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category archive listing Category Archives: School

Apple, Apple, Apple, Lemon

Remember that old knock knock joke about apples? While that one ends with “Orange” as the punchline fruit, I mention “Lemon” since I am making reference to the computer rather than the fruit. And really, the only reason I do is because I am on a steep learning curve.

Apple Computer LogoSee, we are just coming into a brand new one-to-one computing environment, but this time the computers are Apples (at least at the upper school). I haven’t used Macintosh machines since I was an undergraduate at Northwestern (this was back when you carried around all your info and documents on floppy disks – no external media or cloud computing for us, thank you very much), so I am feeling a bit behind the times on this campus.

Folder management, look, and organization is really funky on these machines, as is this whole “Finder” thing. And there is no way to automatically “full size” an application window – using those little red, yellow, and green dots don’t really do that – and even when you close an application by clicking on the red button, it is still open until you actually go up to the file menu and shut it down. And all my cool applications that I knew how to work on the PC – they’re not even made for the Mac. But the second-most annoying thing is the lack of a delete key. Oh sure, there is a button that says “delete,” but that button lies. It is really just a plain old “backspace” key.

And the number one frustrating thing? No right click. As any long-time PC user can attest, the lack of a right click function is a killer (and yes, I know you can push down with two fingers, spin around three times, spit on the shadow of a barn owl on the first full moon of any given month and achieve the same result on a Mac, but I choose not to start down that path to the dark side).

So it is a darn good thing that I like to hit the bars. See, the best thing about going out to happy hour with teachers is that you often pick up hugely important bytes (ha ha) of information. Out at a bar called “Satu Lagi” (literally “One More” in Bahasa Indonesian), one of my new colleagues showed me how to set my mouse pad to register a right click. Now I can open links in new tabs, save pictures, and do all (most) of the things that I could on the PC.

And I do have to admit – the battery life is pretty darn good on this thing. It makes it easy to rock out while typing on the side of the pool. With a beer in hand. Sorta like I’m doing now. Ahhh, maybe these Macs aren’t so bad after all…

Last (full) day of school in Mumbai

The sun is setting on another school year, and things are crazy all over. Because this is our “moving” year, we have to make sure all the little details of leaving and going are taken care of, in addition to the normal hecticness of this time of year.

Today is our last full day of school, and as is tradition I talked the kids into a picture. Here they are with the Gandhi picture in the hallway, looking all ready for the world!
Breck and Alea (with Gandhi) on the last day of school, June 2011

If you’re of a mind, it is always fun to check out their school pictures from years past on our webpage as well…

Words of Wisdom

Cleaning up the classrooms, today’s the day to take down my “Words of Wisdom.” I often make little pithy comments to students during the course of the year, and some of them come out so often that I printed out and laminated them. Here is a look at them – obviously some are specific to the math classroom, but many are pretty darn universal (as far as I’m concerned)!

Only 2-and-a-half days to go now – the school year’s getting short!

An Eye for Art

Another great benefit of working in a world-class school is access to all sorts of cultural experiences we would have missed elsewhere. We’ve met figures from the global stage, dined with billionaires, and had evenings out on the town with business leaders. Our school has hosted world-class exhibitions and conferences, the students have had international sports stars visit, the theater program is rife with the offspring of Bollywood bigwigs, and the music program performs in fancy venues in Mumbai and internationally.

For me personally, however, the things I appreciate are those that I can touch, see, and keep. And that usually boils down to art – something with which this school is abundantly blessed. In addition to the photographers who roam our halls (have you been checking out this blog? You should be…), we have some fantastic painting artists (I’m sure there is a more correct way to write that, but I don’t know what it is) on staff.

We’ve bought multiple pieces of art from Jenn Baugh, our elementary art teacher, and Susan was given a work of hers as a going away gift. If you’ve ever been to India or read our blog, you’ll understand why she was so taken with it!

