Tuesday, 6th November 2018

Students from our Model United Nations (MUN) class recently participated in an MUN conference at the International School of Phnom Penh, joining over 15 schools from across South-East Asia. The conference covered topics such as: cyber-warfare security, regulation of cryptocurrencies, digital privacy, and the preservation of indigenous culture and language.

KhemaraRatanaSophairathSenglySrey OnMonikaSokhvisal

Mr. McBride, MUN co-ordinator, said, “Highlights of the trip included the first JPA student to hold the position of Head Chair at a senior MUN conference and the fact that a number of our students were nominated to draft and submit resolutions. Whilst there is room for improvement, these are sure signs of the growing confidence of our students.”

Students shared their reflections below:

Right to Left - Thida, Lin, Sokuntheary

Vanny, Grade 11.
“As a delegate in General Assembly three, it was enjoyable to be part of some passionate debates. The discussions over the question of the preservation of language and culture and the rights of children were particularly engaging. Delegates all had a say when deciding how to ensure that children of imprisoned parents should be protected and raised properly.”

Komin (front)

Sareth, Grade 11.
“I represented the country of Nepal in the Human Rights Council. I took on the challenge by drafting and submitting a resolution on the topic of preventing the exploitation of youth for military purposes. Being the delegate responsible for writing a resolution means having to make many speeches to convince other delegates to support your proposal. However, I and the other delegates managed to write what I thought was an exceptional resolution. Others agreed as many delegates voted for our resolution and it passed. During the debate, there were two delegates who were particularly skeptical about our resolution. As their countries permitted child soldiers, they repeatedly demanded that I make an amendment to allow for voluntary child soldiers. I didn’t attach the amendment, so those countries abstained from voting. It was such an enjoyable debate as I was able to connect with some of the topics I have learned in political science class such as human rights, social dilemmas, and citizenship for refugees. In the end, I was glad to write a resolution and proud that it passed.”

Chantrea (center)

Ratana, Grade 12.

“We debated cryptocurrency regulation. We discussed the growth of electronic payments across the globe, leading towards a cashless society. However, we voiced concern at the lack of regulation that is in place to protect consumers and the danger that cryptocurrency can be used to trade in illegal goods.

“This was my first MUN conference, and it was unforgettable. It was great to see students of different nationalities come together to debate global issues.”

Chanmolis, Grade 12.
“This year I held the role of Head Chair of the Economic and Social Committee, and I enjoyed every single moment of it.

“On the first day, I had to manage the committee alone as my Deputy Chair was delayed at the airport. However, it was a positive day as we prepared many written resolutions. When I got back to the hotel, I shared the resolutions with my Deputy Chair, and we set about preparing feedback on each of them for our committee members.

“MUN protocol states that delegates are to refer to themselves in the third person. However, I was continually forced to remind delegates to refrain from using personal pronouns such as, “I think that,” and “I would have to respond,” rather than, “The delegate thinks...”. Thankfully, there were only a few instances where I had to call for a formal break in proceedings. On one occasion I had to bang the gavel to stop the delegate for Japan from speaking as she had gone over her time limit. She wasn’t going to stop until she had finished her speech.

“In the end, only two out of the five resolutions put forward were passed, one written by a JPA student, Srey On, Grade 10, who told me, ‘I was amazed that no one went against my resolution. Instead, they helped by adding multiple amendments to improve it. I was extremely proud when everyone in the house voted to pass it.’ ”

Congratulations to all the participants, particularly Chanmolis, the first JPA student to hold the position of Head Chair at a senior MUN conference. Thank you to Mr. McBride and Mr. Van Hilten for preparing students for this year’s MUN conference.

SokunthearySarethSopheakro (left)Sampoas (right)


Monday, 29th October 2018

Sopheak ’20 is settling into Aiglon College, Switzerland, where he will study for the next two years.


Monday, 22nd October 2018

Each year, school breaks for a week as Cambodians celebrate the important national festival of Pchum Ben. Srey On, Grade 10, shared her story.

