Dear Parents, Faculty and Staff This is the final newsletter the 2017-2018 school year - AISB’s 40th year of providing high-quality learning experiences in a welcoming, student-centered environment. This was a year of deep introspection and planning for improvement as AISB undertook a year long self-study, in preparation for re-accreditation by the Middle States Association this coming fall.
We invite you to learn about the self-study process and other important ways that AISB grew this year, by taking a look through the second annual End of Year Academic Report to the AISB School Community. The EoY Report provides an overview of the school’s various curricular and co-curricular initiatives and developments, and shares student achievement results for the year. This year AISB students achieved academically at levels above international and American national norms as measured by, for example, school-wide MAP scores; and they did it in a safe and happy learning environment. Our students also continued to engage meaningfully with the broader community through an increasing variety of service learning projects.
Farewells It is also that time of year at which we bid a fond farewell to the members of our AISB community who will be moving on to new beginnings. Our graduates will be sent off triumphantly, diplomas in hand, to embark upon the next big steps in their academic and life paths. We celebrated their achievement first at the Senior Walk Through this past Friday and will do so more formally, at the graduation ceremony this Thursday, June 7th.
We also have a number of faculty members leaving us to move on to new endeavors. We bid a fond farewell to:
Abdel Yattara (K-12 French Teacher)
Attie van den Berg (PreK 3 Teacher)
Brenna Wongue (PreK 4 Teacher)
India Thomas (Kindergarten Teacher)
Lola Ayuso (HS Spanish Teacher)
Maggie Fezekas (Grade 4/ 5 Classroom Teacher)
Véronique Mayer (MS Science & Math Teacher, College Counselor)
Whether in the classroom as educators, or by providing other essential elements needed to build a supportive and stimulating learning environment for the students of AISB, these folks have made our school a better and stronger place. We thank them sincerely for their service and wish them all the very best.
The next few days Below is a brief outline of what to expect for the last few days of school.
June 4-6 – HS Exams (Exam Schedule). Regular school hours in MS and ES, with some special events you will have heard about from teachers.
Thursday, June 7th – Regular school day for ES and MS, with some special events you will have heard about from teachers. Grade 9-11 students are not required to attend school, however all graduating students are expected to be at school by 8:00a.m. for a special graduation breakfast and a graduation practice. Graduates need to arrive for the ceremony by 5:30 p.m. on the evening of Thursday, June 7th.
Friday, June 8th – All students should come to school as usual on Friday. There will be final class and divisional activities, and report cards will be handed out. A short whole school assembly will begin at 11:20am, including songs and brief farewells; parents are very welcome to attend. Students will be dismissed from the assembly at 11:45.
I offer a special thank you to all our teachers, assistants, admin and support staff for the work they have done on behalf of our students this year.
The summer break, start of the next school year and Malian elections The school office will be open throughout the summer holiday from 9:00-3:00 each day, except for public holidays. School is scheduled to recommence for the 2018-19 school year on August 14, 2018.
At the meeting of May 30th, the AISB Board of Trustees heard reports about the possible scenarios for the Malian elections and how these might impact the start of school from the US Embassy and other organizations. The Board did not feel that there was sufficient evidence to warrant making any changes to the 2018-19 school calendar approved in January. Rather, the Board will maintain a close watch on any developments that arise during the first round of elections on July 29th and in the days following. Should there be any reason to consider changing the calendar at any time the Board will meet to make the decision, and I will inform parents of any changes.
We do know that some families have made plans to return to Bamako in the third week of August, after the second round of elections is scheduled to take place on August 12th. Secondary teachers (grade 6-12) will be sure to make themselves and their lessons available to students online to ensure that they can keep up with any work they miss before they are able to return to Bamako.
I wish you and your family a safe, happy and relaxing summer vacation. Best of luck to those of you moving on to new adventures and locales.
See you at school!
Brad Waugh Director American International School of Bamako
Join the PTO
Our Parent-Teacher Organization is propelled by a dedicated and hard-working group of parents. These are the folks who brought you the excellent Welcome Back BBQ, Hallowe'en Carnival, International Fair, 40th Anniversary BBQ and Staff Appreciation Days. If you would like to make sure that the AISB community continues to have events that bring AISB families together please contact the PTO (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let them know you are keen on getting involved. In particular, they are looking for a team of pragmatic, fun-loving folks who will start planning for the Welcome Back BBQ, tentatively scheduled for September 1, 2018. Please drop them an email and volunteer for this so we can start next year off right.
