Sunday, 29 September 2013

Throwback!: Old Librarian Memories

Any familiar faces, anyone?

 Hello dear people,

As we enter the final months of 2013, I couldn't help but think of what 2013 has brought the Library and the Librarians. There was Library Week, the trip to Cameron Highlands, the tour of Rhythm & Hues Studios, the Haunted Library, our Appointment Ceremony, the Farewell Party and the excursion in the Forest Research Institute, Malaysia. All of these have brought us Librarians good memories and warm bonds of friendship as we work together towards success. All these events have been well-documented on the blog, and you can read about them as you click on the lovingly hyper-linked words above.

Anyways, my thoughts brought me a little further, back to the times when even our retired fifth-formers haven't even set foot in the school, and these memories were simply not around. Hence, after a fair amount of digging, I found four whole albums of pictures of these memories of old, and it has all been put up on our official Facebook page; so (if you are a senior ex-Librarian, please don't kill me for this) here they are, all for the browsing:

2006 Leadership and Team-Building Camp

2007 Trip to Cameron Highlands

2008 Leadership and Team-Building Camp

2008 Appointment Ceremony and Farewell Party

Saturday, 28 September 2013

PBS: The New Assessment Method

It’s the last year for the PMR examination as it has been replaced with another major assessment. Gone are the days of frantic last-minute studying, because now students are evaluated at any time.
You may wonder why did I say that. You see it’s all because of the new system, PBS. PBS is actually short for Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah [School Based Assessment (SBA) in English]. 

In this new system, there are a few levels to grade achievements: Band 1, Band 2, Band 3, Band 4, Band 5 and finally there is Band 6. Achieving all of these bands take a certain period of time. Technically, the lower the band, the easier to achieve and the faster you get it; but even if it’s just an easy band to achieve, it takes effort as well. 

The easiest, Band 1 means that you’re able to know your stuff. Band 2 means you know it and understand it. Band 3 means you know, understand and are able to do. It starts to become a bit complex when you’re doing a work that is from Band 4 to Band 6. Band 4 means that you know, understand and are able do with good manners. Band 5 means that you know, understand and are able to do with admirable manners. Band 6 means that you know, understand and are able to do with exemplary manners.

It doesn't entirely rely on paper examinations like any mainstream school test. It also relies on projects, assignments, behaviour in class, manner towards the teacher and also your performance in class. Its aims are to help students recognise and enhance their potential through a fun learning environment.

Not only does it test us in the academic field, it also includes being tested in other fields, such as physical activities, sports and also co-curricular activities.

This system is entirely planned, constructed, administrated, tested recorded and reported by the examiner, or in other words the teacher. It also involves pupils, parents and external organizations.

Recently, the government has announced there would still be a major test (part of PBS) that is somewhat a similar format to PMR. However, there still isn’t a name to it although there had been speculations that its name is called PBSMR. This major assessment represents 40% of the current PBS system.

For more information on this, you can visit The Ministry of Education, Malaysia or here

Ajay Suresh

Friday, 27 September 2013

Student Highlights: All for basketball

Chuan Yueh Qi stands 172cm tall in her size 11 basketball shoes. It's a game that she has given her all to get into. For this 14-year-old, the youngest in a family of six, has fought hard to be the first five in her basketball team. And ever since she made it, she has been busy.

During her holidays, she goes for basketball training and participates in several competitions. With training comes injuries but that has not deterred her and she continues to train five to seven times a week.

She is not just active in basketball. She also does track and field events. She plays for MSSD, MSSS, Ayam A1 Junior Basketball League, Sin Chew Cup and Jasmine Cup every year. Besides participating in competitions in Malaysia, she also follows the team to other countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and China.

"I chose basketball because I admired those seniors who always got up on stage to receive shiny gold medals when I was at SJK(C) Yuk Chai and I wanted to be like them someday," Yueh Qi confessed. She decided to join the basketball club when she was nine years old. Her coach then spotted her potential and asked her to join his special training sessions for players with potential.

