Hello everyone and good evening.
For those of you who don’t yet know me, I’m Dianna O’Doherty, the President of the school’s governing body – the Foundation Board ? and it’s a real honor for me to represent our Board and to welcome you all here this evening, in this wonderful space in particular. Most of our Board members are here this evening: Susanna Soler, Boris Mulder, Javier Curtichs, Karen Cervantes, Kamran Mohsenin, and Yvette Oliveau. I encourage you to get to know them; they’re a fun, talented and hard?working group. Unfortunately Greg Crouch and Gonzalo Rodes could not make it this evening.
A special welcome to all of our new students, teachers and parents – we are very happy to have you among us and glad you’ve joined our community. We often speak of our strong sense of community as among the most defining characteristics of BFIS ? and many people have told me that it feels, in some ways, particularly strong this year. There is certainly a lovely positive vibe on campus these days.
With us this evening are many wonderful familiar faces, including several families whose children have long graduated ? Joe Moreno, the Ferrers, Alvaro Vinacua. Also, some of the pioneers of our school – parents like Jean Nordstrom, who helped found our school, teachers & staff like David Magana, Alexandra Oriol, Maria Dolors Guasch, Pilar Hernando and Nancy de Vilallonga. We even have a few former students, including Cecilia Nordstrom, whose sons are now with us.
In addition to celebrating the beginning of a new school year, the return of many old friends and the arrival of many new ones, we are celebrating three very important events with this gathering: The introduction of the IB Diploma Program, the expansion of our campus with the renovation of this wonderful building we are now in, and, most importantly, the arrival of Tom Northrup as our Head of School
We are very very happy to have Tom leading BFIS this year and are delighted with all the great work he’s already doing. He embodies, in so many ways, the spirit of our school, its mission and its values. Thank you Tom for all that you are doing for our students and for our community.
The introduction of the IB DP gives our students an exciting educational opportunity and we’re grateful to Joe and Kili for shepherding this process so well.
And now ? our new building – a project so long awaited by all of us – I’m sure some of you were even beginning to doubt it would ever happen. Well, here we are! At long last!! This campus expansion is a very significant event and, in some ways, a turning point for our school. This extra space has already allowed us to expand our program, which I’ll say more about in a minute, and has relieved a lot of stress – figuratively and literally. Now that we have some elbow room we will be able to upgrade our science labs and further expand our program, particularly in music and art.
This project was the result of a beautiful team effort and I want to express our appreciation to these folks, but first I want to thank our wonderful neighbors from Instituto Magdalena Aulina who so kindly and generously provided us with this space. Some of their members and teachers are here with us this evening. Thank you for this gift you have given to our students – over 250 of them who now use this building every day and 250 more, our littler ones, who come to play on the court or run and roll on the grass. We know you value education as much as we do and we know you understand the importance of this property to us.
I want to extend special thanks to one of our BFIS parents, Javier Sanchez Vicario. To put it simply, it is thanks to Javier that this project even began, many years ago, and thanks to Javier that it was finally realized.
Sincerest thanks to my fellow, well?loved board member Boris Mulder for his incredible hard work and diligence.
We’re grateful also to our very talented contractors , architects and designers – the local firm EDETCO and Fransesc Monells and Anna Font, and the Philadelphia based firm H2L2 – Doug Steele & Heather DeFreytas ? who are here this evening and whose inspiration gave us, among other things, this beautiful library.
Great thanks are also due to several remarkable parents and staff members who made very significant contributions – Sol Gomez who worked on the project committee, Martin Roca and the Roca family who generously provided us with all of our new fixtures and beautiful ceramics. Ricardo Betancourt for the gift of his very beautiful picture which now welcomes everyone who enters this building and truly captures the spirit of our school.
Tom Northrup, Serena Washburn Gost, Joe Santos, Laura Esteban, Roberto Baldizon, Shelley Burge, and most especially ? Monica Chitnis, our uber talented Dir of Finance & Operations who served as Project Manager. Together they accomplished more than we imagined possible. Thank you all.
This academic year promises to be a great one. We are fortunate to have a wonderful PTA – led by Marijolin MacConuladh, Anouschka Orueta, Jessica Ziegler and Ed de Wolf ? our very talented faculty, now 86 strong ? and 561 wonderful students representing some 46 nationalities.
As I mentioned earlier, our larger campus has already allowed us to improve our program and to increase differentiated teaching and learning. In keeping with our school’s philosophy to teach our students where they are, developmentally, and to strengthen our language acquisition programs – both Spanish & English ? the Board approved the addition of 11 new teaching positions this year – 8 FT and 3 PT. In addition, we improved teacher benefits and substantially increased professional development. Why? Because we know what you know ? that it is our teachers who fulfill our promises to our students. It is our teachers who make our school what it is and BFIS has many amazing teachers.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce someone who I know deeply shares this belief ? our Head of School, Tom Northrup who will say a few words after which you’ll see a short video and be welcome to take tours of the building with our HS student guides.
Thank you all,
President of BFIS Foundation Board.