Ms. Soumah ready for the summer holidays
Thanks to AISB's 2017-18 School Board Trustees
AISB is fortunate to have such a supportive and involved parent community. I would like to take the opportunity to thank our 2017-18 elected board members for their hard work in the service of student learning:
We have been busy planning for the coming school year. We expect to start the year with close to 170 students; but as you know, this could easily change over the summer. Below is our staffing plan for the coming year, based on our current enrollment expectations.
Elementary Class Teachers:
PreK – Famida Daud, Sira Diarra and Krishanthi Ekanayake
Kg – Marylou Casillas
Gr. 1 – Julie Gibson
Gr. 2 – Janet Stewart
Gr. 3 – Don Johnson
Gr. 4/5 – Moira Henderson
Secondary School Advisors:
Gr. 6 Advisor– Isabelle Thomazeau-Pépin
Gr. 7 Advisor– Bill Owens
Gr. 8 Advisor– Vivek Gupta
Gr. 9 Advisor– Aiza Mbaye
Gr. 10 Advisor– Kelly Owens
Gr. 11 Advisor– Terae Soumah
Gr. 12 Advisor, College Counselor– Mike Knazek
Grade 6 & 7 English & Humanities; Grade 8 & 10 English – Bill Owens
MS Science & Math – Vivek Gupta
HS English – Renée Comesotti
HS Math; Computer Science – Aiza Mbaye
HS Science – Mike Knazek
HS and Grade 8 Humanities – Kelly Owens
ESOL – Laliya Ba
French – Ousmane Barry, Isabelle Thomazeau-Pépin & Justin Sinkpon
K-12 Art – Simone Kamminga
MS Art and Performing Art – Terae Soumah
I.T. Director– Marcus Tanner
P.E. and Athletics/Aquatics Coordinator– Amadou Ba
Music – Yaritza Font Suárez
Learning Support – Terae Soumah
Library – Yaa Obeng
ToK and Project: Critical and Creative Thinking
AISB’s high school curriculum includes a strand that explicitly targets students’ development of creative and critical thinking skills. This year, as part of this strand, AISB inaugurated a Theory of Knowledge course for students in grades 11 and 12, which was followed by a one-semester Project Course.
ToK, or epistemology, is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Through investigating the ways of knowing, and the limits of knowledge within the academic disciplines, students develop powerful frameworks for creating and using knowledge. They also learn about themselves and their world, challenging their beliefs about the meaning of their experiences and perceptions, and the basis of their values and aspirations.
The Project is the practical application of students’ learning in Theory of Knowledge, inviting students to bring together their creative and critical thinking in an exploration of essential questions within the academic disciplines.
Components of the Project The Project has three essential components:
Extensive, self-directed independent research, that calls upon students to investigate an essential question of their choice within a particular field of knowledge
An extended Reflection Essay, in which students explore the range of ideas and ‘ways of knowing’ within their field of choice, with respect to their essential questions, and
The creation of a ‘Product’ that reflects students’ learning and ideas with respect to the essential question.
These components are designed to work together to challenge the scope of students’ intellect and imagination.
The research component of the Project is designed to offer students an authentic project experience, honing their skill in framing (and limiting) authentic research questions, developing and revising a research plan, evaluating the worth and credibility of sources, and synthesizing new knowledge from primary sources.
Composing and defending an extended essay is a time-honored means of building students’ intellectual confidence and their sense of belonging in world of the academic and intellectual discourse. Essays are expected to be formal in tone and execution, but always reflect our students’ individual voices and perspectives.
The ‘product’ is often the driving force behind the whole experience. Students begin the entire process by completing the sentence “I want to…” — and the range of students’ responses is as inspiring as it is delightful.
AISB’s Mission, Vision and Beliefs are deeply embedded in many of these projects, and in the idea of the Project course itself; and the Project is an excellent opportunity for students that provides them with time, space, resources and mentor support in pursuing their ambitions and realizing their dreams. It is also an authentic test of their abilities as critical, creative thinkers.
Individual Challenge Each student faces a different set of personal challenges in defining, planning and completing the Project. For some the very initial stages – choosing an area of interest and imagining a ‘product’ – are the toughest part. The Project stipulates that students should work in an area of interest sufficient to occupy their intellects and imaginations for an entire semester. Some students know exactly what they want to do, from the outset; others, faced with a world of choice, feel daunted. For these students, building the confidence they need to recognize and articulate their ambitions is perhaps the most important part of the Project.
