From the High School Principal

Dear HS parents,

As you may know, I left Hanoi with my family to return to our home in Poland for personal reasons. As it looks increasingly unlikely that I will be able to return to Hanoi, Glenda Baker will be Acting Principal for the remainder of the school year. I am still working on Hanoi time, and remain committed to the school through the end of the year; I am just an email away!

I had a wonderful conversation with members of the High School School Community Organization (SCO) this week. It was clear that the topic of rebuilding our community is something that should be a priority moving forward.

A request from the SCO was that I try to ensure clear communication with HS parents. As a result, I will be hosting a weekly “Let’s Chat” for HS parents. I will host these conversations on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Hanoi time and the first one will be next week, 12 May. All HS parents are welcome to join and ask whatever questions you may have. The link for the meetings is here.

Feedback to Parents from Teachers

It has been very nice to hear positive feedback from parents, and when I shared some of it with the HS faculty, it was very warmly received. In fact, teachers asked me to share some feedback with YOU, our parents:

“I would like parents to know that teachers recognize and appreciate them taking on a much larger role in the partnership formed by Parents-Student-Teacher which is critical to student success.”  

“I appreciate their encouragement of their children to continue to be engaged.” 

“I appreciate them rising to the challenge of trying to help their kid understand Trigonometry or Mitosis or War or another concept. I appreciate their patience to let teachers have the time to figure out and improve.”

“I realize that learning is not always smooth or straightforward, and we appreciate them helping their child navigate assignments, supporting them when they are frustrated, and giving them positive feedback.” 

“In many ways, they took on a bigger role of the teacher and mentor to their child or children, which speaking from my own struggles to teach my own children, as a professional educator, is very complicated and challenging.” 

Leadership Transitions

Another topic that came up during my conversation with the SCO was the transition process for the incoming Secondary School Principal, Jeff Leppard, as well as the two incoming Deputy Principals. I hope you are happy to hear that the entire leadership team at UNIS Hanoi has had multiple meetings with the incoming Secondary School leadership team about a wide variety of topics. Principals, Deputy Principals, the Head of School, the Director of Finance and Operations, the Director of Enrollment Management and Marketing, and the Director of Activities have all met with the incoming leadership team. Additionally, Marc Vermeire (Middle School Principal) and I have met with Jeff Leppard – both together and independently – and will continue to do so through the end of the year. I am extremely pleased with the way these conversations have gone, and I know that the Secondary School will be better than ever in the 2020-2021 school year!

I hope your daughter/son has had a nice return to campus this week!

Scott

Update on Grade 12 Graduation

This week we wrote to all our Grade 12 families to reassure them that planning for graduation is well under way, albeit a little different from previous years.

The team that are helping High School to deliver a day to remember for our Seniors are currently planning both on-campus and virtual options to allow for maximum flexibility in the circumstances.

With school now open, we are hopeful that we can have some in-person ceremonies with students on campus and we have confirmed that the date of graduation will remain as scheduled on 29 May.

One of our main aims is to keep as many of the traditions in place as possible (eg. the Grand Walk, the Tree Planting Ceremony), while also recognizing the unique set of circumstances that this group of students have overcome and starting some new traditions!

Every effort is being made to ensure that graduation is a special event, but as you know, we must adhere to all restrictions issued by the government and in the nature of crisis management the situation can change very rapidly. For the past weeks, we have been working hard everyday planning for different scenarios which are ever-evolving. 

We are committed to making graduation for the Class of 2020 a memorable and meaningful event for our graduates, their families, and the greater UNIS Hanoi community and we look forward to sharing more details with you very soon.

Scott and the Graduation Team

Life On Campus this Week

Mentors and teachers have continued to praise the character strengths of our high schoolers. Not only have students practiced social distancing, worn their masks and limited their group sizes with resilience, they have shown care and empathy to each other and their teachers who are coping with the restrictions we have needed to follow to keep our campus open. 

“We have all been through a lot and grown from the experience. I have been really impressed with the kids’ patience and tolerance. Obviously they have wanted to rip off their masks and hug each other, but they have listened to teachers and understand the seriousness of the situation. We are really lucky to have such great kids in our school.” 

Michelle Wise, G9 Mentor and Visual Arts teacher

Not all of our students have been able to return to campus. As our Distance Learners continue we want them to know they are very much in our minds as teachers work out how to help them continue with their studies and find ways to include them in activities going on in classes on campus. 

