Principals’ Post #26

Dear Upper School Friends and Family,

Over the last few days the news across the globe of the now pandemic COVID-19 has been startling to say the least. We hope that each and every SCIS family is staying safe and healthy wherever they are in the world. Here in Shanghai we are beginning to see signs of the other side of the local crisis, at the same time it is deepening globally. New concerns and their accompanying safety protocols are falling into place one country after the other, and as of yesterday, over 49 countries have announced school closures. Where just a few short weeks ago we in Shanghai may have felt isolated and disadvantaged, as the crisis goes global, we are learning that there are in fact some benefits to being ahead of the curve. Over the last six weeks we have learned a tremendous amount about what Virtual Learning can do, and how to keep our community of Dragons strong and united even when we cannot be together. We’ve got this!

Virtual Socials at the Grade Level

While students are now feeling more relaxed and at ease in the Virtual Learning environment, the isolation of living in isolation under virtual lockdown is beginning to take its toll, and students are ready to connect with each other, and build on the social and cultural relationships that are such an important part of the secondary school experience. Our grade level Advisors are working with students directly looking for ways to use live sessions on Teams to bring more community building fun into the school days. All Grade Levels have held at least one online “social” event, and in Middle School these are becoming part of the routine during the campus closure. In the last week, middle school classes have hosted a trivia contest, a bingo night, and today’s Kahoot. Students should watch their email for invitations to join. More ideas for virtual social activities should be brought to the Advisors.

Taking Tests at Home

You may have already received emails from teachers inviting you to supervise/proctor/invigilate written tests for your children during the Virtual Learning period. It is essential that students get regular practice completing assessment tasks under formal timed conditions, in preparation for IB Exams and other high stakes examinations that they will encounter at after high school. We ask that you support students by ensuring that they have a quiet room with a bare table and no “smart” devices. We ask that you supervise your students to ensure that testing conditions are upheld. When a teacher is scheduling a written test for your student’s classes, they will provide you with all the specific information you need. Please note the following:

  • The test will be scheduled for a specific date and time. Students may complete it in the timezone where they are, within 24 hours of the posted time.
  • A cover sheet provided in advance will list the specific test conditions for a given exam. This may include the timing of the test, a list of approved support materials, and so forth.
  • The test itself will be sent directly to the parents. It will NOT be posted ManageBac. If you are able to print the test, this is the best option.
  • All written tests should be completed in black/blue ink, on lined paper or on the test paper itself. At the end of the test, these should be scanned/photographed, and uploaded to ManageBac.
  • After each test, parents are asked to complete an Authentication Form affirming that testing standards, and any specific instructions on the cover sheet, were upheld.

Midsemester Calendar Updates

Please note the following adjustments to the March calendar:

  • March 25 will be a regular school day – Day 3. Student-Led Conferences are cancelled. Under normal circumstances, SLCs provide a fantastic opportunity for students to invite their parents into the school building and lead a meeting reflecting on their learning in their place of work. During this Virtual Learning period, we urge parents to take the opportunity to discuss and reflect with their students on what we are learning through this experience as it happens.

Week 6 Virtual Learning Parent Feedback Survey

Please continue to share your feedback with us each week as we seek to fine tune our program. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Community Update from Dan Eschtruth, Director of Schools – March 6

Greetings SCIS Families,

I hope this email finds you well and thriving during this difficult period. I was pleased to see a large number of participants in the most recent Parent Survey and look forward to sharing our findings and responses with you in my next update. We continue to seek out and welcome your constructive feedback as it guides and improves our response to this crisis. We appreciate your sharing and will consider all suggestions as we continue our work to respond and adapt to this ever-evolving situation. Please find below our recent updates and announcements.

2020-21 Tuition Support

SCIS is fully aware that the current situation brings with it a wide range of concerns, including the toll it has taken on the economy and the bottom line for a wide range of individuals and businesses. In recognition that our school operates on a budget driven entirely by our tuition revenue, we still understand that we must all share the burden and support one another in developing out of this challenging situation. With this said, our Board of Directors has approved a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 school year. Effectively immediately, we will revert the planned 2020-2021 tuition rate, back to that of 2019-20. This will represent an approximate saving of a 3-4% cost reduction for all families, based on the grade levels their children attend. We are pleased to present this news yet stand committed to continuing our efforts to identify and share support and resources we can provide as we come out of this situation together. 

