International School of Choueifat – Choueifat
Fondly known as the “SABIS® Mother School,” the International School of Choueifat in Choueifat, Lebanon, is celebrating a major milestone this year: its 130th anniversary! As the oldest school in the global SABIS® Network, ISC-Choueifat is where the story of SABIS® begins.
The story of the International School of Choueifat begins in 1886. Founded by Tanios Saad and Louisa Proctor, the school was originally a school for girls set up in an abandoned silk factory in the village of Choueifat, Lebanon. At a time when village girls had little or no access to education outside the home, the village surprisingly embraced this revolutionary idea. In 1888, the school began to accept boys from the village in response to demand from the surrounding communities.
In 1942, Tanios Saad was ready to pass the torch to his son, Charles Saad. Imbued with a passion for education, like his father, Charles took the school to new heights. Soon after, in 1945, Charles Saad married Leila Baddoura, who became the head mistress of the school. In 1954, Ralph Bistany joined the school, initially as a mathematics and physics teacher, completing the trifecta that would lead the school for the next 27 years.
Despite two world wars, political turmoil, foreign invasion, and the loss of Charles Saad in 1981, the International School of Choueifat persevered, grew, and prospered, continuing on its mission to provide an outstanding education and help all students achieve their full potential.
Today, ISC-Choueifat welcomes close to 1,600 students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 on its picturesque, original campus nestled in the pine hills of Choueifat. In addition to providing a solid academic education that prepares students for success in college and beyond, ISC-Choueifat also offers students a rich array of activities, clubs, and sports that enriches and enhances their school life.
Throughout its long history, ISC-Choueifat has built a successful track record and a reputation for excellence. ISC-Choueifat students have become known for having a solid academic foundation and the essential life skills needed to achieve success. Students are encouraged to take an active interest in their education as well as the education of their peers and are motivated to exceed their own expectations. “ISC-Choueifat has made me aware of my abilities, leading me to challenge myself and exceed my boundaries,” stated a current Grade 11 student.
The results of ISC-Choueifat students on external examinations are testament to the high-quality education being delivered at the school. Over the past six academic years, 50% of students received an “Honorable” mention on the Lebanese Baccalaureate exams. Additionally, over 75% of students achieved a 4 or 5 in Advanced Placement® (AP®) exams and 95% of students received an A or B on British-based external examinations including IGCSEs and A Levels.
ISC-Choueifat students also have a long track record of excelling on SAT exams, a standardized test that plays a pivotal role in acceptance to many leading U.S. and international universities. This year, an ISC-Choueifat student joined 0.04% of students worldwide to receive a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT I.
Equipped with a solid education and outstanding performance on external exams, ISC-Choueifat students gain acceptance to leading universities in Lebanon and around the world. This year alone, ISC-Choueifat graduates have been accepted to The American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Yale University (U.S.), Cornell University (U.S.), The University of Oxford (U.K.), and Parsons School of Design (U.S.), among others.
Student Life at ISC-Choueifat
ISC-Choueifat students enjoy an extremely active life at school. There are many clubs available that offer students countless opportunities to learn, discover, create, and have fun! ISC-Choueifat clubs include reading, drama, art, poetry, debate, French, Spanish, creative writing, debate, public speaking, Big Brother/Big Sister, Rubik’s cube, and chess.
Through the SABIS Student Life Organization® (SLO®), students also engage in numerous outreach and social responsibility projects, which encourage them to empathize with those who are less fortunate than themselves and help them develop a commitment to giving back to their community.
Community service initiatives were implemented at all levels of the school in the 2016-17 academic year. ISC Grade 10 SLO® prefects visited a local public school, where they set up a new library for the school and donated over 400 books. They also spent time repairing the playground and painting its walls with multiple colors. ISC SLO® prefects in the Lower School Department taught first, second, and third graders the importance of giving back by helping the younger children design creative hats, which they donated to children in the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon. ISC Grade 11 SLO® Outreach prefects visited the elderly people in the “Hamlin Nursing Home,” where they spent the day getting to know some of the residents and appreciating their wisdom and life experiences.
