Al mashriq - The Levant

18th Draft - September, 1998


compiled by The ACS Staff

with contributions from:

Margaret Bliss Leavitt '11 Lois Glessner Adam '50
Archie Crawford '18 A. Douglass Brice '53
H. Huntingon Bliss '21 Monroe Pastermack '53
Harold Dorman '22 William Tracy '53
Belle Dorman Rugh '25 Conrad Smith '55
Dorothy Merrill Dorman '29 Sally Parmelee Young '58
Grace Dodge Guthrie '32 Jonathan G. Stacey '61
Kenneth L. Crose '34 Linda Handschin Sheppard '68
Edward Nicol '34 Melanie Brechtel '72
Ivy (Gorkiewicz) Compton-Bishop '35 Cynthia Soghikian Wolfe '72
Donald Byerly '36 Constance Scott Walker '76
Elizabeth Kuenzler Marshall '36 Catherine C. Bashshur (Fac)
Elizabeth Witherspoon '37 Curtis Strong (Fac)
Anne Byerly Moore '40 Elsa Turmelle (Fac)
Patience Sutton Hajj '46 W. Robert Usellis (Fac)
Thomas H. Ball '49

edited by Jonathan G. Stacey '61

© 1997 by the Alumni Association of the American Community School at Beirut, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Much of this history is drawn from the ACS archives, but certain lengthy contributions covering the earlier days of the school were provided by various ACSers to us in the 1991 - 1994 time frame. Where appropriate, those contributions are specifically credited within the text. Portions of this history were previously published in the Diaspora Potrezebie, the quarterly newsletter of the Alumni Association of the American Community School (AA/ACS) at Beirut. The majority of the anecdotal contributions to this history are drawn from alumni who are unabashedly fond and proud of their school, so some bias is apparent.

In mid-1992, Linda Handschin Sheppard '68, then Secretary of the AA/ACS, wrote to all attendees and graduates from the 1915-1949 years, asking for comments on the history in its then incomplete form. As a result, inputs were provided by Belle Dorman Rugh '25, Grace Dodge Guthrie '32, Kenneth L. Crose '34, Donald Byerly '36, Betty Witherspoon '37 and Anne Byerly Moore '40.

We acknowledge with special thanks the permission we received from the following ACSers to either extract from or reprint portions of their publications:

  • Lebanon's Child, Anne Byerly Moore '40, 1990.
  • Legacy to Lebanon, Grace Dodge Guthrie '32, 1984.
  • My Life in Lebanon, Betty Witherspoon '37, 1992.

Finally, our heartfelt thanks to the ACS Staff and Ms. Catherine C. Bashshur, Head of School at ACS from 1984 to the time this history is written, for their efforts in combing through the ACS files and archives to help us make this history as complete as possible.

- Jonathan G. Stacey '61, Editor

The History of the American Community School at Beirut

In the early days of the 20th century many of the American families of the University of Beirut [the Syrian Protestant College (S.P.C.), as it was then] and of the American Presbyterian Mission used to have governesses for their children, bringing young women out from the United States or England, or engaging them locally.

As the overseas faculty of the S.P.C. increased and there were more children to be educated, the parents felt more and more the need for a school where their children could receive good preparation for their entrance to American colleges. Therefore, in 1905 "an informal meeting was held at Dr. Moore's1 after the prayer meeting Monday, March 27. Plans were discussed and a committee of three appointed: Professor West2, Dr. Moore, and Mrs. Bliss3, to draw up a schedule and make inquiries as to house, prices, etc., to present before the meeting as a whole." (From Faculty School Records, Vol. 1, page 1). On Friday, April 14, 1905, the committee of three met at Marquand House. Professor West took charge of the drawing up of a curriculum and a list of textbooks. Dr. Moore was to make inquiries regarding the Boghossian house, and Mrs. Bliss was to act as Secretary. On June 5, 1905, a general or town meeting was held at Marquand House at which a report on classes, grades and textbooks was presented. This report recommended that "the lower classes follow as closely as may be, the course of study of American Public Schools." The curriculum included the conventional subjects -- English, mathematics, geography, history, elementary science, with French begun in Grade 4, Latin in Grade 6, later changed to Grade 10. It was recorded in the minutes that "it is also desirable that there be regular instruction in singing and calisthenics."

The first floor of the Boghossian house (the present doctors' clinic in the first floor of the Dorman house) was secured, and teachers engaged. Mlle. Clemence Imer from Switzerland agreed to come as French teacher; Miss Winifred Thornton, who had been the governess of the Bliss children, was to act as principal; and when she was home in England on furlough she secured a third teacher, Miss Kathleen Friend. After Dr. Moore had drawn up a financial statement it was estimated that the tuition of one full unit pupil would be about 16 pounds sterling, or nearly $80.00. The Faculty School opened on Monday, October 23, 1905, with eighteen pupils and three teachers. By the following year attendance had increased to twenty-one, and 1907-08 it was thirty-one, with the peak in 1910-11 with thirty-three, though in 1911 the attendance had dropped to twenty-four. During one of the years of World War I, when full-time teachers were hard to get and they had to depend on part-time teachers, there was a proportion of one teacher to every three pupils.

As early as April, 1906, inquiries were being made as to the possibility of boarding accommodations at the School. Dr. Terrance of Tiberias was very anxious for his three children to come to the school. A town meeting, however, decided that such a plan was not feasible. Pupils from out of town were boarded with Beirut families, as were also the overseas teachers.

The School Committee in December, 1907, decided to appoint sub-committees, one for curriculum, to determine studies, number of grades, graduation requirements and grade of teachers. Another subcommittee was appointed for linguistics, and one for site and buildings to act on personnel and the Boarding School Department. The principle of having alternate classes was adopted and continued until the number of students made it possible to provide an entering class each year.

In 1908 the school moved to the Personnel House of the S.P.C. Hospital, a building not in use at that time. Later on, it became the X-Ray Therapy Department of the Hospital. In a school meeting on June 5, 1917, there was discussion about possible retrenchment. War conditions had made the future of the school uncertain, and the Association members were worried about the financial commitments in case the school had to be closed. But a number of the parents and others in the community volunteered their services to help out, and the school was able to continue.4

By 1920, as the hospital needed its Personnel House, a one-story building in Ras Beirut was secured, consisting of a few rooms. To this a court and two rooms were added, and on Friday, November 5, 1920, the new school building was formally opened with special exercises and tree planting.

About this time a communication from the American Presbyterian mission suggested that the Faculty School Association be reorganized and that the Mission join with the College in the management and financial responsibility of the Faculty School. On January 19, 1921, a joint meeting of the Faculty School Executive Committee and the Committee appointed by the Syria Mission met to consider plans for the school. Professor Hall had prepared a tentative constitution which was discussed and amended. This constitution was submitted separately to the Syria Mission and to the Faculty School Town Meeting and was accepted by both bodies. The name of the school was changed from Faculty School to the American Community School, and a boarding department was planned for. The minutes read, "Here endeth the records of the Faculty School."

So much for the bare chronology of events in the founding and history of the Faculty School. This is in no sense a comparison of the "good old days" with modern times, but it is interesting to note changes and new emphases as well as points of similarity. As was mentioned, the program consisted mainly of the 3 R's, with a few extra subjects. In spite of the motion mentioned previously, music was not taught until after 1909, though pupils learned some French songs. There were no Boy or Girl Scout troops and no school athletics, other than drill. The boys organized their own football team. In the spring of 1907 there were twelve boys in the School, and eleven of them on the soccer team. That year they played the S.P.C. Junior Department, losing one game and winning one. During the latter, one of the goals was shot by a six-year-old member of the Faculty School team, Frank West5. About half the members of that particular soccer team were later members of the varsity of their respective colleges. Two of them, Harold Hoskins and Jack West6, were captains. Field Days were organized by the children themselves, though given encouragement and support by the teachers, and in the early days, they were run off at Marquand House.

Since almost all the extra-curricular activities were in the hands of the pupils, they were able to develop outside interests on their own. There were hours spent at the sea, wading in the pools, catching fish and other sea creatures, whole afternoons in the summer, "fossilizing" or studying bees or ants and becoming acquainted with the flora of the country. Prizes used to be given for summer projects. The Faculty School Committee, in minutes of their meeting of July 2, 1907, "approved of certificates of merit when the standing of pupils was above 80 or 80%. It was suggested that the parents visit the school more frequently and keep in closer touch with the teachers and their work."

At one point, apparently, the parents felt that the school work should be improved -- from the minutes, "Owing to a crowding of subjects or over-pressure of work, or other causes the scholars were not doing as thorough work as they should." Later, a thirteen-year course was voted (June 11, 1912), because of the desirability of getting more modern languages and because of the shortened school year, due to the climate. Two suggestions at a certain town meeting were that the French, especially in the lower grades, be taught less rapidly, and that in mathematics only American textbooks be used. During the war, when communication with the United States was very difficult, the minutes of October 11, 1916, reported: "In view of the fact that there are not enough American History textbooks for Grade 8 it was approved by the Committee that prizes be given at the end of the year for the best note book." As far back as March 7, 1917, mention is made of criticism from some parents that the children were giving too much extra time to the preparation for Parents' Day. (This feeling apparently seems chronic.)

There is much more that one could tell about the early days -- the mechanical gestures and intoning of the French poems taught by a very conservative teacher, the pieces of bread and chocolate handed out by an elderly French teacher who felt in need of nourishment herself, and therefore kindly shared it with the pupils, the reciting of Bible verses at prayers each morning, the taking of places in the class line each week according to the marks received. In the early days of the school, demerits, called order marks, were given for unsatisfactory conduct. One of the teachers, Miss Wilson, who wore glasses, was writing at the board one day, with her back turned to the class. She continued her writing and said, "Leonard Moore7, one order mark." Leonard had not reckoned on the reflection in her glasses, which showed exactly what silent capers he was cutting behind her back. (Hopes that the chronicling of this incident will not be the basis for a libel suit!) Another legend is the time Forrest Crawford8 in first grade was reciting unusually well in arithmetic class. When the teacher congratulated him on his surprising ability, he replied: "I can always do well in these pants."

To parody Daniel Webster in his famous Dartmouth College case, "It was a little school, but there were those of us who loved her."

Beirut, Lebanon, September, 1949.

[The foregoing was written by Margaret Bliss Leavitt '11 (Mrs. Leslie Leavitt), who had the honor of being the first to graduate from the Faculty School].

In his recollections of the old Faculty School of the "Good Old Days," Mr. Archie Crawford '18 gives us these intimate glimpses of the Old Faculty School:

"For a number of years a beginning class was formed only in alternate years. The class ahead included Dan Bliss '16, Leonard Moore, Marjorie Webster9, John West. My brother Forrest entered two years after me, with Amy Moore, Norman Joly, Ralph Patch10, Henry Day, etc.

"For one year I went to school in the ground floor of the Dorman House (where now there is the Idriss Building, on the corner of Bliss and Abdul-Aziz streets). Then we moved to a one-story old house, on the hospital grounds corner opposite the present Faculty Apartment House, which later was home for overseas nurses, and later the hospital maids. The building was torn down when the underground parking lot was begun.

"I think in 1922, with a gift from Mrs. Howard Bliss, the building on Artois Street (about 75 meters east of the Khalidy Hospital) was acquired or purchased. There was a big yard on the north reaching to the little Khalidy Street. The little dirty lane, muddy and pools of water, and a cactus hedge on the north, was the present hospital road. People used to throw garbage and dead cats there, and we called it "Stink Lane."

"We had no science courses whatsoever. One year my program included only English, French, German, Latin and Greek (math too?). During World War I, the school shrank. One year my class included only myself and my cousin Frank West.

"In April, 1917, the U.S. entered the war, but only broke relations with Turkey. The Turkish Wali of Beirut, Asmi Bey, closed S.P.C. (and I presume ACS closed too) for two weeks, until our Ambassador in Istanbul got the government in Istanbul to approve its re-opening.

"We used to play in the yard extending north to the Eye (later Medical) Pavilion. I remember once we were throwing knives to try to stick them in a big fig tree trunk, and Gus Freyer threw his knife too hard so that it bounced back and stuck itself in his calf. That finished that game for us! We asked to have a big skipping rope, and one day I was coming down when Frank was coming up, and his head hit my mouth and broke off half of my upper front tooth; I think the missing piece is still in his skull.

"We boys used to play in the Marquand House garden, and Dr. Moore's house, later the American Embassy, and our house out beyond the old tram line. It's a dilapidated house now, but with two stories and a yard all around. We used to have a kind of annual Field Day in the Marquand tennis courts and we boys cast little medals of lead in some soft white stone like the "Malta stone"11 Dr. Jessup used to carve the models of the first set of S.P.C. buildings, set on an artificial hill, with little trees, etc. The medals were sewn to ribbons, and we carved the event on the back of each medal. We used to go swimming, with at least one man and one lady, to the Staff Cove (now the swimming place, just south of the Medical Cove (now Long Beach) and the Prep Cove (now Bain Militaire). The Staff Cove was used for many years by S.P.C. and AUB for their Annual Swimming Contests."

