What makes Belgium a good country for an expat assignment?

Belgium is seen by many as a good location for an expat posting, but what elements make it desirable? For many, a Brussels posting will initially not be as attractive as London or Paris, for example, but most expat families do end up looking back on their posting in Belgium with great memories. St. John’s International School decided to ask expats why they feel Belgium is a good country for an expat assignment. Here are the top 5 responses we received:                 The quality of life and its location in Europe make Belgium … Continue reading What makes Belgium a good country for an expat assignment?

St. John’s graduates accepted at prestigious universities

Students of the class of 2013 have been accepted to excellent universities around the world. Here are just some of the institutions our graduates will be attending: Europe King’s College London University of Edinburgh University of Bath University of Cardiff Trinity College Dublin Maastricht University University of Reading University of Kent University of York University  of Warwick North America Cornell University Princeton University George Washington University Purdue University Auburn University University of British Columbia Northeastern University Syracuse University We congratulate our students and wish them well as they embark on this new phase in their lives and trust that the values instilled … Continue reading St. John’s graduates accepted at prestigious universities

The fascination with Belgian “frites”

Freedom fries, chips, or frites – whichever name you prefer to use – they’re Belgian! And Belgians take this responsibility very seriously. Made with Belgian Bintje potatoes, cooked twice and served in a paper cone with a side of mayonnaise, these Belgian treats embody potato perfection. A favorite place to sample our fries are at frietkots or fritures, which are outdoor vendors who sell Belgian fries. There are more than 4000 frietkots throughout Belgium and many carry a selection of over 50 dipping sauces to choose from. Belgian Fries are part of Belgian culinary and cultural heritage. Even if they are sometimes refereed to as French Fries, … Continue reading The fascination with Belgian “frites”

Top 3 benefits of growing up an expat child

St. John’s conducted a poll among 131 people who grow up as expat children and asked them for the main benefits. Respondents were asked to pick their three choices out of the following options:  experience different cultures,  appreciate diversity,  travel,  character development, international awareness, lifestyle, learning languages, living adventurous or international education. The top three choices picked by respondents were: 1. Experience different cultures (61.1%) – one of the best features of living abroad is integrating in a new culture, to gain a real understanding of a new country and its unique qualities which is not something you can do … Continue reading Top 3 benefits of growing up an expat child

Alumni enjoy return to St. John’s for the annual Christmas reunion

This afternoon, we welcomed more than 40 former students back to campus for the annual Christmas alumni reunion. The students dated as far back as the class of 1988 and as recent as the class of 2012. Teachers enjoyed speaking to their former students and hearing what they have become after leaving St. John’s. As much as the students enjoy their time at college or university, they always remember their days at St. John’s with fondness and realize what a special time they had at school and what strong friendships were developed here, lasting a lifetime in many cases. Continue reading Alumni enjoy return to St. John’s for the annual Christmas reunion

Fond farewell for Mrs. Gillman as she retires

Students from grades 3, 4 and 5 found a great way to bid a fond farewell to Mrs. Gillman who retires at the end of the week.  They surprised her this morning by forming a message on the courtyard. Mrs. Gillman was led to the top floor of the building from where she had a beautiful view of the touching tribute. The students and teachers did a great job keeping this a secret! We wish Mrs. Gillman a wonderful retirement and thank her for the many years of teaching and care for our students. Continue reading Fond farewell for Mrs. Gillman as she retires

Our Happy Christmas Hotchpotch

Now that we prepare for Christmas, we see how much color our moves around the world have added to our lives. Our children love opening the drawers of the wooden advent calendars that we have found on a Swiss Christmas market. Though we still struggle with the pronunciation  the Christmas songs in Swiss German have remained part of our repertoire. Since we have lived in the States, red and green stockings hang on our chimney. Santa Claus still comes on Christmas morning and of course, we leave cookies and milk for him. Now that we have moved to Belgium, Saint Nicolas … Continue reading Our Happy Christmas Hotchpotch

Things you might not know about Belgium

Belgium is somewhat of an unknown entity. Since there is so much more to Belgium than beer and chocolate, here are some facts about Belgium that you might not know: In 1066, Huy, Belgium became the first European city to receive a charter of rights, making it the oldest free city on the continent. Brussels sprouts really do come from Belgium and have grown in the Brussels area for over 400 years. Although the exact number is disputed, Belgium makes over 800 different beers. Belgians drink an average of 150 liters of beer per year per person. Belgium produces 220,000 … Continue reading Things you might not know about Belgium

Give the gift of giving

Finding the perfect gift for our loved ones and donating to charity are important parts of our holiday traditions. Psychologists find that, rather than being just a costly tradition, giving to others actually makes us happy. “People who donate their money to charities or splurge on gifts for others are more content than those who squander all the dough on themselves,” says social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. As parents, we could not agree more. My husband and I love to see our children’s happy little faces when they unwrap their Christmas gifts … Continue reading Give the gift of giving