“Welcoming students back on campus feels a bit like reuniting with family. Even behind masks, discussions are rich and laughter still manages to fill the room. We also have students who are in their home countries who zoom in and contribute to the lessons. Their presence is felt just as strongly as the students who are physically there. It’s a pretty dynamic experience.” Ms Louvet, Grade 12 Mentor and HS Lang and Lit teacher

Ms Frose with her Homebase group

“It is amazing being back and being able to communicate directly with students. Distance Learning made it possible to continue to move forward, but the non verbal communication of in person conversations can never be replaced by technology.” Ms Frose, Grade 11 Mentor, Individuals & Societies Teacher

Students practice physical distancing in classrooms

Students practice physical distancing outside class.

“Reconnecting with most of our students face-to-face since Monday has reminded me that education is a social endeavor built upon human relations. Learning depends on it. In spite of the physical distance and being behind masks, sharing spaces and ideas, having small interactions has helped renovate and restore our ties. It has been revitalizing for us all.” Mr Chagas, Grade 11 Mentor, TOK and French Teacher

The Making of the DP Arts Exhibition, “Carnaval de Sanguine”

In this article, MYPDP Arts Teacher, Nora Graham shares how the DP Arts Students pulled an exhibition together during lockdown….

The process of making this virtual exhibition began on the first of April when the lockdown in Hanoi started. It was challenging to consider this culminating event for the artists in a virtual format. Accepting this reality and transitioning from the event we had been imagining happening was not easy. On April 1st, the artworks sat in the B10 foyer ready to be hung on the display boards that were already in place. We were all lucky to be safe at home, but left with lingering disappointment of something so close to completion; the event that so much dreaming and planning had gone into.  After a few days of recovery, the students demonstrated their ongoing flexibility and determination and began to discuss options, especially as a requirement of the course is to submit two images of the art exhibition to the IBO.

While at home, students collaborated with arts teachers and investigated options. The result was the “UNIS Hanoi DP Arts Exhibition 2020” using the online platform Artsteps.com. This interactive exhibition is for the UNIS Hanoi community and family of the artists. For the exhibition’s official opening, students designed a format to present their work virtually to the community. This opening was held from 12:00-1:30 on Wednesday, 6 May. The opening consisted of welcome speeches from me, Ms Graham, Shin Young Kim and Bohemond Iskandar, and each artist presented and discussed their artwork with zoom participants.

May 6 also happened to be the day that Grade 12 students were allowed to return to campus. A special surprise was waiting for them in B10 – their exhibition. The exhibition had been hung the previous week when teachers and operations staff were back on campus. Some of the student artists presented their virtual exhibition from their actual exhibition space. The real life exhibition is now available for classes to visit during prearranged times, following the norms of social distancing, mask wearing, and group sizes. The artists and art teachers were pleased with the success of the opening and appreciate all the people and classes who attended.

Please view the virtual exhibition here: https://www.artsteps.com/view/5e941122ecdd0662dd431dcc

The zoom opening event videos can be viewed here.

Students Share DL Experiences in Global Politics Class

This week was all about connecting with each other again. In Global Politics, we explored different waves of feminism and how it contributes to development and sustainability. At the end of the week, we will continue our long rigorous process of the Engagement Activities (EA). Even though most of us are back to school, some of our class members are still continuing their Distance Learning experience.

Here are three different perspectives on Distance Learning from three different parts of the world:

First is Thao Pham. She is currently back with us at UNIS Hanoi. Here she shares her experience…

“Distance Learning always seems like a challenge for all of us but as long as we push ourselves and become independent we can achieve all our goals. For me, it was great seeing all my friends again even though we still need to practice social distancing. Teachers and staff are extremely helpful during school as they instruct me what to do. Being back at school means a lot to me and I have learned how to appreciate the times that I am at school engaging with all my friends and teachers. At the beginning of the week, we started discussing the Emergency Relief Fund and Giving Tuesday and what effect it will have in our local community. During the discussion, we talked about poverty in Hanoi and how the government practices responsible sovereignty and the responsibility to protect. We also incorporated different concepts that we have learned throughout the year into a fruitful discussion. I have learned a great lesson from this experience and how it can make or break a person”.

Next is Sohan D’Silva who is currently in Singapore shares his experience…

“For me, distance learning in GPS has been at times hard, but mostly manageable. I’ve been able to keep up with the work that has been set, and I like how we get the independence to manage our own time, with occasional check-ins. Mr A is always there for us if we need any help, and now that School has started, we have come up with a check-in every few days after school so that Mr A can catch us up on anything that we need to do. This has been incredibly helpful, and even though, at times, we tend to get a lot of work and struggle to manage our time, Mr A is there to help and support our needs even though we are not physically there in class”.

