Ella, our very own Netflix star

Ella Rappich became the school’s very own Netflix star overnight when she suddenly appeared in a newly released and well received Netflix series.

Ella, a ray of sunshine, is the polar opposite of the series that she describes as dark and brutal. The series is called Quicksand and is based on a novel by Malin Persson Giolito. Ella plays a teenager named Amanda Steen and is the main character’s best friend.

– To some extent, Amanda has a lot in common with me, says Ella. She’s at the same point in life and in a similar situation to mine. Amanda is also in her final year of high school, she’s a positive girl who sees the good in everyone, but she has a tendency to turn a blind eye to reality.

Ella is a Sigtuna native and has lived here her entire life with her family comprising her mother, father and little brother. When I met Ella at the school’s café on a sunny mid-May afternoon she brought with her the busy air of a senior student getting all their ducks in a row for graduation and beyond. She had almost completed the International Social Sciences programme at SSHL that se says has given her the opportunity to study political science, international relations and to travel.

It has been just over a year since the day Ella’s mother mentioned that a casting crew would be at SSHL and that they were looking for teenagers to appear in a TV show. Ella was one of many students from SSHL and other schools that queued up for the audition:

– My first audition was terrible. I had to pretend to make a phone call. Much to my surprise, they called me back a few weeks later for a second audition, she says.

Ella har sin 50-dagar-till-studenten mössa på Café Humlan, SSHL.

Ella is wearing her 50-days-to-graduation cap at Café Humlan, SSHL.

A few months of silence went by. Then, in the blink of an eye, it all happened at once. Suddenly she met both the director and her co-actors and on May 23, Ella’s birthday, she had her costume fitting. Taping started immediately and continued over a few intensive months between May and November.

– I’m glad I had time to read the book before we started. I was relieved that I enjoyed the book, it’s a good book!

But it’s a brutal and honest story. Nothing is whitewashed, it breaks through the facades that people maintain. Ella says she’s met the author multiple times:

– Malin is wonderful! She was there during the entire production and also afterwards. She’s an amazing woman with so much talent and many fantastic books already written!

Ella Rappich, student from SSHL, appears in Netflix series Quicksand.

Ella Rappich, student from SSHL, appears in Netflix series Quicksand.

After graduation, Ella says she just wants to rest. She doesn’t want to have to think about her education for a while. Taping the series and going to school at the same time has been really taxing.

– I pulled through it, it was only for a set amount of time. The school has maintained it’s high demands of me, but my mentor and the school in general has been really supportive and given me extra attention. I had to work extra hard at home to stay caught up with my classes, but it was worth it in the end!

After school Ella is just a regular girl. She has an after-school job, friends and a boyfriend. She enjoys painting, playing floorball and she enjoys alone time by herself too:

– Sometimes I like to cozy up in bed and watch movies by myself. But SRK is taking all of my free time at the moment! SRK is the Senior Year Committee at the school. We organise a lot of the dinners and parties for the graduating class.

The most difficult part of acting was dancing on set in front of cameras. Dancing and consiously trying to look natural, with a camera on your face was a real challenge.

– It was hard. Finally my co-actors stood behind the camera and danced with me to put me at ease!

Ella Rappich at Midgården, SSHL Campus

Ella Rappich attended the International Social Sciences Programme and graduated from SSHL in May, 2019.

Netflix stardom and the attention surrounding that is another confusing and difficult issue. In general though, Ella’s life is much the same as before Netflix.

– I enjoy it. Many nice people have contacted me to say nice things and people on the street have wanted pictures with me. Here, at home in Sigtuna is where I get the least amount of attention.

Ella is grateful for all the people she has gotten close to during the tv production. Both in front of and behind the camera, people who made her feel safe and welcome on set:

– It was a great crew, and it was a team effort. I got all the help I needed.

Ella never aspired to become an actress. She has always liked to dress up and to get on stage, but she’s never seriously considered it as a career. I ask about her future, does she have any new acting gigs lined up?

