The School was founded in 1945 by a small group of parents who wished to provide their children with a bilingual, coeducational, quality education. Legal statutes were drawn up embodying the founding principles and establishing a framework for an enduring institution. Under these original statutes, a board of directors was elected by members of the American School Association. In addition to establishing a governing board, the statutes clearly outlined the non-profit, non-denominational, non-political character of the school and established a sound basis for decision making. The statutes also made provision for a separation of board and administrative functions.
The first classes were held on June 10, 1945, in a large family home in zone 9. Thirty four students were enrolled in grades Kindergarten through five. By the end of the first school year, there were 75 students and 12 teachers.
In November 1948, after intensive study by Guatemalan authorities, a presidential decree was issued which authorized the School to operate as an experimental/laboratory school. This status granted it some freedom in developing its curriculum and employing foreign teachers to provide instruction in English. It also meant that the school would develop programs that contribute to the improvement of education in Guatemala. It has had this status since that time, with the last ministerial agreement authorized in 1999 for a twenty year period.
From its modest beginnings, the school has continued to grow and to play an important role in Guatemalan education. The first large campus for the school was located in what was then the outskirts of the city, in Zone 14. The current campus was acquired in the early 1960’s and most of the buildings were constructed during that decade. The auditorium building was constructed in the late 1970’s and the gymnasium in 1985-86.
The School received loans from Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) and grants from the US Department of State for these construction projects. In 1995, the school began another construction project in order to meet the needs of a growing school population and changing educational requirements. In the past ten years, three classroom wings have been constructed, the library/resource center was extended and remodeled, and all buildings built in the 1960’s were re-enforced to meet current codes for buildings in seismic areas. Other extensive remodeling has also been carried out. All of these improvements have been part of the long range and school improvement plans.
During the 1960’s , the School strengthened its ties to the US by joining and being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and by beginning a relationship with the Office of Overseas Schools of the US Department of State. It was during this time that the Association of American Schools in Central America was formed, an organization sponsoring educational, sports, and art events for the students and professional development activities for the teachers of member schools. ASG is an active member of AASCA as well as the umbrella Tri-Regional Association of American Schools in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean.
In 1972, the University del Valle de Guatemala was chartered and the School Association became the Foundation of the Universidad del Valle. In this new charter, the School became legally the laboratory school of the University. The responsibility of appointing the school’s board of directors was given to the Executive Committee of the Foundation. The programs, finances and administration of the School are separate from the University but the relationship between the two institutions is mutually supportive.
Most of the members of the school community are Guatemalan and a number of parents are the social, political and economic leaders of the country. A majority of them are professionals and/or related to the agricultural industry. The student body is composed of a diverse group from different socio-economic backgrounds, although most students come from the upper and middle socio-economic layers.
A unique scholarship program in 11th and 12th grades incorporates students with high academic capacity from families with limited financial resources. The School also has seen an increase in the admissions of multinational students, especially since a change over an August-June school calendar in 2001.
During the past ten years, a number of significant changes and modifications have been implemented in the educational program, most of which were part of the A-2000 or A-2005 Plans. These include: an increase in the number of English speaking teachers, the adoption of a school-wide curriculum development process, the restructuring of the elementary program, the implementation of an AP program in the secondary section, the creation of the middle school section, the expansion of the library and its services, and integration of technology. Most recently (2006) the school has become accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.