The Flag Green

Health Getting Creative: Drug Awareness Songs by Class of 2020

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.

Photo Albums, First Semester of the Academic Year 2018-19

The KIS community had an action-filled first semester with fun & excitement. We are happy to share with you some of our favorite photographs.

KIS Care Week
Grade 10 Camp
Independence Day Celebrations
Writers’ Workshop
Fall Festival
Dorm Dance Competition
NHS Talent Show
Spirit Week
Kodai Open Basketball Tournament
Christmas Banquet


KIS Awarded for Excellence in Environmental Awareness

Kodaikanal International School (KIS) joined the Green Schools Alliance in 2014, and has been committed to be a pioneer for environment protection and sustainability in the region. This has led to KIS receiving the Award for Excellence in Environmental Awareness from the International Aqua Foundation, which is given for significant achievement at the national or international level for Environment, including Water, Energy, Earth Sciences, Pollution Control, and Sustainability Solutions.

For this Award, KIS was recognized for its vital role of promoting Environment Awareness and Enhancing Water Efficiency. It was the only school amongst a number of government agencies, NGOs, corporations, and individuals nominated for the various awards. Clarence Maloney (Class of 1952) was asked by KIS to go and receive the award, at the XII World Aqua Congress, held in New Delhi on November 22-23.

In recent years, KIS has easily moved to emphasize modern environment issues, such as energy, water, recycling, and biodiversity, because of its long emphasis on nature. The school’s various academic, social, and community projects, and especially its Hiking and Camping Program, are well known for encouraging students to experience nature. “Students should develop a respect for the environment, both in terms of understanding individual and collective impacts, and as agents of change toward a healthier and more sustainable planet,” says Clarence Maloney.

In January 2016, KIS was recognized by the Green Schools Alliance as a Green School of the Month, for its achievements as regards solar panels, solar water heaters, water purifiers, roof water collection, groundwater recharge, drinking fountains, sewage treatment and re-us; also for trash recycling and composting, sholai (native) tree planting, waste flat paper re-use, etc. As a part of the holistic KIS education, all students take practical coursework in the Social and Environment Experience Department (SEED) on topics such as water resources, energy conservation, food waste, plastics, and global warming and are required to perform community service (installation of smokeless stoves, composting, native tree planting, sorting recyclable, clean-up around town, etc.).

Students can take the International Baccalaureate (IB) course, “Environmental Systems and Society” for a higher level of awareness. Also, many of them conduct their IB Senior Research projects on environment issues, such as anti-virus resistance and anti-fungal resistance in lake water, water quality below the town dump, effect of chemical fertilizers, and vermiculture of food waste.

These Palani Hills are a “sky island” at 2200m altitude, part of the Western Ghats which is one of the most biodiverse but threatened areas of the world, and has the large Kodaikanal Wildlife Reserve. KIS collaborates with the Forest Department, Municipality, and local schools and societies such as the Palani Hills Conservation Council, and INTAC. The school also has a 140-acre campsite, where students learn more about vegetation change and wildlife.

KIS is now setting up an Environment Education Center, where students, tourists, and researchers, can learn more about the ecology of these hills, as well as world issues of warming and ocean rise. This Center will be self-sufficient in energy, water, sewage treatment, and recycling, as an example.

Act to Perform Well – Shrek the Musical Takes to Stage!

“‘Be honest, be bored, be angry, and be sad…’ This is what I coach teachers to do in their classrooms,” states former KIS IB HL English teacher, and Theatrical Director Bob Granner.

Mr Granner was part of the age-old tradition at KIS of staging theatrical performances. Almost every year, without fail, Kodaikanal International School has opened its doors to the community, and staged a performance or more. Bob has staged plays like ‘the King and I’, ‘Sound of Music’ in the 70s, and ‘The Christmas Carol’ in the 90s. This year, Bob has come on a vacation to Kodai to assist Director Robert Wood in his production ‘Shrek the Musical’ that was staged on November 2 to 4, 2018.

“Students and teachers alike are always under pressure to perform ‘well’ in their classrooms. On stage, they can expose themselves to different roles and situations, and exercise their emotional vulnerability. Drama magically brings out that honesty,” Bob describes. Mr Granner goes on to say that from his experiences with Theatre, it is a great way of establishing deep connections with the students that you cannot do behind a desk or in a classroom. In Theatre, students take risks and gain confidence in their ideas and abilities, making them more than what they believed they could be.