The reason she kept going with basketball was because her medals and trophies motivated her. "The medals and trophies were like gold back then, but now I don't need any motivation. I just love basketball. 1 really enjoy it," said Yueh Qi. That, and her coach's support and her father's encouragement keeps her going. He has taken videos of all her games.

Yueh Qi is also talented in other ways. She plays the piano and dances with her group 'Paflotion' in SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3). She has performed for events like Teachers' Day and Form 5 Graduation Day.

Yueh Qi is a very joyful girl, and all her friends feel warm being in her company. Academically, she disciplines herself to do what needs to be done, then proceeds to the things that she wishes to do. She won first place in the English Writing Competition during her time at SJK(C) Yuk Chai and scored 7A's in her UPSR in 2010. She was also the best student for the whole form for the Chinese subject in 2011.

Asked what her happiest moment was, Yueh Qi said it was when she got the championship title as a Selangor player, and when she got three individual prizes in the Karnival Olimpik Muda Selangor recently. Her saddest was when she sprained her ankle during the first match of the International Challenge in Indonesia. Her ambition? Well, Yueh Qi hopes to be a fashion designer one day. She wants to design clothing create accessories or jewellery and wardrobe for television, film and theatre.

By Wong Ying Ying, Chelsea, 16, SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3), Selangor

This post is part of the line-up ahead of the blog's second anniversary. All these posts will be taken from articles written by students featuring the school on School Times, the educational pull-out from the New Straits Times.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Highlights of 2013: One flaming scout's camp

On July 26, The 157th Petaling Flaming Dragon Scout Group had its annual Skills Camp. This year's theme was Galaxias Wars, a fusion between Star Wars and Greek Mythology. Because of this, the patrols which the scouts were grouped in were given special names like Gaiabacca, Zeus Skywalker and Darth Hades. The camp was guided by the troop's scoutmasters consisting of Mr Maverick Teh, Mr Foong Han Sean, Mr Goh Jian-Yong, Mr Cheong Wern Kit, Mr Ivan Gaban, Mr Kwang Yong Tick, Ms Lee Yu Feng with teacher advisor, Encik Mohd Ridwan, helped by the senior scouts.

The camp officially kick-started with the flag-breaking ceremony. This activity involved deploying the troop flag, singing the national and state anthem followed by a speech by one or more scoutmasters. Here they gave orders on what the campers needed to do after the ceremony. The scouts then set about doing the tasks given. The junior scouts between 13 and 14 years old started building their campsite while the Form 3 junior scouts were challenged to build an hourglass tower out of mangrove wood and raffia string. What was interesting was that the entire structure did not have a single screw or nail in it. This allows the wood to be reused.

After dinner, the scouts played the troop's annual Wide Game. A Wide Game is played in a large area, in this case, all over the school. These games are meant to build one's attitude, enthusiasm, scouting knowledge and teamwork. The games were played well into the night. It was a challenging yet new experience for the many young scouts exploring the school in the dark for their first time.

So that was it for the day? Not yet! The junior scouts took turns staying up all night building structures and gadgets such as dining tables, shoe racks and dustbins. I kid you not. The gadgets were all made out of mangrove wood and held together by only raffia lashings.

The next day, the participants woke groggily from their sleep and stumbled to the futsal court to do some exercises. Following that, the junior scouts had their morning inspection. This involved each member of the patrol laying all their belongings in an organised way on their sleeping bags. This was to ensure that the scouts did not bring anything unauthorised to camp. As they were only given a little time, this helped build discipline in terms of tidiness and time management. The scoutmasters thoroughly checked the bags of the campers. Also, their uniforms were checked for any imperfections, such as wrong shoes, absence of the forage cap, their scarf and so on.

For lunch, the scouts cooked their meals over small fires. This type of cooking is called backwoods cooking. The types of food are unique and you can never find them at restaurants. Some examples are: Fiji chicken, twisted bread (a special kind of bread twisted around a stick. It can be flavoured in many creative ways) and potato in eggs.

After the meals, the scouts had a quick rest before the next activity - the commando course! The course consisted of a series of man-made obstacles designed to test a scout's physical and mental strength as well as camaraderie as a patrol. Some of the obstacles included the Dead Man's Crawl, rope climbing and mud crawling.