The Office of Admissions and Finance will follow up as soon as possible with more details and a re-issued invoice to reflect the adjustments mentioned above. Furthermore, we recognize that many families have already made payment in full for the 2020-2021 school year, please rest assured, these payments will be retroactively adjusted to include the new tuition rate. We ask for your patience as the Office of Admissions and Finance works to roll out these changes.

Grade 12 IBDP Student Support Plan:

While Dragons of every age have felt the impact of the campus closure, none have been more dramatically impacted than the Class of 2020, whose final semester has come with some unique challenges. Fortunately, SCIS and the International Baccalaureate Organization are in a position to support students wherever they are in the world. The IBO is proactively taking steps to ensure that appropriate accommodations are in place so that our students and the 6000 IB candidates in China are not unfairly disadvantaged. This includes extensions to all schools in China for submission of external and internal assessments and allowing for some assessments to be completed at a distance – particularly helpful for our language classes. And, while we fully expect to be back on campus for the May IB Exam session, the IB has also made clear that other options are open for candidates in these adverse circumstances. Any senior not in a position to return to Shanghai for their IB Exams will have the option of taking the exams at an alternate venue, transferring schools, or deferring to the November 2020 exam session as communicated to Grade 12 parents directly by the Principals. Our DP Coordinators, College Counselors, and teachers are in communication with families. They are ready to support every family to make the decisions that will best meet the graduates’ needs as they move forward to the next stage of their lives. Please follow this link to learn more about our efforts to support our Grade 12 students. 

SCIS Campus Health & Safety Update:

Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, our SCIS campuses have been closed to teachers, students, and any other visitors. During this time, our security team has registered and monitored anyone that has accessed campus. The essential staff that have been on campus for short periods have had their temperature checked upon arrival, were required to wear a mask, and wash their hands upon entering.

SCIS has upheld rigorous cleaning protocols at all campuses, and, with the current situation, these have been strengthened further as we strive to ensure the health of our community. In an effort to raise awareness of our preparation efforts, please review below the steps we are taking to prepare our campuses for the eventual return of our students, faculty, and staff. Please follow this link to learn more about our efforts to prepare our campuses for a healthy and safe return of all students, faculty, and staff.

Social & Emotional Support:

The SCIS Social and Emotional Support Team is working to share resources with the school community to help with the challenges surrounding the COVID19 virus. Several new resources have been added to the SCIS website under COVID19 Updates and FAQ’s link here. The Social and Emotional Support section includes guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists about how to talk with children about COVID19, and the International School Counselors Association offers guidance on managing feelings fears and worries of children.  Local resources from SCIS partner, Community Center Shanghai are also included.


Daniel D. Eschtruth
Director of Schools
Shanghai Community International School


Coronavirus Community Information

SCIS has developed a webpage on our system website outlining the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). We encourage families to check this link in order to access important information regarding our current campus closure and our response to the coronavirus. Previous updates are also logged on this site. If there are specific questions you feel need to be added, please email the administration.

Technology Support Reminders

Re-enrollment has begun for the 2020-2021 School Year

SCIS families should have received an email via your scis-parent email account providing instructions regarding re-enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Please be sure to follow the instruction contained in the email for re-enrollment. Please note, you must use your email account details when signing in to the Online Re-Enrollment Website.  The re-enrollment deadlines have been adjusted to account for the current situation. Please visit the admissions page for more details. If you have any questions regarding the process for re-enrollment, please do not hesitate to reach out to the SCIS Admissions team at

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #19

With less than three weeks between Winter Break and Chinese New Year, SCIS students and teachers were busy making the most of limited time this week. New students started to feel settled in and returning students and teachers started to feel like they’d never left! This week we ran a special testing schedule, with students in Grade 6-9 taking the winter administration of the NWEA-MAP test, a standardized assessment that provides valuable data for teachers, parents, and students on progress towards US common core standards. Please watch your ManageBac notifications for the score reports to be posted in coming weeks. During the same period, Grade 10 had dedicated time to finish their Personal Projects, ready for exhibition next week. Grade 11 made their first deep dive into their Extended Essays, and Grade 12 had additional Higher Level classes to kick off the final semester of their secondary education. A lot going on this week!


On Wednesday afternoon 20 of our intrepid Dragon B-Ballers, accompanied by their Coaches Volpe, Shultz, Nedeljkov, Berezowski, and Vic, headed for Shenzhen for the ACAMIS Basketball tournament, the culmination of a tremendous season of growth and development for our basketball program. Students and faculty alike watched the live feed of the games during breaks, and we encourage you to do the same as the tournament heads into the finals on Saturday.

