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The students sat, enraptured, as Jean Ferrandis swayed back and forth on stage, his gleaming flute appearing to be just another part of his tall figure. Sweet notes emanated from the instrument, immediately silencing what would normally be a chatty crowd of teenagers.


Ferrandis, a world-renowned French flute soloist and conductor, visited the upper school on Monday, March 6 to help expose Dallas International School students to traditional French music. Ferrandis has toured throughout Europe, Asia and North America and has presented recitals in some of the most famous venues in the world. He is also a professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and at California State University, Fullerton.


Accompanying Ferrandis on piano was Angela Favazza, who has given concerts with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and other well-known musicians.


After performing a few flawless numbers, Ferrandis took questions from the students.


How did he settle on the flute as his instrument of choice?


“That’s really simple actually,” he said. “My sister played piano growing up, and my parents told me to pick a small instrument to accompany her on. So I picked the flute.”


Seventh grader Enzo MacGregor piped up next.


“How do you come up with ideas when composing your own music?” MacGregor asked.


“What is your name, young man?” Ferrandis said.


Enzo, came the reply.

“Every letter in the alphabet corresponds to some note,” Ferrandis said. “I will play your name, Enzo, and then I will just keep going.”


A beautiful, spontaneous tune then flowed out of Ferrandis’ flute, followed by astonished applause from the crowd.


It is no wonder that world-famous conductor Leonard Bernstein exclaimed, upon hearing Ferrandis perform, “It is Pan himself!”

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As the lawyers at Hunton & Williams, LLP streamed out of their offices and into the break room-turned-art gallery, the noise level rose precipitously.


“This one is beautiful,” one of them said, gesturing at a colorful drawing of food dishes from around the world.


“These are all really creative,” said another, moving slowly from piece to piece.


The art covering the walls of the room was the product of 13 Dallas International School students, all of whom attempted to illustrate a concept related to diversity as part of a diversity and inclusion initiative hosted by the Dallas law firm. Jenna Barrois, the upper school art teacher, and two of her students, Emma Stringer and Chase Fitzpatrick, attended the exhibit.


“Diversity is a huge part of our school’s culture,” Barrois said in a short speech to the assembled audience. “This particular project was great because we have students from all over the world in these art classes.”


Each unique piece was made by students, some of whom had little experience as artists, stretching their creative abilities.


“The students were great,” Barrois said. “If they wanted to illustrate something ‘safe,’ I tried to push them a bit to go outside of their comfort zone.”


As part of the initiative, the firm had each employee submit a vote for which piece they liked best. The first and second place winners received a commemorative plaque and cash prize. Stringer won first place, with Fitzpatrick coming in second.


But the showcase wasn’t about winning. It was about enjoying art and, more importantly, recognizing diversity.


“We started the project by discussing the endless ways in which we are diverse,” Barrois said. “We celebrated our differences and tried to express them through art. It was a challenge, but it was fun.”

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Harold LeDoux had always wanted to go to Angoulème, France.


The capital of the comic strip, as the place is known, was originally a paper-producing town, and where you have paper, you have newspapers and comics. Each year, the city hosts the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée à Angoulème, which is essentially the Oscars of the cartooning world. LeDoux liked to draw comics, and he did so for over 50 years in more than 200 newspapers as the renowned illustrator of the popular soap opera strip Judge Parker. But he never made it to Angoulème. Not physically, anyway.


“My sister and I grew up with his studio at home seeing the comic strip world,” said Lorraine Gachelin, daughter of LeDoux and director of community development at Dallas International School. “I even worked with him on the strip in his last five years. I did lettering, the layout, cleaned up the strip and prepared it for publication.  So not only did I grow up with it, but I had the honor of helping him work on it.”


After LeDoux’s death in 2015, Gachelin and her sister, Noelle Wheeler, ended up with 50 years’ worth of original comic strips drawn by their father stacked on the living room floor. The strips were priceless and poignant, and they weren’t sure what to do with them.