[The following is extracted from Legacy to Lebanon (1986) by Grace Dodge Guthrie '32, who was a student at ACS].

"Our school had no more than forty of fifty pupils of all ages. In eleventh grade my best friend and I were the only students. At recess we relished the danger of walking on top of the six-inch wide school wall. Once I fell off the highest point over a gateway and had to be sent home with an earache. All the students played Prisoner's Base or skipped over a long rope turned by two older boys. The girls hopscotched in a shady corner of the yard, kicking a piece of marble. A fig tree beckoned us to climb its spreading branches.

"One year an unpleasant French lady taught us embroidery. She used to bring her Russian wolfhound into the classroom. He made puddles on the floor. One day after school a couple of teachers decided to clean out a large closet placed high up on the wall of this room. One of them climbed a ladder and started to throw old rugs out. As they hit the floor, hundreds of bloated cockroaches scuttled in all directions. What an uproar!

"One of my earliest recollections of school is the day when, in a temper, I slapped the head of a schoolmate, Cathy Nicol, during recess. The incident had already slipped my memory when the principal opened the door of my classroom and called my name. I felt so ashamed as she led me by the hand through the small auditorium used as a study hall, that when I saw Cathy lying on a couch in the dark hallway, I thought she was dying. Hardest of all was being ordered to apologize to her. That pretty well cured me of hitting others.

"Our favorite was the French teacher, Olga Holenkoff. During the Russian Revolution she had escaped with her young husband Georges through the back gate of their garden in Russia. They suffered many hardships on the long trek south and finally settled in the White Russian colony in Beirut. Extraordinarily charming and patrician, with the figure and carriage of a dancer, she was a great lover of life and people. She enlivened her classes with fascinating true stories of her childhood in the Urals, constantly admonishing us to speak only French. Although she was lax in grammar, she taught us all to speak the French language. Every spring she took all her students on a glorious 'French picnic' in the country.

"Besides providing excellent groundwork in the basic subjects, our teachers made time for everyone to act, sing and work on crafts projects. One of my early teachers showed us how to stamp the blue Greek Key design on unbleached cotton curtains for our classroom. She also taught us how to make papyrus, soap, and dipped candles. I can't recall any of the pupils not enjoying school. Most of us adjusted easily to American schools and colleges afterwards."12

[The following was written in October 1992 by Kenneth L. Crose '34 who was a student, and later a teacher, at ACS].

Data for the relative student size of ACS during the periods mentioned below has been obtained by comparing the number of students and faculty shown in the several school pictures which I have in my possession. The number is approximate as some pupils or teachers might have been absent on the day the picture was taken:

    1924-25     43 pupils       9 teachers
    1925-26     30 pupils       3 teachers
    1928-29     44 pupils       6 teachers
    1929-30     36 pupils       5 teachers
    1931-32     52 pupils       6 teachers
    1932-33     65 pupils       8 teachers
    1933-34     69 pupils       11 teachers
    1941-42     29 pupils       7 teachers
    1942-43     26 pupils       0 teachers

When our family arrived in Beirut at the end of the summer of 1923, we settled into the ground floor of a house on the northwest intersection of Rue Jeanne d'Arc and Shari'a Sidani. The second building from the corner was the home of ACS during all the time I was acquainted with the school from 1923 to 1944. The property extended between Shari'a Sidani and Shari'a Khalidi. The building was a three-story one extending along the south portion of the property. The gate from Shari'a Sidani was the one the day students and the boarding students used. The gate opening on to Shari'a Khalidi was not used during my first few years as a student. Later it was to be the only entrance for the day students. The school yard between the building and the north wall was of dirt with a large fig tree at the north end and several bushes including a pomegranate on the west side.

The building crowded to the walls on the east and west. On the west there was only a foot or two of room where we kids could squeeze through if we were chasing each other. This was blocked for a while by a castor tree which would explode its pods and shoot beautiful red and black beans through the windows of the classroom on the northwest corner. The gate at the east end of the south wall opened onto a walkway which ran along the east side of the building to the playground. The entire property was surrounded by a sandstone wall some six feet high. It did not have jagged glass inserted along the top as some walls in the area had. The top was flattish sandstone blocks and cement mortar and at times we kids would play tag running around along the top! I do not recall anyone falling off and breaking bones, but I do know that in time we were forbidden to enjoy this game. The stairs to the dormitory began at the corner near that north gate, went halfway up to the second floor on the outside, and then through a door and up the second half into the second floor hallway. To the left was first the kitchen, then the dining room, and then the Dorm Mother's room. Across from her room in the northwest corner was a large living room for the boarding house family. On the north side of the hall, stairs went up to the third floor which had residence rooms. In the ground floor was the school. We entered the building on the north side of the northeast corner onto what might be a room except it did not have a north wall. This made a good place for plays and other activities to take place. At the time there were only enough students for alternate grades. The two younger grades had the first two rooms on the south side of the east-west hallway. In the center of the building was the usual Dar which extended from the south to the north wall. It was converted into a study hall/assembly hall. Opening off this were two rooms used as classrooms for the upper grades.

As enrollment grew, an addition was made to add classrooms and dorm rooms. The exact year when this was done I do not know, but it was in the late twenties, for the 1929-30 school picture was taken against the ell's west wall. Also, I remember having General Science in the room which was created out of the old entrance area when the new wing was added. A hall on the west side of the wing gave access to the three new classrooms. This wing made the building into an L- shape. The ell had only two stories of rooms while the third story was covered with a tile roof, but open on three sides. It was used for drying the washing and recreation for the boarders. The second story had rooms for boarders and teachers. The reasons I have gone in to detail about the building is to back up the conclusion that the more than two decades with which I was associated with ACS I knew it to have a boarding department. I can recall names of students from Palestine, Turkey, Cyprus, northern Syria, and even surrounding villages like Suq al-Gharb and Brumanna. Another addition was made also about this time. In memory of Kenneth Close, who died at an early age, Professor and Mrs. Close had a cement-floored, roofed-over recreation area constructed just northwest of the steps which led down from the study hall.

Just before 1930 a stage was added. The south wall of the study hall was knocked out and an addition extended toward the south wall of the yard. In this the stage was built. Edward Nicol '34 reminisces how his father had designed and overseen the building of this addition. One reward was that Edward was the first to use the trap door built into center stage. During the play he rose out of this opening as an Indian chief to the singing of Betty Byerly '32. This stage also had many memories for me. I was always the curtain opener and stagehand, but never had a chance to act. As to the education we received, I am very grateful. True, we may not have had Band, Choral Club or Industrial Arts, but we certainly graduated well-versed in English, Literature, Mathematics, Science, History and French. This created an excellent background for my climb up the graduate study ladder to a Ph.D. in Islamics from Hartford Seminary Foundation. Over my years of teaching it has given me a very broad foundation from which to relate my courses.

To this excellent academic program, we also had a well- balanced, non-academic experience during the last period on Friday afternoons and after school hours.

The last period on Friday afternoon was our Assembly period when we would all meet in the central study hall. I recall well some of the visiting speakers we had. Paul Siple thrilled us when he spoke about his experience as a Boy Scout with Admiral Byrd on Antarctica. Gerald Dorman '21 spoke of his medical experience working with a doctor along the coasts of Labrador. An archaeologist told us about his work with the team digging at Ras Shamra (Ugarit) after it had been discovered in 1928 by a Syrian peasant farmer plowing his fields. We were continually enriched by the many significant personages who would pass through Beirut.

There were occasional music appreciation sessions on Friday. We would all gather around the large cabinet gramophone which was to the left of the stage and be exposed to the classical music of Europe. At times we played guessing games to see who could be first to identify selected themes from the masters. This introduction to Western classical music was greatly enhanced by attending performances of the symphony orchestra in West Hall at AUB which was directed by Mr. Kouguell. We ACS students would meet at the old Main Gate and go as a group. I think our tickets cost five piasters (25 cents at that time) each.

During that last period on Fridays we also had group singing using The Grey Book of Favorite Songs. Each year the whole student body would sing at the American Community Thanksgiving Service usually held in the AUB chapel. The American Consul would read the President's Proclamation and we would sing "We Gather Together" in four part harmony. How grown up I felt when I was moved to the tenor section!

Physical education was scheduled after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the winter months the P.E. classes always began with calisthenics followed by basketball, soccer or track and field, whichever was in season.

In the Fall and Spring, weather permitting, we had swimming. Before AUB built its waterfront across the Corniche from the athletic field, we would swim in what we called Staff Cove, which was just north of the Pigeon Rocks. There were two prerequisites necessary for this activity -- a volunteer mother for a chaperone and two staffites (American male, short term teachers at AUB and the Prep School) as lifeguards. We all met outside Staff Gate and walked to the cove. On the south side of the cove the rocks were high enough for the chaperone to take the girls for changing while we boys changed on the more exposed north side rocks. Here we learned to swim as well as practice and pass the Junior and Senior Red Cross lifeguard tests. Upon completion of each of these we were awarded the swimsuit patches and pins which were mailed from the United States.

Friday afternoon was for scouting. The ACS troop was duly registered with the American Boy Scout organization and used its books and received its certificates, badges and pins. At the end of my Junior year I was chosen to represent our troop at the 1933 World Scout Jamboree at Godollo, Hungary. I went there as part of the Syrian scout contingent. Lebanon was not yet a separate state. Once the ACS troop met in the home of our scoutmaster, Dr. Shanklin (the old Bacon house) to listen to President Roosevelt address the Boy Scouts of America. I sent a picture of the scouts listening to the radio to the chief scout executive in the United States. He wrote me that he had sent the picture and my covering letter on to President Roosevelt.

Friday evening we had Christian Endeavor at the Bacon home. This was followed often by skating above the rotunda of West Hall. At other times we would go to the various homes for a time of fun. I remember my mother having all of us over for a taffy pull at our home.

The size of the school was ideal for optimum learning. In the 30s the enrollment climbed into the 60s and lower 70s. However, the beginning of World War II caused a swift exodus of many. By 1940 the enrollment was down to 29 and with the Vichy take-over in 1941 there was another exodus in the very early spring of 1941.

The Vichy influence began being felt during the Summer and Fall of 1940. By late Winter a strong German influence was becoming evident. In early Spring, Dr. Carleton, President of Aleppo College, came to Beirut to report on the situation. German planes flying supplies to Iraq were using the Aleppo airfield. Signs were even appearing in German. At a meeting of the American University and American Mission leaders, the situation was carefully reviewed. What British subjects and European Jews had not fled the country were already interned in the Presbyterian Girls School outside Sidon. The United States was not yet at war, so the Americans had not been bothered. However, U.S. finances had been cut off from Axis areas, thus no more money would be arriving in Lebanon. It was decided that it would be best to evacuate, leaving only a few essential persons at the AUB and American Mission offices.

In just a few days most of the American families packed up and moved into Palestine. I helped close up ACS.

In June 1941 the Allied forces, led by the Australians, fought their way into Lebanon and Syria. An Armistice was signed in July 1941 which handed over the political control to the Free French under de Gaulle. The British forces actually controlled the country. Stephen Naish '34, who had been in my class at ACS in the early years, was in charge of rationing in the Sidon district. He was the son of British Friends missionaries in Brumanna.

A telegram sent me back to Beirut to teach at ACS. We opened the school on schedule the Fall of 1941 with Ivy de Gorkiewicz '35 as Principal Only a few families had remained or returned. This was the cause of the very small enrollment that year. Twenty-nine pupils were scattered through the twelve grades.

In 1941-42 I taught four grades in one room. These were the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. I believe I had eight pupils, which was swelled to ten later in the school year. By using the Wanetka curriculum materials I was able to give each one optimal attention. Madame Holenkoff still taught each of the French classes. While she would be teaching my grades, I taught the combined 8th and 9th grade Social Science class.

I hope this will add some light to the history of ACS during the decades of the 20's and 30's.

[The following was extracted from Lebanon's Child, written by Anne Byerly Moore '40].

"During the years that I attended (1931-1939), the school on Jeanne d'Arc Street13 was housed in a large three-story building with a new two-story ell attached. The school was on the lower floor, while the upper floors were given over to the boarding department. Women teachers from overseas lived on the second floor of the ell.14 Kitchen, dining and living areas took up the second floor of the old building. We slept on the third floor, the boys at one end and the girls at the other. We were told later, though it was never corroborated, that some of the older boys had bored a hole from the attic through the ceiling of the girls' bathroom, creating a peephole for their enjoyment.

"For several years I was in a room with three or four other little girls. The rooms had no heat. Frances Dewey was older than the rest of us and taught me how to clutch the covers around my neck so as not to let in the cold air during bone- chilling winter nights.

"Our room had a transom that looked out over the stairs. This was considered a great asset when we wanted to stay up late. One person standing on top of a bedstead could be posted as a lookout in case the matron should decide to come up for a bed check..

"Though I suffered almost unbearable pangs of homesickness, I also had a lot of fun. Most of us were from the Syria/Lebanon Mission and knew each other from summer meetings. A few of the children, from 1931 to 1939 when I was there, came from as far away as Persia (now Iran), Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Palestine.

