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"Education is a community service requiring community participation."
Stephen Eckard, humanitarian, journalist, scholar, entrepreneur, founder and former head of ASL.

ASL was founded in 1951 by Stephen L. Eckard, an American journalist and former teacher living in London. Mr. Eckard was working for the North American Service of the BBC when several co-workers encouraged him to start a school that followed an American curriculum. The School began with 13 students, and all classes took place in his Knightsbridge flat.

Within half a year, the School had become so popular that three teachers were hired and it was moved to a more spacious property in Chelsea. An alumnus of ASL in its early years remembered Mr. Eckard wearing many hats: "Headmaster, counselor, teacher, administrator, even bus driver—Stephen Eckard did it all."

The School continued to grow, moving first to a large house in Grosvenor Square and then adding two houses in Gloucester Gate and four houses in York Terrace. Students played sports at Regent’s Park and on the lawn of Winfield House, the residence of the US ambassador.

The first High School graduation was held in 1960, an event that brought Mr. Eckard much joy. "It would be difficult to exaggerate the pride I feel in our school’s first graduating class," he said. "To the extent that it marks a milestone of achievement for me in the development of the American School in London, I hope this feeling is shared by the Senior Class."

In 1964, the newly formed Board of Trustees made the landmark decision to raise funds for a $7 million building to house the whole school. They broke ground in 1968 with the help of Ambassador David K.E. Bruce. The cornerstone was laid two years later by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. The Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher, MP, then secretary of state for education and science, spoke at the building’s dedication in 1971.

In September 2000, the School opened a new High School wing, which included an additional 24,000 square feet of space, a new gym, art studios, computer labs and a renovated library.

In June 2006, the School broke ground on the School Center for Education and the Arts, to create a 450-seat theater and new flexible teaching and performance space. The Center was completed in the winter of 2007 and officially opened in March 2008.

In 2011, the School marked its 60th anniversary by celebrating Founder's Day on 21 April, the date on which founding headmaster Stephen L. Eckard opened the doors of his Knightsbridge flat to begin the American School in London in 1951.

See some early footage of ASL below; you'll see Stephen Eckard in the film at 10m00s, 11m50s and 13m06s:

Founder's Day

Founder's Day

Founder's Day marks the day on which ASL founder and first headmaster Stephen Eckard opened the doors of his Knightsbridge flat in April 1951 to start the American School in London. Since then, the School has moved many times before settling in its present building at One Waverley Place in 1971. Founder's Day is an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate ASL and to educate the community about the School's rich history.

ASL celebrates Founder's Day on 21 April, or on the third Thursday in April when the 21st falls on a weekend.

Read about the 2013 Founder's Day Celebrations.



1951Stephen L. Eckard opens a school for 13 students in his flat on Hans Place in Knightsbridge
1952School moves to Grosvenor Square as the School grows to 135 students and 10 teachers
1955U.S. President Harry Truman addresses students
1957High School (Grades 10–12) added as the School moves to two Regency houses at Gloucester Gate
1960First High School graduation (12 seniors)
First yearbook produced
First prom (at Manettas)
The eagle is chosen as the School mascot
1963School moves to 38/41 York Terrace
Teacher Paul Morton begins 33 years of perfect attendance
1964ASL becomes an educational trust
The School expands and is housed under 12 roofs
1968The International Sports League (ISL) is started
York Gate opens for Middle School
Ground breaking for the new campus in St. John's Wood by U.S. Ambassador David K. E. Bruce
1969The High School moves to the Working Men's College for two years while the new building is finished
1970The cornerstone for the new school building is laid by the Rt. Hon. Michael Stuart, CH, MP, British foreign and commonwealth secretary, in the presence of U.S. Ambassador Walter Annenberg and ASL Board Chairman Albert F. Lager
1971The new building is dedicated by the Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher, MP, secretary of state for education and science
First graduation in the new building; Lord Hailsham is a guest speaker
First championships in ISL Tournament—boys soccer, girls volleyball
Jack H. Harrison chosen as the second head of school (1971-1986)
1972The Faculty Sabbatical Policy is established; Harry Hurtt is the first recipient
1973DoDDS Sports League begins
The Student-Teacher Mentor Program is established
1974First Music Tour – Stage Band goes to The Hague
The American Memorial Collection is established in the Mellon Library to commemorate ASL families killed in a Paris plane crash
International Schools Sports Tournament (ISST) is started
1975International Honor Band and Choir are established by ASL faculty
The HS student newspaper, the Standard, is started
1978First High School Alternatives trips
1979Death of ASL founder and first head of school Stephen L. Eckard
1981First computer lab is built
1984Concert Band plays for U.S. President Ronald Reagan at Winfield House, residence of the US ambassador
1986William E. Harris is chosen as the third head of school (1986-1991)
1991Death of William E. Harris, third head of school
William H. Greenham is chosen as fourth/interim head of school (1991-1992)
1992Judith R. Glickman is chosen as the fifth head of school (1992-1998)
1994Canons Park playing fields are purchased
1996Schoolwide computer network is installed
1997Board of Trustees approves a Facilities Master Plan
1998William C. Mules is chosen as the sixth head of school (1998-2007)
The school launchesits first capital campaign, SchoolWorks, in support of campus renovation and expansion
1999SchoolWorks' ground breaking cermony for the School's renovation and expansion
2000Completion of new gyms and the High School humanities wing
2001Completion of the SchoolWorks capital campaign
ASL celebrates 50 years of providing quality education
2006The School launches its second capital campaign, Fulfilling Great Expectations, to increase endowment in support of faculty and staff and to renovate the school theater
Fulfilling Great Expectations ground breaking ceremony for the new School Center for Education and the Arts
2007Coreen R. Hester is chosen as the seventh head of school (2007-present)
2008School Center for Education and the Arts grand opening ceremony—special guests include the Honorable Al Gore and actor Kevin Spacey
2010Board of Trustees adopts the 2010 Strategic Plan
2011Founder's Day celebrated in April to mark the founding of ASL in April 1951 and the school's 60th anniversary
2013Board of Trustees announce plans for ASL's third capital campaign in support of program excellence, new and renovated facilities, and endowment growth.



School memories

We've launched a School memories website for you to share your photos and experiences from ASL, and of course - enjoy other ASLers' memories too.

© 2014 The American School in London / One Waverley Place, London, NW8 0NP / Site Map / Questions or comments? Email webmaster@asl.org

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