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The Flag Green

25th Anniversary Reunion at Kodai for the Class of 93

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The Alumni weekend was one of obvious nostalgia, but above all, a wonderful warmth, a deep sense of belonging, security, acceptance, renewing ties, all analogies of coming back home!

The drive up the Ghats stirred up memories with the divine fragrance of eucalyptus adding to our excitement of nearing our home in the Palani hills!

Memories of a sumptuous South Indian breakfast, on landing from our various cities, accompanied by the incessant chatter in the school bus; dear KIS, we are returning home!

We happily and systematically followed through on most school activities, all well planned for the alumni weekend, almost like being back at school. What stood out for most was just ‘being’ on the Flag Green. Just the joy of being alive and young again could sum up what we experienced that weekend!

We danced our legs off at Quad shot! Baked at the Arts Block! We enjoyed a grand banquet and a musical fantasy! Chatter over high tea with students and staff, following inspirational speeches at assembly. We hiked, or rather, panted up a hill to stay above the clouds! We toured the environmentally conscious campuses and snuck into our school dorms! We devoured the generous meals at the cafeteria, and Tibbs and Tawas threw in extra variety! We bought plenty memorabilia not wanting to miss any! Basketball, volleyball and racquetball added to our activity. We clicked photos of classrooms until our storage could take no more! We recounted school memories around bonfires with no one wanting to sleep! The kurunji flowers were in full bloom, adding to KIS’s beauty! The traditional class photo clicked in front of the school chapel stirred up sadness of saying goodbye once again.

I must end this nostalgic note, having said our goodbyes, with fondest school memories tucked safely in my heart! I urge you dear Alumni to visit, spread a good word, and may KIS and its legacy live on forever!

– Marushka Shah (Class of 93)

Behind the Scenes of the 2018 All School Play – Shrek the Musical

Lights! Music! Action! The whole school from preschoolers to Grade 12 are involved in getting ready for the school musical – Shrek, going to be staged on November 2nd and 3rd. We have all of the favorite characters, from the little mice to Donkey and Shrek practicing every evening.

This will be Robert Wood’s first time working with a pre-recorded sound track, as opposed to a live band. Robert states that the biggest challenge this brings, is ensuring that timings are correct. “The track remains constant, we need to work hard to make sure our choreography and singing is in sync with the music.”

This year Robert has had to take on assistance from volunteers and staff to put on this production. “It is a huge juggling act for students to find that ‘balance’ of staying on top of their homework and giving equal attention to all their other activities. I rehearse five days a week, but I cannot expect that of all staff and volunteers, so it is really good to have such talented people come and help us.”

Working hard with Robert is choreographer Natasha. This is Natasha’s third project with Robert and she is a dancer and choreographer from Russia, based in Chennai. “Natasha is eccentric, crazy and fun. She is really good with the kids, she intrigues them. Natasha calls the kids ‘caviar’ as they are ‘like little eggs that haven’t formed’,” says Robert.

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Our very own Venezuelan Voice Teacher, Cristina is the main Music Director of the play. This year a main challenge the production is facing is that they are working with many untrained singers, both young and old. Thus, Cristina has her hands full working with these students with various levels of singing during rehearsals.

This year Shrek and Fiona are fresh talent. Omeir Hamid, who plays Shrek, has all the character of Shrek, but no previous singing training. “So we have parent, Billy Yesudian, working closely with Omeir to get the rock and roll in his feet and build his stage confidence”, says Robert. An all time school favorite Aydn Luy, will be playing Donkey. Aydn has been working with Robert since 7th Grade.

Also, this year, we have our all-time favourite former staff alumnus Bob Granner, coming in and working with the smaller groups and some of the soloists. Mainly helping the kids find their harmonies and assisting Cristina. “Bob is working with the students on the piano, and then they will have to transition to the pre-recorded music.” In the 70’s, Bob too was known for his entertaining musical productions including the “King and I” in 1969. It is a great pleasure seeing him back in Kodai, helping the current school kids with the production.

Beth Winfred, who heads our Housing Department, is working on Costumes. She went all the way to Chennai, to select and purchase materials for the unusual costumes she has to make. “The costumes are a challenge to create, and to top it off, this year we plan to put a twist on the costumes. It is all a surprise, you will just have to wait and see!, she says.

And Yes! We cannot wait. Shows will be on November 2nd and 3rd. There will be 4 shows altogether, with two matinees open for local schools and colleges to attend. The Matinees will be followed by a short interactive session with the kids. November cannot come soon enough!

