Singapore American School

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Coordinates: 1°25′33.53″N 103°46′28.60″E / 1.4259806°N 103.7746111°E / 1.4259806; 103.7746111

Singapore American School
Singapore American School Logo.png
40 Woodlands Street 41
Woodlands, 738547
Type Private International School
Established 1956
Superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball
Faculty 375
Enrollment 3,936 (2014)
Campus size 37 acres (150,000 m2)
Campus type Urban
Color(s) Blue, white, and red             
Mascot Eagles
Information (65) 6363-3403

Singapore American School (SAS) is a non-profit, independent, co-educational day school located in the Woodlands area of Singapore. SAS offers an American-based curriculum for students in preschool through high school. One of Singapore’s first international schools, SAS was founded in 1956, and started with a hundred students in a colonial house. It has since developed into a school of nearly 4,000 students on a 36-acre campus, the largest American-curriculum school outside the United States.[1] It is also the largest single-campus international school in the world.[2] It SAS is accredited by the U.S.-based Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).[3]

Students at SAS hold passports from around fifty different countries, with approximately two-thirds of them being United States citizens.[4] Few Singaporean students attend the school as Singapore government regulations prevent most local students from attending international schools within the country.[5] The majority of the teachers come from the U.S., and staff members from over twenty other countries also work at SAS.[6] Most are hired overseas, and three-quarters hold master’s or doctorate degrees.[7] The maximum number of students per class in the Early Childhood Center (ECC) is 16, while for grades K through 12 it is 22.[8]

Beyond the standard academic subjects, SAS also offers classes in foreign languages, music, art, physical education, dance, sports, and technology. SAS was one of the first international schools to offer the AP Capstone program in 2014-15, and annually offers around 30 AP courses.[9] Frequent field trips and community service opportunities link students to their host country, as do social studies and history units focussing on Singapore and Southeast Asia. The campus has both air-conditioned and open-air spaces, and has received received awards for its environmental efforts and huge solar panel array.[10][11] In addition to classrooms, students have access to gyms, cafeterias, libraries and theaters, as well as courtyards, playgrounds, playing fields, a rainforest, and an eco-garden.[6]


Establishment of SAS and location changes

Singapore American School was established by the American Association of Malaya in January, 1956. It was originally intended as a school for the children of American executives, missionaries, and diplomats who did not want to follow the British practice of sending school-aged children home to boarding schools. In the beginning, around a hundred elementary and junior-high students attended classes in a colonial house on Rochalie Drive, on the edge of downtown Singapore. High school classes were soon added, and the school grew quickly, attracting students from a wide variety of backgrounds.[12]

Over the next half-century, the school moved several times:

  • In 1962 the school moved to a purpose-built K-12 facility on King’s Road, as it had outgrown the Rochalie Drive campus.
  • By 1971 the school’s population had outgrown the King's Road campus, and SAS’s younger students were moved to two temporary sites, Alexandra Junior School and Gillman Barracks.
  • In 1973 a new K-8 campus opened on Ulu Pandan Road, and the KIng's Road campus was turned into an expanded high school.
  • To accommodate a long wait-list, the satellite Baytree elementary campus in Clementi was established in 1990-91.
  • In 1996 the Woodlands Campus was opened, and all SAS students were once again together on one campus.[13]

Woodlands campus history

By the late 1980s, SAS again faced space constraints, as enrollment continued to outstrip capacity at both the King's Road and Ulu Pandan campuses. In addition, the Ulu Pandan lease would soon expire, and the Singapore government wanted the school to accommodate more students, as part of its push to attract foreign talent to help develop new industries. While SAS opened the temporary Baytree campus as a short-term solution, the government offered three sites for a brand-new campus, and the school selected a large plot in the developing Woodlands neighborhood. The school received a 90-year lease, with the stipulation that the new campus be able to accommodate 3,700 students. The site was developed at the cost of $150 million, and the Woodlands campus opened in the fall of 1996. To the surprise of many in the American community, enrollment quickly rose to capacity, and the western end of the campus had to be redeveloped into a new high school and early childhood center, which opened in 2004.[14]

School organization and divisions[edit]

SAS is organized into three divisions: The elementary school (including the early childhood center) for preschool through grade 5; the middle school for grades 6-8; and the high school for grades 9-12. The primary school, which included grades preschool-2, and the intermediate school, which included grades 3-6, were combined into the elementary school in 2014 to minimize transitions for students, support research and development work, and promote better coordination across divisions.[15] A principal and deputy principals guide each division.

Elementary School: Early Childhood Center[edit]

The SAS ECC serves three- and four-year-old students in a self-contained set of classrooms, activity spaces, and playgrounds adjacent to the high school. Students in the preschool and pre-K have a shorter school day than those in the rest of the school. Learning is play-based, and includes circle time, “stations” where literacy and numeracy skills are developed, and individual and small-group activities. Class sizes are capped at 16 students and each class has a teacher and an instructional aide. Parent volunteers often help with classroom activities.

