Student Focus: Music, Acting and Song! Oh My!

Written by Andrea Griego (Student Support Coordinator)

Can you imagine traveling to act and sing in a show in England? This is one experience that Sammy Soekarno in Y4B has had. Sammy is mostly known to fellow students at YCIS as being an amazing violinist, but Sammy also acts and sings.

Sammy says it all started with the violin. He was introduced to the violin in K4 and since then, has found music fascinating. Because of this, he also started playing the piano and was introduced to the world of acting and singing through music. What began as a simple music lessons at school, has turned into a multifaceted hobby and passion.

At YCIS, Sammy is in Primary orchestra. He says, “In Primary orchestra, I’m the co-leader position.” This is something Sammy is proud of, but he is also proud that he is part of the school’s Seeds of Hope Orchestra. This is an orchestra that is comprised of students from the different Yew Chung and Yew Wah schools, and recently performed at the Shanghai Oriental Theater as a fundraiser for Seeds of Hope. Sammy was excited because he was excused from school for two days for rehearsals. “This is the first time I will be independent and so I made sure to finish all my homework,” explained Sammy.

Outside of school, Sammy’s love of music continues as he is a member of the New Shanghai Orchestra Music and Drama (NSO) and plays his violin in the Sacred Heart Church Choir on Saturday evenings. He even played the violin at a family friend’s wedding. Aside from this, he also takes outside piano lessons where he passed his music school Grade 3 and jumped to Grade 5. He is currently studying and practising to pass his Grade 5.

Sammy began the NSO Music and Drama when he was six years old. He has performed in five different musical dramas in Hong Kong and Shanghai. He even performed in a show called “The Incident” in which he traveled to England to preform for audiences in York and Richmond. Sammy enjoyed traveling with the group and his mother for this show and wouldn’t mind being part of another show in the future. He says, “We also did a couple of street performances that were really fun.” Sammy also auditioned and became part of the NSO orchestra when he was seven. They hold three concerts over the year and this month the NSO Spring Concert will take place at the Shanghai Children’s Art Theater. Sammy plans to continue with music and acting and possibly make it a career.

Staff Focus: Jenni Wang, School Office Administrator

Written by Roseline Yang (Community Relations Officer)

Many of you may know our office staff, specifically Ivy for ASA queries, Helen for questions about the bus or Renee for your general inquiries, as you may have dealt with them directly.

But do you know the person behind this orchestra? Meet Jenni Wang, our School Office Administrator.
After having lived in Canada for 10 years, Jenni is definitely another example of an “East-meets-West” culture person: a highly-effective & organized professional with the humility of a traditional Chinese person.

Let me be more explicit: Whenever I have a question regarding the school, no matter if it is about where to find a teacher, a child, how to book a room, or who is organizing a certain event, I know that I can ask Jenni and she will redirect me to the appropriate person. At school, if we want any notice to be shared with parents, our main contact is Jenni. She is our central point, our right-hand to reach out to you through the blog, email, sms and phone calls. But when we asked her to be our staff focus for this newsletter, she got back to me saying that she did not have anything special and that it would be nicer to introduce the entire school office staff instead.

Let’s hear what Jenni can tell us about herself and the administration of the school office!

So Jenni, I was told you lived abroad for many years before coming back to Shanghai? Where were you and what did you do exactly?
I went to Georgia, USA as an exchange student in Grade 12 for one year. Then, I went to Canada to do my university studies. I spent 4 years in Peterborough doing my Bachelors in Economics and then went to Waterloo to study for my Masters in Business & Economics. After that, I worked in Toronto for 4 years in the manufacturing industry in the administration department.  I went from administrative assistant to administrative manager, and I have dealt with different tasks from customer service to marketing. When I came back to Shanghai, I worked as an administrative manager in a real estate company and then in a toy company.