“After he passed away, I went to visit Angoulème in his honor,” Gachelin said. “I went to the Musée de la Bande Dessinée, which is the museum of the comic strip. When I went there and saw the work of some of my father’s contemporaries, I knew that his work had to appear in that museum.”


Energized by this new idea to honor their father, Gachelin set to work organizing and preparing the strips for donation.


“I went back in 2016, and my sister and I donated some originals to the museum and to a university there called IUT Angoulème,” Gachelin said. “My former colleague here at DIS, Emilie Remond, works there. The strips were donated there for pedagogical purposes so that students can understand how a comic works and how it’s designed.”


The strips were donated directly to the mayor of the city, who distributed the work to the museum and the university. He also announced that for the next Festival International de la Bande Dessinée à Angoulème in January 2017, the strips would be displayed at the Palais de Justice, the city courthouse, in honor of the main character of Judge Parker. Gachelin returned to Angoulème in January to give two conferences honoring her father, one to the public and one to the university’s professors and students.


“My father worked with precision,” Gachelin said. “His work was his life and it wasn’t for the money, but it was for the actual experience. He became a cartoonist because that’s what was innate in him. He knew since the time that he was a little boy that he wanted to go to art school and draw cartoons.”


LeDoux inspired countless people around the world through his daily drawings in the newspaper. Now, his work resides permanently in the one place he had always wanted to go.


“Judge Parker lives on,” Gachelin said. “Harold LeDoux made it to Angoulème.”


Author’s Note: Mrs. Wheeler and Ms. Gachelin didn’t donate every strip to the museum in Angoulème. Some have been kept for posterity, and they have generously donated one of Harold LeDoux’s elaborate and detailed original Sunday edition comics to this year’s Celebrate Our World gala. Attendees will be able to bid on this priceless piece from one of the most respected artists from the golden age of comics on March 25th.

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The students crowded excitedly around the laptop as they plotted their robot’s next move. The task seemed simple: get the robotic car past the obstacles in under an hour’s time. But this challenge for DIS students at the lower school proved to be much more of a learning experience than they had expected.


In fact, while all students from grades CP-CM2 participated, each grade had a different robotics challenge for the day. Some had to guide their robot through obstacles, while others were tasked with programming code onto their laptops to form geometric shapes and grids of precise measurements. The challenge, which was organized by DIS’ Jean-Francois Lopez with MLF America and carried out by STEM teacher Wendie Meymarian, was meant to guide students through a problem both sequentially and visually, while also developing coordination, critical thinking, logic and problem-solving skills. Those who completed the challenge sent in a photo or video of their results to MLF America and received a certificate of completion as a reward.


As the students were guiding their robots and plotting their geometric grids, two things were clear: they were learning and they were having fun.

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DIS students often set aside time to study abroad at one of their many sister schools around the globe before they graduate. When sophomore student Betsy Dryburgh decided to take her trip, she knew she wanted to go somewhere different. We sat down to talk about her trailblazing experience in Taipei, Taiwan.


So why did you choose to go to Taiwan, of all places?

I've been learning Chinese for a couple years now and I didn‘t want to be one student in a crowd of exchange students, so I started looking for something isolated when Mr. Pave gave me the option to go to Taipei. On top of being the only one, my correspondent is in the grade below me, so I get to meet even more people here! I didn’t technically choose Taiwan, but I'm glad I accepted the offer.


What has been the coolest experience that you have had so far?

I think the coolest thing I've done is go to the Night Market. They have these markets that pop up on normal roads from around 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and it's always bustling. They have restaurants, shops and games all the way through and it smells amazing all the time.


Any challenges you’ve had to face?

The most challenging thing was being away for so long and not being able to speak the language. I've never been out of the country without someone I knew before so it was overwhelming being around new people at a new school in a new city so far away. I really missed everyone for the first couple days, but then I realized it was only six weeks and it got a lot more fun after that.


How’s the food?

