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Kodaikanal International School

Kodaikanal International School (KIS) is an autonomous, international, residential school located in South India offering education for Grades K-12. With a rich heritage spanning over a century since its establishment in 1901, KIS has been serving young people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to become leaders the world needs. We do this through a rigorous and broad college-oriented IB curriculum that emphasizes deep learning and critical thinking and celebrates the arts, music, sports, social justice, and environmental awareness. KIS combines an ambitious, challenging academic program and a rich range of extracurricular activities within a Christian values based framework that draws on a variety of cultures and prepares students for global citizenship. Our greatest strength lies in our learning as a community – living together in an assortment of cultures, distinct faiths and varied experiences spanning the globe.

Women Empowerment and Eco-feminism in the Palani Hills

The KIS Center for Environment and Society recently conducted a two-day workshop on Women Empowerment and Eco-feminism. It was part of the Center’s ongoing efforts in the Kodaikanal community to spread more awareness about the biodiversity of the Palani Hills. The workshop was organized for 45 girls from rural Kodaikanal, who are students at the Kodai Grihini Community College. Grihini College’s mission is to meet the educational needs of poorly educated young women across villages in the Palani Hills. Some of the students had previously worked as street sweepers, agricultural and building laborers.

The purpose of the workshop was to empower these girls with environmental and financial literacy, so that they can make environmentally-conscious decisions. For example, water scarcity would make household chores difficult and rural women may be forced to walk great distances to get water for the family. Through the workshop, the topics on eco-feminism highlighted the strength and role these girls can play in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources.

Our Grade 10 Social Experience (SoEx) students were also involved in the workshop, interacting with the participants and also presenting some of their social and environment projects. Hanna from the Class of 2021 remarked, “This program of empowering rural village girls, really opened my eyes to the lives of other people. We can often forget how privileged and lucky we are, and what we did at the workshop reminded us of this.”

The workshop was designed through a collaborative effort between Dr. Rajamanikam, member of the KIS Social Experience Department and a KIS Staff Alumni and Principal at Grihini College, Ms. Dency Michael. “Grihini is a family and in that family I am an Akka (older sister). We are committed to helping the last of the least, the poor in the villages who are thought to be unintelligent. Workshops such as these add much value and provide greater opportunity for these women. The involvement of the KIS community in Grihini, especially the students, cannot be understated,” shares Ms. Dency.

The workshop was designed to include lectures and interactive sessions on a variety of topics, ranging from Financial Literacy to Climate Change. The owner of the Pine Dale Nursery, Ms. Ashitha Jayapradeep, provided insight on Women Entrepreneurship and shared her journey of establishing and running a business. The workshop included a nature trail to the Bombay Shola, where the young women were introduced to native trees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Not only they were excited to see some wildlife, they also voluntarily contributed to the efforts of removing trash from the Shola road.

Members of the KIS Social Experience Department talked to the students about eco-feminism, the environment and highlighted the unique biodiversity of the Palani Hills. Grade 10 students taught participants some self-defense and basketball techniques. Sarah (Class of 2021), who gave a powerful presentation in Tamil on personal hygiene, remarked that “It was an honor sharing this information with the girls and I really hope it was beneficial to them. I had a great time and would love to have the opportunity to do it again”.

An Evening to Celebrate Indian Classical Music at KIS

We were thrilled to have Carnatic Music extraordinaire and Mandolin prodigy SM Subhani, perform and share his musical prowess with our community of students, staff, local alumni and parents last week. It was an evening to remember, as Subhani and his team played classical melodies, as well as some audience-requested modern tunes at the drop of a dime. Head of the KIS Music Department, Paul Jaikumar stated, “Music cuts across cultures and brings people together. Creating opportunities and platforms, to expose our children to a variety of music, is what we aim to do as part of the school’s music education program.”