In the evening, ‘Malam Kebudayaan' took place. It was a night when the scouts gathered together to sing songs, play games, perform sketches and dances to end the night in a spirited and cheerful way. All friends and family of the scouts were invited to watch them perform. You could tell from their faces that they were enjoying themselves very much. And for the first time, there was an exhibition showcasing the troop's history, past camps and activities, various knots, miniature structures, different scout uniforms, badges and scarves from all over the world. It was a good way-to expose parents to how large the scout movement really is and how far the troop has advanced through the years.

The junior scouts worked hard through the night to finish up their campsite. The next morning, after some exercise the scouts had their final morning inspection. This time round, they were criticised and inspected strictly as they should by now, be close to perfection in terms of their layout, uniform, pioneering gadget quality and cleanliness.

After lunch, it was time to play the legendary game of penguin football! In penguin football humans are transformed into penguins and they don't have feet so they use their wings to play! Just kidding, but it's something very close to that. Plastic sheets are laid down of the ground to form a court and are taped firmly in place. Two goalposts are set up diagonally at opposite corners of the court. Water and soap is then sprayed on the court to lubricate it and enable the players to slide around easier. In this game, you can only stand on your knees and use your fists to hold the ball. The objective is to hit the ball into the opponent's goal, gaining your team a point. The team with the most points moves on to the next game. The patrols battled each other in this game.

After that was the closing ceremony. Awards were given to the best patrol, patrol leader, assistant patrol leader, quartermasters and members who had shown great spirit and attitude throughout the camp. All in all, it was a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. Everybody learnt important lessons in this camp which will certainly be beneficial in the future. Friendships were forged and bonds were strengthened. Although everyone was tired, they were all happy.

By William Ng Hao Syuen, 15, SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3), Selangor

This post is part of the line-up ahead of the blog's second anniversary. All these posts will be taken from articles written by students featuring the school on School Times, the educational pull-out from the New Straits Times.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

10,000 Views: Jump for Joy!

Hello avid blog readers,

We have reached the grand 10,000 views! Thank you for everything, people, and continue to support us as we continue to give you more crazy content.

To celebrate this grand occasion, we Librarians recently went on a field trip, and this provided us fifth-formers with a great opportunity to relax and get all the stress out of our system. What way to do this better than to jump it out? Hence, we got jumping, and if you don't believe us (who of sane mind jumps in public for the sake of it, anyway?), scroll below:

By the way, the jumping got so contagious that it spread to the previous post. Hope it doesn't become a global pandemic :D Happy 10,000 views, everybody!

Pictures  by Yeoh Zi Qing and Diana Rodzi

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Day in the Jungle

Here are a few facts that keep us jumping for more:

Did you know that the bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world? 

Did you know the cicada lives in the ground for up to 17 years as larvae before emerging as adults to mate within 2 weeks?

Most wouldn’t, but those were the things that we learnt from on our field trip to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), organised by the Nilam Subunit of the School Resource Centre. 

After a light breakfast, we set off on an hour-long journey there by bus. Buzzed up by excitement, we got off on a fresh start, breathing in the fresh morning air whilst we waited for our guides.

As our guides arrived, we were split up into two groups. Our guide told us the history of FRIM. It was actually an abandoned tin mine which was turned into a plantation forest by British scientists in 1920 for research. It’s a far cry from the days before the British set foot on Malaysia, when this forest spanned from FRIM all the way to Damansara, but now it is an invaluable gem in ecological research.

For the next hour, we learnt a lot about ecology and nature. From measuring the circumference of a tree planted 60 years ago, to gawping at a termite highway: the hike through the forest was breath-taking and eye-opening. 

We even held a leech in our hands, watching as the poor thing probed for a place to bite! 

We learnt about the various research projects undertaken, like ‘graveyard testing’ where various types of wood are subjected to the elements to determine how long it will last without damage.