And here you are since December 2015 at Yew Chung! It seems that it is a great fit for your work as a school administrator since you seem to be juggling with so many different jobs here: translator – you help with the translation of our school notices, secretary – you take notes at all the meetings I’m attending, simultaneous translator – you do the simultaneous translation for the parent workshops, and Professional Development Assistant – you make sure to record the training of all teachers. There is probably more that I am not aware of. And of course, you are managing the school office. Can you tell us exactly what the scope of your responsibilities is?
From my understanding, the responsibilities in a school office cover 4 main areas: The first one is everything student-related: school bus, ASA, on-line sign-up, data maintenance, student file, ID, documents for parents. The second part is everything related to parent communication: contact parents regarding any student issue, send information about the school by email and paper, manage the school newsletter and school blogs, and be the hotline for parents to answer their questions about a school trip or about a school event. The third part is to assist teachers with the record of their professional development, update the staff emergency phone tree and support the ECE & Primary Co-Principals, Damien and Mary. The fourth part is everything related to office and logistics: updating calendars, staff lists, setting up the conference room, ordering refreshments, as well as ensuring supplies for big events, not to mention smaller tasks such as copying and laminating, but on a large scale.

But what is your main role and how did you manage to cope with so many things so rapidly? I thought you had been working here for more than 5 years like the majority of the staff at school. So it was very surprising to know that you were almost as new as I was!
(shy smile) My role is to coordinate and manage the work among the school office team. It changes according to the time of the year, the time of the month, as the school life is very diverse. Therefore, our main tasks may change. However, each member of the school office team is focused on a main area.

So, who is heading which area?
For example, for the Primary side, Helen takes care of the school bus. She is responsible for bus applications and attendance, whereas Ivy takes care of ASA online registration, attendances as well as event registration. She is also in charge of the translation of the newsletter and the editing part. For other communications, we share the workload for translation. Renee and Quincy are the first contact for the parents for general questions on the phone or by email. When it is rush hour, for example, when an outdoor ASA is cancelled because of the weather and parents need to be informed, the whole team gets on the phone and informs the parents. In ECE, Elain is the main contact person for parents, ECE teachers and she supports the ECE Coordinators, Veronica and Michelle. She also takes care of all the ECE children’s files but as I said earlier, we work as a team. Therefore, especially at the beginning of the year when there are a lot of files to create and sort, we share the amount of work among us.

How did you adapt so quickly?
To be honest, I owe my quick adaptation to the constant support and help of Helen, Elain and Ivy who were very patient with me and always willing to help and give advice. They were great guides and their long experience at school was very useful – they indeed have been working for 5 years in the school and Helen just received her 10-year commitment award as you know!


So, last question to conclude our interview. It is really fascinating to unravel all the things happening behind a school office, especially because you and your team are always smiling, positive and helpful: How do you keep everyone happy?
I think that we all care for each other and we support each other whenever needed, both for work and in our personal life. We make everyone feel at home, so even when the work sometimes becomes challenging, we are united, we keep learning and growing!

Our recent Beethoven & Friends concert featuring our Primary orchestra playing together with Secondary orchestra can be the reflection of how Jenni is coordinating her team between ECE and Primary buildings.

YCIS Parents, Great Role Models of Learning and Sharing

Written by Roseline Yang (Community Relations Officer)

If you read any books about parenting, you will find this common advice: “be a role-model for your child”. Guiding or motivating your child to do something or interact appropriately within the family and in the outside world is not enough. Children will learn much faster through your actions than your words!

Even before our resolution article for 2017, parents were already putting some of these tips into action, for example by setting up a parent book club! This time, we would like to share how the initiatives of some of you to share your skills or to set-up common interest groups have inspired others to do the same and make the life at school even more meaningful.

In January, Kathy Hall has launched and run a workout group for and with some of the other parents. This group of friends has been meeting twice a week in the RP gym and has been working hard under the supervision of “Coach Kathy”. Parents of this group, the majority of whom are members of the POP Core Committee, have become much closer as they support each other not only for fitness but also with parenting advice. Their mutual support has also had a stronger impact on their involvement for POP school events. For example, new community events have been organized to raise money for the charity  they are supporting in the second semester such as second-hand book sale, the Valentine’s Day and the upcoming Spring Charity Brunch!