Srey Mech ’19, with a tray of OnsormRatana ’19, performing the Dak Bart offering

Around late September or early October, Cambodia celebrates the fifteen day religious festival of Pchum Ben or Ancestors’ day. We prepare food and travel to nearby pagodas to give food to monks and make offerings to our deceased ancestors. I am not really a religious person or a person who believes in spirits, but I participate in the celebrations out of respect for our traditions and for fun.

I helped my mother prepare the traditional Cambodian cake, ‘Onsorm’. My mother molded rice, stuffed with bananas, into cakes and wrapped them in banana leaves and I tied them up. Once we were finished, I went all around the village giving the onsorm and a little money to the elderly. My mother told me we were giving alms for the spirits of our ancestors, but I saw it as giving to other people who needed it as well as showing respect for the older generation.

On the fifteenth and final day of the festival we went to the pagoda. Waking up at four in the morning, I helped my mother prepare different dishes for the monks. I was so tempted to eat the food, but my mother told me I could only eat once we had set food aside for the monks and my grandmother. Once we arrived at the pagoda, we gave food to the monks as it is a traditional way to ‘transfer merit’ to our ancestors. The pagoda was raucous, with people, talking, clanging dishes and monks chanting. Despite the chaos, I enjoyed interacting and celebrating with the people some of whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time. In the end, I was tired from all the walking around and helping, but I appreciated the festival, the relationships and the interactions with all the people around me.

Center for Khmer Studies. Images:

The festival had ended, but our break from school had yet to come to an end. Before the break, I had heard about the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS) in Wat Damnak, Siem Reap. Using the time I had left before school started again, I decided to go to visit. My first impression was how beautiful and calming it was. It’s located in the middle of a pagoda and I was surprised at how peaceful it was, even though it’s in the middle of the city. I noticed many students sitting in and around the library. Some were reading books, some were doing research on laptops, and some were silently doing work. The environment was so different from my home and was a perfect place to study, work, and read. When I went into the library I was amazed. There were countless shelves with books about Cambodia in both Khmer and English, its history, politics, economy, and society. Not only that, there were computers to use for free. I picked out a book called ‘Cambodian Interlude,’ about Cambodia emerging from the time of the Khmer Rouge regime, during the United Nations’ preparation for elections in 1993. The next day, I went back and took some work to do. Unlike home, I was able to concentrate on my work which included writing this story. I like the place a lot and plan on going there more often.

I feel fortunate that my break from school touched on both the traditional and modern ways of life. My ancestors have participated in Pchum Ben festivities for centuries and I was glad to participate to continue the tradition. At CKS, I saw lots of young Cambodians studying. Many of them, I’m sure, are like me; the first in their family to pursue a higher education. Hopefully, that too, will become a tradition.


Monday, 1st October 2018

Chamroeun ’15, has just graduated from Stamford International University in Bangkok with a degree in Information Technology. Recently, he completed an internship at EZECOM, an internet service provider based in Phnom Penh.

Monday, 24th September 2018

During the summer, I went to two summer camps that changed my life. I spent half of last year preparing for this trip, yet despite all of that preparation, I never really knew what to expect. I was headed for a five-day summer camp at the US Space and Rocket Center at Huntsville, Alabama and then an Aerospace, summer camp at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

After months of navigating through the labyrinth of bureaucracy necessary to get the travel permits I needed for my trip, I touched down at the Huntsville International Airport. The first thing I saw while traveling to the space center was a towering Saturn V rocket, which is the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built. It took astronauts to the moon and launched the Skylab space station into orbit. It is one of the many exhibits at the US Space and Rocket Center, which includes supersonic jets, other Apollo-era rockets, the first space shuttle test vehicle, Pathfinder, helicopters, and other aircraft. It is a wonderland for everyone, but for someone like me, who is interested in aerospace history, well, it was mind-blowing.