Previously, Drama used to take the sidelines of a curriculum and today, globally, Drama is being recognized and the ‘heart and soul’ of education. Across the globe, classrooms adopt theatrical methodology into their teaching skills, from elementary, all the way up to high school. Theatre classes provide and outlet for students to make creative choices, interpret material and messages, and think new ways of expression.

Through theatrical performances, students learn to work collaboratively as a team, develop a sustained focus of their mind, body, voice. They learn to trust through social interaction with others, trust in themselves, others and in the process and journey of the production.

Bob Granner describes the opportunity for students to perform, that which is unique to their entire emotional development. “Being on stage is more a revelation of who the person is, and yet they are pretending too. On stage, you can laugh, scream, cry and allow your deeper person to come out. This allows us, the staff member, to connect with that individual”.

Earlier this month, KIS Students continued the tradition of Theatrical Performances at KIS. It was three days of outstanding, high quality performances of ‘Shrek the Musical’. Students of all ages learnt to work collaboratively, and cooperatively. They learnt to focus on timings, body language and presence on stage. Some of the main characters were exposed for the first time to performing, and worked hard to improve their presence on stage.

The choreography, stage and costumes amazed its viewers, bringing to life the 2001 DreamWorks animation. They took their audience through a journey of laughter, excitement and awe. The performance was open to larger Kodai community to watch, giving students from all over Kodai and social backgrounds the opportunity to enhance their imagination and create an appreciation for the arts and live performances.

The team of students in ‘Shrek the Musical’ just like many others performers before them, have created memories for themselves and for others that will last a lifetime!

Hiking in the Palani Hills through the Ages

Over the years, KIS has taken advantage of its unique location at 7000 feet in the Palani Hills, providing students an unparalleled experience of the environment and extraordinary adventures with nature. As a part of #LetsCelebrateKodai, we interviewed three seasoned hikers and Tahr Pin winners over the years: Barbara Block (BB), Kevin Jayaprakash (KJ) and Sakthiuma Thandauthapani (ST).

Barbara attended KIS from 1967 to 68 (Grade 2 and half of Grade 3), and 69 to 71 (Grade 5 to 7). At that time, the hiking program was only for HS students (9-12). She currently has 25 Tahr Pins, which is every year she was not on sabbatical.

Kevin attended KIS from PreSchool to Grade 12 and graduated in 2002.  He started Hiking in Grade 6 and currently has 10 Tahr Pins.

Sakthi started hiking since joining KIS in Grade 8 and has got 4 Tahr Pins so far, this year marks her winning the Gold Pin.

Hiking 1

1. Who/What influenced you to take up hiking?

BB: My parents hiked and my childhood memories include hikes in the Rocky Mountains, and climbing ancient Forts in Telangana). John Wiebe, my Grade 6 teacher, was an avid hiker and camper. He arranged class activities for us, and many of these were hiking or even an overnight class sleep-overs (on the verandah of an old building).

ST: I wanted adventure. When I was in Grade 8, the daily school routine was monotonous; we woke up in the morning, got ready for school, caught a bus to go to a different campus and came back to dorm. I wanted to try something new, so I tried hiking which was very adventurous. I chose hiking for getting the thrill out of it.  

2. What motivates you most about getting into the Palani Hills?

BB: When I came to teach at Kodai in January of 1988, joining the hiking program the next fall, was a given. I crave being outdoors, and love looking at the ever changing scenery that hikes provide me.  Even after many times, the same route has new discoveries and treasures to enjoy.

KJ: The Palani Hills has a wide variety of flora and fauna that you are not exposed to staying in the town.  In addition, the varied landscapes and the extent to which you are able to understand the diversity of the region that you are in and how it changes and the impacts continues to take you out into the hills.  Also the peaceful surroundings just gives you that sense of relief after a long week.

ST: The beautiful scenery and the amazing flowers protected by the trees and the animals present there.

Hiking 5

3. How have the routes/environment/scenery changed over the years? If at all.

BB: Almost all hikes started by walking out the school gate, it was rare to drive to the start of a hike. Now, to avoid traffic, and sometimes to access further away hikes (Kukkal to plains, Moolayar to Rattail), we often drive the first hour. With challenges to hiking on Forest reserve land (which now is ALL forest, not just Berijam reserve), more of our hikes now go through village and plantation land, following the roads/trails used to move food and produce, only touching on the forest land at times.

