SAISA Swimming 2019 – Kathmandu Nepal

Well, it happened. The SAISA swim meet this year not only marked the end of this swim season, but also 8 years of school swimming for me. 3 days of the swim meet went by in what felt like an hour, and I was back in the OSC parking lot before I knew it.

From Colombo to Kathmandu

The journey began at 9:30PM on Tuesday the 15th when my uber pulled up to the front gate of OSC. The busses were set to leave at 10:00, and everyone was excited. I was excited, a little nervous, and very tired, something which didn’t make the trip there easy. While it wasn’t necessarily bad, the trip there was slightly stressful due to us almost missing the plane from Delhi to Kathmandu. Despite this, we all made it to Kathmandu, met our host families, and went home for the day.

Day 1

The first day of SAISA kicked off for me at 7:00AM, when my alarm woke me. After getting ready for the day and having a very quick breakfast(the school bus showed up way sooner than we thought), we departed for the competition. Following the opening ceremony and warm-ups, the swimming began. I only had 2 events on the first day, the 100 backstroke and the 400 freestyle. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the 100 back, but I was excited for the 400 free. The 100 backstroke prelim was in the morning and the 400 free was in the afternoon. As I said, I wasn’t really that looking forward to the 100 back, but I beat my personal best by 7 seconds going from a 1:17.12 to a 1:10.07. I also managed to get into the finals which was exciting, and these would take place in the evening. I was free the rest of the morning and wisely spent it screaming my lungs out for my fellow teammates. I’m known on the OSC team for shouting loudly, and there was no shortage of that this year. At about 12:30, lunch began, though I found it hard to eat. I was really, really nervous for my 400 and didn’t want to eat too much and throw up. Eventually, I found myself sitting behind the diving blocks, with only 1 heat until my event. My seed time going in was a 5:01.67, a time that I thought I couldn’t improve on. Finally, they called us forward to stand on the blocks. My heart was racing despite my best efforts to remain calm, and I was actually shaking a little. “Take your marks,……..GO!”. Cut to what felt like an eternity later as I slammed my hand into the touch sensor, finishing my race. I turned around and the time that greeted me was 4:57.31. In retrospect, I should have been thrilled, though I was far too tired to really process anything after finishing. After crawling out of the water, I went back to cheering wildly for my team while I waited for the 100 back finals, something I was not particularly looking forward to but managed to pull 8th place. After witnessing the spectacle of the 200 freestyle relays, we had dinner at school and headed home.

The next day started slightly better than the first, with me leaving myself a little more time to get ready in the morning. I only had the 100 fly the day, and there were no finals for it, meaning I would only swim for about 1 minute the entire day. The 100 fly is one of the most daunting and feared events at SAISA, and rightly so. While I do enjoy doing butterfly as a stroke, as do many people, it becomes very, very, very tiring after doing more than 50 meters. Regardless, I was still excited. My seed time going in was 1:12.40, and I managed to do a 1:10.56, which made me happy. Since I had no events left for the day, I got changed and spent the rest of it drinking milkshakes and destroying my voice further through screaming.

The final day of the competition came alarmingly quick. The first event of the day, the 200 free, was the one I had been looking forward to the most for SAISA. Last year, I managed to get 6th place in it(despite barely practicing it), and I was looking to do better this year. We climbed onto the blocks, heard the familiar “take your marks” before “go” and I launched off the block… only to hear the frantic whistle blows and shouts in an attempt to stop us from swimming. This was because there had been a false start. In swimming, after the announcer says “take your marks” you are not allowed to move before the word “go”. In this case, somebody had moved, but they said “go” anyways. However, as we dived, they attempted to stop the race. This happened over about 2 seconds, and many of the swimmers in my heat didn’t know that there was a false start, and they kept swimming. Unfortunately for them, they wasted their energy and we had to re-do the start and the race basically immediately. Luckily for me, I had heard the whistles on my dive and had stopped right after I had hit the water. After that whole debacle, we climbed back on the blocks and started the race again without any issues. My final time was a 2:19.10, which landed me in 7th place. While I was disappointed I didn’t get 7th, I still was able to score points for the team. My next event followed almost immediately after the 200 free, and that was the 50 fly. While I’m not really a sprinter, I still had some hopes for the 50 fly. These were dashed when I got 15th place, meaning I didn’t make finals or score any points. I hadn’t even improved my personal best, which was probably the worst part. Turns out the difference between 11th place and 15th place was actually only about .3 of a second, so I guess I was close to making it. I also don’t really get to redeem myself here, since it’s my last SAISA. After the 50 fly, I got a milkshake and spent the rest of the day destroying the little that remained of my voice and helping coach doing math for points. We knew that the OSC team wasn’t going to get  1st or 2nd place, but we were really hoping for 3rd. We definitely didn’t want 4th, which we were currently in. However, all the math we were doing showed us in 4th place when the competition came to a close.