In the middle of the trip, we encountered a place where the canopy seemed to fit like a jigsaw puzzle. The reason for this is uncertain, but it might be due to the trees trying to get as much sunlight as possible for every leaf. 

Also, we learnt about the production of camphor and gaharu as a by-product of a tree’s defence mechanism, as well as almost crossing paths with a monkey.

As the trip drew to a close, we cooled off at a near-by waterfall, and simply relaxed as we snapped away photographs as memories of this memorable trip.

Well, not before we jumped for joy!

Pictures by Yeoh Zi Qing and Diana Rodzi

P.S. This article was also published in School Times, an educational pull-out in the New Straits Times. If you don't believe me, I've got a picture to prove it :P

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Serving Excellence: Words of a Principal

Puan Azizah Yusoff (centre, in green) during her Hari Raya open house

On the 4th of March, 1954, an ordinary soul was born on this earth. There was nothing remarkable about the baby girl when she was first born, but 60 years later, the woman she came to be would shine with her works: for at the time that Puan Azizah Yusoff , principal of SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) will leave her legacy to the school and the teaching profession after more than three decades of service as a teacher.

According to her husband, Dr Nik Isahak Wan Abdullah, heart specialist at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre, they have been married for 35 years! This cardiovascular consultant said, ‘We first met at Universiti Malaya, while we were still studying at Second College; and it went on from there.’ According to him, she would get going to work at 5.45 a.m., since she lives in Subang Jaya, being amongst the first person to arrive in school! ‘Sometimes I ask her, does the security guard open the gates for you, or do you do that for him?’ he joked. Her dedication is proved even further when ‘she is busy on the telephone, resolving school administrative issues’ as he continued. Though she was not well received by the parent-teacher association when she first entered SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) as its newly-appointed principal, but with her hard work, she has made SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) a Cluster School of Excellence in 2013. When her husband asked her to transfer to a school closer to their home in Subang Jaya, the parent-teacher association simply refused to let her go! At home, she likes to cook, an after her retirement, her husband thinks that she would spend most of her time in the kitchen, whipping up culinary delights for her family.

From her eldest son’s perspective, Nik Nadzrul Iskandar, 31, says she is strict when it comes to her children's studies and attitudes towards life. ‘She helps me quite a lot in my studies until I have achieved success, perhaps a little more than I liked,’ he said, ‘but that’s her redeeming quality. She personally tutored us in Malay and History, the two subjects which she specialises in. She always gave more than what we asked for. She would also help my friends in their studies as well, and they might’ve loved her more for that than I did.’ After her retirement, he expects her to ‘still be busy, but whatever she does, she would do her best!’

Through these two perspectives of Puan Azizah Yusoff, it is clearly proven that she has deserved the accolades which she has received, such as the Excellent Principal Award and the school's status as a Cluster School of Excellence. Below are ten questions, which delve in-depth into her own views on herself:

What are your feelings on your retirement?
I have mixed feelings on this. I feel sad about having to leave my career, which I have been in for 35 years. I feel proud that I have upheld the teaching profession to exemplary heights. I feel touched that my dream of making SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) an excellent school in the Petaling Utama district. I feel overwhelmed that I would have to break ties with the teachers and students of SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) that I love as my own family. However, I also feel happy as I don't have to wake up so early in the morning anymore!

What are your achievements you have accomplished in life?
I feel proud as I have succeeded in becoming a dedicated teacher, an excellent principal and also have led the school into being recognised as a Cluster School of Excellence and also the choice of local residents. In terms of family, I have succeeded in raising three children who have graduated from university and have successful careers, such as being a financial executive, marketing executive and doctor. My youngest daughter is a fourth-former in SMK Subang Utama. Apparently, I have also succeeded in becoming a grandmother, with a one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Mariam. 

