Once Upon a Time in the Pacific Northwest …

In 1994, a small group of educators and Francophiles, including Patricia Blaise-Caves, Véronique Dussud, Connie Collingsworth, Josette Gregoire, and Misa Bourdoiseau, had a vision: to establish a French American school in the Pacific Northwest.

In the fall of 1995, the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) opened its doors with two teachers and 13 students in the basement of a church in Newcastle (just east of Mercer Island). One year later, with already more than double the number of students, FASPS moved to another church property in Newport Hills. But with continuous growth over the next several years, cofounders Patricia Blaise-Caves and Véronique Dussud knew a larger space would be necessary soon.

In 1999, 146 students moved to Mercer Island, taking over the old fire station in its current location just north of the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC). Also that year, Véronique Dussud departed FASPS to start the French Immersion School of Washington (FISW), and Christine Knorr became the Head of School for two years after Barbie Chaumont, who held the interim role in the summer. After conducting an international search in 2000–2001, Yves Rivaud then took the helm in 2001 for two years.

Once student enrollment surpassed 200, FASPS administrators and the Board of Trustees knew they had to think bigger. To lead this new and ambitious expansion phase in the school’s history, FASPS brought in experienced Head of School Andrée McGiffin. Under her leadership, FASPS quickly and successfully conducted a capital campaign in 2003 towards the design and construction of a one-story building, completed in September 2004.

In 2008, with a doubling in size and after a second capital campaign, FASPS added a second floor to the current structure. The different sections of the upper floor were constructed offsite and then lifted by crane onto the first floor during the summer months of 2008. With close to 300 students, the second floor allowed for additional classrooms and the launching of the much anticipated Middle School program with its first grade 6 class.

In 2011, one year after the new Head of School, Eric Thuau, began his tenure, the dream of having a middle school was fully realized with the first graduating class. Fourteen students, four of them at FASPS for over 10 years, moved on to public and private schools around the area.

Since then, FASPS has continued to grow each year. In October 2013, FASPS purchased a 2.2 acre lot adjacent to the current campus. The Board of Trustees has been tasked with discussing possible development options for the property.

Cherished Memories