The awards ceremony came about far more quickly than I would have liked because it meant the official end of SAISA. Going into the awards ceremony, I was genuinely unsure of what was going to happen as I hadn’t been keeping that great of track on the points. All I knew was that we were probably 4th overall,


Opening ceremony(we were all squinting because they took the photo outside and the sun was directly in our eyes the entire time)


Right before the start of the 100 back


The OSC 15-19 boys

CAS Goals 2019-2020

The start of the new school years marks the start for another round of CAS activities. This year, I’m doing pretty much the same as last year with some exception and changes. The 2018-2019 school year was really great for me in terms of the things I did, and I grew as both a person and in terms of skill within these activities.

Creativity – concert band+Playing for the musical

While I’m continuing with concert band, this year is gonna be a little different. That’s because this is the year where the winter gala is replaced with a musical, and some band members play for it. Unlike the regular concert band, you had to be specially invited to play in it, and I was. It will take place after school on Mondays between 2:50 and 4:30, meaning that I can do both of these things. I’m very excited for it as I think it will really help my skills as  a musician, with effectively double the ensemble practice time.

Activity – SAISA swimming

This year marks my 8th year of doing swimming as a sport, and also my last, meaning that I’ve got to make it really worth it. To do this, I’ve set some goals that will help me improve as a swimmer, and I’m going to reach for them with all I have. After all, it’s my last chance at high-school swimming. I’m also a team captain this year, meaning that I have to also look out for the rest of the team, which is a good sized responsibility.

My first goal is pretty simple, to drop time on all my events. While it’s a generic goal, it’s also a good one. Despite me not swimming every event at SAISA, I feel like my general swimming ability should improve. Additionally, I’m looking to get better at some events in particular. These are the 200 freestyle, the 50 butterfly, the 100 butterfly, and the 400 freestyle. I want to really get better at these events because I really enjoy swimming them and I’m actually fairly decent at them already. Still, it’ll be a challenge to improve that’s going to take a lot of effort on my part.

My second goal is to be a good team captain. I know that saying “good” is a really ambiguous term, but I think that it’s important to

Service – Gecko Network

Last year was something of a orientation year for me in gecko network. While there wasn’t that much content initially put out, the production of content picked up over the year. However, I still feel that there is room for further improvement, where we actually push ourselves to learn and create as well as we can. Therefore, my goal is to be responsible and put out more, higher quality videos, for both regular gecko network and for gecko news. I also want to improve on my editing skills, something which I began to learn last year but never fully invested in. It’s going to be difficult, as I’m coming from essentially no experience to making good videos, but I think I can do it.


That wraps up my goals for the semester/year for now. I will update this post in semester 2 to reflect activities that change, like swimming or Oliver band.

Spring Gala 2019

On April 8th we had our spring gala concert, after several months of preparation. It was the culmination of several months of effort by well over 100 different people. There was a total of 21 groups and solos that performed, from classical to 80’s rock in genre. I partook in 2 ways, doing both concert band and backstage crew.

Concert Band

Concert band has been going since August of 2018, and the composition of the band has remained virtually the same. The music we played for spring gala was much more difficult than we played for the previous winter gala, and it was also more fun to play. The songs we played were called “Soul Bossa Nova” and the “Blues Brothers Revue”. They were quite challenging, but it was worth the efforts. I personally enjoyed the music played at spring gala far more than the one song we played at winter gala, as it really showcased our efforts and ability to grow as musicians.

Soul Bossa Nova was the easier of the two, as it was much shorter and had a consistent rhythm and melody. However, it still had some great parts, and a killer solo that I got to play about halfway through the song.