It was an evening to celebrate Indian Classical Music and having SM Subhani and team performing for the ‘next generation’ was a real treat for the KIS community. “It’s always a pleasure to share my music with a diverse audience base,” shared Subhani, who has been performing since the age of 12. His creative genius has led him to work with a range of artistes, including AR Rahman.

Subhani’s vibrant performances include an excellent blend of tradition and modernity, which has helped him connect with a variety of audiences at home, in India, and abroad. Former KIS staff and parent, Ann Peck, who attended the concert, shared her excitement of watching Subhani’s performance, “Fantastic! Incredible! Unbelievable! Subhani is an incredible young man and we were able to witness him play the electric mandolin, like Jimi Hendrix on the guitar.”

As part of the KIS Music curriculum, students are encouraged to pursue and enhance their musical abilities. KIS serves as a center for the Indian Music exams of the Annamalai University. Mala Bharathan, the Indian Classical Music teacher at KIS, says, “As the school is located in South India, every year we have a number of international and local students who are interested in learning Carnatic voice or an Indian Classical instrument. It was of great encouragement to the children to witness a world-class performer like SM Subhani.”

 

Photo Albums, Third Quarter of the Academic Year 2018-19

We are happy to share with you some of our favorite photographs from the KIS community during the past quarter.

Tahr Camps – Middle and High School
Republic Day 2019

Alumni Weekend
Obstacles Off-Course
KIS Unplugged
Interact Club Installation by Rotary Kodaikanal
Spirit Week – February 2019
Elementary School Fun Day
Elementary School Talent Show

ME? – CE Week 2019

This year’s Christian Emphasis (CE) Week 2019, titled ME?, was on the topic of ‘what’s my identity?’ The Religious Education (RE) Department partnered with the Powerhouse Church from Chennai to lead the students through the topic. They led retreats for both the Teen Dimensions (Middle School) and Christian Endeavor (High School) groups at the Swedish Hill Campus. Balazs Mesterhazy, RE Teacher, said “I am thankful that the lives of students and staff were touched during the CE Week through the Powerhouse team.”

The week also saw Advait Praturi from the Class of 2006 back on campus, to share his experiences on the topic of identity and also memories of his time at KIS. Advait talked about the relationship between our identity and “What is the center of our life?” Throughout the week, students and staff of the KIS Community had a chance to participate in various activities, games, competitions and have an opportunity to exchange perspective on a range of topics.

We were treated to a rock concert by the team on Thursday night, who belted out songs of encouragement and positivity. “It’s always wonderful to come back to KIS and interact with the students. We always seem to learn more than what we have to offer”, remarked Kavitha Emmanuel from the Powerhouse team.

Tracing Roots in Kodaikanal

It is not uncommon for the KIS community to have visitors tracing their genealogy and family history to Kodaikanal. Being in existence for close to 120 years, KIS has a wealth of historical archives that provide visitors with a treasure chest of stories. We recently had Martha Donovan, on one such quest to research about her mother, a Kodai School Alumnus, for her next memoir. Having Martha in the community provided our students and staff the opportunity to tap her writing expertise through multiple workshop forums. Ishita Pandey from the Class of 2020 was one of the participants in her workshop and had the following to share about her experience with Martha.

Being the historic institution it is, KIS is a place intertwined with the stories of many different personalities, various lives, the ups and downs of each and every person who has been a part of this school, which are etched immortally into the nooks and crannies of the Chapel walls, the fields of Bendy or the sturdy trunks of the trees in Arts Block. Looking to discover one such story, the renowned author Martha Donovan, daughter to a Kodai Alumni, traced her mother’s steps back to our school, learning more about her mother’s experiences and also sharing her own by conducting writing workshops for the KIS students.

Martha is the author of the book Dress Her in Silk and her essay, Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother (and Others) has been awarded the title of ‘Notable Essay’ by The Best American Essays 2013. She maintains a blog called One Writer’s Excavation: Narrating a Life Piece by Piece, by which she attempts to delve deeper into her mother’s experiences, of which KIS was an essential part, drawing her here, to our school.

