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Striving Toward Academic Excellence
  • Academics
  • Ott Family
Dr. Marc-Frédéric Ott

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends, The past and coming year are marked by a continuous goal of achieving academic excellence at LAS. The changes include offering more flexibility in class scheduling (LAS Continuum of Education), the addition of the new LAS edge Program, and an upgrade in our assessment policy.

A few years ago we created three clearly distinct academic programs: Middle School for 7th and 8th graders, Preparatory Years for 9th and 10th graders, and Diploma Years for 11th graders and seniors. While it has worked quite well, starting this 2019/20 school year, the LAS Continuum of Education will be adding more flexibility into the program: Gifted and talented students will be able to be a part of our newly-created Accelerated Learning Program in Switzerland (ALPS) where, for instance, a student in grade 8 may be able to take grade 9 classes while still having to complete 12 years of formal schooling to earn the LAS Diploma. Class placement will be based mainly on skills and knowledge level as opposed to uniquely on grade level.

The newly-created LAS edge Program includes four concentrations: Design and Performing Arts Conservatory (visual and performing arts), Young Founders Incubator (entrepreneurship), Alpine Institute (outdoor leadership and education), and Da Vinci Lab (STEAM or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). The program is designed for students who wish to specialize in one of these concentrations and discover a direction for further studies. Specific courses will be offered as electives during class time and augmented in the after-school activities program. LAS edge Program is an exciting opportunity to allow students more depth in their areas of interest and passion.

After three years of work by the academic team, we are implementing our new assessment policy this 2019/20 school year. It will involve shifting from a traditional grading system, where academic grades are affected by class attendance and student conduct, to a standards based grading system, where academic grades are uniquely measured by students’ academic performance. In parallel, students will be assessed based on their learning behavior. A result of this is that we will encounter students, for instance, with excellent academic grades based on predetermined standards, who may have poor learning behavior. The hope is to increase their learning behavior and thus their grades and overall skills. This new policy will allow us to individualize and focus the support that each student requires.


Part of the new assessment policy will include one grading scale from 1 to 7 as mandated by the International Baccalaureate Programme. Why has LAS decided to make this change? Research has demonstrated that standards-based grading leads to improvement of student academic achievement thanks to higher student motivation levels. The implementation of this new assessment policy along with the LAS Continuum of Education and the LAS edge Program will no doubt help LAS strive toward academic excellence.

There are a few more changes I would like to share. As of summer 2019, we have completed the full renovation of the Esplanade building. The dormitory for our youngest boys, which was previously in the Eden building, will be transferred to the Esplanade. Eden will eventually be converted into staff housing.

Other changes are taking place in the Admissions Department. Thanks to the leadership of Ira Miles, Director of Marketing & Admissions, who started in August 2018, fresh ideas have been brought forward and are already being implemented.

The final change I would like to highlight is in the Development Department. After eight years as Director of Development, Ben Smith has moved on. Thanks to his leadership, we now have a professionally run Development operation with a very strong fundraising and alumni relations program. On behalf of the LAS community, including LAS alumni, I would like to say a big thank you to Ben! As of July 2019 we are excited to welcome Ryan Joyce as the new Director of Advancement. He will go into further detail in his article about the role of the Advancement Office going forward.

As you have read, there is a lot happening at LAS and you can be proud of the school—your school. As you continue to share your LAS story with friends, relatives, and future potential LAS students, please continue to communicate your ideas and thoughts on the future with us. When the time is right for you, please also support our fundraising efforts, which help us to provide the best educational experience to the leaders of tomorrow who will contribute to the betterment of the world.

Thank you for your trust in and support of LAS. I hope to welcome you back to your school soon. I wish you all the best!

Marc-Frédéric Ott

Managing Director, Head of School

  • Panorama 2019
Celebrating a 70-year Legacy and Looking to the Future
  • Ott Family
  • Summer
Dr. Christoph M. Ott

Dear LAS Community, It is a pleasure to share with you some of the exciting developments that are taking place on the Magic Mountain and provide you with our plans for the future. Running operations at a school as complex as ours is a true balancing act. We must take each individual into account, whether studying or working, and include this into the larger context that is LAS.

