American International School of Thessaloniki, Greece

Dr. Giampapa's April Director's Report

Events of the Month


Total Students 269

American Student Exchange Visitors at Pinewood April 9-22

During the month of April, Pinewood is excited to welcome a group of 14 American high school students and 3 teachers to Pinewood as part of a newly initiated student exchange program with schools in the United States. Our visiting students this year are from Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, Maine and they will be in Thessaloniki from April 9 – 22. While here, they will enjoy a full range of activities that introduce them to our Pinewood students and teachers through classroom visits and to the history and culture of Greece through several short and longer trips around the country. In addition, they will be joining Pinewood families for dinner on several evenings. Thank you to each of our families who have so graciously opened their homes to our American visitors!

Pan-Hellenic Forensics Tournament March 17-20

Our Forensics Team, made up of 17 high school students, traveled to Athens to compete in the annual Pan-Hellenic Forensics Tournament with over 400 other students from around Greece. Thank you to the following teachers and parent for preparing our students for success this year: Mr. Ian Harrington, Ms. Athena Yannoulis, Mr. Takis Oikonomopoulos and Mr. Kingsley Johnson. Participation in Forensics helps students become effective communicators and builds debate skills and other essential skills for life. I am delighted to share that Georgia Rheault, ’17, earned an Honorable Mention for her original Oratory. In this category, a student writes an original speech on a topic of his/her choosing which is either informative or persuasive, memorizes it and presents it orally to the audience. Congratulations to the whole team!

Greek Independence Day Assembly March 24

Our annual Greek Independence Day Assembly took place with its usual full house. Students in Elementary, Middle and High School presented poems, songs, dances and historical retellings in commemoration of Greek Independence Day, which is held on March 25 each year. Our Greek Department, Ms. Vicky Tzima, Ms. Amalia Spiliakou, Ms. Filiana Zafeiriadou, Ms. Sophia Konstantinidou, designed the event to celebrate Greek culture. In addition, the Music Department, under the direction of Dr. Gundega Smite, prepared students to share selections from the Composer of the Month, Mikis Theodorakis. The celebration was capped off by a surprise appearance by Minas Vasileiadis, who accompanied the singing of the Greek national anthem with a debut performance on saxophone. Thank you to everyone who worked on making the celebration so lively and fun.

Pinewood Science Day April 6

Science Day is a school wide celebration of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that is hosted by the Science Department each year. From dinosaurs in Grades 1-2 to a huge array of science and Engineering projects from Grades 3-12, there were opportunities to learn the answers to a multitude of cryptic science questions. Students from all grade levels presented their work with enthusiasm and explained their projects with confidence to their teachers, visiting parents and to each other. Communication and collaboration is key to the development of new science as our IB1 Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Computer science students had discovered over the past two months as they worked on their IB Group 4 project on 'Health and Eating Habits'. Their thought provoking findings were presented to high school students, teachers and visitors with eloquence during a special seminar.

An important part of Science Day for the high school is the judging of projects. Six students from the Veterinary and Forestry departments of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki judged each student's poster presentation on scientific information, clarity of concepts and visual representation. Our congratulations go to Middle School student Javier Aguilar Martinez for his engineering project 'Can water produce electricity?' and to high school students Sergey Chikunov and Konstantinos Chrysoulas for their Chemistry project entitled 'Which type of sugar will produce more smoke in a smoke bomb?'. Our students also judged one another and voted for their favorite projects. Middle school students voted for High School student Arina Kocherga's project, 'Oxidation of a Gummy Bear' and Middle School Winner Javier Aguilar Martinez was also voted as the High school students' favourite.

Science Day was completed by an inspiring speech entitled “Light and Innovative Nanomaterials: The story of compound semiconductors” by our Keynote speaker, Dr. George Dimitrakopoulos. During his speech Dr. Dimitrakopoulos took us on a journey from the manipulation of materials on an atomic scale to the current and future applications of semiconductors including the technology appliances that have become an essential part of the way we live our lives!

The Science department would like to thank everyone involved in the success of Science Day, including Dr. George Dimitrakopoulos; student judges from AUTh, Dr. Eva Avramidou, Ms. Hermione Malliarou, Mr. Nikos Tourvas, Mr. Konstantinos Lyberis, Ms. Evagelia Kofidou and Ms. Katerina Leopoulou, Pinewood parents, Pinewood teachers and of course our wonderful students! – By, Dr. Clare Squires

Documentary Film Project with Grade 6

Our Grade 6 students are participating in a European Project entitled, EUforia Project, a pan-European project for Middle and High school students targeting two things: (1) Understand whether and how EU funded urban landscaping projects were effective to people and the cityscape and (2) Through the exploration of urban landscaping projects, learn how to create a documentary, thus introducing cinematography to secondary education. Our students will be creating a documentary centered on the history of the Rotunda, a historical document in the center of the city.The documentaries will be presented at the Thessaloniki Film Festival next year! For more information, visit the Home page of our website.