– Nothing specific, she laughs… I have auditioned for a few other parts. I don’t know yet. I think I got this job by chance, I simply think I fit how the casting director envisioned Amanda. We’ll see what opportunities show up!

Moa is aiming for EHL in Lausanne

Moa travelled to EHL in Lausanne this spring by special invitation after winning their writing competition. Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is well renowned among Hospitality & Leisure Management Universities and Moa hopes to be accepted there after her final year at SSHL.

Students at SSHL are regularly accepted to
top ranking universities across the world and this year is no exception.
We have spoken to three of our ambitious students about their future adventures.

Moa Andreasson is always on the go, never standing still or slowing down. Before arriving at SSHL, her one and only goal in life was to become a professional dancer. She started dancing as a ten-year-old and gave her undivided attention to her studies at the Royal Ballet Academy in Stockholm and the Zurich Dance Academy.

One day the unthinkable happened, Moa fractured her spinal column. The doctors told her she would never dance again. In despair, she packed her things and returned to her family stationed in India. Back in India, she focused all her efforts on rehabilitation. Since there were no suitable schools available for her where her family was stationed she made the decision to move back to Sweden and study Business Management here at SSHL starting around Christmas 2017.

She was half a year behind with her academic studies by then, but she managed to catch up in only a single term.

– From day one I was commuting to dance rehab in Stockholm from SSHL in Sigtuna, Moa explains. I was slowly but surely able to start dancing again all while going to rehab. By February, doctors confirmed that my back was healed!

Moa Andreasson, SSHL

Moa has put her dancing shoes aside and is back at SSHL to finish her high school studies.

Her goal was still to be a professional ballet dancer. So, once again, she auditioned for the Royal Swedish Ballet School in Stockholm and returned to her studies there after the summer break. She resumed over 25 hours of dancing, six days a week with a simultaneous course load of academics. At the end of the school year, she was accepted to join the summer intensive at the acclaimed New York American Ballet Theatre, ABT, through a scholarship awarded to her by the Royal Swedish Opera:

– New York was fantastic and dancing at ABT was a dream come true! But after those weeks, I was so tired, she says with emphasis. It was such hard work. The constant pressure to achieve perfection killed my motivation. Was it worth it for the chance of a career dancing on stage? I was never able to rest, never be free… I really didn’t know what to do.

A few days before school was about to start, she simply decided to quit dancing. She sent an email to SSHL asking to be allowed to return and because she had proven her ability to catch up she was admitted to SSHL once again to join a new class, in another program and move back into her old boarding house. She is now finishing up her 2nd year (grade 11):

– My old friends and teachers were really surprised when I showed up here again, but their reactions were all positive and I felt o welcome here. I love dancing, but life is more than that. School here is great and now I have a new, “normal” life!

The trip to Lausanne and her visit at EHL was very inspiring. And a journey that brought Moa a new goal in life.

About Moa
Age: Turns 19 this summer
Class: Social Science SAM
Hobbies: travelling, reading, writing
Lives: in India and at SSHL
Favourite place: on an aeroplane, on my way somewhere
Plans for the summer: hotel work in Stockholm, travelling with friends, visiting family in Skåne, getting my drivers license and flying to my family in India at the end of summer.
Fun fact about me: I am very curious, even to the point that the teacher had a talk with my mom when I was only seven years old to explain that “it’s okay to not have to know everything, all the time”

Felix has chosen Georgetown University

Felix has accepted an offer to attend Georgetown University this fall. Georgetown is well known for its political science department including the prestigious Walsh School of Foreign Service that counts former president Bill Clinton as an alumni (among many others). Felix also has offers from Cornell University, the University of Chicago and from the University of Virginia, as well as a generous offer for an academic scholarship from SMU in Dallas.

Students at SSHL are regularly accepted to
top ranking universities across the world and this year is no exception.
We have spoken to three of our ambitious students about their future adventures.