KJ: Over the years, certain areas have a more restricted level of movement. One of the biggest changes would be the increase of more well-defined roads in areas that once used to be just animal trails. There is also more agricultural activity that has altered the landscape. However, overall I would say that forest areas continue to be protected, so changes in these have been very minimal. Lack of forest movement in many areas has also now caused paths to be overgrown and covered by fallen trees, making it difficult to maneuver.

Hiking 2

4. Your favourite hike/route?

BB: My favorite hikes (there is never only one) tend to include water crossings and splash opportunities as well as prehistoric Dolmen monuments. A long time favorite, which still remains top of my list, is Kukkal to Kudriyar Dam. Steep descents, on ancient stone staircases, past terraced fields, alongside waterfalls in plantation zones, and then long walk through untouched forest, with multiple stream crossings enroute, and a beautiful deep pool with a waterfall, near the end of the hike. Rare sightings of elephants, boa constrictors, signs of deer, wild boar, and often, Malabar giant squirrels, also make this hike memorable.

KJ: My favorite used to be the Berijam Ridge Hike which is no longer done. And the Kukkal to Kuduraiaar Dam.


5. Your most memorable hiking experience?

BB: High water crossings are definitely the most memorable! Definitely the one I call the ‘Wet one’. The planned hike to the Addikum Dolmens would have been wet and slippery on the rocks, so we made the call to do the Vilpatti to Palani route instead, which was more road/dirt trail. We arrived at a crossing to find water waist high, rushing over a partly broken weir, which we crossed by forming a chain.

KJ: Memorable Hiking experiences include, exploring the hills around Manjampatti during Tahr Camp in search of wildlife and climbing to the top of the big fire tower on the TN-Kerala Border (Day 2 of 80-Mile) and the view of the vast expanse of forest and mountain ranges that you got from there.

ST: My favourite hiking experience which was Palar Waterfalls D Hike. It is no more a hiking route due to safety reasons, but the one time I went, it was very adventurous. The slopes were steep and as it was raining, very slippery as well. We had lots of fun.

Winning at Model United Nations (MUN)

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).

Art Exhibition

This past October, as part of the Annual Field Trip Week, our Grade 11 Arts students traveled to the coastal heritage town of Mahabalipuram, 30 kilometers south of the Tamil Nadu state capital, Chennai. The Art, Architecture and Awareness Field Trip had a three-point focus, to learn about the art (past and present) of the region, by touring sites, art galleries, artist studios.

  • Art – sketching, painting and photographing what they see;
  • Architecture – visiting and recording the temples, monuments and monolithic sculptures of the region; and
  • Awareness by deciding on a message to communicate, on an issue of ‘global importance, with local impact’.

Richard Mather-Pike, Head of the Arts Department says, “The KIS Arts program provides students with the mechanisms to assimilate and study the various artistic lenses through which cultural knowledge, both past and present has, and is, being forged and transmitted.”

The social interaction component part of the Field Trip was done ‘in situ’ on the beach, using available found materials and objects. As preparation for this, students researched in advance on sand art and site-specific art. The works were made on the beach near the shore temple, where the crowds gather. They hoped that those passing would stop to think about the larger social & environmental issues these pieces of work communicated.

The trip included a visit to the Cholamandel Artists’ Village in whose gallery students saw an exhibition of local artists’ work. They also attended a papier mache workshop where they learnt South Indian and Kashmiri techniques of this versatile medium.

Back at school, the culmination to the trip was the Field Trip Exhibition, for which students design an artwork using their sketches, photographs, and memories to create a work that communicated their experience to others. For IB Arts students, this is an integral part of the course requirements as they are artist and curator, planning, executing and displaying their art work in the space provided in the KMU Hall.

“The Field Trip was a lot of fun as it was on the coast and for us to have the ability to curate a professional exhibit really helped me understand the effort that goes into communicating my point of view”, shared Manav Patel (Class of 2020), one of the budding artists at the exhibition. The exhibit showed a diverse set of art works that included sketches, paintings, sculptures and installation work.

The exhibition offers a chance for staff and students to appreciate the skill and experience of the artists. As the Field Trip students learnt from drawing in Cholamandel Art Gallery, and in an artist’s studio, about new ideas and approaches, KIS students from other grades visit and sometimes review the exhibition, expanding their ideas on how art concepts can be communicated, on new techniques and approaches, and on display of art works. Grade 10 students in particular, use this information as they think about or plan to take IBDP Art in the next year.


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