Besides spending time in their individual classrooms, students have two recesses every day, which take place on the two ECC playgrounds and in the large central hall. They also have a separate Chinese class and a perceptual motor class in the “Fun Room.” Once a week students have library time in the ECC’s own library. Students also have “buddy time” with older students, counselling lessons to develop social skills, and special celebrations. They eat in the high school cafeteria at a designated ECC-only lunchtime.[7]

Elementary School: grades K-5[edit]

Students in the elementary school are organized into classes with a maximum of 22 students. Teachers are supported by instructional aides. Students receive instruction in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science in their classrooms. The elementary school’s literacy program is based on the Columbia Teachers’ College program, and students use the enVision math program. Outside their home classrooms, students attend their choice of daily Spanish or Chinese language classes. Art, music, and PE classes occur in a three-day rotational schedule, with library, science laboratory, technology, and counselling lessons at longer intervals.

A 1:1 iPad program ensures that each K-5 student uses technology to support learning, and students have service learning opportunities based on grade-level themes. Special events include United Nations Day, PTA Book Fair, Pumpkin Patch and Halloween parties, winter holiday parties, Chinese New Year celebrations, and an end-of-year Play Day. Students in grades 3-5 may participate in the science fair.[16] In each grade students go on several field trips. Destinations include the Singapore Zoo, Little India, the Asian Civilizations Museum, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, and various plays and theater offerings.[6] Parents are welcome to help in classrooms, as field trip chaperones, and with parties and special events throughout the year. The Elementary After-School Activities program allows pay-as-you-go participation in a number of extra classes, such as Dodgeball, Young Photographers, and Piano for Beginners.[17]

The elementary school occupies the eastern end of the SAS campus, and includes its own language, art, music, and science classrooms, as well as a library, an auditorium/theater, two pools, two gyms (one with a climbing wall), a cafeteria, and several playgrounds.[18]

Middle School: grades 6-8[edit]

The SAS middle school offers a foundation of academic classes complemented by elective courses and after-school activities. “Homebase” meets every morning, giving each group of a dozen students a daily connection with one teacher. With over 900 students, the middle school is organized into teams, called A Side, B Side, and C Side, each supported by a set of teachers. These smaller groups within the large middle school are intended to help meet students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. Besides the required courses (reading and language arts, math, science, social studies, and PE/health) students may take Chinese, French, or Spanish, strings, band, or choir, or a selection of electives including drama, art, technology, and cooking.[19]

Student learning is supported in a number of ways in the middle school. A 1:1 laptop program was implemented in 2013-14. “Classroom Without Walls” takes each grade level to a regional destination for several days in the first month of school, and students develop relationships with peers and staff. An extensive, all-inclusive after-school sports and activities program encourages students to try new things and interact with teachers and friends outside the classroom. Learning support teachers, school counselors and the school psychologist work with small groups and individuals needing specialized support. The school recently moved to a standards-based grading protocol.[20]

The middle school occupies the central area of the SAS campus. Core classes are taught in classrooms grouped around large-group activity areas. Art, band, orchestra, choir, technology, cooking, health and dance occupy specially designed rooms. The middle school has its own playing field and library/media center. Students share a 25-meter pool, gymnasiums, and fields with the high school, and eat in the open-air middle school cafeteria.[18]

High School: grades 9-12[edit]

The SAS high school offers a foundation of academic classes complemented by elective courses and after-school activities. Like many U.S. college preparatory schools, course requirements ensure a comprehensive liberal arts education. The “international perspective” central to the school's mission statement is reflected in academic offerings, service opportunities, and extracurricular activities. Students with different learning styles, interests, and skills are accommodated.[21]

With the help of their counselors, students choose courses each April for the coming academic year.[22] Required credits include English, math, science, social studies, visual and performing arts, physical education, and health education. American citizens must earn one credit in American Studies or US History. All students must take two years of a foreign language (Chinese, French, Japanese or Spanish) or demonstrate proficiency in another language. Students also participate in a week long "Interim Semester" every year. This is a required off-campus experience that provides high school students with experiences beyond the traditional classroom.[23] Beginning with the class of 2018, all students must complete a Catalyst Project.[24] Elective options include classes in technology, engineering and robotics, journalism and media, and independent studies. Students may also take specialist courses through the Global Online Academy; may enroll in SAS’s Summer Semester program; and may study abroad in China, France, Italy, or Spain through School Year Abroad.[25]

