New Facilities Bring New Activities
As International School Bangkok (ISB) moved through the 90s, we settled into the Pak Kret campus in Nonthaburi. The beautiful facilities became home to an abundance of athletic, fine and performing arts activities that were not previously possible. These programs became an integral part of the community and would only increase as the years went by with new and exciting offerings on the horizon. Today one merely needs to examine the sports and activities offered via ISB’s Panther Activities office to see how important the move to Pak Kret really was to the school and its community.
The 1990s saw the fostering of community sports programs for students of all ages such as soccer (Northern Bangkok Soccer League), basketball (Northern Bangkok Basketball League) as well as the long-existing baseball and softball program (Bangkok Baseball & Softball Association). Music and dance programs were also made available as after-school programs to enhance the school’s fine & performing arts.
Community Service in Pak Kret
One activity that has become an integral part of the ISB community service program is what was then called the Special Olympics. The brainchild of community service leader Chris Tananone, the event first took place in early 1997. Chris was ably assisted by math teacher Cameron Macky, who had experienced such programs while a student at Stanford University. That very first year, ISB invited children with multiple disabilities from a Pak Kret-based sanctuary foundation called Baan Nonthaphum for a day of outdoor activities.
In 1998 the event expanded as the ISB Varsity Council became involved - with over 100 ISB High School students assisting and over 50 children attending from Baan Nonthaphum. A number of fun outdoor events took place followed by sessions in the computer lab for some and in the swimming pool for others. A lunch and awards presentation concluded the event (each participant received an award, of course!). While the name has been changed a few times, Junior Special Olympics is, indeed, a special part of the ISB school calendar, one that many consider being the best day of the year.
Celebrating 50 Years of ISB
Entering the next century, the 2001-2002 school year was momentous as ISB celebrated its 50th anniversary with a multiple-day celebration in January of 2002. Organized by ISB’s former Activities Director, the amazing Freda Williams, guests and alumni from around the globe converged on ISB for a number of special events. These included an opening cocktail at the event hotel sponsored by ISB alumni, Bill and Kathy Heinecke, a special opening ceremony at the new campus followed by an alumni basketball game, a Friday evening outdoor dinner, a sock hop in the gym at the old Soi 15 campus, and a gala dinner and show at the event hotel. Throughout the four days of the celebration, one could feel the love that each of the hundreds of participants have for the time they spent at International School Bangkok.
Tragedy Inspires Outreach
On Boxing Day in 2004, the world was brought to its collective knees by a devastating tsunami that resulted from a large undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean. Amongst the hardest-hit places in the world was a beautiful beach resort in southern Thailand called Khao Lak. As it was the holiday break for the ISB community, many ISB community members and teachers were in the region with their families. Sadly, the family of ISB teacher Petro Berkhout and his wife Karin were caught in the resulting wave, and their young twins, Maria and Job, tragically lost their lives.
Since that time, ISB founded an organization called After The Wave, an organization to honor the lives of Maria and Job by attempting to assist the thousands of disadvantaged families as a result of the tsunami. The foundation has grown and transformed over the years, moving from supporting children and schools in the Andaman area to now working with communities closer to home, in the area surrounding our Environmental Wilderness Campus (EWC) in Phetchaburi province. The charitable organization is a registered Thai foundation and is, after nearly two decades, still maintained by students, faculty, and staff at ISB who work closely with community leaders and local schools.
While the move to the northern suburb of Bangkok seemed like yesterday, as ISB reached the last half of the first decade of the 2000s, the school had been at the ‘new’ campus for some 15 years. Please watch this space for our next blog as ISB enters its second decade in Pakkret - expanding and modernizing its already amazing facility.