And in a more general practical sense, the Project requires that students design and manage a large project strategically and effectively. It’s a major undertaking, to say the least, and students approach the Project with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The Project demands a lot of students – along with intellectual independence and rigor, successfully completing a project on such a large scale requires effective problem-solving, planning, organizational and interpersonal skills, along with genuine creativity and a significant amount of courage. More than this, it requires students to know themselves as thinkers, learners, and responsible members of a global community.
This Year’s Projects Our students’ products vary enormously, as much as our students do; and taken together they offer an impressive testament to the range and depth of our students’ ambitions. This year’s products are listed below. They represent an impressive range of ideas and interests and offer an excellent glimpse into the minds and the dreams of AISB students.
Students are presenting their Projects in a gallery show in the upper foyer outside the Library. We invite you cordially, as members of the AISB community, to browse through them. And don’t hesitate to ask Project students about their work; they’ll offer interesting insights and discussion of their process and the meaning of their product.
Research project to investigate social groupings in AISB
What is the relationship between the individual and the group?
Original music and stories
What is the relationship between music and meaning?
What is the relationship between culture and identity?
Why do societies fail?
Giant jigsaw puzzle of the African nations
What is the relationship between how we solve a problem and the answer we produce?
Visual and kinaesthetic art
Lyrics in a musical collaboration
What is the relationship between words and emotion?
What is the relationship between memory and truth?
A dress of glass
What is the relationship between clothing and the body?
Textile design, sociology, gender studies
A giant eye
What is the relationship between seeing and perception?
Neuroscience, Visual Art
What does it mean to know a place?
What is the relationship between fiction and reality?
What is the relationship between beauty and detail?
Photography, Visual Arts
What is the relationship between art and emotion?
Chade van de Fliert
Is seeing believing?
Neuroscience, Visual Art
Africa Day Celebrations
The AISB Library also hosted a Malian Mask and Culture Event as part of the Africa Day celebrations.
Grades 8 and 9 Community-Based Engagement
As part of their Community-Based Engagement this year, a group of grade 8 students visisted a public school, École L’Esperance de Djelibougou, to interact with the students.
Grade 9 students also visited the state orphanage, "Le Centre d’Accueil et de Placement Familial", as part oftheir community-based engagement experience.
AISB Quebec Trip
AISB Quebec Trip,by Clara Saiel
This spring break was unlike the others. We had the exceptional opportunity to go on a trip with the school to Quebec, Canada. This trip was the occasion to reinforce our French and to learn about the Quebec culture. We had a great time starting March 23rd when we were at the airport to March 31st when we came back. Every part of the trip was perfect. We did many enjoyable activities that taught us many things. We started our trip in Montreal and then went to Quebec City. We were accompanied by two guides who stayed with us the whole trip Mary and Wendy. From all the activities we did, there were some strong moments that marked me more than others. The snow sledding, the Sugar Shack, and the poetry night were for me the strongest moments in our trip. Even though we weren’t always all together and close, in those moments the group wasn’t divided we were all together sharing the experience.
The snow sledding was magical. For some of us it was the first time seeing snow. Having the opportunity to touch and feel it was unforgettable. We spent the whole day in an amusement park just sledding down the snowy hills and screaming of fright with our friends. Although we were intimidated by the first and easiest hill, we managed to reach the Everest ride. The most terrifying of all the rides. You had to go up a set of slippery stairs to reach the Everest which was built on a wooden structure. As we sled down the Everest, we could feel our stomachs drop. We felt the adrenaline. Some of us had an overdose of snow, we tried the white powdery snow. After sledding until late afternoon, we visited the ice hotel which was in the same site as the sledding park. This hotel was amazing. It was all built from ice. It had to be destroyed and rebuilt every year. The hotel had a theme every year. This year it was the circus. The walls were full of carvings and sculptures of acrobats and lions. Inside the hotel it was -5 degrees Celsius. It was even colder than outside. Ice is a good insulator and keeps the cold inside. This is necessary to keep the hotel from melting. We finished our visit in the bar of the hotel having a drink out of a cup made from ice. This experience was memorable.