"Miss Elfrede Stocks (pronounced Stokes)15, our long- suffering matron, must have had considerable patience and wisdom to be able to deal with us. She was a German lady who spoke English with a decided accent we thought was very funny. I do not remember her having much of a sense of humor. I do remember playing unkind tricks on her, such as putting stiff hairbrushes in her bed and filling the shoes in her closet with water. Apparently she finally had enough, because she left us at the end of the year I was in 9th grade.

"Mrs. Bernice Cochran came from our mission in Persia with her four daughters and was a real house mother to us. [My brother] Warren ('42) had a bad case of tonsillitis the next winter and she took him into her own room so she could nurse him. We had a kindly Armenian lady, Mrs. Lydia Hovnanian, as our matron for my last year.

"Probably my greatest problem was with the food, which was not like our cooking at home. But it was "eat or starve," so even though I did a lot of grumbling I certainly did not go hungry. The cooks were very kind to us. They allowed us to make peanut butter from scratch, which was a great treat. It took vigorous stirring before it could be eaten, since it was not homogenized.

"When our number outgrew the third floor, the girls took over the rooms previously reserved for teachers, now housed in the community. We thought ourselves very lucky to move down to the second floor, leaving the boys upstairs in the older accommodations. Instead of all the girls sharing one bathroom, we now had a bath between each two rooms with only two girls to a room. By this time I was in my middle teens and appreciated the greater privacy.

"The older girls took the younger ones under their care, trying to stem the streams of tears produced by homesickness. This was our most prevalent disease and one from which few of us ever recovered. Though our parents were not far away in miles, we saw very little of them throughout the school year. An exception to this was at Thanksgiving when all the parents came to Beirut."

"Beirut's American Community School was established as a college preparatory school and maintained the highest academic standards. All parents were deeply concerned with the moral as well as intellectual development of their children. American texts were used to make it easier for us to complete our education in the U.S. Because Syria was a French mandate during those years and French was the main social and business language, the school was required to teach it beginning in the third grade. Music, art and drama were stressed.

"Friday afternoon assemblies for the whole school provided a stage for the different classes to present plays or demonstrate projects they had completed. In the fall we were each given an opportunity to talk about our 'summer projects.'

"Singing was very popular and to the accompaniment of an old upright piano we learned such songs as 'Bendemeer's Stream,' 'A Capital Ship,' 'The Mermaid,' and a favorite -- 'At the Crossroad' from The Mikado. We had a wonderful green songbook, 'Assembly Songs and Choruses,' used in many schools in the U.S. and full of folk songs from countries around the world.

"We prepared with great anticipation for the year's crowning achievement, a combination Parents' Day and May Day celebration. Though our student body was small (there were only about 75 in the entire 12 grades my last year), it was full of talent. Besides the usual exhibits of scholastic and art work, there were a major play, choral and instrumental music, and an original dance choreographed by Mme. Holenkoff. Hilarious hours were spent learning the intricacies of the traditional Maypole dance, the bigger boys muttering and grumbling through the daily rehearsals.

"Athletics were stressed at ACS with organized sports, such as softball, and basketball played on an outdoor court. I played first base and was a forward on the girls' basketball team, sporting a made-to-order uniform. This consisted of huge black bloomers, with a white blouse tapering down to the crotch where front and back snapped together.

"Field Day, held annually on the university playing field, involved great rivalry between the Blue and Gold teams. Every conceivable kind of race was held, including the slow bicycle race that Warren won one year. It required great balancing skill so as to be able to come in last. There were relay races, dashes of varying lengths, shot put, javelin, high and broad jumps. Donald was the star high jumper, as well as excelling in many of the other events. For the smaller children there were three- legged races, sack races and egg relays.

"Miss Rhoda Orme was the principal during my eight years at ACS. She held the administrative reins firmly but with great concern for each pupil. I will forever be indebted to her for allowing me to learn to type on her machine. It made me feel quite special to be permitted to practice in her office, which was to us the sanctum sanctorum of the school. She was not a large woman but she had a presence that commanded respect. We behaved when she was around. She provided bandages and sympathy when we were hurt and sensible advice when there were problems to be solved. She was especially kind to those of us in the boarding department.

"All of the teachers were exceptional people. Most of them came from America on three-year contracts. They had to cope with strange customs in a new country as well as all the bright, inquisitive students who kept them constantly on the qui vive. Classes were small, usually between five to seven, so we all got to know each other extremely well. We worked hard to please our teachers, and consequently absorbed a tremendous amount of information."16

[The following was provided in 1993 by Curtis Strong, who was the Principal of ACS from 1940 to 1941]

"I was a teacher of English, History and Social Studies from 1938 to 1941, also serving as Principal my last year. Miss Rhoda Orme was Principal from, I think, 1932 to 1940 when, along with some other teachers and students, she left for the States.

"In mid-May 1941, I was called to a meeting in the office of President Bayard Dodge of the AUB, along with the heads of American Missionary and other organizations. Dr. Dodge described German infiltration into Lebanon and Syria, and told those at the meeting that he had secret intelligence that British and Free French forces in Palestine were planning a pre-emptive invasion. All Americans who wished to were being advised to evacuate. American schools were to be closed as quickly as possible.

"Returning to the school, I called an Assembly and informed the students that school was over for the year. Jubilation reigned. I also formed teams of students to pack and mark everything so that the school could be reopened without confusion. The students set to with a will, and did a wonderful job. The teachers completed report cards for every student. Within a day or two, a convoy of private cars left Beirut for Jerusalem. It was such an impressive caravan, with the lead car flying an American flag, that French Indo-Chinese guard units along the way snapped to attention, much to the delight of the children. The vicissitudes of the long trip home via Jerusalem, Cairo and various sea routes is another story."

Strong closes his report with the following: "One other accomplishment, if a different sort, of my years at ACS was the year (1940?) that our basketball team, which I coached, was the runner-up in the Lebanese secondary school championship. We played mostly teams of older, larger boys, but made up for it in quickness, ball-handling and spirit. Mainstays on the team were Bill Stoltzfus, Art Close, Ed Dewey and Dave Wharton. I'm sorry I've forgotten the other member of the starting five. I've also forgotten the name of the Lebanese team that beat us in the finals, but I do remember they were big and our boys put up a good fight. The game was played on the AUB field down on the Corniche."

[The following was written in 1992 by Ivy Cleo (Gorkiewicz) Compton-Bishop '35 who was the Principal of ACS during World War II].

Not unnaturally there seems to be a complete blank about the war years in Beirut from 1941 to 1945. These were the years when it was difficult to recruit staff as many Americans had to leave because of the Vichy government which also prevailed in Lebanon from 1940 to 1941.

In 1941, Mrs. Mary Dodge17, the wife of the AUB President, asked me as a graduate of the ACS in 1935, if I would undertake to run the school with the guidance of the governing board until American staff could once again be recruited. I had been to University (Exeter) but did not complete my degree as war was imminent and my parents wanted me back in Lebanon. I had been teaching at the American School for Girls and the Ahliyeh Girls' College before I was offered the principalship of the ACS.

We started with a tiny group of 30 pupils and a staff of six...a 5-to-1 ratio! Kenneth Crose '34 was in charge of the juniors and Mme. Holenkoff18 was still in charge of French; a Danish missionary was in charge of the Junior High; a young Lebanese took on Mathematics; an Armenian teacher did Science, and I taught English and Latin.

We even had a boarding department run by a Mrs. Lydia Hovnanian. The Suttons19 and Whartons20 were boarders. When I interviewed Mrs. Sutton, though it felt as if she were interviewing me, she was shocked at the fact that a 23-year-old was running the school!

I ran the school with the guidance of the governing Board of whom Mr. Stolzfus21 and Dr. Brown22 were most helpful. We had several graduates: one year Eusha Rubinsky23; another Ruth Wharton and Annabel Shanklin24, and in tradition this was held out of doors on the platform outside the assembly hall of the old school building, under the large Zinzalakht tree (Persian Lilac) where the school pictures were also taken. We had Parents' Days as of yore as well.

ACS Locations

  1. First School Building: the first floor of the Dorman house on Rue Bliss, opposite the AUB campus, just east of the Medical Gate. Used from 1905 to about 1910.
  2. "A building behind the Eye and Ear Hospital, from about 1910 to 1920."
  3. Building on Rue Sidani, just off Rue Jeanne d'Arc , used from 1920 to 1950.
  4. Current school building near the Corniche, with an elementary school building completed in 1962.

I know it was because I was familiar with all the traditions that Mary Dodge asked me to be principal. Picnics such as the annual French one were not possible as the coastline was a restricted area for security reasons. Although I maintained the old traditions, I did introduce two innovations: Arabic and Typing as two optional subjects, as I had always thought the non-teaching of Arabic a strange lacuna in the curriculum.25

In 1945 when the war was virtually over, the governing board decided, very naturally, to re-employ American Staff. It was suggested I should stay on as one of the teachers but I did not think this was a very good idea vis-a-vis the pupils. I was getting married anyway that year, so bade farewell to four very happy years.

In 1969 after my husband died, I returned to Beirut and visited the old school...a sad "little" place to have harboured so many happy memories. The new school's construction started by my brother-in-law's brother and finished by my brother-in- law (Bahij Khoury Makdissi) is very grand, but I am sure the pupils have as happy memories of their school days as some of the older generation have of their tiny old school.

[The following was provided in 1994 by Thomas H. Ball '49, who also served on the ACS Board of Trustees in 1976]

My brief period of personal knowledge derived from my being a student at ACS fits between Mrs. Compton-Bishop's account of the WWII years and Bill Chandler's description of the transition of the school with the advent of Aramco and Tapline. Three or four of us who were at ACS for the 1947- 1948 school year were the vanguard of the oil kids who later had such a profound effect on the size and nature of the school.

My father was in Saudi Arabia with the company that became Aramco in the years just before WWII and he returned there in 1945 or early 1946. My mother and I joined him there at the beginning of 1947. I had completed my sophomore year in a California school and did not go to school the year we traveled to Arabia. The few high school age kids that had arrived ahead of me had been sent off to boarding schools in India and I was preparing myself for that experience when my father transferred to the newly formed Tapline with orders to move to Lebanon. In those days travel routes to Eastern Arabia did not pass through Lebanon so not that much was known about the country, but several people assured us that there was an American School in Beirut.

When moving day came we flew across the desert in a DC-3 sharing the cargo space with our household goods and landed at the old Beirut airport in the late afternoon of September 8, 1947 -- my 17th birthday. Before my family even found an apartment and moved out of the old Normandy Hotel I was enrolled in ACS for my Junior year.

The school was still in the old building near Rue Sidani which was exactly as described by other writers. Subjects offered and extra-curricular activities were also very much like those mentioned in the descriptions of the school in the 1920s and 30s. We swam at the AUB swimming hole, sent on ski trips to Dahr-Baidar, had a Sadie Hawkins dance and even visited Hitler's yacht which was tied up in the port.

From a head count of the yearbook, the school had about 90 students in grades 1-12 with eleven full-time teachers and three substitutes. The student body was still largely composed of students who were in the area because their parents were with AUB or other American connected schools and/or one of the Christian mission supported activities in the Middle East. The Smith, West, Pauly, Stoltzfus, Bliss, Kurani and Decherd families, to name only a few, all had children at the school that year, but the growing American business community, particularly the oil companies, was beginning to be represented.

Marilyn Haskell '49 was one of the first Aramco students to attend ACS while her parents were living and working in Dhahran. She was a junior that year and boarded with my family. The Gossens and Chandler families were Tapline and were already in Beirut when my family arrived. Gerry Gossens '51 was a freshman and one of the Chandler girls was old enough to be enrolled in the elementary school. I believe sophomore Sheila Acton's father worked for a company that was preparing to build a communications network for Tapline and I have a faint recollection that 8th grader Herbert Doyle was somehow Tapline connected.

There may have been others, but these are the ones I knew and remember. Before the school year ended Israel had declared her independence and the Palestine war had erupted. My mother and I returned to California as soon as school ended and as Tapline construction had been put on hold, I completed my senior year in the U.S. When I returned to Beirut in the summer of 1949 to begin undergraduate studies at AUB, the new school was being completed and if I remember correctly, the school opened that fall in the new facility. Over the next four years I saw a lot of the ACS group. I built and flew model airplanes with George Lincoln '51, briefly taught a craft class, and played against the school's softball team.

[The following was provided in 1994 by Lois Glessner Adam '50]

I arrived at ACS about October of 1945 (the Glessner family having been evacuated from Iraq in February, 1941). The school year was already underway with a new principal, Richard S. Ford, and several teachers from the U.S. (I remember Miss Gladys Hershberger, Miss Nettie Glick, Miss Cummings, Anne Avantaggio, and Anne Boyk, but I don't remember if all were there the whole time I was. All were housed in local rental rooms). My sister, Phyllis Glessner Leach '48, had attended ACS before the war, but for my brother Dick '51 and me it was our first experience away from home.