Moeka is currently in Japan and she’s missing her friends…

“It is wonderful to be back to Japan with all my relatives; however, I miss all the friends that are returning to School and engaging with each other, especially my Global Politics class. Everyday I look out the window and see each bloom of the Sakura opens and miss the summer heat in Hanoi. Distance Learning is somewhat a wonderful experience for me because of how it gives me the confidence to manage time as well as engaging with my teachers more. Whenever I join the call for GPS, I see all of my classmates through my screen and what we have been through in order to get here. There isn’t a significant difference in the timezone here and Hanoi so that is a relief for me. This also means that I wake up the earliest in UNIS Hanoi, what a great achievement. Whenever I need help, Mr. A is always online to give me feedback as well as further explanations. I am forever grateful for everyone that supported me all the way through. I hope that the disease will be contained and I can be back in Hanoi with all my friends”. 

Virtual DP Art Exhibition Opens on Wednesday

On Wednesday May 6, nine Grade 12 Visual Artists will open their Virtual DP Art exhibition to the UNIS Hanoi community via Zoom. The artists will be present to discuss their art and answer questions. The exhibition presentation is broken into three parts as follows:
12:00-12:30: Chinh Mai, Jan (Honza) Krubner, Sophie Marie Schroeder
12:30-1:00: Minh Quan Neefjes, Tuan Minh Hoang, Annie Nguyen
1:00-1:30:  Kevin Davis, Bohemond Iskander, Shin Young Kim
To find out more about the exhibition, please contact Nora Graham by email.

From the High School Principal

Greetings High School Community,

Please have a look at the culminating project of the IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP) – our Grade 10 students’ Personal Projects.  Click here to view their work and add comments to the videos by providing positive feedback to our students, praising the passion, dedication, and learning that went into each Project. 

I have reached out to our School Community Organization’s (SCO) High School parent representatives because I want to offer some parent meetings or chats prior to the end of the school year. I plan on taking feedback from the SCO and collaborating with them on a plan as to how I can best address your concerns and questions moving forward. More information will follow after the long weekend.

I have also been in touch with over 100 international and independent schools concerning graduation. We want to ensure that this historic graduating class receives a meaningful and memorable experience (or experiences). As you might imagine, schools and universities throughout the world are struggling with how to replicate the ceremonial traditions that come with graduation. We wish to honour the important traditions that are inherent in a UNIS Hanoi graduation, while also recognizing the unique experience that the Class of 2020 has had. Again, more information will follow soon.

Parents of Grade 11 students should be sure to read my message to them included in this week’s TinTuc.   

What am I learning about and reading this week?

UNESCO reports that roughly 826 million students have no home computer and some 706 million no internet

SAT related information from the CollegeBoard

Don’t Freak Out About Quarantine Screen Time

No, This is Not the New Normal

I hope that Parent-Student-Teacher conferences are going well for you and that your discussions are fruitful. 

Have a great weekend,

Scott

Important Update for Grade 11 IB Diploma Programme Families

Dear G11 Parents,

I would like to share some information with you related to our Grade 11 students, particularly with regards to their success on DP exams/grades one year from now.

Where are we now?

Since February, our DP teachers have worked very hard to adapt their courses for distance learning. They have supported Grade 11 students in making the same amount of progress on required IB coursework as would have taken place if the students were on campus. Some examples include:

  • Grade 11 students are now engaged in required IB coursework tasks in Mathematics, English Language & Literature HL, Global Politics, History, Theatre, and Visual Arts. They are expected to submit draft versions of these tasks for teacher feedback before the summer break. 
  • Grade 11 students taking Economics have already completed some of the required IB coursework tasks. 
  • DP science teachers are making plans for all Grade 11 students to do the Group 4 Project during May. This IBDP requirement is a two day event in which students collaborate to explore questions from Biology, Chemistry, ESS, and Physics. 
  • Work is being done on the Extended Essay and CAS. Grade 11 students are expected to have made sufficient progress by the summer break so that they will be able to submit a complete draft of their 4,000 word Extended Essay in August. 

Every year we spend a great amount of time and effort in ensuring that the timeline for IB Diploma Programme requirements supports students. We want them to make significant progress with required IB coursework tasks throughout Grade 11, so that we can avoid assessment “bottlenecks” and  spread out the remaining deadlines due in Grade 12. 

One important task that students should focus on this summer is their Extended Essay. Students should return to school in August with their draft fully prepared and ready for feedback. This will ensure that students have the necessary time and mental energy to fully engage in other DP requirements, as well as the university application process.

