Ground-breaking ceremony at Frankfurt International School

The subject of the new sports hall for Frankfurt International School is one that has been on the local political agenda for several years, with the main problem being exactly where to build it.

However last Saturday (30th August, 2014) surely put an end those discussions when the “Ground-breaking ceremony” took place, known in German as the “Spatenstich”, now that the school is building inside their own grounds.

The guests, except maybe for the new arrivals, could see a difference to the grounds as soon as they entered them.  Over the summer holidays, the old sports hall had been torn down.  In its place, next to where the Worldfest is held, is now a fenced off area containing the land where the building once stood.

The building site in the middle of the FIS campus

The building site in the middle of the FIS campus

Dr. Mike McKay, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that it was “disorienting” to see the empty space.  For him it is important that it be filled “in the right way”.  On the other hand, he is looking forward to the view in February 2016 when the building is due to be completed.

The job of filling that empty space falls to Jonathan Clenshaw, Vice Chairman and responsible for “Buildings and Grounds”, along with the architect Michael Frielinghaus who planned the new building.

And the figures show what an ambitious project it is.  The old sports hall had 3,500m².  The new building will have a floor space of 11,200m², including a 3-field sports hall with spaces for 700 spectators, 15 class rooms, 3 multi-purpose rooms, a fitness centre and even 60 underground car parking spaces.  As Head of School Dr. Paul Fochtman explained, the project is set to cost €21 million.

Ground-breaking with Jonathan Clenshaw, Michael Frielinghaus, Dr. Paul Fochtman, Dr. Mike McKay and Dr. Christoph Müllerleile

Ground-breaking with Jonathan Clenshaw (left), Michael Frielinghaus, Dr. Paul Fochtman, Dr. Mike McKay and Dr. Christoph Müllerleile (right)

The fact that the building is being built in Oberursel is not just good news for the 1,750 pupils, their parents and teachers at the school.  The town itself is also quite happy about it.  Council Chairman Dr. Christoph Müllerleile congratulated the school on starting the building process, and commented that the building will be unique, not just with in the town, but in the region.

So what do the pupils themselves think?  Some of those who were present on Saturday had only been at FIS for a few weeks, so they could not really envisage what it was look to have lessons in the 30-year-old hall, but they were looking forward to the new one all the same.

For those who do know what the old hall was like, they saw one very important difference in the new building: a bridge will connect it with other parts of the school, meaning that they can reach the new rooms without getting wet when it rains.

One guest of honour on Saturday who certainly should remember the old sports hall was non other than FIS alumna Carolyn II.  She wished the school luck for their project and presented them with the traditional Fountain Queen’s gift of a “Bembel”.  And given the international nature of the occasion, she took time to explain in English just what it is used for and which drink go in it.

Carolyn II. presenting the Bembel to Dr. Paul Fochtman

Carolyn II. presenting the Bembel to Dr. Paul Fochtman

This article appeared in German on 4th September, 2014 in the Oberurseler Woche.

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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