Remarks by Peter Vrooman at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the International Community School

Remarks by
Peter Vrooman
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy
at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the
New Classroom Building at the
International Community School of Addis Ababa
June 02, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you for the introduction and for the invitation to attend this important event.  I would first like to acknowledge all those who are here today, including teachers, administrators, friends in the Government of Ethiopia and City of Addis Ababa, and friends of the school.  ICS has many friends, and is part of a very special community here.  Thank you all for what you do for ICS.

ICS truly has a special role in Addis Ababa, and has had one since its founding in 1964.  The U.S. Embassy is proud to be a long-standing partner of ICS, and its sponsor when it was founded.  We look forward to continuing this special relationship in the future, and to support ICS as it seeks to provide a world class education to the international community in Addis Ababa.

I would also like to recognize the tremendous service and contributions of Jim Laney, the outgoing Director of ICS.  Jim joined ICS 12 years ago and has been instrumental in leading ICS to grow to new levels of academic excellence and diversity.  Diversity and inclusion have been and remain critical elements in ICS’ mission and identity, and what make it unique, from its special needs program to the tremendous diversity in its student body.

ICS is truly a special educational institution whose diversity and distinct international identity are ideally suited to its location in Addis Ababa, the home of the African Union and the international center of Africa.  I am confident ICS, with support of all of its friends and sponsors, will continue this role in the future with its well-balanced and highly diverse student body and world class educational standards.

And what an extraordinary year this year has been for ICS.  We are seeing the fruits of some of Jim Laney’s vision and ambitions, and the growth of ICS as an educational leader.

Today we are celebrating today the completion of the New Classroom Building, or NCB, but more as well.

This year ICS was also officially designated a Primary Years Program school, which means that the curriculum for young learners aged 3-12 is stronger and better aligned with the International Baccalaureate (IB). This represents years of hard work by the ICS staff. Congratulations.

And while we are not inaugurating it today, ICS will also soon open a new sports facility which will significantly increase its ability to support the needs of its students.

The U.S. Embassy and the international community are deeply indebted to and appreciative of Jim’s leadership and vision as Director of ICS.  Thank you, Jim.

Part of his vision and achievements during that time is what you see here, the New Classroom Block. Jim led a team that started thinking about this and the school’s needs many years ago when the NCB was first envisioned.

And it’s been extremely busy here at this site since construction started in February 2015.

The NCB is projected to allow the school to grow to an enrollment of between 1100 to 1200 by 2019. And remember that in 1994 there were 400 students here at ICS. That represents enormous growth, and allows ICS and indeed Ethiopia to continue welcoming business professionals, diaspora, and diplomatic staff and NGO staff from around the world.

The NCB’s key features will increase the school’s academic rigor and great sense of community through its attention to the arts program, and of course plenty of classroom and office space, science labs and teacher work spaces.

This new building incorporates plenty of open spaces and common spaces, including a rooftop garden, which uses Ethiopia’s abundant natural light and which gives students and educators the possibility to work together more comfortably and more naturally.

The indoor theater will allow ICS to put on performances for audiences of more than 200 people.

There are many people to thank for the completion of this new building. ICS’s leadership:  Jim of course and certainly George Zickefoose and George’s extended team; as well as the many builders and workers themselves, including the local teams from Zias Design and Elmi Olindo, as well as Flansburgh Architects from Boston.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy I would again like to thank all of you for being here today to support ICS, and to wish Jim and ICS all the best in their respective futures!