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In Memory of Sigrid Ott- Benson 

September 13, 1916- April 23, 2017

It was during the deadly battles of the Somme in WWI that a ray of sun light in the bedroom of Gudbjorg Benson in Upham, North Dakota, announced the birth of her fourth daughter, Sigriour, to be followed by three boys and a fifth girl. 


Life on the farm, homesteaded by Sigrid's father, Sveinbjorn, was a happy mix of children's laughter, reciting of Icelandic poems, daily chores and school work. Sigrid remembered that her childhood was filled with love and happiness, despite the challenges of the hard farm life and the Great Depression. She excelled at school and acquired the reputation of being the most brilliant of the Benson children. 

In 1936, while at university, she met Fred and deeply fell in love. Here was a "man of the world" who had travelled, spoke several languages, loved music and literature, and was as keen as she to experience the adventures that life could hold. They married in 1939. 

During two years in Minnesota, where Fred was teaching, Sigrid gave birth to Aldis. Then, after moving to Walla Walla, Washington, where her husband was charged with the educational rehabilitation program of the State Penitentiary, Steven was born. Fred was drafted in 1944 and was transferred to Germany shortly after the war ended.  

A telegram proposing a holiday in Switzerland was the beginning of a life-long adventure that brought Sigrid, Aldis and Steven to Europe joining Fred. They founded the Ranger Camps in 1949 and discovered their life's vision, namely furthering international understanding amongst young people. The family moved to Wiesbaden, Germany in the early fifties, where Fred planned and opened over fifty Air Force dependent schools and Sigrid worked for her camps. 

In 1960, the municipality of Leysin approached Sigrid to make her aware of the availability of the Savoy building, providing the impetus for the foundation of the Leysin American School (LAS). Start-up difficulties made it necessary for Fred and Sigrid to move to Leysin in 1966. They then dedicated their lives to the school and its sister institution, the American College of Switzerland. Doris and Steven took on the leadership role of LAS in 1982. 

By the mid- eighties Fred and Sigrid were enjoying a well- deserved retirement. They travelled the world, entertained friends in Chalet Dakota, made music- Fred played piano and Sigrid sang, cared for their grand- children, and participated in LAS events. Fred passed away peacefully on November 27, 2007. 

Sigrid lived in Chalet Dakota until 2012 when she moved into the Pyrolle with Doris and Steven. She actively participated in LAS events and enjoyed many visits until the last days of her life.

Sigrid's last weeks were for listening to her favorite "Vier LETZTE lieder: Im Abendor", by Richard Strauss and for good-byes to family and friends. She passed away in peace with a slight smile leaving a signifiant legacy behind her. 


Sigrid will be missed by her family (in photo above), who could count on her good advice and lost of love, especially by Doris and Steven, who shared their life with her for so long. 

Sigrid will be missed by LAS students, faculty and staff, whom she addressed so many times inspiring them to be tolerant of others. 

Sigrid will be missed by her Leysin friends, whom she welcomed with a sparkle in her blue eyes and bright smile. 

A celebration of Self- Directed Learning.

Students in the Middle School 3-D Design class came together this week in an event their teacher, Mr. Tihen, described as "a celebration of self- directed learning." During this course, this hardworking group of students has taken charge of their own learning, designing 3-D printed models of sailboats and devising advertising strategies. They began with simple prototypes and marketing ideas and, with research and group collaboration, slowly built towards more complex models and business plans. 

All of this hard work culminated in Shark Tank- an hour-long event in which students pitched their designs to an audience of 35 "investors", each equipped with 1,700,000 in play money. In order to sway investors to place their trust (and funds) in their design, students' business pitches had to excel in five fields. 

Our Middle School students met the challenges of the day with enthusiasm and their projects didn't fail to impress! They came together with thoughtful, articulate presentations, well- researched and designed 3-D models, clever brochures, company names, and backstories, all while implementing a number of strategies used by real engineers. 

In the words of a student, the Shark Tank Assignment teaches participants about "teamwork, communication with each other, how to program, and how to use a 3-D printer." It's also a testament to the value of self- regulated learning, and just how much students can accomplish when they are motivated by their own curiosity. 

Posted by Emily Gain on 09/02/18 


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4 Reasons to Consider the IB Diploma: (academics) 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, founded by a non- profit Swiss educational foundation in 1968, is known as one of the most rigorous and respected university preparation programs in the world. Students experience rapid intellectual, emotional, and ethical growth in this program, which usually spans the 11th and 12th grades. The Leysin American School is proud to be authorized to teach the IB program, and we are especially thrilled to see how successful our IB students have become at gaining acceptance to the most prestigious universities in the world. 

These are some of the reasons why you should consider the IB diploma: 

1. The IB diploma provides both academic breadth and academic depth. 

Students pursuing the IB diploma get a chance to explore a variety of options before they go to university. They study six core subjects- including two languages and courses chosen from science, math, social studies, and the arts- and they select three of those subjects to study at a more intensive level. 

2. Learning extends beyond the classroom. 

The IB program is academically rigorous, but it also goes beyond academic learning. Special components of the syllabus encourage reflection and experiential learning. 

One of the core principles of the IB program is that it teaches students to learn how to learn. The required Theory of Knowledge course gives students an opportunity to reflect on how they know what they know. That reflection includes questions such as "What counts as evidence in a particular situation?" and "How does a specific theory work in the real world?"

IB students also complete creativity, activity and action (CAS) projects. Students select projects that are personally challenging and that involve actions with significant outcomes. Thoughtful planning and reflections on the outcomes are essential parts of the projects. 

3. The IB diploma program is recognized worldwide. 

Earning an IB diploma puts students on a path to success, both in higher education and in their careers. Studies show that the IB students are 21 percent more likely to be admitted into the United States' most prestigious universities. Diploma program students are sought after in universities throughout the world, and they have applied to institutions of higher learning in nearly 90 countries.

4. The IB program gives students skills for life. 

In addition to begin challenged academically, students are challenged to grow personally. They develop skills in the IB program that will serve them well throughout their lives, in their multiple roles- going on to higher education, building a career, growing a family, and becoming involved with their communities and with the world beyond. Students learn to think critically and to challenge assumptions and to consider issues from both a local and global perspective. 

In all of its components, the IB diploma program emphasizes critical thinking. By learning to challenge the information and interpretations they are given, students develop the ability to understand and meet the needs of a varied and constantly changing world. 

Posted by: Veronika R. '15 on20/07/16