Kodai Open 2018

A staple feature of the KIS calendar is the Kodai Open Soccer Tournament which is conducted by KIS during the month of October. It is one occasion that brings the Kodaikanal community together and showcases the soccer talents of students and the local clubs in Kodaikanal. The 2018 edition was a Round Robin League Tournament where we had schools coming all the way from Kanchipuram, Dindigul and as always our neighbouring schools in Kodai.

The 2018 edition saw a total of 8 teams participating in 2 pools for the Boys’ Division and 4 for the Girls’ Division. KIS was well represented with 2 boys’ teams and a girls’ team, all fresh from winning their respective Championships in Ooty. Marvin Ambrose, Head of the Physical Education Department said, “We have some highly skilled footballers at KIS, who are committed to nurturing their talent and the results show for it.”

All matches had their share of excitement where we had a dazzling display of skills and sportsmanship. The Boys’ final was an all-KIS affair between our A and B teams who had emerged as their respective pool toppers. The game witnessed the B team display better control and speed which helped them secure the victory with a score of 3-1. Winning captain, Awad Kabir shared “It’s a wonderful feeling winning the championships both at Ooty and Kodai. Winning on Bendy, in front of the home crowd is extra special.”

In the Girls’ Division we had KIS storm to take the trophy by finishing on top of the pool. The KIS Girls’ team saw them edge out the SDAT Dindigul team by a score of 2-1 in a closely fought final game. “We wanted to make sure we kept the momentum on our side and stuck to the basics. It paid off for us and winning is surely a habit”, remarked Girls’ team captain, Rebekah Thomas.

Educating Cultural Sensitivity – People of the Palani Hills Museum and IB Drama Exposition

To be a true global citizen is to practice ‘cultural sensitivity’. Sensitivity, not just to cultures within an international community; but also to be sensitive to those cultures within your own locality. By partnering with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Kodaikanal, KIS was able to provide a space to educate the public and make those who visited the projects, culturally sensitive and proud of their heritage.

The Pop-up Museum on People of the Palani Hills was a great learning experience put together by INTACH Kodaikanal, displaying the living stories of the indigenous people around the Palani Hills. Housed in the KMU, the museum was open to school children across Kodaikanal. Visitors were exposed to traditional art forms, the history of the communities, and the flora and fauna that influence the lifestyles of the people of the region. Tribal drummers and trumpeters performed outside on the KMU porch, proud to demonstrate their local art form to visitors.

Our IB Drama students also performed their monologues and well-researched script at the Box for visiting students. “I am so proud of this being my first graduating Drama Class, I had this idea and when I approached Priya of INTACH, she suggested we pair both the projects together”, said Robert Wood, High School IB Drama Teacher.

The students’ script was developed upon on their interviews and interactions with the tribal communities located in the Palani Hills. We visited communities in Palamalai, and Gundupatti. The community in Palamalai were part of plantation. Priya came as our translator” stated Robert.

The IB Drama Students overcame their language, cultural and socio-economic barriers to become culturally sensitive to the lives of the people they met. Robert elaborates further, “We ate, danced, and interacted with the elders. For some of our students, it was the first time they sat on the floor and ate off a banana leaf using their hands. Many of us were unfamiliar with the food they served us, as most of the vegetables served were gathered from within the forests. We were even taught drumming by the elders, and exposed two kinds of dancing: their performance dancing and their ritualistic dancing – which is done in a circle.”

The IB Drama students’ play titled ‘Kanakaraj’ was a culmination of their research and experiences at the villages. The story was set during the Labour Day Festival, when the village got together to celebrate with drums, dance and eats chicken curry. The characters were well defined and based on the real people that they had met. “Kanakaraj, the main character, was an 8-year old boy that the village had adopted as their own, and was seen as naïve and a child suffering from learning disabilities. His story really stood out to me and I wanted to make him the central character of our play” remarked IB Drama Student, Karuna Kurian. “The preparation of the chicken in the play is significant as meat is a rarity in their diet and is mainly eaten during festival time.”

Expressing Imagination and Creativity through Writing

Writer Workshop 2018

Imagination, creativity, self-expression and self-confidence are benefits of exercising the skill of creative writing. Every year KIS students have the opportunity to explore their creative writing skills through a 3-day writing workshop. At the end of the workshop, a book is published with the collective work of the students called Kavithalaya. from Grade 9, one of the aspiring writers at this year’s workshop said, “The workshop provided me an opportunity to harness some of the latent creative writing skill that I did not know I had.”