Let’s Do it Greece April 11-17

The week of April 11-17 is “Green Week” around Greece and Pinewood will do its part to contribute to the environmental preservation of our Earth, too. Students throughout the school will be participating in special environmental friendly projects in their efforts to reduce our footprint on the earth. In addition, we will be participating in a clean up of the Axios River where they will also be able to visit the lagoon Kalochori. At this time it hosts dozens flamingos and migratory birds, such as Black-winged Stilts, the avocets and thalassosfyrichtes. The area belongs to the European network of protected areas Natura 2000, while it is also being protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Thank you to the Pinewood CAS Advisors, Christina Pagidou and Niki Tzivanaki for organizing our events at school and on Sunday in the city. Look for details!

MAP Testing April 11 – May 29

MAP testing, our computer adaptive, standardized testing for students in Grades 2 – 12 will take place from April 11 through the end of May. The specific schedule for each grade level will be published for your review in April. As a reminder, MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) provides powerful student growth data that allows for informed instruction, measures the growth of every child over time regardless of grade level performance and compares and predicts student achievement and growth over time via normative comparative data from students in other schools around the world.

IB Mock Exams April 7-15

IB Mock exams, which are formatted exactly as the regular exams, are a way for teachers to assess the readiness of our students for the formal IB examinations in May. These exams are an important preparatory step as they can pinpoint areas that are in need of additional consideration before the exams. Formal IB exams take place in the month of April.

Professional Development Activity this Month

As educators, teachers are continually expected to keep themselves updated on latest trends, new best practices and knowledgeable about new research in their respective teaching fields. With these goals in mind, Pinewood provides various professional development opportunities for teachers. This month and last, several teachers (Ms. Evie Kota, Dr. Linda Manney and Ms. Monica Varsalopoulos) attended the TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Annual Convention. TESOL, or Teachers of English as a Second or Other Language, is an independent non-profit professional association for teachers of Northern Greece whose role is two-fold: to explore the reality of teaching in our classrooms and to strive towards improving teaching and learning for teachers and students. I am also happy to announce that Dr. Linda Manney has been elected to the TESOL Board of Directors as the new Vice President. We look forward to Dr. Manney’s continued cooperation with TESOL and relationship-building between their organization and our school.

In addition, two teachers, Ms. Dimitra Bentioulis and Ms. Alexia Marinides, attended the annual NESA conference in Bangkok, Thailand. NESA is the Near East South Asia professional development organization to which Pinewood is a member. While there, they attended workshops related to visual thinking, assessment with rubrics, writing, formative and summative assessment and differentiated instruction, among other things. One of the highlights was the keynote address by Mr. Rick Wormeli, American educator and educational consultant. Check out one of his many YouTube videos here:

Mrs. Kapanidou, our Visual Arts teacher, was invited by Patakis Publications to deliver a training program for Preschool and Elementary teachers and linked to the book that she recently illustrated. The book, titled, “Does the real Triceratops feel fear?”, was written by Vagelis Iliopoulos and it explores the subject of Bullying at school through the story of a young boy and a Triceratops. Linked to the National Anti-Bullying day, which is on the 6th of March, the author and Mrs. Kapanidou prepared an interactive workshop each one on their area of expertise in order to raise awareness on this subject and train teachers on methods of exploring it with their students. During the fully attended workshop, Mrs. Kapanidou trained teachers on interactive play, drama games and visual education methods, with which all types of learners can be included and involved, and offered tailor-made advice on how these methodologies can be applied on different grade levels. The workshop was completed by book signing and sharing of ideas.

Two teachers (Ms. Christina Pagidou and Mrs. Niki Tzivanaki) will travel to Athens to attend the ACS Athens Colloquium entitled, Improving Student Learning through Continuous Research and Reflection. At this colloquium, new educational knowledge and best practices will be shared among teachers, administrators, policymakers and parents from around the globe.

Making Music Matter at Pinewood – Maurice Ravel

In Pinewood’s ‘Making Music Matter’ campaign to make music ‘visible’ this year, April’s Composer of the Month is French composer, pianist and conductor Maurice Ravel. I invite you to visit the bulletin board in the reception area of the main building or the reception area of the EYP to learn about this influential composer. And, if you are at school between 8:00 – 8:30 in the morning or 3:00 – 4:00 in the afternoon, you will hear the composer’s music playing in the reception area.

Notable Upcoming Events

Delphi Overnight Trip – Grades 9, 10, 11 April 14-16

Students in Grades 9-11 and our American student visitors will travel to Kavala with Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou as part of our Host Country Studies program. Students will travel to the city of Apollo to see his famous Oracle and the wonderful ruins that surround this beautiful Greek area. Thank you to Mrs. Spiliakou for organizing the trip and to Dr. Squires and Mr. Paschalidis for chaperoning this wonderful learning experience for our high school students.

Kavala Overnight Trip – Grades 6, 7, 8 April 19-20

Students in Grades 6-8 and our American student visitors will travel to Kavala with Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou as part of our Host Country Studies program. While on the trip, students will visit the beautiful Lake Kerkini to learn about the thousands of birds that migrate there each year and tour the famous ruins of this classic city. Thank you to Mrs. Spiliakou for organizing the trip and to Mrs. Paliouris and Mr. Oikonomopoulos for chaperoning this wonderful learning experience for our middle school students.

