• Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Spring 2018 Alumni News

CAIS Alumni Connecting

Whether in small group gatherings or our record-setting Cookies & Cocoa Reunion, CAIS alumni are staying connected! Enjoy the alumni-submitted scenes from classmates catching up with each other below. Want to get in touch with your old CAIS classmates? We’re happy to pass your contact information along so your old friends can reach out to you (if we have their information). Remember, if you submit a photo and receipt from an alumni gathering to alumni@cais.org, CAIS will reimburse you up to $15 per person.

Classes of ’91, ’92 and ’95

For two decades, whenever these old friends are in San Francisco at the same time, they make sure to get together. (left to right in top photo) - Noah Lundling ’95, Jamal Jeanpierre ’91, Ian Hanson ’92, and Andre Hill ’92 recreate a photo from 2012 in 2017 (though Noah and Andre swapped places).

Class of 2001

Alumni from the class of 2001 had a dim sum “Friendsgiving” at the Hong Kong Lounge (left to right): Alexandra Nguy, Tiffany Tang, Andrew Tio, Wei Cheng (Tobial) Chen, Scott Lee, and Michael Kung.

Class of 2008 — 10th Year Reunions!

Members of the Class of 2008 (left to right: Joel Graycar, Lillian Van Cleve, Tayler Lim, Colin Luk, and Charlotte Young) have stayed close friends since graduating CAIS and get together one or two times per month.


Emma Levine ’08 shared a shot of her classmates gathering, “We were getting together since Adam was in town from Australia, Lillian was in town from NY, and it was the last week before I started medical rotations (third year of medical school). They are still some of my closest friends! I’m so grateful for the memories we’ve had together, both during our time at CAIS and after.” (left to right): Colin Luk, Lillian Van Cleve, Adam Senan, Hensley Sy, Emma Levine, and Joel Graycar.

These alumni from the class of 2008 got together for a mini-reunion at Dumpling Time in San Francisco. Pictured (left to right): Hensley Sy, Joel Graycar, Charlotte Young, Gregory Woo, Emma Levine, and Taylor Nakayama.

Class of 2010

Alumni from the Class of 2010 got together at Delarosa (left to right): Wesley Chan, Jimmy Shen, Bonnie Young, Olivia Wu Tait, and Grace Momota. Oliva shared, “While we all keep in touch fairly often, and a few of us get together frequently, the five of us haven’t all been together for maybe eight years or so!”

Class of 2017

Class of 2017 had a game night reunion hosted by Sandy Chen. Lila Chen, Io Gilman, Meredith Huber, Nate Berson, Ethan Chang, Jaxon Louie, Connor Stauffer, Kai Chang, Kai Vann-Adibé, Kai Martell, Mia Silberman, and Rory Kustner all took part.

  • Cookies, Cocoa and Catching Up

    Middle School Director Joe Williamson with the Class of 2017

    Just before Winter Break, a record-setting 100+ alumni and alumni parents from grades 2010-2017 gathered in The Carroll Family Learning Center at the 888 Campus for the third annual Cookies & Cocoa Alumni Reunion.

    The only thing warmer than the cocoa and sweeter than the cookies were the rekindled connections among the families and teachers and administrators including Jeff Bissell, Anna Donnelly, Susan Kennedy, Kaicy MacLeod, Winnie Mu, Susan Sherman, Anne Valentino, Joe Williamson, and Alice Woodman-Russell.

    A number of alumni took the time to complete a survey sharing what they’re doing in high school or college. Survey results include:

    * 92% of survey respondents are still using their Chinese, socially and/or academically.

    * Our alumni are active! Alumni responded about their involvement in water polo, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, tennis, golf, gymnastics, fencing, martial arts, kickboxing, horseback riding, swimming, dancing, cross country or track.

    *Alumni are involved in many clubs and extracurriculars at their schools, such as Red Cross club, science club, drama club, art club, Chinese club, guitar club, yearbook, community service and outreach, student government,  Model UN, mock trial, choir, orchestra, and tutoring.

    * Some reflections on how alumni have created their place in the world since leaving CAIS:

    - “I’ve learned how to be a leader and have pursued leadership opportunities when they were presented to me.” - Zachary Lim ’14
    - “By helping others.” -  Min Gladstone ’17
    - By “spreading awareness and knowledge of the Chinese and Asian community in my own high school.” - Ashley Chen ’14

    * Alumni think CAIS prepared them well for high school and beyond.

    - “[CAIS] helped me prepare for Mandarin class and be a self advocate.” - Simone Sugarman ’17
    - “By developing a global mindset.” - Emma Ng ’13
    - “[Attending CAIS] taught me how to involve myself in a community.” - Madison Laymon ’16
    - “CAIS did really well preparing me for Mandarin. I was able to blend in with upperclassmen and converse easily.” - Alix Borton ’17

    Want to share what you’ve been doing since graduating from CAIS? Please fill out our alumni survey also!

    A special thanks to Ellie Murphy-Weise ’15, Kalea Papandrew ’16, Cassie Eng ’17, and Kai Martell ’17 for their help with collecting information from their fellow alumni.