Our athletes aren’t the only Dragons representing SCIS this week. Our MUN Delegation left campus this morning for a two day conference hosted by Concordia right here in Shanghai, where they will present and debate resolutions exploring true global issues and the international cooperation needed to solve them.

Personal Project Exhibition

Please mark your calendars for next Tuesday, 2pm, when our Grade 10s will present their Personal Project Exhibition. The Personal Project is the capstone of the MYP–an opportunity for Grade 10 students to apply the skills they have developed over their MYP years to a individual passion project of their own devising. Each personal project is a unique reflection of the student behind it, and a demonstration of the application of knowledge, skills, and understandings that our students have been developing year upon year. While Grade 10 parents will no doubt have marked their calendars months ago, we encourage all Upper School Parents, particularly Grade 9s who will be starting project of their own next year.

This year the Personal Project Exhibition will be accompanied by bonus event, the MYP Design Food Truck Festival! Grade 7-8 Design students have been developing innovative treatments for a cultural fusion Food Truck, developing brandnames, advertising, menus and more! Those of us who have been lucky enough to taste the earlier design iterations of the menu items know you are in for a treat. Come for the Personal Projects, stay for the Curried Jiaozi and Banana Crepes!

Celebrate China!

Our Mandarin department has been hard at work since last semester preparing for next week’s Chinese Culture Days. Students in Mandarin classes will enjoy a range of activities over the week, including calligraphy and ink-painting, making dumplings and tanghulu, traditional martial arts, and much more. The week will culminate with our annual celebration of Chinese New Year, in the Theater at 1pm on Thursday. Grade 6 Performing Arts classes have been working hard on a joint cultural performance for the occasion, and there will be a mix of student groups and professional guests on hand to entertain and inspire. 春节快乐!

Principals’ Post #11

ACAMIS Champions…Again!

Our ACAMIS Champion girls’ volleyball team returned from Nanjing victorious, winning the national tournament without dropping a set. This is the second year in a row that this powerhouse team has taken the championship, and the team keeps growing in skill and depth every year. The boys’ team placed fourth, with strong opening games showing their best play of the season. Throughout the weekend, both teams demonstrated sportsmanship and Dragon Spirit, and were supported by a rousing cheering section of faculty and parents who took the train ride up to join in the fun. Special thanks go to our Coaches Vic, Caban, Vanta, and Sculerati, whose commitment of time, skill, and heart raise the level of play with every practice.

Grade 7/8 Ready for the Spotlight

This is the second year that our Grade 7-8 students have benefitted from a carousel approach to Arts education, and excitement is building for their first performance, next Thursday 7 November at 2:15. The Arts Carousel is designed to ensure that all middle schoolers experience a unit each of Visual Arts, Music, and Drama, and that they have the opportunities to explore the rich cultural fabric that results when these three disciplines are woven together. Last year the Arts Carousel staged a series of original adaptations of fairy tales, performed in the theater. This year the Arts Department is mixing it up, and taking advantage of our Black Box theater space. Next Thursday’s performance will be an experimental multimedia piece performed the round, featuring original dramatic monologues, musical compositions, and visual arts pieces all created by our 7/8 students. Thank you to the visionary and innovative work of our Arts Team, Ms Whiteside, Mr Demas, Ms Arvay, and Ms Riddle. Parents are encouraged to come and enjoy the show, one performance only!

Attendance Update

All parents are advised that we have simplified our attendance procedures. This will streamline records for the convenience of parents, teachers, advisors, and students themselves. Accurate attendance records are essential for health and safety and emergency response, as well as being one important measure of a students’ availability for learning. Regardless of the reason for the absence, students will be supported in keeping up with their classes whenever possible. We now record only four categories of attendance:

  • Present – student is in class, on time
  • Late – student arrives to class within the first 30 minutes
  • Absent – student misses 30 minutes or more of class
  • Field Trip – student is away from class for a scheduled activity supervised by an SCIS teacher (ACAMIS, MUN, etc)

When you log in to ManageBac, you can see at a glance the number of times your child has been Absent from each of their classes. On the right hand side bar, you will also see a pie chart showing the number of school days present and absent.

This student has been absent from ONE Humanities class so far this semester.
This student has missed two school days so far this semester.

Please note that it is just as important as ever that parents contact the office–by ManageBac, email, or phone–to verify their students’ absences as early as possible. If your child is not accounted for, our Upper School Secretary Ms Jelly Ling will contact you immediately to confirm that they are under your supervision. Please support her in keeping these records as accurate as possible.