Spring Break April 22-May 8

Spring Break begins on Friday, April 22 after school and classes resume on Monday, May 9. Please note that there will be no After School Activities on Friday, April 22.

IB Final Exams May 2-20

Final IB Exams for our seniors begin during Spring Break on May 2 and run for 3 weeks. During this time, students will be taking exams that cover material, concepts and ideas from their two-year IB Diploma Program studies. We wish our students the very best on their exams!

Cedefop Visit May 11

Students in Grade 11 will visit Cedefop (European Center for the Development of Vocational Training) to learn about their trainee program. While there, they will have an introduction by the Director of Cedefop and then meet with the trainees.

The visit to Cedefop aims to provide Pinewood students with a unique experience of Cedefop's role as an EU institution, well-placed as a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic working environment contributing to the development of mutual understanding, trust and tolerance, to inform our students on how to increase their "employability", future education and training pathways and to learn about European citizenship, EU integration processes related to vocational education and training. Students will be introduced to the professional world, and they will have the opportunity to engage in an interactive discussion with Cedefop 2016/2016 trainees, the majority of whom are recent university graduates or PhD students, assigned to the twelve project areas:
  • Records management and assistance & support to Open Access Repository project
  • Legal research and assistance
  • Data Protection Officer 
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Press and News service
  • Publications 
  • Lifelong Guidance 
  • Apprenticeship 
  • VET policies and systems 
  • Europass 
  • Statistics and Indicators 
  • Skills forecasting and skill mismatch

This is a nice opportunity for Pinewood to connect with Cedefop as another international organization in Greece. It also provides a learning experience for our students in line with our Student Services Action Plan for developing career education to our students.

Special Issues Pinewood Community Committee

From Mr. Ian Harrington - As an international school presenting itself as a family and an institution, we face a multitude of important ‘family’ issues ranging from our personal relationships to our relationships with the outside world. Looking at the range of concerns that our family faces, it is clear that no one person can possibly keep track. Thus, the SIPCC, a new committee being formed, will provide a platform for discussion and action through a systematic approach to individual topics that are both proposed by members of the committee, as well as the community at large. The group will follow a Model United Nations approach to each issue whereby each constituency of the committee presents their personal views and knowledge on the main subject, followed by an in-depth discussion of recommendations to be considered by the school.

All of the meetings will be open to the community at large; however, a key group of members made up of teachers, the school psychologist, parents, and students will be the main contributors to each month’s meeting.


  1. To provide a grounds for intelligent, meaningful discussion of current issues as they pertain to the Pinewood Community.

  2. To provide Pinewood with a central response system, through Sycamore/Facebook/etc., to key developments both local and international in nature.

  3. To produce recommended action plans for how Pinewood might be able to provide opportunities for student/staff development and learning.

Look for more information about the committee in the Pinewood communication sites. 

Administrative Activity

Advisory Committee to the Board

An auxiliary committee to the Board of Directors is the Pinewood Advisory Committee. Presently, one member has been appointed to the committee. Dr. Soula Mitakidou, Professor of Education at Aristotle University and published author, is a long-time supporter of Pinewood. Among other things, Dr. Mitakidou established the successful American student-teacher exchange program some 25 years ago at Pinewood. In her capacity on the Advisory Committee, Dr. Mitakidou offers her expertise in the field of education to us in many ways. At present, she is working with me on organizing a small educational conference at Pinewood and most recently has been on campus to share her time and knowledge with several different groups. We look forward to our continual cooperation with Dr. Mitakidou, a key figure in the local educational community. I invite you to read one of Dr. Mitakidou's articles, "Enhancing language acquisition through literature" here:

Registration & Pre-Payment for 2016-2017

I am pleased to announce that our tuition and fees will be maintained at no increase for the 7th consecutive year. In addition, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I remind you of the following key payment dates for registering your child(ren) for next year:

  • June 1, 2016 Payment made in full by this date will receive a 7% discount on tuition
  • September 1, 2016 Payment made in full by this date will receive a 5% discount on tuition

Accordingly, I kindly remind you to complete a Registration Form for each of your children for the new academic year and to submit these forms with your pre-payment for the new year (EYP=€1,000 & Grades 1-12=€2,000).

Individual family Billing Statements for 2016-17, accompanied by Registration Forms, will be emailed to you in April and sent via regular mail by April 11.

Board of Directors Elections

Nominations for the Pinewood Board of Directors are now being accepted by the Nominating/Electoral Committee. Two elected parent positions are open and all current parents who will have children in the school next year are eligible to run for office. Nominations will be accepted through May 4, 2016, exactly two weeks before the date of the elections. Elections will take place on May 18 during the Corporation meeting and continue the following day until 17:00. The term of the office is 2 years with duties beginning July 1, 2016. If you are interested in submitting your nomination and/or for further details, please contact either of the following 3 members of the Nominating/Electoral Committee:

Dr. Linda Manney (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Mrs. Maria Nikolaidou (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Mrs. Rodica Cojocaru (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)