Meanwhile, Fiona Zhang, who is also a YCIS parent approached me more or less at the same time to ask for a room to be available to practice yoga with some parents! They also have been meeting twice a week and are now forming a YCIS Parent Yoga Club. This also has been a great opportunity for them to exchange tips for relaxation, ideas for better educating their children and for preparing activities for the Global Child Day in May!

In the same month, Alberto Caballero, another YCIS parent, offered to share his knowledge about self-defence and personal protection not only with the parent community but also with the teachers and staff of the school, thus diversifying their learning opportunities!

These different initiatives that created a space at school for practicing sports have brought on even more opportunities. After Chinese New Year we were able to launch two more professional exercise workshops!

  • Non-contact boxing with Alina, teacher from Sport Life, on Fridays
  • Flow Yoga with Ana Eccles, YCIS Parent and certified Yoga teacher on Thursdays

When children see their moms at school, they ask them what they are doing and when the moms share that they are going to practice a sport or they are going to help the school with a project, you can see a smile coming up on the children’s faces, that may hide a sense of pride to have a parent that sets a good example for them!

Stay tuned as the end of March/beginning of April brings us more workshops. Some of these new workshops will allow you to get to know more about your health and better understand your body, thanks to Body & Soul Clinics, who is offering 3 workshops about health!

The Student Voice: Where Robotics & Fun Join Forces

Written by Nathaniel Shih, Year 7 student, edited by Janelle Garett (Lower Secondary Coordinator)

‘Yew Chung will align with Art and Science’ is part of our school motto. We would like to share with you one of the ways our Lower Secondary students are putting it into action and extending their applied knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

On Mondays after school, many of our CP Lower Secondary students can be found in the ICT/Robotics Lab thinking creatively and working collaboratively as they design purpose-built robots made from Lego, learn to code, problem-solve and have a great time with their friends. Year 7 Nathaniel Shih tells us more about how this Lego League has allowed robotics and fun to join forces!

My name is Nathan Shih and I am part of the First Lego League ECA run by Mr. Horwood. The First Lego League ECA is centered around robot building, which involves design, coding, and is lots of fun. However there are other parts of the ECA that are important too. There is another area of the ECA that is called ‘The Project,’ which focuses on the value of our theme (Animal Allies). The main objective of ‘The Project’ is to recognize a problem involving humans interacting with animals, and to come up with a solution to help fix the interaction so that it doesn’t harm either party.

This season’s theme is called Animal Allies. Teams build robots out of Lego, and put specifically designed Lego batteries and wires to connect them to the moving parts of the robot. Before the robot goes into motion, other people put codes into the robot using a computer software to make it move around. The coders put specific details in their coding so that the robot can complete missions. These missions would be related to the theme; Animal Allies. Missions could vary from moving shark tanks to different places, to putting bees on a beehive.


So far, the First Lego League ECA has been pretty fun. This ECA is a time to build robots with Lego and submit those creations for a contest. We backed out of a recent citywide contest because the team all agreed that we weren’t prepared enough, so we are starting to have competitions within the ECA group. For now, the contest is between the Year 8s and everyone else. For the past few lessons, my team has been focusing on coding the robot to accomplish the high point missions. Whoever gets the most points in the end from completed missions, wins. I hope that the contest will turn out well for the best team (which is mine), and that the fun will be long lasting.

I like that the First Lego League ECA gives us a chance to become more creative and critical thinkers because we have to solve problems in different ways. It is also fun to work together with  friends. Go First Lego League! Thank you Mr. Horwood for making it possible.

Top Tips for a Successful SLC with Your Child

Written by Melissa Shaw (Primary Curriculum Coordinator)

The Year 1-5 Student Led Conferences (SLCs) are just around the corner and will be held on Thursday March 30th from 1:00pm – 3:55pm. This special day is a celebration of learning, where students have the opportunity to share and discuss the progress they have made so far this year.

As we all know, presenting to an audience is not always easy, even when they are our parents. Here are a few tips that we would like you to consider in order to best support your child during this time.

Steady the nerves!
There are always a few butterflies in the tummy, so start the conversation by pointing out some positives for them or ask a question to get them started.