What is your greatest achievement, in your opinion? 
SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) that has become the dream school, and the retention of its excellence from year to year; to the extent that it has become a Cluster School of Excellence, and hopefully a High Performance School. Students, parents, and teachers are proud to be a part of SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3). Maintaining the performance of SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) is no easy feat; I am considered an effective guide and leader because I have inculcating an excellent cooperative working culture here. With its niche in basketball and other co-curricular activities, SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) has become a reference until it has succeeded in getting contributions and privileges in related fields.Besides having a conducive atmosphere and an interesting environment that is well-equipped with amenities, I am proud that I have fostered a close bond between the parent-teacher association, the local community, the private sector, private institutes for higher education, non-governmental organisations, the District Education Office and the State Education Department all for my beloved SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3).

Why did you choose to be a teacher?
Actually, I should have been an civil administrative officer due to my scholarship that I was under in Universiti Malaya, but in accordance with my husband's wishes, who was a busy heart specialist, before we got married, I changed my interest to fulfilled my husband's dreams because I had to attend to our family (which was a huge responsibility on my part), even though I was also offered an opportunity to further my studies in obtaining my master's degree in the United Kingdom at the London School of Economics in History. To this day, I believe I have made a precise decision which is compatible to my responsibility as a wife and mother so that I can spend time with my family. This proves my excellence in being both a principal and a mother.

How do you balance your career with your family?
When I was still studying, I was very focussed, just as I am now when I am working. I have made a schedule for myself to take into account my priorities and my time. For me, everything has to be done to its best so that I can overcome it easily. I believe that a little time spent wisely is worth much more that a lot of wasted time. For me, time management is important to balance out my responsibilities as principal, teacher, wife, mother and chairperson of the Council of Secondary School Principals of the Petaling Utama district. I also am active not just in my career, but also in societies, like the district and state Councils of Secondary School Principals.

What are the benefits of becoming a principal?
I am able to guide teachers to become better. I have proven the excellence of the school from many aspects. If possible, I hope my name will go down as the architect that built the school's superiority in the district, the state and the country. This has successfully been achieved in 2013 with the school's recognition as a Cluster School of Excellence. I have also become the chairperson of the Council of Secondary School Principals of the Petaling Utama district and also a committee member of the state Council of Secondary School Principals. I am also considered an expert in the SPM syllabus for History and I share this advantage with secondary schools throughout the district and state.
What is your advice to History students?
Students should follow the format and advice given by teachers, as well as use the Form IV and V History Textbooks [when studying]. Students have to make notes and refer to past year SPM questions. Students are advised to focus when the teacher is teaching so that they can answer SPM History questions in the correct manner. Small groups can be formed to discuss structured questions. Students should also do more exercises with objective questions. The first step in scoring in History is to ace through Paper I and Paper III. Short notes must be made so that facts can be easily remembered.

What is your advice to students who are struggling as they enter adulthood?
Every student should have a vision or an insight to work towards. Students should determine their goals and ways to achieve that goal. Students must be optimistic to try their best, be willing to overcome any hurdles and independent as well as high self-discipline. Students' minds must be open and noble in order for them to become individuals who can be the pride of their parents, their school, and the nation as well. This can be attained through focus, persistence, strong principles and high self-esteem, as well as character.

What are your hopes today?
I hope that students and teachers alike would work hard to preserve the school's status as a Cluster School of Excellence and give full commitment towards shared success. This, I hope, is the legacy which I will leave behind. I also hope that everyone in SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) will work as a team and support my successor in the future. SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (3) surely BOLEH and will always be the BEST!

What are your plans after retirement?
I would like to go travelling as much as I can, as long as I am still able. Besides that, I would also want to involve myself in non-governmental organisations. I want to be closer to God by devoting myself more completely to His works. Since I have a shelf full of unread books, I would also get started on reading them that I have left untouched due to my hectic schedule. I might accompany my youngest daughter as she furthers her studies abroad and help care for my grandchildren, as well as accompany my husband overseas as he attends seminars or courses.

Besides this interview, she has also been featured on 'Malaysia Hari Ini' in its Teacher's Day special.

As we end this blog post here, here are a few snaps back at Puan Azizah's open house during Hari Raya:

Ladies first!

The men get the next shot

Family togetherness

With other guests

All smiles here :)

The ladies get ANOTHER picture.

What a lovely house!

Could you ever get enough of it?

Part of the sumptuous spread

Family portrait

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