Shanghai Expo Long Weekend

Please keep in mind that that in compliance with municipal government guidelines, school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday next week. Enjoy the unexpected long weekend! School will resume following the published day rotation with Day 2 on Wednesday 6 November. Please also note that classes WILL be in session on Friday 22 November, which was formerly scheduled as an inservice day for teachers.

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal . Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #20

Dear SCIS Families,

These are busy days in the Upper School. The first assessments of the new semester are underway, the Grade 10 students are looking to the future, the Mandarin Department is preparing for Chinese New Year, and our varsity volleyball teams are off to Macau, representing the Green Dragons at our ACAMIS Tournament. Many of you were on campus to support these events this week. The support of our community is a defining feature of SCIS. Go Dragons! 


This four-week session between the holidays has provided an ideal time for building on the students’ self-evaluations completed at the end of the first semester. Each MYP student has set a SMART Goal for their personal academic development, and has already gotten started putting their plans into action. We have been working on goal setting during the academic Advisory sessions, using the Approaches to Learning (ATLs) as a framework for breaking down the specific skills we all apply across disciplines in order to achieve academic success. Students may choose to work on Communication Skills, practiced on Lab Reports in Science and oral presentations in Language Acquisition. They may set a goal for improving their self-management, applying planning strategies to work through breaking down long term assignments into manageable short-term chunks. Others may be focusing on critical thinking skills, looking at how they use evidence to support an argument in both Language and Literature Humanities. While your students will no doubt have much to share about their growth toward their goals at their Student-Led Conferences in March, there is no reason to wait. We encourage you to invite your students to tell you about their goals, and ask how you can best support them in their efforts to develop themselves as learners. 


The Grade 10 students achieved one of their most significant goals of the year on Tuesday, as they presented their Personal Projects in an exhibition for the entire school community. Those who came out witnessed something special. The Personal Project is the capstone of the Middle Years Program. In order to complete the MYP, every student must take this opportunity to follow a passion, articulate a goal, specify a unique criteria for success, and apply their skills to move through a process of investigating, planning, taking action, and reflecting. The range of topics explored and products created by this year’s cohort was both wide and deep. Our Grade 10s learned to play the guzheng, established an MS Model US delegation, built a computer, quilled a world map, wrote an anthology of short fiction, animated the human experience, and much much more. The Personal Project is unique in that it bridges the routine work of the student–using skills to explore academic subjects in the classroom context–with the work of life, applying these same skills to developing ourselves and contributing to society, within the global contexts in which each of us move every day. It was wonderful to hear the Grade 10s talk about their process and learning through the experience, and to see younger students inspired and engaged, considering the projects they themselves have in mind for the present and future. 


This week the High School Jazz Band enjoyed a visit from Walter Blanding, from Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai. Mr. Blanding has been playing saxophone professionally for over 41 years and has performed with many of the jazz greats including Cab Calloway, Wynton Marsalis, and the Count Basie Orchestra. While he was on campus at SCIS, he offered valuable advice to the ensemble about practice techniques and motivation. He also gave helpful feedback to raise the level of music the band is preparing for upcoming performances. We are grateful to Mr Blanding for sharing his time to mentor our young musicians, and also thank Mr Demas and Ms Whiteside for their efforts to facilitate this opportunity for our students. 


Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                   Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal           Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #18

Dear SCIS Families,

Welcome to Semester 2! Students arrived bright and early on Monday morning, rested, rejuvenated, and eager to reconnect with their friends and teachers. We got right to work–new units are well underway, the basketball season continues– in some ways it is like we never left! 


New Students

We were delighted to welcome 34 new students to SCIS-Pudong this semester, including seven–representing five different countries–who joined us in the Upper School. On Monday afternoon, the school was abuzz with new families, as students purchased uniforms and checked out computers, finalized their schedules and met with their teachers in preparation for their first full day of school on Tuesday. 

The Dragon community spirit ran high the rest of the week, as classmates rushed to help the new students find their way from class to class, settle into their Advisories, and explore the tools on ManageBac. International students know from personal experience how challenging it can be to start in a new school, but they also know how quickly strangers transform into friends. It was gratifying to see these budding friendships form as our new Dragons began to feel at home. 

ASAs in Action

From the very first day of the semester, after school activities were going strong. Please keep in mind that in the Upper School, activities do not run on a rigid calendar, but rather start and stop throughout the year according to the needs and timelines of different groups. Students receive daily morning announcements including notices for different clubs and teams, with instructions on how to join. This week the Athletics department started gathering interest for the upcoming badminton and soccer seasons, the Yearbook Club mapped out their countdown to publication(!), the MS and HS Jazz Bands got back to the rehearsal room, the HS Basketball teams held practice in preparation for this  and much more. If your child needs help deciding what activities to join or needs assistance in getting involved, please refer them to their Advisors, who are always ready to help. 