The Sugar shack was another part of the trip that I really enjoyed. Canada is well known for their production of maple syrup. We went to the sugar shack, a place were maple syrup and maple syrup goods are produced. There, the owner of the sugar shack explained the origins of maple syrup and how it was used by the natives. He also told us about the process to make maple syrup. First, you make a hole in a maple tree. Second, you put a pipe into the hole that is attached to a bucket. Next, you let the sugar water drip into the bucket until it’s full. Finally, you collect that water and boil it into maple syrup. After this explanation, we had the opportunity to buy maple syrup goods. We bought maple butter, maple tea, maple popcorn, maple cookies, maple candy, and many other maple products. After a visit of the sugar shack ,we had a traditional dinner in the sugar shack. We were encouraged to add maple syrup in everything we ate even the soup. After an excellent meal came the best part, the dancing. Our guide Mary taught us a traditional dance that we all learned and enjoyed doing. This moment was my favourite of the trip. Everyone was close and danced together we were one united group. We tasted one last maple syrup good before leaving. We went outside and stood in front of a wooden tube that held snow. Maple syrup was poured into the snow we had to wait 15 seconds. Then we could wrap the sticky maple syrup around our sticks. It was delicious. This was one of those days you never forget.
In Quebec, we stayed in a hostel that was part of a school. This hostel receives groups from all around the world like us. On our last night in the hostel, we had the privilege to meet some of the students in that school for a poetry night. A very reputed Quebec poet also assisted. The poems we shared were about identity. We shared a part of us in those poems. We gave the students there a glimpse of who we were and how we felt. In order to show them a part of the Malian culture, we brought some Malian tea with us and served it to them. They were delighted and liked it very much. This night was the opportunity to exchange with those students and meet people from other cultures. I’m very thankful for having such an opportunity.
This trip to Quebec was also a French immersion trip. It was to reinforce our French skills. Their French there is absolutely not like ours. They have many funny expressions and they invent some words sometimes. I’m personally not a fan of their accent and wouldn’t want to speak like them. There are some expressions that I particularly found funny. For example “C’est Correc’ “ is their way of saying something is good in our French we say, “c’est correct”. Quebec French also takes many words from English due to the fact that they were colonized by the British. For example they call yogurt “yogurt” like in English when we say “yaourt” in French. Even though their accent is special it’s a part of their culture and it’s what makes them who they are.
This was my first school trip and I had a very positive experience that I would repeat without hesitation. Not only did we learn, but we bonded with each other. I highly recommend Quebec as a destination to anyone. This trip took a long time to be organized and waiting for it was endless, but worth it. I’m very thankful to Mr. Yattara and Mrs. Laliya who gave us their time and effort. I look forward to other trips and opportunities like this one.
Le Voyage Scolaire d’AISB au Québec, by Malika Keita
Le voyage au Canada était une expérience extraordinaire. Nous étions 23 élèves que représentait le Mali, et nos autres nationalités. C’était un long voyage, nous sommes partis du Mali à minuit trente pour un voyage de sept heures du Mali en Turquie. Après nous avons pris l’avion d’Istanbul à Montréal, ce qui a pris dix heures de vol considérées très longues pour la plupart d’entre nous. À notre arrivée personne ne pouvait cacher son enthousiasme. Nous avons rencontré nos animatrices Marie et Wendy à l’aéroport. Elles étaient tellement contentes de pouvoir enfin nous rencontrer, nous qui venons de si loin. Nous avons dormi dans une auberge de jeunesse et le lendemain nous sommes partis en bus pour le Québec. Au Québec, nous logions dans une auberge, qui était aussi une école, l’Auberge du Mont.
Tout le long de la semaine les activités s'enchaînaient. Nous avons fait en une semaine ce que des personnes font en deux ou trois semaines. Une des activités préférées des élèves était la glissade sur neige. Cette activité se passait au Village Vacances Valcartier. Nous avions des bouées que nous transportions partout pour glisser sur des pistes de neige. La neige était quelque chose que la plupart d’entre nous n’avions jamais vue. Il y avait tellement de neige au Village Vacances Valcartier que c'était l'occasion pour s'amuser dans la neige, faire des bonhommes de neige et des batailles de boule de neige. Il y avait des pistes de tous les niveaux et c’était définitivement une des activités phares de ce voyage.
Nous sommes allés également à la Cabane à Sucre où l’on produit le sirop d’érable. Nous en avons profité pour faire des achats de sirop d’érable et d’autres produits. Le même soir nous sommes allés manger au restaurant de la Cabane à Sucre, c'était une soirée très agréable parce que nous avons appris une danse traditionnelle du Québec avec notre animatrice Marie. Ce qui a marqué ce moment c’est que nous avons pu être un groupe uni. Tout le monde est venu danser et a fait de ce moment un moment unique.
En outre, nous avons passé un après-midi au Cirque du Soleil. Là-bas nous avons fait des groupes et nous avions tous un coach qui nous faisait naviguer et essayer les différents types d’activités que le cirque avait à nous offrir. Nous avons pu faire des acrobaties, du monocycle, du trapèze, du trampoline, de la jonglerie et encore plus. Il y avait aussi une soirée poésie où sept élèves ont pu partager un poème sur l’identité avec des élèves de l’école où nous logions. C’était une expérience assez forte en émotion, et nous avons rendu nos accompagnateurs très fiers.
