Suzanne (Suzy) Spoerri compares her time at the school which became ISZL, with her daughter’s experience at the school 40 years later
I never imagined that 40 years after I was in fifth grade at the Zug Anglo American School (today known as ISZL!) my daughter, Maya, would be there for fifth grade, too. Thanks to Covid-19 and the ability to work remotely, we took an almost empty flight from San Francisco, California to Zürich last September to be with my 82-year old Swiss father and to allow Maya to attend school in person. I am so grateful that Maya is now also part of this wonderful school community and I know it will always be in her heart, like it is in mine.
I have so many fond memories of the school. I loved going to school and each day excitedly came home to share about my day with my mother. Many have asked, “What is the same? What is different?”
The biggest change is the school’s growth. There were twelve students in my entire Grade 5 class compared to almost 90 today. During my time, the school went from Kindergarten to Grade 7. Today it is amazing to see ISZL’s Early Years programme and fully developed High School with its own separate campus. I am amazed by how much the school has grown.
The storybook setting of today’s ISZL, beautifully juxtaposing old and new architecture, is quite different from the second floor of the Swiss Post Office warehouse where I went to school, located near today’s Coop Bau and Hobby in Cham. We had a basic gym (which served as an all-purpose room for assemblies, PE and music) and one play field outside. For Halloween, the Grade 7 students turned the back storage room in the gym into a Haunted House for all the students to go through. We had no cafeteria or meal plan; everyone brought their lunch and ate in the classroom. However, the big highlights were that Grade 7 students walked over to Zugerland to have lunch together at the Migros Restaurant, and Grades 6 and 7 made and served hotdogs for the whole school (after taking orders, collecting monies and purchasing all the supplies at Migros). We rented the theatre at the Loreto Schule for our annual Christmas theatre performance. While I loved my school and it never felt odd to share the building with the Post Office, there is no doubt that today’s campus is very different.
Sports day was a huge event during my time, when the entire school was divided into the Rigi, Pilatus or Albis teams for a day of track and field activities at the Leichtathletik Stadium after many practice sessions in our school field - the same stadium that, in non-Covid times, hosts sports day for Grades 3-5 nowadays. Learning that the buildings on the Zug Campus are also called Rigi and Albis was such a nostalgic moment for me- to see the tradition of these names still being carried on and growing to now include other nearby mountains. And, like today, our outdoor surroundings were also an important part of our education. Every Friday, we either had swimming lessons at the Baar Lättich with students divided into guppies, otters and dolphins swim levels, or the whole school went ice skating. We also took forest walks and there was the annual whole school Zugerberg challenge to see who could run up the mountain the fastest. We had no mountain house in Wengen, but also went away for ski week as well as skiing locally. I know some of these events haven’t happened this year due to Covid, but I was so excited for my daughter to also enjoy the amazing learning from forest walks and a day skiing with her class. Field Week trips for the 6th and 7th grade were to the River Ardéche in France and then exploring the canals of Holland in a barge. It seems these trips are now called Personal Development Weeks and continue the tradition of the importance of learning outside the classroom. The fleet of vans with the ISZL name on them is quite different from the “tour” bus that took me to school. The school hired one bus which had a single route from Luzern to Zug. We did not have German class as frequently as Maya does, which I think is a very positive change to help students incorporate more into Swiss life.
While I did not have the IB programme, the spirit and quality of the education hasn’t changed at all; nor the focus on educating the whole child. I see Maya’s teachers sparking the curiosity of students with innovative learning just as in my day. Today, I also see dedicated teachers who are engaged and active, just like in my time. Similarly, I see students from around the world.
One day, my daughter came home after choosing her birthday stone and asked if I knew Mr. Latter and that he had a statue on campus. This immediately piqued my interest. Mr. Latter took over the school from Mr. and Mrs. Bevan my last year at the school in Grade 7 and he was my teacher. It is wonderful to see how positively Mr. Latter impacted the school and the legacy he left behind, continuing the phenomenal work of the Bevans.
I suppose the old adage that nothing is permanent is true. Things do change, but at the same time often the essence that makes something so wonderful remains. Just as I did with my mother, Maya comes home each day loving her school and eager to share her day with me. Now as a parent, I know there is no greater gift. Thank you to ISZL for continuing this wonderful learning environment that I know helped me develop into the person I am today.
Suzanne (“Suzy”) Spoerri, ZAAS student from 1979 (Grade 2) through 1985 (Grade 7)
ISZL is proud to have a vibrant Alumni community of graduates, alumni students, former parents and former employees. This includes those who attended the Zug American School, the Zug Anglo-American school, the International School of Zug, The Riverside School, the International School of Luzern, and of course the International School of Zug and Luzern. You are always welcome in your home away from home!
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