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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 02/10/2020

Dear BIS Community, 


As I write this weekly update, I do so feeling  simply blown away by all that our students achieve beyond their academic success.  Each day at BIS, I see so many examples of this, but today I would like to focus on two: two examples of incredible achievement - one individual, one collective. 


Firstly, the personal  accomplishment of our Year 11 student, Lolo Pham, who has become the youngest published translator in Vietnam. Lolo has produced a wonderful English translation of a series of traditional Vietnamese folk tales. The skill, dedication and intercultural understanding Lolo has shown in achieving this is staggering. It has been fascinating to listen to Lolo describe the challenge of capturing meaning where no word exists in English, and how, through the process of  translation of Vietnamese, she has gained a deeper connection with her own culture. 


I had the privilege of receiving a set of these books from Lolo for our library collection along with Mr Rowlands who, as a fellow bilinguist, was able to share his insights  of how using a different language shapes experience. Read more about Lolo below, and join me in congratulating her - Lolo, we are all so proud of your achievement.


The second, a collective achievement, happened just last night, at our amazing Battle of the Bands. The quality of all the bands was astounding with friends from Year 7 to Year 13 coming together to make simply stunning  music. The winning band - “Boba Bois” - played their own original versions of two classics: “House of the Rising Sun” and “Welcome to the Jungle”. In my seven years attending BIS BOTB, this was right up there with the very best. You can watch a live recording of all the acts by clicking on the link below. A huge well done to you all.


BOTB 2020 was our first Facebook Live event, and it was wonderful that family, friends and BIS alumni from around the world, from Australia to USA, Europe to Peru, watched the event, bringing the whole global BIS family together.


We had to wait until  1st October for the first student concert of 2020- and it was certainly one to remember!


In our Campus Priorities at the start of this academic year, we set out our determination to “re-establish the fabric of BIS life” and yesterday showed that we are slowly doing just that - bringing richness, depth and energy into school life through the talents of our students and staff. 


Next week is, of course, International Day - thank you to all parents who are already involved in what promises to be another fantastic  event. We want all students to show our BIS spirit by wearing  national dress, colours or costumes, and parents to get involved in any way you can. Our wonderful PTG are co-ordinating the parent effort - thanks to them and to all the teachers and students who will make it an event to remember. 


When I reflect on these examples, and the other events such as Dyslexia Awareness Week and Read a New Book Month that are included in this Week’s Update, I am struck by a common theme: stepping outside of our own individual experiences - thinking differently, understanding others or simply trying something new - these are what define school life here at BIS HCMC.


I thank you all for your contribution to another great BIS week. 


Have a wonderful weekend.


Mr O’Neill


Overview of the week’s activities

Lolo Pham, IGCSE Student and Published Author


BIS_Lolo Pham, IGCSE Student and Published Author

Some individuals may work a lifetime to have a piece of work published, Lolo Pham has done that whilst still in Year 11.

For the first time in the history of BIS we are able to feature on the shelves of our own library a published piece of literary work, authored by one of our current students. To say what Lolo Pham has achieved at such a young age is an amazing achievement would be an understatement. We were delighted to celebrate the occasion with an intimate ceremony in our library; the Curve, alongside Lolo's family, close form friends and teachers, where Lolo presented the collection to our Principal Mr Anthony Rowlands. Lolo was also kind enough to give an in-person reading to one of our Year 4 classes at the Junior Campus.

We encourage you to learn more about Lolo’s bilingual works and listen to her reading of  'The Mountain God and the Water God'.


Battle of the Bands: Watch again!


Missed the Facebook Live Event? You can relive the epic performances anytime.  Want to listen to the performance of your favourite band?  Just use the time stamped link in the comments and you can jump straight to it.


BIS HCMC Battle of the Bands 2020 - the timestamps:


03:40 – Harmony Inferno

13:00 - The Six Electrixs

22:03 – Boba Bois

45:15 – The Audacity

53:20 – Disbanded

01:02:30 – School of Rock

01:07:04 - Judges Decision

01:14:01 – Winning Band Encore


Introducing our BIS HCMC Houses!

At BIS HCMC, as well as belonging to a Year and Form Group, each student is also assigned to one of four houses - Dalat, Hanoi, Hue or Saigon. This creates a sense of belonging and unity within each House and provides role models for our younger students. 