Felix Hamilton has just returned to Sigtuna and SSHL after three weeks preparing for his IB exams back home in London. The trip was also a chance to catch up with friends and family. Before him lies a hectic end to his time at SSHL with IB exams, graduation traditions and ceremonies only a few weeks away. He’s been applying to US universities throughout the spring:

– I have decided to accept the offer from Georgetown University next year. I was accepted by several other universities too, and I have an academic scholarship at SMU in Texas. But Georgetown is ten minutes from Washington DC, so it is a great location.

Felix Hamilton, SSHL

Felix likes to campaign for environmental issues.

Some of his London friends are also going to Georgetown University, which probably makes his decision easier. He intends to major in biology at the moment. During his first year as a “freshman”, he will live on campus with a roommate. Later on, he hopes to move off campus in Georgetown to live with friends.

Felix arrived at SSHL two years ago to study the IB Diploma Programme as a boarding student. His father is Swedish and his mother British American.

– It has been really good here, he says. The IB programme has definitely helped me prepare for university. With so many subjects to study, it is a holistic education that has prepared me for the next step.

He feels that the two years he’s spent at SSHL have gone by in an instant. His favorite memories of SSHL will be boarding with his friends – House Midgården where he lives, all the friends he’s made and the intramural House Cup, it has all been a truly meaningful addition to his life and upbringing.

About Felix
Age: 19
Class: DP19
Hobbies: writing articles for magazines, local politics, campaigning for environmental issues
Lives: in London and at SSHL
Favourite book: ‘Homo deus’ by Yuval Noah Harari
My plans for the future: to work in the US for a biotech company, developing new drugs to help treat Alzheimer’s disease for example.
Fun fact about me: one summer I worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, a lab run by Nobel prize winner James Watson.

Samuel – from Japan via Sigtuna to New York

Samuel has been accepted to all the universities which he applied to so far: Syracuse in New York, Penn State University and The University of Vermont to which he has been offered a scholarship. A number of smaller universities have also accepted his application.

Students at SSHL are regularly accepted to
top ranking universities across the world and this year is no exception.
We have spoken to three of our most ambitious students about their future adventures.

Samuel Cederwell came to SSHL from London last year to attend an Academic Gap Year. He had just finished five years of upper secondary school at Marlborough College and needed some time to gather his thoughts about the future while improving his academic aptitude. Samuel is half Swedish but has never lived in Sweden, so he also hoped to improve his Swedish language skills during his stay.

– I skipped ahead one year at school when I lived in Japan. So, when I arrived in England, I was the youngest student in my year. Taking a gap year to recuperate and plan for the next adventure seemed like a good move, Samuel says.

Samuel Cederwell

Samuel came to SSHL for an academic GAP year.

He explains that SSHL has provided him with a really inspiring and supportive environment during the past year which has helped him learn to study more effectively. The school offers a lot of support and opportunities for one-on-one time with teachers and house tutors as well as a lot of options for extracurricular and recreational activities. He has improved his mathematics skills considerably and his Swedish language skills are much better now, even though he only claims to understand and not to speak fluent Swedish.

Appreciates the mix of Swedish and international students

Samuel thinks there is a big difference between English boarding school and SSHL. There were no day students in his school in England, so life there was much more sheltered. He appreciates the mix of Swedish and international students at SSHL and that the culture is much more open and caring.

– The food here is much better! And we have more opportunities to explore the area beyond campus. I have explored Stockholm a bit, which is very nice.

Studying in Sweden also an option

Samuel was born in Japan where he spent the first twelve years of his life. His mother is Swedish and all his maternal relatives live in Sweden. Another advantage to his year here in Sigtuna is all the new friends he made. Beyond all the American universities that are falling over themselves to welcome Samuel, he now also has the option to stay in Sweden to study at a Swedish university instead of leaving for the US.

– Handelshögskolan in Stockholm only accepts 7 percent of its applicants. Admissions are really tough there, but Handelshögskolan is absolutely an option if I get the chance, he says.

There are still a few weeks left before Swedish universities finalize their admissions selection, and Samuel is waiting eagerly to hear the results. Samuel is grateful for his abundance of choice, but selecting where to go is is difficult when some of the best universities in the world are on the table.

