Dear Mr. Stoltz,

First of all, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year 2009 and may it be a prosperous year for you personally and for SBR also.

I’m not sure whether you remember me or not, but my son, Gustav Arkady Kadarusman (Arky) used to study in SBR until the 3rd grade, before our family had to move to the UK in mid 2007 because of his father’s study.

I’d just like to inform you, that thanks to the good basic education he had received in SBR, it took him very quickly to get adapted and adjusted to the UK education system. He is now working hard and doing very well at school (St. Kentigern’s RC Primary School, Manchester) and very recently he had just acclaimed a wonderful achievement by producing a Christmas short story that was considered as the best in Year 6, and was printed into a Christmas card by the Headteacher.

The Headteacher did not stop there, he also sent the story to a local newspaper, and as a result, my son made the news for the Christmas edition of that newspaper. I attach the newspaper clipping and also Arky’s short story to this email, in case you want to read them.

I do not intend to boast about him, although I am of course very proud as any parent should be in this situation, but my intention of sending you this story is to let you know that the good quality education provided in SBR really helped to make a difference in at least one child’s life, as I am sure it did the same thing to many other children.

Kind regards,
Astrid Herabadi-Kadarusman

It was Christmas Eve and the young boy was already in bed, swathed in his flannel pyjamas. He was about eight years old, he had a serious face with a mop of tousled dark hair, but his intelligent eyes always had a twinkle which showed, that in fact, he had plenty of humour. He lay warm and snug under the blanket, staring at his bedroom ceiling, which was painted sky blue and decorated with the pictures of white clouds. He was still thinking of the story that his mother had just told him before he went to bed.

His mother had bought a new nativity set that morning and she was kneeling, arranging it under their Christmas tree when she told him the story of Mary and Joseph, the night before baby Jesus was born. The boy had heard the story several times before, but still he was fascinated by the way his mother retold it. Her face was calm and seemed to be glowing under the Christmas lights that decorated the tree, she was telling the story with a steady calm voice, so that the boy could sense the happiness and peace that his mother was feeling while she was telling the story. Finally, his mother stood up, stepped back and looked down to appreciate her own handy work. The boy peered inside the miniature barn and gazed at the little figurines inside, then a look of puzzlement came across his face and he asked, “But where is baby Jesus, Mum? You forgot to put him inside.” His mother smiled and said with a twinkle in her eyes, “No, dear. I did not forget, for Baby Jesus wasn’t yet born. Don’t fret yourself, when you wake up tomorrow on Christmas morning, he will already be inside. Now, off you go to bed.” His mother winked at him and ushered him upstairs.

So, now the boy was lying on his bed getting more and more drowsy, but when he was just about to close his eyes, something strange began to happen. At first, he wasn’t sure about it, but after a while he was convinced that the ceiling seemed to be moving closer and closer to him. He turned his face and looked over his shoulder, and realised that his bed was getting farther away under him. It wasn’t the ceiling that moved towards him, instead, he was the one who was floating in mid air. “I AM FLYING!”, the boy thought excitedly. He tried to do a back flip, and the blanket fell off his body and lay crumpled on the bed underneath. The boy moved his arms and legs clumsily before finally being able to steer himself to the direction that he wanted.

He saw his bedroom window opening bit by bit, outside he saw nothing but bright stars glittering against the dark sky. His body kept on floating out of the open window, up above the city streets. The boy knew that it was cold outside, yet strangely enough he felt quite warm and comfortable. The city was very dark, however there were many lights to keep it illuminated, and the people rushing about were seen to him as mere little figures. The boy could also see and hear people singing the carols, and he also saw the enormous Christmas tree in the town square. The tree stood proudly, brightly lit and beautifully decorated.

Now, he seemed to be going further out of the city, until he was above a lonely, dusty, little path. After a while he saw underneath him a donkey which trotted slowly down the path. The boy moved down closer to get a better look, and saw a man walking beside the donkey, holding it by a rope. A lovely lady was riding the donkey. They seemed to be very tired, but their faces looked serene. The boy felt very sorry for them, he wished the there were something that he could do to help them. So he followed them, moving slowly above, slightly away behind them, his heart was heavy with pity.
In a distance the boy saw a grim looking building, the man and the lady with the donkey drawn near to it. When the boy floated closer towards the building, he could see a sign hung above the door, the strong gust of wind blew the sign to flip back and forth on its hinges, and it read: ‘Dragonfly Inn’. The man knocked at the door and waited a while before the Innkeeper opened it. The boy was too far away to hear the conversation between the two men, but from the man’s gestures the boy could tell that the man was imploring to the Innkeeper. However, the Innkeeper kept on shaking his head and finally the man relented and walked away, the donkey in tow with the lady sitting on it.

After walking for quite a considerable length, they finally approached another building that has a similar dejected look to the one before. It was an old and brown building, the boy could make out the name ‘Thistle-wood Inn’ painted shabbily over the door. Again the man knocked on the door, and when the Innkeeper opened it, once more the boy witnessed a scene akin to what he had previously observed. Once again, the man walked away, leaving that inn behind, the boy could see a hint of worry on the man’s face as he cast a look upon the lady sitting on the donkey.