I was really picky about the food I ate based on whether or not I thought it sounded or looked good. But after about a week here, all I was asking about was what it was so I could know for next time! Even though the exchange isn’t even finished yet, I've already become less picky.


What advice would you give to someone preparing for their foreign exchange trip?

Don't think you’re going to get there and everything will work out. When I first got there, we were stuck at the airport because we couldn’t find the car. I thought people at my school would speak English so I walked up confidently and rambled on in English until they asked if I spoke French. The important thing is to just be prepared to try new things and be open-minded about the differences.



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As snow flurries swirled outside the window in the icy late afternoon of January 6, the members of the DIS student council had a conundrum to solve: what to do with all that food?


A few large trays of finger food had been ordered for the night’s Alumni Dance Party, which had just been cancelled due to the inclement weather. Once it became clear that the trays couldn’t be returned nor the money refunded, the council wasn’t sure what to do. But inspiration eventually came.


“We decided to donate the food to City House,” said Layla Babahaji, a senior student on the council. “It’s a temporary home in Plano for displaced youth.”


With the help of some DIS parents, the trays were loaded up and taken to the front desk of City House. Due to privacy reasons, the council members didn’t personally see the food distributed to the teenagers and children at the shelter, but the representatives at the front expressed their gratitude.


“We had a lot of food and we knew that if we gave it to the students, they probably wouldn’t care about it too much,” said Alice Mellon, a junior council member. “Since it was really cold outside, we thought of people in need right away.”


While various service projects have been done in the past at DIS to help the less fortunate, junior council member Chase Fitzpatrick hopes that a partnership with City House can be formed.


“Now we know where it is, so hopefully we can work with them in the future too,” Fitzpatrick said.


The students and alumni were disappointed when the party was cancelled, but the council members were happy that they could make the best of a bad break.


“We took an unfortunate situation and made it into something good by helping people in our own community,” Babahaji said. “It isn’t far from us, and we know that there are people all around us that need help.”

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Normally, it’s pretty hard to get a cafeteria stuffed with middle and high school students to quiet down.


But when a group of DIS 6th graders took the stage to perform the opening musical piece of a special Chinese New Year performance, the entire room grew silent. The first notes of “Song of the Swan,” a peaceful and quiet number, floated out timidly, then with more force.


Directed by DIS Chinese teacher Mei Hong Wu and accompanied by fellow teacher Michael Li on violin, students from 6th-10th grade performed a variety of musical numbers amid a red and gold-bedecked stage to celebrate the passing of the Chinese New Year. They had practiced their parts for long hours, and the hard work shone through as the student performers smiled at each other on stage and grew more confident with each successful showcase.


After the 6th graders finished their second song, “Ode to Smiles,” a body of 7th graders hopped onstage to perform “Legend,” a triumphant and rousing number. It is one of the more famous love songs in the Chinese language, and caused everyone in the cafeteria to wave their arms back and forth.


A smaller group of 8th graders followed by singing “The Olive Tree.” While their group was lesser in number, the sound was just as strong as they sang a thoughtful tune that evoked images of the Chinese countryside.


The final musical number was performed by a few 9th graders who ramped up the fun in the cafeteria by leading everyone in a few popular songs, complete with Chinese lyrics. Everyone was on their feet and having a good time as the crowning event began to set up in front of the stage.


The 10th graders brought down the house with a hilarious puppet show that told the old Chinese tale of a monkey king and a monk accompanying each other on a trek across the country. The cultural celebration wrapped up with a game of Chinese history trivia, with students guessing answers to win New Year trinkets in beautiful red and gold bags.


The celebration was not just for fun, but functioned as a showcase of Chinese history and culture. The students filed out of the cafeteria to return to class, chatting and laughing about the afternoon’s events.


Some of them were even still singing. 

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Several Dallas International School alumni sat on the lit stage of the MPR as pictures of their college and professional experiences flashed on the projector screen behind them. The entire upper campus student population watched and listened, enraptured. Perhaps they were seeing their own future.


