60 years ago, a little school with a big heart was born in a house near the Alster in Hamburg. The school, which later became the “International School of Hamburg”, had a total enrolment of 50 students from 12 countries. Over the years, the campus moved from its first home, “Timberlake House”, named after U.S. Consul General C.H. Timberlake, to three further locations around the city. Currently the school is located on a spacious campus on Hemmingstedter Weg across from the Botanical Gardens in the Klein Flottbek neighbourhood. ISH now has more than 770 students from 50 nations and 6 continents.
From October 5th to 7th, the school celebrated in style its 60th birthday with exciting events and activities marking the journey our school has taken over the past six decades. The over-arching theme—“ISH: 60 Years of Bringing the World Together”—was reflected in all of the displays and exhibitions, art installations, speeches and events throughout the three days. The goal was to ensure that our celebrations were as student-centred as possible so that the children of ISH—our most important asset--were not merely observers but active and leading participants in the programme.
The Theatre Department recreated a 1950s classroom complete with wooden double desks with lids, a green chalkboard, huge maps hanging on poles and glass display cases with books and school materials from the time period. Students dressed up and acted out scenes from a typical classroom lesson of the time. The 1950s dress-up day on Thursday saw plenty of wide polka-dotted skirts, glamorous Audrey Hepburns, Elvis Presleys and James Deans in white T-shirts and leather jackets.
As part of the focus on making our anniversary celebrations as inclusive of the local community as possible, the Junior School hosted three local public schools: Schule Schulkamp, Schule Goosacker, and Schule Windmühlenweg. The children and teachers collaborated on a full day of music, arts and crafts, with some beautiful displays exhibited around the entrance area for everyone to enjoy.
The various Secondary School departments developed the theme “60 years of bringing the world together” through a number of multi-lingual writing projects, the ISH History Project video and photographic exhibition, and artistic installations.
No school anniversary would be complete without the presence of its alumni. Over 170 former students attended the celebrations, including several that were part of the very first group of children to walk through the doors in 1957. The alumni programme included a tour of the former school sites around the city that once housed ISH, from Timberlake House by the Alster, to the old building on Waitzstraße and finally to the site on Holmbrook in Othmarschen.
On Friday afternoon, five alumni participated in a question and answer session at a special Assembly led by our Student Board Executive. The guests shared their memories of ISH, their subsequent careers, travels and even some sage advice for the next generation of students.
The Alumni events culminated with a buffet dinner in the school cafeteria accompanied by a brass quintet and speeches from past and present members of staff. Our former students left us with a gift of the knowledge that our school has truly been a cradle over the years that nurtured, educated and gave wonderful memories to many who are now scattered around the world. Tetsuya Saika and Konstantin Block, two recent ISH graduates, created an Alumni video in which more than 15 alumni now living all over the world shared remarkably vivid memories of their student years at ISH. Click here to watch the video.
On Saturday, the final day of the anniversary programme, Ms. Neukamm and the PE Department led the ISH Olympics sports activities on the playing field and in the Gym during the afternoon, ably supported by an energetic group of parents.
An evening concert and reception attended by over 500 guests in the Aula and cafeteria on Saturday evening rounded out the anniversary celebrations. The ISH Junior School Choir in collaboration with the choir of Mendelssohnstraße Schule led by Ms. Patterson opened the concert with a Happy Birthday song and the cutting of a gigantic 60th birthday cake. The oldest attending alumna, Elisabeth Jaeger-Booth and the youngest pupil from the Primary 1 class, three year-old Alice T., joined hands in cutting the cake.
Keynote speaker Dr. Sonja Lahnstein-Kandel, an ISH alumna, reflected on her memories of being a student at ISH in the 1960s, and United States Consul General Mr. Richard Yoneoka shared his appreciation of the bonds that continue to exist between ISH and the US community in Hamburg.
Chair of the ISH Board Dr. Anke Frieling, our Head of School, Mr. Andrew Cross and our Student Council leaders, President Ji-Ho Jung and Vice President Timothy Bartlett, addressed the audience and reflected on what the 60th anniversary of ISH means to them. The formal ceremony came to a fitting close with a solo trumpet performance by Giovanni Fattori, Grade 11 student, accompanied by ISH Strings and Die Staatliche Jugendmusikschule Hamburg-West led by conductor, Mr. Konrad von Oldenburg.
In the foyer after the concert, hundreds of delicious cupcakes topped with blue and yellow frosting (the ISH colours) baked by our PTA and volunteer mothers were distributed to the guests.
The very talented band Elephunk, which includes three ISH staff members, performed some wonderful dance tunes in the Aula after the concert. The celebrations could not have been so successful without the vibrant ISH community spirit which resulted in hundreds of volunteer hours being freely given. We are already looking forward to our 75th birthday in 2032!