International High School of San Francisco

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International High School
150 Oak Street
San Francisco, California 94102
United States
Type Private, Coeducational
Established 1962
Principal Joel Cohen
Head of school Melinda Bihn, Ed. D.
Faculty 65
Enrollment 386 (2016-17)
Average class size 16
Campus Urban
Color(s) Red/Blue
Athletics 10 sports, 20 teams
Athletics conference BCL Central
Mascot Jaguar
Average SAT scores (2015) Critical Reading 655
Math 642
Writing 645

International High School of San Francisco (familiarly known as International or IHS) is a private high school affiliated with the French American International School (San Francisco) ("FAIS"). (FAIS is the K-8 school, and IHS is the high school.) International is located in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Graduates earn either the International Baccalaureate ("IB") Diploma or the French Baccalaureate ("French Bac") Diploma. The IB curriculum is taught in English, while the French Bac is taught in French. A common misconception is that French is required to attend IHS. This is not true. Non-French speakers follow the IB curriculum. Approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of the students typically graduate with the IB Diploma.

Both the IB and French Bac are recognized by universities and colleges globally, and graduates earn substantial college credit for pursuing these challenging programs.[1] Many of its graduates attend the most respected universities in the world.[2] For example, 55 out of 154 graduates (36%) in the last two graduating classes (2015 and 2016) matriculated at the following institutions: Stanford (6), Harvard (2), Columbia (2), Brown (2), University of Chicago (5), Cornell (2), UC Berkeley (6), King's College London (5), Carnegie Mellon (5), NYU (5), UCLA (4), St. Andrews (3), Johns Hopkins (2), Georgetown (2), London School of Economics ("LSE"), Washington University, Wellesley, and Williams.[3]

The IHS faculty is unique in that it is recruited from all over the world and represents over 20 nationalities. The average number of years of teaching experience is just under 20, and more than 75% of the faculty hold masters degrees or higher.

The Main Campus at 150 Oak St.
The Arts Pavilion at 66 Page St.


International High School's campus consists of a main building at 150 Oak St., a gymnasium and outdoor recreational space across the street, and an Arts Pavilion on 66 Page St. The school has acquired the lots at 98 Franklin and 84 Page and is currently in the process of selecting designs for the development of an expanded urban campus. The main building at Oak Street houses classrooms and science labs, teacher workrooms, administrative offices, the library, the design lab, as well as the rooftop deck. The Arts Pavilion houses the music, film, visual arts, and theater programs. The lower floors of the main building house Chinese American International School (CAIS) and French American International School (FAIS), both K-8 schools.

Student body[edit]

Each entering class at International is composed of 90-100 students. In 2015, there were 270 applications for approximately 50 open spots in the entering freshman class. (The remaining 40-50 students that made up the entering class came from the affiliated French-American K-8 school.) Many of the students arrive at IHS from other international and bilingual middle schools in the Bay Area such as Chinese American International School, Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, Lycée Français San Francisco, International School of the Peninsula (French and Chinese bilingual school), and Alice Fong Yu (public Chinese immersion school in SF). Most of the rest of the students come from middle schools that represent the wide diversity of independent, parochial, and public schools in San Francisco and the Bay Area, including Live Oak, San Francisco Day, Hamlin, Cathedral, Town, Katherine Delmar Burke, Presidio Hill, SF Friends, Adda Clevenger, Brandeis, Children's Day, Marin Country Day, Stuart Hall, Aptos, Gateway, Hoover, and Everett, among others. A small number of students enter from schools abroad.


The school offers extensive language offerings in French, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic (beginning in Fall 2016). Students are able to take native level classes in French and Chinese (and Spanish if there is sufficient demand) beginning in their freshman year. During the IB years in 11th and 12th grade, the school offers both Level A (native/bilingual level) and Level B (non-native) courses in French and Chinese. (The school offers Level A in Spanish where there is sufficient demand.) Spanish, Italian and Arabic are offered at Level B (non-native) level in the IB years.[4] All students take a minimum of four years of a language other than English; many take a third language as well. All of the language teachers are native in the tongue that they teach.

Global travel[edit]

International High School's students make yearly cultural, service oriented, and linguistic trips to multiple destinations across the world. In 2015-16, groups of 10-20 students from grades 9 to 11 traveled to Malawi, Peru, Ecuador (Galapagos Islands), France (Tahiti), Senegal, Taiwan, and India for approximately two weeks. The school also offers longer 6-8 week exchanges intended to enhance the students’ globally focused education outside the classroom and enrich their linguistic proficiency. The trips often consist of exchange programs in which IHS students are hosted by local families in the foreign country. In 2015-16, IHS students had the opportunity to undertake exchanges in France (Paris, Bordeaux, Tahiti), Spain, Bolivia, and Peru. In return, IHS families host students from the various foreign countries in their homes in San Francisco.[5]

Service learning[edit]

