Past Program

Super Cyclone

Last night at 4: 52 am, with no warning, in the city of Niseko, a huge tornado tore roofs of 400 houses (including schools, hospitals etc.). About 67 lives lost and 89 still missing. Angry men and women were protesting in the road, because of the loss of their children. They complained that the schools had no bomb shelters, even the police could barely stop them!

Today at 6:00 am, the tornado triggered a 450 foot tall tidal wave hitting Hokkaido and killed at least 600 people and 60 people are still buried under the rubble.6hours later, a huge landslide came down Sapporo and crushed 40 houses. Luckily, no human lives were lost, but a little dog and a cat were found dead deep below the rocks.

According to scientists, tornados form from thunderstorms, hot air and cold air mixes together. The hot air turns into a spiral and the cool air gets pushed out and creates a tornado. This is called a mesocyclone, the mesocyclone hits the ground and the tornado is formed. People are panicking because this is the worst tornado, because it is so rare in Japan, the speed is 400 kph! In history, the fastest is only 100 kph, so this is the not only the biggest in Japan, but in the world!

Many heroic moments and miracles came out of this disaster. This morning at 7:00, in a collapsed building, there were children who survived the storm. Inside the arms of a dead mother, there lay a son, about 7, and his baby sister, approximately 6 months old. They said their mother held their hands and ran. The floor was giving away. When the floor was just steady enough the ceiling fell. The mother used her body to protect her children and sacrificed her life.

A few blocks down, a 12 year old boy saved a baby by lifting up a flipped over car.

Just when the tornado left, we received messages at the mega storm center, from New York. The Super Cyclone passing their way! I don’t agree that the Japan Saving Center had to be in Hokkaido. The helicopters are weak, 17 of the strongest helicopters left today at 6: 11 and have not returned.

I realized that no mater how strong we are, nature can wipe us out easily. 

Writing Foundation

Zachary Yu

G3, The ISF Academy

Meet the Restaurant Owner


The restaurant, Sift, was cleverly perched on a hill, and by the time I climbed up, I was already exhausted. Grateful to have sat down, the menu seemed doubly pleasing. I ordered a cupcake ($22), and while waiting, the simple, yet pleasing décor attracted me. The ambient lighting and paintings really fit the time of the restaurant. The sight of other customers quietly enjoying their food gave me a lot to look forward to.

I found the service polite and not overpowering, unlike some restaurants who want you to order and finish your meal as fast as possible. After asking for water, the polite waitress was eager – almost rushed – to get me water. It was quite a surprise, as water is considered a precious commodity in some places. Once the cupcake arrived, I was surprised by the level of detail and effort put into the cupcake, with soft icing on top of a soft cupcake. I liked how the icing and cupcake tasted separately, but they didn’t go well together, as they were both too sweet and soft, and the cupcake was nearly crushed in my hand. However, the pure air and the ambient design really made the cupcake taste better than if, say, I took it to-go and ate it outside. I also ordered a shiitake hibiscus ice cream (25 million yen, or $25), which was ice cream with shiitake flavor, topped with hibiscus petals. It was really good, especially how the soft hibiscus petals supplemented the hard “shiitake” flavor of the ice cream. As with the cupcake, there was also an amazing amount of detail put into the shiitake ice cream, with shiitake sprinklings all over the ice cream. Cleverly placed golden pearls made an angry face (or a smiley face depending on which way you looked at it). The finesse of the ice cream was incredible, and I was amazed by how quickly they served it. The service truly is top notch. 

The restaurant was run by a woman named Jennifer. She started the restaurant after studying at Harvard and culinary school; she was even the apprentice of the legendary Thomas Keller. She has opened 5 other dessert restaurants, and she herself monitors over them.

Despite the sky high prices, I really enjoyed the restaurant, and for those of you who aren’t sure if a $150 corkage fee is worth it, just try the shiitake hibiscus ice cream; it’s worth it. I also really like the ambient décor of the restaurant, which is almost like an appetizer by itself. My only complaints were that the cupcake was too sweet, and the shiitake ice cream had too much shiitake on it.

U.S. College App Prep

William Sun

G8, Elsa High School

Run a Tea Stand with Teakha


Many entrepreneurs around the world are known for their great wealth and their large sum of donations to charity, but through this course, we have been in the roles of entrepreneurs for the cause of charity. The final event, or test (I like to call it), will take place tomorrow, July 23rd, on Saturday from 3-5pm. The cause for the rescheduled day is due to the uncertainty of weather throughout the course of the week. In order to be guided by our sponsor, Nana of the Limehouse, we will be stationed on Ship Street, adjacent to Queen’s Road East. The children of Leap Studio will work as advertisers, cashiers, and salesman in order to learn about starting a business, including pricing, design layout, and salesmanship. The proceeds will be donated to Kun Pun Charity, where the money will be used for the victims of the Qing Hai earthquake to help rebuild their lives. Sales include cookies and iced tea to accommodate both the weather and customer taste.

