We are happy to share with you some of our favorite photographs from the KIS community during the past quarter.
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.”
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.
The International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP) Personal Project is designed to be a practical exploration, wherein students experience the responsibility of completing a significant piece of work over an extended period of time. The long-term project is designed as an independent learning experience. MYP projects involve students in a wide range of activities to extend their knowledge and develop their own interests for lifelong learning.
Below is an article from Shantanu Vaijyanath (Class of 2021) sharing his experience of the Personal Project Fair.
Beginning in July 2018, at the start of Grade 10, many of us greeted the news of the Personal Project with mixed emotions. Some were excited, some groaned and while others had no reaction at all, and just viewed it as a task to be accomplished. It was only at the final Personal Project Exhibition of that everyone demonstrated a singular emotion, the emotion of pride.
One product per person, worked upon for close to 7 months (including the Winter break), was displayed at the Alumni hall. It began with an intense atmosphere, a nervous energy, which later became more amicable with teaching our friends, teachers and residential parents about our research experience and product development.
The journey of the Personal Project made numerous individuals endure various challenges and overcome a number of issues, the most common being procrastination. The project involved a lot of research which needed to be compiled, the proof-of-work done in the process journal and finally, the product, the most vital component of the project.
When it came to the products, these were some of the best and most creative ones we had seen. Few of them reflected the time and energy that was put into the development. Hence, even if most of the students were not able to effectively record the development of the product, or compile the research needed in an organized manner, the product was always there to prove the work done. At the end of the day, with the start of the rain, symbolic of the conclusion of all our worries and accomplishments, we returned with smiling, content faces.
– Shantanu Vaijyanath, Class of 2021
The KIS community encourages students to have healthy dialogue, spirited discourse and raise awareness around a variety of topics. This year students taking Health from the Class of 2020, learned about various drugs, drug use, drug abuse, and their effects on our body and minds. They decided to raise awareness about different drugs/issues creatively by composing and singing songs. This was their health project for the second quarter.
They got into groups to research on a specific drug or drug-related issue, composed their own lyrics and created their own album art. Jill Samuel an alumni from the Class of 2004, now the Health teacher shared, “Some students picked a tune and sang their own words, while others chose to compose the music as well. The project on drug awareness was successful and the students put in their best effort to put together some great music for a good cause.”
The coursework and research done by the students helped them gain more information on the usage of drugs and when abused, its side effects. Providing a platform to raise awareness among the student community creatively was an enjoyable experience and opened up avenues for more fact-based conversations. The community environment provides a safe place for students to be highly informed and sensitive to drug-related issues.
Last month a delegation of 14 from KIS went to Ecole Mondiale in Mumbai to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) conference. MUN is a platform for students who aspire to be in the field of diplomacy and public affairs. The event promotes healthy debate and diplomacy, whereby students learn how to establish their points of view and aim to convince their opponents to be their allies. The focus is to come to a common understanding to solve world issues which concern multiple parties and have the potential to harm many more. The idea is to respect the views of others, establish common goals and ensure, to the extent possible, a win-win solution for all parties concerned.
Our preparation started many weeks prior to the event, with a great deal of research work going into current affairs across the world. “It was an amazing experience for the students, as for most of them it was the first MUN conference they had attended”, remarked Sophia Rayan, the Head of Social Studies. “Many of our first timers debated exceptionally well in the conference, thanks to the tremendous amount of work they put in, along with help from our MUN Club President, Dominic, and Vice President Ishita.”
The conference had committees ranging from the Court of Shah Jahan, a historical Council, to the United Nations Security Council, the committee with the highest mandate in the United Nations. Our delegates represented various countries in nearly all of these committees. The general comment on KIS students? They were usually the most well-informed delegate in their respective committees. Our plethora of general knowledge helped us engage in fiery debates, that kept on-lookers mesmerized and often flabbergasted.
The MUN experience has the capacity to arm the quietest person in the room, with the confidence to speak up and contribute to the flow of discourse. To sum up our experience from Mumbai, we met a lot of different people, broke our voices debating and bagged two awards in the process: for Best Delegate (ECOSOC) and Best Country (Security Council – Germany).