The Blues Brothers Review was very intimidating when we first got the music. Taking up 3 full pages, it has 4 distinct sections that vary greatly in tempo, rhythm, and melody. It opens with a very fast part for the bass instruments that does not let up, and brings in other instruments as it plows on. It was a very hard part for me because there was no good spot where I could breathe. It takes a lot of air to play Euphonium loudly, and there were no natural spots to breathe nor were there breath marks incorporated into the song. Despite these challenges, it was extremely fun to play both during practice and during the concert. During the concert, we played it a little slower than we practiced, which was somewhat helpful for my breathing. It’s definitely been my favorite piece that we’ve performed since I joined in August.

Backstage Crew

I did backstage crew for the first time during the winter gala, and it sure was an experience. It was quite fun to be handling all the backstage stuff and helping out the other performers, but it was very stressful. In backstage crew, time is money(not actual money in this case but audience satisfaction). You can only do so much to prepare yourself for the actual concert, and even then it is still difficult. Regardless of all of that, I still had a blast. After getting experience from winter gala and using lessons learned, we were far faster and more efficient as a backstage team this time around. While I was technically backstage manager, we all were equal when it came to clearing chairs and setting up microphones. The spring gala is even harder than the winter gala for the crew though, as it features the STOMP! performance from the 10th graders. This year, they had ladders, tons of buckets, and drumsticks and broom handles everywhere. We still managed to pull through however, and I think that we definitely did a good job, and also improved from last time. Maybe I’ll do backstage crew next year.

Here are some great photos that Gecko Network took during the concert

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Concert Band Update 04.3.2019

The last post I made about concert band was the Winter Gala, so I figured it was time for an update.

Between Winter Gala and April Gala, there was a grand total of 9 rehearsals, due to a combination of holidays, breaks, and Ms.Duncan being out for things. Currently, we now have only 3 rehearsals remaining to prepare our music, which is quite challenging. The two pieces we’re playing are called “Soul Bossa Nova” and “The Blues Brothers Revue”.

Soul Bossa Nova is known for being the theme song for the Austin Powers series of movies, and it’s considered the easier one that we’re playing. It’s little bit of a jazzy song, but it’s got a great baseline and a nice Euphonium solo, which I’m very excited to play in concert.


Our second piece, Blues Brothers Review, is a medley of songs from both the movie and musical group, the Blues Brothers. It’s been a very challenging song, with 4 very different segments spanning a total of 153 measures. The numerous tempo and key changes kept throwing us off for the first few times we practiced it, and it was definitely a challenge for every single member of the band. For me personally, the greatest obstacle came in the form of the opening section, “I can’t turn you loose”. Naturally, the opening of a song is the most important part, and aside from the piano and electric bass, I’m the only instrument. While the piano and electric bass are great, they produce more of a quiet sound, meaning that I have to be perfect in my playing as it would be very obvious if I messed up. The melody itself is simple, but the length of time for which I have to do it without breathing is the real kicker. I have to go 8 measures playing loudly without time to sneak a breath until the other parts come in, and I can take one. While I’ve definitely improved since I’ve started playing it, I still have some difficulty. The other parts of the song are difficult, but I’ve managed to get them down through a lot of practice. While I said I was excited for Soul Bossa Nova, it’s no where near my level of anticipation for this piece, and I think it’s the perfect song to show how we’ve grown in such a brief time.

I think that the Spring Gala is going to be 100% better than the winter gala, as the music we’re playing is much more fun and interesting, both for the band and the audience. While the concert is a month away, with only 3 more rehearsals it’s practically here. If you’re available to attend, I’d strongly recommend it.


Week Without Walls Trip – Venture North

On Monday the 21st of January at 5:45 in the morning, our W(eek)W(ithout)W(alls) trip began with piling into 2 cramped vans, loaded with our gear. With the water, bags, helmets, and snacks, the 5 and a half hour trip to our destination was certainly not one for the claustrophobic .Our destination was a camp/hostel near the Sigeria region of Sri Lanka. It was from there that we would extensively bike the surrounding area, with a stated goal of completing 100km. While there was some apprehension about this, I personally was not overtly worried. I knew it would be a new series of challenges to undertake, but that didn’t make me any less excited.

