AIS celebrates 50 years with Inspiration Day

September 18, 2017

Antwerp International School celebrates 50 years with Inspiration Day

On Friday, 1 September, traditional classes at Antwerp International School were suspended for the day as students, faculty and parents took part in ‘Inspiration Day’, a unique event combining lectures, the arts, athletics, technology and science to kick off the school’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
“Getting ‘old’ means that we can draw upon our history and make the best of our experiences to help pave the way for the next 50 years at AIS,” said Andreas Koini, Head of School.

Throughout the day, students were encouraged to take part in a range of activities and were introduced to different forms of technology, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robots. Children’s author Annick Beyers, renowned for books such as Oscar & Felix and Het Smulparadijs, entertained the younger students, while upper Primary and Secondary School students heard life stories from former Belgian triathlete Marc Herremans, who placed 6th in the 2001 Ironman World Championship, and space pilot trainer Nancy Vermeulen.

The stories were not lost upon the students. Grade 5 student Ivy found an inspiring message in Herremans’ story. “I learned that even if something really bad happens, you should keep on going. He said you can make a U-turn away from the bad things and start looking at the good things,” she explained.

“The International Baccalaureate (IB) system of which AIS is a part, focuses on academics, character, and conceptual understanding,” explained Koini. “Additionally, we’re reshaping our academic pillar with an even stronger focus on science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects.” As such, Inspiration Day coincided with the launch of the school’s STEM initiative, which will encompass upgrading school facilities and implementing programmes in cooperation with corporate partners and international institutions for interdisciplinary units and summer internships.

“We’re determined to make sure our kids are well prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. In particular, we’re focused on stimulating the interest of more female students in STEM too,” he added.
For Grade 11 student Ekaterina Kassianenko, a standout session during Inspiration Day included The Future Is Now debate, during which Grade 11 and 12 students discussed technology and its impact on information and privacy. “I was on the panel with other students and teachers and got to express my feelings about how technology could change our world. I was really inspired by that.”

“It’s good for the students to engage with themes that are overarching. To come together and have an
hour-long discussion with all the Grade 11 and 12 students is a unique opportunity,” added Dirk Koolmees, a Math and Biology teacher in the Secondary School.

Inspiration Day concluded with a food festival on campus for students, faculty, alumni and their families, featuring meals that celebrate the many cultures found in AIS and the local community.This year Antwerp International School has much to celebrate, having finished the four-year authorization process for both the Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) and Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) of the International Baccalaureate. These programmes together with the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) mean that AIS is now the only school in Belgium to offer the full IB continuum in one institution. With this achievement in hand,

AIS is ready to look forward.