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30 years of BIS: academic excellence for future global citizens and game changers

30 Years of BIS!
9 Mar 2021
BIS News
1st Graduation Class
1st Graduation Class

30 years of BIS: academic excellence for future global citizens and game changers

Bavarian International School (BIS) from 1991 – 2021: From the first class of five students to a leading international school with 1.150 students

The history of Bavarian International School (BIS) began exactly 30 years ago on the 18th of February 1991. In rented rooms of a former elementary school in Goldach/Hallbergmoos, the doors opened for the first time for the first five students: Katie B., Julia and Christopher W., Deborah D. and Sebastian M. At the end of the school year, there were 12 students from five nations. Three decades later, approximately 1,150 students from more than 60 nations attend BIS on two campuses. The school is now one of the leading international schools in Germany and among the top 15 in Europe (source: IB Schools).

Together with the first teacher, Pamela Sonntag, Brenda Shaw (British) was one of the first employees of BIS as registrar. "I remember very well how each of the first students was given a piggy bank with 50 DM by the board," says Shaw, now 82, who worked for BIS until 1996. "We were a family. As a small group of people, we were very close-knit and held tightly together during the start-up phase," Shaw recalls. Hans-Joachim Klapperich-Andres, then managing director of Panavia Aircraft GmbH, which was based near the Munich airport and played a key role in the idea and development of BIS, became involved as the first chairman of the Bavarian International School e.V. For many years, he pushed ahead with the development of the school on a voluntary basis and stated then, as he does now: "What makes it special is the enthusiasm of the students to be able to live and learn in harmony in a large, international community."

The Bavarian International School developed rapidly. In 1993-94, more than 200 students from almost 30 nations were already attending BIS, which had in the meantime moved to an office building in Schwaig as an interim location. Official accreditation by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) followed in 1995. 

A milestone: moving to the Schloss Haimhausen

In order to enable further growth, the Executive Board began looking for a suitable long-term location in the mid-1990s. As a result, Schloss Haimhausen was acquired from the couple Hans Daxer and Luise Piëch, and the surrounding land was leased from the Haniel family. Stefan Schörghuber, owner of the Schörghuber Group and also a BIS parent, played a key role in ensuring that the Bavarian International School could continue to develop on this scale. As treasurer and later chairman of the board of BIS e.V., he drove forward the expansion and structuring of the school with equal amounts of expertise and passion.

Two milestones followed in succession during this period: the first IB Diploma Graduation class in 1997 with 17 students and, in August 1998, the BIS community's move to the renovated Haimhausen Castle, which had been converted for school purposes, for the first time with more than 400 students. "The move to Haimhausen Castle was a major undertaking. It quickly became apparent that additional new buildings would have to be developed and constructed to accommodate the growing number of students," recalls Canadian Uwe Schweneke, Business Director of BIS from 1994 - 2011. 

Magic numbers and a new campus

Another ten years later, in the 2008-09 school year, the number of students had doubled once again, to almost 800 students. One of the reasons for this was the opening of the new primary school complex on the Haimhausen campus. In 2013-14, the number of students exceeded 1,000 for the first time. With the 2016 opening of the BIS City Campus on Leopoldstrasse in Munich-Schwabing, the school expanded its radius and created an inner-city offering with an Early Childhood Center and primary school. BIS reached its highest enrollment to date in 2018-19, with nearly 1,200 students. That same year, the legal form changed from a nonprofit association to a nonprofit stock corporation.

Currently, approximately 1,150 students from 61 nations attend BIS. 1,150 is a truly magical number - in this anniversary year, because since the first graduation class in 1997 until today, approximately the same number of students have graduated from BIS: about 1,150. A wonderful coincidence with a bit of mysticism. BIS had the largest graduation class in 2019-20 with 91 graduates, and the best IB DP average score was achieved by the Class of 2020 with 36 points (worldwide: 31) – in the German Abitur, this score would compare to an average of 2.0.

Innovation and a community festival to celebrate the anniversary

To coincide with the 30th anniversary of BIS, the Bavarian International School is presenting two innovative new features: the corporate design and this website, on which an editorial series will be published from now on, with stories about the Alumni who have passed through BIS over the last 30 years.

In the hope that the Corona situation will gradually calm down in the coming months, the BIS leadership team has decided to stick to the idea of a "30 Years BIS" community event for students, parents, alumni, faculty & staff. As a save the date, it is scheduled for Saturday, September 4, 2021, open air at Schlosspark Haimhausen.

"Building on the foundation of our tradition, we are continuously working to create the 'School of the Future, Today'. Together, we are united by the goal of further developing the Bavarian International School as a role model for innovative education and academic excellence, for tolerance and cosmopolitanism, and for the flourishing of responsible global citizens," agreed current BIS Board members Dr. Chrissie Sorenson (Head of School) and Marco Dahl (Business Director).


Quotes from the first BIS years:

"Even more than in any school, we must take into account the individuality of each child, his or her respective abilities and knowledge." – Quote from Pamela Sonntag, 1st teacher in 1991 and named "Mother of the School", in the Bayerische Staatszeitung, 1995. 

"A truly international education in a caring environment." – BIS flyer from the 1990s

"We educate world citizens and set a sign for the United Europe and for the coexistence of peoples, especially in a time of xenophobic tendencies and actions." – Hans-Joachim Klapperich-Andres, 1st chairman of the Bavarian International School e.V. in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 3, 1995

"Everywhere, children and young people are encouraged to try things out and discover new things, to develop their skills and also to push themselves to their limits at times. Certainly, they should not experience these as failures, but rather value them as important experiences." – Reporter Sebastian Hepp, Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 30, 1997

"The school is also an important factor for the economic development of the region." – Quote from Otto Wiesheu, then Minister of Economics in the Free State of Bavaria, Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 3, 1995.

 

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