The operational departments at LAS encompass a broad variety of areas that provide support for the educational programs at the school. These departments—advancement, food services, information technology, housekeeping, facilities and construction, and marketing and admissions—are comparable to the cogwheels, gears, and motors of the Aigle-Leysin train. They are essential for the cog train to make it up the mountain but are often invisible to the passengers.

While all of our operational departments have many ongoing improvements underway that will impact the school for years to come, I am most excited about the changes which took place this past summer, which you can read in more detail on page 10.

Seventy years ago, Sigrid Ott started her first summer camp, the International Ranger Camps, while her husband, Fred, was working for the US Air Force, planning and opening schools for military personnel. LAS was founded to increase international cooperation and, thus, is driven by the same ideals of the Ranger Camps that began in 1949. The ideals of compassion, responsibility, and innovation were the pertinent values that directed the school, with the intention of making the world a more open, friendly, and tolerant place in the wake of the Second World War. I am thrilled to report that after 70 years of summer programs and nearly 60 years of school later these ideals and values remain our guiding light.

Since 2018, and in preparation of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the International Ranger Camps, a complete redesign of our summer program has taken place. We now have two summer programs running concurrently: The first, three two-week LAS summer sessions structured around three pillars: Language, Academics, and Sports. Second is the LAS summer edge program, a selective three-week program focused on personal development based on the LAS values of innovation, compassion, and responsibility.

This past summer we celebrated our legacy and offered special events and programs to honor the anniversary year of the International Ranger Camps. One of the highlights was a joint production between the theater, videography, and music clubs resulting in an original film featuring the origins of the International Ranger Camps. More information on the program and celebrations can be found at 

This summer, a major step in our Campus Master Plan was completed, namely the move of the youngest boys from the Eden dorm to the fullyrenovated Esplanade building. The LAS Middle School will have its own campus, allowing for a stronger alignment between the academic programs (Middle School, Preparatory Years, and Diploma Years) and their respective residential life programs. The Middle School will be mainly concentrated in Beau Réveil and Esplanade, while the Preparatory Years will be focused in Savoy and Beau Site. Finally, the Diploma Years will continue to be located on the Belle Époque Campus.

With the completion of all current campus projects, LAS will then be able to focus on building the new Performing Arts & Learning Center to be located just below Belle Époque and beside the church.

Another major development is in the area of Information Technology with the introduction of state-of-the-art software packages carefully chosen to meet our school’s evolving needs. To determine ideal systems, each area of the school has gone through an in-depth analysis of requirement followed by a selection and configuration phase. Currently the last areas affected by this process are finances, human resources, and LAS Summer in Switzerland.

Fabrice Lemesle, who started as executive chef of our Food Services department in 2016, has continued to impress students, staff, and parents with high-quality meals and banquets. His latest project is the creation of a teaching kitchen in the Savoy dining room. This ‘Food for Thought’ kitchen will allow for food education and offer students an opportunity to better understand nutrition, health, and food preparation.

"Sutha and Jeyavathani Ponnuthurai started working at LAS in the Food Services department before the fall of the Berlin wall and his wife Jeya joined him the same year as the Olympic games in Barcelona." 

After almost 30 years of working for the LAS community in the Food Services department, Sutha and Jeyavathani Ponnuthurai have decided to pursue new goals. Sutha started working at LAS before the fall of the Berlin wall and his wife Jeya joined him the same year as the Olympic Games in Barcelona. On Friday, March 22, we hosted a celebration to honor their legacy with attendance from all departments of the school and heartwarming speeches by several members of our staff.

All the improvements above highlight how dynamic and forward-looking your school is. We strive to apply and live our mission statement each and every day. Many of the ideas above have been brought to us by LAS supporters around the world, so please feel free to reach out to us and share your thoughts. 

