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MS Weekly Bulletin | April 20, 2018
Posted 04/20/2018 10:00AM

The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.

- Stephen Hawking

Reflections from the Headmaster

What do you need to know?
In one of my news feeds I encountered a bit of travel writing recommending a trip to Sicily to see Mount Etna. The writer mentioned that you can see the glow of lava at night from many parts of the island. This image struck me as beautiful, so I shared it with my family while driving in the car, suggesting that we may want to visit Sicily in the future.

My oldest son asked, “Wasn’t Sicily Carthage at one time?” a question no doubt inspired by one of his former history lessons. I was taken aback that any of my sons would reference Carthage, and all of a sudden I had to iterate on my rusty knowledge of ancient history: Sicily… Italy…Roman Empire…Carthage…North Africa…Punic Wars...“Yes,” I answered, “I believe so,” assuming (and hoping) he was correct.

Within the profession of education, if you can believe it, there is an ongoing debate that pits thinking skills and content knowledge against each other. E.D. Hirsch, founder of Core Knowledge (the backbone and the inspiration of the curriculum at TASIS), believes that this is a false argument.

Hirsch points out that thinking skills are “domain specific,” meaning that scientific thinking requires scientific knowledge, mathematical thinking requires knowledge and mastery of mathematical operations, historical thinking requires knowledge of history, and so on. In order to think like a scientist, I should have knowledge of the valves of the heart, the parts of an atom, and Newton’s laws of motion, for instance.

Which is more important, thinking skills or knowledge? To me, this is like asking which is more important, the roots and trunk of a tree or its leaves and branches? Can we imagine one without the other?

My son will not know everything about the Punic Wars by the time he is 18—far from it. But he and students like him have a fighting chance of becoming excellent and knowledgeable thinkers when they are exposed to the rich world of academic content at schools like TASIS. Perhaps one day he can answer a question about the Punic Wars for his son with even greater authority than his Dad did.

– Christopher Nikoloff, Headmaster

Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 21 TPA Spring Gala: Building the Future • Palestra
Wednesday, April 25 Walk for Water • Gazebo
Thursday, April 26 Used Uniform Sale • Monticello
Tuesday, May 1 Grade 5 Pizza and Movie Night
Thursday, May 17–Sunday, May 20 Spring Arts Festival
Friday, May 18–Sunday, May 20 MS Musical • Palmer Center
Thursday, May 31–Friday, June 1 ES Musical • Palmer Center

Silent Auction and Raffle for TPA Spring Gala

Those who are not attending Saturday night’s "Building the Future" Spring Gala are still welcome to participate in the Raffle and the Silent Auction. Raffle tickets will be sold on campus through May 7, and bids can be placed for the Silent Auction by using this link.


MAP Testing

Over the next three weeks, all Middle School students will participate in MAP testing. MAP assessment comes from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a US educational organization. The MAP tests allow us to determine your child’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year—and from year to year—in the areas of Reading, Language Usage, and Mathematics. Individual MAP reports will be sent home in late May, and please note that these tests have no effect on your child's grades.

Students will take the three subject tests on three separate days. If your child is absent on one of his or her testing days, we will arrange times for make-up tests.

Testing will begin next week with EAL classes starting on April 24–25. Math 2, 3, 4, and 5 classes will follow on the week of April 30–May 4. English classes will be taking the Reading and Language Usage tests the week of May 7–11. Your child's teacher will provide the specific dates.

Testing days should be no different than any other school day. Since each MAP test is individually tailored for each child, there is no way to study for the test. To best prepare, your child should SIMPLY make sure to do the following:

  • Get a good night sleep
  • Have a nutritious breakfast
  • Come to school with a positive attitude

EAL Film Program for MS EAL Beginner Classes: EAL Beginner students are required to attend the last film session today, April 20, from 15:45–18:00 and tomorrow, April 21, from 10:00–12:00. The students will be seeing Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli).

MS Assemblies and Advisor Meetings

This past Wednesday’s assembly was dedicated to MS Service Learning. Cometa, Art Therapy, and Heifer International shared information about their club and talked about their fundraising activities and projects. Enjoy this video that was created by the Art Therapy group and presented during the assembly.

The Thursday Advisor block on April 19 was dedicated to post-Shadow Day reflections and Emergency procedures.

On Wednesday, May 2, the Middle School will have its second Cultural Assembly of the year. We are looking forward to several students sharing their creative work in front of their teachers and peers. This is a great opportunity for our students to perform and to practice being supportive audience members.

Transition Meetings and Activities: 5th Grade to MS and 8th Grade to HS

Shadow Day for 5th and 8th graders was a great success! We hope that the students got an exciting taste of what is coming next for them!

