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Intelligence Plus Character Essay For National Honor


National Honor Society is a member of the Character Counts! Coalition.  Through this activity, the society supports and recommends the use of a multi-faceted definition of character known as the “Six Pillars of Character.”  A person of character demonstrates the following six qualities: respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, and citizenship.  Schools are encouraged to take this model, modify it to meet their local needs, and utilize it frequently in the work of their chapter.

            In addition, it can also be said that the student of character:

·        Takes criticism willingly and accepts recommendations graciously

·        Consistently exemplifies desirable qualities of behavior (cheerfulness, friendliness, poise, stability)

·        Upholds principles of morality and ethics

·        Cooperates by complying with school regulations concerning property, programs, office, halls, etc.

·        Demonstrates the highest standards of honesty and reliability

·        Regularly shows courtesy, concern, and respect for others

·        Observes instructions and rules, is punctual, and faithful both inside and outside the classroom

·        Has powers of concentration, self-discipline, and sustained attention as shown by perseverance and application to studies

·        Manifests truthfulness in acknowledging obedience to rules, avoiding cheating in written work, and showing unwillingness to profit by the mistakes of others

·        Actively helps rid the school of bad influences or environment.



            Service is generally considered to be those actions taken by the student which are done with or on behalf of others without any direct financial or material compensation to the individual performing the service.  In considering service, the contributions this candidate has made to school, classmates, and community, as well as the student’s attitude toward service can be reviewed.

The student who serves:

·        Volunteers and provides dependable and well organized assistance, is gladly available, and is willing to sacrifice to offer assistance

·        Works well with others and is willing to take on difficult or inconspicuous responsibilities

·        Cheerfully and enthusiastically renders any requested service to the school

·        Is willing to represent the class or school in inter-class and inter-scholastic competition

·        Does committee and staff work without complaint

·        Participates in some activity outside of school- for example: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, volunteer services for the elderly, poor, or disadvantaged

·        Mentors persons in the community or students at other schools

·        Shows courtesy by assisting visitors, teachers, and students.



            The leadership criterion is considered highly important for membership selection.  Some Faculty Councils may wish to interpret leadership in terms of the number of offices held in school or community organizations.  It is important to recognize that leadership also exists outside elected positions including effective participation in other cocurricular activities offered on campus.  Other Faculty Councils may define leadership in less objective terms.  Leadership roles in both the school and community may be considered, provided they can be verified.

The student who exercises leadership:


“We can be heroes, just for one day.”
-David Bowie, “Heroes”

Portraits from left to right of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, and David Bowie for the Hero Project painted by Siddhartha School, Minnnequa Elementary, and Rockland Country Day School students.

Dear Friends,

The events in January have left me with the David Bowie song ‘Heroes’ lingering in my mind. The music icon’s passing revealed not only a flood of music video shares on social media, but stories of his long time interest in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. Bowie greatly admired His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who earlier in the month wrapped up His teachings at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery where Khen Rinpoche, Siddhartha School’s founder, is abbot. Then, last week, we commemorated the legacy of Martin Luther King, a hero of the Dalai Lama’s. Both King and His Holiness were deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent approach in the struggle for freedom.

For Siddhartha School students making connections with their peers in Colorado and New York through the Hero Project, Bowie, King, and His Holiness have loomed large. I think it is because their young minds see them as agents of change that champion freedom—artistic, social, and spiritual. Each of these heroes pushed boundaries and expand our imaginations of what is possible. They remind us to dream.

This month’s newsletter is a reflection on the Siddhartha School mission, a mere dream in 1993 by Khen Rinpoche being realized in Ladakh today. It is encouraging that since we first gained the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1996, we have come so far in providing children in Ladakh access to a rich educational experience that connects children in this rapidly developing region with their peers in a wider world.

Music education, cross cultural art programming, and strong academic courses grounded in critical thinking are the building blocks for Siddhartha School’s success. The trilingual curriculum enables students to master persuasive writing in English Tibetan, and Hindi. As a result, our graduates gain admittance to top colleges in India and, more recently, the United States.

