Alto was founded in 1988 as the Deutsch-Amerikanische Schule, also called DAS or later German-American School by a group of dedicated German and American families who wanted a place for their children to learn in a bilingual German-English environment. By building such a school, they would not only give their families a place to learn and practice their German, but also provide German, Swiss and Austrian expats with an arena to promote their cultural heritage.
From German to International
The beginnings were humble. The school itself consisted of three rooms rented from the Woodland School in Portola Valley. In the beginning, the school operated with little financial resources, sometimes requiring board members to pay teachers out of their own pockets, while also dealing with phone and power disconnections. Over the years the school community began to grow, attracting more international families from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and eventually moving to a more permanent location on Elliott Drive in Menlo Park.
Start of the IB Program in 2007
The school continued to prosper and was subsequently rechristened the German-American International School (GAIS). In the early 2000s, GAIS began the process of implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, a highly regarded international education curriculum. Receiving authorization in 2007, GAIS introduced the IB Primary Years Program, becoming the first accredited IB World School in Silicon Valley to offer it. The school now offers the IB Middle Years Program up to grade 10, introduced in conjunction with opening up an English language track, in addition to the German language track, in the fall of 2011.
High School opens in 2016
In 2015, after two decades on Elliott Drive, the school moved to the current Pope Street campus. In the fall of 2016 the school announced its new name, ‘Alto International School’, to reflect its growing multilingual program serving preschool through grade 12, coinciding with the launch of its high school program and the enrollment of the first ninth grade class. As a candidate school for the IB Diploma Program, Alto is planning to offer students the opportunity of graduating with the prestigious IB Diploma. The school’s new name leads with the Latin word ‘alto’, meaning high or tall, and reflects the school’s ambition to provide an outstanding international preparatory education to the Bay Area community.