ASI Yearbooks
Yearbooks and Shah Mosque
Shah Mosque courtyard
Shah Mosque courtyard

About ASI

Shah Abbas Palace

During the 1970s, Iran saw the influx of thousands of Americans, Europeans, and East Asians working for various military and civilian joint industrial ventures. Many brought their families as well, with the result that Isfahan alone hosted a non Middle Eastern community of well over ten thousand by 1978, among it's six hundred thousand residents.

At the behest of Bell Helicopter International, International Schools Services (ISS) established the American School in 1973. Although the school was set-up under ISS's contract with Bell Helicopter, it was open to the employees of other companies per arrangements between those companies (mainly Grumman Aerospace Corporation) and Bell Helicopter. Beginning in 1976, ISS contracted directly with the Irani government to operate the school.

A moderately open enrollment for those willing to pay the yearly five thousand dollar tuition added a number of children from the families of well off Irani, as well as from foreigners not sponsored by major corporations. In addition, ISS created a "model school" for the children of Imperial Irani Air Force (IIAF) families at nearby Khatami AFB.

The American School was staffed primarily by teachers hired through the ISS referral service in Princeton, New Jersey. Additional teachers, if needed, were recruited primarily from among Americans already living in Iran, in additional to a few Irani nationals. Since the wives of Grumman and Bell Helicopter employees constituted the largest pool of unemployed Americans, teachers hired locally were usually women.

Basic instruction was in English, and focused on a United States college preparatory curriculum.

Enrollment grew from less than fifty students in 1973, to over 600 by the beginning of the '78-'79 school year. Starting from a few rooms in the Iran-America Society, ASI eventually included four facilities across Metropolitan Isfahan for grades K through 12. I don't think that ISS has ever managed any other school of this size.

I suspect the small initial student body mandated that the school yearbook include all grades. As the school system grew, so did the yearbook. In retrospect this was fortunate, giving us then and now a broader look at the ASI experience. It also gave Keating's photography students more opportunities to practice their art, as well as legitimate excuses to ditch class. Each yearbook brought in a fresh faculty advisor and team of students. Freed from many of the limitations of typical Stateside yearbooks, such as stale subject matter and endless ranks of student mug shots, their efforts could more fully expose their strengths and weaknesses as developing copy writers, photographers, and editors. They may have winged it at times, but the end product was never boring.

As a part of the 2002 reunion of the combined Classes of ASI, I placed the school yearbooks from Cathy Condon, Louis Casagrande, Angel Luttrel, and I on line for your perusal. Enjoy a glimpse back at ordinary lives played out in an extraordinary place and time.

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