SAS offers around thirty AP courses each year. Most SAS high school students participate in the program, with 86% of 2014 SAS college graduates having taken at least one AP exam. In May 2014, SAS students took 1,413 AP exams, with 96% receiving a score of 3 or higher, and 78% receiving a score of 4 or 5.[26] SAS was selected as one of only twelve international schools to pilot the AP Capstone program during the 2014-15 school year.[27]

The high school offers many extracurricular activities, including athletics, community service, drama and music performances, student government, media publications, academic and language clubs, and honor societies.[28]


Approximately 375 faculty members worked full-time at SAS in 2013-14, 74% of whom held Master's or Doctorate degrees. Of the school's 24 administrators for that year, 79% held Master's or Doctorate degrees. 60% of faculty members were from the United States; other faculty members were from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K., and other countries. 46% of SAS teachers had been at the school five or fewer years, with 28% having stayed six to ten years, and 26% having been at SAS for twelve or more years.[29]



Singapore American School has a six-year curriculum cycle resulting in continuous review and renewal in all subject and service areas.[30] This cycle ensures that curriculum, service areas, and classroom resources are continually upgraded and connected to “best practices”. Each subject or service area is reviewed over a three-year cycle: Year One is the Study Year and stakeholder feedback, current practices and “best practices” are reviewed, Year Two is the Development Year and curriculum revision/renewal is finalized and new/additional classroom resources are identified, and Year Three is the Implementation Year and the new curriculum is implemented and classroom resources are incorporated into the delivery of the program.


Within the high school, boys and girls' junior varsity and varsity teams exist for cross country, soccer, volleyball, golf, basketball, rugby, swimming, tennis, touch rugby, badminton, dance, softball, and track and field. Athletes compete not only with local schools and community teams, but also with rival IASAS schools.

Following the conclusion of the spring IASAS tournaments, intramural sports are also offered. These activities vary yearly based on student demand and faculty interest.

Community service[edit]

An annual Service Assembly held in the fall of every school year allows students to know more about the service clubs available at SAS — all of the service clubs are predominantly student-run, offering leadership opportunities within each club. Some of the biggest service clubs in the high school include SAVE (Students Against Violating the Environment), Habitat for Humanity, Peace Initiative (a club dedicated to human rights and the education of children),Global Issues Network and Wish for Kids (which hosts a yearly service trip for students and teachers to work with the children of Maravilla Elementary School, Philippines.) In addition to Wish for Kids, there are many other clubs, such as the Bintan Club, Aiding China, and Outreach Vietnam, that take trips to nearby countries to perform further service. Also, for the 2012-2013 school year, Kiva Club, granted service status in the 2011-2012 school year, will be a student-led club that will aim to raise, in collaboration with Business Club,[31] money and lend the money in the form of micro-financing to help in injecting liquidity into poverty-stricken villages.[32] Details on how funds are raised and the philosophy of Kiva Club is constantly updated on their website from August 2012.[31]

Academic interests and honor societies[edit]

Academic clubs at SAS include Business Club,[31] Debate, which runs its own research library[33][34] and has an award winning debate team, Math Club (which allows students to compete in the Southeast Asian Math Competition), Academic Quiz (one of the most successful clubs at SAS), Digital Frontiers, Speech Club, and Model United Nations (a student-led simulation of the United Nations where each student represents a nation). Impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking, debate, and oral interpretation are also offered under the yearly IASAS Cultural Convention (includes Extemporaneous speaking, Impromptu, Oral Interpretations and Drama) giving students a chance to compete with others in their area of interest.

In addition to open-participation student clubs, selection-based honor societies exist at SAS, providing high-achieving students recognition for their talents. The honor societies present at the school are French Honor Society, Mandarin Honor Society, Japanese Honor Society, National Honor Society, Quill and Scroll Honor Society, National Dance Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, International Thespian Society, National Art Honor Society and Tri-M (Modern Music Masters).[35]

Fine and Performing Arts[edit]

Fine and performing arts clubs within the school include A-Capella Club, Animation Club, Dance Club, Dead Artists' Society (a club for those interested in art), Jazz Ensemble, Photography Club, Technical Theatre Club and Theatre Make-Up Club. Drama is also prominent at the school, offering thespians many opportunities to perform, whether it be in the fall production (musicals and plays alternate each year), student-directed shows, Cultural Convention or the annual Scenes and Monologues Night.