The experience of visiting Kodaikanal, as the first of her travels in India, she found to be very fascinating because of the welcoming warmth which she felt emanating from the solidarity of such a small yet immensely diverse community. Not only this, but hearing stories of Mrs Boyer, upon whom the Boyer dorms have been named, the tales of the original missionaries who laid the foundations for the school and the developments the institution has incurred since the very beginnings of when it was created were all greatly intriguing for Martha, as she added each and every bit of information into her diary of fragmented memories and musings.

She imparted the knowledge she had acquired in her many years in the field of writing to students and teachers alike through her interactive writing workshop, as well. Creating an introspective environment, providing the works of well known authors as guiding principles and invigorating prompts, she cultivated the participants’ ideas and their capacity to truly ponder upon which memories in their life have lead to their current personalities. The students understood the importance of each and every one of their experiences, and in so many of which KIS has played an essential role. In addition to the development of writing skills, everyone present was compelled to admire the power of Kodai to bring together so many people of varying thoughts, cultures and backgrounds. Through this we have the opportunity to learn about one another and provide each other with the most enriching experiences, gaining from the society we live in, but giving back to it at the same time.

– Ishita Pandey, Class of 2020

Post her visit to Kodaikanal, Martha shared on Facebook:

What a pleasure to talk and write together in the company of such engaged and thoughtful students and teachers/mentors. I cherish my visit to KIS. Thanks to all for welcoming me so warmly.”

Performing in the Deccan

A well-recognized name in the Hyderabad Western Music circles, Commodore TMJ Champion, who was in attendance for the KIS Music Concert in Hyderabad, said, “It was a delightful evening and for most parents it would have sent a clear message that music exams and certificate is not everything, but playing in an ensemble such as this is as rewarding, enriching and memorable an experience to be cherished for a life time.” A great variety of music, talent and instruments were on full display by the students of Kodaikanal International School in Hyderabad.

Music students from the advanced ensembles of the Band, Choir and Orchestra travelled to the Deccan plateau to showcase their musical prowess in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. It was a magical night that was put together by the Deccan Voices and The Hyderabad Western Music Foundation to appreciate Western Classical Music Ensembles. Joe Koster, Director of The Hyderabad Western Music Foundation said that, “the music was performed at such proficiency which reaffirmed my belief in carrying on the work of music education for a new generation.” Joe praised the dedication and inspiration of both the students and music teachers, with a special appreciation for incorporating music into the academic curriculum.

The evening’s performance began with the Advanced Orchestra, conducted by Sarah Matthews, Music Teacher for Lower Strings, who played a classical French love song, Plaisir D’Amour (The pleasure of love) by Giovanni Martini and arranged by Robert Longfield. The next piece played was the Johnny Appleseed Suite by Robert Kerr. The Advanced Choir directed by Cristina Dominguez, Voice & Choir Director, took the stage to render two tunes from La La Land. They were then joined on stage by the Deccan Voices to jointly perform another song from the same movie. Louis Gomes from the Class of 2019, said, “We had the honor to sing two songs with the Deccan Singers, who earlier on in the concert shook the venue to its core with their arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Along with the ensembles there were a number of instrumental pieces by soloists and other quarterts. The finale for the evening was the Advanced Band, that included a range of brass, woodwind and percussion instruments, conducted by Joel Nicholas, Band Director. Pieces included arrangements from The Incredibles and Guardians of the Galaxy.

“It’s always a pleasure to share the talent of our students with an audience outside of Kodaikanal. We have some incredibly gifted individuals and groups that have the ability to perform at the highest level,” remarked Paul Jaikumar, Head of the Music Department. The whole organization of this event was done with discipline and professionalism by students and staff.

A Record-Breaking Field Day

On a warm sunny day of summer, the sky beat down everyone’s faces clobbered with sunscreen. Beginning of March had brought the KIS community together to Bendy field. The green field was bathed in the warmth of the glowing sun. Tracks drawn on the field indicating engagement and competition. Orange, Blue and White were swaying with dignity and honor.

