EcoGeo Field Trip: Learning Outside

See what the freshmen did during their annual Eco-Geo Trip this year!

On the 18th and the 19th of April, geometry students embarked on a journey to Yuldong Park: the EcoGeo challenge! The EcoGeo challenge is an annual trip that geometry teachers arrange to let students solve more challenging real-world problems. All geometry students are divided into several groups to solve trigonometry application questions. Given a limited amount of time for each question and a few tools, students are required to make full use of their knowledge in order to solve the real-world problems.


Many say that the trip allowed them to gain necessary skills and knowledge. 83% of the students Blueprint interviewed claimed that the trip was worth going to because it was a unique experience that high schoolers don’t often get. Crescentia Jung, a student who participated in the trip, maintained that she liked the EcoGeo challenge since it gave them “some freedom in terms of not having to just listen to the teacher” and allowed them to “ do an activity outside”. As high schoolers, it is often difficult to incorporate both education and outdoor activities because of time and availability. We see typical KIS students sitting down on chairs and working on desks incessantly whilst gaining knowledge just by hearing and solving. The EcoGeo trip, however, enabled them to learn multiple skills in an environment that involves not just listening, but also discovering through hand-on activities.


Students were also able to gain further knowledge about trigonometry. Leanne Kim claimed that she liked learning “different methods to find angles and lengths” and practicing teamwork skills. The challenges tested on the student’s ability to use specific tools to find measurements using different methods. They were to employ various methods such as lying down on the grass and tapping points on the ground. Using these methods required teamwork skills which is an important skill that math classes don’t often use since math is often an independently working subject.

Although students were able to gain some valuable skills and knowledge, there were some critical issues with the trip as well. After asking several students what they did not enjoy about the trip and what could be improved, we found three main issues. First, many students felt that the point system was a problem, because its basis was extensively on accuracy. Jessica Kwon stated that she didn’t like “how you had to be accurate on everything to get full points” because it was difficult for them to figure out the exact, precise answer for each question in a limited amount of time. Also, the students felt that there was a lack of time for each question and the write-up as well. Kelley Shim informed us that if she was given more time to solve the questions and less time to eat lunch, then her group could have had finished all of the questions completely. She added that 30 minutes was not enough for her group to complete the write-up, which would have been easily completed if they were given time to finish it in class.



Several students pointed out that having unlimited chances to correct their answers inhibited their learning process. Emma Kang thought that she “didn’t gain anything from the questions that she got wrong since she didn’t care about finding the correct answers in the end.” As students became more and more tired throughout the day, they would stop trying to figure out the correct answer and give up after their first try. Implementing a stricter rule such as giving the students a limited number of chances may be beneficial.

“The Geometry field trip was successful! Students were able to apply their knowledge, work as a team, and think critically to solve each challenge. Students worked hard to solve and even those who didn’t solve the challenge gave a great effort. The day went as planned and we were able to enjoy the good weather while we solved!” – Ms.Quade, geometry teacher

This trip for many students was an opportunity for not only extended learning, but definitely some fun in the outdoors. As the first trip this year for the freshmen to experience the outdoors, many students enjoyed getting out of the classrooms and actively engaging with their teammates to solve the challenges. There were some issues that could have been fixed to improve the experience, but overall, the students enjoyed their time outside in another place rather than in the classroom. Perhaps more of such kinds of field trips would add some fun to a somewhat dull third quarter!

—Sarah Se Jung Oh (’19) and Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19)

What’s Up, Freshmen Issue No. 5

One of the biggest Freshman projects of the years, the class of ’19 finally presented their dual English-Asian History Project after weeks and months of preparation and research. See what it’s all about!

The biggest project of the second semester for the freshies may be the English/East Asian Studies joint project, in which students are supposed to utilize their humanities skills and create two main products: first, an excerpt from a “published” historical fiction novel based on a picture from World War II, and second, a presentation “pitching” the book to hypothetical “publishers”. Not only is this project important because of the opportunities it offers for students to bring out the full potential of their research and writing skills, but also because it counts as a big grade for TWO core classes. On Wednesday, March 2nd, the freshman class held a convention in which students will present their posters and pitch their ideas about their books to teachers and other students.

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There are definitely many benefits to this project: it has been a long-term project with extended deadlines, and we have had plentiful opportunities to conference with our English and our East Asian teachers about the project. Because this is the first time that freshmen are given so much freedom and independence with a big summative project like this one, many students feel that their writing and research skills have been tremendously enhanced with this project.