 

Horn OK Please

We’ve also purchased 3 pieces from Drishti Vora, another art teacher at the school. Both Susan and I really like the style of work that she does, and several friends have commented on them (and then commissioned pieces for themselves!).

Four Panel Buddha Blue Ganeshes
Red Panels


 
It was thus kind of fun to run across an article on Drishti in this weekend’s paper. Susan snipped it out and stuck it on the back of our Buddha painting, but I was lucky enough to come across a scanned-in version of it. Pretty fun stuff!

 

Drishti's article

Goodbye to and from our students

One of the tough things about teaching is saying “goodbye” at the end of each year. Even if we see the kids after summer, they will no longer be ‘ours’ and we (usually) don’t have another opportunity to interact with them in the classroom.

This process is doubly difficult in our international setting, because we are often also saying “goodbye” for the foreseeable future – not just the summer vacation – due to the transient nature of students and teachers. Our family is no exception to this series of routines, and this year it is our turn to bid farewell to everyone with whom we’ve worked, played, socialized, and interacted over the past 4 years.

Recognizing the need for a sense of closure, our school always has a goodbye assembly at the end of each term (since many families choose either the winter or summer break times to move). One of the cool things that takes place is a student says goodbye to each teacher with a little speech in front of the student body. I really appreciated the thought and effort that went into this talk, put on by my adopted niece (long story), and thought I’d share it here:

In my three years at ASB, Mr. Stutz has been my best friend’s dad, my teacher for a year, my volleyball coach for three years, and always a cause for my laughter. Mr. Stutz is amazing in the way that he’s incredibly funny – funky music, pranking students and all, as well as a great volleyball coach (who just so happens to demand 20 pushups for every missed serve). He’s contributed his time to show me and other students that he cares about us, is encouraging, and knows how to make a good joke to make us laugh…or even a bad joke…but either way the end result is laughter – whether it’s with him or at him it doesn’t really matter. Go Mr. Stutz!

Festival of Nations

American FamilyWell, India pulled it off last night, and so Saturday is the big final match between them and Sri Lanka: in Mumbai – whoo hoo! For better or for worse, we will not be around, as our spring break starts Friday, and the Stutz family is off on our fourth (4th!!) trip to Rajasthan.

As is the norm, our last day before break is our school’s celebration of all the nationalities and cultures that make us a community – our Festival of Nations. And, as is the norm, we came decked out in our USA best. Here’s our picture of the day from our family, and we’ll be back blogging after the break. Adios!

 

Wicket War!

India's crazy sportsmenSo India is cricket crazy – no surprise there. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the International Cricket Cup is going on right now – the World Cup (or Super Bowl, if you prefer) of international cricket. The tournament is being hosted by India, and for the last month or so the airwaves have been dominated by news of the games.

Right now I am watching the New Zealand team play Sri Lanka in the semifinal, and looking pretty shoddy at it. They just finished all out for 217 (which is ok, but probably not enough to win the game. Don’t understand? Don’t worry).

I do have to say that I was rooting for the Kiwis, since I work and coach with one here. She even made me wear a black shirt today, since all the New Zealand national teams have black as their main color and part of their name. According to her, the most famous is the rugby team – the All Blacks, but others include the basketball team – the Tall Blacks, the cricket team – the Black Caps, the (field) hockey team – the Black Sticks, and of course the infamous badminton team – the Black Cocks.

Ahem.

Since we don’t have a tv connection (we only use it to watch movies or play Wii), normally we’d be out of luck. But ESPN has taken a chance on streaming all the games live, and apparently been rewarded quite handsomely for it. So if you are dinging around online, check out http://www.espnstar.com/cwclive/index.html (and don’t worry – the games are 8 hours long, so your chances are pretty good to catch one, regardless of the time zone in which you live!).

Getting back to the matter of cricket mania, tomorrow is the other semifinal game – between India and Pakistan. Nuclear threat aside, these are two of the most cricket mad countries in the world, and the match is expected to be outstanding. How outstanding? Outstanding enough that our school is shutting down during the last block of the day, in time to project the game on the gym wall and provide snacks, food, and supper for “maintenance, guards, cleaners, teachers and students!”