Savong with a US Air Force Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - which set the flight world speed record of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h), approximately Mach 3.3

After I checked in, I went to an area surrounded by chain link fence that seemed to be a vast hangar complex located next to woods and a nearby lake. This was where I stayed for the week. My room had a name, USS Nimitz, and I shared it with about 20 boys my age with everyone sleeping on bunk beds. In short, the Aviation Challenge is similar to a military-style camp, and is all about learning about aircraft, survival, and being a pilot. Additionally, the camp includes physical training focused on discipline and attention to detail in survival situations. The physical training was hard to get used to, but over the few days, I grew to love the program and my teammates, who I now call friends. Everyone was given a nickname or ‘callsign.’ Our trainer was callsign Moonpie. My 13 teammates were Slate, Frozone, Cyborg, Python, Sega, Yankee, Skeleton, Simba, Wall-E, Trike, Dingo, Phoenix, All-State, and my callsign was Panzer. We were briefed on techniques to build makeshift shelters with materials found in the woods in a survival scenario. We got to learn and apply other skills out in the field, such as building a fire, building shelters with parachutes, and patrolling.

The camp was packed with so many activities and events that I couldn’t possibly fit them all in here. Some of them were flying on zip lines, night-time field training exercises simulating a combat scenario, experiencing 3 g in a centrifuge, attending lectures on aviation history, touring the space museum, listening to speeches from an astronaut, a fighter pilot and an aerospace engineer who shared their experiences. Best of all, we flew in flight simulators and competed in a simulated dog fighting tournament called ‘Top Gun’ after the Hollywood

Savong on a Zip LineThe Winning Team - Savong (2nd row right)

movie. I was a pilot, and my friend Cyborg was my ‘Rio’ or Radio Operator. Unfortunately, I made a bad move and went into an unrecoverable dive towards the ground and crashed in the very first match. However, our team did win the tournament and broke some records which are now recorded in the Aviation Challenge’s hall of fame. On a personal note, I designed and produced a team emblem that was voted the best in the program.

With so many activities happening in the span of a few days, the summer camp was over too quickly. Before I knew it, we had graduated, and I moved on.

Savong with the Saturn V Rocket

For one day between camps, I stayed with a wonderful host family, the Boyds, who were very hospitable and friendly to me and then I flew to Daytona Beach, Florida, for my next summer camp. Daytona Beach is a beautiful place. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is next to the beach and is attached to the airport, so it was only a short drive to my dorm building, named Doolittle. Similarly to the previous summer camp, it was packed with events and activities, but this was relatively more relaxed than the mini-boot camp in Alabama. My class consisted of eighteen people, and I had the opportunity to make friends with most of them. We had two professors. Our first was Dr. Seedhouse, an amazing person. Before becoming a professor at Embry Riddle, he was named the world’s fittest man and was able to break many athletic records. He was once one of the top finalists for the astronaut selection program, but NASA didn’t choose him as he was past their age requirements. He was a fantastic teacher too. He could recall many events in space history, answer any questions the students threw at him, and identify or explain almost every single part of the International Space Station (ISS). Our second professor, Dr. Martinez, was our favorite teacher as he taught us engineering skills. He tasked us with competing in fun team engineering challenges, letting us design our own spaceship models using computer software.

Savong with the NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida

My best memory of the entire summer was visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. This was so exciting for all of us as this is THE location for aerospace engineers. It was the site for the most significant launches in history, including the Apollo program launches that took humans to the moon, the space shuttle launches that took modules to the ISS, and virtually every other major American rocket was launched from here. We went on a bus tour around the cape and saw the many launch sites. The museum was fantastic as well. Their exhibits and presentations were absolutely world class. During one of the presentations, we sat on the seats overlooking the actual command and control center that was used during the Apollo missions. In another presentation, the whole room was in the shape of a dome which turned out to be one big screen, displaying the launch of a space shuttle. After the video presentation was over, it showed what appeared to be an image of a space shuttle on a black sheet in front of us. Then, the sheet lifted, and the actual space shuttle, Atlantis, was behind it. We then participated in a simulated space shuttle launch. We strapped ourselves in rows of seats, then the whole platform rotated upwards almost 90 degrees, and it started shaking violently as if it was the real launch. There were so many other awesome things to see and experience at the space center, but these are just three of the most significant exhibits.