Students, however, also find that there are obstacles they face whilst doing the project. Given the large amount of time that they are given, some find it difficult to manage their time efficiently and work in accordance with the schedule teachers recommend. Many fall behind the project because there are no major checkpoints, despite optional conferences and occasional checkpoints by teachers. Another common worry that freshmen have is the extent to which the assignment covers. Although the excerpt is graded by the English teacher and the presentation by the East Asian teacher, the rubric for both are highly correlated. As a majority of the students feel a high pressure to get good grades, this project is causing them stress. A recent controversy that has triggered students is the time that the convention is held. Christina Kim, a fellow freshman, expressed, “I hate how the teachers are taking away our autonomous time.”  With the packed schedule for freshies, teachers find it difficult to find an appropriate time for the convention to be held; however, with the autonomous time, teachers believe that holding it during that time is most efficient for it does not intervene with other schedules.


A recent controversy that has triggered students is on the time that the convention is held. Christina Kim, a fellow freshman, expressed, “I hate how the teachers are taking away our autonomous time.”  With the packed schedule for freshies, teachers find it difficult to find an appropriate time for the convention to be held; however, with the autonomous time, teachers believe that holding it during that time is most efficient for it does not intervene with other schedules.


There are both positive and negative sides of the assignment as students have claimed. It is, however, strongly recommended that the freshies take this project as an invaluable opportunity to develop core skills and to become more independent and responsible with their learning, rather than an assignment wherein they must receive a high grade; this assignment, perhaps, would allow the freshmen—who put extreme weight on grades—to realise the importance of becoming an independent and empowering learner.

Check out this Prezi created by Ms. Jane Clarke to learn more about the project!


– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19) and Sarah Oh (’19)

What’s Up, Freshmen? Issue No. 4

Meet all the hidden talents of the Class of 2019 at KIS.

The talents that the KIS 9th graders possess is hindered by an incessant strive on academics: students who hold on remarkable talents are rarely recognized by others because of the focus on grades and academic accomplishments rather than other activities. In order to manifest and uncover the talents that are hidden underneath the blanket, we will be introducing to you to several freshies that are uniquely talented.

Emma Kang: Art

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For all of her life, Emma has been in love with drawing, sketching—art. She is an expert at designing common, everyday objects into comical and adorable characters. Her expertise does not end in sketching and drawing, however: she is also known for her artistic handwriting, as shown in her “Hello Blueprint” writing in the photo above. Just with one simple pen and a piece of paper, she is able to create an entire infographic that is easy to view yet filled with creativity here and there.


Alice Jo: Sports

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A vehement and energetic sports player, Alice has been involved in sports ever since she was able to walk; she took part in cross country, basketball, and table tennis. Alice, in hope of connecting with her athletic father, asserted that sports is an essential part of her daily life and that her joining and completing cross country were her major achievements. She also believes that sport is a “human way to express oneself” and hopes that she would continue on her expression as long as she can remember all the great times with her teammates.


Juebin Roh: Piano

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(2014 KIS MS Charity Concert Part II 7:35 ~ 11:46)

As the KIS Phoenix Jazz piano player with a total of 7 years of experience on the piano, Juebin is a professional at accompanying ensembles, whether it is a gargantuan band, a small duet. Just by watching her in this video from the 2014 MS Charity Concert, you can see her excellent sense of rhythm and musicality while she is playing. Not only is she talented at playing the piano, but she is also known for her wonderful clarinet skills. Juebin plans on continuing her high school music career with both instruments; piano in jazz band and clarinet in concert band.


Sam Seo: Cooking


Dedicating his pastime to cooking for the past 7 years, Sam Seo relishes cooking because it entertains those who consume his food. Although he has not been awarded with any prominent awards, his ardent and zeal for cooking still remains powerful and influential: Sam’s passion proves to us that one’s having a talent does not mean he or she has received innumerable  accolades, but rather means that one has a strong, true devotion and dedication to the subject that he or she is interested in—this is true talent. Sam plans to expand his cooking talent by continuing on his prepping for dinner and believes that it is another term for ‘magic’.


Skylar Kim: Ukulele

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(Can’t Help Falling in Love Cover by Skylar Kim)

Skylar is one excellent ukulele player. Having learned to play the ukulele by herself, she has uploaded several videos on Facebook as well as on Youtube to show her wonderful talent. Along with her beautiful voice, Skylar’s playing of the ukulele is mellifluous and harmonious; her ukulele accompaniment is well-fitting with her sweet voice.



These students are only a select few examples of the tremendous talent that the freshman class possesses. We cannot wait to reveal even more students with unimaginable talents. Please congratulate them and recognize them for their talents.


– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19) & Sarah Oh (’19)

What’s Up, Freshmen? Issue No. 3

November—we call it the “stress month”—is one month before the first-ever high school transcript is recorded for the freshies. It is the first permanent record that will go on one’s college application and is one of the factors in determining the university that he or she will be attending. Through a survey of fourteen freshmen, it has proven that approximately 64% of the students felt a relatively high amount of pressure. Students seem to be having a hard time with managing their grades,homework load, and busy schedules after school, having extracurricular activities that take up a lot of time. It is distressing to see how much stress and pressure the freshmen class undergo at such a young age, when students should be savoring their lives.


The pressure to maintain good grades, which amounts particularly from parents and fellow peers, builds up to become a leading cause of stress in this month. When such a drastic change in the grading system occurs in the transition from middle school to high school, it becomes a nearly impossible task for students to adjust and adapt to the new system. Susan Cho stated that “trying to maintain good grades puts a lot of pressure on [her], therefore stressing [her] out constantly.” She is not the only one who feels this way; a handful of other students have critiqued upon the amount of pressure they receive from such a harsh grading system. Duke Moon commented upon the fact that he had never “received an A- for PE before,” and how “keeping [a] high GPA” became so much more difficult.


Although the purpose of homework and assignments is to probe and expand students’ learning, freshmen find a direct correlation between their stress levels and the amount of workload assigned. With the amplifying content materials in multiple courses, more than half of the students that were surveyed claimed that they found “too much homework from all subjects”—particularly Math, English, and World Language. These students, similarly, surpassed the projected time frames, casting further doubts on whether homework is truly an effective tool or rather a distressing method to augment the stress degree of students.

(Premed HQ)

If only one out of fourteen students claimed that Biology class assigned the most homework, why is an overwhelming 43.6% of the students most stressed out by Biology? The reason seems to directly correlate with the first cause: the pressure to maintain good grades. The results of the first Biology test distressed everyone in the grade; the majority of the students received a B or lower. Due to this one test, many students’ grades dropped radically. A plethora of students allege that multiple tests from most departments were graded harshly, particularly Biology, English, World Language (Chinese), and PE. More than ever, students have been filing complaints about the harsh grading of select teachers not only to the teachers themselves, but also to the school office.

(Rough City Athletics)

As soon as students wake up, they are forced to go straight to school, where they take three classes minimum and come back exhausted. Then, they may go to several cram schools that take up another three to four hours of their day. When they come back home, it is around 7PM at night; the time they finally start doing their school homework, which takes approximately two hours, and perhaps up to four if there is a project to complete or test to study for. On top of their normal school homework, however, there is an extraneous work load, with tasks from clubs or other extracurricular activities—two additional hours. Let us sum this up—eight hours at school; approximately an hour wasted on going from home to school, school to hagwon, and hagwon to back home; four hours at hagwons; two hours for school homework, and an additional two hours to study for tests. Can they manage these tasks without any break? Most of the time—no. With all this workload–and most of the time, even more than what has been mentioned–students are not able to get just an hour of rest.

In order to abate this stress and pressure, various solutions were suggested by both the KIS faculty and the students themselves. Many students admitted to not having been spending time wisely, and thus wanted to focus on managing their time more carefully. Other students claimed that their hobbies, including playing sports, eating, and doing other activities that are distinct from school work or any academic work in general would decrease their stress levels. Namun Ganbold, another freshman student, proposed a unique solution: “Have less students in each class so teachers can easily do one on one with the students; it is easier to learn that way.”


– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19) and Sarah Oh (’19)

What’s Up, Freshmen? – Issue 2

On October 14, KIS 9th grade was filled with laughter, jubilance, and anxiousness. While the upperclassmen were taking the PSAT, the freshmen class had the opportunity to embark on what the teachers call ‘the best trip ever in high school’—Everland. This Experiential Education trip was organised by three 9th grade teachers: Ms. Clarke, Mr. Ryther, and Ms. Cuellar. These three teachers, along with several others, dedicated their time to organize not only a time for advisories to bond, but also a day in which students could utilize the core teachings of KIS to everyday challenges.

