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Growing Up Through the Years

Established in 1920, International School Manila (ISM) is the oldest international school in Manila and the first to offer the IB Diploma program in Asia.

The School currently stands on a 7-hectare site in Bonifacio Global City with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art campus. ISM utilizes an international curriculum and offers a vast array of programs and co-curricular activities. ISM’s student body embraces true diversity and its faculty members are just as diverse with over 100 countries represented. With a growing international community, ISM celebrated 100 years of service in 2020.


Article feature in the Manila Times paper, 22nd May 1920

In 1920,

a group of American and British parents living in Manila established the American School, Inc., which opened its doors on June 21, 1920 located at 606 Taft Avenue, a loaned church building, with eight teachers and fifty students from Grades 1-12.


American School (AS) Campus on Donada Street, circa 1936

In 1930,

the American Indian became the American School (AS) symbol. The official seal was introduced in 1949.

Just after the Christmas holiday of 1936, the school moved again; this time to a campus on Donada Street.


First AS school bus, circa 1948

In January 1942,

Japanese troops arrived in Manila. All citizens of the Allied countries were interned at the University of Santo Tomas. Heads of various schools organized classes within the internment camp and these ran until 1945. A total of thirty-four students completed their High School requirements and graduated during WWII.

In September 1946, exactly one year after the Japanese surrendered in Manila, the American School re-opened on Donada Street.


Gymnasium Auditorium, AS Donada campus

In 1952,

the American School became the first private school outside of the United States to be listed in Porter Sargent's Handbook of Private Schools.


AS Bel-air, Makati campus

In 1961,

the school moved to the Bel-air campus in Makati to accommodate the growing AS community.


International Day celebration

In 1970,

the American School changed its name to International School Manila (ISM) at the recommendation of the US Embassy to reflect the growing student diversity on campus. During the same year, ISM also became the first international school to receive accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

In 1976, the International Baccalaureate Program was introduced to the High School curriculum.


In 1982,

ISM joined the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS) to participate in various sports and cultural conventions with the following IASAS member schools:

1. International School Manila (ISM)
2. International School Bangkok (ISB)
3. International School Kuala Lumpur (ISKL)
4. Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS)
5. Singapore American School (SAS)
6. Taipei American School (TAS)


ISM Bearcat


marked the last year of the Indian symbol, the Bearcat was announced as the official mascot beginning SY 1995-1996.

In 1999, the current globe logo was introduced as the official emblem, replacing the Indian insignia.


ISM BGC campus, circa 2002

After forty years at the Bel-air campus,

in 2002, International School Manila moved to a purpose-built, state-of-the-art campus on a 7-hectare site in Bonifacio Global City.


ISM Early Years Center

In 2016,

the school opened the Elementary School (ES) Self-Contained classroom, now known as the Specialized Learning Support Program (SLSP). Starting SY 2017-2018, this program expanded to accept Middle School (MS) and High School (HS) students and in SY 2018-2019, a bigger space located in the ES building was provided to support the growing number of students.

In 2018, construction of the Early Years Center began and opened its doors to Preschool and Kindergarten students beginning SY 2018-2019. In addition to classrooms and play areas on the rooftop and ground level, the building contains its own Clinic, Gymnasium, Music room and Art room.


100 Years of ISM

With an international community of over 2,200 students, ISM celebrated 100 years of service in 2020.