In order to prepare for this day, we split into several groups, and as the oldest, I was assigned as 1 of 2 leaders in my group. Being a leader was a new and eye-opening experience for me as I’ve grown up being the youngest in everything – family, friends; there wasn’t any scenario where I wasn’t the sidekick or the child looking up to the older people around me. However, when I stepped into Leap, being the oldest by almost a year, it began a new experience for me. Suddenly, kids were attempting to imitate me; they asked me for advice, and they thought I was amazing. They looked up to me, and they even called me old. Never have the roles in my life been like that. Surprisingly, I had a lot more trouble than I had imagined, but still, I felt I’ve done a pretty good job for a first time and realized being a leader for classmates of your age is much different from leading children who looked up to you.

The experience was, all in all hectic, but I’ve enjoyed it. I felt, in comparison to many of the other groups, we were very organized, and as a group, did very well in working together and communicating despite the age and liveliness of my underlings, partially due to my newfound leadership. However, what we could’ve done better is all pulling the same amount of effort, as at times people got lazy. I hope tomorrow (the final round) will be even better, and I realized that I am quite thankful for our reschedule, as I think the time allowed us more/better experience. 

U.S. College App Prep

Natasha Chyi

G7, Hong Kong International School

Meet the Restaurant Owner


Sift! The world of pastries! Located in a small deserted street, the Sift restaurant is bustling with life. Sift is a lovely place with people going in and out all happy. It makes pastries and other delicious desserts. It was founded in 2005, and ever since, it has been super popular. Sift can make any dessert of pastry with ease for they are the experts! It is something not to skip out on for it is awesome!

When you walk into this marvelous place, an amazing smell fills your nose – their pastries! It is a small place located on Graham Street, but inside there is so much work, and it is wonderful. There are lovely painted walls, and paintings hang with fans moving softly above you. Flowers are on the table, and if you sit on the bar, you can see the staff making your food! The staff consists of very nice people, and they are great at what they do. They serve you well and even give you water once you sit down (which is kind of rare these days).

The owner and founder of Sift is a woman named Jennifer. She is a very kind person and makes the most awesome desserts ever! She has always had a passion for food and when she was four, she made her first recipe, which was a special banana milkshake. She then went to college and worked with the world-renown restaurant chef, Thomas Keller. She then got a job as an investment banker, but quit because her real passion was cooking and baking. So she decided to open her own shop. She then named it Sift and started baking and making pastries and desserts. She now resides in Hong Kong. There are many Sift shops in Hong Kong. So far, there are three, but they are going to open a fourth shop in October 2011.

When we sat down, we were baffled by their hospitality. They served us very well, and we all had delicious vanilla cupcakes, and we got to put the toppings on top. There were lots of icing and sprinkles and sugar pearls to put on, and it was so sweet! It was a sort of free meal (for us kids, it was free, but the teachers had to pay), but we looked at the menu and wow, everything was very expensive (it costs $150 for opening a wine cork!). But, I can see why it is expensive because firstly, they are in a rich part of town, and it tastes amazing. The smell of the cupcake was awesome, and it is soft and fluffy in texture. It looks very good too with all that icing and candies on top, and the taste is heavenly!

All in all, I thought that I was in heaven because of the food and décor. It was so worthwhile going here, and I am totally coming back for more! It must be so cool baking and making all these desserts and pastries for everyone! I hope that Sift will become even more popular than it already is. Three cheers for Sift! Yay! 

U.S. College App Prep

Alexander Widmer

G7, Hong Kong Academy

Persuasive Writing

Shark Finning

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

by Sophia Mason (G7, HKIS)

Actions always speak louder than words. Throughout history and even now, the stands people have made have made a big difference in how the world is shaped. People have learned to take a stand. Without that ability, the world would be a very different place.

Rosa Parks was one of the many African-Americans that took a stand for their rights after the Civil War was over. Ms. Parks sat in the front of the bus after a long day at work, knowing it was the “whites only” selection. A white asked her to move, but she refused. Ms. Parks was arrested that night, and kept in jail until her friend, Martin Luther King Jr, bailed her out. Rosa and her family received many death threats and hate mail, but she still kept up the fight for African-American rights. This sole action that Rosa Parks did was louder and more effective than any speech that Martin Luther King Jr. had said. It was the tipping point for the African-American people’s rights. It was the one action that turned the heads of both white and black people. It made everyone realize that no matter what color you are, you will always have a voice in the community.