The first one of those many challenges came in the form of the Dambulla economic center. The economic center is a place where farmers sell their goods to the supermarkets/larger shops in bulk. Our task was to interview some of the people there, but it was very challenging to find someone who we could easily talk to, and for good reason. The overwhelming majority of the people there are payed based on how much they sell, meaning that talking to some tourists(we essentially were) would impact their profits. Luckily, my group managed to get two very interesting interviews before we ran out of time. Everyone loaded back into the vans, and we continued for another 1 and 1/2 hours to camp.

(our group interviewing at the economic center)

(our camp sign)

When we got to camp, we got our room assignments.

While the room was fantastic, there certainly was concern of animals. From talking to last year’s group, we learned that some of the rooms had rats in them, and there was a large monkey presence in the area. The rooms had an included plastic box to put our snacks in, but those were demonstrated not to work when one of the girl’s rooms was raided by animals and box(with snacks) destroyed. Following that, everyone relocated their snacks to the heavy wooden cupboards and drawers.

(where we had our meals)


Here’s my room(it had the best view)

After a brief lunch, we set out on our first ride of the trip. Because we only had half a day to work with, we only went a 16KM circuit to get used to the terrain and the bikes. I’m glad we had this ride, as we probably would have had far more accidents and problems had we gone straight into our main rides. The ground was rough and bumpy, with unpredictable holes and sand patches that seemed placed to make you wipe out. I came close several times, but we managed to only have 2 minor crashes that day amongst the group.

The second day is worth noting because of how painful it was. After the ride on the first day, we were all tired, but nobody explicitly was in pain or very sore, or so we thought. I think that everyone on the trip can agree that mounting on our bikes for the first time on the second day was the worst part of the trip. My initial dreams of that soreness fading away as we kept biking were quickly shattered though, as every bump sent a wave of pain coursing through my thighs and hips. In addition to that, my muscles were also exhausted and I was struggling to keep going by about 3/4 of the way through the ride. Luckily though, the teachers had some rehydration power which I drank, and that managed to revitalize me enough to finish without having to ride in the truck.

The third day had a great highlight with us climbing to the top of the large rock directly across from the famous Sigeria. It was certainly a nice break from the biking, and allowed us to stretch the part of our legs we weren’t using for biking. It’s a shame we didn’t have our phones on us, as the teachers didn’t take that many pictures of the great view.

On the 5th day, we passed through 150km and had a brief celebration. We biked for a little more, loaded the bikes in the truck and ourselves in the van, and drove home. There wasn’t too much conversation attributed to the fact that we were all exhausted. Over the course of our trip, we biked a little over 166km, smashing our original goal of 100 and then 150, and also beating out last year’s group who did around 85km.

I’m glad I did the bike trip as my last week without walls, and I think that it was the best trip that I could have done this year. It was the right combination of physical activity and the luxuries of staying in a single location, and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who can do it as a week without walls trip.


Winter Gala Concert

On December 7th, we finally had our Winter Gala concert after several months of preparation. With over 180 individual performers and 22 performances, it was the culmination of a ton of effort on everyone who was involved part’s. For the Gala, I did both backstage crew and concert band. I had been doing concert band since it started in late August, while I chose to do backstage crew after being told that they desperately needed people.

While I was semi-confident for the concert band portion that I had been working on for several months, I was quite worried about the backstage crew. It would certainly be a challenge for me, as I had never done a backstage-crew like thing before.Since we had only 2 days of dress rehearsals to actually practice what we were going to do, everyone involved was quite nervous. Nobody in our team had done backstage crew before, but we all collaborated well to learn what was needed. 

Concert band was near the opposite, with me and the other members having adequate time to prepare only one item. Despite that, I was still moderately worried. While it wasn’t my first concert, it was some members’, and sometimes the excitement can impact playing, mainly the tempo. This would have been especially problematic due to the fact that we were playing alongside a video montage that was set to the music ahead of time, meaning we had to be very precise with our timings.