As we have done in the past, students and families will receive “anticipated IBDP grades” at the end of Grade 11. These anticipated grades are internal (not shared with universities and/or the IB) and are intended to serve as notice to students and families regarding where a student’s evidence of learning is at the end of Grade 11. We hope that these anticipated grades (which students have time to improve upon) serve as important data points for families as they think about the university application process. 

What about next year?

We continue to be in contact with the IBO, other IB Diploma Programme schools in our region, and a number of international school organizations to ensure that we keep up with any and all developments related to the IB DP.

The High School leadership team has had a number of robust conversations and meetings with the incoming Secondary School Leadership Team, and will continue to do so. We are committed to ensuring that the new team “hits the ground running” next year. Our current Grade 11s (the Class of 2021) are a particular focus and priority in our transition meetings. Our DP Coordinator, Elliott Cannell, is returning to UNIS Hanoi next year and has taken the lead in bridging the transition for the new leadership team specifically with regards to current Grade 11 students. Elliott’s experience and commitment will ensure that next year’s Seniors are well taken care of. 

You may be asking “but what does that mean exactly?”. As I type this communication, we don’t know when campus will be reopened. We are actively planning for a number of scenarios for the next school year. An analysis will be done once more is known in August, with the question being: How can UNIS Hanoi ensure that our DP students are as successful as possible during their last year in High School?

We are challenging ourselves to be as creative and student-centered as possible as we plan for different scenarios in the 2020-2021 school year.

Conclusion

I can say with confidence that our G11 DP students are on track.

UNIS Hanoi has demonstrated success in supporting our G11 and G12 DP students engaged in IB coursework via distance learning. Our teachers are committed professionals who will continue to do so for G11 (next year’s G12).  This will continue should Vietnam return to a lockdown situation in future. Additionally, the IBO has shown flexibility in adjusting the requirements for specific coursework tasks so that they can be completed remotely. We trust that they will continue to do so as needed.

We share many of your concerns and anxiety due to the current uncertainties in the world. The High School’s “bottom line” is, and always will be, ensuring success for our students – in whatever way each student and family defines “success”. 

Please email me if you have further questions.

Scott
hsprincipal@unishanoi.org

G12 Music Performance Website Goes Live Tonight

As part of the IB Diploma Music course, students are tasked to perform a final piece in front of a live audience. However, as a result of campus closures and social distancing, this year’s Grade 12 class took their performances online via a dedicated website. This evening their website went live. 

From classical to contemporary, the performances are the culmination of more than two years of hard work for these six talented musicians. 

Their teacher, Ms Colette A’Bear said, “I would like to take this opportunity to commend and congratulate this wonderful and eclectic group of young creatives for sharing their passion and enthusiasm of music both in the classroom and beyond. You will discover their musical output is varied in style and instrumentation. From a classical violinist to an R&B style producer, you will certainly find something in their work that will please your musical tastes.”

View their performances and creative folios online here.

About the Performers

My Anh:

My Anh aspires to be a self produced artist in the future. Recognizing the distinct lack of female producers, she’s keen to achieve her dream. The IB music course has pushed her to produce some of her first few originals. 

Menglin: 

Lin has played the violin and is in the school orchestra. She loves listening to classical music, especially music from the Baroque and romantic era. Special thanks to her violin teacher Mr Thang Do for helping her with her violin techniques and concept of musicality. 

Shay:

In middle school, Shay used to spend hours by himself tinkering around in Garageband. Nearly everything he made was terrible, but despite these failures, he enjoyed making music. That has never changed. The only difference between middle school and now is that he’s upgraded from Garageband to Ableton and now has a wonderful class to help him out. Shay predominately makes hip hop with a lot of electronic instruments.

Minh:

Minh likes music that he thinks is unique above all else. His main inspirations come from artists that don’t necessarily sound good but set themselves apart from everything else. He does tend to push a lot of noise into those pieces which some might think detract from the appeal but he hopes that through listening to them you understand that this is intentional and part of the statement he’s trying to convey.

Hai:

Hai is a singer who joined the School’s APAC Choir in 2016. His debut cover, Let Her Go, was voted among the top 3 best performances in 2018’s School Talent Show. Over the past five years at UNIS Hanoi, Thanh Hai has performed in countless events and shows. 

Joshua:

Joshua is a percussionist with a passion for music technology and everything related to music production. Throughout the IBDP Music course he has focused on developing his skills as a drummer as well as his knowledge in music production. His favourite genres to work with are a fusion of  Rock, Funk and Trap.