Other than learning from hands-on activities and going on tours to many different places, I also learned a lot about myself during the three weeks I was at Embry Riddle. I learned how to make friends and to let go of the reserved personality that I usually exhibit back home. I learned to make the most of my time and be positive about myself and be positive towards others. However, most importantly, what this trip gave me is confidence and optimism for my future. I have always dreamt about becoming an aerospace engineer, but this was the first time that I had actual experience. Virtually all of my friends at the camp had the same dream that I do, so it was wonderful to speak to people that I could relate to. I also made many connections to people who work in the industry.

SpaceX Building and Launch Pad, The Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center

During my Aerospace studies course with Dr. Seedhouse, we were shown the rubric they use for the selection of the astronaut candidates. To be selected as an astronaut, one must be a well-rounded individual. Astronauts must not only be intelligent, but be able to take care of themselves physically and to cooperate effectively as teammates. The astronauts who have gone to space were amazing individuals, most of them dreamt of going into space their entire lives. Ever since they were kids, they dreamt of touching the heavens, and so they dedicated their entire lives to pursuing their dreams and shaped themselves into individuals who were especially suited for a space mission. I think this is very inspiring. We could dedicate our own lives to one, singular grand goal and it would give

Savong with the Lunar Excursion Module LM9
Built for the Apollo 15 Mission

everything we do meaning and purpose. That would be mean that we would wake up every day knowing exactly we want to do in pursuit of our goal and we would value the time and effort we put into some of the tedious tasks we are set or set ourselves. That is a message to all JPA students. If you have an ambition, start early and be the best person that you can be. You will have a reason to take care of yourself and put in great work at school every day. If going to space isn’t your dream, then you should find that one purpose that will define your life. Even if we don’t achieve the greatness we hoped for, consider all of the possibilities that open up from our dedication to becoming a great person.

Thank you, Savong, for sharing your story and we wish you the best on your journey towards college.


Monday, 17th September 2018

Once again on September 13th this year, we paid homage to the all-time children’s favorite author, Roald Dahl. Lower school teachers decorated the school with a decidedly Roald Dahl twist and dressed as some of his most notable characters. Our cooks made some fantastically gruesome worm-spaghetti covered with nasty bits and pieces from Mr. Twit’s beard, (The Twits), horrible snozcumbers, (The BFG) and Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake, (Matilda). High School teachers used their planning periods to come down to the library and read Dahls’ books to the younger learners. All day long the lower school students tried their very best in class as they knew they had a chance of winning one of the prized “Wonka Golden Tickets.” The lucky winners in Grades 1-6 each received a copy of a Roald Dahl novel.

A “Dahl” Day at School
Winners of the “Wonka Golden Tickets” Receiving Their Prizes

Thank you to the events committee for organizing Roald Dahl Day.

Monday, 10th September 2018

Sokhoeun ’19 has returned to school to finish his senior year of high school after he spent last school year in the USA at Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania under the ASSIST scholarship program. He shares his story below.

The past year at Perkiomen School, in Pennsburgh, Pennsylvania, proved to be an excellent year during which I challenged myself. I had so many new and interesting experiences and learned to be more independent. I learned a new language, took AP courses, tried new sports and enjoyed trips to various places including New York. Upon arriving, I was pleased to meet the friendly and supportive staff who helped make my year there so special.

I enrolled in some new and challenging classes. At Perkiomen School, there are about 30 AP courses and four language classes to choose from which is many more than I can take at JPA. I enrolled in AP Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, which were not offered at JPA until this year. I had a tough time with this class as I had never taken any economics classes before. I was up to speed halfway through the year, and I finished with respectable scores of 4 and 3 on the AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics tests respectively.

