Alumni

From your time as a student to your graduate experience as an alumni, TASOK support and amenities continue, as a result of your connection to the Tasok Alumni Network, now over 1,000 people.

1961-1962

TASOL was the original idea of Lee and Jerry Weaver with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. “Lee returned from the U.S.A. in 1961 and began teaching our children at home. Eventually, Lee said, ‘I do not like teaching just my kids, but will teach others if we can start a school!’ That is how TASOL began.” (Weaver)
A monument dedicates Weaver Field on TASOK campus to them as “founders of the school”. They solicited participation widely, initially with businessmen and other mission organizations in Zaire. Soon, the U.S. Embassy and the United Nations joined in support of the English speaking school. It was agreed by all that TASOL was not to be a school for just missionary children. There was a wider vision to create an “American school, to offer an American curriculum for expatriate American children”. (Steven Sharp)
Initial classrooms were held in Sims House built by Rev. Aaron Sims, a Scottish physician and pioneer missionary with Livingstone Inland Mission. He built Sims House in 1893 after completing Sims Chapel across the road in 1891. The chapel is the oldest free-standing structure ever built in Kinshasa and is located on the Congo River.

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Dr. Sims built “the modest brick residence, in the shape of a cross [which was] painted schoolhouse red and accommodated a large combined 5th and 6th grade in the main wing, 3rd and 4th grades in the right arm of the cross, while the entire high school occupied the other arm. The combined 1st and 2nd grades were in an adjacent car port, screened in with a half wall to provide a semblance of classroom structure. An ancient ironwood tree, said to have been the site where Henry Stanley negotiated the land concession for the Baptists, shaded the assembly area between the two classroom buildings.” (Steven Sharp)
“The American School officially opened on the station September 18th (1961) with 50 children attending. The majority is mission children; the American Embassy, UN, and business community are also cooperating with this project. Four missionary teachers are each instructing two classes; it’s a dressed up version of the little red school house.” (1961 newsletter of John and Erna Strash)

“Two person desks (wood and steel with ink wells) ordered from FNMA were not delivered until after a mid-morning rain shower. Desks and tables ordered for ABFMS’ Christian Center in Kitambo were pulled into service. Textbooks from the American Mennonite Brethren Mission’s (AMBM) École Bellevue in Kwilu District were eventually received. The library consisted of a single shelf of books, featuring C.S. Lewis and other fiction tomes. Notwithstanding its charter as an American School, the missionary influence was significant.” (Steven Sharp)

“I was always impressed that the first day of school was in one of those tropical deluges that Congo is so well-known for!” (Marj Sharp)
“We opened school … with some 40 children, all English speaking, but by no means all Americans. We have 4 classrooms with the 5th grade having the largest enrollment. Fifth and sixth graders are together. There is such a wide age range and background among the children. One 12 year old boy in the 4th grade speaks Greek, Arabic, French, and English. Phil Uhlinger did a tremendous job getting the buildings ready, bathrooms put in, etc. School opened in a downpour and no desks. Finally, in desperation, they carried some tables and benches which were to go out to the Christian Center. About an hour later the rain stopped and the new desks arrived. The children are in class from 7:30 to 12:30. It makes a long day for them but transportation is difficult so we are trying to have it all in one session. The children have a lot of homework to do.” (Sept. 21, 1961 letter by Marj Sharp to stateside family)

“They have at least 60 enrolled in the American School now. The school has exceeded the expectations of any of us.” (Oct. 23, 1961 letter from Marj Sharp to stateside family)

1962-1963 TASOL

Ground was cleared for a new 6 classroom building and a library on the CBZO (CBCO) compound. “Additional classroom blocks were built and playgrounds prepared before the high school moved to Mont Ngaliema in 1966 on land obtained through the auspices of the U.S. Embassy.” (Steven Sharp)

“While new classrooms were being built, classes were held in Chanic houses along Ave. de l’Avenir. There was a large group of new teachers from the Mennonite teachers’ college in Hillsborough, Kansas. An elegant, vivacious woman named Mme Grandjean taught French.” (Brown Noyes). “Permission was finally granted to build and it is well on its way to completion. However, the present enrollment has already outgrown the new building- four classes with a multipurpose room. The enrollment must be about 120 now.” (Oct. 1962 letter by Marj Sharp)

“Each succeeding year more students arrived and many non-missionary kids wanted admission. Some American Embassy personnel joined from the outset, so soon we needed more classrooms which were added, forming an L shaped structure with an auditorium.

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The unique school had no hall passes, no suspensions, scarcely a roll call. It was actually a disciplinary utopia. It seems that a solidarity developed in the student body that can rarely be seen in any mixed group. Yet, when we trace where former students are now, few groups have dispersed over a world-wide scale like TASOK’s alumni. Paradoxes, contrasts, enigmas, that covers early TASOK.
Most students were missionary kids from Mennonite Brethren, Congo Inland Mission, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and independent groups such as MAF, MCC, etc. They came from twenty countries, many of them embassies such as Angola, Belgium, Canada, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Formosa, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, India, Kenya, Norway, Panama, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.” (Wiebe)

1963-1964 TASOL

First yearbook
High School Principal Orv Wiebe Grade School Principal James Clark
School Motto: International Understanding
School Colors: Navy and White
6 seniors from 5 countries
“The seventh grade had a teacher who had been in the Marines and insisted on his class singing the Marine Hymn at the top of their voices every day.” ( Brown Noyes)