We lived and went to school in the Rue Jeanne d'Arc building. School rooms were on the ground floor; kitchen, dining, matrons' suite, office, living room and girls' BD on the second; maids' room and boys' BD on the third. We could also go out on to the roof where we sometimes gathered to watch an eclipse or other celestial happening. Mrs. Lydia Hovnanian was our matron. Mr. Ford (who also taught Latin and Math) living in the boys' BD, as did Mr. Sasportas, our French teacher until he married in 1949.

A typical day started when one of the maids (there were two) clanged a large handbell in the hall to get us up (I believe this was at 6:30 a.m.). We struggled out to breakfast where we had assigned seats at one of the six or seven tables in the dining room. Mrs. Hovnaian ("Hovey" behind her back), Mr. Ford and Mr. Sas presided at three tables. Trusted older students managed the rest. The maids brought cook Eugeni's food to the tables and the table head served the table. As we left breakfast, there would be a large plat of unwrapped "sandwiches" by the door for us to take as mid-morning snacks. These were wedges of pita bread filled with apricot jam, lebneh, or dibs (we usually ate them on the way down to school).

The school rooms were very cold in winter -- there was no heat -- and I remember wearing mittens and jackets in class. The upper grades changed classes when the big camel bell hanging in the assembly hall was struck by Harold Naylor '48 (he had a very accurate wristwatch). There were three classrooms for the upper grades, plus a small library and the assembly room. Sixth, seventh and eighth grades usually had class together, as did 9th & 10th, 11th & 12th. My brother was the only one in his class in '45-'46 , and in that year by 8th grade had 3 or 4 students.

At the lunch break, some of the day students came upstairs with us to eat. I especially remember Robin Glockler, who entertained us by bending his "double-jointed" fingers in strange way. We often had time to study or play after lunch, as time was needed for the AUB kids to walk back..

When afternoon classes ended, there were athletic practices or competitions on the field behind the school. Both Boy and Girl Scout troops met. Miss Truenfels (elementary grades) led the Girl Scouts and Mr. Sas the boys. We could just hang out in our rooms or get together for a rough game of croquignole in the living room before the bell rang for dinner. I don't remember disliking the food -- although there were some dishes I had trouble with. Mostly it was reasonably good Lebanese cooking.

While the tables were cleared, we had a few minutes to go to our rooms and get our homework. Then it was study hour, carefully supervised, in the dining room. I think it was 1 1/2 hours for the older kids. If we finished our homework we were to read. To relieve the tedium, we often contrived to pass notes, ask to go to the bathroom (and stay until they came to get us), or flow a fuse (you wrap a paper clip between the prongs of a plug and plug it into the outlet). I think lights out was 9:00 p.m. on school nights.

Weekends were lots more fun. First thing Saturday we'd sign up for bat times. To conserve hot water, two girls had to use the same tub of bath water (there were no showers). We'd scramble to be first when the water was clean, and let the younger girls (boarding began at 4th grade) follow. Once something was wrong with the pipes so we were carefully escorted through the boys' BD in our bathrobes to bathe in a huge copper basin on the upstairs porch.

We got our allowance on Saturday and off we'd go to Sam's or that French pastry shop where the tram stopped at the AUB gate. We could go downtown in groups -- on the tram or walking -- to movies or shopping as long as we were back by dark. We signed out with Hovie. We explored the AUB campus -- picking those wonderful wild growing cyclamen, or walking by the sea. On Saturday night, one of the AUB families would hold a square dance. We became very good at following the calls, and sometimes were asked to dance exhibitions for AUB events. Mr. Ford would sit at the top of the BD stairs on a folding chair and check us in after the dance. Couples who lingered too long smelling the honeysuckle would get a stiff lecture and could be grounded.

Those of us not ready to sleep would stick our heads out our bedroom windows and try to make contact with the boys. My boyfriend, Chuck White, had a father in the military and could get a delicious canned cheddar cheese which he would tie to a rope and lower to my window. The girls would meet in my room for a BYOC (bring your own crackers) party.

One wonderful BD custom of those years was our way of gift giving. No one had much cash and there was very little to be had in the stores right after the war. So, when a friend had a birthday, you gave a favorite of your sweaters or a prized pen -- always something you had that you knew they admired -- or you made something. Some items had 3 or 4 owners through the year. By my Junior year, the influx of kids from the states with money had changed all this -- I always felt that was too bad.

Sundays we walked down to the mission compound to church. Street photographers would try to snap our pictures on the way back. We'd serve at Sunday lunch, as the maids would be off, and afterwards, if the weather was good, we'd migrate to the big porch off of the dining room. There we socialized, flirted with the boys hanging out of the 3rd floor windows, and watched the passing parade on the street. AT 2:00 p.m. the girls were allowed into the kitchen to prepare "high tea." We'd take turns mixing up our best cakes and cookies to be served about 3:00 p.m. Usually, the girls would sit over our tea and chat while the boys rushed in and grabbed goodies on their way elsewhere.

I remember bus trips to Sidon, Byblos, "Caveman Cave" (a limestone cavern), and to ski in the mountains. Our Lebanese drivers must have wondered about "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and other drinking songs that we considered devilishly sinful. These were the years right after the war when the U.S. maintained a strong naval presence in the Mediterranean. If you wanted to send the girls rushing for their curlers and combs (and the boys off to sulk), all you had to do was holler: "Fleet's in!" In the company of teachers, we girls would get to go down to the USO dances at the St. George Hotel. There would be real American baseball on the AUB field, and a tram car or two of eager young sailors would always find their way up to ACS. There, they'd jitterbug with the girls in the living room until we were exhausted. Hovie and Mr. Ford flitted around like mother hens keeping an eye on things and making sure they left the building in time to back to the ship.

We had vacations at Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. We Glessners had a three-day trip home to Kirkuk, Iraq, so we had to hope for an invitation at Thanksgiving (we always got them). Until it became possible to fly, the Easter and Christmas vacations had to be long enough to give us the six-day travel time. Kirkuk was isolated and I don't remember ever being homesick for it.

At least by the '48-'49 year, the school had outgrown the classroom space, and an annex was rented about two blocks away. The younger grades used the annex and the upper grades expanded into their former rooms (this might have also been the arrangement in '47-'48).

In my senior year, '49-'50, with the first part of the new building complex finished, the girls BD expanded up to the 3rd floor of the Rue Jeanne d'Arc building and the boys moved down into the ground floor classrooms. It was a long hike down the Prep Steps to school and back. I remember passing a bakery with great smells. We enjoyed our new classrooms and gym, but somehow, as I looked over the plans for the huge expansion in the '50-'51 year, I felt a queasy sadness in my stomach that the old ACS, the "real" ACS, was about to disappear forever.

[The historical record now turns to excerpts from a speech made by Mr. William Chandler to the ACS Association Meeting of December 16, 1963, which will give us more current coverage of the ACS of recent years:]

"The Board asked me to tell you something about the years of growth and expansion of ACS these past 14 years when the school was transformed to the school with which we are now familiar. These have been years of constant, sometimes feverish, change. Years of heavy, and on occasion, unreasonable, burden upon the headmaster and his staff, and years of hard work and devotion by Board members and many others in the community who have given of their time to the school. Years of trial and error, of searching for solutions to what at times seemed like well-nigh insoluble problems, years of developing a degree of maturity and stability which at times seemed unattainable. Great changes have taken place in the size of the school plant, in enrollment, in the problems of financing, administration and staffing, in the background of students applying for admission, in the demands upon the graduating students seeking enrollment in good colleges, and in the composition of the American community itself. Despite this era of change, however, there has been one aspect of the school which has not changed, which has remained constant throughout. The basic objectives of the school as a college preparatory school of high academic standing and good reputation have remained as they were in the school's earlier years. The success of the school in placing its graduates in good colleges in the United States has remained outstanding. Successive Boards and headmasters have devoted themselves to these objectives, and to the perpetuation of a school of high moral values and Christian ideals. As parents deeply concerned with the intellectual and moral development of our children, we may consider ourselves fortunate that the spirit of change has not encroached upon the basic objectives and ideals of the school.

"But the school itself has changed immeasurably. What is the nature of these changes? What brought them about? And what significance do they hold for the future? At the risk of repeating information which I am sure many of you already know, I would like to address myself to these questions.

"Perhaps the best way to begin is to talk about the circumstances which led to the transformation of the school from a small day school (sic; see footnotes) on Rue Sidani to a combination day and boarding school at its present location.

"Back in the late forties when Aramco was in the earlier stages of its phenomenal growth as one of the major oil producing companies of the world, it began to search for a solution to the problem of providing educational facilities at the secondary school level for the children of its very large American workforce. The decision had already been reached to provide elementary school education through the ninth grade in Aramco's large operating camps or communities, but the social and academic problems related to the creation of American high schools in Saudi Arabia were felt to be of such magnitude as to warrant seeking alternate solutions. Members of Aramco management had become aware of the excellent reputation of the small American Community School in Beirut, and they were impressed by the fact that its sponsors, the American University and the Presbyterian Mission, could be depended upon to give the school continued valuable guidance and stability.

"But they realized that the school as it existed could not support much additional enrollment, nor did it have the facilities for boarding students (sic, see footnotes and accounts from the 1928-1941 era). With these facts in mind, Aramco approached the school's sponsors with the proposal that Aramco and its sister company, Tapline, become a third sponsor group, that the school be enlarged and constituted as a boarding school as well as a day school, that the new sponsor be given first call on a certain number of spaces (65) in the boarding facility, and that in return for this arrangement Aramco would provide the funds required to construct a new school, complete with boarding facilities and what was then thought to be adequate land for playing fields and expansion. As part of the proposal, the old school building on Rue Sidani was to be sold, and the proceeds therefrom were to be applied along with the Aramco funds against the cost of the new facilities.

"This proposal was accepted by the American University and the Presbyterian Mission, and its implementation brought about the creation in 1949 and 1950 of the present high school26 and boys' boarding buildings (although not in their present form), as well as the inception of the tripartite sponsorship arrangement which has continued to this day. The entire school program was then carried out in what is now the high school building, and both boy and girl boarding students were housed in what is now the boys' dorm. At that point the school had a capacity of about 300 students, and boarding spaces for 90, although neither facility was fully taxed in the first few years after completion.

"In the ensuing years up to about 1955 it became evident that the original concept of the needs of the school, particularly for land, were entirely too conservative, and Aramco contributed to the expansion of the boarding building to 120 spaces, with 80 spaces reserved for Aramco, and to the purchase of several additional plots of land, notably those on which the gymnasium and the elementary school were subsequently built. It was during this period that the sharp impact of change in the demands upon the school by the American community began to be felt.

"When the school was first constructed in its present location, its principal sources of enrollment were students from the sponsoring groups. While there was quite a number of students from the community at large, there was at first little pressure upon capacity of facilities. But with the development of Beirut as a business and transportation center of the Middle East, due to its new airport, and its favorable location and climate (both in the physical and political sense), and with the expansion of U.S. Government interests and Point IV aid in the area, hordes of American families began to arrive, and it soon become evident that students from the sponsoring groups were about to become a minority. Pressures upon the school began to demand the most serious attention of the Board, pressures not only for more capacity, but also for facilities and programs which had not been considered essential or justified when the school was small. These pressures raised questions as to the responsibility of the school and its sponsors to provide space for all American children who applied for admission, and even more difficult questions as to the feasibility of attempting to expand in this present location to meet expanding enrollment.

"It became evident to the sponsors that whereas the school as originally created was adequate for sponsoring needs, although perhaps not ideal in all respects, the sponsors could not reasonably be expected to provide all the funds for expansion required by those for whom they had no responsibility. Yet at the same time successive Boards of Trustees recognized that the needs of the American community must somehow be met, and that the best interests of ACS and its students would not be served if the school gradually assumed the character of a school for sponsoring students only. Out of this dilemma grew the conviction that the school must do its best to continue to serve the needs of the entire community, but that it would have to seek funds from sources other than the sponsors for such expansion or improvements to facilities or programs as were necessary as a result. Out of this conviction grew the concept that tuition rates must realistically reflect the cost of services provided; that improvements must by financed by tuition; that funds required to increase the academic capacity of the school must be generated from those creating the pressure for expansion, the non-sponsors, through the medium of an expansion fee; that the boarding department must pay its own way both as to current costs and expansion; that new sources of financial grants must be energetically explored."

Students at ACS in the mid-1950s through early 1960s spent their lives in a mix of activities which in some respects were the same as those experienced by stateside students, yet in other respects were wholly different. While some American students missed having a car (or hot-rod) to drive, as their stateside counterparts had, transportation was not an insurmountable problem. The tram went right downtown, and service cabs plied pre-selected routes. While there were no drive-in movies available (and no car to get there in anyway), several theaters in the city ran American movies exclusively -- especially the Al Hamra theatre which opened up in Ras Beirut in the late 1950s, within easy walking distance of the school for the boarders.

A few students may have pined for the social activities to be found at a stateside soda shop, but the students in Beirut had Uncle Sam's and later Sheik Salim's. School sports were similar, although soccer at some times was more popular than American football.