About Samuel
Age: 18
Class: Business Management BM19
Hobbies: rugby, politics and hunting
Lives: in London and at SSHL
Favourite food: sushi and steak
Fun fact about me: I’m related to king Henry VIII
Dreams for the future: to study business and one day become CEO of the family business.

End of Term Ceremony June 14, 2019

We have reached the final week of this school year and so this Friday we gather for our end of term ceremony. The programme for the day is available below.

Parents are welcome subject to space available. No lunch will be served this Friday.

Programme:

time activity
09:45 Pupils gather by Midgårdstrappan in their respective mentor groups to march to the Aula. Dresscode: School uniform.
10:00 The programme in the Aula begins
Everyone sings: ”Den blomstertid nu kommer”
Welcome
Song/music
Special award ceremony
Song/music
Speech by Carina Nilsson (Principal)
Presentation of 9th grade and MYP4 certificates and book prizes
Song/music
Everyone sings: ”En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt”
Pupils leave the Aula in the same order as they entered
Mentors and pupils gather in their mentor rooms
11:30 End of school

WE WISH YOU ALL A WONDERFUL SUMMER!

High School Graduation “Studenten” 2019

At SSHL there are plenty of traditional graduation activities for students, families and staff. The following is a recap of some of the events in a letter sent out to families earlier this school-year.

Tuesday April 9 – 50 Days-to-Graduation, Arcu-gala

Start: 16.00. “50-dagars” is a much-loved tradition where the graduating students celebrate that there are only 50 days left until graduation. The tradition begins on the steps to Midgåren where the boarding houses each perform a skit or show of some kind. The students then proceed to march off campus and through the town of Sigtuna. Students receive their Matriculation cap when they return to school. The dinner starts at 19.00 for students and specially invited guests, continued by the Arcu gala.

Read more about this tradition and see some of last years celebration here.

Monday May 27 – “Gubbskiva”

Dinner for students and specially invited guests (seating in mentor groups). The evening starts at 18.00 with a performance by the students, followed by dinner where the students give their speech to the mentors.

Tuesday, May 28 – Scholarship Ceremonies

The students gather by the Aula at 13.45 and march into the Aula where parents, family and year 2-pupils are waiting. The programme starts at 14.00 with speeches and music performances followed by the student awards. No planned activities at the school follows afterwards.

Wednesday May 29 – Graduation day

Programme

Time Activity
08.30 – 09.10 Breakfast for boarding students in the boarding houses. The exam witnesses and teachers with lessons eat breakfast in the dining hall.
09.15 The students meet the exam witnesses and teachers in Instan/Gradängsalen.
09.45 – 11.10 Lessons according to a special schedule in the presence of exam witnesses and school management.
11.15 Scrutinium in the Aula for students, exam witnesses and teachers. The exam witnesses give their assessment and the students say goodbye to their teachers.
11.30 – 12.00 Assembly at Midgårdstrappan for the families, relatives and friends. The Matriculation cap is exchanged to the Graduation cap in Midgården.
12.00 The student graduation on Midgårdstrappan. Photographing and there after the student meet their families.
12.20 The students assemble on the wall opposite Midgårdstrappan to sing.
12.45 The brass band leads the students back through Sigtuna.
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch for exam witnesses and teachers in the dining hall.
13.30 The students return from their march to Sigtuna.
13.30 External students have their own receptions.
18.30 Departure to Valedictory ball from Stora Torget in Sigtuna.
02.00 Return from the ball with buses to Sigtuna and Stockholm.

Swedish Traditions: Valborg

Celebrating the arrival of spring!

Many of our students experience Sweden for the first time here at SSHL. Valborg is one of the many Swedish traditions that SSHL celebrates to give our students a Swedish experience.

Valborgsmässoafton, mostly called Valborg is known in English as Walpurgis Night and is an important Swedish tradition marking the beginning of spring and all the tasks associated with spring.

At Valborg there are often songs,  poems and speeches all related to celebrating the arrival of spring! Enjoy the video from today’s celebration!

