Saturday, October 23rd:  GISW 60th Anniversary Celebration

The German International School celebrates its 60th birthday

On October 23, 2021, the German International School Washington D.C. (DSW/GISW) celebrated its 60th Anniversary both in-person on the Chateau Drive campus and online through a live YouTube stream. It was a memorable event with notable guest speakers in a formal program followed by a reception.

The Chair of the Board of the German School Society, Dennis Fehr, welcomed everyone to the festivities and reflected on the history of the school. Then Ms. Annegret Jung-Wanders, the new GISW principal, observed that unlike an individual who reaches retirement at the age of 60 and begins to slow down, the school is as dynamic and vibrant as ever, continuing to follow its many long traditions, but constantly innovating new programs. Dr. Emily Haber, the German Ambassador to the United States, recalled her own two years at the German School in the late 1960s and pointed to the school’s transition into an international multicultural, multilingual institution, supported by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ms. Ulla Schmidt, member of German Parliament, stressed the importance of the German Schools Abroad network and engaged with students in a lively discussion about the importance of a multilingual education in today’s world. Using specifics examples, three students (Thomas G., Sarah D., and Julia F.) gave tangible meaning to the school’s guiding principles: “Independent, Bilingual, and Weltoffen.” Alumni speaker, Ms. Carla Minami, who was both a student and a teacher at the GISW, pointed to the many success stories among the graduates of the school and to the worldwide network that alumni enjoy.

Another guest speaker was the mixed-media artist Mr. Michael Pendry, who had recently installed paper doves of peace in the grand nave of Washington National Cathedral and who inspired the 60th Anniversary community art project comprised of colorful doves bearing messages in the GISW aula. He spoke of the enthusiasm shown by the GISW students during the workshops that he had led at the school and of his own belief that art has the role to change and unite society.

Senior Leon L. presented the 60th Anniversary 12th Grade Class Mural which is currently in the process of being painted and will depict on a large canvas the collective ideas of the students surrounding the theme “what it means to be part of the GISW community.”

The program included beautiful and moving musical numbers performed by talented GISW students from grades 6-12.  Simon A., Felix K. and Christian W. all played piano solos. We also had the pleasure of hearing three songs performed by our GISW string ensemble comprised of 10 students (Lourdes R., Charlotte B., Hannah and Sarah D., Cornelius E., Chase H., Kathrina M., Karla and Freya N., and Flora S.) and their teachers (Antje Linnenbrink, Isabelle Hagemann, and Julia Strohbusch.)

At the conclusion of the program, Ms. Annegret Jung-Wanders and Mr. Dennis Fehr recognized many individuals who had devoted time, energy, and talent to making the 60th Anniversary celebration such a success including our student tech team who provided all of the technical support for the event and made it possible for members of our GISW community worldwide to take part via live-stream.

Following the official program, there was a festive reception with a wonderful birthday cake, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks. The walls of the entrance hall displayed large historical photographs of the impressive Chateau Drive buildings when they were first dedicated in 1975. And there was also a large original yellow-and-blue sign with the emblem of the school from that period. Guests enjoyed talking with other alumni, the speakers, and former colleagues. Clearly, those present were proud to be part of the GISW community.

For those interested, you may view a recording of the 60th Anniversary Celebration program via this YouTube link.