"Day students," those who lived with their parents in Beirut, had a lot more freedom of mobility than did those who lived in the Boarding Department. Restrictions on day student activities at night and on weekends were those set by their individual parents. However, the school administration, acting in loco parentis, placed restrictions on the boarding students that most boarders felt were stultifying. Boys could "sign out" individually to visit Ras Beirut during the daylight hours or in pairs to go downtown; the rules for boys after dark were the same as the rules for girls at all times -- sign out in pairs to go to Ras Beirut, or be in foursomes with a teacher or other authorized adult as chaperone to go downtown. This sometimes made dating, i.e. going to a movie, difficult, as several couples had to agree to see the same movie, and if the movie was downtown, a teacher had to be begged/cajoled into accompanying the group. Boarders generally envied the day students' freedoms, while some day students envied the closeness (and sometimes cliquishness) of the boarders.

ACS permitted initiation ceremonies, but for some reason, it was the sophomores who were "initiated" by the seniors, rather than freshmen as was the norm in the U.S. It sometimes seemed as if each succeeding group of Seniors tried to outdo their forebears in dreaming up new levels of initiation rites and procedures to assure that the lowly sophomores were thoroughly put-upon, embarrassed, and destined to undergo seemingly endless misery to the depths of ignominy during initiation week. Yet, it was all in fun, and the limited hazing never resulted in physical injury, although a few who underwent the initiation process may have carried away some bitter memories.

Like the start and end of classes in the high school, certain portions of boarders' lives were run by the bell. BD food, and the reactions to it, could fill up a goodly portion of a humorous novella. Upperclassmen (usually seniors) sat at the head of each table at lunch and dinner -- they were expected to serve the first helping of food as well as keeping a sense of decorum in control at their table. [This worked only when the head of the table was not a starving male. (Some underclasswomen were arbitrarily put on diets.)]27

Movies were shown in the school auditorium each Saturday night. Admission was free for boarders. Vespers was held on Sunday nights in the school auditorium, and attendance was mandatory unless, by some stroke of fate, one was a member of a non-Christian household. The ACS boarders, like any normal human beings, chafed at being required to attend meetings (numerous highly creative excuses to skip or avoid sessions were developed over the years) -- boarders felt sufficiently restricted already with "sign out" rules and "lights out" rules. The "lights out" rules were in direct conflict with the need to study late into the evening for mid-term and final examinations. Boarders were famed for their cleverness in foiling this rule -- blankets were hung over the windows and towels were jammed against the bottom of doors so that teachers monitoring the hallway or returning from a night out on the town could not detect a ray of light emanating from a room in which anywhere from 2 to 8 people would be cracking the books.

Social activities common to both day students and boarders included a number of dances -- Sadie Hawkins Dance, Valentine Dance, Thanksgiving Party, Crystal Ball, the Prom and the Christmas Dance, all of which were held in the high school auditorium until the gym was built. Then some functions were held in the lower levels of the gym, although the "Sock Hop" was held on the basketball court. At the time the gym was completed (1958), it was a building that all were proud of -- students, faculty, administration and parents. It was rumored that ACS had the only hardwood playing court in the Middle East! The Class of 1961 created another evening tradition: "Club 61," patterned after a night club, although alcohol was never legally present. Beginning when they were freshmen, the class developed new entertainment routines over the four years that they hosted Club 61 -- from a "Can-Can" dance on the stage (with a male chorus line), torch singers, comedians, the "Shivering Shivas" and more. The Class of 61 was so protective of their creation that an unwritten agreement existed that no other class would mimic Club 61 until the '61ers graduated. This agreement was honored, and the class of 1965 began "Club 65" four years later. [Research to date indicates that a "Club 69" did not follow this tradition.]

All students could participate in field trips, and many went along. Some were short trips to help out in refugee camps or at the Near East Boys' Home, others were sports events (or trips to Faraya or the Cedars of Lebanon for skiing), and some trips involved sight seeing. Many ancient ruins of historical significance were immediately available in Lebanon and Syria -- weekend trips to Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, Baalbek and the Krak des Chevaliers were quite popular. Though limited, opportunities for longer trips were sometimes offered -- to Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Cairo and Jerusalem (Istanbul in 1965), forays the students never would have enjoyed if they were going to school in the States.

Daytime activities included Slave Day and the May Carnival. Slave Day allowed the girls to "buy" a boy for the day -- the slaves were castigated to perform menial tasks and wear ridiculous costumes, some of which would be characterized as "cross-dressing" in 1990s terminology. The May Carnival was a tremendous amount of fun -- students and faculty worked feverishly to build booths, to set up a water- dunk tank, and prepare crafts for sale. Members of the faculty were usually pretty good-natured about volunteering to be the target in a wet sponge-throwing booth, and the "dunkees" in the dunk-tank were usually girls who "volunteered," no matter how involuntarily.

No history of ACS covering the mid-1950s on would be complete without some mention of the Turmelles. Wilfred Turmelle first arrived at ACS in 1951, and Elsa Jane Putman arrived in 1954. From the viewpoint of students, it is almost as if it were a foregone conclusion that these two wonderful people were fated to be together. They married in 1955, and became an institution at ACS, staying until 1985 when they were forced by the edict of the U.S. State Department to depart Lebanon because of the dangers to Americans in the country. The Turmelles' 30-year tenure at ACS touched more students than any other members of the faculty in the school's history. Although they were formally assigned as teachers, counselors, and later principals, the Turmelles were also informally mentors, counselors, mother- and father-figures to many students, especially the boarders. They are remembered fondly.

The history of ACS in the 1950s would also be incomplete if the school's mascots were not to be mentioned. "Gobo," a large pig's head with tiny feet and arms, came into existence in the early 1950s, and overlapped "Potrezebie," which came into existence in 1955, in the form of a stone cannonball "liberated" from some ruins in Byblos. As Mad Magazine was quite popular at the time, the nonsense term "Potrezebie" was lifted from the marginal comments of the magazine and used as the name for the cannonball. The seniors became the self-appointed guardians of Potrezebie, often going to ostentatious (and sometimes obnoxious) lengths in their zeal to parade about with it on display as a symbol of "senior strength" as well as a mascot. Attempts by underclassmen to steal Potrezebie were numerous and innovative. Some classes went through their entire senior year without maintaining possession of the cannonball for more than a very short period of time. Potrezebie was finally taken to the United States after the troubles began in 1975, and attempts were still made to "liberate" the mascot from the current guardians at the triennial reunions of the ACS Alumni Association. The Alumni newsletter, "The Diaspora Potrezebie," is named after the mascot.

We turn now to a presentation made by Mr. John Kelberer, long- time chairman of ACS's Board of Trustees, which helps us to get a more recent perspective of our school in an address at the ACS Parents' Meeting in November, 1969. He expands on the concept that tuition rates were to reflect the cost of services provided:

"That this concept has provided a sound basis for continued growth of the school up to this point may be demonstrated by reciting some of the more important accomplishments of school plant expansion or improvements financed by the means I have outlined.

  1. This auditorium, completed in 1957.
  2. The gymnasium, financed partly by a fund-raising campaign and partly tuition surplus, and completed in 1958.
  3. Major modifications and additions to the boys' dorm, including new kitchen and dining facilities, better teachers' quarters, and better lounge and infirmary facilities. This was completed in 1961.
  4. A new central boiler plant, completed in 1961.
  5. The new elementary school, completed in 1962.
  6. A two-floor addition to the elementary school completed in 1967.
  7. An addition to the boys' boarding department which provided additional boarding space and provided much-needed office space for the administrative staff, completed in 1968.

"This program, which kept the school in an almost constant state of construction turmoil for over seven years, cost over LL2,000,000, of which about 80% was generated by the school through tuition and expansion fees. I should also mention in passing that the school acquired another building during the same period, the girls' dorm, but by long-term lease rather than purchase.

"Student enrollment during this period increased by leaps and bounds. The original facility completed in 1950 was designed for an enrollment of about 300, but was serving 457 students in the 1959/60 school year. Completion of the elementary school in 1962 increased the school's capacity to about 500 students; by 1964/65 the student body had again increased to overflowing with 640 students enrolled.

"This year, 1969/70, the enrollment has reached an all- time high of 1,010 students. This latter increase of 370 students was made possible in part by the addition of 12 rooms to the elementary school. However, the most significant change, providing space for about 150 additional students, was made possible through the efforts of Mr. Harrison and his staff to reorganize the academic program with the objective of maximizing the utilization of available facilities. Their effort has in effect increased the academic capacity of the school by over 20%.

"This in recent years the school has demonstrated with considerable success its ability to continue to grow and to meet the needs of the community without relying upon the sponsors for the necessary funds. Whether the methods of financing which brought about this success will be adequate for future needs is another matter.

"As mentioned previously, the composition of the student body has undergone a very significant change since the original concept of a school serving the needs of the sponsoring organization. A look at this year's enrollment of 1,010 students exemplifies this change. We have 172 students from the sponsoring organizations, 112 AUB/Mission and 60 Tapline/Aramco. We have 838 students from non-sponsors, including 182 non-Americans of over 35 different nationalities.

"In more recent years the American Community School has been affected along with its host country, Lebanon, by the problems of the times. The Israeli-Arab problems have their effects on the influx of tourists to this part of the world, and we at ACS have been likewise affected. Closed borders and forbidden airspace - - as well as rumors of political friction -- take their annual toll of our student population."

[The following is drawn from ACS records prepared by the ACS staff under the supervision of the Heads of School, Wilfred and Elsa Turmelle (to 1984), and Catherine C. Bashshur thereafter].

And then came 1975 and disaster in Lebanon. The troubles in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon naturally affected ACS and its enrollment.

We started school in 1975 on the 29th of September. On the 24th of October we closed our doors and reopened on November 12th. Many of those who returned for the reopening dropped out before the end of our second semester. We graduated six seniors in 1976. This year saw the beginning of heavy shelling between East and West Beirut. Second semester the shelling increased and the decision to open or close school was made on a daily basis. There was daily sniping but in spite of all the difficulty, the school year ended with a positive spirit and many happy memories.

1976-1977 saw more drain on financial resources of ACS. The school rented out part of its facilities to International College. The boarding department was officially closed. The lease on the Chehab building (girls' BD) was given up. Everyone held on and hoped.

1977-1978 looked brighter. There were 134 students in the upper school. People were hoping the war was over. The after-school activities were in full swing. In the spring several students participated in a trip to the U.S.S.R. There was the May Carnival and a senior prom in June at the Carlton Hotel. The situation was not good, but it was livable.

In the summer of 1978, the situation deteriorated again. However, new faculty members joined ACS as well as some new students. Although life was not secure on the streets, life at school was almost as usual. Fewer Americans were in Beirut. The U.S. Embassy did not bring back dependent children.

In 1979-1990, the turnover of teachers and students continued. It was hard to find a student who has spent their whole school career at ACS. Even those who were considered "old-timers" had spent a year or more elsewhere. Most of the traditions continued.

[The following was provided by W. Robert Usellis, Head of School from 1971 to 1979].

. . . It was "The best of times and the worst of times" in some large degree. Very important to remember, however, is that the School never missed a graduation during those years. I think the continuity served more than those who for whatever reasons stayed on; the present alumni association owed its being to students and staff of those years. That is the wonderful Phoenix that arose out of the flames of the war in Beirut.

The School was in possession of a substantial reserve of funds when we closed for those several weeks to take stock of the situation. The Board had been building a reserve in part to accommodate a move from the Corniche to an area south and east overlooking the airport. Those funds had also been accumulated to guarantee payment of teaching staff salaries in full for any year in progress should the school be forced to close due to civil disorder. That guarantee assured that we could lure quality expatriot staff during 'the events.' It also made it possible for the school to subsidize a high school program that assured our graduates would be well prepared for college entrance requirements as well as the curricula they would encounter. Catherine Bashshur is to be complimented for her pragmatic management of the realities she had to contend with when curriculum changes to accommodate the needs of a changing student body became necessary to ensure the literal, physical survival of the school. During her early days as Head of School, she had invaluable help and support from Walter Prosser who, as New York resident member of the Board, was unstinting in his efforts.

Of course, without the AUB lifeline (literally in the form of electric current) we might have had to close the facility, but I suspect we would have found a way to carry on just as our neighbors did. And then, there were all of our loyal, local staff!

Suffice to say for now that possession is still 9/10ths of the law and continuity counts in survival. The school stayed open, and the program continued, with only 13 students on November 12, 1975. It seemed lonely at times; but AUB, IC, the Hospital, the Lebanese schools all supported each other. And, "Thanks to God" as the Lebanese say, we were very seldom in the line of fire.

[We return now to ACS records prepared by the ACS staff under the supervision of the Heads of School, Wilfred and Elsa Turmelle (to 1984), and Catherine C. Bashshur thereafter].

The 1980-1981 school year saw 99 students registered in the high school. The high school graduated 24 students. Although the predominant nationality in the school was American, the school became more multinational than before. However, even with this shift, there was a Sadie Hawkins Dance as well as Christmas and Valentine dances. The wall of the art room as well as the courtyard became a riot of color as Mrs. Rifai's art classes painted the walls with their unique creations. The basketball team went to Athens and music and art groups went to Cairo. A semblance of normality continued.

