A little-known fact about International School Bangkok (ISB) and other international schools in Bangkok is that for many decades ISB was pretty much the only game in town. As we’ve seen in this historical overview of the school, ISB was created as the International Children’s Center in 1951, officially became International School Bangkok in 1957, and for much of its very early history was Thailand’s only international school. While RuamRudee International School and Bangkok Patana School were founded in the late 50s and became official international schools under the auspices of the Thai Ministry of Education in the early 1960s, for the first few decades of ISB’s existence, ISB was the international school in Thailand. Today there are upwards of 160 international schools in the Kingdom. Thus, as ISB entered its second decade in Pak Kret, a collective focus was placed on maintaining ISB's position as the premier international school in Thailand, with a drive to modernize and revitalize its 15-year-old campus.
Enhancing Cultural Facilities
Over the years, ISB has done an amazing job of maintaining the beauty of its campus, but that alone was not enough. Beginning in the late 2000s, ISB embarked on a program to enhance its facilities with several additions. The first of these was the ISB Cultural Center. This 5 story building was built to house the majority of ISB’s fine and performing arts classes, while also including a small theater designed to enhance the existing larger facility, the Chevron Theater. In order to be environmentally friendly, this building was created following strict LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, and upon its opening, the ISB Cultural Center was awarded a Gold Certificate by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Following the opening of the Cultural Center, ISB began to improve its athletic facilities by purchasing land adjacent to the school and building an additional air-conditioned gymnasium which also included a gymnastics facility. A 10-lane Olympic-size swimming pool was built that can easily be converted into a 20-lane, 25m swim facility, and an additional tennis facility of 5 courts was added bringing the total to 12 tennis courts. This new Sports Complex was opened in 2013, and with it came the creation of ISB’s first gymnastics program (Panther Gymnastics) along with the expansion of ISB tennis and swimming offerings (Panther Tennis and Panther Swimming). Additionally, the existing track and field facility was refurbished turning it into one of the only IAAF certified Grade I tracks in Thailand. Lastly, the main air-con gym, Rajendra Hall, was redone while the baseball field, better known as Reinsch Field, was outfitted with an artificial infield. ISB’s athletic facilities are world-class and certainly second to none for international schools in Thailand and perhaps in the entire world.
Adding Outdoor Education & Campus
The most recent addition to the ISB list of facilities is the Environmental Wilderness Campus (EWC). The EWC, built on a plot of land located in a beautiful area of Petchaburi, is situated on the banks of a reservoir that is part of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sustainability project. Water conservation is a top priority of the center. It provides ISB with an excellent opportunity to educate students on the need and ways to best preserve and protect these valuable water systems. Aside from the environmental sustainability focus of the center, it is also a place of exploration and research, housing many of ISB's experiential outdoor education programs. Fully equipped with accommodation, classrooms, canteen, swimming pool, boathouse, and more - ISB students get to travel to the EWC for various trips throughout the school year.
Some final additions to the ISB facilities have been the sleekly modern elementary school playgrounds now called Panther Park, Parkour Park, and Sky Park as well as the Gerritz Invention Center. The Invention center was created to provide a space for creativity in the area of design and technology and contains a digital fabrication room, a workshop (plastics, wood, jewelry, metal, sewing), and a robotics room. With these tools at their disposal, working individually or in collaboration with others, ISB students can create or invent anything that they can imagine.
The ISB Panther
In 2012, as part of ISB’s 60th anniversary, the ISB Booster Club undertook a project to have a local artist create a life-size ISB Panther. The Panther has been the school mascot since the late 1950s, so it seemed fitting that a ‘real’ ISB Panther should greet all visitors to the campus. With that, Thai artist Sunchai Kongklom was hired to create the bronze statue that now graces the front of the ISB campus. The original panther had a black patina that was supposed to last forever. But over the course of time, the black color has eroded leaving a greenish shade of weathered bronze. He is incredibly beautiful and a most wonderful addition to the campus that certainly says, “Welcome to the home of the ISB Panthers!”
30 Years in Pak Kret
ISB has now been situated in its Pakkret environs for nearly 30 years. Given that after 30 years on Soi 15 it was time to move, ISB has done an incredible job of making its current campus a state-of-the-art educational institution. International School Bangkok is more than ready for the third decade of the 2000s - with its outstanding educational programs designed to challenge all types of students and its wide variety of co-curricular offerings highlighted by ISB’s membership in IASAS and the community athletics and activities offered by Panther Activities. Here’s what ISB Head of School, Dr. Andrew Davies, has to say about International School Bangkok:
"Through the dedication of many talented people since 1951, the ISB of today is in remarkable shape. Widely recognized as one of the premier international schools in the world, ISB is a model of excellence in the field of international education. Our student body is wonderfully diverse and inclusive with close to 60 nationalities represented. Our faculty consists of caring, committed, capable and creative teachers from across the globe. Our Classified Staff is without parallel in their care, dedication, and ability. Our alumni make us proud in all kinds of endeavours all over the world. All of the major indicators are very positive with excellent IB results, students admitted to exemplary colleges and universities in numerous counties in an array of disciples, healthy reserves and no debt, and world-class facilities. Most importantly, our students are committed to improving the lives of others and making our world a better place.”