Sokhoeun (center) with Fellow Perkiomen International Students

I also took a Chinese language course which was enjoyable. After about a month I felt able to use a little of the language that I had learned from my Chinese friends. Then, after another few months, the pace actually became too slow for me, so I enrolled in a higher level class - from level 1 to level 3 - where I felt more at home.

Perkiomen spends more time on sports than JPA. At home in Cambodia, I would practice running for a few hours in the weeks leading up to the marathon in December each year. I soon learned that at Perkiomen we were to spend about two hours on sport after school every day. At first, it was quite exhausting with up to four or five competitive sessions per week. I had previous experience with running, so I chose to be part of the cross country team. In cross country, we ran 3 miles, and I started with a time of about 24-minutes. The captain of the running team then challenged me to get my time below 20 minutes. During practice, he encouraged me by suggesting I focus on trying to keep up with him. After much training, I was eventually selected as one of the seven runners from my school for the Tri-County League (TCL) championship (a meet with 8 or 9 competing schools from adjacent counties). I placed 13th overall and 4th from my school, and I beat my record and goal by running a time of 19:26. Our school won the championship, and I was so pleased that my effort had played a part in the victory. This accomplishment demonstrates how I can succeed as long as I continuously keep putting in my best effort and commitment. Importantly, having a supportive team played a major role helping me attain my personal best time.

First Experience SkiingVisiting Baltimore

In the spring, I decided to try a new sport - lacrosse. I had no clue as to what lacrosse even was, but, I looked it up and decided to join the team. When I began, I could not even catch the ball in the cradle of my stick. I spent about six hours practicing every weekend with a friend who was also new to the sport. My coaches gave us tips when they saw us practicing, and the captains kept checking up on us and offering help. I would have never imagined that I would end up scoring four junior varsity goals, two varsity goals and earning a position as a junior varsity captain. I learned that you cannot let yourself be intimidated by a bigger or more experienced opposition. Dedication to practice and lots of preparation allowed me to perform to the top of my ability. I now have the utmost admiration for this sport and its’ players.

Top Clockwise: Sokhoeun, Host Family, Mr. and Mrs. Deratzous and Advisor, Mrs. Weirsmith; Cross Country Team;
Perkiomen Cross Country Team Captain Congratulating Sokhoeun

Almost every weekend on campus, there were concerts or plays to watch and I was lucky to see the wide array of talent at Perkiomen. Students would sing, play instruments and perform plays, some written by the students themselves. Some of the musicians were new to their craft, however, they were amazing performers as they used all their free-time practicing.

There were also many off-campus activities. The first excursion I took was 100 miles away to New York City to attend a Broadway musical at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. When we arrived in New York, I could see why so many people love the city because of its bustling city life, skyscrapers and so many attractions. It was a stark contrast to Puok in Cambodia.

It didn’t matter to me that I was new to Perkiomen, what mattered was how much I wanted to get from this experience and how much effort I put in – in the same way that the musicians applied themselves to their instruments, I applied myself to my classes and sports. For example, after selecting lacrosse for my spring sport, I began to envision myself as one of the players on the field, rather than a spectator on the sidelines. This change of perspective motivated me to improve my skills, observe how the most skillful players played, ask for advice, and finally incorporate all of this into the long hours of practice that I dedicated myself to. Similarly, I would not have been able to understand any Chinese if I had not been passionate about learning a new language. I devoted numerous extra hours of my time, watching extra lessons and practicing with native speakers on campus. I became a more self-directed and independently minded person.

This past year was a great experience for me to learn more about myself, acquire a bit of a new language, play new sports, and broaden my academic skill set. I would like to thank JPA, ASSIST, and the Perkiomen School community for all of their help and support. I want to send a special thank you to the Deratzous family, who hosted me for the year and to my advisor, Mrs. Weirsmith, for taking care of me so well.

