Vol. XXI • Issue 18 • December 14, 2018


Message From The Middle School Principal

Dear Middle School Parents,

We completed the final week of the first semester and happily made our way home today to begin our winter holiday. Furthermore, a number of students and faculty gathered to volunteer for the Biñan Christmas Charities event on Friday afternoon to help others less fortunate in our surrounding community in this holiday season. I’m also proud of how our 8th grade class joined in with the Upper School Executive Council to put together holiday baskets on Thursday afternoon for the workers and staff here at Brent. We have done important, substantive work in this first semester, and I’m heartened by how our middle schoolers have learned and grown since August. The exciting part is that we have one more semester together to continue this good work, and I look forward to all that we can accomplishment when we return on Monday 7 January 2019.

We also have a number of students and families who will leave our Middle School community after the first semester to begin anew in other countries and other schools. We’ll miss them and wish them the best. We hope they and their families always know they’ll remain a part of our Middle School community, and we welcome them to stay in touch and visit us. All the best and good luck in their new adventures.

Here are the important items to note for the start of the 2nd Semester on Monday 7 January 2019

We’ll run a regular Day 1 Monday schedule when we return from the winter holiday on Monday 7 January 2019. Please make travel arrangements to have your son/daughter here to begin the second semester. If your son/daughter will be absent at the start of the semester, please notify Ms. Lynn in the Middle School Office as soon as possible.

Middle School Field Trip Day: Our trips will be on Friday 18 January 2019. In brief, grades 6 -8 will go to Camp N (located in Nuvali), an outdoor adventure and team building center. More details to follow right after we return from break.

Reports cards will be sent home with students on Friday 11 January 2019.

Limited Slots in Some Grade Levels for New Students
Slots for new ELC students are limited for the 2019-2020 school year since their grade levels are full this year. If you are considering enrolling a child in grades 2 and below in August, it is recommended to submit the required admissions documents in November and December and set the appointments for January.

The Admissions Committee starts considering new ELC, LS, and MS students for 2019-2020 after the Christmas break. New Upper School students have been considered since October.

If you’d like all of your children to be a part of the Brent Family next school year, do not delay the admissions process–especially for your ELC-age children. Visit Brent’s website for more information (http://brent.edu.ph/admissions/admissions-process/), stop by the Admissions Office, or email admissions@brent.edu.ph.

This Week’s Article: Nicholas Kristof is one of my favorite columnists for the NY Times, and if you like this article you’ll enjoy his others as he travels the world to comment on myriad issues for our planet. Here’s an article that Kristof writes every holiday season about how to help others in need in different parts of the world. My personal goal has always been to pick one of his suggestions each year and do my part. I hope you find this article and any of Kristof’s writing to be useful and enlightening.

Link Here

Brent’s New Citizenship Rubric: A main component of our work with Brent middle school students centers on striving to meet stated academic learning outcomes in all classes. That said, we fully recognize that achieving our stated learning outcomes is only a part of what we’re trying to accomplish during our work with our students. We are also focused on developing citizenship competencies, or the traits necessary for student success in their educational settings and beyond. Citizenship is described as those traits that demonstrate a readiness to learn, responsibility, respect, and the ability to form positive interpersonal relationships.

We focus on the development of the person because we value the importance of learning in the service of the whole person. Our new Citizenship rubric serves as an important vehicle for us to create opportunities to work with students on developing their citizenship competencies. Just as important, it allows opportunities for students to self-reflect and for teachers and students to work closely together to examine those self-reflections to gain insights on current behavior and to discuss ways to strengthen their skills.

Please find below our new Brent Citizenship rubric and a list of descriptors that students and faculty use to guide their work together on developing these skills. You will find noted on your son/daughter’s progress report that we are providing three numbered citizenship scores in each class from our new rubric. As always, I’m happy to meet and talk about the rationale for this change and our efforts to work with middle school school students to provide support and feedback for them to grow as learners.

That’s enough from me for now. Please have a safe and restful winter holiday break wherever your endeavors take you. As always, feel free to contact me at any time if you any questions or concerns.


MS Principal

Andy O’Hara


Here are important sections from previous newsletters that bear repeating

A Message from the Brent Upper School Geek Squad:

Good day Brent Community,

The Geek Squad is hosting a project called “Tech for Teaching”. This project aims to install computers in local public elementary schools so that the children in these schools may experience the technological advancements of this era.

With this in mind, we are kindly requesting teachers, students, and parents of Brent to donate any piece of technology, which may include:

  • Old Laptops or Desktops
  • Speakers
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Central Processing Unit / Graphic Processing Units
  • Computer cases
  • Hard Disk Drives
  • Any computer parts that you are not in need of
  • No Printers please.

If you are interested in helping, please leave the items in the Upper School Office or approach Mr. Castaneda or Huaye “Wyett” Zeng.

