TASIS The American School in Switzerland held a special Founder’s Day ceremony for all Middle School and High School students and faculty on the afternoon of September 15 to commemorate the amazing life of international educational pioneer M. Crist Fleming, who founded the School in 1956 and remained devoted to it until her passing in 2009. A second ceremony was held the following morning for all students and faculty members of the TASIS Elementary School. (See photos and videos from the ES ceremony here.)
Head Proctors Gabriele Capacci ’17 and Aida Loggiodice ’17 opened the Middle and High School ceremony by demonstrating just how international TASIS has become and reminding everyone that they have Mrs. Fleming and her lofty dreams to thank for this.
Headmaster Lyle Rigg, who met Mrs. Fleming nearly 40 years ago, thanked both her and his childhood teachers for encouraging him to dream of a bigger world—for helping him find the courage to leave Defiance, Ohio, and launch a career in international education that has taken him to El Salvador, Brazil, England, and Switzerland.
Loggiodice introduced Lauren Riba ’19 and the TASIS Choir for a stirring performance of “This Little Spot,” a song featured in MCF: What a Life!, Todd Fletcher’s spectacular original musical.
Howard Stickley, who began his career at TASIS in 1981 and now coordinates the School’s International Baccalaureate program, spoke about his lengthy relationship with Mrs. Fleming and her role in bringing the IB to TASIS.
Loggiodice introduced a short video featuring reflections from three women who knew Mrs. Fleming quite well and “were inspired by her charisma, her adventurous spirit, and her passion for education.” The audience heard from Elizabeth Acer Crawford PG ’66, who played Mrs. Fleming in the original production of MCF: What a Life! and then again for this August’s anniversary performance; Victoria Haschke ’13, who also starred in this summer’s production; and longtime theater director Kay Hamblin, who returned to TASIS this summer as a drama coach for the musical.
High School Theater Director Valerie Bijur Carlson introduced four drama students, who read a series of touching letters written to Mrs. Fleming over the years by former students who wished to let her know the impact their time at TASIS had on them.
High School Music Director Samantha Forrest led the TASIS Choir in a lovely rendition of “It’s Up to You,” another song featured in MCF: What a Life!
Mr. Rigg returned to the podium to offer closing remarks and let students know they would soon be treated to a few of Mrs. Fleming’s favorite things.
Students moved to the MCF Piazza outside, where they enjoyed some ice cream and had the opportunity to toss yellow rose petals into the fountain.
The celebration concluded with a series of Class Outings on September 19—hikes that traditionally take place on the Monday following the Founder's Day ceremonies. Middle School students hiked San Salvatore, Monte Tamaro, or Gandria while High School students spent the day at Tamaro, Valle Verzasca, or Alpe Cardada. Class Outings have been a cornerstone of the TASIS experience since the early days of the School. Mrs. Fleming loved going into the mountains, and she was known to pack picnic lunches, load students into buses or vans, and head up to Valle Verzasca.
See photos from this year's Class Outings.