Other activities[edit]

Other extracurriculars offered at SAS include student government, language clubs (Cantonese, French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, and Taiwanese), and small-scale athletic clubs such as Aikido, Climbing Club, and Golf.[36]


Following the conclusion of a three-year expansion project in 2005, the 37-acre (150,000 m2) SAS campus has been divided into three divisions: the Elementary School (including the Early Childhood Center), Middle School, and High School.[37]-

  • One Degree North Robotics Lab
  • Air conditioned classrooms
  • Outdoor covered playgrounds
  • Cafeterias offering both local and western cuisine from Baja Fresh, Haven Pizza, Subway, Hoe Brothers Catering.
  • Computer labs
  • Division-specific libraries
  • School-wide WiFi access
  • Art studios
  • Photography darkroom
  • Photography studio
  • Performing arts facilities
    • 850-seat auditorium
    • 500-seat theatre studio
    • 455-seat drama theatre
    • 455-seat multi purpose theater
    • Music rooms, including air conditioned practice rooms equipped with pianos.
    • Jam Room/Recording Studio (Run by Paul Koebnick and the Independent Performing Artist's Union.)
    • Dance studios
  • Athletic complex
    • Six softball fields
    • Two Baseball fields
    • Eight soccer/football fields
    • High-ropes course
    • Three swimming pools
    • 400-meter track and field with covered stadium seating
    • Ten large indoor gymnasiums
    • Six auxiliary indoor gymnasiums
    • Thirteen lighted tennis courts
    • Weight-lifting rooms
    • Three indoor climbing walls

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Julia Abueva (class of 2013): Singer and actress who has performed in Singapore and the Philippines, as well as in London's West End revival of Miss Saigon in the title role of Kim.[38]
  • Jim Baker (class of 1966): Author whose books include Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia and Singapore and The Eagle in the Lion City: America, Americans and Singapore. Taught history and economics at SAS from 1971 to 2014.
  • Kendra Williams Bowers (class of 1990): Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Bowers was the first female American combat pilot to bomb an enemy target, during Operation Desert Fox in 1998. She was the SAS graduation speaker in 2003.[39]
  • Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw: Model and 3rd Place Winner of Asia's Next Top Model, Cycle 3.[40]
  • Micheline Lim Chau (class of 1971) - President and COO of Lucasfilm until her retirement in 2012, she travelled back to Singapore to mark the establishment and expansion of the Lucasfilm Singapore production studio.[39][41]
  • Lynn Collins: actress who has appeared in John Carter (film), The Merchant of Venice (2004 film), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and TV series such as True Blood.
  • Tammy Duckworth: US Congresswoman from Illinois and Iraq War veteran.
  • Michael P. Fay: American teen convicted of theft and vandalism in Singapore. He was sentenced to 4 months jail and six strokes of the cane, which caused international outrage including a plea by then US president Bill Clinton to commute the caning sentence.
  • George B. Fitch (class of 1965): Mayor of Warrenton, Virginia, and a former candidate for Governor of Virginia, he was one of the co-founders of the Jamaican Bobsled Team for the 1988 Winter Olympics, which inspired the Disney film Cool Runnings.[42]
  • Cork Graham: Combat photographer imprisoned in Vietnam for illegally entering the country while looking for treasure buried by Captain Kidd. Attended SAS from 1972-1977.
  • Michael Graham: rugby union player for Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC and the international USA Hawks.
  • Jen Heck: writer, director, and producer of award-winning short films, her work has appeared at such film festivals as the Whitney Biennial, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Sao Paolo International Film Festival.[43]
  • Brandon Huisman (class of 1995): Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef at The Balé and The Amala, two gourmet restaurants on Bali, Indonesia.[44]
  • Ellie Koncki (class of 2015, left SAS in June 2014): Touch rugby player, member of the U.S. Women’s Open Team in the 2015 Touch Rugby World Cup in Australia.[45]
  • Kurt Kusserow (class of 1981): Bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2007, Kurt, the son of missionary parents, grew up in Malaysia and Singapore.[46]
  • Hussein N. El Lessy (class of 1985): Engineer-Scientist for the Boeing Company and NASA, he has worked as “Flight Lead” for space flights and with the International Space Station Life Support systems team. He spent a week at SAS working with students at all levels in 2005-6.[39]
  • Inbal Megiddo (class of 1994): Cellist who has performed at such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Berliner Philharmonie; she has performed and recorded with the Grammy Award-nominated group, The Yale Cellos.[39][47]
  • Siddharth Mohandas (class of 1986): Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff, he has also served in various roles for the Pentagon and State Department and was an editor at Foreign Affairs magazine.[39]
  • Julia Nickson-Soul (class of 1976): Actress who has appeared in Rambo: First Blood Part II, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5 and Walker Texas Ranger.
  • Peter Terbush - Rockclimber and outdoorsman who died at 22 in a Yosemite National Park rockslide, he helped two partners scramble to safety instead of saving himself.[48]
  • Marijn van der Poll (class of 1992): Dutch artist and designer who has displayed at galleries and museums such as The Kunsthal, The Rocket gallery in Tokyo and the Louvre. Creator of the Do Hit Chair.[49]
  • Tom Wagner (class of 1990): Official photographer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for three years.[39]


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  49. ^ Hales, Linda (2002-12-24). "Diplomats turn Washington into a showplace for the holidays : The new ambassadors of design". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 

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