In line with the school’s commitment of developing students’ respect and love for nature and the environment, the school organized a “Green Apple Day of Service” on October 10, 2015. The event involved the entire student body which enjoyed activities such as planting a vertical garden and presentations from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) qualified engineers and professionals on water treatment and garbage landfills. At the end of the day, the students distributed bracelets to remind everyone of the ISC-Choueifat commitment to being eco-friendly and to working toward a sustainable community!
Through SLO®, ISC-Choueifat students also have exciting opportunities to express themselves artistically. The Poetry Night, which was held in February 2016, the Junior Talent Show and the Art Fair held in April 2016, as well as the stunning dance performance at the UNESCO Palace-Beirut were wonderful showcases for the students’ many talents!
This year, the school launched an anti-bullying awareness campaign, raising the awareness about the negative impact of bullying and how to create a welcoming and all-inclusive school environment for all. The SLO® also held a school-wide reading campaign, encouraging students of all ages to share their favorite book with their friends.
On an academic level, SLO® at ISC-Choueifat encourages and supports students academically through study groups, peer tutoring, and the Shadow Teacher® program in which students work a week ahead of their classmates and prepare to deliver lessons.
The sports program at ISC-Choueifat is an extremely rich and varied program that ensures students develop a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. There are numerous sports that encourage students to get active including basketball, soccer, street ball, handball, volleyball, track and field, badminton, and gymnastics.
Over its long history, ISC-Choueifat has been a perennial winner of national sports championships. This year, the ISC-Choueifat team won first place in the Lebanese championship for “Kids Athletics.” The school’s track and field team won 5 gold, 8 silver, and 2 bronze medals in the Lebanese championship for track and field. The girls’ junior basketball team won the Lebanese Championship, and the girls’ senior basketball team won second place in the Lebanese Championship for Schools. In gymnastics, the ISC-Choueifat school team brought home 1 gold medal, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal in the Lebanese Championship for Gymnastics. The varsity soccer team won the Lebanese Championship for Schools. The senior varsity team for street ball won 1st place and the junior varsity street ball team won 2nd place in the Lebanese Championships.
ISC-Choueifat Alumni Association (ISCAA)
The bonds that are created between students and their school last long after graduation day. In fact, over the years, ISC-Choueifat alumni have maintained a close-knit community that brings together generations of graduates. Their slogan “linking generations” reflects their mission.
To celebrate the 130th anniversary of ISC-Choueifat, the newly elected ISCAA Board hosted a “Back to School” fundraising dinner at the Le-Maillon restaurant at Sofil Center in Beirut, Lebanon, on the April 20, 2016. Over a three-course meal that was complemented by music, alumni from different generations gathered to catch up with old friends and reminisce about their school years. Throughout the event, the alumni were introduced to the members of the new ISCAA Board.
Toward the end of the event, alumni were invited to participate in a draw in order to raise funds which, along with gifts from several generous donors, will be used to support the first ISCAA scholarship program. This new program, which was announced during the event, will allow students to benefit from scholarships in the upcoming academic year 2016-2017.
130th Anniversary Celebrations
To mark the occasion of the school’s 130th anniversary, several events and celebrations have taken place throughout the year. On October 16, 2015, ISC-Choueifat celebrated “Founders’ Day” with a ceremony held at the school that included speeches, musical performances by the school band, a buffet, and a lively performance of the “Dabke,” a traditional Lebanese dance.
On March 18, 2016, ISC-Choueifat held a gala dinner for teachers hosted by the SABIS® Co-founders, Leila Saad and Ralph Bistany. The evening’s celebrations included speeches, live entertainment including staff performances, a documentary celebrating the school’s rich history and achievements, and a cake cutting ceremony. There were also awards given out to 35 ISC-Choueifat employees with 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service.
Today, 130 years after opening, ISC-Choueifat stands as a symbol of pride for SABIS® and a symbol of promise for Lebanon. Generations of students have received a high-quality education at the school and built a solid foundation of skills to help ensure their future success. And backed by SABIS®’s enduring commitment to make a difference in the world through education, the International School of Choueifat will continue to empower students for generations to come.
For more information about ISC-Choueifat, visit iscchoueifat.sabis.net. You can also follow them on facebook.com/The International School of Choueifat – Choueifat.