On January 10, 1952, the Shape Village School, predecessor of the Lycèe International, opened its doors to educate children of employees of NATO’s SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe). Its founder, Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower entrusted the school’s first Proviseur, Réné Tallard, with the creation of an establishment of international unity emphasizing individual nationalities, in a spirit of liberty, harmony, and humanism and open to the inevitable changes that would be shaping the world of the future. By July 1952 there were 150 students.
Ten years later enrollment had reached 1345 students, half the children of military officers and foreign civilians who had settled in the area and the rest local French children. In 1962 the education ministry decreed that civilians could no longer attend classes that were financed by NATO for liability reasons. American Section civilian parents decided to hire their own teachers, creating the governing Association that still exists today.
When President de Gaulle expelled NATO from France in 1966, hundreds of military children and most of the section teachers, who were military personnel, moved away. The Dutch and German Sections remained, as well as the civilians from the British and American Sections. The Proviseur, Edgar Scherer, convinced the Education Nationale to keep the school open, arguing that the bilingual and international families would relocate to this area for the school. The Lycée was soon designated a French public school, officially recognized by the Education Nationale as a mixed educational establishment structured to receive both French and foreign pupils.
Over the past decade, a network of lycées internationaux, patterned after the Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye, has grown throughout France. As importantly, the international spirit envisioned by General Eisenhower of cooperation, community and multi-culturalism continues to thrive on the site of the SHAPE Village School.