We thank you for your continued support for Siddhartha School’s mission through your gifts, service, and sharing of the project with your friends and family. We have some wonderful video clips in this edition of our newsletter for you to witness first hand some activities enjoyed by the children, such as working in the new computer lab and performing in the school talent show. For those of us who were unable to venture to Bylakuppe for the events at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery,we’ve included our impressions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s commentaries as they relate to His own dream for 21st century education. And in honor of MLK Day, we’ve provided an interesting examination of what King termed the ‘two fold purpose of education’, that we believe is as relevant in Ladakh as New York City or Los Angeles.

With Deep Appreciation,

Laura Kozaitis

PS: Here is a lovely, acoustic version of the “Heroes” Bowie performed at Neil Young’s annual benefit for the Bridge School, which helps physically challenged children overcome their impairments with the use of technology.

Khen Rinpoche Welcomes His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tashi Lhunpo to Inaugurate the New Prayer Hall

Khen Rinpoche welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery on December 18th to bless the new Dunhuang (main prayer hall) Khen Rinpoche’s key project as abbot.
Photo by Tenzin Choejor, for the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Last month at the inauguration ceremony for the new prayer hall at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, His Holiness reflected on the role Tibetan Buddhism is playing in the scientific study of the mind and the physical and emotional benefits of meditation. He also noted that without the great support of India, providing land to Tibetan refugee communities to rebuild their monasteries and schools for their children, there would not be this great exchange of ideas. He reminded the audience that the ancient Indian teachers of Nalanda University were Tibet’s gurus, and that the Tibetan Buddhist monastic communities have been devoted custodians of the Nalanda tradition. His Holiness expressed his deep appreciation to Indian leadership, past and present, for their generous help and support to rebuild Tibetan communities in India.

Bylakuppe Days: Siddhartha School Project supporters with Khen Rinpoche during the teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Photo by Ngawang Yeshe, Ngari Institute.

For those fortunate enough to travel to Bylakuppe to witness Khen Rinpoche’s effort as abbot to complete the temple hall and host his teacher, the events at Tashi Lhunpo were an amazing thing to witness—orchestrated with great attention to detail, beauty, and hospitality. Siddhartha School teachers and graduates joined a group of Siddhartha School Project US supporters in welcoming His Holiness and had dinner with us on December 20th at Sera Monastery.

To an audience of over 15,000 people, during days of teaching on Buddhist philosophy and ethics. His Holiness stressed that in its purest sense, the Buddha’s philosophy teaches us how things exist, and that this wisdom applied with compassion will usher in a more peaceful world. Noting the suffering and violence of contemporary life, His Holiness stressed that peace in our time will only be realized through education:

“However, at present most education is focused on material things, not on the importance of inner values. This is what we need to change. To make this a reality involves incorporating secular ethics, universal values, into education.”-His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Bylakuppe Days: Siddhartha School Project’s Supporters Join Thousands of Pilgrims At Tashi Lhunpo for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Inauguration and Teachings. Photo by Tenzin Choejor,

Martin Luther King and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Need for an Ethical Dimension in Education.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has often honored the legacy of one of his heroes, Martin Luther King, in speeches and commemorative events for the murdered civil rights leader. I love this photograph taken by Margot Davis in the fall of 1995, on the occasion of His Holiness’s visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford. His Holiness echoes King’s call for compassion and a moral dimension as a vital part of education. King believed that education without a moral purpose is ‘like a ship without a compass,’ drifting nowhere.

King wrote passionately about the two-fold function a quality education should perform in a young person’s life and society. “The one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. Education must also train one for quick, resolute, and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda…Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

The moral dimension of education, as emphasized in His Holiness’s the Dalai Lama’s speeches about 21st century education, are in line with what King described as the cultural, character building experience.

“Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race, but also the accumulated experience of social living.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Purpose of Education, 1947

Things that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote decades ago about the purpose of education still sound contemporary, and are part and parcel to the mission of Siddhartha School that His Holiness supports: To give the children of Ladakh, India access to a rich, thoroughly modern education that is in harmony with their heritage, values, and cultural traditions.