I’ve heard of snow days, but this is the first cricket day in my teaching history. Goooo India!!!!

 

Swingin’ with the Stutzes

Alea and Breck with their instrumentsSo here they are, at the (maybe) last band concert of the year – Alea and Breck with their instruments in tow!

All the bands played great, and it was a super way to end a Wednesday. There’s big pressure on now to buy instruments for them this summer; we’ll have to see what the break brings.

Their band director is a fun guy from Minnesota (he actually taught at the same middle school the kids would attend if we lived in the apartment in Lakeville!), and you can see a goofy picture of him by clicking on the existing shot!

Mama Mia, it’s an Eclipse of the Twilight Moon!

That was the name of one part of “Stars on Parade,” the middle school production this year. It was made up of 13 mini-plays put on by students, and included a Stutz performer (just as it had last year).

This time around, it was Breck’s turn to take part, and he worked every Thursday afternoon with his groups preparing their performances. The first bit was a play on the song (and movie) Mama Mia, where instead of the love interest being a person – it was food! Very cute, as they sang and danced their way through tales of diet woe and junk food trauma!

The second piece he was in was called “Eclipse of the Twilight Moon,” of course in mocking reference to the vampire books and movies that everyone (in the middle school, at least) has read and seen. Breck plays a zombie who convinces Bella that neither the vampire Edward nor the werewolf Jacob are the ‘man’ for her, and he lurches off arm-in-arm with her, presumably to un-live happily ever after.

They showed the plays 5 times in the span of 2 days, so the cast really got a feeling for what it was like to put on a production multiple times. While cameras and video were not allowed at the performance (“No real theater allows recordings, and we won’t here either. A play should be remembered in the head and in the heart”), I was able to snag a few pictures that the yearbook photographer took during a practice run through!

Ouch!

I am presently sitting with a 7th grade student who is trying to turn create an extra credit assignment. She wants to change the words of a song to something about math, and is having a tough time deciding on a song to use.

She says that she doesn’t want to use anything that is popular right now, and so turned to me for advice. Her question was, quote, “Do you know any really, really old songs – like from the 80’s or 90’s?”

Where is my Geritol.

Breck in basketball

Breck has been participating in an intramural basketball program this spring at school, and the teams held their internal tournament this weekend. He was one of only 2 6th graders to play, so going up against all those big 8th graders gave him a chance to “toughen up” a bit.

His team wore black, and ended up winning 2 out of their 3 games. He scored a bit, made some good defensive plays, and had a very good showing for his first ever experience with a basketball team. Good time!!

Christmas Concert


The Middle and High School bands and choirs held their Christmas Concert this evening, and we had kids playing twice tonight! Breck’s 6th grade band got things going with an especially rousing rendition of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th! See him in the back row on his trombone with the other low brass?

Alea demonstrated beautiful embrasure as her band rocked out to “Legends of the Ghost Dance.” OK, while not really a Christmasy song, it was still pretty cool, with all the thumping percussion and swinging saxophones!

Both kids have worked really hard this year and made huge growth as musicians. Maybe we’ll have to invest in instruments for the family this summer!


And what kind of concert would end without a Stutz wave to the audience? 

Christmas tree lighting ceremony

Tree lighting ceremony 2010Facing what is probably our last Christmas season in Mumbai, we took another step down that holiday road last night with what has become our favorite yearly community event. The elementary school choir sings at the local Grand Hyatt hotel, the tree’s lights are lit, Santa appears, and we all eat ’til we burst courtesy of the best buffet in town.

Although there is a little something disconcerting about celebrating winter and snow as we all stand around sweating in shorts, the evening still manages to convey the best of the season. Throw in the singing voices of a bunch of elementary school kids (and the shuffle-shuffle-shuffle of their parents jockeying for the best spot from which to get that perfect video/picture), and you have the makings of a fun evening.

