Page 8 - Alumni Newsletter Winter 2012-2013

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The invitation came simply and clearly
written to IC president, John Johnson:
The First Founder’s Day of current de-
scendants of the American Board Schools
built in Anatolia in the 19th century will
take place from November 1st until the
3rd in Izmir, Turkey.
Johnson had to recollect his thoughts
a little. Founder’s Day? 19th century?
Anatolia? Izmir?
IC was indeed founded in Izmir (then
known as Smyrna) in the 19th century,
but since its arrival to Lebanon in 1936,
there has been no contact with Turkey.
And now, more than 70 years later, this
email suddenly arrives.
An avid history buff himself, Johnson was
immediately intrigued. According to the
letter, six other schools, all founded by
the American Board Commissioners for
Foreign Missions (ABCFM), - Protestant
missionaries who established schools and
universities throughout the region – were
asked to gather in Izmir and bring along
with them some of their students.
Johnson didn’t need to think twice. He
immediately accepted.
For he knew that this was to be a meet-
ing like no other. It would be a historical
meeting, but it also would mean that
IC was returning – for the first time in
exactly 76 years – back home.
Ten students were chosen.They would
be the first IC students to set foot back
in Izmir.
In 1934, the IC administration – un-
willing to bow to Turkish authorities’
demands to curtail their academic cur-
riculum - decided to shut down. In 1936,
they accepted an invitation by Dr. Bayard
Dodge, then president of AUB, to come
to Beirut and take over the preparatory
school.They moved to Lebanon that same
year. All ties with Turkey were severed. IC
became completely a Lebanese entity.
The momentous day arrived and the
students, accompanied by Johnson, music
director Randa Sabbah, and IC Newslet-
ter writer, Reem Haddad, arrived in Izmir.
IC was welcomed with open arms. “You’ve
come back!” exclaimed one woman.
As Turkish and Lebanese students im-
mediately took to one another, the adults
looked on thrilled.
The descendants of the founding fathers
were together again. Standing proudly
among them were the hosts and origi-
nators of the Founder’s Day idea: the
American Collegiate Institute (ACI).
“We all have a common rich and unique
history which is an important part of who
we are and who alumni are,” said Todd
Cuddington, the Headmaster of ACI.
“The remarkable thing is that we all have
the same mission and mission state-
ment which were instilled in our schools
when they were formed and this keeps us
connected. We wanted to reunite so we
can be partners in this region. It’s a huge
network that we are not making use of.”
Founded in 1878 as an all-girls academy,
ACI was the sister school of IC. IC boys
and ACI girls would often meet at various
events. In fact, IC’s founder, Alexander
MacLachlan met and married a teacher
from ACI, Rose Blackler. Together, they
founded The American School for Boys
(later to be called IC) in 1891.
“This is very exciting for all of us,” said
Didem Erpulat, a history teacher at ACI.
It was she that came up with the idea and
brought everyone together. “We had al-
ways heard that we have a common history
but never really made the effort before.”
Other schools present at the Founder’s
Day were: Uskudar American Academy,
Tarsus American College and the Ameri-
can College of Greece – Pierce.
All were founded by ABCFM – other-
wise known as the American Board - in
the 1800’s. But World War I heralded in
many changes.The Ottoman Empire’s
demise led to a struggle for Turkish self-
determination and schools were subjected
to heavy restrictions.The role of ABCFM
and its missionaries dwindled consider-
ably. With the establishment of the Turk-
ish Republic in 1923 and the US depres-
sion in 1929, some of the Board’s schools
eventually either shut down permanently
or relocated to other countries, as did IC.
Others, however, remained, as did ACI.
For the schools that remained, the AB-
CFM continued to serve on their boards.
About 15 of its schools that were estab-
lished during the Ottoman Empire still
remain. Slowly but surely, however, even
the Board began to hand over the schools
to a newly formed foundation called SEV.
The last school to be handed over to SEV
was ACI itself in 2010.
And the last member of the Board is
Alison Stendahl – who was present at
the First Founder’s Day in Izmir. It was
First Founder’s Day:
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