Ce voyage nous a apporté beaucoup de choses en tant que personnes. Il nous a appris à être plus matures, parce que quelquefois les animateurs ne pouvaient pas s’occuper de tout le monde en même temps. En ces moments là, on apprend à se contrôler et essayer d’aider. Nous avons aussi appris à s’adapter par rapport à la culture des Québécois. Quelquefois leurs étaient différentes de ce que à quoi on est habitués au Mali. Nous nous sommes adaptés et nous avons appris plus sur leur culture et leur histoire. Une grande partie du Canada c’est leur accent français et la façon dont ils changent les mots. Pour certains d’entre nous, leurs accents étaient insupportables mais encore une fois, nous avons fait des efforts pour s’y adapter. Cette expérience nous a permis de renforcer nos liens entre amis et accompagnateurs. En vivant ensemble pendant une semaine les gens autour de toi apprennent à te connaître mieux et des amitiés encore plus fortes se construisent. Je voudrais remercier Mr Yattara et Mme Ba pour nous avoir accompagné et rendu ce voyage inoubliable.
For those travelling abroad this summer, you may want to take advantage of the larger number of shopping options available to look for swimwear for your child.
Although there's plenty of fun involved, students are generally in the pool to learn. So your child needs an active-recreation or sport swimsuit, rather than fashion swimwear: something comfortable that's suitable for racing, diving, paddling, lifesaving, conducting experiments, playing strategy games, or otherwise engaging in vigorous exercise.
Above all, pool-wear should be sun-safe, wherever possible; consider adding a "rashie" or UV-resistant goggles to help protect your child’s skin and eyes from harmful UV exposure.
There's a wide range of swimwear available these days for girls and boys, including:
board shorts and tops
"rashguard" or "rashie" tops for girls and boys, for better sun protection
water aerobics suits
regular one or two-piece suits (try to avoid very thin straps or around-the neck straps since these may be uncomfortable and/or impractical for exercising)
surfer-style "jammer" shorts and tops
swim unitards, long or short
water polo suits
Added sun protection -- rashies or t-shirts over suits -- is encouraged wherever practical. Students may also want goggles and swim caps.
We're looking forward to an exciting year of learning in the water. If you have questions about the pool or swim gear, please don't hesitate to be in touch.
Again, if you will be travelling abroad you may want to pick up some school supplies. The supplies expected for students to bring to school can be found hereon the AISB web site. Parents can buy directly from the school store at the start of the school year and we will send more information out about this in early August.
BYOD- Which type of laptop should I get?
In 2018-19, the secondary school will continue the Bring Your Own Device program (BYOD). With a device that they are completely familiar with and control, student learning can happen anytime and anywhere; there are more opportunities for choice in the timing, mode (offline and online, applications used), location and pathways for learning. Please follow these broad guidelines:
Each student in Grades 6 - 12 should be provided with a personal laptop
The laptop should be no more than three years old
Chromebooks, netbooks and tablets and smartphones are not suitable alternatives
Either Apple or Microsoft Windows as your operating system; this could depend on what other devices in your household use. Having the English version is easier for us to support.
The minimum technical specifications for new devices are:
Intel i5 / 1.6GHz processor (or AMD equivalent)
4Gb of RAM (8GB is better)
50Gb of available storage
Camera and microphone
Battery with 5 - 6 hours life
Windows (8.1 or 10) / Mac OSX (El Capitan or Sierra); English version is preferred
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint minimum)
Internet security software (eg Kaspersky, Bit Defender, F-Secure)
Other accessories to consider:
Portable hard disk drive, for backing up and archiving files
Sturdy case for transporting the laptop to school, and between classes
Extra power adapter
A way to personalise the laptop and make it easier to identify eg protective skins, keyboard covers
Some examples of laptops that meet our minimum requirements are shown below; this is not an endorsement for any particular model. The prices listed were taken from CDW (www.cdw.com) on May 1, 2018. It is worth considering devices that exceed our minimum requirements, as they are more likely to be able to keep up with changing demands of operating systems and software for a longer period of time. If you would like advice about a specific model of laptop, please feel free to contact the Technology Department.
Other summer school supplies Again, in case you have plans to purchase school supplies while travelling abroad this summer, please refer to the list of recommended supplies on the school website to inform your purchases. Of course, the school store also makes these items available at the start of and throughout the school year.