The Escuela Americana de Nicaragua was founded in 1944 by a group of U.S. women living in Nicaragua. The School’s curriculum was based on the Calvert Correspondence Course modeled after courses taught in the California Public Schools.
The purpose of the School was to provide a U.S. style education in English which would prepare students for higher education in the United States. It was originally situated in a two story house (Mansion Teodelinda) but rapid growth in enrollment soon led to the construction of a larger facility to meet this need.
Classes for high school students, grades 9 – 11, began in 1951.
The Bachillerato program began in 1968 and enrollment was 659 students.
The School calendar was changed to that of the U.S. school year in 1971. The girls’ basketball team was national champion once again.
In 1972 a “School to School” relationship was established with Hingham, Massachusetts. The December 1972 earthquake caused severe damage to the new high school building and devastated much of Managua. Classes were held in two sessions, morning and afternoon, in the remaining elementary classrooms and outdoors under the trees post earthquake.
Plans to rebuild the School on a new site away from dangerous fault lines began in 1973. The former site was sold in order to facilitate the purchase of new land. A new elementary school was constructed but ANS lacked sufficient funds to build comparable secondary classrooms. In 1973 the U.S. Government donated prefabricated materials to help ANS build “temporary” trailer style high school classrooms. Building materials were scarce due to the continuing recovery from the earthquake.
Throughout the latter half of the 1970’s, ANS prospered. Yearbooks from 1976, 1977 and 1978 are filled with sports activities, service clubs and academic endeavors. The School was ranked amongst the most competitive international schools in Central America.
ANS history changed dramatically for the 1979-1980 school year due to Nicaragua’s civil war. The school year began until September 4 almost a month behind schedule. Student enrollment dropped from 600 to 217 and weakened the school economically. The yearbook theme for this year was “Survival”.
The next yearbook was published in 1984 and the senior class was made up of only 18 students. Enrollment continued to be impacted by political unrest in Nicaragua. Dr. Marvin Happel was Director General and led the effort to focus on the future of the school for the 21st century.
The ANS Alumni and staff members from 1981 – 1989 have contributed to our knowledge of the years at ANS during the country’s civil war. This was a period of time when ANS was assisted by the U.S. government to provide financial support due to a dramatic drop in enrollment resulting from the large number of families who went into exile. Additional measures were taken to keep the School solvent such as recruiting students from other private schools in Managua who were interested in learning English. The School community had as its primary goal to ensure the success of its students and provide a safe learning environment. This was achieved with the diligence of administration, teachers, staff, parents and the students themselves. Another important fact is that classes were segregated – Nicaraguan nationals and international students were no longer allowed to have class together. The School, once again, struggled through difficult times but remained focused on a bright future ahead as the new decade approached.
With elections on the horizon, ANS saw an increase in enrollment during the 1989-1990 school year. Many exiled families returned to Nicaragua from the U.S. and sought to educate their children in English. The student population quickly grew to 500 and continued to grow steadily throughout the 1990’s as more and more families returned to Nicaragua. The new challenge was to maintain the level of academic excellence and find ways to accommodate the rapidly growing student body. Parents came together and focused their efforts on two important projects – the construction of a new gymnasium and a swimming pool. The school became the center of activity for the English speaking youth in Managua many of whom had begun their schooling in the U.S. during the 1980’s. Community service clubs, academic competitions, and sports activities flourished during this period. College acceptances became increasingly competitive as did students’ scores on standardized tests. The 1990’s represented a time of growth and prosperity for ANS.
The transition to a new century brought change to ANS. Intense focus on academic standards and a college preparatory curriculum made the School increasingly competitive as other private schools began emerging to satisfy the need for bi-lingual instruction in Nicaragua. A School mission statement was developed and enrollment was gradually reduced to ensure that student/teacher ratios were in line with accreditation standards. The Advanced Placement program was enhanced and major investments were made in technology and security. A School strategic plan was put into practice and the ANS Board of Directors made the decision to create a master building plan to rebuild the School campus over a period of 15 years. The gymnasium was replaced with a US $1.5 million Covered Athletic Area, a new Elementary Music Room was completed in April 2010 and the long awaited new high school construction began in August 2010. Scholarship monies and college acceptances are at an all time high for our graduating seniors. ANS proudly maintains its reputation as the premier international school in Nicaragua after more than six decades of excellence and endurance.