Shanghai American School

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Shanghai American School
Shanghai American School (SAS).jpg
SAS Puxi Campus.jpg
Puxi Campus
Shanghai, China
Former name American Private School (1941-42); Community Private School (1942-43); Chapei Civilian Assembly Camp school (1943-45); Shanghai American Private School (1945-46); Private American School (1949-50)
Type Independent, Pre-K-12
Motto Possumus Quia Posse Videmur
("Since we think we can, we can.")
Established 1912
Head of school Marcel G. Gauthier
Faculty 388 from 51 countries
Enrollment 2,800 from 44 countries
Campuses Pudong (22 acres north of Pudong International Airport); Puxi (29 acres in Shanghai’s Minhang district)

Schoolwide      Red      Blue      White Puxi      Gold

Pudong      Silver
Athletics APAC (Asia Pacific Activities Conference), CISSA (China International Schools Sports)
Nickname Eagles
Affiliations Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), College Board Advanced Placement, International Baccalarureate Diploma Programme, Principal Training Center
Aquatic Center, Puxi Campus
1949 SAS cheerleaders
Students, SAS Pudong Campus
Books to Eat, SAS Pudong Campus

Shanghai American School (SAS) is an independent, not-for-profit international school located in Shanghai, China. Founded in 1912, SAS has two campuses and over 2,800 students enrolled in Pre-K-12, making it China’s largest international school.

The Puxi campus is located in Huacao Town, Minhang District and the Pudong campus is located in the Shanghai Links Executive Community in Pudong.[1]

Shanghai American School is located in Shanghai


SAS offers both AP and an IB Diploma,[2][3] and was the first school in Asia to offer the AP Capstone[4] diploma. SAS students average a score of 36 on IB Diploma tests, compared to the world average of 30.07. On 2017 AP exams, 96% of students earned a grade of 3 or higher.

The school has various signature programs including Innovation Institute,[5] a two-year interdisciplinary project based learning program, and Microcampus, a month-long immersion into a small village in China’s Yunnan Province. Microcampus has been recognized by hundrED as one of the 100 most innovative education programs in the world.[6]


Students participate in over 150 clubs, sports, and other activities including National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, International Thespian Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Model United Nations, FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) Robotics Club, Poetry Club, Architectural Design Club, Community Service, Quiz Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl, Amnesty International, Roots and Shoots, Habitat for Humanity, Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), EYEducate, Documentary Film Making, cooking, Tabletop Gaming Society, Mu Alpha Theta Club, Korean Culture Appreciation Club (KCAC), Fencing Club, Engineering Club, and Rotary International's Interact Club.

SAS is a founding member of Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC), which comprises some of the largest international schools in Asia. Through APAC, SAS students participate in badminton, baseball, basketball, cross country, rugby, soccer, softball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, volleyball, band, choir, dance, forensics, orchestra, and theater. The school also co-founded the China Cup and Tri-Cities competitions. SAS middle school students participate in the China International Schools Sports Association (CISSA) League.


Early Decades

SAS opened on September 17, 1912, with 38 students and a two-building campus in Shanghai’s Hongkou neighborhood, north of the Bund. The school was originally intended to serve "the children of American missionaries and other European residents in the East" but quickly established a reputation for academic excellence, and within a decade, the campus had grown to include twelve buildings on or near North Sichuan Road. With the support of the American business community in Shanghai and abroad, SAS broke ground on a purpose-built campus located amid farmland on the western edge of "Frenchtown" (today’s former French Concession).[7]

In 1923, SAS moved to a new campus located on Avenue Petain (now Hengshan Road), whose administration building was modeled after Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. (It can still be seen along Hengshan Road; the Girl’s Dormitory and Water Tower also remain but are not visible from the road.)

Over the next two decades, SAS’s fortunes echoed those of its host city of Shanghai – from the prosperous days of the mid-‘20s and ‘30s to the challenging times of war in 1927, 1932, and 1937.

In 1941, faced with a declining foreign population and with a world war growing in scope, the SAS Board of Managers made the decision to close the school.

Bootleg SAS

Upon hearing of the Board’s decision, a SAS teacher named Frank "Unk" Cheney declared the school must go on. He gathered remaining faculty, staff, and equipment and continued SAS under a series of different names. He called them "Bootleg SAS."