Reminder About After-School Supervision: Many middle school students remain after school to attend tutorials or other after-school activities, or they need to wait for older siblings who have extracurricular commitments. All the divisional principals are reminding those students who are not attending tutorials or participating in extracurricular activities or who do not have to wait for a sibling that they need to go home at the end of the academic day. If a middle school student has an academic commitment aside from attending tutorials and wants to stay after school to work with classmates in the library, the student(s) should go the library and stay there to complete the work. Students without after-school commitments are not allowed to remain after school to socialize.

BASIS and Student Email:

Brent uses a customized web-based application named BASIS (Brent Academic Student Information System). This allows students and parents to view academic progress and attendance information online through a Student and Parent Portal feature. Grades 4 to 12 parents can track progress throughout the year while Nursery to Grade 3 parents can view reports at the end of each quarter.

For Parents:

Parents of new students will receive an email on how to access and use the Parent Portal. Access can also be requested by emailing itc@brent.edu.ph or contacting the school level secretary.

For Students:

A new student is given an email account where they can receive communications from the school. This will also be used to login to Google Classroom, the learning management platform used in the Middle and Upper School.

New students (Grades 4 to 5) will be given their Brent email account as well as their BASIS access information through the homeroom teacher and/or computer teacher.

New students (Grades 6 to 12) can get their Brent email account as well as their BASIS access information at the IT Center, 4th Floor, Media Center.

Compilation of Weekly Parent Articles:

Week 17: 7 December 2018: This week’s NY Times article “Hide Your Phone While You’re Trying to Work. Seriously” should serve as an interesting conversation point for you and your middle school student. It centers on the harmful effects of just having a cell phone within visual proximity and how this presence affects cognitive functioning. I found it especially enlightening to learn about the impact of laptops on our cognitive abilities as well. It’s fascinating information that you can use to guide your work with your child as well as how to deal with electronic devices in your life.

Link Here


Week 16: 29 November 2018: This is a follow-up article on vaping and teen usage, with this piece centering on the difficulties of one young man who becomes addicted to vaping and the ensuing difficulties he and his family face resulting from his addiction.

Link Here

Week 15: 23 November 2018: I am an avid reader and have been since my father first brought me to the Princeton public library many years ago. I get many requests from friends and colleagues for book titles, and while I have my running list of favorites that I keep close at hand for easy reference, I also consult The NY Times for new ideas. One of my favorite sources each year is the one I’ve included in this newsletter: The NY Times 100 Notable Books for 2018. If you’re looking for titles in specific subject areas with annotations on each work to provide more information, you need to check out this list. Happy reading…and let me know if you find something I must read! PS: For non-fiction, I recommend the new Michael Lewis book (or anything by him).

Link Here

Week 14: 16 November 2018: In a recent Parent-Teacher Association meeting, the topic of vaping came up and an interesting discussion ensued. The use of e-cigarettes among teens worldwide has reached alarming proportions, and health experts are very concerned about the short and long-term effects. Please read this week’s article to learn more about vaping, culture, and common misconceptions about using e-cigarettes.

Link Here

Week 13: 9 November 2018: Perhaps it’s the Manila traffic that is finally getting to me, but I thought of it as I read and selected this week’s article “How to Be a More Patient Person” to provide advice for those quotidian or pre-holiday season stressful situations that impact all of us.

Link Here

Week 12: 26 October 2018: In a culture where being extroverted is celebrated, the author Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, permanently changes the way we see introverts and the way introverts see themselves. I’ve included the link to Susan Cain’s TED Talk after she published Quiet, and I trust that you’ll be intrigued after watching. I also strongly advocate reading Cain’s book. In truth, I think it’s one of the most important books I have read on a personal and professional level in the last decade.

Link Here

Week 11: 19 October 2018:  This week’s article provides practical advice on how to “break up” with any social media account that you or your child may have. In light of the recent data leakage and breaches of Facebook’s site or perhaps your decision to limit or eliminate your child’s usage of a particular social media site, you should consider using the methods described in this article to help.

Link Here

Week 10: 12 October 2018:  This week’s article is admittedly a departure. It features two profound singer- songwriters, Elvis Costello and Carole King. I know Elvis Costello may not be everyone’s favorite – enjoying his voice is an acquired taste – but I believe he may be one of our greatest living musicians. Carole King ranks as one of the greatest pop songwriters ever. Have you ever listened to her album Tapestry? Or know that Aretha Franklin covered her song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”?

I’ve shared this article with the MS faculty as well because the artists talk about the beauty of collaboration in all of its forms. Further, they talk about connecting as artists but also about connecting as people. Collaboration and connection: two key concepts we stress here at Brent, and Elvis and Carole talk about the importance of these two behaviors in their interview.

Link Here

Week 9: 5 October 2018:  This article centers on an anxiety disorders and their impact on children and adolescents. This writing isn’t meant to be alarming or cautionary; instead, it serves as a useful resource to learn about the most common mental health disorder in adolescents.

Link Here

Week 8: 28 September 2018:  As parents in this day and age, we all face that crucial conversation that is as challenging as any that we have with our kids: how and when to limit our child’s use of technology. I invite you to read the New York Times article offered below that offers practical, easy-to-follow advice and guidelines on having meaningful conversations and setting viable limits about technology use.