Kind regards from the Magic Mountain,

Christoph M. Ott


  • Panorama 2019
Giving Summer Students an Edge
  • Summer
Mark Gordon & Ania Gruszczynska

Summer has come and gone, and we can’t help but marvel at how far our summer camp programs have come since Sigrid Ott first began “Yank Camps” 70 years ago. While LAS’s summer program was originally intended to support the children of US military families throughout Europe, it has since developed significantly to cater to new generations of young explorers from all over the world. As we continue to grow and change, though, the principle objective of the summer experience at LAS remains the same—teaching by having fun and enjoying every moment of the learning experience!

Last year saw the launch of the revamped LAS Summer in Switzerland structure—we created two brand new divisions of summer that were met with enthusiastic response from our campers.

LAS summer, the first of the new programs, offers students a choice of Language, Academic, or Sports core morning programs, followed by a range of exciting activities and clubs that allow them to try something new almost every day. The second of the new programs is LAS summer edge, a camp for highly-motivated students who are looking for a unique summer experience.

This year during the three weeks of LAS summer edge, students learned about and grew in the areas of responsibility, compassion, and innovation— qualities inspired by LAS’s mission statement. Throughout summer edge we ensure that learning happens outside of the classroom as much as possible. During Responsibility Week students learned firsthand how to be champions of a better and more ethical future. Students visited the Hublot watch factory and learned about the importance of corporate social responsibility and how Hublot crafts beautiful products while still being accountable for their impact on the wider world.

Compassion Week introduced students to the founder of SolidariTEE, Tiara Sahar Ataii. SolidariTEE is a student-run charity supporting refugees that, over the first two years of running, expanded to 35 universities across 5 countries. Students also met with Randall Zindler, former CEO of Medair. Together with Medair, Randall helped to coordinate the humanitarian effort following the Asian tsunami in December 2004. Randall spoke with the students about what it means to take part in activism.

Last, but definitely not least, Innovation Week set creative minds loose and helped to sum up everything our students learned throughout summer edge. Students worked together with a group of entrepreneurs from TAZEBAEZ who guided them through a process of designing, testing, and pitching a product that responded to a challenge they identified over the course of the program.

All the dynamic activities of LAS summer edge were complemented by a range of company and organization visits (including to CERN and the UN), presentations and workshops led by guest presenters, and a wide array of fun activities, such as indoor skydiving, paddle boarding, and parapenting, that will have students talking about LAS summer edge for years to come!

Most importantly, LAS summer edge created a close-knit family for its participants. A maximum of 30 students are accepted to the program each year, ensuring that every student gets the guidance they need to become a resourceful and creative thinker and develop the skills necessary to achieve their goals and ambitions. Students in LAS summer edge work with our personal development and leadership coach to track their progress and make feasible and sustainable plans for future projects. It is our pleasure to see them run for leadership positions in their schools back home, volunteer abroad, or fearlessly apply for their first summer job just a few months after the completion of our program. We are looking forward to seeing what the next LAS summer edge cohort will set out to achieve!

  • Panorama 2019
Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Rae Levy- Entrepreneur
  • Alumni Spotlight
Anthony Leutenegger

"To Arrive Where We Started"

The mountains surrounding Leysin have instilled a deep love of the environment within many students passing through LAS. Likewise the school’s location in Europe has opened the eyes of many students to the incredible cultural diversity this continent has to offer. Lauren Rae Levy S ’99 attended LAS Summer in Switzerland in 1998 and 1999 and attests that her summer camp experience “showed me a different world.”

Lauren was born in New Jersey, USA and spent much of her young life in the arts in New York, and around Broadway. She auditioned for a musical to attend LAS Summer in Switzerland and ended up winning the chance to spend part of her summers in Leysin working with the theater program. She played Lucy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and the following year played Jesus in “Godspell” and El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.” Her first international casting, with a group of international students, was “unique, challenging, and one of her favourite memories on stage.”

Beyond Lauren’s on stage experiences, two of the most important things she took with her when she left Leysin were a strong mastery of French and a love of the outdoors. These two aspects have directly impacted her current life in Malibu, California, USA.