  • Class Notes

    Leaders Academy in China

    Having been nominated by Head of School Jeff Bissell, this past summer Bakari Smith ’11 and Adriaan Denbroeder ’12 were selected to participate in the 2017 China–US University Student Leaders Academy held from July 22-August 10 in China. Bakari shared the following reflection:

    The Zhi-Xing China Fellowship was an incredible 3-week program which took us through several Chinese cities as we conducted research through site visits, lectures, and roundtable discussions. The program was divided into three groups with different focuses. Each group was composed of students from top Chinese and American universities. My group focused on international relations and global governance. I traveled from Beijing, to Xi’an, to Nanjing, to Shanghai— all places which have ties to governance at some point in Chinese history. I was able to visit the UN’s China branch, tour Huawei headquarters, and even ask the Secretary of Foreign Affairs about his moral obligation to confront the issue of the floating population. Every other evening, our group would gather and discuss controversial issues. This was incredibly valuable, as both the American and the Chinese students were able to dispel their preconceived notions regarding the other’s society. We discussed the THAAD missile agreement, Taiwan’s sovereignty, Trump’s election, and the Black Lives Matter movement. The fellowship culminated in a presentation before a panel of experts and a capstone essay regarding our designated topic. This experience enabled me to expand my worldview, dispel my inherent biases, and to generate and (with the combined power of WeChat and Snapchat) maintain lifelong connections. I wouldn’t have had this wonderful opportunity without Mr. Bissell’s recommendation or without the passion for China that CAIS instilled in me at a young age. I am incredibly grateful.”

    In the Water and Out of This World

    Olivia Price ’13 has been playing water polo since she was 10 years old. An All American Athlete and Scholar for USA water polo, she attended Campolindo High School where she was co-captain her senior year, received the Campolindo High School Athletic Scholar Award 2017, All NCS 1st Team, DFAL All-League -1st Team and NCS Championship team 2017 for Lacrosse, and a 2016-2017 Outstanding Academic All-American award for receiving a 4.00 GPA or higher while participating in a National USA Water Polo event. She is now playing water polo at Harvard where she was recently named the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s Rookie of the Week.

    Moving His Chinese Forward, and Bringing It Back to CAIS

    Jaxon Louie ’17 joined five classmates from the Bay School of San Francisco’s Mandarin 4 class who traveled to CAIS to read stories they created in Chinese to first graders in Geng Laoshi and Wang Laoshi’s classes.

  • Care Packages Were a Hit!

    Loving the smiles of our care package recipients

    With a slight tweak this year, we continued our tradition of reaching out to alumni with care packages in their first year after high school. Timed to coincide with winter break, care packages arrived at alumni parents’ houses (and we are so grateful for parents’ assistance in wrangling photos of the unboxing)! Shown above (left to right) are members of the Class of 2013 including: Will Bogdan, Jonathan Chu, Peter Carroll, Clay Fang, Samantha Chessen, and Pierce McDonnell.

    While on break from his first semester at Harvard, Jonathan Chu ’13 shared, “Thank you so much for the CAIS care package! I just received it in the mail and it made my day. It’s so nice of CAIS to be thinking about us, especially after my class’ first semester in college.”

  • Alumnus Spins a Successful Sidegig

    Tristen Pon ’15 DJs at a CAIS dance in the Carroll Family Learning CenterTristen Pon ’15 started DJing about five years ago, while he was still a student at CAIS. His dad, Joseph, enjoyed success as a DJ in the Bay Area and taught his son the skill, although this wasn’t a far stretch for Tristen who says he “lives to perform.” While at CAIS he was the emcee for Mass Greeting, performed magic tricks in Chinese, and won speech contests, and now he is a competitive hip hop dancer, actor, and professional model. Being a DJ is another kind of performance that requires Tristen to become “DJ Tryst,” a hype man who knows how to read and work a crowd. He says that DJing is easy, but being a good DJ requires you to know what type of people are at the event and make choices based on who’s there.  

    Tristen DJs at weddings and corporate events, but most often he DJs for school dances, including at his alma mater. He says coming back to work for CAIS is “weird.” It’s the same community he grew up in, but now he has a professional relationship with the community and works hard to maintain that professionalism, especially as he considers the future career of “DJ Tryst.” In the short-term, Tristen hopes to DJ through college and possibly beyond that, but eventually he would like to go into music producing and create his own songs.

    Follow DJ TRYST on Instagram, Facebook , and on his website.

  • Future Generations of CAIS Alumni!

    Welcome Future Firedragons!Proudly sporting the latest in CAIS fashion are some of the newest additions to the alumni family: Ian Lum, son of Kristin Eng ’98, and Henri Charles Weil, son of Julia Weil ’97 (née Brown). We’re so excited for these CAIS alumnae and their families!

    If you know of any other new little “Firedragons,” let us know at alumni@cais.org and we can outfit them in a CAIS onesie of their own!

  • Chinese American International School


    Early Childhood Division (Pre-K) | Alice A. Carnes Center
    42/52 Waller Street 

    Lower School (K-5)
    150 Oak Street 

    Middle School (6-8)
    888 Turk Street 

    San Francisco, CA 94102

Coming Full Circle

Back at the start of the school year, we shared the “Two Truths and a Lie” that Larissa Hsia-Wong ’99, now a CAIS teacher, posed to her new colleagues during faculty orientation. As we promised, here again are the options, with the answer in bold.

1) In first grade, we had a school wide sleepover in the playground of building 1801 in our Presidio campus in tents. I got in trouble with Liang Laoshi because the PJs I was wearing had the slipper feet attached to them and I kept tracking in dirt and bark chips into the tent.

2) In third grade, my dad helped build a sandbox for the 1801 playground. I got in trouble with Shirley Lee’s son, Tawal, who use to volunteer after school, because I would dig holes into the sand, add water and bark chips, and make other kids eat my “wood soup.” - This one is a lie, Larissa ate the soup herself but didn’t make any other kids eat it.

3) In sixth grade, my friends dared me to climb up a trap door in the ceiling in Building 1808 in the Presidio. Mr. Wright caught me because I got stuck when I kicked down a box I had used to climb on top of, and I got sent to my dad’s office who was working at that time for NCIS to help plan for our 150 Oak Street campus.

Know someone who isn’t receiving this newsletter that should be? Please email Hannah Bloom, Alumni Relations Associate at alumni@cais.org so we can put them on the list!