This year was the 26th edition and were thrilled to have with us acclaimed Indian Author and Playwright, Cyrus Mistry, from August 9 to 11 as the writer-in-residence. Cyrus was awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2014 and students enjoyed developing their craft of writing using Cyrus’s prompts and advice. “Interacting with an author of Cyrus’ caliber has helped me shape my writing and understand how to go about formulating my thoughts to put on paper,” shared , a Grade 11 participant at the workshop.

Ishita Pandey (Class of 2020) shared with us a reflection on her participation in the workshop.

Writers’ Workshop, for me, was an experience like never before. The profound exchange of ideas, supported by the beautiful setting of Swedish House created a ruminative atmosphere, perfect for the purpose of the occasion.

With the guidance of Mr. Mistry, a highly acclaimed author, I felt like I was able to unlock treasures of creativity and thoughtfulness to produce many pieces of writing, prose and poetry. Focusing on emotions, drawing depth from everyday events in life and expressing feelings through actions instead of dialogue, were all advice I received from our guest speaker, due to which I was then able to bring a new vividness and thoughtful perspective into my own writing.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share my own pieces, as well as listen to the works of others, appreciating and motivating each other to make the most of our passion for writing. Laughing, thinking and writing throughout the two and a half day program, my peers all relished this experience, and I am so glad to have shared so many memories, with them. Certainly, this program was one full of learning, providing all of us with a welcoming platform to unveil our inner writer, leading us on the path to world changing ideas.

Old School, New School, it’s our School!

The new school year has started! I can hear teachers rally up excitement with loud greetings in the Quad, children playing basketball in their spare time on the Covered Courts, and a few enjoying the little bit of sunshine on the grass, listening to music or chatting.

Bustling in the background of all of this, I notice familiar faces in KIS. These are none other than our very own Alumni, who have returned to inject that energy of positivity back into the community. This year alone, we have 18 Alumni fulfilling roles within our Volunteer, Professional, Residential life and Academic Staff.

Shekinah.jpgShekinah Truman, Class of 2000, Head of Second Language and ESL Department fondly remembers her days in Swedish House, attending prayer breakfasts and dancing at the canteen. “ I enjoy passing on the ‘Kodai vibes’ to my students. It is amazing to see them grow from the day they walk into my classroom to the end of the year or when they graduate. Seeing them succeed (win awards, get on honorary lists, etc.) makes me super proud !’ said Shekinah.

Nicole Glasco, Class of 1991, who has just joined KIS this year as the B-Block Upper Dorm Parent remembers rolling down the slope connecting Upper and Lower Bendy and dressing up for banquets and formals. Nicole says, she now enjoys connecting with the students as a dorm parent, aside from actively participating in Church. “The other day as I was walking past Kennedy Dorm, I saw 3 young girls lying down on the grass basking under the sun like my friends and I did in the late 80’s. It definitely plastered a smile on my face”

Kevin.jpgKevin Jayaprakash, Class of 2002, Mediator at KIS says, seeing little kids climb up trees and swing from branches, not being afraid about the small fall, reminds him of himself as a young boy and his own memories of climbing trees on Lochend and Highclerc.

When asked about what brings a smile to his face, Kevin replies, “Being able to see how the students interact with one another and build a sense of community; where they are able to build on their understanding of different people, places, cultures etc”.

It is good to see that KIS remains a place where we all belong. Alumni keep returning to the school to re-experience and give back in some way or the other. Even after so many generations have gone through, the experiences of community, family and the connection with our surroundings, remain the same; making KIS our school, everyone’s school.

– Manjusha Ninan, Alumni Coordinator

Celebration of Hope and Freedom

Living in an international community provides us the opportunity to celebrate two Independence days on August 15, India and Korea. The KIS community celebrated the 72nd Indian Independence Day and the 74th National Liberation Day of Korea through a remarkable display of cultural music, dance, food and dresses at a special ceremony held on the Covered Courts of the Highclerc campus.

We were privileged to have with us world-renowned Indian author, Radha Kumar, as our chief guest, who pointed out that there is hope for freedom in the midst of hostility. She pointed out the similarities between Indian and Korean Independence, “that both were made independent from colonial rule coupled with price of partition.”

Special performances of cultural dance and music by students marked the occasion to celebrate the heritage of India and Korea. Krishna Dick from the class of 2022 addressed the assembly highlighting the enormity of the diverse culture that exists in India and the “inclusive democracy even at the grassroots level.”

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