Shortly after completing a double major in music and theater, with a minor in French at the Frost School of Music in Miami, Lauren went back to the Big Apple. Lauren applied to work with a high end Parisian fashion designer opening a store in New York. In an interview to work at Catherine Malandrino with none other than Catherine herself and her husband, Lauren politely listened as Catherine and her husband spoke French in between questions. As the interview was being finished Lauren piped up with her final question: “Avez-vous d’autres questions?” Catherine and her husband were happily surprised to find out that this young candidate spoke French! Lauren was offered the job and was the youngest person to be a manager for the company. She went on to launch a new store location for Catherine which was a huge success, proving that if you give young people the reigns, and a chance, they can often see new ways to solve problems. Lauren is still a fashion consultant and entrepreneur today. Knowing another language is powerful, and through her dedication and a little help from LAS Summer in Swizerland, she used it to begin a career.

After arriving back from a short stint in Turkey working in fashion, Lauren was ready to try something completely different and moved to Malibu. By adjusting her priorities Lauren started to focus on balancing her professional and personal life. While on a hike she was approached by a “dude from Poland” who asked her if she wanted to learn how to rappel. With a bit of hesitation she said “why not” and so began her voyage into the vertical world. Lauren is one of the few individuals in California who regularly Aussie rappels, meaning when she rappels down a mountain she does it facing forward. She also became a strong rock climber which 50,000 of her followers on Instagram can attest to when she uploads terrifying and somehow incredibly fashionable climbing photographs. LAS Summer in Switzerland is where her love of the outdoors began and her move to California is where it was rekindled.

Lauren currently has her hands full with a wide variety of different occupations and passions. She is a style expert on TV working with Extra, QVC, and Inside Edition; she works in marketing and branding for her family-owned cookware company, Gotham Steel; she is a social media influencer and fashion stylist whose aim is to “give people confidence;” on top of all of this she is set to be married to celebrity chef Marcel Vigneron in November. Congratulations from LAS!

Lauren came back to LAS summer to speak to our students at the 70th anniversary celebration, but before she returned we decided to ask her a few questions:

Q&A with Lauren

A: What are you most looking forward to with your upcoming visit back to LAS summer?

L: Showing my fiancé the place that changed my life! I haven’t been there since 1999, when I was 16, so it has certainly been a while. That being said, the memories I made in Leysin left such an imprint on my heart, it still feels like it happened yesterday. Also I’m super stoked about getting a few hours of rock climbing in! I’ve become an avid climber over the last 4 years and can’t wait to get on some sport routes while I’m over there.

A: Have you stayed connected with your fellow LAS summer alumni? If yes, who would be most jealous you are coming back for a visit?

L: Yes! Some of them are even coming to my wedding in November! I think that all my friends would be jealous that I am returning to such an amazing place. If someone was going this week, I’d be jealous and I’m coming so soon! I’m pretty sure my friends in the States and Canada would be the most jealous though. It’s a longer trip, so it’s not something we can do from here as often.

A: There are specialists and generalists—you seem to fall under the generalist category with your life and work experience. Why do you think that is an advantage? How would you impress the importance of this onto young campers at LAS summer?

L: As someone who gets bored super easily, it has always been important to keep things moving and shaking! It’s been advantageous to be well rounded, as it has led to many more opportunities than I would have had if I was only strong in one area—opportunities to travel, meet incredible folks all over the world, and, most of all, to grow as a human being. I feel that we grow the most as individuals when we are out of our comfort zones. People taking a chance on me in my career because they saw how well rounded I was has led to so many incredible life-changing events for me and made me the person I’m proud to be today.

A: You picked up and moved to Turkey to continue your career in the fashion world. How did LAS Summer in Switzerland prepare you for this drastic life change?

