The Panther Perspective

GEMS United School Monthly Newsletter - 5th Edition

Kate Vavpetic

Head of School

Dear GEMS US Families,

Warmest wishes for a joyous, healthy, and curiosity-filled 2019 to each of you! I hope you were able to carve out time for activities that brought you deep personal joy and fulfillment.

I read a very interesting article last week in the Toronto Star. 35 years ago, Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer, was asked to predict the world of 2019. Among other things which were eerily correct, he spoke about the future of education. He said that computerization will “change utterly our work habits.” How many of you are reading this newsletter on your handheld device someplace other than your home or office? In order to deal with this world, he suggested that “Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet. […] Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without.” Click here - Isaac Asimov's article

What a wonderful image—learning that “bubbles up” from within. Curiosity so powerful and inspired that it cannot be contained. Students with access to find answers to their own questions at their own pace on their own time. That’s our goal—to make learning fun, to make learning relevant, and to spark curiosity. At GEMS US, we are curious learners inspired to reach beyond ourselves.

Looking forward to a busy second semester, particularly our NEASC accreditation visit the week of February 17th. See you on Sunday morning!




News & Updates

  • All classes resume on Sunday, Jan. 6th and this will be a "B" week.
  • NO SCHOOL TUESDAY, JAN. 8th - This is a Professional Development day for all faculty and staff. There is NO SCHOOL for students; classes resume Wednesday, Jan. 9th.
  • Season 2 Sports Try-outs & Training Schedule - See the sports section below for full details. Track and Field and Tennis try-outs begin the week of Jan. 6th.
  • Stu Williamson school photos: We re-opened the window for ordering photos from Jan. 6 - 17th as the ordering period was a busy time for most families. You will need your child's photo card to order pictures. If you have lost this card with the unique viewing code, please email our Receptionists: Kim Gauthier,, or Geraldine Romo at
  • High School Mid-Year Exams (Gr. 9-12) will be held Jan. 13th-17th. Please see the section highlighted below under Mid-Year Exams for more details. On January 17 classes will resume as usual and all students are expected to be on campus. Individuals that missed one of their assessments will be taking them during this time in F101.
  • Upcoming University visits: Sunday, Jan. 13th the University of La Verne will be on campus from 10:20-10:45am in the Senior lounge and 15 UK universities will visit on Tuesday, Jan. 22nd from 1:30-2:30pm in the F block.
  • On Wednesday, Jan. 16th we are excited to share Elementary TED Talks from 9:30-10:30am in the auditorium. Parents are welcome to attend. Several of our 5th grade students will be speaking about self-care, animal rights, renewable energy, tolerance, and the importance of reading. Join US for these thought provoking presentations.
  • Enjoy a nice evening with US on Thursday, Jan. 17th from 6-8pm for a Movie Night out on the small pitch. This event is hosted by our Middle School Student Council.
  • Mid-year MAP Testing will take place Jan. 20-31st for Elementary (Gr. 1-5) & Middle school (Gr. 6-8) students from Jan. 20-25th.
  • Week Without Walls Middle School final payments (including EcoVenture) are due Monday, Jan. 21st and payable in the Cashier's office. High School trips final payments due Feb. 21st.



Review Classes and Exam Preparation

The week of January 6-10, students will have two class periods to review in class with their teacher all the content and skills covered since the beginning of the school year. Review classes will be purpose driven and helpful for students to understand what will be asked of them during exams. Teachers have prepared broad guiding ideas or principles, however, students are responsible for reviewing all material that will be covered on the exam. It goes without saying that an entire semester cannot be reviewed in two days.

Mid-Year Exam Week: Jan. 13-17

Starting on January 13, both Middle School and High School will be following an altered schedule. Every day, two exams will be given. Each exam will last two hours. Students will take the exams with their teacher in the classroom. After lunch, students will have two additional class periods to use for review for the next days' exams. If students wish to go home and study, they must complete the necessary paperwork to be dismissed early. Buses will depart at the usual times. All other students will follow the altered schedule.

On January 17, regular classes will resume following the regular class schedule. All students are expected to be on campus.

Missed exams: Students who missed an exam will take the exam promptly at 8:30 a.m. on January 17, in F101. Students are expected and required to be in contact with their teachers.