The year 1981-1982 saw the Israelis push into Beirut. ACS was still functioning at least until the 9th of June. During this school year, we had 73 students registered in the elementary school and 93 in the high school. The 12th grade had 17 graduates. The troubles continued for Lebanon, but somehow we adjusted and carried on. Activities continued, the academic program was full, and most students seemed more or less adjusted to having their lives disrupted. Classes were small, some having as few as six students. It was sometimes lonely. The Senior Prom and graduation had to be canceled, and the school closed early. The Israelis invaded, and those administrators and staff who remained spent a harrowing summer.

In 1982-1983, when the Israelis pulled out of Beirut and the International forces moved in, we thought perhaps there would be peace. We picked up the pieces of our lives to begin again. School started late, but we opened with 71 registered students. Once again, our hopes were dashed, but we tried to think positively and carry on. On June 24th we graduated 15 students.

The school year 1983-1984 was a year of great trial for ACS and ACSers. The school year began late because of problems with security. School opened on October 12th with 50 students registered in grades 7 through 12. In early February, the school campus was the recipient of six direct missile hits. Fortunately, no one at the school was injured, but the school suffered considerable property damage. The area was under fire for 16 hours. Later that week, the first American hostage was taken, and an evacuation was organized by the U.S. Navy. School reopened on February 14th with a considerably reduced enrollment. We were then down to 22 students in the upper school. On June 22nd ACS graduated 15 students, 8 of whom were on hand to receive their diplomas.

In 1983-1984, a planning committee was established by the Board of Trustees. The purpose of this committee was to look for viable options for the future of the school, both financially and otherwise. The Board felt that the school could not continue in its established form. Sale of land was one option to raise money. Opening a dual program -- high school and Lebanese Baccalaureate -- was another option. Renting the premises to Lebanese schools and running a minimal American program on a correspondence basis was a third option.

In June 1984, a pre-school program for 3 and 4-year-olds was organized. The program was to be opened "to children of all nationalities on an experimental basis for 1984-1985." The elementary school building and gymnasium were rented to International College (IC) and the high school building, without the library, was rented to College Louise Wegmann. The payments for the use of these facilities was in Lebanese pounds.

In August 1984 ACS had two students registered. The highest number of students registered for the 1984-1985 school year was 75. More Lebanese would have entered if we could have guaranteed that the children would eventually be prepared for the Lebanese Baccalaureate program. The Board of Trustees incorporated Arabic for native speakers into the academic program during their August 7, 1984 meeting. The elementary program was expanded to include a full program in Arabic language. To remain consistent with the school policy, the Arabic program was to meet the needs of the individual rather than the reverse. It was expected that the students would be able to catch up with their grade level and/or excel if they were given the right program. Students were grouped according to level. There was also much discussion on the ramifications of registering the school with the Lebanese government. In May 1985, statements from the Presbyterian Mission gave the Board of Trustees the permission to begin registration. In June 1985 President Calvin Plimpton agree to register ACS with the Lebanese government.

It should be noted that in the Spring of 1985 the Lebanese pound began its dramatic drop. The one thing that people counted on throughout the war was the solid Lebanese pound. There was lack of security, threats to foreigners, as well as intermittent shelling and fighting. School would open or close according to the "situation." Four students graduated. The pre- school program was declared a success and was to be continued. Security continued to deteriorate through the summer of 1985. Zaki Khuri, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, was kidnapped in late summer.

The 1985-1986 school year commenced with more than double the number of students. The Lebanese student population had grown from 41 in 1984 to 121 in 1985. The largest number of students was on the pre-school level. Most of the teaching staff were young and Lebanese. There was an approach made to the Hariri Foundation for financial help, but that idea did not achieve fruition.

The Board of Trustees continued to work on the revision of the Bylaws and the administration postponed the school registration until the revision was complete. In the spring of 1986, more Americans were threatened. George Miller, the AUB representative on the Board of Trustees, left in April. ACS graduated four students in June 1986. In the summer there was an educational and recreational program for the elementary school children which ran for six weeks (July and half of August).

The 1986-1987 school year saw the ACS student body double in size. The Lebanese population increased from 121 to 250 while the foreign population increased from 61 to 99. It should be noted that more than three quarters of the students holding foreign passports also held Lebanese passports.

The school expanded quickly and gained a reputation for excellence, but events outside the confines of the school continued to deteriorate. In September 1986, Joe Cicippio, our Treasurer, was kidnapped. The foreign community shrunk further. U.S. males did not return to AUB The U.S. State Department continued its warnings for Americans to leave Beirut. The fall saw the security of West Beirut decline, where clashes among the various militias were considered an unusual event. In December, the "Camp War" (fighting between the Palestinian and Amal militias) intensified, and Palestinians were forced out of their homes inside the camps while young Palestinian men were kidnapped. Because of the kidnapping of the Beirut University College (B.U.C.) professors from the B.U.C. campus on January 24, 1987, the last American male teacher (Robert Foss) left ACS.

In February 1987, the decree from the U.S. Secretary of State Shultz was issued forbidding the use of American documents to enter, reside or leave Lebanon after March 5, 1987, unless special permission was obtained. Also at this time the Camp War grew worse and heavy fighting developed in West Beirut. People were again cowering in cellars and hallways as bullets and shells whistled by. Decisions to open or close school were made on a daily basis. The local militia was constantly around and insisted on using the ACS gym to "relax" in the evenings.

In late February 1987, the Syrian army moved in without resistance at least in the area of the school, and took over the local militia bases but did not interfere with school. By March 1987 Pax Syria reigned.

We lost four full-time classroom teachers, one administrator and one aide because of events, and one teacher went on maternity leave during 1986-1987. In late spring, Ecole Elite and Ecole Leisirs were asked to leave ACS by June 1987.

The rest of 1986-1987 seemed relatively uneventful. The pieces were picked up and lost classroom time was made up as much as was possible. New people applied for the 1987-1988 school year and most of the screening was completed by June. There were eighteen candidates for graduation, and fourteen fulfilled the requirements. Dr. Frederick Heineken, AUB's appointed board member, handed out the diplomas. ACS completed its eighty-second year of operation in Lebanon.

During the summer of 1987 a six week remedial summer school was offered. The 1987-1988 school year began with an increase of over 100 new students.

In November 1987 there were bomb attacks at the airport and the American University Hospital (A.U.H.). One nursery student lost both her parents in the A.U.H. bombing. Security around the school was tightened in cooperation with the neighborhood schools because it was felt that the Syrian- controlled areas were being hit. On Christmas Eve 1987, the Syrians took over the playing fields of ACS.

The Lebanese Lira shot up from 225 in September 1987 to 500 in December. In March 1988 it stabilized around LL360 to one dollar. The most difficult problems were the lack of stability of the Lebanese Lira and rampant inflation. The students and faculty in general were carrying on the traditions of the school. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays were celebrated with gusto in the elementary school. The high school held the annual senior slave sale to raise money for a prom. Yearbook committees were at work, and a talent show took place to raise money for the yearbook. These events happened in spite of the situation outside the school. School was still the haven and the place where the students gathered.

September of the 1988-1989 school year began with the staff feeling very optimistic about the future. The school was established as one of the best schools in the community. In terms of student population, it was enjoying its highest enrollment since the early 1970s. Lebanon had a new U.S. Ambassador who projected a very positive image and was well liked in all the "communities."

In December, Arthur Van Nieuwerburgh, a long-time Beirut resident and the parent of our senior, Christian, was assassinated in broad daylight as he walked home for work. No one knows why. Christian managed to complete his senior year. Although ACSers were shocked and saddened, they moved on.

The Christmas programs and parties ran as usual. January and February came and went with mid-term exams and Valentine's Day activities and parties.

Life changed drastically the next month. On March 14th at 7:25 a.m., East Beirut radio announced that General Michel Aoun ordered schools closed because of the volatile situation in Beirut. At 7:30 a.m., shells began to land in West Beirut. The War of Liberation (from the Syrians) began and ACS had its first student causality -- Salem Abu Hadba, a senior of Jordanian nationality. Salem was on his way to a 7:45 physics class and was at the UNESCO crossroads at the entrance to Verdun (a main intersection into Ras Beirut) when the shells landed, burning his car and all the occupants. This day also marked the end of classes for that year and began six months of "hell" for the residents of Beirut. ACS was in the constant crossfire of east-west shelling but was most fortunate to have missed direct hits. However, windows were shattered; shrapnel sprayed the walls, areas of the BD were sandbagged, Syrians moved into the high school/gym compound and remained there until the end of September.

In order to accommodate the students who could not leave the city, ACS felt obliged to find a way to continue to educate them and keep the candle of hope for the future lit. The staff members who remained made up modified correspondence courses for the students. It was the best possible solution at the time.

The academic year drew to a close at the end of July. Finals were given during the relatively quiet periods of the morning. Usually, seemingly by mutual agreement, hostilities ceased in the morning between 7:30 a.m. and noon. People would shop and gather whatever was necessary to survive the next 24 hours. In general, the community spirit survived. People helped to maintain the morale of their neighbors. It was true that on all occasions there are negatives and positives. In retrospect, the positives outweighed the negatives, which is how the Beirutis were able to continue.

The shelling ended in September and an uneasy calm existed. The airport finally opened and once again ACS picked itself up, dusted itself off, and started all over again. The 1989- 1990 academic year began October 8th. At the beginning of the academic year, the Lebanese Lira was LL450 to the dollar -- at the close of the year it was LL600 to the dollar. Tuition for the school year was $1,000 at the October rate of exchange; the administration was concerned that in order to reach that dollar amount again for the 1990-1991 school year, the school would have to double tuition for the second year in a row. The economic collapse had done more damage to the country than the war.

                 Publications at ACS

      Scientia          1930s
      Al Manara         yearbook, began in 1947
      Quill             1946 - 1950 (literary compendium)
      A C Scroll        late 1940s
      ACS News          early 1950s; 1991-1992
      Gobo Globe        mid-1950s
      Echo              1953-1955
      Al Arz            1961-1962+?
      ACS Newsletter    1965 - (to at least October 1974)
      Al Miraat         1968 - early 1970s (literary booklet)
      Aleph Beth        1966-1975; 1992- 1996
      Dharma            1975 - ??
      Zephyr            1993 -  (annual literary compendium)
      Aleph B           1996 - 

      Splat             1955 (3 issues)
      Aeropagitica      1960 (literary compendium)

In the fall of 1989, events were looking up again. The east-west shelling had ended, the airport opened, and Lebanon elected a new president, Renee Moawad. The Syrian army moved out of the high school compound and gym area and back to the playing field and tennis courts. ACS scoured the premises, replaced the glass, patched the holes, welcomed students back to campus, and began a period of renewal. We were cautiously optimistic.

On November 22nd, Lebanon's Independence Day, Moawad was assassinated. By December there was a new president and an uneasy calm set in for the holidays. However, the muffled drums of more war were heard. At the end of January, shells again began to explode. This time it was Maronite against Maronite. The shells that fell on West Beirut were supposedly mistakes, but just the same, people lost their homes and others died. The effect of this east Beirut conflict on the rest of Beirut was that the water and electricity were cut. From January to April there was no city water. Then it came only at irregular intervals. There was no city power until the summer. All Beirutis were worn out from fetching and hauling. We worked like donkeys just to eat and drink. Morale was at an all-time low.

May of 1990 saw the eruptions of fighting among the Shiites in the western section. A school bus was attacked and burned in East Beirut -- more senseless violence.

In 1990, wars in Liberia and the Gulf brought a new pool of students from American and English schools to Lebanon. The students and teachers tried to remain upbeat. The drama club was very active in the spring. The group went to ACS Amman for a festival of one-act plays and returned triumphant. Graduation was July 13th, with only fourteen out of twenty seniors completing the academic year.

The 1990-1991 academic year began September 24, 1990. Registration initially was 520 students, although up to 600 were expected. By November the school had 680 students registered, as a large influx of people came from Kuwait and the other Gulf states (due to the Iraqi/Kuwaiti tensions) as well as from Liberia.

By late November, 1990, the school was experiencing a period of relative peace; people were optimistic and hopeful. The Lebanese forces hauled their arms out of East Beirut -- 1,300 tons had been removed by early December.

We were aware of a potential threat to the school as a result of the Gulf War. The threat was made in a general way that all interests could be targeted. The British Bank, French Bank, Italian Embassy and Italian Bank were hit by blasts of one kind or another. Fortunately, they occurred at night or early morning, and there was only one reported casualty.

The Gulf War and the war in Liberia affected us because of an influx of students from those areas. We were swamped with inquiries and pleas for places for second semester. The older students were more adapted to the horrors and sounds of war, but the new ones were nervous and still verbalizing their shock. The ACSers who had been through the rough times were more fatalistic: "what will be, will be" seemed to be the mental survival defense.

We had a wonderful Christmas at school. We had the traditional plays, songs, Santa Claus visiting classes, and parties. We could actually plan ahead and carry out our plans. The teachers held a party for the custodial staff, and the administration hosted a party at the headmaster's apartment for a hundred-plus members of the entire staff. Hamra was full of decorations, as were side streets. Shops were decorated for Christmas, and there was an abundance of Christmas trees -- a first in years. Everyone wanted to celebrate and forget the horrors of war even though the probability of the Gulf Conflict loomed.