You could say,
 “I like the way that you….”
 “Can you explain to me what you had to do here?”

Praise their efforts
Praise your child’s work by identifying specific skills they have been able to use.

You could say:
“Well done, I like the way that you have used past tense throughout the story.”
 “It is great to see that you can use 2 strategies to solve different multiplication problems.”

Goal Setting

Give your child the opportunity to explain any learning they have found challenging, and praise them for their efforts.

You could say,“This is an area you find difficult, what do you think we could do at home to help you practice this skill?”

Our students always love meeting with their parents and find it a very rewarding experience.

“My favourite pieces were my PE, Maths, Topic and Art because I improved a lot and focused well on them” Hiroto Motoi Y4B (2015-16 SLC)

“I feel good about SLC’s because I could explain what I’m doing in school to my parents.” Alfie Chen Y5 (2015-16 SLC)

If you did not get the opportunity to register for SLCs, please contact your class co-teachers to sign-up. We look forward to seeing you all during SLCs!

Student Blog – Spring Musical

Written by Year 5 & Year 6  Students and edited by Edward Swider (Primary and ECE Music Education Coordinator)

Our Upper Primary students (Year 5 & 6)  have been working hard these past few months preparing for this year’s Spring Musical: Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies! We are so proud of our 40+ actors and the members of the chorus who are looking fantastic on stage. In Music class, every student has learned choreography and has memorised the words to the songs in the performance.

This exciting show follows our hero, Robin Hood, and his band of Merry Men to help Maid Marion and the Sherwood Villagers in their fight against King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. With a huge cast of hilarious characters, you and your family are sure to have a great time with this reimagined classic story.

Julie Lui (Year 5C student) 

The Spring Musical is going to happen at the end of March. It happens every year. I’ve watched the musicals from the past few years and they were awesome. My favourite was last year’s, Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits. So, I signed up for this year’s musical, Robin and the Sherwood Forest and got in.

I am Dancing Dave, one of the Merry Men. My character, Dancing Dave, is very cheerful and also does those jazz hands. I love my character! But at first, I was kind of embarrassed to act in front of people, so I didn’t act out my character’s vividness that well. But after a while, I got used to it and found it really fun.

 We have just move into the theatre for rehearsals. As I was acting on stage, I got nervous because just looking at the rows and rows of seats made me freak out.

I’m sure this year’s musical is going to turn out great. Though, to make that happen, I still need to practice my lines, cues and actions.

Jacky Lau (Year 6A Student)

Hello, I am Jacky Lau from Y6A. I am in the spring musical show and I got a big part and my character is called ‘The Sheriff of Nottingham’.

It is quite hard when you have to memorize the lines and I have 97 lines and that was the hardest part of doing the show. What I found easy was moving around the stage. I learned that memorizing lines is not easy and I still learned that speaking loudly and clearly was difficult. Although last year, I did not participate in the spring musical, this year I am going to try my best to make this show great!

We remind you that the performances are on Tuesday, March 21st and Wednesday, March 22nd at 6:30pm in the Century Park Campus Theatre. Tickets are available for free from either school office but space is limited, so get your tickets as soon as possible! For more information, check the ECE&Primary News Blog.

Making Mathematics Fun

Written by Robert Watson (Vice-Principal) and Elena Granato (Year 3 Primary Co-Teacher)

You may have seen information regarding ‘Pi Day’ and wondered why we are celebrating a single number. Well, in truth, we are not celebrating Pi (3.14…) itself. The aim of Pi Day is to promote the love of Mathematics; making it fun, interesting, engaging and real.  Too often, the application of Mathematics is perceived as being able to solve rows of abstract calculations, where there is no context to the real world, and no link to the child’s own experiences. Don’t get me wrong – mental arithmetic and rapid number recall are very important skills to have, but they should not be considered the only aspect of Mathematics.

During Pi Day, we provided opportunities for children to solve real life problems, through collaboration and teamwork. The contextual problems they were asked to solve helped engage the children, as they will be able to link it to their own experience and knowledge. It will also help them develop their abilities to apply their mathematical skills to solve problems, which, in essence, is what Mathematics is all about.