Bonfires have been an important part of the tradition since the early 18th century. In a rural country like Sweden, Valborg would often be the day when farm animals were let out of the barns for the first time.  The superstitious reasoning for lighting bonfires (majbrasor, kasar) is to keep witches and evil spirits away.  A far more practical reason for lighting bonfires on this day is to scare away winter-starved predators while disposing of the leaves and brush cleared away during spring cleaning.

ASIB Bi-annual Conference 2019 at SSHL

Last week, SSHL had the pleasure of playing host to the Association of Swedish International Baccalaureate Schools (ASIB) biannual conference, a prestigious event where Heads and IB coordinators from Swedish IB schools around the country come together to discuss pressing common interests and share examples of outstanding practice.

Hosted by SSHL’s IB pedagogical leadership team, the two day conference attracted around seventy IB educators working with all the schools educational programmes in Sweden and also some extra delegates from within our wider nordic network.

Distinguished speakers and student performances

After an opening speech by Ian Gavin, Vice Principal at SSHL and IB school head, one of our IB parents, Lena Ramfelt, an experienced educator herself at Stanford University and the Stockholm School of Economics led a transformative keynote and numerous follow up sessions about how developing some entrepreneurial thinking could benefit us all as decision makers with an interest in international education.

This was followed by an outstanding presentation by Jonas Eriksson, Sigtuna resident, entrepreneur and former FIFA referee on using teamwork to make decisions when under pressure. Feedback on both sessions was very positive.

Throughout the morning, SSHL students represented the school showing off their musical and dramatic talents as well as exhibiting some of their outstanding MYP personal project work.

Kerry Browning, Ian Gavin and Eva Fellin

IB heads of SSHL: Kerry Browning, Ian Gavin and Eva Fellin.

Breakout sessions

In addition to formal keynote sessions, a series of breakout sessions were led by Eva Fellin and Kerry Browning, SSHL’s MYP and DP Coordinators respectively, along with Ian Gavin and Marlene Mumford from ISLK in Lund, who led PYP sessions. They were supported by Katrin Fox and Jon Sauer, who both work for the IBO and are based in the Hague.

The aim of the breakout sessions was to meet with colleagues working in similar roles in other Swedish IB world schools and discuss some of the most pertinent issues that face us all, as schools working in similar contexts. As always, hot topics for discussions was national recognition of the IB by the Swedish educational authorities and the latest updates on UHR’s conversion scores for IB Diploma students who will be applying for Swedish Universities.

Also, there were very constructive discussions and shared ideas about how the new changes in the Diploma Mathematics curriculum could affect us and students about to undertake the diploma.

Great dinner and on-campus food

As always, one of the highlights of the conference is the dinner, which this year was hosted at Sigtunahöjden. An outstanding venue, the dinner always affords conference delegates the opportunity to mingle with old friends and colleagues and also talk about specific issues that are not scheduled. However, delegates were also very impressed with the quality of food throughout their time on campus, something that SSHL prides itself on.

SSHL is a unique venue

As the only boarding school in Sweden that offers an IB education, SSHL provided a unique backdrop for the conference and the fantastic campus like feel of the school was something that impressed all delegates. Most were treated to guided tours of the campus by their respective group leaders.

Ian Gavin, along with Björn Swartling, former Vice Principal at SSHL and now Programme Head for IB at Katedralskolan in Uppsala treated all the heads of school to a special tour of Kvarnbranten. Björn’s fantastic knowledge of the school was an amazing resource for all delegates. In addition, Björn and Ian fielded questions about what it was like to work as school leaders in a boarding school in a uniquely Swedish context.

A huge success overall

Overall, the conference was described by all delegates as a huge success. Thanks to particularly Kerry Browning and Eva Fellin who undertook most of the arduous planning and preparation, but also to all SSHL staff and students who made things work and made the delegates so welcome.

As always SSHL staff and students showed the school in its best light and gave all the visitors a memorable conference. While we are confident that the next conference at ISLK Lund will be a huge success, the bar has been set high and we wish them good luck and look forward to joining them in two years time.