6th grade art class visits local artist

Last Friday, my grade 6 art students and I visited Belgian artist and sculptor Yves Bosquet at his home just a few steps away from our St. John’s Art Studios. Yves first welcomed us at his front door, then to our delight, he took us on a tour right through his house filled with amazing paintings, carvings, sculptures and all sorts of fascinating artefacts. At the back of the house accessible from the garden, is his studio and workshop:  a magical wonderland inhabited by his wooden sculptures, standing proud and dignified. Yves showed us his tools and techniques, he shared … Continue reading 6th grade art class visits local artist

Student teacher enjoys High School experience at St. John’s

Student teacher Ilse spent last week in the High School, working in the religion department. She has a teaching degree and significant experience already, but with Dr. Tengan at a conference in Africa, Ilse had a chance to get additional teaching experience as part of her Master’s Degree in Religion from the Catholic University in Leuven. Ilse worked closely with Dr. Castillo-Coronado and very much enjoyed her week at St. John’s: “it is a very welcoming school, people are very open and positive and the students seem quite responsible”. She would like to pursue a career in international schools. The mother … Continue reading Student teacher enjoys High School experience at St. John’s

Movember ends with teachers versus students soccer game

Today marks the end of the Movember “no shave” action for a group of St. John’s staff members and students. The initiative aims to raise awareness and funds in the fight against prostate cancer. Movember moustaches were first grown in Australia back in 2003 and have since  spread across the globe. In 2012, the Global Journal listed Movember as one of the top 100 NGOs (non-government organization) in the world. To mark the end of the successful initiative, a game of indoor soccer was played which was narrowly won by the students 2-1. Congratulations to all those who participated and braved facial … Continue reading Movember ends with teachers versus students soccer game

6th grade science: Physical Properties of Matter

After conducting guided investigations of sound and electrical conductivity, Sixth Graders have designed and carried out their own tests of heat conductivity in metals.  Each group designed an apparatus to test a single variable and limit sources of error as much as possible.  In addition to increased accuracy in developing and recording data, safety considerations were carefully evaluated by each group.  Data analysis was facilitated by graphing techniques learned in Mathematics classes this month.  The Sixth Graders’ success in these investigations reflects an increasingly sophisticated approach to their learning in the methods of science. Purposeful exploration, creative and logical problem … Continue reading 6th grade science: Physical Properties of Matter

It all started with a Story Bang…

Story Bang is a convention for people who have written their own stories and tales to show that they can write their own stories. The point of Story Bang is that in 7th grade media class, there is a project to make a clay animation or stop motion and in the END 9 stories will be chosen and made into a stop motion animation. The stories are all posted on the bridge to the PAC. Here are the rules: read a story vote for a story wait for the winner of the competition Date: November 22-29             … Continue reading It all started with a Story Bang…

Learning basic essentials in Art and Geometry in 7th grade

Students in Grade 7 ART class were faced with a tricky problem. How does one create the perfect colour wheel as designed by Johannes Itten (of Bauhaus fame)? The wheel  has a central triangle for the three primary colours, three more triangles forming a  hexagon for the secondary colours  and finally, 12 outer segments to show the primary, secondary and tertiary colours. The problem poses a geometric challenge (how to draw this colour wheel  accurately?) as well as a scientific one (how do I mix all the colours by using only primary colours?) Math teacher Cate Silcock joined us in the … Continue reading Learning basic essentials in Art and Geometry in 7th grade

Elementary students fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in need

The Elementary students came out in force today at the so-called “shoebox assembly”, most of them bringing a shoebox with Christmas gifts for a child in need. These boxes have essential school materials, hygiene items such as toothbrush and paste, the very essential cuddly toy and as many other toys and useful items they could cram in! The boxes go to the very poor and needy children of the world, in Africa and Eastern Europe, many abandoned in orphanages and hospitals. Thank you to the Elementary students for their generosity! Middle School students will bring in their boxes next Monday, … Continue reading Elementary students fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in need

Please keep yourself safe when walking or biking to school – wear a reflective vest!

We would like to remind everyone to wear that, when walking or biking to and from school in the dark mornings or afternoons, it is advised to wear a reflective vest. Studies have proven that wearing such a vest decreases accidents by 85%! So be like Karl Lagerfeld and focus on what’s important: it can save your life, so whether or not it is fashionable should really not bother you. Thank you for keeping yourself safe! Continue reading Please keep yourself safe when walking or biking to school – wear a reflective vest!