Over the last few years our Heads of Houses have been developing the House Events Calendar to go beyond competition and sports into a wide range of events that encourage creativity, activity, and service in our students. 

Ms Lauren Binnington, Deputy Head Teacher, explains more about the houses, their roles and mentors in this introduction to our BIS HCMC Houses.


RANBM - Year 7 Bookmark Competition


Many congratulations to our Y7 Bookmark House Competition winners!

Celebrations around the country for the Mid-Autumn Festival this week bring September’s ‘Read a New Book Month’ to a close at BIS Secondary.  A huge well done to all students, and staff, who have risen to our challenge to expand their reading habits and gain new insights into a life, time, place, or idea different from their own.

A particular well done to all Year 7 Bookmark House Competition entrants who, as part of our initiative to encourage students to try to read a new book, were set the task of designing a bookmark to inspire the reading of others. All entries were awarded House Points!

The winning entries were chosen by the Library Team, and we are delighted to share these with you today.

Congratulations to Joon (7V), Karzan (7N), April (7C) and Addison (7S) for getting involved and giving your time to create such imaginative and inspiring bookmarks - we were all so impressed with your entries - well done to you all.

Look out for our Book Review House Competition winners next week too!


Ms Curley

Teacher Librarian


International Day - Friday 9th October


We now only have one week to go until International Day, one of the biggest highlights of our school calendar! Over the past few weeks teams of BIS staff and parents have been busy working away to create the activities that make our International Day so special, and we’re really excited to be sharing those with our students soon. Even though we have had to make some logistical changes to the running order to maintain our health and safety measures, we’ve made sure that all of the favourite activities are still taking place, from the Fashion Show to the Culture Show, the STEAM activity to the Inter-House Quiz, and of course, the International Food Festival.

International Day always brings a buzz to the campus as all members of our community celebrate their cultural identity and the diversity of life at BIS. It really is a joyous occasion, and a well-deserved break from the norm for everyone involved. Remember, wear your national dress and bring your reusable tub, cup, and cutlery so that you can enjoy International Day in the most sustainable way.

As we put the finishing touches to our overall scheduling, students can find out more in this PDF. Check out all of the ways that students can Be Involved in International Day this year!

Thank you to all of our parents who are collaborating with our staff on the International Food Festival! The atmosphere is going to be amazing!


Dyslexia Awareness Week: Ian Young

On Monday, a peculiar thing happened at BIS. Signs around the school became harder to read. Decoding and taking meaning from everyday words was more difficult. Something as simple as reading took a longer amount of time and it was more challenging.

Throughout the week, students of all year groups participated in different activities that were designed to put them in the shoes of people with Dyslexia.  We asked Mr Young and some of the students to describe their experiences for Dyslexia Awareness Week 2020.


European Day of Languages


On 28th September, we held the inaugural “BIS European day of Languages”, a celebration that aims to promote language learning and raise awareness of the cultural diversity of Europe. 

Our Year 9 students joined the French and Spanish departments in the Continental Café, where they had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious sample of culinary delicacies from different European countries. They also took part in various house activities, through which they explored the linguistic richness of Europe. They discovered the existence of minority languages ​​and the importance of ​​multiculturalism, in line with the “international mindedness” nurtured by the BIS community.

We thank the 6th Form House Captains for their help in collecting the House points, and we are looking forward to making this event even bigger next year!


Merci beaucoup/ Muchas gracias a todos y todas!


The French and Spanish Departments.




Be involved

PTG International Cookbook

International Day is here again.  We look forward to seeing all parents who will be taking part in International Day on Friday next week. 

We have a new way to contribute to International Day this year and everyone is invited.

Please share a favourite recipe from your country for our International Day Cookbook. Share your story and photos. We would love to hear from you.

To contribute fill in the google doc….here

Our next PTG meeting will be held Tuesday 6th October at 1pm in the secondary campus.

If you would like to attend or have any questions please email us at bisptgap2@gmail.com 



PTG Chairperson


Dates for your Diary

Monday 5th October  Year 7 Parent Teacher Student Conference,  online.

Friday 9th October International Day, Secondary Campus

Monday 12th to Friday 16th October Half Term Break


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus