One of Abu Dhabi's oldest schools builds for future with move to new campus

American Community School welcomed 1,200 pupils to its high-tech Saadiyat Island home on Monday

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One of Abu Dhabi's oldest schools is ready to unlock the potential of future generations of learners after moving to a high-tech new home.

American Community School of Abu Dhabi welcomed 1,200 pupils for their first lessons at the sprawling Saadiyat Island campus on Monday, after chalking up more than 50 years at its previous premises in Al Bateen.

Embracing technology and sustainability, promoting the Arabic language and empowering teachers will be at the heart of the school's bold vision.

“This new chapter in our 50-year history represents our commitment to providing an unparalleled educational experience, fostering growth and nurturing the aspirations of every student who walks through these doors,” said Monique Flickinger, superintendent at the school.

Watching our students discover their new learning spaces brings joy to our hearts
Matt Ayoub

“Our new facility provides an exciting opportunity for teachers and students to explore their passions and realise their fullest potential.”

On Sunday, the school hosted a community open day event for pupils and their families to celebrate the opening of the new campus, which was attended by more than 1,500 people.

The emirate's only American non-profit community school had been based in Khalidiya since 1972.

The school was built on land donated by UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

At the time, the school had eight classrooms, a kindergarten, a large library, offices, and a capacity for 200 pupils.

Embarking on a new era

The new campus, located 400 metres from New York University Abu Dhabi, has the capacity to serve up to 1,550 pupils, from kindergarten to grade 12.

It features a fully equipped science wing, a 650-seat theatre, an art gallery, two swimming pools, five full-sized indoor basketball courts, a full-sized football pitch, a six-lane running track and a wellness centre.

A key objective of the school will be to cultivate pupils' understanding of advanced technology through a focus on robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality.

Jelica Martin, a Serbian mother and president of the parent-teacher association at the school, said she was extremely excited for the move to the new campus.

Her 16-year-old daughter has attended the school for almost 13 years, having joined in kindergarten.

“This is the only campus that we have known all of her school life. We love this school,” said Ms Martin.

“It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that anyone entering ACS can feel the passion and drive resonating throughout our community. Although this vibrant energy is not confined to mere rooms and hallways, we now finally have a campus that matches and reflects the true spirit of ACS.

“Having this new campus, it's not just that the buildings that are new, and look better, but I think they offer more in sense of what our children will be able to do. My child is in the track and field team and instead of going off to different locations around the city, now they have their own track that they can practice on.

“When you look at the space that they have in high school for science labs it's just a whole different level. And now, and I believe that the kids will have more opportunities for different things.”

She voiced hope that pupils will benefit from having NYU on the doorstep.

“The fact that the campus is right next to the NYU is also exciting for us because we can see collaboration between the two institutions, where our kids will benefit from being near the university, but then also the exchange in knowledge or visiting the campus and gaining from that as well.”

The campus integrates technology and sustainability and gives pupils a space to delve deeper into hands-on experiences, including developing a three-storey teaching greenhouse and learning about sustainable energy through the school’s solar panels, which generate about 35 per cent of its annual energy.

The new campus includes an Arabic Institute of Excellence to pioneer new approaches to teaching Arabic and offer training opportunities to teachers globally.

“Watching our students discover their new learning spaces brings joy to our hearts and marks a transformative step forward in our pursuit of excellence,” said Matt Ayoub, chairman of the ACS Board of Trustees.

“We are deeply grateful for the dedicated efforts of our community and the unwavering support of a range of Abu Dhabi entities that helped turn our dreams into reality.”

Updated: January 15, 2024, 11:12 AM