Liam Kirwan, Athletic Director

For any questions regarding sports teams, please email

Season Two DASSA Try-Outs & Training Schedule

We hope you are well rested and ready to jump back into sports action here at GEMS US! Please see the information below for upcoming Secondary (Gr. 6-12) tennis and track & field try-outs.

The training schedule for Season Two is also outlined below. If you have any questions regarding our sports program, please contact the Athletic Director, Mr. Kirwan at

Season Two DASSA Tryouts:

Reminder - Elementary Golf

There will be an Elementary Golf tournament in mid-January. The popularity of this competition last year means that team places are restricted to four students per school. If you would like your child to compete for our Gems United School Golf Team (reigning champions), please email Liam Kirwan at to express interest and share information about your child’s playing experience.

For those interested in Elementary Golf, please be aware students need to be able to score below 40 on the tour courses to be selected for participation. If we have significant interest in the team, we will conduct a trial day for them in January. The courses and dates are as follows;

  • Montgomerie Golf Club - Mon. Jan 21st
  • Trump International Golf Course - pending (hoping for Mon. Feb 25th)
  • Emirates Golf Club - Mon. March 11
  • Dubai Creek Golf Club - Mon. March 25th



In the new year we will be reading the book entitled Brainstorm; The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel. Dr. Siegel’s book connects to the conversations from our parent coffee on self-regulation and social media. There is something in this book for parents with children in elementary, middle or high school.

The first gathering will take place on Monday January 21, 2019 in the faculty lounge.

All meetings will be from 8:30-10:15am. The first hour will be dedicated to specific chapter topics and the remaining time will be spent in relevant, small-group discussions. These groups are intended to be educational, supportive, self-reflective, and fun! Please come ready to talk.

Brainstorm can be purchased at Borders, ordered online…or downloaded on your device of choice.

Joe Murphy, Director of Student & Community Wellbeing

If you are interested in joining this group, and committing to the five-week program, please contact me at or give me a call (ext. 615) to reserve a space. We will look to cap the group at 20 participants. Please reach out if you have any questions and we’ll see you in January!


Lights, Camera, Action - January 17th

Mark your calendars. Our Middle School Student Council is holding a fun outdoor movie night on Thursday, January 17th from 6-8pm. More details to follow in the next week.

Don't forget to bring a blanket or a chair to enjoy the show!

Brought to you by your Middle School Student Council

If you have any questions, please contact our Faculty Advisor, Ms. Katrina Hansen at


Thankful for Your Support!

As we departed for winter break, we reached out to all of our GEMS US Support staff to show them how much we appreciate all they do for our school. In the spirit of the season and with your gracious contributions, over 60 support staff enjoyed a sit-down lunch with their colleagues, danced, took fun holiday pictures in our photo booth and each received a gift of 50dhs.

All of our cleaners, security, maintenance, STS bus drivers, support staff, gardeners, life guards and Slices personnel joined in the event and were happy and thankful for this fun occasion. We want to thank everyone who contributed and helped make this event possible! We belong to such a wonderful supportive community and are happy to call GEMS US our extended family.


We hope you enjoyed a fun evening playing Bingo! There were lots of prizes won and we enjoyed hearing the thrill of those who yelled and won B-I-N-G-O. If you missed this event, we hope you will join US next time.

Contact us:

If you would like to get involved in our events, email us at


January Menus (Gr. 5-12)

Located on our GEMS US website under the Parents tab; you can also click here - January menus

Slices Registration

Want to register for Slices canteen services? Click the parent Sign-Up link below.


When your child is ill or will not be attending school, you will need to inform the school about your child's absence to the following GEMS US staff member:

Please include your child's name, grade & section along with a day of expected return (if known).

For extended absences , please complete the absence form and return to the appropriate staff member noted above for approval by the Principal.

Google Classroom Assistance

Our resident Google Super User, Jennifer Hamlet, is available Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-4pm on "A" weeks. You don't need an appointment. Just pop-in, F Block, Room 004 and learn more.


Download the GEMS Rewards App today!



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Parent Community

GEMS US Community chat & GEMS US Marketplace








Visit our website to review information regarding the school calendar, news and for our student & parent handbooks.