Alumni Day at DIS is always a much-anticipated event, but the 2017 version set a new standard. Not only was it one of the most well-attended Alumni Days ever, but the level of alumni-student interaction was unmatched in previous years. Manon Tesche, Cristelle Meza, Michael Jenkin, Victoria Huang, Camille Prulhiere, Marie Prulhiere, Nicholas Prulhiere, Andrew Ksendzoff, Heryt Tequame, Daniel Guinan and Olivia Rosen were present throughout the day, chatting with current students and teachers and showing the entire DIS community what can be achieved through hard work and persistence.


The day began with an alumni lunch in the cafeteria, followed by the aforementioned “Life After DIS” assembly in the MPR. Each of the attending alumni had a chance to share his or her post-DIS experiences with the student body while showing pictures of their accomplishments and fun activities.


“Most people worry about trying to find friends at the beginning of college, including me,” Tesche told the student body. She’s a freshman architecture major at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. “There’s plenty of people to go around, so don’t worry. It’s really not hard to find friends. Do what you want to be doing, and be where you want to be.”


Each of the alumni spoke fondly of their days at DIS and encouraged students to take advantage of the resources they had available.


“DIS really helped me to prepare for college because it helped me push myself,” said Meza, a freshman economics major at St. Edward’s University in Austin. “I haven’t had to pull any all-nighters, because I know how to study.”


The attending alumni had a wealth of experiences to share. Many had moved on to highly-ranked universities in the U.S. Tequame, however, chose to study at Sciences Po, widely regarded as the top university in France. She credits her choice to the love of travel and study of cultures that she learned while at DIS.


“I really wanted to take the experiences I had at DIS and apply them to college,” Tequame told the students. “So I traveled even while I was studying. I did an internship in New York City at a graphic design studio. It was great because it kind of gave me an idea of what to expect after school.”


The alumni stayed long after the assembly, chatting with members of the student council, taking a tour of the campus and meeting with DIS administration to coordinate future alumni activities. It was a day spent not just reminiscing about the past, but planning for the future. That’s what these Tigres have always done best, after all.


“If you work hard, it definitely pays off,” Huang said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very fun.” 

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One thing becomes very clear very quickly once you start talking to Paul Priam: he’s going places.


Priam, a DIS alumnus who graduated in 2010, is back in Dallas on break from his demanding job working with French politician Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who recently finished up her campaign for president of France. Though she ultimately exited in the primary stage, Priam said he learned a lot and is excited to permanently join Kosciusko-Morizet’s team on a full-time basis as a national security advisor and legal counsel. But Priam’s journey didn’t start there.


“I was born in France, and then I moved to Mexico with my family at the age of eight,” Priam said. “After a few years there, we arrived in Dallas.”


Priam began his studies at DIS in 2004, his 7th grade year. He excelled throughout his time at the school, culminating with his graduation in 2010. He then moved on to tackle his next big challenge: studying at Sciences Po, the premier university in France.


“I knew I wanted to go to Sciences Po since I was 12 years old,” Priam said. “I studied on the Euro-American program there. It was the perfect fit for me.”


Sciences Po is somewhat like other state university systems in the U.S. which spread their network of campuses throughout cities in a specific state. The university’s main campus is in Paris, but it has six locations throughout the country.


“For years, Sciences Po has been creating campuses that focus on geographic zones,” Priam said. “Each campus focuses on a specific region of the world. In 2010, it opened a campus in Reims with its focus being North America. It was perfect for me, since I had just graduated from DIS right at that time.”


Since the campus was brand new, Priam helped get its student life department up and running as part of the inaugural class.


“We had to create everything,” Priam said. “We created the student union, the sports association, the arts association, all of it. I was the vice president of the student council. I learned a lot.”


One of the things he learned was that he loved the law. It usually takes a student three years to obtain their bachelor’s degree in France. At Sciences Po, the student spends the first two years at their home campus and the third year on a study abroad. Having already spent substantial time in the U.S., Priam chose to go to Australia and study law at the University of Sydney.


