Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nothing can take away the Magic!

Written by Ms. Berman

There are some things in life that I know to be true with the upmost of certainly.  One of them is that the students at I.S. value the sense of community (frequently referred to as the I.S. family) to the highest degree.  When there is a perception that their safe haven is going to be reckoned with, many students cannot tolerate the thought of this potential disruption.  The School of International Studies feels like home for many adolescents, and has become the single aspect of their lives that they know they can count upon.

We are going through a period of adjustment at SDHS, no doubt.  It is no surprise that the financial turbulence that has affected our nation has ultimately impacted San Diego High School.   As an educator and club advisor, I have difficult decisions to make as to whether to shelter my students from the turbulence or involve them in the problem solving process.  The reality, however, is that our students are incredibly savvy, and have a keen sense of the climate at I.S. even when we aren’t aware that they are watching and listening.

In the end, this is what I hope students will take from the experience.  Adults sometimes get frustrated when they can’t do what they want to support their students, but, at I.S., there is an underlying code of conduct that is ultimately followed.  We stay united, we do our research, we use proper protocol, we garner community support, and we navigate through challenging times with dignity.  The important lesson learned, as an I.S. parent stated, is “not that doing the right thing always leads to the ‘right’ result, although that is what we hope for, but more importantly, that we continue to do what is essential to maintain integrity and justice regardless of the circumstance.”

As always, good arises from every difficult situation, and in this case, the upheaval has forced me to take a step back and evaluate what is creating so much angst for our teens.  This is essential if I am to properly support my students.  This turmoil is not solely about money, policy making, or regulations.  It is about the feelings that are associated with dedication, protectiveness, and camaraderie and the fear that stems from feeling threatened.  These are, in fact, all positive qualities about our students that we need to recognize and cherish at this time.  This is the essence of I.S.  

The I.S. Benefit Showcase is more than a fundraiser; it is a commemoration of our community.  It is an evening to forgo our concerns over policy making and procedural doctrines, and enjoy watching the culmination of this collaborative effort of our magnificent students.  It is a night to ignore calorie counting and indulge in the homemade delicacies that our students will manage to produce in the midst of all of their school work.  It is a time to enjoy the many talents of the students on the stage.

After all, the I.S. family is created by, and for, the students.  As long as they remain, so will the magic.

This I also know to be true: Nothing can take away the magic!  Why else would I.S. Alumni be flying into San Diego to attend the I.S. Benefit Showcase?  On March 23, 2012, at 6 pm, they will be a poignant reminder to all of us what it truly means to come home.


  1. There really is a special IS magic that is difficult to explain to people who haven't been a part of it. It goes beyond school's a sense of acceptance, family, and belonging, in ways I certainly never experienced in high school. What better time for us, as parents, to model and celebrate with our children all that it means to be a part of the IS family?

  2. Students from other high schools do not understand us at IS. "What do you mean you text your teachers?" They think it is weird. What they don't realize is that our teachers are our mentors. From what we see, that mentorship can continue after high school as well. So if we get defensive when our teachers are overloaded, that should come as no surprise. Us kids like to complain a lot, but none of us want IS to go away or to change. Mrs. Berman says the students make the magic, but none of this would be possible without the support of our teachers.

  3. I agree. There is something very unique about I.S. that I couldn't put my finger on until now. You're very right Ms. Berman, the students do make the magic, but who are the people that encourage them to "think outside the box"? Who are the role models that teach valuable life skills? Who are their activists? Who are their mentors? The teachers are! You, Strebler, Steussy, James, Enochs, Dershem, Murphy, Jones. (If I missed a name my apologies, it's been a while).

    To current I.S. students: Don't get frustrated. My best advice is to stay united. "Stick it to the man" with your maturity, intelligence, hard work and resilience.

  4. I have been thinking a lot lately about IS students. It's tougher, now more than ever, to get into college. It must be very discouraging to work very hard in high school and still not be competitive enough. Now with the rise in tuition in California, there is more of an incentive to try to compete for spots in out of state universities. I just want them to know that the work that they are putting in now will benefit their academic future.
    I also want them to know that the relationships they are building at I.S. will benefit their professional futures. My neuroscience advisor mentioned the other day how he sees brilliant students come and go every year, but intelligence will only get you so far in life. Charisma and professionalism is what will help you get even further.
    He said that my ability to hold a conversation with my professors and researchers is what makes me stand out from the rest. He mentioned how valuable it is that I can act professionally, while still connecting at a personal level with the people I work with. I told him that my comfort with professional adults stemmed from my interactions with my high school teachers.
    I think its great that you and other I.S. teachers communicate with students outside the classroom. Building relationships with adults helps teenagers develop the skills necessary to communicate with professors and supervisors when they get to college. My grades and resume got me an interview at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, but my letters of recommendation and interview skills are what got me the job.


    Hello Mr. Ankeney!

    I have just about two more months left of my freshmen year at Sacramento State and I love every single moment of it! I ended my first semester with a 3.58 and a earned myself a spot on the varsity crew team. I have declared Geology as my major and I couldn't be any happier. I never thought I would be as successful as I am now in college. International Studies has beyond supported me in not only my academics, but in sports and even my personal life! Yeah, at times I felt I was a bit in over my head with the IB program and AVID, but the staff and the programs that the students were able to provide for support guided me through it.

    I can't express to you how much better my study skills are compared to students who just went through high school; I feel as though I never went through it, I lived high school. I was pushed academically, mentally and physically. Not ONCE!!!!! did I have a teacher who didn't care or felt like they hated their job. I accomplished so much during my time in high school. I know many students that are currently going through the IB program don't believe this, but the hard work they're putting into their studies now SERIOUSLY pays off in college. College is the next step for the average student. I'm no average student (my teachers weren't average so why should I be?) I don't know what average is because I am an International Studies alumni. I know my responsibilities, what my professors expect from me and what EXTRAORDINARY work is. International Studies has prepared me for college.

    I just want to thank you! I am so happy here in Sacramento and I truly believe that from the support from you and the staff at my amazing alma mater helped me to be beyond what I thought "IB" and do. Keep doing what you're doing! Push your students! Help them, smile at them, encourage them! Be stern and aware! Your support is the foundation of our future and boy am I excited for it!

    Last week was my first race of the season, my varsity crew placed first! Here's
    a link to a high light:
    Thank you! Thank you for supporting athletics! It was a serious outlet for me, it may not be sports for other students but extra curricular's kept my head on.

    My time at San Diego High International Studies was so beneficial! It was continuously changing for the students and ran by the minds of the students. It wouldn't be that way without the fabulous hard working staff!

    I am, therefore IB


    -Rosie Kloh-

    P.S. The students that are in charge of the support programs/clubs are super humans. I myself was never in charge of a club but all of my friends were and they worked so hard and were under so much pressure and stress. They should have an ice cream, or at least a day to breathe. They deserve it. The staff too!