadership towards making a change in the aftermath of the 26 / 11 terror attacks in Mumbai. Under the auspices of the Social Experience Department, a group of KIS students came together with a set of goals:

• Leadership aimed at motivating and inspiring youth across the country
• Saving the Environment by building green houses and encouraging organic farming in tribal
areas in the Niligiris
• Fostering Unity through service while actively using media and music to bring about social

The first Youthrise initiative was a tour to Delhi and Mumbai where the group met survivors of the Mumbai terror attack, political leaders, media personalities and musicians from whom they
Youthrise taking a class at NAWA School, Kotagiri received both encouragement and a promise to lend their services and support towards the groups efforts in building a nationwide movement. Today the movement has already spread to 46 cities in the country. “Greater numbers means greater change. We are looking at building an international youth movement to impact a global change.” says Ananda Boga, Founder and President of Youthrise at KIS.

Today these highly motivated students have adopted a tribal orphanage in Kodai which they visit every Saturday. They are currently painting the building, teaching music, art and sports to the children there while simultaneously giving them both love and encouragement.

On 11 February we left on a four-day trip into the Nilgiri hills. We spent a day in a small town
called Kotagiri and then moved to a tiny tribal village, Kolikarai. The purpose was to expose the
students and encourage them to appreciate a variety of aspects of village life. In addition we
were there to gauge the receptiveness of the local tribal community to external inputs, aimed at
improving their lives and the way they lived. On being questioned, a majority of the families
wanted us to intervene and help the children of the village in whichever way possible. On the first day, the Youthrise group visited a school supported by the Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA) in Kotaigiri. In a well maintained school building which sits on the hillside overlooking a beautiful tea plantation, KIS students spent half the day with 180 young lively children who travel across unfriendly terrain from neighboring tribal villages to attend school.

While some members of our group taught them art, math and nursery rhymes, others spent time playing football and cricket with them teaching them the intricacies of the game which they all seemed eager to learn. A meeting with the Principal focused on the school’s immediate requirements which included both math and English workbooks. Youthrise decided to carry these back to the school on their next visit.

On the second day we piled into a small school bus and drove down the hill to Kolikarai. Here we spent two enriching days in a tiny village set in the heart of the Nilgiri forests. The village is surrounded by beautiful tree covered hills spotted with tea plantations. It is serviced by a small functional hospital and very basic food and water arrangements. Our students adjusted to limited resources, mingled easily with the children for whom the language gap did not seem to be an impediment and appreciated the beauty of the environment and nature around them. The young boys and girls watched excitedly as our students pulled out enamel paints and brushes we had carried from Kodai and painted the swings in the village playground with cheerful colors. In the evening our group put on a cultural program for the families who flocked around them and cheered at familiar songs and dances being performed.

The next day we walked several hours into the forest escorted by one of the village folk to visit a couple of outlying tribal villages. While situated amidst breathtakingly beautiful views, they were far less developed than the one we were staying at. The group voiced the urgent need to intervene and improve their conditions. We decided to meet in the evening to discuss and come up with options which would be both acceptable and uncomplicated to implement. After a brainstorming session on the last day, Youthrise decided to go back to Kolikarai in March and run workshops for the children on basic personal health and hygiene. They will also work with the village folk on garbage management and its disposal. After reviewing the success of this project the group will adopt other tribal villages in the area while simultaneously working with NAWA in this belt to ensure a ripple effect and sustainability of this project.

Alika Khosla
Development Officer


Annual Ultimate Frisbee competition

Kodaikanal International School (KIS) this past weekend hosted 10 teams to compete in the annual Fly Baba Ultimate Frisbee Tournament held at the hill station of Kodaikanal. The two day competition has quickly become the highlight of the increasingly popular Ultimate Frisbee sport in India, with participating players from around the world and teams representing Ahmedabad, Auroville, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Kodaikanal taking the field for a fierce, but always friendly, contest. This year’s tourney was swept by home team ‘Sholakhadoos’ who went undefeated 5-0 after defeating in the finals Chennai based “Chakraa”. KIS teacher and victorious team captain Bryan Plymale said of the event, “the Fly Baba tournament -and really Ultimate Frisbee as a game - is more about the spirit of sportsmanship and having fun than it is about winning. You need look no further than how far these teams have traveled - for nothing more than love of the game, love of the outdoors and the bond of camaraderie this game is known for around the world. Ultimate Frisbee is a unifier of people regardless of gender, race, creed, nationality or age.”

Beyond the contest was an underlying ‘green’ theme. Kodaikanal’s team name- “Sholakhadoo” was derived from Tamil meaning ‘deep forest.’ Local sponsoring organizations such as trekking and camping outfitter Kodaikanal Wilderness Club and environmental consultant group Peerless Green Initiatives (PGI) used the event to highlight and educate teams and spectators about the unique and at-risk ecosystem of the Western Ghats and Palni Hills where Kodaikanal is located. Said PGI director Frank Costanzo about the event, “Ultimate by its nature is an outdoor sport and the people who play and watch typically have an affinity for nature. This tournament has been a great way to raise awareness regarding threats caused by man’s violation of the local ecosystem through devastating pollution of the Kodia Lake and the permanent contamination of the shola forest by Hindustan Unilever during their operation of the Kodai mercury thermometer plant. The response at this event was uplifting, and the message of our grassroot public awareness campaign will be carried back - by these amazing athletes - to nearly every major city in India.” The public awareness campaign launched at the event raised over Rs 13,000 for the Palni Hills Conservation Counsel and collected hundreds of signatures in support of the mercury clean up mission.

In addition, Auroville “Spinergy” was presented the Spirit of Game Award, given to the team that best embodied the principles of fair play and positive attitude. Two unique aspects of Ultimate Frisbee are player self-governance without referees, and all games end with the winning and losing team gathering mid-field for a huddle to celebrate and commend their respective performance on the field.

For more information contact:

Frank Costanzo
Peerless Green Initiatives
St Marys Road
tel: 9626936431


Exchange update

This month KIS welcomed Mr Holste von Mutius from the German PASCH program of the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), who was here to reinforce the cooperation between KIS and the German government. His main intent was to advise our school on its development of our budding German language section. In his meeting with our Acting Principal he noted that he was very impressed with the progress in German and complimented the German students at KIS for their good language skills and enthusiasm. He officially handed over a first set of 440 German books and teaching materials, donated by the ZfA, to the school to enhance teaching and to enthuse students for German literature.

Oliver Weise
Second Language department


April calendar dates

1-15 April - IB mock exams
2 April - Good Friday
4 April - Easter
2-6 April - Long weekend
9 April - Indian music concert
13-17 April - Kodai Open soccer tournament
16-17 April - IB art exhibition
16-18 April - Grades 5-6 camp
22 April - Earth day / International day
24 April - HS prom / MS formal
30 April - 1 May - Music concerts