Last night Susan was not feeling well, so Dad, Alea, and Breck made the Stutz family appearance, and boy did we have a great time! See the pictures and read the rest of the story over on the webpage!

Breck and the circus arts

Here’s the latest thing Breck has been spending time on: in PE, they are doing a unit on ‘circus arts,’ encompassing everything from unicycles to juggling to flicking around those sticks you see people playing with on the beach (obviously there is a more accurate name, but it is Friday afternoon and I just can’t think of it).

In any case, he has spent a lot of time practicing his juggling (and is getting good at it!), but decided to show off his stick skills in the school presentation. Because the theme was the circus and clowns, he put on a wig and had makeup on his face – and really did a spectacular show!

Breck with the sticks #1Breck with the sticks #2Breck with the sticks #3

Alea the xylophonist

and there’s another word I never really expected to use. Those little red squiggly lines didn’t appear under ‘xylophonist,’ so I guess that is the correct spelling.

Our school had its annual “Embracing India” celebration, an evening of showcasing culture and raising money for worthy causes. What had started as an effort to help get relief aid to flood-ravaged Bihar has transformed this year into support for the One Laptop Per Child initiative, focused on a village close to Mumbai.

Alea is part of the “World Music Ensemble,” and they welcomed guests to the event. It is pretty cool to see her grow as a musician, stretching out from the saxophone to this percussion instrument as well. If you’re interested, there are a few other pictures of faculty and staff performers over on facebook.

Alea playing the xylophone at Embracing India 2010Alea playing the xylophone at Embracing India 2010

Bollywood Bigshots

Bollywoood/Hollywood glam coupleYeah, that’s us, baby. We got all dressed up for the PTA “Hollywood/Bollywood” dinner and dance last night, and Alea took this nice shot of us.

I actually went shopping yesterday and bought a glitzy Indian outfit so that I could look like the movie stars here – but it was really the accessories that made everything work. Throwing on the sunglasses and topping up with the Rajasthani wedding turban really brought out the haughty glamor.

The party itself was a blast – teachers and parents mingling and enjoying the evening with very little shop talk taking place. There were several dance performances, ranging from traditional Indian folk songs to Bollywood movie hits and hip hop mashups. After the open bar had a bit of business, the dance floor was filled up by members of the school community shaking their groove thangs.

And to top off the evening, the powers-that-be decided that I had the best Bollywood outfit, so now Susan and I get a dinner at the ritzy hotel just down the road from the school! Kind of a fun bonus to top off a great night.

Sun, sand, surf, and food poisoning

Sunset over Benaulim beach in Goa, IndiaYum, yum, yum. Isn’t that an appealing blog post title? The simple truth is that we got a lot more of the first three than expected because of the presence of the fourth – a mixed blessing some might call it.

So here’s the deal: Alea, Breck, and Dave were gone the whole week before our Diwali holiday on school trips. We were planning on turning right around on Friday afternoon and leaving on a trip to Hampi (a historical world heritage site in southern India). We were going to follow up that visit with a jaunt to Goa for a few days of relaxation.

Well that didn’t happen. On the second day of his trip, Breck ate something that made him violently ill, and by the time 15 other students and 4 teachers on the same trip were hit by the bug, the entire class canceled the event and came back to Mumbai early. Alea and I didn’t know anything about this until we got back from our weeks in the wilderness, so we found that Susan had managed to nurse him back to almost-health, but he was still not strong enough to travel safely.

So everything to Hampi got canceled, we made backup plans to spend the whole time in Goa, and when he was back on his feet we were off to the beach. We had a super relaxing time despite the rocky start, and we’re starting to post pictures. Check out the travelogue from the first few days on our webpage, and we’ll try to get the rest posted soon!

