Reflecting on how it all started, we’d like to share the following excerpt from our very first yearbook (school year 1968-1969), written by Laurie Zivetz, Student Council President:
“For history’s sake, let us say it began the afternoon of April 18, 1968, at the McNaughton’s home. As Mrs. Zivetz described the prospective school to us, we listened and laughed somewhat skeptically. What we didn’t know is that there had been several previous attempts to organize a school. We just watched and waited as a building was rented and teachers were hired. This time it was more than dubious discussion. And so a dream became a reality.
As students, we were the purpose behind it. We watched from the inside as it was built around us. Our parents built it for us… the Zivetzes, the Smiths, the Coopers, the Hulicks, and countless others.
The American International School of Düsseldorf first opened on Sept. 9, 1968 in five unpainted rooms at the back of the NAAFI Building. The student body of 32 sat in a warm room with sounds of painters and carpenters still echoing through the halls. Mr. Van Buren, our Director, delighted us with the prospects of a school without books, or blackboards, or heat. But we had teachers! Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Russell, Mr. Kristensen, and Mr.Graham wasted no time in putting us to work despite the crude circumstances. Fräulein Dittmann came to teach us German; Mrs. Smith, Music; Mrs. Curwen, Art; Mrs. Cooper, Typing; Frau Naumann, French; and Fräulein Geibel to teach Gym.
The books arrived two months after school began. By this time, we had a small library… about 50 books, two pianos, a few make-shift blackboards, and two portable heaters, although we were to see many cold days before permanent heat was installed. In celebration, we gave our first dance!
At Christmas time, the Student Council, in a joint effort with the American Women’s Club, arranged a Christmas Dance at the 3M Building. With the New Year, came the first rehearsals of THE MIKADO. Prior to this production, Mrs. Merklein had involved a small section of the student body in a dance class, as had Mr. Graham in a basketball team. But Mrs. Smith enlisted the entire student body in the operetta which served to introduce the school to the community.
In February, Mr. and Mrs. Zivetz and Mrs. Tuggle chaperoned a group of students for a Ski Week in Switzerland. There were no broken legs but we all got sun tans.
Our school began a tradition of inter-school athletic competitions when we played the American School of Antwerp in April. We defeated them in basketball, but they were the victors in the girls’ volleyball game. Antwerp extended their hospitality to us for a weekend in May and we won both games.
It is my hope that we have establishes a few precedents during this first year that future classes will choose to follow.”