News Post

Weekly Principal Update September 20th, 2019
Weekly Principal Update September 20th, 2019

September 20, 2019

Dear Parents,

Thank you for reading this week's update from the Middle School. We have had another good week of learning and for today, some wonderful celebrations of the arts and South African culture. ArtsFest and Heritage Day were both special celebrations starting with Heritage Day festivities with an all-school assembly to begin the morning. We celebrated the rainbow nation with music, song, and some speeches to recognize and celebrate the diversity of our host country.

Today was also a terrific celebration of the arts at AISJ. Our passionate Visual and Performing Arts teachers, did a great job organizing events that included among other things – dance, Marimba playing, beatboxing, the creation of a mural in the Middle School "chill zone," and all school choral experience with the famed Mzanzi choir. It was a great celebration of the arts. Thanks to our arts teachers, Ms. Willis, Mrs. Whaley, Ms. Lillis, Ms. Palmer, and Mr. Balthazor for planning and supporting the day's celebration.

It has also been great to celebrate Sunflower Day in our school today. We sold over 200 topes with most of our students and staff wearing their colorful buffs today in addition to South African colors. We were able to fully support this worthy fundraiser for leukaemia. Thanks to everyone who purchased a buff and thanks to the Middle School Student Council for leading the way on Sunflower Day.

Our Middle School student-athletes have been busy representing AISJ in basketball and track and field. Last Saturday's JHB-Pretoria basketball exchange was a great coming together for students on both AISJ campuses and teams played well. This week, many Middle School students have also been running, jumping, and throwing while representing AISJ at several track and field meets. Well done Eagles!

I want to wish good luck and safe travels to our twelve AISJ students who will be traveling to Durban on Sunday to compete in the global round of the World Scholar's Cup. This academic games competition will involve over 400 students, challenging them to collaborate, think critically, and communicate.   Good luck the following student and thank you to Mr. Kader and Ms. Moreau, who have committed time coaching and preparing our scholars:

9th graders:      Max de Castro, Diego Gutierrez, Ava Serna, Irene Sung, Sydney Tucker

8th graders:      Kate Ahn, Lua Kurtenbach, Bernice Mendes, Anika Mittal, John Verga

7th graders:      Zac de Castro, Jason Whaley,

Looking ahead to next week, a reminder that Monday, September 23rd is a normal school day in advance on Tuesday's Heritage Day holiday. There is no school for students on Tuesday, September 24th.

Parents in 6th and 7th grade are invited to attend the Classroom Without Walls (CWW) parent information session on Monday, September 23rd at 9:00 a.m. in the Middle School Library. This session will provide an overview of the upcoming CWW trips, which take place for 6th and 7th graders during the week of November 4th.   The 8th grade CWW parent information session will take place on Monday, September 30th, also at 9:00 a.m. in the Library.

A big event on campus at the end of the week will be the annual Johannesburg Model United Nations (JoMUN) conference to our campus, which starts Thursday afternoon and runs throughout the weekend. We have many visiting delegates on campus and a few Middle School students will be participating as well.   Thanks to all involved with planning and preparing for this amazing conference.

On Friday, we will be sending a number of Middle School students to International School of South Africa (ISSA) Basketball tournament in Mahikeng. Mr. Cohen and Coach Pumla will accompany our Middle School boys and girls on this road trip. We wish them good luck and safe travels.

I wish all of you a great weekend.  Thank you for your support of the Middle School.


Andy Ferguson



Middle School Classroom Without Walls (CWW)

Excitement will soon be building for the upcoming Classroom Without Walls (CWW) trips. These annual, experiential learning expeditions will take place during the week of October 28 – November 1 for 8th grade and November 4 – 8 for 6th and 7th graders.   Parents will want to mark their calendars for the CWW Parent Meetings. Teachers in charge of leading the grade level CWW trips will provide more information at these sessions.   This year, we will be conducting two sessions – a combined 6th and 7th grade session as they are going to the same camp venue and a separate 8th grade session. The information sessions will be as follows:

Monday, September 23

Grade 6 & 7 CWW Parent Information Meeting from 9:00 a.m. in the Library

Monday, September 30

Grade 8CWW Parent Information Meeting from 9:00 a.m. in the Library

This week, parents received an email with instructions on how to complete the online CWW Permission Form via PowerSchool. Please make sure that you have read this email and that you complete the permission form by Friday, October 4th.   Thank you.

JHB Middle School Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences – Wednesday, October 2nd

Parent-Teacher conferences will take place on Wednesday, October 2nd. While there is no school for students on Wednesday, to help our students become familiar with discussing their learning with parents and teachers we request that students to attend the conferences during the time with their parents.

In the Middle School we run an "Arena Style" conference format. All teachers will be set up in Gould's Gym and parents are invited to the school during the block of time based on their surname (listed below). Each conference is meant to last between 5 and 7 minutes. In order to assure that all parents have an opportunity to meet with their child's teachers we kindly ask that parents and teachers adhere to the timings provided.





Session One

October 2

7:30 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.

A - G

9:20 am – 9:40 am - Break for Teachers

Session Two

October 2

9:40 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

H - L

11:30 a.m. to 12:15 pm - Lunch for Teachers

Session Three

October 2

12:15 p.m. to 2:05 p.m.

M - P

2:05 pm to 2:20 pm – Break for Teachers

Session Four

October 2

2:20 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Q - Z

International Day – Friday, October 11th

International Day is always a great day on our campus featuring a festive celebration of our diversity and multiculturalism. This year, the event takes place on Friday, October 11th.   Events for the day will include the Parade of Nations, where students will walk with their country of origin, and of course, the International Food Festival. Students are encouraged to come to school on International Day dressed in something that reflects their country of origin. In addition to the Parade of Nations and Food Festival, we will also take time within the Middle School to celebrate the cultural diversity that makes this school so magical.   Thanks in advance to all the parents who I know are working hard to support International Day this year

Community Information Session

The event is on 1st October at 6pm in T&L1. It is hosted by the School Director and Board of Directors and will provide information on the Annual Report, Strategic Goals for the year and other school information with a time for questions.