Click to visitThe IB Diploma Programme is our most international programme and is established in over 140 countries around the world. All teaching on the programme is in English. SSHL was one of the first schools in Sweden to implement the IB Diploma Programme. Our long experience of the programme, together with the dedicated help of skilled teachers, makes it possible for students to reach their academic potential. The vast majority of our teachers have English as their mother tongue. Read more

Fifty days until graduation!

Photo albums: 50-dagars 2019

This past Tuesday saw SSHL celebrating “50-dagars”, a much-loved tradition where the graduating students celebrate that there are only 50 days left until graduation. They also receive their Abiturient-caps 50 days before graduation which traditionally signifies that they are eligible candidates to receive a high school diploma this year.  The tradition begins on the steps to Midgåren where the boarding houses each perform a skit or show of some kind often ending in a traditional chant about only having 50 days left until graduation.

Afther the shows are over the graduating students all march down to the rose garden at our neighboring sister organization, the Sigtuna Foundation, where they toss a coin in the wishing well. The students then proceed to march through the town of Sigtuna.

The march returns to the steps at Midgården where the students receive their Abiturient-caps resulting in smiles all round.
After receiving their caps the graduating students all change for dinner in order to end the day with the yearly ARCU gala organized by the student organization “Arcu et Fidibus”

While the graduating students were seated for dinner the younger students  were treated to hot-dogs while they waited patiently for the big gala event. After dinner younger students, staff and many parents fill the Aula for an exciting gala event where prizes are given out to students in a multitude of categories.

SSHL hosted Swedish national indoor rowing tournament

One rainy Saturday in the beginning of March, SSHL hosted the Swedish national indoor rowing tournament “Svearodden 2019”. Some 200 participants joined the event which took place in our sports hall, where a large number of rowing machines were lined up for the occasion.

The competition was arranged by the Swedish Rowing Federation. As a part of the Swedish Masters series, it attracted rowers of all ages and levels, from all around the country. Rowing machines were brought in by sponsors and other rowing clubs to add on to our own.

A long tradition of rowing

At SSHL we are proud to be able to share our facilities for an event like this. The school has a long history and tradition of rowing. Our own rowing club, SSRK, is very active at the moment with a significant number of athletes on the rowing team.

A total of seven of our SSRK students participated in the rowing tournament. Bedirhan Sezgin is the team captain and for him it all began two years ago when he was looking for a new athletic experience.

– Rowing is both competitive and tough, Bedirhan says. Due to the characteristics of rowing, we have been practising both outdoors and indoors depending on the season. Personally, I think indoor rowing is harder than outdoor rowing, he continues.

Bedirha, Marc and Coonla, SSHL:s roddklubb, SSRK.

Three SSRK team members focus on the challenge to come; Marc who is one of the oldest members, Bedirhan as the team captain and Connla who is coaching the team.

Marc Maasland comes from a family of rowers. Marc hadn’t initially considered joining the team, but when he was invited to join it felt completely natural for him to agree. Despite being several years younger at the time, he matched his teammates physically due to his height. Height gives rowers a power and speed advantage.

– During winter, we focus on technique and stamina, Marc explains. But winter training isn’t as fun as being out on the water! You´re just on the machine and in the gym. Being outdoors in nature is much more enjoyable, going somewhere together as a team, cheered on by locals taking a walk by the lake.

Othilia Schrøder, SSRK, winner in the category for high school girls.

Othilia Schrøder, SSRK, winner in the category for high school girls.

SSHL was the only school represented in this tournament, so the race categories for high school students saw the SSRK team members pitted against each other. Marc Maasland won the high school boys category and Othilia Schrøder won the category for high school girls.

Long tradition of school races

Every year SSHL and the other schools in the SIPSI sports exchange programme meet up for the traditional rowing races. SSHL won three of the races last year; single, double and 4-males boat.

– More people should come and try rowing! All students are welcome to join our team, Marc says.

Marc Maasland, right, winner in the category for high school boys.

Photo: Minh Hoang Vu