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Striving Toward Academic Excellence
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