Field Day 2019 was astounding to say the least. It seemed like the record of every other event was being beaten. Accomplishing success and victory has never been easy, there are times when dreams of success seem far away. Field Day is a platform for people to show their diverse talent, exposing one’s physical athletic abilities. A field divided into three colors Orange, Blue and White, yet unified with the aim of bringing out the best in each other.

Rosita Collision and Nischaya Shrestha as the school captains led the division captains in ensuring the spirit of sportsmanship would reign during the proceedings of the weekend. The field was occupied, not a single place was vacant with life and passion in every corner. Participants were performing with full endeavor, while the remaining were supporting them through screams, cheers and chants. The field was filled with hopeful enthusiasts rooting for one another.

After each and every event, people on the field learnt a new thing, acceptance. Accepting loss and victory through the performance of their house members. As numbers only increased on the scoreboard people were more nervous about whose number increased faster and more, the competition was heated but the energy never faded.

With a smashing point total of 1059, the Blue Hawks are now the reigning champions for the third year in a row. We’ve got our very own young awe-inspiring athletes who trained extremely hard every day, just to make history in the KIS record books.

Records set at Field Day 2019

  1. Division A Boys – 400-meter Dash
    • New time of 54.53 seconds set by Prashant Sarkar (Class of 2019) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 55.00 seconds set in 1973 by Henry Poetker (Class of 1973)
  2. Division A Boys – 1500-meter Run
    • New time of 4 minutes 44.00 seconds set by Jakob Wuthrich (Class of 2020) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 4 minutes 46.37 seconds set in 1981 by Mark Dencker (Class of 1982)
  3. Division B Boys – Discus Throw
    • New distance of 33.03 meters set by Aryan Patel (Class of 2021) from the White Horses || Previous record: 32.71 meters set in 2006 by Ujen Norbu Gurung (Class of 2008)
  4. Division B Boys – Long Jump
    • New distance of 6.37 meters set by Sunwoo Park (Class of 2021) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 6.04 meters set in 2009 by Jigmi Samkyi (Class of 2011)
  5. Division B Boys – High Jump
    • New height of 1.77 meters set by Sunwoo Park (Class of 2021) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 1.70 meters set in 2006 by Pathros Alex (Class of 2009) and tied in 2013 by Chayin Ninnernnon (Class of 2015)
  6. Division B Girls – High Jump
    • New height of 1.49 meters set by Maya Sarkar (Class of 2022) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 1.46 meters set in 1965 by Margaret Kapenga Shurdom (Class of 1968) and tied in 1986 by Alice Joseph (Class of 1987) and 1987 by Karin Lockwood (Class of 1990)
  7. Division B Girls – 1500-meter Run
    • New time of 5 minutes 55.00 seconds set by Hanna Wüthrich (Class of 2021) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 6 minutes 28.13 seconds
  8. Division C Boys – 800-meter Run
    • New time of 2 minutes 27.54 seconds set by Aamir Shapurkar (Class of 2024) from the Orange Tigers || Previous record: 2 minutes 36.12 seconds set in 2016 by Dominik Wüthrich (Class of 2020)
  9. Division C Girls – Discus Throw
    • New distance of 24.83 meters set by Koushika GK (Class of 2023) from the Blue Hawks || Previous record: 21.14 meters set in 2018 by Koushika GK (Class of 2023)
  10. Division D Boys – High Jump
    • New height of 1.37 meters set by Len Hangsing (Class of 2025) from the White Horses || Previous record: 1.23 meters set in 2006 by Leo Granner (Class of 2012)

As you can tell, KIS is just as aggressive as it is loving. And each house is filled with some mind-baffling go-getters when it comes to athleticism. School spirit continues to shine, and its colors continue to fly publicly at every Field Day.

– Diya Shrestha (Class of 2022) and Shivangni Saha (Class of 2022)

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