Also in December, the new U.S. Ambassador, Ryan Crocker, made a surprise visit to the campus. The seniors were delighted and insisted on escorting him to their lounge for coffee. Some parents met him as well -- we had open house for the parents that night.

By March 5, 1991, ACS was a hub of activity. The first annual Salem Abu Hadba Sports Tournament was taking place. All profits went to a scholarship fund for an upper school student who was academically excellent and involved in sports. Basketball and volleyball tournaments were held. The school hosted an Arabic Book Fair under the patronage of His Excellency Butros Harb, the Minister of Education. Between March 13th and 15th, the adaptation of the play Seven Characters in Search of an Author was presented in the ACS High School Auditorium. The play was originally scheduled to be presented in January, but was postponed because of the Gulf Conflict.

Our tennis courts and outdoor basketball court were returned to us. We were involved in rebuilding the broken walls as well as cleaning and scouring the premises so that we could at least use the place for needed extra play area. The damage to this area during the various conflicts was extensive. Two ski trips were in the planning stage to the Cedars of Lebanon and Faraya.

For the 1991-1992 school year, we opened classes on September 17th for grades 3 to 12. The following week we had preschool and early elementary open. In round numbers, we had 120 registered in preschool (3 and 4-year-olds), 410 in elementary, and 270 in the upper school for a total of 800. We had room for expansion in the upper school, but were very picky in choosing students because we only had the college prep program and the Lebanese Baccalaureate. The majority of graduates have gone on to AUB, although some chose B.U.C. -- those interested in early childhood education or social work. One student went to the U.S. this year, attending Tufts University.

On October 24th, we had an Open House and the initiation of a PTA on the U.S. model, where parents work as volunteers or help with fund raising. Halloween parties were scheduled. PSATs were given in late October to all junior and sophomore students, and the SAT was given to the seniors on November 2nd.

We hired a gardener to plant and fix the entrance to the BD and areas around the elementary school. It was the first infusion of new plants and soil for at least seven years. We fixed the heating system for the high school, but plans for fixing the heating system for the gym were still on hold. The problems with the sewer pipes continued to plague us.

We obtained 10 MacIntosh computers for use in student laboratories, supplementing the IBM clones used by administration for accounting and inventory.

In November 1991, the AUB clock tower was bombed. The concussion was so great (it was estimated that 200 kilograms of explosive were used) that the school lost quite a bit of glass. Doors and windows were knocked out of alignment, and the damages to the physical plant were in the neighborhood of $3,500.00.

In late 1991, the upper school restarted a journalism club and began publishing a school newsletter. Students collected almost LL400,000.00 to donate to AUB's College Hall Fund through profits they made on cake sales, raffles and Thanksgiving Day parties. The problems with the fighting ended, although three women were kidnapped -- almost unheard of before. The Lebanese Lira gained against the dollar, but prices remained elevated.

The boys' volleyball and handball teams took first place in inter-school contests. We installed an 85 kilowatt generator to be used during the school day. Availability of government power had improved from once every 24 hours to 6 hours within every 18 hours.

We had a very rough winter, with very few sunny days. By February, we had exceeded the average annual rainfall by 50%. It was really one of the worst winters in Lebanese history -- the chair lift at Faraya was buried in snow, and even Beirut received some snow.

We were offered the opportunity to buy two private parcels of land that jutted into the ACS campus, but we had no funds available. We were working on our third application for funding from American Hospitals and Schools Abroad, a part of USAID. At least the ACS campus property was free and clear. In June 33 seniors and 75 preschoolers were graduated for the 1991-1992 school year. 100% of the seniors were accepted to college -- 2 in the US, 1 in Switzerland, and the rest at either AUB or BCW. The Senior Prom was held at the Summerland Hotel. Relative peace reigned, but the U.S. Department of State still had a prohibition on Americans traveling to Lebanon.

In late 1992, the school expanded its computer center from 10 to 25 Macintosh computers for the purpose of having all of the student and staff computer-literate. A computer/video lab was created on the first floor of the BD which could accommodate a whole class.

During the summer, work on the physical plant continued non-stop, seven days a week. The whole sewage and drainage system was re- worked, and the old boilers were removed. The walls around the school were increased in height, and two apartments in the BD were renovated for teachers hired from the U.S. (Lebanese/American dual nationals). Work began on remodeling the entrances to the high school and gymnasium.

At the start of the 1992-1993 school year, the upper school had 302 students. An Open House and Multimedia Center Inauguration were held on October 21st and 22nd, and went quite well. The accreditation process through Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools began.

The doors to classrooms were painted in primary colors of blue, red and yellow, replacing the drab brown/beige scheme which has existed for years. The Lebanese lira began to come alive, improving in value against the dollar from LL 2,800 to LL 2,000.

This school year also saw the inauguration of a community service club and an ecology club. The newspaper club started up again, and the drama club put on "Harvey." An English Book Fair was held in December. The after-school activity program was expanded, and received an enthusiastic reception from students, parents and staff. The high school students organized a movie night which they planned to make a monthly event for the middle and secondary school students. The boy's basketball team won the Christmas tournament.

The renovation of the entrances to the high school and gymnasium was completed in January. The community service club went to the SOS village to give orphans a Christmas party in December, and had a similar part at the American University Hospital's outpatient clinic for children undergoing chemotherapy. The ecology club prepared the campus for a bird sanctuary, and spearheaded a recycling campaign along with the student council.

Katherine Arms, the CBS correspondent, came to visit the school and asked to do a story on ACS's emerging from the war as viewed by the Head of School.

In April, 1993 a Parent-Teacher Association was organized, USA-style. The Lebanese Minister of Agriculture, Emil Cortas, came and gave a brief talk. ACS was on the Spring Basketball Tournament. In May, the visiting team from Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools arrived, and the May carnival was held on May 29th.

In June, 1993, 200-plus sat for the SAT, ACH and GRE tests. High school graduation was held at AUB's Assembly Hall (formerly called Chapel), with Dr. Camille Asmar, the Director of the National Museum and Director of Antiquities as the speaker.

During the summer of 1993, Samuel D. Constan '53, a member of the alumni association of the American Community School at Beirut, was named as Chairman of the ACS Board of Trustees. Several teachers attended a teacher training meeting in Cyprus, and plans were underway to hire teachers of Canadian nationality, as Canada did not have travel restrictions to Lebanon similar to those of the US. Two young French women were hired for teaching French at the upper elementary level and in the upper school.

The roof of the gymnasium was recovered, and the boiler rooms for the physical plans were completely renovated. Storage rooms were inventoried, and accumulated detritus was removed. Work began on replacing the windows and window frames in several of the buildings.

The 1993-1994 school year opened on September 13th. Student numbers were up, settling in at 940. 127 were in preschool, 439 in elementary, 184 in middle school, and 189 in the high school. Two older members of the custodial staff, Fawzi and Elias, were scheduled to retire, after 43 years of service to the school. In October 1993, the Middle States Association of College and Schools accredited ACS's elementary and middle school, making ACS the only school in Lebanon with this type of accreditation.

In January, 1994 the school installed its own 250 KVA generator (replacing/supplementing the 85 KVA generator installed in late 1991), which made it completely independent of commercial power for the first time. An automatic switching system was installed, prioritizing the provision of power for the computer center, pumps, night lights, boiler, air conditioning, etc.

The Parent-Teacher Association began in the fall of 1993, and by February 1994 had published its first Parents' Newsletter. ACS began a recycling program, and an Environmental Club was formed, holding an "Earth Day" in April. Other events included a Mother's Day Program, trips to the circus and farm, the annual Arabic Book Fair, and a Ukrainian group performing for the lower school. Basketball was becoming an increasingly popular sport again, including tournaments scheduled with other schools.

Accreditation for the high school was awarded by the Middle States Association of College and Schools, completing the accreditation cycle and process. ACS was considered to be the premier secondary school in Lebanon. ACS also won first prize in the AUB Science Fair. The Head of School commented: "Our kids had spectacular projects, better projects than the college students. We received a brass plaque to commemorate the effort."

Thirty-five seniors applied to the AUB freshman program and thirty-four were accepted. The Head of School expected 100% of the graduating class to attend college, and noted that one senior had received an $18,000 scholarship to attend Bryn Mawr, while another was planning on attending the University of Texas in Austin.

In September 1994, ACS received, for the first time, a grant of $300,000.00 from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) division of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This was the culmination 7 years of grant applications. The grant was earmarked for improvements to and refurbishment of the upper school building.

ACS hired several foreign teachers -- nine from Canada and two from France -- but was still unable to hire teachers from the U.S. because of the State Department's travel prohibition. It was noted that several ACS alumni were on the ACS staff or faculty, including Laila Faris Alamuddin '62 (Assistant High School Principal), Christain Van Niewerburgh '80, Randa Cardwell Eid '81, Maria Bashshur Abun Nasr '84, Nancy Bakht '85, Igor Djordovic '88 and John Nohos '88.

Extracurricular activities had expanded beyond basketball, soccer, volleyball, and Track & Field. They included swimming (at the Summerland pool), Tae Kwon Do, International Folk Dancing, ballet jazz, gymnastics, classical ballet, skiing (at Faraya and the Cedars of Lebanon), handball, tennis, fencing and horseback riding at Ain Toura.

In the 1994/1995 school year, ACS had 985 students, which was the limit of how many students ACS could enroll then, according to its 1988 decree. For the second time it received a grant to send a teacher to a workshop at the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce educators on how to use space science within the school curriculum to captivate the students' interest in science, math and technology.

The three-year plan for renovating the central heating system for elementary was completed during the summer of 1994. The common bathrooms were stripped to the foundation walls, redesigned, and reconstructed. Much of the plumbing was changed, and the landscaping around the school was renewed. The process of replacing iron window frames with aluminum continued. There were many new faces on the faculty. They came from Canada, U.S., France, The Netherlands, and Australia and brought new ideas and approaches to education.

The Christmas shows for preschool and lower elementary shows were video-taped by a local TV station and the video was viewed on national TV over the holidays. The Christmas concert was well received (this was part of the growing music program). The high school Christmas program was held twice, once on the 16th for parents and students in 9-12th grades and again, during school, on the 21st for parents and students in 6- 8th grades. It included performances by the newly-formed choir, the band, and an original drama production written by ACS students. Three teachers and a number of ACS students participated in the Christmas program of the Beirut Symphonic Band.

An attempt was made to organize a Founder's Day program which would involve as many alumni as possible to celebrate ACS's 90th anniversary, but insufficient response was received.

The main area of concentration for renovations in the summer of 1995 was to be the upper school facility, alternatively known as the academic building or high school. This building was one of the oldest on campus, built in the late forties with modification in the fifties and late sixties.

The planned renovation for the academic building was to be in two phases. Phase one began June 23rd at noon. The entire building was emptied and the interior gutted and reconstructed to fit the new design for classrooms, laboratories and offices. The library was to undergo minor modifications that year. In ACS's area of Beirut, the electricity voltage was switching from 110V to 220. In order to accommodate this change the entire building was rewired. The heating, ventilation and plumbing systems were changed. New windows were installed in the half basement. The area renovated in phase one was 2,700 square meters, providing a total of 30 newly- renovated classrooms and labs, plus support offices. The lab equipment planned for replacement in Phase two was to include a floor and a half, with the library moving to a new location. This plan was to increase the number of classrooms to 50, and the library space to 600 square meters, with renovations of the music room and auditorium as well. Total area for building and renewing was to be 1,600 square meters.

The renovation of the boarding department continued, but on a smaller scale planned for 1996. Plans were also in place for a shelter for the lower gate in elementary, and the expansion of the elementary library. Unfortunately, the additional time necessary to repair the columns and foundations for the high school building cut into the time needed to construct a third floor, delaying that portion of the Phase two project until the summer of 1996. Also under consideration was a plan to resurface the outdoor basketball court and tennis courts, as well as cover the courts so that they could be used in all weather and opened to the students year round. The design was under way, but execution of the plan was limited by budgetary restraints. The administration hoped, in the next few years, that major construction plans would be finished and the school would be able to go back to having summer education programs. ACS celebrated its ninetieth birthday in October.

As the 1994/1995 year was winding down, the Senior Prom was held on Saturday, June 24th and graduation was Monday, June 26th. ACS graduated a class of 42 in June of that year. The school was growing by leaps and bounds, and in order to handle the growth while at the same time maintaining a decent teacher-student ratio, they were hiring a lot more teachers. The school has some new phone numbers, and has just installed a fax, but it not yet have E-mail. There were over 200 alumni in Lebanon at that time.