Bootleg SAS operated out of the SAS campus on Hengshan Road, as well as in the Community Church across the street (still an active church at 53 Hengshan Road). In 1943, Cheney and most of the SAS population were forced into Chapei Civilian Assembly Camp, a Japanese-run internment camp. Still not content to see the school cease operations, Cheney packed thousands of books and brought them to internment camp so school could go on. Housed in an open-air shed with the most rudimentary supplies, the newest iteration of Bootleg SAS nevertheless opened with 222 students. At the end of World War II, the SAS Board of Managers vowed to re-open SAS in the fall of 1946. Unwilling to wait an additional year, Cheney opened yet another Bootleg SAS in the fall of 1945 to serve students until SAS could officially open the following fall.


At SAS, the period of 1946-49 saw the return of old traditions, sports and arts programs. The school and its campus were even featured in LIFE magazine. But by 1949, with China at the end of a civil war and Shanghai about to be liberated by the Communist Party, the SAS Board of Managers once again made the decision to close the school.

With Unk Cheney no longer on staff, a vice principal named Val Sundt was inspired to invoke the "Spirit of Cheney" and assure the school would once again continue.

Sundt founded the final Bootleg SAS in 1949-50, called Private American School. At the conclusion of the school year in May 1950, Sundt closed the school’s doors, and the remaining SAS teachers and students heeded the warnings of the U.S. State Department and departed Shanghai.

The Re-founding

In January 1980, encouraged by the reformist efforts of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the U.S. re-established its Consulate in Shanghai. One of the Consulate’s first employees, economics advisor Tom Lauer, brought his wife, Linnea, and three children to Shanghai. Recognizing a need to educate the children of Consulate employees, the U.S. State Department asked Mrs. Lauer to restart Shanghai American School.

SAS re-opened on the U.S. Consulate grounds on Huai Hai Road in September 1980. It remained there until outgrowing the space in 1989.

The Shanghai Girls #3 School, one of Shanghai’s most reputable schools, with an alumni list that includes China’s famous Soong sisters,[citation needed] agreed to share space with SAS. With a booming foreign population coming into Shanghai, a SAS education was in heavy demand and in spite of building additional buildings and floors, it wasn’t long before SAS had again outgrown its space.

Pit Stop Campus Era

By the mid-1990s, SAS had decided to build not one but two purpose-built campuses – one on each side of Shanghai’s Huangpu River. Before the campus construction could be completed, the school needed to move once again.

Three temporary campuses were established. In Puxi, a semi-built cultural center in Zhudi Town was reassigned to the school. In Pudong, another cultural center – Huaxia – was selected to be SAS’ first presence on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River. A third temporary campus was founded in the Shanghai Centre on Nanjing Road to serve the youngest SAS attendees, though it soon proved unnecessary and closed after just one semester.

Facilities during this time in SAS history were makeshift at best. The school’s swim team held competitions at Shanghai’s Holiday Inn, and storefronts across from campus served as classrooms. Ignoring the challenges of the times, the school laid plans for a brighter future. SAS became a co-founder of the region’s highly acclaimed athletics conference, Asia Pacific Athletic Conference (APAC), in spite of having no athletics facilities at the time.

Modern-day SAS

In 1998, the Pudong campus opened on the shores of the East China Sea. In 2000, the Puxi campus opened in the heart of the Minhang district. Since opening, SAS has continued to invest in each campus and is now known for offering some of the finest facilities among international schools in Asia.

SAS’ reputation for academic excellence has continued as well, with graduates gaining admittance to some of the world’s finest programs and universities; recent alumni can be found continuing their education in 16 different countries.

In 2017, a popular veteran teacher at the Puxi campus was fired after being found in possession of pornography and exchanging explicit messages with former students.[8]

Notable students and alumni

See also


  1. ^ Home page. Shanghai American School. Retrieved on February 19, 2014. "Puxi Campus 258 Jinfeng Road Huacao Town, Minhang Dist. Shanghai, China 201107 6221-1445" and "Pudong Campus Shanghai Links Executive Community 1600 Lingbai Road Sanjiagang, Pudong Shanghai, China 201201 6221-1445"
  2. ^ "IBO". IBO Shanghai American School Pudong Campus. 12 December 2017. Archived from the original on 2016-05-05. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  3. ^ "IBYB Puxi Campus". IBYB. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  4. ^ "Current AP Capstone Schools". CollegeBoard. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  5. ^ "Opening of the CID". ISSUU Eagle Review. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  6. ^ "Want students to see a village as their classroom?Microcampus". hundrED. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  7. ^ "Our History". Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017. 
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

  • Shanghai American School website
  • Profile at the Good Schools Guide International
  • Shanghai American School Educational Programs Blog
  • SAS Pudong's school profile on Time Out Shanghai Family
  • SAS Puxi's school profile on Time Out Shanghai Family

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