Looking forward to seeing many of you on campus next week for the PAFA General Meeting on Tuesday 15 January 10am.

Take care, 

Frank Volpe & Naomi Shanks


Principals’ Post #6

After a weekend’s rest, students were back in the classroom on Monday and quickly transitioned back into our academic schedule.  The benefits of the China Go! trips were clearly evident in the new friendships that were formed, and in the reflections on the cultural and service experiences.  Many clubs and sports resumed or started this week adding to the excitement of the triumphant return.  The First Lego League team is busy preparing for their qualifying competitions this semester, MUN is in full swing in preparation for their October conference, and Long Talk is taking applications for their editorial board.  In the sports arena, our Middle School rugby team represented SCIS with pride on the pitch Saturday and the volleyball teams were back on the court this week setting new school records.  Here is a summary of some of this week’s highlights and a look ahead to next week. 

China Go! Reflection  

This week and next students will be spending time in Advisory reflecting on their China Go! experiences and preparing for the China Go! Celebration assembly next Friday afternoon.  Each grade level will reflect on the service outcomes and on their experience in general.  The service component of the China Go! trips lays the foundation for the service and action expectations the students will work toward over the course of the year.  This year Mr. Lawrence is taking the lead in supporting our students in achieving these objectives across the MYP and DP.  MYP Service and Action experience provides the ideal opportunity for students to develop skills they will use for the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) requirements of the IB Diploma Program.  Over the coming weeks, students will transition their service focus away from the China Go! trips toward school-based group projects as a key part of our Advisory program. 

Teachers and students will be asked to provide feedback to administration regarding how China Go! can be improved for the coming year.  Parents are encouraged to email us with suggestions on how these experiences can improved from their family perspective.  We are committed to developing experiences to enriching SCIS student life by helping our students connect with each other, our host culture, and to deepen their understanding of what it means to make a contribution to our communities through services. 


While MS sports have slowed down as we transition from rugby to soccer, HS sports are just heating up.  The girls varsity volleyball team is on track for a record season.  If they win their Big Game tonight, they will capture the school’s first ever girls volleyball league championship and complete the first undefeated league season. 

The boys are playing at an exciting level as well, and more importantly, improving on a daily basis. They have only dropped very close games to last years SISAC tournament champ (Dulwich) and SAS-PD, a perennial Shanghai/Asia power house. They are currently on pace to earn a spot in the SISAC Cup Championship which hasn’t been accomplished in the last several years.   

We hope to see everyone out this evening for Big Game Night.  The level of this year’s play alone is worth the trip out.  The electric atmosphere will be enhanced by Mr. Demas and the Jazz Band as they warm up the crowd and prepare for their own turn in the spot light this weekend during the JZ Musical Festival where they will be performing Saturday night at 7pm.    

UN Day of Peace

It was great to see so many of you here this afternoon for our annual UNIDOP Celebration. The spirit of the our international community filled the theater and overflowed. Grades 4-5 opened the show with a stirring percussion and voice performance. Keith Leung and Samuel Zhang represented the Upper School with speeches on behalf of our MUN delegation. The highlight of the show was, as expected, the Parade of Nations, with representatives from Austria to Venezuela crossing the stage in style. Enjoy the pictures below!  

Freedom From Chemical Dependency  

Looking forward to next week, we want to draw everyone’s attention to the Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) visit which will take place Wednesday and Thursday of the coming week.  This is an annual event which focuses on educating students, parents, and faculty on how best to encourage healthy choices related to drugs and alcohol.  Students will be together for a short introductory assembly and then will meet in grade level group over the two days for developmentally appropriate presentations.  Last year’s parent presentation was extremely well received.  We hope to have even more parents out this year for what we promise will be one of the most important parenting education events you attend this year.  

Looking forward to seeing you on campus next week for the FCD parent presentation and tonight for Big Game Night !

Go Dragons!

Ready, Set, China GO!

Thanks to each and every parent, teacher, and student for making the opening of China GO! 2018 as smooth as it could possibly be. Grade 11 arrived in Chengdu last night, Grade 12 is checked in at their Suzhou hotel, and every other grade is now safely on the road, everyone on schedule and exactly where they’re supposed to be.