Sokhoeun (in purple) Playing LacrosseThe Perkiomen Lacrosse Team - Sokhoeun (bottom left)

Thank you, Sokhoeun, for sharing your story and we wish you the best in your final year at JPA.


Monday, 3rd September 2018

Two more graduates from the Class of 2016 have just started university life in the US. Sreynich (left), who was our student council president, will study at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania and Sinet (right), who was the leader of JPA speech and debate club, will study at Bucknell University, just a couple of hours to the north in Lewisburg. Both graduates were selected by SHE-CAN and worked hard over the last 2 years to earn their scholarships. Please click on the articles below to read their stories.

Click on the image above to read an article by Sinet ’16 about her internship at the HALO Trust


Monday, 27th August 2018

Chivit ’18 in his role as AUPP Student Government President

Chivit, Class of 2015, is currently studying IT at the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP). He has been elected as president of the AUPP Student Government. The entire student body elects the government as it plays a vital role in representing the students and is directly involved in university-wide decisions. The members also raise funds and organize social events to support community projects for disadvantaged people. Chivit shares his story below.

Standing for election forced me out of my comfort zone. I could see potential problems ahead, but I was hungry for success and found the energy and mindset to run for office. I tapped into the same energy that made my ancestors great hunters, leaders, and builders. I have learned that what I have to do to be successful is to release that energy.

I thought that the chances of me becoming president would be slim. Perhaps my comparatively humble background would make my ambition seem misplaced. However, there is one thing I knew for certain: I could, and I would run. After much hard work, I ran a successful campaign and became the AUPP Student Government President.

My primary goal of becoming president was to bring the student body together. I wanted them to be inspired, hungry for knowledge and united. I believe that when a group of ambitious, goal-oriented and strong-willed young people come together, anything is possible. The AUPP Student Government members have created seminars that allow inspiring juniors and seniors to talk about their stories of success and share the lessons they learned trying to be successful. This has influenced the rest of the student body who have realized that they are part of a strong, supportive and ambitious community with great role models.

We have invited prominent business people, ambassadors and politicians to show our students what is out there and all the opportunities available in the future. Currently, we are working on establishing a mentorship program that aims for freshmen and sophomores to work with experienced juniors and seniors.

Becoming the president has been a formative experience. I have learned what it takes to step out of my comfort zone and where it can take me. I have developed habits of staying sharp and critical. I feel that I have grown during these challenging times. The most important thing it has taught me is NEVER to settle for the status quo, but always seek to learn and grow.

Congratulations Chivit, for your success and thank you for your story.

Photo: AUPP

“WE’RE BACK!” 2018/19 BEGINS

Monday, 20th August 2018

The 2018-2019 year is off to a great start. We started the year by welcoming the students and parents back to kick-start another action-packed year. On the first morning, the canteen was abuzz as students shared their stories of summer trips around the world, internships, and final preparations before heading off to college.

The first day began with an assembly where we reiterated our school’s values and parents renewed their commitment to school expectations. Following the assembly, parents and students visited the classrooms to meet their new teachers and hear about new courses. Grade 5 students were thrilled to hear about their new robotics class, and high school students listened to Mr. McBride outline further details of his upcoming AP macroeconomics and AP microeconomics courses.

Our 60 new pre-kindergartners had already spent summer-school with us, so were quite familiar with their new classrooms and teachers, and confidently showed their parents around.

Summer trips this year were almost too numerous to mention. Students headed off to enjoy summer experiences in different parts of the world across four continents. Some new experiences for our students included aeronautical engineering in Florida and Alabama, our first foray into Scotland, to the University of St. Andrews and our second trip to Oxford, UK as well as a return to Australia and Singapore.

Teachers, new and old, excitedly met their new classes and we all bade a fond farewell to graduates heading to further their education overseas.

Welcome back, everyone! Let’s make 2018-2019 another year of achievement.