Rachel (Year 3D): “Pi day was fun because we got to do activities outside like a Maths scavenger hunt and Maths exercise. I like doing Maths when we get to run around”

DanJi (Year 3D): “I like Pi Day because now I know how to find the circumference of any circle”

There are many ways in which Mathematics can be made more fun by placing it into context. It is important that children realise that Mathematics is all around them, and not just something they do for one hour each day at school.

Why not try some of the following things at home:

  • Next time you are eating pizza/cake/pies at home, make them earn their slice by asking some questions based on fractions. E.g. “A cake is cut into 8 equal pieces. If Bobby has 2 slices and I have 3 slices, what fraction of the pizza is left?”
  • ‘Time’ is an important concept to understand and to be able to use as a child. Next time you are going out, ask your children questions, such as “It is now 8.37am. We will be going out at 9.00am. How long do you have to get ready?”
  • Reading detailed timetables and schedules can be quite challenging for adults, let alone children. So next time you want to book your flights for your next holiday, involve your children in developing the travel itinerary. Let them know the time and date that you want to leave, and ask them to research the best flights for you (although ensure they don’t book the flights until you have checked!)
  • Cooking with your child can be an excellent way to develop your child’s sense of weights and measures, whilst having great fun too. Ask them to follow the recipes, and measure out the different ingredients as you go along.
  • For the older Primary children, you can ask them questions related to a journey that you will be taking together as a family. E.g. “We will be travelling to the swimming carnival. It will take 45 minutes to arrive at the destination, and it is 36km away. What was our average speed for the journey?”

These are just a small handful of ideas, and there are a multitude of other ways to bring Mathematics to life at home and at school.  If you are looking for ways to engage your child in more meaningful mathematical experiences, then please speak with your child’s class teachers and they will happily discuss different possibilities with you.

10 Simple Tips to Help your ECE Child Enjoy Literacy

Written by Veronica Martin (ECE Coordinator)

Due to the interest of ECE parents, our ECE department set up a workshop specialized for ECE parents  to support the learning of their child! The Pre-Literacy Skills workshop took place last Tuesday and the main emphasis was on how early literacy skills are fostered in ECE classrooms and what parents can do to help with their children’s early reading and writing skills while having so much fun! When children have a good foundation of these skills, they will be ready to soar with their literacy proficiency.

Literacy proficiency is something all parents want for their child, but it is not something that is just taught at school. Actually, parents play an important role in the literacy growth of their child. Here are some simple but effective ways to help your child at home.

    • Read, Read, Read to your child – Even though your child may not be able to read the words themselves, they are listening to the rhythm of the language. They are enjoying the time they spend with you and see reading as a pleasurable experience.
    •  Expose your child to language – talk to your child to show them that language is useful to gain information and to enjoy each other’s company. The more you talk to your child, the greater their vocabulary is.
    • Sing songs – Young children enjoy repetition in simple songs. They practice the words and how they feel as they are formed.
    • Expose your child to print – seek out print in the environment, such as signs or menus at a restaurant. Show your child that language is everywhere.
    • Model new words – Introduce new words to your child, talk about them. Write them show them what they mean. This way children learn that new words are exciting.
    • Playing simple games together, such as I-Spy. Use letters to being I-Spy something that beings with C (Cup), I –Spy something that rhymes with mat (Cat)
    • Listen – Encourage your young child to listen and talk about what they can hear. Children who practice identifying sounds in the environment, find it easier to identify sounds in words when spelling later on. Sound Bingo is a good game to support listening.
    • Give your child the opportunity to express themselves – Talk about what they see and what they are doing.
    • Encourage your child to draw lines and circles – By practicing drawing from top to bottom and drawing lots of circles they are learning the skills to form letters later on. Most letters begin at the top of a page and come down or they begin with a circle shape.
    • Have fun with your child learning to recognizes letter and language in their environment.

Speak to class teachers, if you need recommendations for more exciting, engaging games or activities for your child and you to share.

Stay tuned as well; the ECE team is planning another parent workshop for you to take you back to your childhood with messy play!