When I look back to the people, places and events that have shaped who I am today, my middle/high school experience is always one of the first things that comes to mind. Towards the end of elementary school, there was talk a of a new school in my area which was being started by a group of passionate teachers and parents. It was a public school, but a choice school. It was something different and so I went. The school was built upon a core curriculum and a brilliant group of teachers rather than necessity or location. The early years were interesting to say the least. My first day of middle school was the first day the school existed. The school district didn't have a real place to put us so our 'school' was a collection of portables on the campus of a nearby high school (a few years later we got a real building much closer to home). We did not have school buses so we bused in on the public bus for nearly 45 minutes each day. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't comfortable and it was somewhat chaotic. Many people left.
In many ways the International Community School was a bit of a gamble in the early years, we made it up as we went along. We defined our identity, who we wanted to be. We picked our motto, our mascot, our colors. We made the groups, the clubs, the student body. I vividly remember sitting in an ASB meeting with a group of students trying to decide on the finalists for our mascot. The Firebird (black, red, gold) or the Cheshire Cat (purple and white). We were 12. Thank god we went with the Firebird, "Forever we rise".
As we grew, the school grew. We started as 7th and 8th graders mixed together in six classes which made up the core curriculum for the six years: humanities, math, spanish, art, international studies and science. Each year, one more grade was added until the first class graduated in 2002. My class graduated in 2003.
Although all of us have gone our separate ways in the world I love this group like they are family, because they are. When you go through an experience like this, you are family at the end of it whether you want to be or not. To this day, I consider this group some of the smartest, most clever, forward thinking and without a doubt stubborn people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
This year, ICS got a brand new state-of-the-art building which I visited for the first time yesterday. To say I was full of pride would be an understatement.
This week ICS was ranked the #13 High School in the country by the US News & World Report.
Forever we rise.