On a more current level, the Libyans are taking a stand for their country. Instead of letting go an opportunity to capture their freedom, they
took it to the streets and protested. Now in the aftermath of a great civil war, the protesters are finally free from Gaddafi, the dictator/leader of Libya. This is a clear example of how actions speak louder than words. If the Libyans didn’t address the fact that they needed a new leader, and actually take a stand, Libya will not be able to reach its full potential. With a new leader and an official seat at the UN, Libya has a very bright future ahead.

Actions speak louder than words, whether you are silently protesting or taking it to the street. People always are capable of taking a stand. If we don’t exercise the will to speak and be free, we will be nothing. 

Writing Enrichment

Matthew Chan

G7, Rensaissance College

Short Story

Boy Holding Two Bottles

People often say, “Be thankful for what you have, you have no idea how lucky you are.” This thought popped in my mind as I strode along the bustling road. Yet, I had doubts about the saying. How do you expect me to be a cheerful child when my dad was on his deathbed and with a life that finds itself at a deadend? Every night, I hear my dad’s agonizing groans, I see my dad’s grimacing face, I see my dad’s fading body. He was fighting a losing battle with cancer. However, all I could do was watch in despair and the thought of death was ever present in my mind. We could not afford treatments or medications. I tried to make some money by picking up plastic bottles on streets and selling them. All I could find were cardboards and waste paper cups.

Today was different. I found two enormous wine bottles lying on the side of the street. I strolled over to retrieve the bottles. As I picked up the bottles, I could hear clinging sounds in one of the bottles. My heart started to pound, and I shuddered in anticipation. I peeked into the hole, and I caught a glimpse of pennies and cast in the bottle. I stared into the other bottle and found a paper slip that read, “This isn’t much, but I just want to let you know that there is hope.” Tears rolled down my cheek as I lifted my head. There was a figure silhouetted across the street; he gazed at me with a smile and vanished.

I would see the light at the end of the tunnel, shining towards me. I could see the shriveled flowers once again bloom in the sun. What was in the bottle was not just $100 dollars alone. There was love and warmth radiating from the bottle. It gave me hope and a fighting spirit. I realized that my dad and I were not alone. 

Writing Enrichment

Nicholos Chan

G8, Canadian International School

Descriptive Writing

Mac OS X Lion

Mac OS X Lion uses advanced technology to achieve guaranteed convenience. It has lots of new features, either just for fun or as an advantage. Free-file sharing and the amazing world of shortcuts and touch gestures are the handiest factors.

Mac OS X Lion clearly focuses on appearance and sound effects. Once you turn on your new Mac OS X Lion, a start up “strings” sound springs up to let you know it’s working. Then, the login screen appears – a grey apple with a knitted background. After you enter your username and password, your default desktop pops up onto the screen. It is an Andromeda Galaxy swirling in space. The only thing on your desktop should be a grey disk called “Macintosh HD,” which stores everything in your account onto the computer. At the bottom of the screen (but could be set somewhere else), there is a dock where your applications stay. Removing an application is as simple as ABC. Just drag it outside until you see a puff of smoke and let go; the application will disintegrate from your dock, NOT your computer. To delete an application forever, drag it to the “Trash Box” at the end of the dock, then open it and press “Empty” at the top right corner of the window. Beware! Once the trash is emptied, it cannot be undone! It will show a warning every time you empty it. Afterwards, if the volume is on, there will be a sound of someone crumpling paper, and the trash will be emptied! Sometimes, files get lost in the cyberspace of your computer. No worries – at the right side of the menu-bar, is a magnifying glass in which it will search for apps or documents that include a certain word you typed.

As for the software, Mac OS X Lion is an expert “attention-getter.” The favourite trademark is Launchpad App, which organizes all your applications into an iPad–like format. Also, there is Mission Control App. It shows all the programs running and the Multi Desktops Program for which you can add extra space. Auto-Save and Versions Program promises to keep track of every change made to a document. Multi Touch Gestures and Airdrop Programs generate fun and easygoing ways to work and to file share at the speed of light! Full Screen Apps Program could be a new solution to a “getting distracted because of something else” problem, as the whole screen focuses on one thing only. Mac OS X Lion has a brilliant memory program. Every time you turn it on, it will reopen all the applications that have not been closed before shut down. The application, Mail App, has improved formatting, just like a normal web browser. Photobooth App has a tracking feature, which finds your head and turns the picture into a magical surprise with a countdown timer. For instance, Love-struck makes hearts float off your head, Dizzy gives you a halo of birds flying around, and Chipmunk enlarges your cheeks as if it was stuffed full of acorns! This provides better effects for films.