Breck’s Band Bonanza

ASB 6th grade bandThe 6th grade held their “informance” today – part ‘performance’ part ‘information’ – for parents to check out the new sound. Breck’s been working really hard on learning to play the trombone, as our neighbors will attest! The trombone is tricky, as there are no valves to push or holes to cover. Instead, he has to figure out how far his slide should be sticking out from the instrument, an ‘eyeball’ method at best.

Breck on the trombone!But today, when the “lower brass” part of the band opened up, they sounded great! They provide the foundation for all of the other instruments, and their rhythm and intonation were fantastic. And to top things off, Breck got to introduce one of the songs – he is a natural emcee!

What a super afternoon get together – a perfect break in the daily routine.

The Low Brass section

Dhaka for volleyball

ASB girl's high school volleyball team - DhakaDave spent last weekend in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the high school girls’ volleyball team, where they played 3 days straight from 8 am to 10pm. Talk about a lot of volleyball! Our teams ended up taking 4th (girls) and 6th (boys), and the level of competition and sportsmanship was outstanding!

Dhaka street scene - umbrella'd police and bicycle rickshawsWhile the grueling schedule didn’t really leave us much time to do sightseeing, he did manage to take a few pictures from the bus on rides in the morning and when getting to and from the airport.

They’re posted on our website, so pop on over to get a quick look at some street scenes from Dhaka!

Court cases, riots, text messages, and beer

Today is an expected high court decision on the ownership of a piece of land sacred to both the Hindus and Muslims. Short version: the site is believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Ram, a major god, but a Muslim mosque was built there in 1527. There have been court petitions filed since 1885 over the ownership, and riots there in 1992 resulted in the mosque being destroyed and more than 2,000 people being killed.

Because of the potential for riots and trouble when the decision on who owns the land is announced today at 3:30, we are actually getting out of school early so we can all hunker down and be safe. Since this is a 3-day weekend (due to Gandhi’s birthday October 2), it actually means we can get an early start to grilling on the rooftop!

But there is even more fallout from the event. Here’s a little email I received this morning from one of the airlines we’ve used here in India:

Dear Mr. Stutz,

Thank you for your continous patronage. This is to inform you that Government of India has issued a directive to all service providers to block SMS and MMS service in the country till 30th September 2010. Any messaging service for flight delay or cancellation, PNR details etc may remain blocked till 30th September 2010. We shall update you on the subject from time to time.

WOW! Talk about government control of things. Apparently they are so worried about the potential for violence, all text messaging in the country will be blocked for the day! Unbelievable – can you imagine the US government shutting down all SMS’s in the nation?

But even worse, in my opinion, is that the government went even further and declared the next 3 days dry days! Oh, the humanity!

Breck the Bonemeister

Breck playing his first notes on the tromboneAh, yes, the start of middle school and the beginning of another musical career. Alea joined band in 6th grade and took up the saxophone and was given a guitar by her friends this last birthday! Breck decided to pick band as well, but he was interested in a more, shall we say, ‘expressive’ instrument.

He got to bring the trombone home with him the other day, and we were all made suddenly aware of just how much power there is in it (and how LOUD IT REALLY CAN BE). Our poor little apartment will certainly rock and roll to the competing sounds of woodwind and brass this year!

Back in the saddle again

Alea and Breck get ready to head out to middle school at the American School of BombayAnd we’re electronically connected to the world! Starting up our fourth year in Mumbai and settling in after a fantastic summer vacation full of family, relaxation, travel, and ‘recharging the batteries,’ it is good to have a moment to drop a little note here.

Nothing too spectacular at this point – we don’t have THAT much time! – but our traditional first day of school photo of the kids. Alea and Breck are both in middle school this year, although Dave doesn’t have either of them in his classes. They are seeming to make the transition to seeing each other around fairly well, even though it has only been one day, and hopefully that’ll continue throughout the year.

I’m thinking that we’ll post some pictures and stories from the summer here as our schedules settle out, so don’t be surprised to see some ‘old news’ from time to time. Heck, we still have 2 sets of travel pictures from the spring yet to post!

