The History of ISB
By the end of World War II, Bangkok had a small but growing foreign community. The wife of the pastor of Christ Church played a key role, along with a group of parents, in founding a school for children up to 10 years of age. The United States Embassy offered the use of a building on the embassy grounds—the Japanese occupation forces had used it as an officers’ club. The International Children’s Center (ICC) opened in May, 1951, with 70 students and by 1953 had grown to more than 200 students. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades were added and in 1957, the first graduating class of six seniors received their high school diplomas.
That same year, ICC changed its name to the International School Bangkok and the need for a new school location had become a priority. A girls’ boarding school offered to lease a part of its property to ISB. The new campus, which cost nearly 3 million baht, had only two buildings housing classrooms and a gym. Classes officially began on September 1, 1960, with over 550 students representing 25 nations. Incredibly, before the first year was over, the increasing student body had once more outgrown the facilities. In 1962 and again in 1963, the U.S. Government donated funds to construct additional classroom buildings. These were completed by 1964 and the student population exceeded 1,200. The largest enrollment in the school’s history occurred in 1969 with 3,650 students.
With the ebb of American military involvement in Southeast Asia and the fall of Saigon in 1975, the number of American families living in Bangkok declined. For more than 10 years ISB’s enrollment hovered around 1,200 students until the boom years of the late 1980’s. When Thailand began to emerge as a newly industrialized nation bursting with development and foreign investment, foreign nationals from all over the world came to live and work in Bangkok and enrollment began increasing. In January 1992, the 1,900 students representing 52 nationalities moved to a new campus. Its new home is on Soi Samakee (“samakee” in Thai means “togetherness”).
For more than four decades, ISB has seen many nations, races, religions and cultures coming together to learn. So many people have brought success to ISB – the board members, the administrators, the teachers and most of all, the students.
Prepared by Maile Busby, 2003