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Thursday, 19 September 2019

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A New Campus for the American International School of Jeddah

By Lexi Lee


A New Campus for the American International School of Jeddah
The American International School of Jeddah (AISJ) has quite an interesting history that dates back to 1952. When Saudi Arabian Airlines was developed, a large number of expatriates, many from America and Europe, came to Jeddah for job opportunity. Once settled, the parents saw a need for a formal American education for their children - something that was not available in Jeddah at that time. They came together to create the Parents Cooperative School (PCS) and volunteered, teaching the children using a homeschool curriculum.

Over the next 60 years, PCS continued to grow and undergo changes. In 1957, the villa that was being used as a school building became too small and a small school building was built on the Trans-World Airline (TWA) Compound near the old airport. In 1967, a new campus was built in Al-Ruwais District, not far from the American Embassy. In 1976, a north campus was created and named North Campus School (NCS). In 1985, Saudia Airlines took control of the school and renamed the campus to Saudi Arabian International School (SAIS). In 2001, we saw the first 12th grade graduating class. In 2004, Saudia Airlines decided to no longer sponsor the school, and the name of the school was again changed, this time to the American International School of Jeddah.

The current campus (formerly NCS and built originally as an elementary school) is over 40 years old and has been the home of the AISJ Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 program for the last 15 years. With aging buildings and a growing student population, the time to change campuses has come yet again. In 2018, AISJ will be moving from its current campus to a new, purpose-built, state-of-the-art campus.

Superintendent Monti Hallberg, who taught at this school from 1983-1991 and came back in 2013 as Superintendent, is very excited about the new campus nearing the final stages of construction. He shared that the new campus will feature large courtyards with plenty of natural light, two large library/media centers, a theatre-style auditorium for school performances, two dining halls/food courts, ten science STEM labs, and a modern athletic facilities to include an indoor and outdoor running track, two gymnasiums, three full size basketball courts, a full size soccer pitch, an 8-lane swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, an aerobic room and fitness room. The entire campus has robust wireless coverage and classrooms that are "technology smart" and meet all the requirements for a 21st century American learning experience.

During the initial planning stages of the new campus, administration, staff and students met frequently to share their ideas about what they'd like to see in the new campus. Well-lit classrooms designed with learning centers and group work areas, spacious hallways, more STEM science labs for high school, middle school and upper elementary students, and a dedicated space for student performances were some of the ideas that were discussed in these planning meetings, all of which will be found in the new AISJ campus.

Today, as we begin the second half of our school year, excitement over the opening of the new campus is growing. The countdown is on to July 1st, when we receive the keys to our new school and September 2nd, the first day of the new school year for our students.




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