Co-Curricular Activities: it's not just faculty members who can offer a CCA; parents can offer a CCA, too! If you're passionate about an activity and would like to share your passion with students, please let us know – we'd love to have you! If you're interested in running an activity, please email me ( or contact the Activities Office directly (


Taerim (Clara) Kim: The newly launched Middle School Activities Instagram page was only made possible thanks to Clara Kim, Grade 8. Clara, who over the past two years has become an avid photographer, has taken on the responsibility of documenting student life in the Middle School. This means Clara needs to know what's going on, when it's going on, and where it's going on to ensure that she is capturing student life across the grade-levels and across the Four Pillars. As evidenced by the Instagram page, she is already off to a tremendous start! I am proud to be working with Clara, and hope that if you see her you will take a moment to thank her for her efforts.

Communications Office and Mr. Layton: While Instagram isn't exactly a new platform, it is new to AISJ. It's important that we recognize and appreciate the flexibility and efforts of our Communications and Technology Offices in helping to take this idea and make it a reality. Special shout-out to Mr. Layton, Director of Technology, for his support in making this happen.

8th Grade Soccer Stars: This is my fourth year running a soccer intramural tournament, and I have never before seen such impressive levels of sportsmanship from our 8th graders. I mean, behaviour has always been great, but this year is particularly remarkable. 8th graders are creating a culture on the pitch where fun and teamwork trump overt competition, and one can already see the positive effects this is having on our 6th and 7th graders. Shout-out to these 14 students for making this intramural tournament the best one yet!

World Scholars, ISSA, Matilda, and JoMUN: Wow! Over the next two weeks, Middle School students will be involved in World Scholars in Durban, ISSA in Mahikeng, rehearsals for Matilda, and JoMUN here on campus. Shout-out to the Activities Office for supporting such a diverse selection of offerings for our students. And, of course, shout-out to all of you for hosting, driving, and supporting your children through all of these activities. Nothing that we do would be possible without your support.

Important Dates:

September 20th



Payment due for Sr. Track and Field Waterford Meet


September 22nd – 28th



World Scholars Cup


September 25th


Summerhill College

Jr. Track and Field meet


September 26th – 28th





September 27th


MS Amphitheatre

MS House Event


September 27th – 29th


International School of South Africa

ISSA A Team Basketball Tournament

October 2nd


Kings College

Jr. Track and Field meet


October 4th – 6th


Mbabane, Swaziland

Senior Track and Field Waterford Invitational


Bus Schedule



The schedule is a live document containing all information regarding MS Basketball and Jr./Sr. Track and Field. Since this is a live document, I will include this link every week. I encourage you to check it every week, as well, so that you are up-to-date on exactly when and where practices, matches, and meets are being held.

Activities Note:

Every week, after I finish composing this bulletin, I share it via email with Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Goetz. To no one else's knowledge, though, there is another person who receives this email. BCC'd, every week, is my dad. This is a tradition that started back in 2016 when I was the Grade 7 Team Leader and would write a weekly note to 7th grade students and parents. When I told my dad that this is something I was doing, he immediately asked to get a copy. Since we're both in education, I think he likes to read about what's going on here at AISJ, but, more than anything, I think he likes to know what I'm up to and how I'm spending my time. And while we speak on the phone nearly every day, our conversations on Thursdays are always the best, because without fail, he has something to say about the bulletin. Sometimes he shares praise, sometimes he lovingly mocks my overuse of commas, and sometimes he shares a thought or two – all of the time, though, it sparks conversation between us. In some ways, I think what I like most about writing these bulletins is knowing that my dad will read it. I mean, being 7,000 miles away from one another is not always easy, so it's cool to know that this thing I do for work sort of helps to bridge that physical divide.

In fact, it was when I was sharing the bulletin with my dad that I had the idea for the Instagram page. I wanted to find a way for parents to see what was going on in their children's lives here at school outside of just OneNote, Google Classroom, and FinalSite. I often hear from parents that when they ask their middle schoolers how their day was, the most common response is "Fine." The Instagram page, like this bulletin, is a way to bridge that divide between parents and children.

If you'd like to sign up for the Instagram page, and already 60 of you have, please follow this link. Once the Communications Office confirms that you are a parent, they will grant you access.

We look forward to showing you all of the great things that are happening each day in the Middle School. And, as always, if you have any feedback about the page, please don't hesitate to reach out. Constructive feedback is always appreciated and thoughtfully considered.

Zak Cohen

Middle School Activities Coordinator 

Other Important Dates and Events for the Months of September and October

September 23 – 27

World Scholars' Cup in Durban

September 23

Grade 6 & & CWW Parent Information Session @ 9:00 a.m. in the Library

September 24

School Holiday – Heritage Day

September 26 – 29


September 30

Grade 8 CWW Parent Information Session @ 9:00 a.m. in the Library

October 2

Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences

October 4

Drama Showcase @ 1:30 p.m. in the Theater

October 11

International Day

October 12 – 21

School Holidays

October 28 – November 1

Grade 8 Classroom Without Walls – Sugar Bay


 Three Cheers for Heritage Day, ArtsFest, & Sunflower Day. A wonderful celebration!

Three Cheers for all of the students who supported Sunflower Day by purchasing a tope. Thank you for supporting this worthy fundraiser.

Three Cheers for our World Scholars!   Good luck in your competition in Durban!

Three Cheers for AISJ Middle School student-athletes. You have represented our school well in competitions throughout the week.