“I had a long break during the holidays, so I ended up working in New Caledonia at the office of the minister of government,” Priam said. “Sciences Po is historically a social sciences and public service school. So through my studies and that job I learned that public service was what I really wanted to do.”


With the plans for his future becoming clearer, Priam went back to France upon graduation and obtained his master’s degree in public affairs. He then began a string of jobs in government that helped eventually lead him to his prestigious appointment to Kosciusko-Morizet’s team.


“Not many people my age usually work in a job like this,” Priam said. “So I’m really grateful. I’m grateful for DIS because it prepared me to work in a very challenging environment, both academically and intellectually. The teachers always keep you on your toes.”


Priam also said that the multicultural environment at DIS helped him realize that his potential was unlimited and not hindered by borders or maps.


“Having moved around and having been in an international environment has helped,” Priam said. “I never saw a boundary in flying away from my home. It changes your perspective for the possibilities that you have in the world.”


When he spoke to DIS students, Priam simply told them to aim high and do their best to achieve their goals.


“Choose with your gut,” Priam said. “If there’s something that you’re passionate about, choose that over the safe choice. You might fail, but you’ll never know unless you try. I’m passionate about a lot of different things. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in five years, but I do know that I’ll be doing something that I’m passionate about.”

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A good story has to feature interesting characters. Luckily, author Kay Honeyman has a lot of real-life characters to give her inspiration.


In addition to writing, Honeyman also teaches at Highland Park ISD and Southern Methodist University. Her everyday interactions with students and teenagers bleed into the characters she creates in her young adult novels.


“You can draw inspiration from anywhere,” Honeyman said to a group of DIS students at the upper campus. “You can almost play games with it. People might say something to me, and I’m like well, you’re going to end up in my next book, and you don’t even know it.”


Honeyman’s first novel, The Fire Horse Girl, was published in 2013 to critical acclaim. It followed the story of a young Chinese girl who immigrates to the United States. Honeyman’s newest book, Interference, follows a similar path, but with a central character who moves from Washington, D.C. to a tiny West Texas town.


“I like fish-out-of-water stories,” Honeyman said. “I like taking a person out of their norm and see how they survive. I often try to get conflict on every single page by having the character conflict with the place that they’re in.”


Honeyman read a passage from her new novel to the students and then dove into her process for creating characters. She hoped to give some guidance to any aspiring writers in the audience.


“I think of characters on three dimensions,” Honeyman said. “The first dimension is what you see—what they’re wearing, how do they move, etc. The second dimension is why you see it. It helps make the first dimension matter. The second dimension is the interesting part of characters. And the third dimension is a character’s default behavior. It’s what they do when they’re pushed up against the wall.”


After detailing some of her creative methods, Honeyman began a role playing game with the students to help illustrate conflict between characters in a story. Certain students received a sign with a character’s name on it. Ribbon was used to stretch across the room and connect any two characters that were experiencing conflict in the plot. A veritable web was made.


Sufficiently enlightened, the students began to ask more probing questions of Honeyman.


How does she pick names for her characters?


“I want a name that fits,” Honeyman said. “I look up baby names a lot of times. I also have an app called Writer’s List. It gives you first and last names. Usually, I hit something that feels right.”


How does she decide on a cover for her books?


“The publishing house does the cover,” Honeyman said. “They want it to be eye-catching and to reveal a little bit of the story. I didn’t have much to do with the cover in my previous book, but I had more to do with my most recent one.”


Did she always want to be a writer?


“I’ve always been a big reader, and I’ve always loved stories,” Honeyman said. “But I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I have a lot of catching up to do, because I didn’t start until I was a teacher.”


Honeyman encouraged everyone in the audience to keep writing and keep trying. In the end, she said, you don’t have to be a wordsmith to get published.


“You can read beautiful writing and appreciate it for a little while,” Honeyman said. “But it’s not going to keep you for 300 pages. A good story, even if it’s mediocre writing, will hold you. It’s so much better.”