The night of the Gala arrived quickly, almost too quickly it felt. Everything had been done to get ready for it, the only thing between us and our time to shine was the warm up session, also flying by it felt. The Gala started, and the concert band walked on stage and kicked it off. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the music we played, we did a great job and were perfectly in sync with the video, even more so than in the dress rehearsals. After taking our bows and walking off of stage, I proceeded to take off at full sprint to the green room. Because of my position in backstage crew, I was one of the people assigned with moving the piano right after the concert band finished, meaning I didn’t have time to change out of my concert attire. After dropping off my instrument, I ran back on stage and helped to move the piano.

After the semi-chaotic first transition, it calmed down significantly. The acts came and went one by one, and it was quite fun to help them out back stage with setup and other random things. Soon enough the concert drew to a close without event, and we went home that evening on a job pretty well done.

While it certainly wasn’t perfect, it worked well. I feel we could have played more pieces for concert band and been a little faster during transitions for the backstage crew. I fully plan on doing backstage crew again and continuing for concert band though, and now with some experience, I’m really excited for the spring Gala.


(Top: Ending Group Photo, Right: Moving the piano, Left: Concert Band playing)

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Gecko Network – Gecko News Semester Recap

The Setup

This semester has been jam packed with all sorts of events, ranging through a variety of categories. All of the season one SAISAs, UN and Founder’s day, the welcome back picnic, and a bunch of others that I’m probably going to forget as I write this. The point is, I think that every single student at OSC has been a part of one or more of the aforementioned events, and their efforts should be recognized and celebrated. To help with this, we at Gecko Network decided that we wanted to put out a semester recap video, with the specific purpose of highlighting every single event of the first semester.

I was and am impressed, surprised, and honored that I was chosen to work on this project. I wasn’t alone though, which is a good thing because I’m still a rookie in the scheme of things. I was put on a team with Milo and Phillipe. Milo and I were assigned to the main duties, and Phillipe was tasked with taking care of things like correspondence for interviews and getting names and dates. Our go to agent, if you will. We started with the script, because scripts are the skeletons for videos, you can’t do without for something like this.

The Boring Part

When we began, Milo already had about half of a script in a rough draft. I decided that while Milo would finish up the rest of the script, I would comb through and make edits, changes, and corrections for what was done. We both agreed that this would be the best way to do things, as therefore the general style of the script would be similar.  Starting from the top, I began the long process of trying to condense/improve the script and making sure that they were things that we could say/pass off normally. We used the entirety of the service meeting on Thursday the the 15th to do this, and planned to record the following week. I also made lots of changes at home, after second thoughts about the edits I made.

If making the script was all it took to produce an end of semester recap video, then it wouldn’t be all that much work. If only that was the case, as the hardest part was yet to come by the time we had finished and recorded a few takes of the script. The next step was to compile preexisting footage of the events that we mention, and to get interviews from some of the people involved. Gathering the footage that we had was annoying enough already, with what equated to dozens of hours of video to sift through. In addition to that, the semester was still not over and there were things that we needed to also get video of, including the Senior Production and Winter Gala. There was also the interviews with the captains of the SAISA teams that were left.

After slogging through that process, we started to stitch together our creation, piece by piece. I’ll admit that I am quite rubbish at video editing, so do feel like I weighed down the team quite a bit during this process. The best I could do was help with creative decisions on what the flow of the video would be like. While I have improved leaps and bounds with my editing ability and my knowledge of the software, I still don’t think I’m ready to fully handle a project like this. I’ll wait till a smaller one comes up for me to test my skills. Maybe next semester. Once we finished with it, we ran it by Anuda and a few others for suggestions on improvements. Seeing how the entire school would be viewing it, this is not something to mess up.

To Be Continued?……..

And that’s where I leave it. There are two weeks left till we have to show it to everyone, and you can bet that we will be making improvements and changes to it the entire time. With any luck, people will at least accept it…. I think. This is certainly the most amount of time that I’ve put into any Gecko Network project, and I think that it will show, in a good way.  

Winter Gala Preperations – Concert Band

As we are now halfway through the month of November, the tensions regarding the upcoming Winter Gala Concert for have grown exponentially. There has been a frantic rush as everyone shifts their effort levels up several notches. According to Ms.Duncan, there are over 88 performers involved with it, so a sizable portion of secondary school is caught up in the excitement.