What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland

This trip was not simply an excitement for the teachers—it was also a source of elation for the students. Through interviewing several freshies, we learned of their anticipation for the trip as well. Susan Cho (‘19) told us that she “expects the EE Trip to have numerous bonding activities, and that she was pretty excited for the trip.” Likewise, Youngsang Ryu (‘19) expressed his ecstasy for the trip, telling us that he was “really enthusiastic about the upcoming scavenger hunt in Everland and that he couldn’t wait until the next morning to go on the trip.” Ryan Koo (‘19) seemed especially enthusiastic about the trip: “I think the trip will be really fun! I’m really excited to attend this trip and take a break from school. I hope that everyone will have tons of fun tomorrow.”

What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland

The trip started with advisories designing flags. Over the two weeks before the trip, 9th grade advisories worked on designing a creative flag that could represent their advisory, which would be ranked in order of best quality. The advisories that created the best flags would have an advantage of starting the race earlier than other advisories. Taking a look at the various flags was exciting, especially because the creativity and effort involved in all of them could be easily observed. AhJin Cho (‘19) told us about the process behind creating her advisory’s flag: “We made a phoenix out of our flag by pasting the pieces together. With the leftover pieces we made feathers, wrote our names on it, and glued to the phoenix.”

What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland

In the beginning of the scavenger hunt, each advisory was given a packet with multiple challenges such as taking photos at specific locations, giving a hug to a random person, riding the T-Express, solving mathematical puzzles, eating a butter-dried octopus in less than five minutes, and many more. These obstacles tested advisories on their teamwork abilities and also their performance of multiple areas of subjects, including math, english and science; however, some were more difficult for others—like riding the T-Express or entering the Horror Maze. Although many were hesitant of riding it, members of all the advisories cooperated, encouraged, and advocated each other to be risk-takers. Several students challenged themselves to face their fears of riding the gigantic roller coaster or of voluntarily stepping into a horridly, dark maze filled with ghosts and jump scares. Susan Cho informed us that she had to “overcome [her] fears” by going into the Horror Maze.

What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland

The Everland trip has proven not only to be the exciting trip that it was expected to be, but also to be one that truly taught students didactic lessons about teamwork. Jenny Woo (‘19) claimed of learning that “communicating and cooperating with your teammates are very important.” AhJin learned “to understand and follow other peoples’ choices that [she] didn’t agree with at first.” With such valuable lessons learned, the freshmen definitely will be able to cooperate and collaborate better together in the future; and, incorporate such lessons to school group projects and presentations to produce the best results.

What's up, Freshmen? Issue 2—Everland

– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19) and Sarah Oh (’19)

What’s Up, Freshmen? – Issue 1

Introducing “What’s Up, Freshmen?” a new series that takes a look into the lives of this year’s newest addition to the high school population, the freshmen.

What’s life like at KIS High School? We’ve heard too many times from experienced sophomores, juniors, and seniors: high school – most of the time – sucks. Not only is there a tremendous workload, but there’s a dizzying amount of work to be accomplished, from college applications to standardized tests like SATs, TOEFL, etc. However, we must see if this gargantuan workload has yet to reign upon our new high schoolers—the freshies!

In order to gain a better understanding of how the new freshmen are doing early in the year, the KIS Blueprint Team will interview five different freshmen every couple months to gain insight on the topsy-turvy life of their first year of high school. By the end of year, we’ll revisit these same freshmen to see just how much they’ve changed, and just how much high school has affected them.  

This week’s six freshies for What’s Up, Freshmen?: Amy and Beth Purdon, Skylar Kim, Muchang Bahng, Chris Park, and Duke Moon.

Keep reading to learn whether or not the high school’s reign of doom has come upon them—yet.

Skylar Kim:

Skylar Kim

Skylar is a loyal KIS student, having been attending the school for around 9 years, starting from kindergarten. She is not only well-known for her frank, humorous, and down-to-earth personality, but also her incredible ice hockey skills.

Let’s take a look at her interview!

How long have you been at KIS?

9 years, from kindergarten, woah, kind of an outlier

What differences do you think are most conspicuous from KIS middle school to now?

I feel like we get a lot more freedom, especially with like free block, obviously, and I feel like we have to take on a lot more responsibility.

What activities/clubs have you joined so far? Are you enjoying them?

I joined GIN, ISTA, which is like International School Theater Association, Speech Team. So, I’m really enjoying my clubs, ISTA gets to go on a trip during the spring break? I’m not sure. I’m really looking forward to being part of the speech team because I feel like it’s really out of my comfort zone. I’m also part of the play now; it’s really fun working with other amazing people. It’s really fun. Ms. Cuellar’s awesome, and it’s fun working with great, amazing people. Come watch the show!

What has been the most challenging/rigorous task for you?


What is your next goal regarding school?

GPA of 4.0, man. I’m trying to do different things, and get out of my comfort zone, and be friends with everyone.

