Sixty years ago, the American School of Barcelona officially opened its doors on October 2, 1962. Dr. José María Poal, a Catalan doctor who had lived in New York, had the vision, innovation, and passion, to open a school to bring the best educational practices globally to Barcelona. That passion for preparing children for a changing world lies at the heart of what has driven ASB since its foundation 60 years ago.
On its first day, the school opened classes for 100 students from K5 to 5th grade, with ten teachers in our original building in Calle Eusebio Güell in the Pedralbes neighborhood. The original front gate from that residential villa still resides at the front of our current campus. In 1978 ASB relocated to its current location in Esplugues de Llobregat, affectionately named by former students as "the shoe box." Since then, ASB has grown in student and faculty numbers to over 1000, today representing more than fifty nationalities with state-of-the-art facilities.
ASB will celebrate different events and activities throughout the 2022-23 school year to commemorate the 60th anniversary. Read more below about our celebrations, including our memorable community gathering on Thursday, June 8, 2023!
We were delighted to welcome our ASB community to campus on October 6, 2022, to share a toast to our 60th anniversary of The American School of Barcelona.
Director Mark Pingitore opened the evening with a speech of gratitude, reflecting on the history and vision of the school's founder, Dr. Jose Maria Poal. He also recognized the culture of giving in the school with the inauguration of the Lynx Athletics Center, made possible by the generosity of a small group of parents and by the unveiling of a unique Keystone gift (located near the ES playground) by former parent and renowned artist, Lluís Lleó, who also shared the meaning of his gift and appreciation of the education his two children received at the school. In addition, Director Pingitore took a moment to personally recognize current parent, Peter Freer, who for many years has been instrumental in supporting the school's development and fundraising programs and a major promoter of building community. Board of Trustees President Roland Nash also addressed attendees with his vision of the Board over the next 3-5 years.
After a year of celebratory activities, a heartwarming final community celebration was held on the evening of Thursday, June 8, 2023, full of the talents of ASB alumni and the presence of guests from near and far. Journalist & television presenter Ainhoa Arbizu '97, daughter of former faculty Ms. Rosa Ruiz (1975-2015), hosted the evening, with alums Lucas Balloni & Vicky Townsend '22 performing a duet and Isabel Hernádez '05 (IZAH) giving a soulful rendition of the Des'ree hit "You Gotta Be." Former Elementary Principal (1975-2012) Ms. Nancy Boyd spoke of the school's early history alongside Assistant Director Bill Volchok, who talked about the school in more recent years. Director Mark Pingitore and Board President Roland Nash addressed the school's stakeholders, including the student body, faculty and staff, and community.
Director Pingitore also gave recognition to three current staff members and alumni on staff for their service and contributions to the school - Mr. Jose Manuel Calahorra '84 (Facilities Manager - son of founding Facilities Manager, Jose Calahorra Alquezar, who started working at the school in 1962, and father of Jessica '15), Ms. Marta Vernet '85 (Head of Activities and Community Service - daughter of founding teacher, Ms. Montserrat Yll, and mother of Maria '13 and Laura '16), and Ms. Ana Mercadal (Head of Human Resources - daughter of former teacher Ms. Ros Greehy, 1975-2014, and mother of Chloe '33). Videos sharing the school's history and diverse student body were played through the evening, created by alumna Elizabeth Carné '99.
The Spotlight Productions cast of Greased Lightnin' also entertained guests with a memorable "We Go Together" ensemble to wrap up the indoor portion of the evening as guests made their way outdoors. Once in the amphitheater, alum DJ Lucas Larrahona '06 delighted guests with tunes from the 60s onwards as attendees became reacquainted with one another, some after many years of absence. 60th-anniversary panels depicting photographs throughout the years adorned the amphitheater space, thoughtfully created by Grade 8 students with their technology teacher Mr. Ignasi Jaumandreu, and support from former faculty, Ms. Febe Bellon (1986-2018), who spent many long hours working through the school's archives. The evening concluded with a 60th birthday cake followed by a beautiful fireworks display against a throwback song that resonated with many alums, Un Millón de Amigos, by Roberto Carlos. The American School of Barcelona has come a long way since those humble beginnings. The celebratory evening was a wonderful tribute to the school's six decades and a true testament to how far they've come.