International High School is known for its community service projects,[6] most prominently raising money to build schools in Jemjem Legabatu, Ethiopia, and M'bour, Senegal. Each year, International organizes an evening of musical performances by students and faculty known as Songs for Senegal to raise funds to support École Natangué in Senegal. IHS has had a key role in the construction and growth of École Natangué.[7] The high school has also held benefits for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The student body is active in annual blood drives for Blood Centers of the Pacific, day-long volunteer efforts at the S.F. Food Bank,[8] and others.[9] More generally, service learning is an integral part of the curriculum at International as it is a core component of the IB diploma program.[10] Students perform at least approximately 100 hours of service activities throughout their years at IHS. The school partners with an extensive list of non-profit organizations that the students regularly become engaged with, including Amigos de las Americas, Breakthrough San Francisco, Family House, Habitat for Humanity, John Muir Elementary After School Beacon Program, My Yute Soccer, Reading Partners, Rocket Dog Rescue, and Teens Teaching Elders Technology, among others.


International sponsors twenty athletic teams that compete with other high schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The school competes in the BCL West league. Scott Kennedy joined the school as Athletic Director in 2015-16, after 16 years at Mission High School. Scott is the recipient of several leadership and coaching awards, including the California State Athletic Directors Association "Athletic Director of the Year" Award and the Positive Coaching Alliance "National Double-Goal Coach" Award.[11] The athletic program at IHS consists of ten different sports at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels, and around 55 percent of the student body participates in athletics throughout the academic year.[12] The sports are as follows:

Fall: Co-Ed Cross Country (Varsity and JV), Men's Soccer (Varsity and JV), Women's Tennis (Varsity and JV), Women's Volleyball (Varsity and JV), Sailing

Winter: Men's Basketball (Varsity and JV), Women's Basketball (Varsity and JV)

Spring: Co-Ed Badminton (Varsity), Co-Ed Swimming (Varsity), Co-Ed Track (Varsity), Men's Baseball (Varsity), Men's Tennis (Varsity and JV), Women's Soccer (Varsity), Sailing

The men's tennis team placed 2nd in the BCL West league in 2015-16[13] and earned a semi-final spot in the North Coast Section (NCS) playoff tournament.[14]


Students at International have the option of taking art - whether it be music, theater, visual arts, or film - in each of their four years. In 9th grade, students explore two art forms, one each semester. In 10th grade, each student chooses one art form for the entire year. At the beginning of the IB program in 11th grade, students can choose to continue with an art course for the next two years. This IB art course is a rigorous two-year program at the same level of depth and commitment as any of the other five IB courses taken by each student. (The five other IB courses fall in the following categories: English Literature, Mathematics, Science, Humanities/Social Science, and a Second Language other than English.)[15] Thus, many students take art for four years at International. (If a student does not choose the art course, the "sixth course" as it is known can be in any of the other academic disciplines, e.g., a second Science course or a second Humanities course.)

International opened the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion in September 2009.[16] The Pavilion includes a black-box theater, a state-of-the-art film and video editing classroom, as well as music and visual arts studios. Student engage in a broad range of artistic activities and classes there: from writing and directing one act plays to making short films, from painting murals to composing music. The arts are not limited to classes during the regular school day. The after school performing arts program includes theater and music.

The school's after school theater program is known as Back à Dos. The program is inclusive and demanding and well loved by the IHS community. Every year, Back à Dos produces at least three major shows, including a set of student-directed one act plays (many of which are original student-written pieces), a musical (with live musical accompaniment by the IHS Orchestra), and a play. Past performances include: Spamalot, Cabaret, and Spring Awakening, among others.

The music department holds at least four major music concerts during the year - Songs of Senegal (used as a fundraiser for a school in Senegal), the Black Box Recital (for chamber, jazz, and acoustic performances), the Winter Concert (for rock and pop ensembles), and the Spring Concert, where all types of music are in full display.

The Visual Arts department puts on exhibitions throughout the year, with the work of the IB visual arts students prominently on display at the March Arts Reception and at the end-of-year May Arts Festival.


International High School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the French Ministry of Education (MEN), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and Council of International Schools.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IB Credit Chart | Student Affairs". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  2. ^ "French American International School and International High School: College Counseling". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  3. ^ "International High School College Counseling Page". 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "French American International School and International High School: Destinations 2015-2016". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  6. ^ "International High School - Community Service". 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  7. ^ "Songs for Senegal Celebrates Record Success!". Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "International High School ~ French American International School Opportunities with Our Community". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  10. ^ "Creativity, action, service | International Baccalaureate®". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  11. ^ "French American International School and International High School: All School w/Column". Retrieved 2015-10-16. 
  12. ^ "French American International School and International High School: Welcome from the AD". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  13. ^ "Bay Area Conference Tennis Standings". 
  14. ^ "North Coast Section, CIF" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-28. 
  15. ^ "Study the Arts | Diploma | International Baccalaureate®". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  16. ^ "International High School - Arts". Retrieved 2010-10-30. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°46′31″N 122°25′19″W / 37.775381°N 122.421907°W / 37.775381; -122.421907