The Siddhartha School Project Board, under the direction of Khen Rinpoche, SSP’s founder, and Geshe Tsewang, school director, emphasize the importance in supporting youth in Ladakh and abroad to serve their communities.

Rinpoche has established two fellowship awards for graduating Siddhartha School seniors who are volunteering at the school.

Geshe Tsewang has also emphasized service to students in Ladakh and during his travels abroad. He was invited this past November by NYU’s Vice Provost for Faculty, Humanities, Arts, and Diversity, Professor Ulrich Baer to talk about his personal story and his work at Siddhartha School. Geshe Tsewang told the group that in the monastery, all activities, even eating and sleeping, ‘we do for others,’ meaning ‘we know we must take nurture our bodies and rest our minds daily if we are going to be of any help in the world.’ Likewise, for students who get the good fortune to attend college, he said:

“You have a great opportunity. Don’t merely pursue an education in pursuit of a well paying job, or fame, or because your parents expect it of you. Recognize that this education could make you a better human being by giving you knowledge you can put in the service of making the world a better place for everyone. Solve problems related to hunger, war, climate change, bring real improvements to people less fortunate than yourself.”- Geshe Tsewang Dorje, Siddhartha School Director, in a talk with NYU students

If you would like to volunteer to help the work of Siddhartha School Project stateside, you can email us a letter of inquiry here. Please note that we especially need people with experience in WordPress and video editing software, so people with prior experience in these areas are encouraged to apply for a work at home, volunteer position. If you would like to bring Khen Rinpoche or Geshe Tsewang to speak at your college or university, contact Laura here.

First Computer Classes Held in the New Lab

Sixth grade student writes an essay on a new Siddhartha School laptop.

Thanks to a very generous gift from an anonymous donor for the building and furnishing of the new Siddhartha School computer lab, we are happy to announce that classes were held right before the winter break for grades 5 though 10. Students really enjoyed the new laptops and desktops. Last September the Local Siddhartha School Board arranged for a new, dedicated electricity line. Prior to this, power to the school was primarily solar. With this additional source of power, we do not have to cancel computer classes, for example, if solar power is drained in a given day.

Click on the image above to watch a short clip of kids working in the new lab.

Music Matters: A LAMO-Siddhartha School Project

By Tashi Morup, LAMO Project Coordinator

Note: This piece was published earlier this month in the Ladakh Arts And Media Organization newsletter. We reprint it here to share with you the evolution of this very promising partnership and the value it brings to Siddhartha School students.

Ladakhi music has a rare, special sound, of its own. An amalgamation of many influences, located as Ladakh is on the crossroads of High Asia, it has taken from other cultures but retained its individuality. But as new forms of music and media take over people’s lives, children have far fewer venues to engage with their culture.

Siddhartha School, Stok, is committed to offering their students a sensitive curriculum that honours Ladakh’s rich traditions and way of life, as well as opportunities to explore them. In 2014, the School collaborated with LAMO to work on a unique project of producing a music DVD based on the performances by students of the School. Working with local artists and musicians the students learnt several songs and played instruments such as the daman (kettledrum) and the surna. They also learnt to improvise and combine Ladakhi music with western instruments such as the guitar.

Encouraged by the results of this project, and its appreciation by various supporters, LAMO and Siddhartha decided to work together again in 2015. Through a kickstarter campaign funds were raised to produce a second DVD and partially fund the establishment of a sound studio at LAMO.

This time the students are more engaged and involved with the production of the music DVD, from working on the lyrics to the CD cover, recording, editing and packaging the film. LAMO has worked with the students by providing them basic training in designing CD covers and editing. Tsewang Phuntsog and Rigzin Nurboo, two versatile musicians have also been involved in this project since its inception. Along with the teachers of Siddhartha, led by Principal Norlha Ngodup and his colleague Tenzin Dhasey who were able to bring in professional musicians to teach the students traditional musical instruments. Some of the teaching staff, led by Yangchan Dolma, contributed by teaching the students dances and songs.

