International School (Bellevue, Washington)

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International School
445 128th Ave. SE
Bellevue, Washington
United States
Coordinates 47°36′16″N 122°10′20″W / 47.60444°N 122.17222°W / 47.60444; -122.17222Coordinates: 47°36′16″N 122°10′20″W / 47.60444°N 122.17222°W / 47.60444; -122.17222
Type Choice, middle and high school
Established 1991
School district Bellevue School District
Principal Tara Gray
Faculty 34
Grades 6-12
Enrollment 564[1]
Campus type Suburban
Color(s) Green and Silver         
Mascot Titans

International School (IS) is a 6th–12th school in the Bellevue School District. International school is not a traditional international school with students from across the globe, but has a mission of instilling global citizenship in its students. The school follows a seven by seven curriculum wherein students pursue studies in seven core academic areas for all seven years of attendance. The seven core subjects are: English, Science, Math, Social Studies, Physical Education, Fine Arts, and French.[2]


Admission to this Bellevue public school is based on a lottery system. Parents must enroll their Bellevue-area fifth graders into the lottery. Siblings of students already enrolled get priority, and then names are drawn from the general pool for the remaining spots. International School is not affiliated with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), and if students want to participate in sports, they can do so at their "home school" (the Bellevue School District high school that corresponds with their attendance area).


International School was founded in 1991 by Bellevue teachers. Funded with a competitive $300,000 grant from the "Schools for the 21st Century" Commission, the six were granted a half year of release time to develop and recruit for the program. International School opened with 150 sixth and seventh graders in the fall of 1991, housed in an old elementary school. Later the school was moved to its current location in an unused junior high. In 2002 a short documentary on the history of the school with the title The World of International School was written by an IS graduate, Kristen Rosenfeld. This documentary provides a glimpse based on primary sources into the origins and development of the school in its first ten years and helps explain why the school has been successful.

At first, the school did not have a principal, so all staff would be equals. However, someone still had to do a principal's duties, so the chosen teacher was called the "Principal-Not", derived from the word "NOT" that the Principal-Not wrote underneath the word "PRINCIPAL" on her door. This, however, quickly proved to be too much of a burden, so in 1994, Dion Yahoudy was appointed as the school's first principal. The school's current principal, since the 2010-2011 school year, is Dr. Jennifer Rose (previously principal at Medina Elementary School in Medina, WA from the 2006-2007 to 2009-2010 school years). She was preceded by Dr. Peter Bang-Knudsen.

In recent years, Dr. Bang-Knudsen and Dr. Rose have made significant changes, including the implementation of a tardy policy, the implementation of warning bells before certain classes, and mandatory AP classes in many subjects for all students. The original "Student as Worker" concept supported the idea that it was the students responsibility to want to learn, to write down their assignments, and to arrive to class on time. This concept has, controversially, been discontinued and removed from the school mission, and is now replaced with the focus of creating "global citizens". Many of these changes proved rather unpopular with students, who preferred the old ways of doing things, but resistance has lowered over time as most of those students have now graduated.

As of the 2010-2011 school year, IS had an enrollment of 546 students.[2]


Bellevue International offers a seven-year, seven-subject curriculum, in which students take seven years of humanities (language arts), international studies, math, science, physical education/health and fine arts. Additionally, students study French for seven years, with the intention of achieving fluency, and ultimately studying subjects such as literature, history, and the Francophone world.

As seniors, students are required to complete a "Senior Project", which according to the school website, must be completed through "integrating, [and] demonstrating real-world application".[3] One class is dedicated to this project senior year during second semester.

In 2015, the school adopted a 1-laptop-per-student model.

World Languages Program[edit]

All students at IS are required to take seven years of French. In the past, German was offered, but due to budget and personnel issues, German was gradually phased out from 2009 to 2014. Historically, about two-thirds of incoming students had taken French and one-third had participated in the German Language Program. Both programs had co-existed successfully since the founding of the International School,

Each year, students at the school put their language skills to use during the optional three-week French exchange with the Saint-Stanislas school in Nantes, available to 10th graders and up. In addition to the language programs, IS has a long-standing partnership with the Amity Institute which places native French speakers with an undergraduate degree and a career goal in education in the school as French language teaching assistants.[4]


The International School has ranked 9th in the nation on Newsweek Magazine's list of the best high schools, and second in the state for 2014.[5] International School was also selected as a Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Education.[6]

Bellevue's International School has received a top grade in U.S. News & World Report Gold Medal Schools list. The weekly American newsmagazine ranked high schools nationwide based on college readiness and quality-adjusted exams per test taker. The International School ranked fifth best high school in the country.[7]

Curriculum and Clubs[edit]

International School offers a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses that are available to all students, a few of which are mandatory. These include: AP English Language, English Literature, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, World History, US History, American/Comparative Government, Physics 1, Physics C, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, French Language , Computer Science, Music Theory, and Studio Art (Drawing).