The boy also started to become a bit worried, he knew that they must be tired and cold after walking so far away. Finally, they were getting near to another building, this building was smaller than the other two before, and next to it there was an even more tiny building. These buildings didn’t look too old nor bleak, the bigger building was freshly painted and a decorated sign hung above the door read: “Stargazer Inn”. The man paused a moment before knocking on the door, as if he was afraid to face another rejection, but then he took a deep breath and rasped his knuckles on the door. The Innkeeper opened the door, and the boy could see a hint of smile on this Innkeeper’s face, he seemed to be more friendly and relaxed than the other innkeepers. After listening a while to what the man had to say, the boy saw the Innkeeper go back inside, he came back to the door with a bundle of warm blankets and said something while pointing his finger to the tiny building next to the inn. The man nodded and smiled graciously, he led the donkey with the lady still sitting on it to enter the tiny building.

The boy floated close behind them, watching them through the open door, from what he saw inside, the boy realised that the tiny building was in fact a barn. The floor of the barn was covered with freshly cut hay, and in the corners there were several cows standing quietly staring curiously at the people. The boy saw the man helped the lady climbed down from the donkey and arranged the blanket on top of the hays in one corner of the barn for the lady to lie down comfortably, near a clean and empty manger, obviously unused yet as a feeding trough for the cows. The man then led the donkey to an opposite corner and let the tired animal have its rest also for the night.

The boy was relieved that these people were finally able to find a place to rest, and because he wasn’t so anxious anymore, he started to notice other things inside the barn. He could see that the window of the barn was flooded with white bright lights, as if a giant lantern was lit outside. The boy was curious, so he floated outside of the barn and saw a big bright star right on top of the barn, he had never seen such a bright and huge star as it was. While the boy was still staring up in wonderment at the star, all of a sudden he heard a sound which he recognised as the wail of a newborn baby, just like how his baby sister used to cry when his mother just brought her home from the hospital.

The boy floated back into the barn, he noticed that the empty manger was now covered with warm blankets and he could detect something moving inside it. The boy hovered closer above the manger and came face to face with a cute little baby with bright blue eyes and rosy cheeks, the pink lips of the baby curled into a very sweet smile. It was then that a clear understanding gradually dawn on the boy, “I had just witnessed the birth of baby Jesus!”; he thought to himself. The boy felt a warm glow of happiness inside him.

After a while, the boy could hear voices from outside the barn, so he decided to go out and take a look of what that was all about. He floated out and went above the barn, afar he could saw several shepherds with their sheep walking toward the barn. Behind them, the boy could also see three elderly men wearing magnificent robes and crown on their heads. These people started to look up and pointed to the sky, right at the boy’s direction, and cried out, “Look at that angel!”

“They must have mistaken me for an angel.”; the boy thought to himself smiling, he was amused but he decided that it was now time to go home, he did not want his parents to be worried. So, the boy turned his body around and came directly face to face with an angel, she was magnificent with snowy white wings and sparkling white gown. She also has a kind, glowing face which light up the dark night. The boy was almost sure that he could even hear the angels sang with clear beautiful voice. The boy understood then that he was in fact invisible to the people below, they had seen the angel through him.

All of a sudden, the boy felt a strong tug at his body and he was floating back to where he came from with sheer speed, things below him just seemed like a blur. Just as unexpectedly, the boy suddenly found himself stopping abruptly right outside his bedroom window. He floated back inside his bedroom, the window closing behind him. The boy plopped back into bed, he felt rather tired yet extremely happy and peaceful.

Just when his eyes were closing, his mother entered his bedroom calling in her sweet lovely voice, “Wake up you sleepy head, it’s Christmas morning, come down and look at what Father Christmas had brought you last night!” The boy told his mother about his adventure the night before, his mother smiled and patted his head, “I’m glad you had such a wonderful dream, son, now I already prepared a special breakfast for all of us.”

The boy ran downstairs excitedly and saw all the presents under the Christmas tree. But before he started opening all his presents, the boy took the time to take another peek inside the gold painted miniature barn, and he saw that holy family was finally complete. The little figurine of baby Jesus was already lying in the manger, and it was the spitting image of the real baby Jesus that the boy met in the barn the night before. The boy broke into a satisfied grin and he started to look away from the figurines, but suddenly he snapped his head back, because from the corner of his eyes he could swear that he saw the little baby Jesus figurines actually smiled and winked an eye at him!



Last Friday night, 19 December 2008, (the start of our Christmas break) I attended a gamelan festival at Santa Laurensia School in Serpong. It was well worth the 1.5 hour drive to watch our students perform. Our ensemble was selected from students in SD grades 3 to 6. Sekolah Bogor Raya was one of six schools participating in this celebration of gamelan organized by Santa Laurensia. A heartfelt thanks to St Laurensia for taking the lead here; it is hoped that this is just the beginning of a series of annual events to showcase students’ skills in gamelan and foster pride in Indonesia’s musical heritage.

Great work, guys!


Over a year ago, on November 19, 2007 to be precise, I drew your attention to Free Rice. “Free Rice is a great concept. It gives us the opportunity to have fun gaming, while learning vocabulary and doing good, ie feeding the poor. What more could anyone ask?”

Now, you can choose from a range of subject matter. It’s no longer limited to vocabulary, but now includes English grammar, foreign languages, geography chemistry, math and, my favorite, famous paintings.