In recent months a professional music teacher, Lobsang Dawa, has been appointed. Hence, the forthcoming DVD is a comprehensive teamwork between LAMO staff with students and teachers of Sidddhartha School. Hence, the forthcoming DVD is a comprehensive teamwork between LAMO staff with students and teachers of Sidddhartha School.

The LAMO-Sidddhartha Sound Studio, which will partially open next year as funding is still being sought for its completion, once established will be a facility available to all Ladakhis to explore and record traditional and contemporary forms of music in the region, and disseminate these amongst a wider audience in Ladakh and outside. It will enable students to learn about sound and recording techniques, as well as be a facility dedicated to documenting Ladakhi music and oral traditions so that in the years to come an archive can be built up and housed at the LAMO Centre for future generations of Ladakhis to use.

This partnership between LAMO and Siddhartha School is probably the first of its kind in Ladakh, and has been made possible by the guidance and visionary approach of Khen Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan, Founding Director, Siddhartha Cultural and Welfare Society, and the other Board members. Ultimately, the aim is to widen the scope of arts education in Ladakh where each child can be enriched by their heritage.

In the film LAMO made for the kickstater campaign, Tsewang Dolker, one of the teachers at the School said,

“I’ve found that music is very important for overall growth and development of a child. Our children have great zest and enthusiasm in music. So if they get a platform, if they get a chance to perform their cultural program, their confidence level will rise as well as it will inspire them to do new things.”
– Tsewang Dolker, Siddhartha School Teacher and Music Camp Counselor

Editor’s Note: Tashi Morup, is LAMO’s Programming Director. A man of many talents, he led the video editing workshop for our students in December, and reports that the new DVD will ship out to supporters in February. Copies are being sent to all contributors to our Kickstarter campaign. If you missed this opportunity to support the music program, you can get a copy of this new music DVD for a donation of $20. It is a great way to help the music camp, which is inspiring an explosion of music appreciation and events at Siddhartha School.

Students put on a ‘Junior Idol’ Talent Show Much to the Enjoyment of Parents and the Village Community

Students perform for the entire Stok Village community a ‘Junior Idol’ Talent Show. Click on the image above to watch one of the many performances. More are on our YouTube channel

Before school closed for the winter break the Siddhartha School students held a talent show for Stok and surrounding villages. The school raised funds by collecting donations at the show for the GivingTuesday Matching Gift Campaign for Student Scholarships. It was a grand success, collecting a total of Rs. 71,330 ($3,201 USD with the match ) for the school.

We are thrilled by this show of support for the school by the Stok community for the scholarship fund and the outpouring of support to establish a music program at the school. Sonam Chuskit, a tenth grade student and mistress of ceremonies for the talent show told the large crowd assembled for the event that Siddhartha High students progress everyday. She reminded parents that this is evident ‘not only in our academics, as we are continue to make excellent grades and graduate from Siddhartha with a 100% pass rate on the regents exam,’ but also due to the new music program.

“Thanks to our new music program, we have discovered that many of us have some talent as well. Today’s Junior Idol Show is a showcase of our student talent. It is something new and it never happened in our Siddhartha School’s history. We are providing a stage and time for us to show our different talents in front of our loving parents, so we can make our parents, teachers, and sponsors abroad feel proud us. Nothing would be possible without their support, teaching, and love.”
– Sonam Chuskit, 10th grade student and Junior Idol talent show host

Siddhartha School Project Receives Grant from Educate Girls

In recognition for the work being done at Siddhartha School, the Educate Girls Foundation has awarded SSP a $5,000 grant. We are honored and encouraged by the award given by this important organization. Established in 2007 and based in India, Educate Girls believes that ‘if girls in educationally backward districts are educated now, they will have the potential to enter the formal economy, gain employment, and lift their families out of poverty’ Because of the sustainability and scalability of their model, Educate Girls has grown from a 500-school pilot project in the Pali district of Rajasthan to now serving thousands of schools, reaching millions of children in some of India’s most remote areas.

We are delighted to share the terrific news that Tsewang Chuskit, Siddhartha graduate currently in her final year of high school at Rockland Country Day School in New York, has been accepted with a full scholarship to Smith College. She plans to focus her studies on topics to further her passion for improving the lives of women and girls in Ladakh, especially in the areas of health education and capacity building. As an AnnPower-Vital Voices Fellow last year.

