Two decades have passed for the Saipan International School yet its mission statement remains the same: To provide each child the opportunity to grow socially, emotionally, and intellectually.
This is what makes SIS headmaster Dr. Dale Jenkins truly proud of the school, saying it is not just a place of learning but is also home to many families and their children.
Wednesday marked the school’s 20th anniversary as the CNMI’s only international school. In a special gathering for students, parents, guests and dignitaries, Dr. Jenkins shared the humble and inspiring beginnings of the school.
“This school is really a result of a love affair: a love affair between parents and their children. In 1993, there was a small group of parents who had very young children. As they wanted to keep them together, they developed a school that would give their children the finest educational opportunities possible…and so the Saipan International School was created and classes begun on Sept. 18, 1994.”
From only 45 students taking classes in a house at San Jose Village, SIS now has 215 enrollees from K-4 to high school. From just one staffer, the school also has 20 faculty and support staff now. The school campus itself is now located in As Lito.
For two decades now, SIS has graduated about 50 high school students, majority of whom went on to college around the globe and have been successful in their chosen fields.
According to Jenkins, SIS has built a top-rated Asia-Pacific reputation as a school with rigorous academic expectations and results. Its high school students take up to six Advanced Placement courses in English, History, and Math.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has also recognized SIS’ academic excellence by giving it the highest possible accreditation terms of six years that runs until 2017.
SIS’ K-5 to 11th grades, according to Jenkins, have individualized reading programs and its students-to-teacher ratio is ideal at 11:1 in most classes.
“As the CNMI’s only international school, it is an important part of the community that attracts top-rated students from across the region [and] that generates prestige and visibility for our beautiful islands,” he said.
Jenkins vows to continue developing SIS’ academic program and to expand their services, particularly in the area of telecommunications and long distance education.
On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Jude Hofschneider signed a proclamation endorsing September 2013 through September 2014 as “SIS’ Year of Celebration” and urged the community to join in celebrating and commemorating the achievements of SIS through appropriate events and activities.
SIS will have its biggest event in March 2014, in celebration of the birth of the institution. Among other plans in the works is the development of a strategic plan for the institution.
“The future is incredibly bright for the school and we’re very happy about it. We’re very pleased where we are now and we want to continue to make progress,” he told Saipan Tribune.
SIS students call themselves “Geckos.”
One such proud gecko, Mike Johnson, shared his experience: “When I first moved here, I knew that it would take a lot of adjusting. There are so many differences apparent here—from seeing kindergarteners walking around to the smaller class sizes. I went from a class of almost 400 to a class of 15. I went from scanning ID cards to buying paper tickets for lunch. I went from four classes a semester to nine classes a semester. I went from one AP class to three AP classes….and I am loving every second of it.”
Johnson is the president of the SIS’ Student Council.