The concert band consists of 15 people, 12 of which are students. We’ve been meeting since late August, and are only preforming one piece. Since then, we’ve worked on our collaboration, general playing skills, and musicianship. Our collaboration comes in multiple different ways, from all the different connections between people in band. From collaborating with the rest of our sections, collaborating with other sections, and collaborating with the conductor/pianist Ms.Duncan. Improving on any one of these can be difficult, as variation between people on what they play can even happen in sections of the same instrument(eg. the trumpet section). Luckily for me, I am the only one in my section, so I only have to worry about incorporating properly with other people. I need to make sure that I play loud enough in some parts of the music, but then also need to make sure that I am quite and supportive to the other instruments in other parts. Making sure that I correctly transition between the two can be sometimes difficult, pending on how sudden it happens. It’s quite difficult to go from playing piano(quietly) whole notes to fortissimo(as loud as possible), something which I have to do when I briefly take over the melody at measure 108.

I’ve been practicing every day of the week, working on how loud I can play(my parents are not fans) for my especially important part at 108, where I have to do this huge, grandiose, powerful melody… ALL BY MYSELF! This is one of the job hazards that you don’t think about when choosing an instrument, but ever since the 5th grade where I chose this instrument, the maximum amount Euphoniums that I’ve seen in a band is 2. It’s fair to say that I’m used to it by now, but that doesn’t make it any easier to play that loudly. It’s not just like the rest of the band can quiet down all that much, seeing how it’s meant to just be generally loud, and if it were quit it’d be weak and pathetic. I have made progress though, and I’ve been getting louder and louder each time we play, pushing my limits of how much noise I can squeeze out of this brass chunk.

The hardest part now is just overcoming my nervousness, whenever we play in rehearsal I always get a nervous feeling in my gut and I can’t play out to the fullest. Maybe it’s just excitement? Who knows, but the rest of the song is going great. My only complaint for the coming Gala is that I feel the concert band could be playing a little more music. No matter how long one song is, it’s still just one song.

Anyways, here’s to looking forwards to what’s coming up, I’ll put up a post afterwards with how it went in detail.

Here’s the sheet music, it my part gives a brief idea of the tone shifts throughout

Concert Band Update – 14.11.2018

December 7th, 2018. As well as the 77th anniversary for the attack on Pearl Harbor, it’s also the date of the OSC Winter Gala. The Winter Gala serves as the halfway checkpoint for our journey as a band, and it’s approaching surprisingly fast. The practices which seemingly feel like forever in them are flying by as far as the calendar goes, and we can only hope to be ready in time. As well as that, it’s somewhat more of a struggle for me to return to euphonium than I thought after a year of tuba. While the fingerings of both instruments are the same, they are very different, mainly in size. Here’s a brief comparison:

(Me playing my euphonium, a few days ago)

(me playing my double b flat tuba, about a year ago)

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In case you doubt, here’s a comparison of the mouth pieces(order is tuba, euphonium, trumpet)

The Winter Gala is on our minds, but the Concert Band has also been up to some other fun things. For starters, we learned and played the national anthem for the Founder’s Day celebration in September, and people from the Band are starting to get assigned to other acts preforming in the Gala as backup musicians. A few of the trumpets have been auctioned off already, I’m wondering if I’ll go somewhere as well. Going back to the founders day event, it went OK. The timeframe we had to work on it was limited, along with our practice together. I think that in the future for this kind of thing, we should alot more rehearsal time to it, as the problems stemmed not from people not knowing their parts, but people not sure of how to integrate their parts correctly into the rest of the band. This lead to some confusion, especially with our drummer and violins who had bad habits of getting off beat just enough to where it was noticeable. I tried my best to help the drummer, as he was the one near me, by tapping my foot exaggeratedly so that he could see and trying to play my part loudly in beat to assist, but it didn’t work to well. My parts were fine, and I was good with them, but because of the role a euphonium plays, I couldn’t do a huge amount. As a low brass instrument, the role you play is more of a supportive one, and in this song I never had the melody meaning I could never play loud enough to reach all the people who were off beat.  

Anyways, there’s a lot more to come for concert band, especially as we get closer to Gala. I’ll make sure to keep that updated for you all, as I think it’s going to be really fun, regardless how it goes.