Airdrop could be found in the Finder sidebar. It discovers other users within 30ft without any Wi–Fi. To share a file for free, drag it onto their icon, and once they accept it, the file will be immediately transferred into their downloads. This could be very practical when sending class work to your teacher, as this is done in real time. If you email him or her, your teacher may not check her email right away, but with Airdrop, if she accepts, then she would receive it in a few seconds!

During the “Apple Generation,” Multi Touch Gestures have been a popular focal point. To launch Launchpad, pinch with 3 fingers and a thumb. This makes it effortless to start instead of finding it in the Dock or the Applications folder. The same applies to the Mission Control shortcut; Swipe up with 4 fingers. To swipe between desktops, swipe left of right with 4 fingers. The list goes on …

The amazing thing is that, Mac OS X Lion is just a software, no matter what type of Macbook it is, it still works the same. As technology flows on, maybe someday the Mac OS X Lion will become a known legend to everyone. 

Writing Enrichment

Jan Chan

G6, Renaissance School

Expository Writing


One of the most used weapons that people always talk about is grenades. So we should learn more about it. The concept of grenades is easy to understand. You pull the pin, throw it, and……BOOM, it explodes. However, they are very hard to make.

Grenades are usually used in tough situations. For example, when you are cornered by your enemy, you throw a grenade towards them and they freak out while you make a speedy escape. They are also used to destroy gigantic waves of enemies.

A long time ago, people used stick grenades instead of round ones. They looked like a bottle of wine. You were supposed to unscrew the screw, and then pull the string that sets the warhead off. However, many people died using it because it blew up too early. Nowadays, you see the round grenade more often.

There are ten different types of grenades called: smoke grenades, tear gas grenades, incendiary grenades, fragmentation grenades, concussion grenades, anti-tank grenades, mills bomb, stun grenades, sting grenades, and impact stun grenades. However, we usually break it into 3 types of grenades: explosive grenades, chemical grenades, and gas grenades. Perhaps, the earliest grenade is the incendiary grenade, which dates back into the 8th century. Greek fire was used at that time. Anti-tank grenades were used in WWII when people realized that tanks were useful and powerful. The newest type of grenade is probably the impact stun grenade, also called the BFIG (Blank-Firing Impact Grenade). Preferred in many situations, especially in training for two main reasons: they are more economical because the charge is a stand and ammunition blank, and they are subject to very few transport restrictions when unloaded. “The mills bomb is the first ‘safe grenade’ made,” as British army officers said. Its “pin-and-pineapple” design is still used in some modern grenades.

It is important to know more about grenades because they could come in handy sometimes and also not to talk about using it in the wrong situations. Its ability of destroying groups of large quantities makes it the most used weapon.

A grenade is made of the pin, the handle, the fuse and the explosives. First, the handle is made, and then a small mechanism that fits onto the handle is assembled to the handle and spring. A bigger mechanism fits onto the spring and the striker is put on. Then, they put on the fuse where a small number of explosives are on the end. The main explosives are added on. After that, the outside of the handle is assembled along with the pin; then, the shell is attached on to the explosives along with the bottom and a metal ring. Now the grenade is fully assembled. Diel , Mecar, Ruag, and Rheinmetall are grenade manufacturing factories.

People also make them at home too. First, you take a can with the pin off. Secondly, you take a knife and start cutting a circle on the top. Thirdly, you stuff the can with tissue paper up to half of the can. Fourth, you put the weight in. Fifth, you stuff the can with tissue paper until it’s almost full. Sixth, you take a smoke ball and stick two matches onto it. Seventh, make the ring with two strikers on a matchbox and stick them, striker facing in, with the ring. Eighth, put the smoke ball in the can’s hole. Ninth, put the ring on the matches. Finally, go to an open space, squeeze and pull the ring and throw it! Smoke will come out.

To make a grenade work, you pull the pin and then throw it! When you pull the pin, nothing happens until you throw it. The handle comes off once it is flying. When the handle is off, the striker spring and the striker are released and the striker strikes the percussion cap. When that happens, the impact causes the chemical delay to start off. It reaches the detonator which explodes, and after that, the whole thing explodes too. The shrapnel is what hurts you.

To conclude everything, the grenade is something that hurts people. However, it has literally more than a thousand designs. People use grenades for fun too even though it takes a lot of time and measurements to make. 

Writing Enrichment

Justin Cheng

P6, St. Paul’s College Primary School

The World Around Me

The children inquired about different people and their responsibilities in the community. Through various writing pieces, they have demonstrated what they have learned. 

The World Around Me

Kindergarten Topical

Hailey Wong

K3, Victoria Kindergarten

The World Around Me

The children inquired about different people and their responsibilities in the community. Through various writing pieces, they have demonstrated what they have learned. 

The World Around Me

Kindergarten Topical

James Zhang

Y1 (K3), CIS