Tsewang Chuskit is especially grateful for the support of the Smith College faculty, staff, and community members for being so supportive and encouraging to her through the application process.

As a 2015 AnnPower-Vital Voices Fellow, Chuskit co-created the Ladakhi Girls Health and Leadership Project with Stanzin Angmo, another Siddhartha graduate currently in the US. Both girls were mentored by Dr. Leslie Jaffe of Smith, Dr. Monisha Ahmed of LAMO, as well as Mr. Bill Kite and Dr, Lahdol Kalon of the Himalayan Health Project.

Stanzin Angmo, now in her senior year at North Yarmouth Academy in Maine, is waiting to hear from colleges. We wish her the very best and are confident she will be graced with a great opportunity. Angmo, (who is graduating with high honors!) just gave her ‘Senior Speech’ at NYA and brought the house down with her story. We look forward to sharing the video, with as soon as it arrives. It is a lovely testament of appreciation to the Siddhartha School community.

January 26th is Republic Day in India: Siddhartha School honors Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Hero and Architect of the Nation’s Constitution

January 26th is Republic Day in India, a very special and important occasion for all the country’s citizens, including Ladakhis, because it honors the date in 1950 on which the Constitution of India became the governing document of the new nation, free from British rule. The Constitution gave the citizens of India the power to choose their own government and paved the way for democracy. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was an architect of the Indian Constitution. He was a well-known politician and an eminent jurist.

Ambedkar’s efforts to eradicate social evils, like untouchablity and caste restrictions, were remarkable. He received a scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York, and was Ambedkar was appointed as the nation’s first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor in 1990.

This portrait of Dr. Ambedkar created by a Siddhartha School student for the Hero Project will travel to Ladakh in August for an exhibition at the Ladakh Arts and Media Center Gallery. We are also working to finalize dates for a Colorado exhibition in April. Details to be announced. Currently Heroes Elevate is looking for opportunities to bring the project to schools and organizations outside India and the USA. If you have suggestions about schools in other countries that might be interested in participating in the project, email Laura here.

In Memorium: Genley Tsering Wangdus, Award Winning Ladakhi Thangka Painter

Gen-ley Tsering Wangdus, a master Ladakhi thangka painter and national treasure has passed away. HIs paintings, frescos and commitment to Tibetan Buddhist art will be sorely missed in Ladakh and among his patrons around the globe.

A hero and mentor to many aspiring Ladakhi artists, I first met Gen-ley when he took me on as a student back in the early nineties, at a time when he was quite busy with professional demands and commissions. I will remember his careful corrections to my pencil drawings of the Buddha’s head, and his gentle smile. Girls weren’t really studying thangka painting then, and I suppose my admittance had more to do with the fact that I was an outsider and that admissions hadn’t realized the name ‘Laura’ was a feminine one until after I arrived. None of this mattered to Gen-ley, who reserved judgement and treated me kindly.

I recall him looking through my Smith art portfolio and good naturally chuckling at my ‘modern art work,’ as he called it, which strived to express some originality and, in my case, failed miserably. He taught me that for the true artist, attention is a devotional practice and life’s work, no matter what style or technique subscribed to.

These photos were snapped during the master’s last project to renovate frescos at Hemis Monastery. We were both surprised and delighted to run into each other at a luncheon there, and reminisced about the old days in Choglamsar at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies(CIBS) where he taught the art of thangka painting. Safe passage, dear Gen-ley, and thank you.

The sketch above was the template Genley drew for me to faithfully copy. A painter of great renowned, Genley was awarded the National Award for Master Craftsman in 1977, as well as India’s most prestigious award, Padmashree, by the President of India in 1999. In 2012 Gen-ley Angdus was yet again awarded with Shilpi Guru Award and in 2014, the State Govt. announced J&K State Award in favor of him as well. He was a legendary artist whose contribution in promotion of Fresco and Thanka painting in Ladakh as well as the entire Himalayan region was unparalleled.

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