1959-60 The Founding of the School in Carthage and the First Year
The school was founded during the summer of 1959 by a group of parents: Mr. Leroy H. Rasmussen who was first Board President, Mr. Ed Weisinger and Mr. Dallas Hunter. It was on the first floor of Villa Marie, the Hunter’s home in Salammbo, and began with three classrooms, three teachers and eighteen students (all Americans): Grades 1 – 3, 4 – 6, and 7 - 8. Grades 1 – 3 were taught by Marie Ivory who was also the principal. Classes were held for four hours each morning, with lessons relying heavily on the Calvert Home Study Plan.
In 1961, ACST relocated to its present site, consisting of a villa, a barn and two fruit orchards. ACST slowly expanded adding a new library and classrooms in 1969-70. The kindergarten classrooms were added in 1980. There was an extension of the science laboratory in 1981 (which eventually became the Early Primary Library for several years), new music and art rooms in 1988 and 1990, portable secondary classrooms in 1992, and a new Gym in 1995. In 2001 a major building expansion program was undertaken adding eleven elementary and secondary classrooms, 2 secondary school science labs, a computer lab, a library/media center, and a cafeteria/kitchen. In 2003, a major expansion took place due to the doubling of the size of the student body to over 500 students. This led to adding four new modular structures, which along with reassignment of other spaces, led to a total of 14 new classrooms, new offices, and an additional science lab. In August of 2004, a new high school building and a new middle school building (adding 12 new classrooms) was completed, along with a doubling of the size of the Cafeteria. By August of 2005, the original buildings had either undergone complete remodeling or were torn down. The only portables remaining are the Arabic/Tunisian Studies and elementary ESL classrooms. A parking garage was constructed on campus in 2007. ACST is located on the main highway between Tunis and La Marsa. In the fall of 2002, the new US Embassy facilities opened across the La Marsa Highway from ACST. It is a major advantage for ACST to have the US Embassy services nearby. In May of 2005, the Embassy recreational complex opened, which included a swimming pool shared with the school to meet its Physical Education and competitive swimming needs. ACST now has an aquatics program with 40% utilization rights of the pool.
In September 2012, a demonstration at the US Embassy spilled across the highway to the ACST campus. Demonstrators set fire to vehicles and the security office. That fire spread through the ceiling of the A Building (the original building that had been expanded) and into the Elementary Library. That building was a total loss and has now been torn down. Looters, seeing an opportunity, broke into virtually all of the school’s classrooms and offices taking nearly everything of value. Students and staff had been sent home early that day due to information about the protests and were out of harm's way. Fortunately, no one was injured in this event. Staff and other community volunteers began the process of cleaning and making repairs in the following days. Three floors of an adjacent new building were leased and several portables were brought into accommodate offices and classrooms. Classes resumed in just over a week and ACST carried on. A generous grant from the US State Department was awarded to help build a new three-story A Building with a 400-seat theater. Flansburgh Architects designed the new building with assistance from Wassim Ben Mahmoud, the local architect. Groundbreaking began in the spring of 2015. This project is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2016.
ACST follows the American educational system Pre-K to 10 and the IB Diploma Program in grades 11 and 12. Many teachers are recruited from the United States. The curriculum is based on Common Core or AERO (American Education Reaching Out) standards in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences, World Languages, Visual Arts, and Technology. ESL, Library, Academic Support, and Physical Education use national or state standards. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is given three times a year in kindergarten through grade 10. This external assessment is used to gauge student growth over time and to provide data for school planning and improvement.
ACST is fully accredited by the Middle States Association and the Council of International Schools. The school is also authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the IB Diploma.