Link Here

Week 7: 21 September 2018: This week’s article does not sit squarely on the topic of middle school education, but it does relate to human cognitive abilities and our inherent biases. Give it a read if you’re interested in such fascinating psychological phenomena rooted in cognitive biases like the gambler’s fallacy, the sunk-cost fallacy, and the Ikea effect. Reading this article should give you some valuable insights into your own behavior as well as others.

Link Here

Week 6: 14 September 2018: This week’s article from The New Yorker magazine is “The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages.” It centers on hyperpolyglots, or people who are fluent in multiple languages, such as one person noted in the article who has a command of 22 different living languages and 6 classical or endangered languages. While this  article focuses on this specific phenomenon, it also sheds an interesting light on how our brains learn and apply linguistic information.

Link Here

Week 5: 7 September 2018: Learning from failure seems oxymoronic at first glance, but we know that failure is a central learning mechanism for students and parents alike. Please read the accompanying article “Talking About Failure is Crucial for Growth” from the New York Times to learn more about the importance of failure in our lives and how to talk about it with your children.

Link Here

Week 4: 31 August 2018: Of course, I want all parents to read the articles that I include each week, but I’m putting out a special plea for us to spend time with this New York Times article “How to Have Better Family Meals”. It’s a rather anodyne title for a piece that centers on one key point: families who dine together at home are happier and healthier. More specifically, it enumerates the benefits for our children that stem from sitting together as a family to eat dinner on a consistent basis.

Link Here

Week 3: 24 August 2018: This week’s article is more adult-focused, but I can certainly see its application by our middle school students. It’s about the acronym F.O.B.O., or Fear Of a Better Option. I’ll hazard a guess that we’ve all been in a situation when we have wanted to maximize our options but get stuck in the process, thus leading to indecision or, worse yet, no decision at all. This article should shed some light on this behavior and offer suggestions on how to avoid it.

Link Here

Week 2: 17 August 2018:  Here’s an interesting article from The New York Timeson Fortnite, the video game you’ve likely heard of but definitely need to know more about. It a guide for non-gamers to learn why this game has taken such a strong hold in the gaming world.

Link Here

Week #1: 10 August 2018 :  I’m continuing this parent education section of the Middle School newsletter after receiving such positive feedback the past two years. Here’s  our first article of the year. Appropriately, it’s about eating and sleeping as important contributors to learning. Please take a few minutes to read this article from The New York Times:

Link Here

A Reminder to Parents Who Travel: If traveling requires you to leave your child/ren in the care of someone else, please complete the Temporary Contact Information form. Sharing it with the office will help Brent better handle any security, medical, or legal concerns that might come up while you are away. The forms are available to pick up in each of the school offices. It can also be printed from our website by visiting the newsletter and school calendar pages. Please give the completed form to the office before you depart for your trip. Thank you!

MESSAGE FOR PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH FOREIGN PASSPORTS: Brent, like all schools in the Philippines, is required to document that ALL students (except for Filipino students) are attending school according to immigration regulations. For this reason, it is very important that we have clear documentation on the visa status for every student.

To this end, we are requiring all students during the end-of-year checkout procedure to fill out the proper form and return it to the school along with copies of their passport’s bio-page, visa page, and latest arrival page. To insure your child can properly enroll for this school year, we need to follow-up on his/her visa status. We have all the support necessary to help with any visa issues, but it is very important we receive the requested information quickly.

Brent International School requires all parents/visitors to sign in and get a visitor’s ID card. Permanent ID cards are available for all parents through the Security Office in the Administration building. When displaying a permanent ID card, parents are no longer required to get a visitor ID card each visit.

Closing of School: Brent International School Manila adheres to the Storm Signal Guidelines established by PAGASA – (the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration). Accordingly, when storm signals are posted over Biñan, Laguna, classes will be affected as follows:

  • Storm Signal #1 Normal Operation: All Brent classes will proceed as scheduled.
  • Storm Signal #2 No Classes or Activities: No students or teachers are to report, however the school offices will remain open for the day. Administrators and office support staff report as usual if it is safe to do so.
  • Storm Signal #3 and #4 No School: The entire school operation will be closed. No classes, offices or activities will take place.

Please be aware that the storm signal for Laguna is not the same as that of Metro Manila. Weather reports regarding Manila, therefore, may not apply to the conditions at Brent.

Every attempt will be made to contact parents, students and teachers in the event of a cancellation of classes. When available and applicable, we use corporate texts to inform those whose cell phone numbers are registered in our system. If you have not heard from the school, you can assume that classes will happen as scheduled.

If you are still unsure, calling the school at +63-2-779-5140 to 46 or +63-49-511-4330 to 33 after 6:00 a.m. or checking to see if there is a notice on our website (www.brent.edu.ph) may help.

Finally, we realize that parents have the ultimate responsibility for determining whether or not their children go to school. Even if no order for the suspension of classes has been issued, if parents feel that traveling to or from school will place their children at risk, we certainly understand and will honor their decision.