The Middle School community would like to thank all families who participated in Grade Five Parent Shadow Day. It was a pleasure to meet the 5th-grade families, and we look forward to welcoming the children to the Middle School next year! Please contact Ms. Breton and Mr. Fitzgerald with any questions regarding the MS.

We would also like to thank grade 8 parents for participating in the Parent Coffee this week. It was devoted to the 8th-to-9th-grade transition, and the Academic Program and Student Life were discussed during the meeting. If you were not able to attend or have further questions regarding the HS, please contact Dr. Abisi and Mr. McKee.

It is our hope that these meetings and activities have helped students and parents prepare for a smoother transition to the next division.  

On Tuesday, May 1, from 16:00–18:45, the Middle School Event Planners Service Learning group will host a Pizza & Movie night for grade 5 students in the Belvedere Salon. It’s a fun and welcoming activity, providing a chance for fifth graders to meet and get to know some of the Middle Schoolers. See the invitation below, and please RVSP to your homeroom teacher (Ms. Maspero or Ms. Goldsworthy) by next Friday, April 27.

School Portraits: Order by April 23 for Free Shipping

If you have attempted to order portrait prints from Rotary Portraits with free delivery to TASIS, please note that their ordering system has been updated and the deadline for free shipping to TASIS is now April 23.

If you have any questions about the ordering process or your order code, please send an email to

Join Us for the 6th Annual Walk for Water on April 25

The student-directed TASIS Service Learning Board will host the 6th annual Walk for Water on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 25. The event, which consists of carrying a 10–20 kilogram bucket of water around a one-kilometer course in order to simulate what many people in the developing world must go through daily to secure clean water, will help generate funds for clean water initiatives carried out by Gram Vikas, a TASIS Global Service Program partner that has been working with the rural people of Orissa, India, for nearly 40 years with the aim of building an equitable and sustainable society where people live in peace with dignity.

Students of all ages and their family members are encouraged to participate in this year’s event. Participants should wear a blue shirt and can report to the gazebo by the main campus entrance at any time between 15:30–17:45 to begin the walk, which takes less than half an hour to complete. No water will be wasted: it will all be recycled into the School's underground holding tank and used for gardening.

Global Service Program Director Zach Mulert also asks families to please consider pledging their support for this important cause by donating a small amount of money for each person who completes the walk. “Whether you donate CHF 1 for every participant (last year we had over 125 people do just that!), or set a cap—for example, CHF 1 for up to 50 participants—our collective efforts will not only incentivize students to participate but will also make a direct impact on those without access to clean drinking water,” he said. Please contact Mr. Mulert at to make a pledge.

Inspired by Sarah Wyler ’13, the Walk for Water has now rallied more than 500 participants and raised more than CHF 5600 for clean water initiatives in Nepal, Kenya, and India—countries where the Global Service Program continues to send students. A record 119 TASIS students, faculty, staff, and community members completed last year’s walk, raising more than CHF 1100.

Used Uniform Sale on April 26

The TPA will host a Used Uniform Sale on Thursday, April 26, from 14:00–16:30 in front of Monticello (main TASIS campus).

Reserve Your Seats for the Middle School Musical, Beauty and the Beast JR.

The Middle School Theater Program is delighted to present Beauty and the Beast JR. in the Palmer Cultural Center during the 44th annual Spring Arts Festival. Based on the Academy Award-winning motion picture and the original Broadway production that ran for more than 13 years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, Beauty and the Beast JR. is a classic story of transformation and tolerance. Come and enjoy the fabulous work of these MS students as they sing, act, and dance their way through a tale as old as time!


  • Friday, May 18, at 19:00
  • Saturday, May 19, at 19:00
  • Sunday, May 20, at 14:00

MS students will also attend a dress rehearsal on Wednesday, May 16.

Visit the registration page to learn more about the musical and reserve your seats.

Elementary School Musical to Premiere on May 31

Directed by Mr. and Mrs. Frazier-Smith, Cry Wolf—an original musical written by Stephanie Figer, TJ Liquori, and Mikey Rosenbaum, three veteran members of the TASIS Summer Programs' Dedicated Performing Arts Team (DPAT)—will enjoy its European premiere in the Palmer Center on the evening of Thursday, May 31, at 19:00 and will also be performed at 19:00 on Friday, June 1.

Reserve your seats and learn more about the show at

A Note About Dietary Requests

Please note that our Chef and his team take great care to provide students a wide variety of food that respects religious requirements, common allergies, and Cantonal guidelines. All food allergies and serious intolerances should be reported to the Nurses and must be supported by a letter from a doctor. The School cannot accommodate individual dietary requests that are not related to a proven food allergy or intolerance.

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