Breck’s graduation – and the last day of school!

Breck and Susan at his 5th grade graduationIt is official! Breck finished elementary school and is no longer (sniff) a little kid – he is a Middle Schooler! That means both Stutz kids will be in the ASB middle school next year (although neither of them will have their father for a teacher!)

Breck’s graduation ceremony went awesome, with the teachers saying little blurbs about each student. The word that he said describe our boy was “Enthusiasm,” which Breck exemplified by his enthusiastic walk across the stage afterwards.

And now today is our last day. People are busy signing yearbooks, saying goodbye, and getting ready for summer travel plans. As is tradition, we took an “end of school” picture – which I had to bark at the kids to pose for – and add it here so all can see what great young people Alea and Breck are. (To see them in other years, check out our “school pix” archive!) Have a great summer one and all – we are off to the USA tomorrow night for family, fun, and fishing!

Alea and Breck on the last day of school, June 2010

Alea’s award

Alea and the award for "Enhancing the Lives of Others"Our school mission here in Mumbai is as follows:

We inspire all of our students to continuous inquiry, empowering them with the skills, courage, optimism, and integrity to pursue their dreams and enhance the lives of others.

As part of the celebration and promotion of these ideals, teachers nominate students who they feel exemplify one or more of the parts of that statement. Describing the reasons behind their nominations, they submit those student names to the faculty for further discussion and approval. Of course, this being a tech school, all this ‘conversation’ takes place electronically via Google docs!

The faculty votes on the student nominations, and the awards were announced at an assembly this afternoon. Alea had been nominated and recognized for her outstanding ‘giving’ and for “Enhancing the lives of others.”

Of special note was her selfless attitude during all our community service activities, her caring for those in the community around her, and the strong, supportive bonds she helps create and maintain among students here: these qualities were recognized by the faculty and she was one of the award recipients for this year!

We are so proud of her great work this year, but even more excited about the mature “thinking of others” traits that she exhibits. Way to go, Alea!!

Mangroves, trash, and our fantastic daughter

Alea and Dave had another Community, Service, and Responsibility day at school today, and we again headed up to some local mangroves. We have sort of ‘adopted’ one stretch of lakeshore, and so we were curious what we would find after our cleanup in November.

Sadly, there was all sorts of new plastic strewn about, but most of the kids rolled up their sleeves and got right to work. We were joined by some guys from a group called Sprouts, a local NGO dedicated to attacking various environmental problems around Bombay while educating people about these issues. They were extraordinarily enthusiastic and a lot of fun to clean up garbage with!

The most incredible “teaching moment” came, however, at the tail end of all our efforts. We were wrapping up, discussing as a group the day’s events, in front of 35 dripping bags full of stinky plastic and garbage pulled from the lake, when a motorcycle roared up behind us. A man, woman, and little girl got off, walked around us, went to the lake, took out a plastic bag full of garbage, and dumped it in.

The kids were horrified and the adults were livid. The guys from Sprouts read the man the riot act, my cooperating teacher told him that apparently she loved his country more than he did, and the students simply looked on in shock. He mumbled something about ‘returning nature to nature,’ but when we pointed out that the plastic didn’t belong there at all, he sheepishly shrugged his shoulders and bobbled his head. But at least he did pick up his trash and put it in the nearby bin.

What a poignant reminder of just how big the job is here in India. People talk about ‘the white man’s burden,’ but in this case I really have a tough time understanding any other way to get the point across other than by throttling the population here and shouting, “Stopping throwing all this crap all over your own country!!”

Phew.

But on a more positive note, I do have to say that I am so incredibly proud of Alea. She was the single most hardest working person out there, getting all muddy and sweaty, leading by example, and really just making my heart swell with love and pride. Her efforts were commented on by her peers as well as the adults, and it was just a joy to see her out there, working so hard for the sheer pleasure of doing good.

So on the way home, I bought her a Baskin Robbins Oreo shake!!