Annual JPA Spelling Bee champions crowned

Monday, 22th May 2017


We are pleased to announce the winners of the Annual JPA Spelling Bee, 2017.

Lower Elementary: Samuchilea, Grade 3,

Upper Elementary: Sengly, Grade 6,

Junior High School: Srey Touch, Grade 8.

This year, the Spelling Bee finalists were the winners and runners up of our previous qualifying heats. At the Grand Final they all took to the stage in front of a hushed and expectant audience.

We spoke to the winner, Srey Touch from Grade 8. She said, “I was shaking when it was my turn. When there were only two competitors left, I felt anxious, but was happy that I had made it into the last round. Then, luckily for me, my opponent misspelled her word, republic. I felt so relieved after I had spelled my final word, chaperone, correctly that I was numb. After a few seconds I realized that the audience was clapping for me, the winner, and I felt elated. This is my second consecutive year as the JPA Spelling Bee Champion and I plan to work hard to make it three times in a row next year!”

Congratulations to all who took part in both the heats and finals, and especially to the winners.

Thank you to the many teachers who helped organize and judge the 2017 Spelling Bee.


Monday, 15th May 2017

Recently, we were very pleased to welcome Cambodian author, Thavry Thon, to school to give a motivational talk to our high school students. Thavry’s most recent book, A Proper Woman, is her autobiographical account of her struggle to pursue her dreams of a higher education despite the many obstacles she faced. She joined us to share her story with our high school students who have so much in common with her.

Like most JPA students, Thavry was born to a farming family in a rural village and faced not only financial obstacles, but also had to overcome traditional village views of what a ‘proper’ woman should be. She spoke affectionately of the support she received from her parents who encouraged her to be the first girl in her village to break the mold and make a success of her life. She related, with good humor, how the older members of her family thought she was doomed to failure.

Her journey resonated profoundly with our students, especially the girls whose own experiences are so similar to Thavry’s. To support her studies Thavry took a job with PEPY, an NGO working in education. She described how, with their help and through her hard work and will power, she eventually earned a scholarship to study Information Technology at a university in the Czech Republic, successfully graduating in 2012. She encouraged the JPA girls to persevere with their education and believe in themselves. She spoke about the need, also, to educate young Cambodian men to respect the rights and abilities of women.

Following her talk, Thavry invited questions from the audience. Questions came thick and fast as the students were clearly captivated by her story and wanted to know more. After the event, many of our students came to chat with Thavry and share their own stories. She met with Voleak, from the Class of 2017, who recently won a writing competition, and Grade 7 student, Ellen, who also dreams of becoming an author. Ellen reflected, “It was great to meet someone who is what I dream of becoming: an author. I asked her for tips and she told me to read lots of books. If I like a particular style or author, she advised me to read similar books or books by the same author as I try to find my own style.”

Grade 9 student, Rasy said, “Ms. Thavry is a passionate Cambodian woman from a rural area. My first impression was of her overwhelming confidence and sense of humor. Amazingly, writing books is only her part-time job. I feel like I can identify with her, her smile reminds me of my own and she is from the same background as me. It really makes me passionate to make the most of the gift of education that JPA is giving me.”

Thavry kindly autographed 30 copies of her book which soon whizzed off the shelf and has a list of eager readers waiting to learn how this young Cambodian woman forged her own future.

We all thank Thavry for her wonderful talk and wish her great success with the Khmer version of her book

Voleak’s e-Story of success

Monday, 8th May 2017

Voleak, Grade 12, was one of 8 winners of the national Let’s Read! E-Book Hackathon, a writing competition run by the Asia Foundation. This year, the theme was girls who overcome challenges with determination and creativity.

Voleak has always been a keen reader. She shares her story below:

“I first found out about the Let’s Read! E-Book writing competition from JPA college counselor, Ms. Houston. To apply, I had to submit an original Khmer language story, based on the theme of female empowerment. The story needed to meet certain requirements. It had to be at a Grade 3 reading level, have a set numbers of words per sentence and have a set number of sentences per page. These conditions were set so that the winner's story could be turned into an e-book.

“I submitted my story by email and I also answered some questions about myself. After a few weeks, I heard back with an email notifying me that my story had been selected! I was shocked that they liked my story because I had written it very quickly the day before the deadline. I couldn't believe it.

“As a selected winner, I went to Phnom Penh twice. The first time, was to attend a workshop with the other writers and an editor where I learned about the Asia Foundation, the Let's Read Hackathon and how to work with designers and illustrators. I also met with a professional writer and received advice to refine my story. For my second visit, I spent the entire day from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm working with an illustrator and a graphic designer to draft a storyboard for my story.

“It was intense as we were all completely engrossed with our work. At the same time, it was informative and fun! I learned a lot about creating an e-book and the writing process. It's cool to meet actual writers and illustrators. I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw the cover page of my story. It was one thing to write, but to see my story turned into reality, I was so genuinely happy that I even cried. It was the happiest day in my life because I have always wanted to be a writer. It's like my dream is on its way to coming true.”

Congratulations to Voleak whose e-book, Vuny The Heroine, is due to be published online shortly.


Monday, 1st May 2017

This year, we once again celebrated the Cambodian New Year with performances of music, traditional dancing and games.

Students enjoying the games.
Performances from the guitar club and Grade 5 playing melodicas.
Teachers displaying their traditional Cambodian dancing skills.
Lots of fun playing traditional games.