While the green club at international school has become defunct in recent years, a group of students in the Class of 2018 are bringing the club back with a passion.

The school is unique in having only one elective course, which students may switch only once in seven years. They may take Fine Arts, Orchestra, Band, or Choir. Sixth graders take either Orchestra, Band, or Integrated Arts (a combination of Choir and Art); in the latter case, students choose either Art or Choir to pursue going into their seventh grade year. Physical education classes, although recommended to be taken all years, are no longer required in 11th or 12th grade and students can choose computer science or photography instead of them.

In order to give its students the district required elective credits, IS has an annual Focus Week. Students of the International School, none of whom are enrolled in occupational education classes, participate in a "Week of focused study outside formal classroom structure".[3] This Focus Week was designed as a way for students to earn their Occupational Credits or elective credits required to graduate high school. Many of the Focus Weeks involve going on overnight trips to other parts of the state such as Washington Pacific Ocean beaches, to other states such as Oregon, and sometimes outside of the country, including a three-week-long exchange program to France. Although Focus Week is required, students must pay a fee that varies based on the specific activity chosen.

A Drama Program is offered after school, producing about two plays a year.

Jubilee Sports began working at the school in 2012, providing sporting opportunities to middle school students. The PE department also traditionally conducts after school sports for middle school students four times a year; ultimate frisbee, badminton, volleyball, and track and field. IS does not offer high school sports. High school students may play sports at their home schools.

The school is also well known for its FIRST Robotics team, 492, the Titan Robotics Club. The Robotics team recently competed in the 2015 FIRST Robotics World Championship in St.Louis, Missouri. The team's alliance ranked 5th in the competition out of the 600 teams competing. They are the only Pacific Northwest team to rank so high for 13 years.

Science Club at IS works to spread a love of science throughout the school. They traditionally participate once a year in the Bonneville Power Administration's regional Science Bowl at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon.

The school's JSA chapter, Junior State of America, which is a student-run youth political awareness organization known around the country, is yet another well known club at the school. As of 2014-15, the regular attendance at meetings is about 50, or almost 15% of the eligible population (the club is high school only). The International School won "Chapter of the Year" in 2011-2012 school year, and was nominated for the national "Civic Engagement" award along with a total of nine other schools in the nation. Many IS JSA members also regularly win awards and honors at conventions, and hold high places in the regional administration.

A branch of Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots maintains a club at the school, and works to promote community and kindness. There is also a branch of Key Club.

The school is also known for its award-winning jazz choir, "iJazz," under the direction of Mike Scott. They have won and placed in competitions frequently since Scott's arrival at the school in 2010. In 2012, they placed 2nd in Division I at the Columbia Basin College (CBC) Jazz Unlimited Festival in Pasco, WA; in 2013, they returned to CBC to take 1st place in their division. In January 2013, they placed 3rd overall out of over 50 vocal jazz ensembles at Bellevue College's Pacific Vocal Jazz Festival.


In the 2009–10 school year, the total student enrollment for the high school section (grades 9-12) was 286. The racial demographics are: 1% African American, 21% Asian, 1% Hispanic, 9% Multiracial and 67% White. 19% of students speak another first language besides English. 15% receive special education services, with 32% of them having 504 plans. 2% qualify for free or reduced lunches.[1]

In the 2009–2010 school year, the total student enrollment for the middle school section (grades 6-8) was 244. The racial demographics are: 2% African American, 28% Asian, 2% Hispanic, 7% Multiracial and 61% White. 21% of students speak another first language besides English. 5% qualify for free or reduced lunches.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "2009-10 Demographics At A Glance" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  2. ^ BSD - International Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b International School : Middle Schools : Schools : Bellevue School District Archived 2006-02-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Amity Institute Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-20. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  6. ^[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Gold Medal Schools - US News and World Report

External links[edit]