L: Moving to Switzerland alone at age 15 was the first time I was really out of my comfort zone for a long period of time. I became fluent in French from being there as a result of Conversational French Class I took, and learned just how much the locals respect Americans (especially) when they try to adjust to another culture. This was the first time I was meeting folks from all over the world that were my age and had similar interests! Moving to Istanbul was a big move. I had never been to Turkey, only knew my investor, and didn’t speak the language. But I tried my best to learn, adjust to the culture there, and continue to grow. The people around me noticed this and respected me as a result. Sure there were days that were harder than others, but I loved the challenge—it was a natural high. Learning that I could build my name and earn the respect of people who had no clue who I was prior to moving there was really something. They admired my courage, my fearlessness when it came to speaking up, and my ability to network outside of the NYC bubble. After one month in Turkey, I had been published in the second most circulated paper in the country (Radikal), People Style Watch Turkey, and ELLE Turkey. It was beyond rewarding for me to see that I could make a name for myself and build something from scratch, solely by being me.

A: Finally, what will your message be when you speak to a group of campers coming from around 60 different countries around the world?

L: Live a life of YES. Say YES to all the opportunities that present themselves to you organically through your journey of life that make sense to who you are, as you never know when or if they will come around again. Keep in touch with the people who have left imprints on your heart and have changed you for the better. It is so important to surround yourself with positivity and people who believe in you. Always wear your confidence and be true to who you are. The energy we put out into the world is what attracts the people around us and invites opportunities our way. Lastly, always keep an open mind. While it is so important to stay true to who you are, it’s also important to listen to the advice of others and pick and choose from that, what works for you. Allow yourself to grow and you will.

- Malibu, California, USA

  • Panorama 2019
  • Academics
Sabina Schwedtmann-Lynch

<<photo of girls in lib>>

The LAS Continuum of Education is the vision for the future of education at LAS. As the name suggests, the Continuum views every aspect of our program, from grade 7 to grade 12, as part of a continuous pathway contributing to the development of our students.

Part of this Continuum vision has included restructuring many of LAS’s original basic tenets of education. We additionally will be incorporating new, cutting edge educational ideas and opportunities while valuing and enhancing a more traditional model of education. A key feature of the Continuum is a new program here at LAS, entitled the Accelerated Learning Program in Switzerland or ALPS. Through innovative classroom scheduling, ALPS offers students a mixed program that plays to their individual strengths and needs in a way that the previous program found more challenging. For example, a student who excels in mathematics or the sciences can be placed in a class well above their traditional grade level, meaning that they are able to access classes with more challenging content to help drive forward their learning, abilities, and natural talents. This is not, however, restricted to mathematics and science: students whose abilities lie within the humanities, modern languages, or a myriad of other elective choices are able to participate in a more rounded and personalized educational pathway at LAS.

The Continuum also strives to ensure that students do not view their education in a compartmentalized manner, with each grade level being separate from the others. It emphasizes for students that their high school education is a pathway of continuous growth and development, with each year serving as the building block for the next, leading towards the pinnacle of senior year and life after LAS.

Life after LAS is a key component of our students’ education; not because we want to rush the adolescents entrusted to our care through their high school years, but rather because of a desire to help them understand the impact of the choices they are making throughout the entirety of their high school career. The introduction of a new whole-school timetable has also allowed us to devote specific time and attention in the school day to career pathway and university advising, beginning in grade 9 and carrying on through to grade 12. In this way, we are able to help scaffold students’ experiences and expectations so that they are able to progress towards their individual pathways and success.

Education is an ever-changing landscape and if we are to stay current, we must adapt and change with the times. Programs such as the Continuum, ALPS, and LAS edge are giving us the tools to help students adapt to a future and professions that we can only imagine. This is the future of education at LAS and one that I feel blessed to count myself a part of.

<< photo of students with librarian>>


1. Through innovative classroom scheduling, the Accelerated Learning Program in Switzerland offers students a mixed program that plays to their individual strengths and needs.

2. LAS edge allows students to explore specializations before they reach university.

3. The Continuum meets LAS students where they’re at, encouraging them to study, improve, and explore.




  • Panorama 2019