In September 1995, ACS was really rolling. Everyone was in class and the enrollment was 1,003! The upper school facility renovations were really fantastic. ACS still had finishing touches to do, but everyone was amazed that we were able to strip four floors to bare outer walls and columns, install a foundation, and have the building opened and ready for use in two and a half months. Anything that was imported seems to have been delayed -- automatic bell, master locks, desks, etc. Work continued after school and on weekends until everything was complete. In addition to the upper school work, ACS renovated eight more apartments for faculty. The old BD was changing radically to house foreign faculty. ACS had also been working on rebuilding infrastructure that did not seem so obvious like boilers, generators, etc. Those things were essential but not showy.

In September 1995, the calendar was full already and set for the year with few openings. There was an orientation barbecue for new students and their parents. On Friday, October 6th, there was a welcome back dance for 9-12 on the elementary roof with a disc jockey from outside. Drama was blooming and art flowering. The American Women's Club held a Christmas Charity Bazaar at ACS on November 25th providing a venue for Lebanese charity organizations to fund-raise. The music department expanded substantially in the 1995-1996 school year. Staff-wise, the school was back to where it was in pre-war years. The band, choruses, rock band, and guitars were hard at work ACS needed to buy more musical instruments and slowly rebuild.

Kameel's building was razed, and preparations were underway to build a 10-story building in its place. The owner of the other parcel of land that juts into the campus between the back of the BD and the elementary school listed it for sale at $4,000,000.00. Virtually the whole southern wing of the BD (the side that faces the high school building) was turned into apartments for foreign faculty.

The American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) department of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded ACS a second grant of $400,000.00 earmarked for renovations, procurement of laboratory supplies, and expansion of the school's computer laboratory.

In the Spring of 1996 the high school drama club presented "Crimes of the Heart." The third grade's Loud Boom Opera Company presented "Here Comes Double Trouble," an original production which the students wrote and produced. A Parent's Dinner party was held at the Commodore Hotel to celebrate the end of the ninetieth birthday year of ACS. The parents invited all three ministers of education and three other parliamentarians.


      Year           Students     Faculty/Student Ratio

      1995-1996      1,009          1:7

      1994-1995        965          1:9

      1993-1994        954          1:8

      1992-1993        849          1:8

      1991-1992        807          1:7

      1990-1991        695          1:9

      1989-1990        545          1:10

      1988-1989        586          1:11

Israeli attacks on Southern Lebanon resulted in lost electrical power in Beirut and the cancellation of the traditional Spring Carnival. However, some events were still held, although delayed, such as Earth Day, Slave Day and the Prom. ACS completed the 1995-1996 school year with 1,009 students, 140 faculty, and a support staff of 48. The faculty/student ratio had averaged about 1:8 since the end of the civil war. The Alumni Association of ACS had designed a tri-fold flyer for use as a handout for parents of prospective students and fund-raising. ACS printed the flyer and distributed it during the summer of 1996, including the growth chart shown below:

The plans for the expansion of the high school building had to be put on hold because of the necessity to resolve some property issues that dated back to the 1940s. It was necessary to clear the deed before ACS could get the building permits.

Substantial work on the physical plant was accomplished during the summer of 1996. The elementary was rewired for lighting, plugs, ceiling, fans for classrooms, and a public address system. This also made possible the installation of computers in classrooms, since before this time computers were in a lab because there were not enough of them to go around. The usual maintenance (waterproofing and repairs) took place. A carpenter went through the classrooms to fix cupboards and replace panels, doors, and other wood items where needed. A patch-up paint job was completed, with plans start at the top floor and do a really good paint job in the summer of 1997.

The playgrounds around the elementary and boarding department were redesigned and totally renovated with new equipment added. Deliberations began about when to do a total renovation of the preschool. The addition to the high school was also planned for 1997.

A new middle school principal, Richard Bowden, was hired, as ACS definitely needed to have a defined area for middle school, both for classes and playing. With the addition of two floors, this happened. A brand new library was planned for the near future.

Most of the Syrian trucks pulled off the soccer field by Friday September 13th. We were ready to run in and clean the oil-soaked surface, check for any dangerous material that may have been left behind, and wall off the field. Unfortunately, not every soldier left. So we waited and sought information.

As the 1996-1997 school year began, ACS had 23 new faculty and administrators from abroad, mostly Canadian. Several of the previous foreign hire teachers extended their contracts; the majority of the early group of ten from Canada and the US signed on for one more year. ACS also hired Ibtissam Saadawi to help with the public relations and fund raising. She is well-connected in Lebanon, and had lived in the Gulf, England and the U.S. These plus our local hired faculty, staff and administrators made a great team. Those who had been with ACS for that time were amazed at the changes they witnessed both inside and outside the school.

The 1996-1997 school year saw major changes. ACS added Jürgen Hoeven as business manager. He lifted a heavy administrative burden off of the shoulders of the Head of School. Jürgen and his wife Valerie, who taught art, both came from Canada. However, Jürgen grew up in Cairo and had attended the Cairo American College for 10 years. He knew the children of Ann and Malcolm Kerr '49 fairly well. The new physical education coordinator, Kyler Hauch, brought thirty- plus years of experience. He and his wife Janet wdre also from Canada. Janet was in charge of the new Faqra (near Faraya) winter school (ski) project, a ski school / outdoor education for children from grade three to eight. They went as a class for six days and five nights. If there was snow, they learned to ski in the morning and have outdoor activities in the afternoon. There were many areas the children could explore, including Roman ruins, a natural bridge, and rock gardens. They also learned about the environment and how to protect it.

In December 1996 the coordinators and several administrators were taken to Faqra on a retreat for 2 days to work on ways to integrate the curriculum to have subjects inter- relate so that there could be a multidiscipline approach to topics. This was of course easier in the lower grades because one teacher handled the class most of the day it and did not require as much cooperation among teachers. Middle school by its very nature was perfect for integration. The curriculum was developed around themes. High school was more difficult because while some teachers were convinced about the need to integrate, others were not. The planning was done well, and teachers identified where there were overlaps in the curriculum. In math and science, for instance, there were math concepts that are needed to understand certain science concepts. Instead of teaching the same concept twice, it could be taught in math class, and then the student can put it to use in science. On paper this sounds very easy, but the actual implementation was not. It took a great deal of time to organize the material and maintain a logical sequencing of skills and materials.

The school also changed the whole schedule from a five- day/eight-period day to a six-day block schedule, with four eighty-minutes blocks and one forty-minute block. The students did not have all subjects daily, but in a six-day cycle all students have the required time for each subject. It is quite an adjustment from preparing for 40-45 minutes of teaching to 80 minutes. Both teachers and students had to adapt. The 80- minute blocks allowed the students to work on cooperative activities, to debate a topic, to practice a skill while it was fresh in the mind. Requirements were not cut, but time slots were rearranged in the hope of spreading out the nightly assignments. Most of the faculty and students liked it, but it took time to adjust. Those who had traditionally taught through lecture method had a difficult time. The project was slated for review again at the end of 1997.

Students were active in the many of the various activities available to them. The administration was really pleased about how well the community service program had been working. One of the Middle School students participated in a Near East South Asian Council of International Schools (NESA) program, the purpose of which was to recognize middle school students who made outstanding contributions to community service. Faculty from ACS continued to be active in the Near East South Asia administrators' conferences.

As we look back on the history of the school as it is summarized in the spring of 1997, it is evident that the years of war took a great toll on academics. Some students during those times were able to maintain self-discipline, but many suffered from their inability to concentrate and retain information. Children, while playing, reflected their inner feelings. Playground activities, among the boys particularly, were war games and incidents of accidents were high. In spite of extra classes, the school's administration felt that the academic standards were dropping. The main problem was that the future was too uncertain, so "live today because tomorrow may never come" became the motto.

In broad retrospect, the fifteen years of conflict between 1975 and 1990 were probably the worst. Although periodic disturbances occurred after 1990, peace and calm generally prevailed. The student population increased steadily, and the school was able to begin a program of repairs to the physical plant. The rebuilding of ACS had begun, and the school's alumni association was increasingly supportive and helpful.

As this history is completed, the 90th anniversary (1995) of the founding of the school is a reality. ACS is considered by most educational authorities to be the premier college preparatory school in Lebanon, if not in the entire Middle East.

To obtain additional copies of this history, send $3.00 to the Alumni Association of the American Community School at Beirut, 850 Third Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

To obtain information about teaching at ACS or enrolling your children in ACS, write to Head of School, American Community School at Beirut, 850 Third Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10022 or to Post Office Box 8129, Beirut, Lebanon.


1 Probably Franklin Moore, 1868-1915, father of J. Leonard Moore M.D., 1908-1973, who was father of Carin '45, John '46 and Thomas '49. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

2 Probably Robert H. West, AUB professor, 1862- 1906, father of William West, 1894-1980, who was father of Elizabeth '43, Allen '48 and David '51. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

3 Probably Amy Blatchford Bliss, (Mrs. Howard Bliss), 1862-1941, although Abby Wood Bliss, (Mrs. Daniel Bliss), 1830-1915, was still alive in 1905. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

4 Margaret Bliss (Mrs. Leslie Leavitt in 1920), recently graduated from Vassar, arrived in Beirut during the War and became Principal during this period. Information provided by Grace Dodge Guthrie '32.

5 Francis West, 1900-, brother of William West in #2 above. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

6 John West, 1897-1961, brother of William West in #2 above. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

7 Leonard Moore; see #1 above. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

8 J Forrest Crawford, 1901-1954, father of Clifford S. (who must have gone to ACS) and Forrest S. ("Rusty") '53. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

9 Marjorie Webster, now Mrs. Ireland, '16. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

10 Ralph Patch '23. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

11 In his book Fifty-three Years in Syria (1910), Henry Harris Jessup writes: "The model of the campus made by me in 1902 for the college...was enclosed in a mahogany and plate glass case." {The buildings were} "carved out of 'Malta stone.'" Page 306. Research provided by Anne Byerly Moore '40.

12 Extracted from Legacy to Lebanon (1986) by Grace Dodge Guthrie '32, pp. 98-99. This book is available from the AET Book Club, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, D.C. 20009, phone (800) 368-5788.

13 Anne Byerly Moore '40 comments: "Pat Zimmerman '42 has a detailed map showing all the streets of Ras Beirut, and insists the school was not on Jeanne d'Arc Street, as I'd always thought." However, accounts differ. Extensive research by Kenneth L. Crose '34, including detailed maps, show that the school was close to, but off of Rue Jeanne d'Arc. (See maps at Appendix B).

14 Accounts of various contributors differ in minor respects. Kenneth L. Crose '34 comments: "Teachers were probably housed in the new ell if rooms were available, or at the teacher's wish. I recall clearly some teachers who lived in the ell and I also recall two teachers living in an apartment out near the lighthouse. See Anne Byerly Moore's remarks about this: 'When our number outgrew the third floor, the girls took over the rooms previously reserved for teachers.'" Curtis Strong (Fac) comments on the housing of women teachers: "When I arrived in Beirut in September 1937 (I was initially a Staffite at AUB), three women teachers from overseas, Miss Elinor Kerr, Miss Elinor Clapp and Miss Mary Carr, were housed in an apartment in Ras Beirut. In June of 1938 I married Mary Carr, and we both taught at ACS until May 1941. (Mary died in 1955.)"

15 Anne Byerly Moore '40 comments: "I base the spelling of her name on her signature that I have on the back of a school picture."

16 Extracted from Lebanon's Child by Anne Byerly Moore '40, pp. 71-74; pp. 76-78; pp. 85-86.

17 Mary Williams Bliss Dodge, (Mrs. Bayard Dodge), 1890-1982, mother of Grace '32, Margaret '34, David '40 and Bayard ("Bd," pronounced "BeeDee") '43. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

18 Mme. Holenkoff was Olga Holenkoff, an emigr$eacute; White Russian. Anne Byerly Morre '40 wrote of her on pp. 83-84 of Lebanon's Child. This book has an entire chapter on recollections of life at ACS. It is available from the author at 403 Riverside Drive #15, Tarpon Springs, Fl 34689-2554 for $12 postpaid. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

19 Patience Sutton Hajj ("Penny") '46 and Marilyn Sutton Loos '49. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

20 Ruth Wharton '45 and Joseph Wharton '49. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

21 Probably William A. Stoltzfus, father of William A. II '42 and maybe Benjamin '47 and James '48. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

22 Most probably Julius Brown, AUB physics and astronomy, 1880-1970, father of Francis '27, Sanborn '30, Julia Elizabeth '34, Arthur '39 and Samuel '41. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

23 Eusha Rubinsky '42. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

24 Annabel Shanklin Perlik '45. Information provided by Donald H. Byerly '36.

25 Accounts differ. Curtis Strong (Fac) reflects: "She [Ivy Gorkiewicz] may not have known it, but that course [in Arabic] was introduced in 1940- 41, my year as Principal. I, too, thought the lack of an Arabic course in a school in an Arabic-speaking country was `a strange lacuna.' I am glad that Ivy continued the course. Both Bill Stoltzfus and Art Close took the course, and they went on to distinguished careers as Arabists, Bill in the Foreign Service and Art in, I think, the CIA. I like to think that this Arabic course was at least one factor in stimulating their interest in Arabic studies."

26 The Class of 1950 was the first to graduate from the high school building built near the Corniche.

27 Observation of Claudia ("Dee") Maddy '62.