50th anniversary of the International School of Boston
Cambridge (MA), December 12, 2012
Monsieur le Président du Conseil d’Administration, cher Patrick Hamilton,
Monsieur le Chef d’établissement, cher Richard Blumenthal,
Chère Marie-Madeleine Berry,
Cher Professeur Stanley Hoffman,
Monsieur le Consul général, cher Fabien Fieschi,
Madame l’Attachée culturelle, chère Anne Miller,
Chers membres du conseil d’administration du LIB,
Chère équipe du LIB,
Chers parents et amis,
C’est un immense plaisir pour moi d’être à vos côtés ce soir pour ce grand jour, alors que nous célébrons ensemble le 50ème anniversaire du Lycée International de Boston.
Je sais que le bilinguisme est l’une des forces de ce lycée, mais par égard pour ceux de nos amis anglophones qui ne maîtrisent pas encore parfaitement notre langue vous me permettrez de poursuivre en anglais.
It’s a great pleasure and privilege for me to be here with you tonight on this very special occasion, as we are celebrating together the 50th anniversary of the International School of Boston.
When I received Dr. Blumenthal’s very kind invitation a few weeks ago I didn’t hesitate half a second because I wanted to be at your side to thank each and everyone of you for this truly exemplary success story.
The second reason I had to come is that I knew that the school’s founder, Marie-Madeleine Berry, would attend, and I absolutely wanted to pay tribute to her vision and tremendous work in building this wonderful school.
Today, everybody thinks there’s nothing unusual about an internationally renowned city like Boston having a French school. But back in 1962, there was no such school here. So Mrs. Berry, along with Martha Robert, who is with us tonight as well, with her whole family, decided to open a tiny French “jardin d’enfant” in Newton.
At first, it was in the basement of the house of one of their friends, Mrs. Rosenberg. Mrs. Berry, like a true pioneer, dealt with every issue in the school, finding successive buildings, coordinating the curriculum, hiring teachers, recruiting students, buying supplies... When she went back to France 14 years later, the school already had several classes and welcomed 35 children.
I know that, beyond being the director of the school, Marie-Madeleine, with her late husband, Jean-François, played a major role in the intellectual life of the Boston area.
Together with the Consul General and the Cultural attaché, Marie-Madeleine and Jean-François made it possible for the French intellectuals visiting Boston to meet with their American counterparts, as well as with prominent members of the French community.
They also launched a little magazine called La Caravelle which discussed French political, economic, and intellectual affairs. But Stanley Hoffman knows the whole story much better than I do, because he was there, and was one of Marie-Madeleine’s closest friends. I’m sure Stanley Hoffman will tell us about this quite fascinating endeavour.
On this 50th anniversary, I also want to look back and salute all of the International School of Boston’s incredible achievements throughout the years. To build an academic institution from the elementary level all the way up to high school is never an easy task. It means always looking for new buildings, teachers and staff, taking risks, making large investments and tough decisions. So it’s a huge amount of work.
And today, my dear friends, you can be so proud of what the school has become. It welcomes almost 640 students, 90 more than in September of last year. The maternelle and the elementary school are thriving and the middle and high school are growing steadily. Last year, of the 19 students that took the French baccalaureate, 17 graduated with a “mention,” which is truly impressive.
In the last few years, relentless efforts have been made to improve the facilities at the Cambridge site: a new playground, math and science labs, new classrooms and soon, a wonderful library and media center on the top floor of the school. I know it has been a very busy period for the buildings and grounds committee, and I want to congratulate them on these achievements.
I also want to thank the members of the development committee and of the development office, in particular France Crespin and Vicci Recckio, for their relentless efforts to raise money for all of these projects. I know they are also the ones who oversaw and spent a great deal of time and energy on the organization of tonight’s wonderful “soirée,” so I would ask you to give them a big round of applause.
And of course, I want to thank the whole community of the school, which has responded graciously and positively to their urgent requests.
One of the major milestones of 2012 was the board’s decision to change the French name of the school from “Ecole Internationale de Boston” to “Lycée International de Boston.” I believe this is a very good decision. Not only because the school’s program now includes the Baccalauréat. But also because this use of the term “lycée” is a way to reinforce the school’s connection to the global network of schools that follow the French curriculum and serve as tireless promoters of French language and culture.
In this respect the International School of Boston is one of a total of 42 “écoles homologuées” in the United States, a network that serves nearly 15,000 students. And since 2005, it belongs to the very exclusive circle of schools comprised by “lycées homologués”.
I know there are many more challenges and opportunities for the future, which you carefully outlined in the strategic plan issued last year. One can only agree with its objectives, in particular, the introduction of the O.I.B. (baccalauréat option internationale), and also the increased offering of extracurricular activities and the emphasis put on community service.
I fully respect your choice to not only be a French school, but also to be a school deeply rooted in its American environment, with a strong international component.
This is why you are able to attract, beyond a strictly French and American public, an important number of other nationalities, over 45 in total, which make up 30% of enrolment.
They have been drawn by your distinctive bilingual and bicultural curriculum, rooted in the rigor and creativity of the French and American academic traditions, and by its preparation for life and global citizenship.
I also know that the International School of Boston has succeeded in creating a true sense of community, thanks to its many volunteers, in particular the room parents and the dedicated members of the PTO.
Having such a dynamic “école homologuée” in the Boston area is a true asset for France, and for that I want to express my warmest thanks to all of you. And I am deeply convinced that your success is one of the reasons why such prestigious French companies as Sanofi, Dassault Systèmes and Veolia have decided to strengthen their presence here. You are indeed an invaluable contribution to the well being of the French community in Boston, and to French-American friendship.
In this respect I have good news tonight: French-American relations have never been closer than they are today, as illustrated by President Hollande’s very successful visit to Washington last May, literally three days after his inauguration.
Dear friends, I want you to know that I personally care deeply about your school, and will continue to support it to the fullest extent of my abilities, with the help of my team at the Embassy, in particular Mark Sherringham, the head of the “service des établissements scolaires,” and, of course, our Consul General of France in Boston, Fabien Fieschi and his team.
Alors mes chers amis, un grand merci encore à chacune et chacun d’entre vous, et
Vive les Etats-Unis !
Vive la France !
Et vive le Lycée International de Boston !