IB History classes visit Berlin

St. John’s IB History classes went to Berlin November 11-13 to experience the historical sights of Berlin. We took a three hour guided walk from the Brandenburg Gate, taking in the Reichstag , Hitler’s Bunker and the Jewish Memorial. We also visited the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Stasi (East German secret Police) Museum . This is the first time that we have organised a trip of this nature – 31 students came along and it was a great success. Next year – perhaps Moscow/St. Petersburg or Auschwitz? By Ewan Macdonald – HS History teacher Continue reading IB History classes visit Berlin

St. John’s reunion in the fast lane – Dr. Doenges goes Formula 1

Dr. Doenges, director at St. John’s from 2000 to 2008,  and his wife Martha will be at the inaugural Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas this weekend, along with thousands of other race fans. However, they will be one of the few who already visited the track, receiving the VIP treatment last month when St. John’s alumnus and Lotus Formula 1 test driver Jerome D’Ambrosio invited them to attend the official opening of the race track in Austin. Jerome was the first driver on the race track with the Lotus Formula 1 car, after Mario Andretti had driven an older … Continue reading St. John’s reunion in the fast lane – Dr. Doenges goes Formula 1

Elementary School celebrates United Nations Week in style!

On Monday October 22, Mr. Marco Bianchini,  a staff  member of the United Nations Security Council and father of St. John’s students Alessandro and Pietro,  presented to the children of the Elementary School a meaningful explanation of the work of this organization. Mr. Bianchini emphasized the background history of the United Nations and especially the variety of tasks that it performs the world over.  A very interesting power point was presented and the children had an opportunity to ask questions about the work that members of the UN are involved in.  Mr. Bianchini shared his personal experiences especially with his … Continue reading Elementary School celebrates United Nations Week in style!

ISSTs Day 1 recap

Here’s a day 1 update on our teams’ performances at their various ISST championships: Girls volleyball – @ St. John’s Format – 8 teams in pool play, top 4 advance to semifinals Game 1: STJ vs. TASIS 2-0 Game 2: STJ vs. American School of The Hague 1-2 Game 3: STJ vs. Cobham 0-2 Game 4: STJ vs. Cairo American College 2-0 The girls have three more pool games to play tomorrow (at 9:30, 12:00 and 14:30) and are very much still in contention to reach the semifinals. Boys volleyball – @ American School of Paris Format – 8 teams … Continue reading ISSTs Day 1 recap

The kindergarten maze project – an update

Our maze project has developed since our last blog on October 4.  The children planted the collected wine bottles in the shape of a spiral that they designed. We observed all the different shapes and sizes of bottles and the way light passed through the different colors of glass. We all worked together to get the right design for the maze and decide where the bottles should go. Just before the October break we also planted flower bulbs between the bottles. We talked about the different types of flowers that will grow and when they will bloom. We are all … Continue reading The kindergarten maze project – an update

Tree planted in honor of Ms. Germay

Today, Middle School students planted a tree outside the PAC in memory of Ms. Germay, their science teacher who died in April this year after battling illness. It was felt the school should have a permanent reminder of Faith’s short presence among us. The middle school science department decided that it would be a nice idea to plant a tree, which could be seen from the middle school science classrooms, in Faith’s memory. This afternoon, the middle school gathered together to celebrate a short liturgy where they gave thanks for the gift of Faith to our community as a teacher, … Continue reading Tree planted in honor of Ms. Germay

No school for students but a busy day ahead for teachers on November 12

There will be no school for students this Monday, November 12. The teachers, however, have a busy day ahead of them. They will use the day for professional development on the topic of “Differentation in the classroom”. Differentiation defined as “a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.” The teachers will start the day with a guest speaker, Dr. Thérèse McPhillips, from Dublin who will … Continue reading No school for students but a busy day ahead for teachers on November 12

Fall season ISST tournaments week

The ISST tournaments are taking place from Wednesday through Saturday this week and the Booster program organized their traditional breakfast send-off for all the ISST athletes this morning. The entire school participated in a pep rally this afternoon to wish all the teams well as they finish their fall season with the ISST tournament. Boys soccer will be playing their tournament in Milan, girls soccer at Cobham, boys volleyball in Paris, cross country in Zurich and girls volleyball right here at home. Please come cheer on the girls and/or help out at concessions for an hour or two if you can. … Continue reading Fall season ISST tournaments week

High Schoolers play “St. Jopoly”

In the High School, Language and Culture students are playing “St. Jopoly”. Based on the famous Monopoly game, the students adapted the game to connect it to their school life.  St. Jopoly also has dice and money but, instead of buying hotels and houses, you get desks and chairs. The students have replaced the famous streets by classes and school-related places.     Continue reading High Schoolers play “St. Jopoly”

No shave “Movember” – teachers raise money for prostate cancer

Like last year, a group of St. John’s teachers and students will not shave the entire month of November to raise money for cancer research. The photo below shows the teachers “before”, with some seeming to have taken a head-start when it comes to growing facial hair. We will be posting the “after” photo on November 30. Good luck to the students and teachers involved. Continue reading No shave “Movember” – teachers raise money for prostate cancer