What is your favorite thing that has happened so far in high school?

Sleep deprivation

Rate your current high school experience up until now from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best).

1! No, I’m kidding.

So far, 8.5? 9? 9, stairs! No, I feel like it’s a pretty good score. Since it’s only been a month I know it’s gonna be ten times more amazing than it is now. I like hanging out with my friends in the Family Room with Ms. Cuellar, and we definitely need more furniture.

Duke Moon:

Duke Moon
(Duke Moon)

Also another loyal student, Duke has been at KIS for around 7 years now. He is well-known for taking on several leadership roles throughout his school career, being both the elementary and middle school president. Duke is one to especially know how middle school has turned out to be in comparison to high school.

Let’s check out his extremely simple interview!

How long have you been at KIS?

7 years.

What differences do you think are most conspicuous from KIS middle school to now?

8 block schedule.

What activities/clubs have you joined so far? Are you enjoying them?

JV volleyball is fun, student council is fun.

What has been the most challenging/rigorous task for you?


What is your next goal regarding school?

soccer varsity.

What is your favorite thing that has happened so far in high school?

JV Volleyball.

Rate your current high school experience up until now from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best).

9 cuz I sprained my arm.

Muchang Bahng:

Muchang Bahng
(Muchang Bahng)

Muchang may seem like the most ordinary student who goes to KIS if you don’t know him; however, once you get to know him, he turns out to be someone with a heart of gold. Read his interview to get to know him better!

How long have you been at KIS?

1 year

What differences do you think are most conspicuous from your old school / KIS middle school to now?

A lot more freedom

What activities/clubs have you joined so far? Are you enjoying them?

SAT Prep, which I just think is just a free block where I can study for stuff; Lacrosse where I can be part of a sports-like club where I can just condition myself; and Magic Tricks just for the fun of it, maybe if you’re bored or if you want to impress your friends

What has been the most challenging/rigorous task for you?

Keeping up with the homework

What is your next goal regarding school?

Try to make some clubs, maybe, prepare myself for college

What is your favorite thing that has happened so far in high school?

Being a part of the JV Volleyball team

Rate your current high school experience up until now from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best).

7 because there’s a lot of improvements from middle school, but also there’s like a lot more challenges and a lot more stress coming up on me

Chris Park:

Chris Park
(Chris Park)

Who is Chris Park? It seems there is still so much more to know about him. All we know about him is that he is a talented cello player, and also an extremely intelligent student. Read the interview to learn more!

How long have you been at KIS?

This is my first year

What differences do you think are most conspicuous from your old school / KIS middle school to now?

It is almost the same—but there are more Asians

What activities/clubs have you joined so far? Are you enjoying them?

MUN, Math Competition, Debate, Trio(orchestra group); enjoying most of them, especially Trio.

What has been the most challenging/rigorous task for you?


What is your next goal regarding school?

Not so sure at the moment but I want to do well at MUN conferences.

What is your favorite thing that has happened so far in high school?

Orchestra and Trio. (I’m from Chicago and I met 2 other cellists from Chicago who had the same cello teachers as I did. We formed a trio and it’s been fun already, or I hope it’ll be more fun.)

Rate your current high school experience up until now from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best).

8! But often times, I want to see my friends from Glenview, IL.

Amy and Beth Purdon:

Beth Purdon
(Beth Purdon)
Amy Purdon
(Amy Purdon)

You have probably seen these glamorous, stunning Californian twins walking around the hallways or cafeteria and wonder—who are those twins? How do we distinguish the two?! Well, these two identical sisters tell us how their first year at KIS is going.

How long have you been at KIS?

Beginning of this year

What differences do you think are most conspicuous from your old school / KIS middle school to now?


What activities/clubs have you joined so far? Are you enjoying them?

We have Cross Country and three clubs each–it’s great!

What has been the most challenging/rigorous task for you?

Running in cross-country

What is your next goal regarding school?

Getting third place in cross country, getting all A’s in class, and learning math

What is your favorite thing that has happened so far in high school?

Autonomous block since we don’t have to go to class

Rate your current high school experience up until now from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best).

8.8: because 8 is our favorite number!

Although these freshies—along with others—have only experienced just over two months of high school, the interviewee’s responses let us to know how much has happened for freshmen. However, the strenuous and enlightening times are yet to come! Best of luck to all freshmen!

Keep up with Blueprint for the next ‘What’s Up, Freshmen?’ the next coming months!

– Ariel Hyunseo Kim & Sarah Oh (‘19)