History & Traditions

School History

In 1991, an Indiana Humanities Council task force was established to address Indiana’s position in a changing world.  The Task Force report, entitled Indiana in a Changing World – A Strategy for Action, emphasized the need for Indiana to:

  • Participate in the world community and world economy
  • Attract foreign companies and specialist employees
  • Make Indiana students more internationally competitive

One of the report’s major recommendations led to the International School of Indiana creation in 1994. Since its founding in 1994, ISI has grown into a 3-year-old through Grade 12 school of some 500 students.

In July 2002, ISI was authorized to enroll Juniors and Seniors into the IB Diploma Programme (DP), officially making the institution an IB School.

By 2004, ISI saw its first graduating class, consisting of 8 students.

2009 was a formative year for the school, where the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP) began to be incorporated into the curriculum in grades 1-5 and 6-10 respectively. ISI received certification for both programs in 2011, giving them the distinctive honor as the only school in the Midwestern United States to offer IB, MYP and PYP to its students. In addition to this, ISI announced the launch of its Mandarin Chinese immersion program for students in the same year.

The launch of the ONE ISI campaign in 2019 established the school's intention to unify the Lower and Upper School campuses by the 2021-22 academic year. Starting in August of 2021, after more than two decades of operating on two campuses, the school now operates from on the unified Michigan Road campus.

ISI History Timeline


School Traditions

The International School of Indiana has many traditions that have been shaped by our school’s history, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and language learning programs, and the employees and families who have infused our community with customs and perspectives from around the world. Below, you’ll find an overview of the signature events and activities that connect our community.

Four Signature Community Events 

For students of all ages, employees, and families 

With unification on a single campus, ISI is pleased to expand four events to All Community events, which help to create a more cohesive community, where families and employees across schools can meet, socialize, and connect with one another throughout the school year. 


Bell Ringing Ceremony

The Bell Ringing Ceremony has been a tradition as ISI since August 1998. It borrows from a Russian tradition in which students greet teachers at the start of each school year, giving them flowers and then ringing a bell held by the principal of the school. Each student has an opportunity to ring the bell to start the school year, beginning with the oldest student at ISI and ending with the youngest. This event is held on the main track and field and kicks off the start of the school year for all students, families, and employees. 

International Week - Homecoming, International Parade and Festival

International Week began at ISI in 2019, and is a time to recognize and celebrate all of the cultures that make up the ISI community. Throughout the week, one day is dedicated to each language track (French, Mandarin, and Spanish), and the week culminates with an International Parade and Festival. Carrying flags representing their nation and in attire that represents their home country, students, faculty and staff walk together in a beautiful display of pride for their culture.  The parade is followed by a festival for the full school community. Athletic events throughout the week serve as homecoming games for both boys and girls sports, and Upper School students have a homecoming dance that weekend.

Field Day and Slide-A-Thon

Field day is a fun-filled, springtime event held in many schools throughout the United States. It is a day of sports and athletic competition for students of all ages, and it also includes Slide-A-Thon a student fundraising event that began in 2021.


ONE ISI End of Year Celebration (formerly Kermesse) 

One of ISI’s earliest traditions was the Lower School end-of-year celebration, Kermesse. The celebratory fair marked the school year's successful close, and more than two decades of families and employees have fond memories of the tradition. In 2022 the event was expanded to include all members of the ISI community. Though the name is now changed, one of the school's early traditions continues on the unified campus with all Gryphons enjoying games, music, prizes, treats, and much more. 



Featured Lower School Events 

Language Track Celebrations

Each language track has a celebration once a year where the entire track, three-year-old through Grade 5, hosts a celebration of the culture, history, and achievements of their language track. These events allow the entire language track to come together for a performance and invite their family and friends to celebrate and view what the students have been working on. 

French Track: International Francophonie Day
Mandarin Track: Lunar New Years
Spanish Track: Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Assembly

Lower School Class Assemblies

Since 2012, weekly class assemblies have been an important part of the ISI calendar at the Lower School. Class assemblies are the most individual celebrations, where just one classroom presents what they have been learning to their friends, families, and other classes in the same grade. These assemblies provide Lower School students with an opportunity to share their learning with a broader school community.

The End of Unit Celebrations bring together     all three language tracks of an individual grade, and focus on highlighting what the grade learned about in their most recent unit. The celebrations include presentations, skits, and songs as well as hands-on activities for students to complete with their guests to showcase their learning. Classes also display different projects and models they may have created throughout the unit. 

Grade 4 End of Unit
Business Fair


Featured Upper School Events 

Upper School Timmy Club

The Timmy Club (established 2004) and Timmy Junior (established 2018) are two of the most popular clubs at the Upper School, and are both some of the largest Timmy Club chapters in the country. Timmy Club hosts a variety of events yearly to raise money for Timmy Global Health. 

Penny Wars: Students compete against other Upper School houses to see which house can raise the most money in coins. 

Timmy Week: Timmy Week happens both in the fall and the spring. Students donate money to support Timmy Club and are able to dress up for different spirit days throughout the week. 

Timmy Game: Timmy Week ends with a high-energy Student vs Staff sporting event to raise money, showcase student talent, and have fun! Depending on the season, the Student vs Staff game will be volleyball, soccer, or basketball. 

Timmy Fun Run: End of the year event where students fundraise and participate in a color run to wrap up the end of year Field Day.

Upper School House System

ISI established houses at the Upper School during the 2010 school year. All Upper School students, faculty, and staff members are sorted into one of four houses; Bison, Limestone, Cardinal, and Pioneer. Students participate in community building activities with their houses, as well as compete for the yearly house cup. Houses earn points for a variety of accomplishments, including athletics and arts participation and academic achievement. 

Grade 12 Traditions

Besides graduation, Grade 12 students participate in many celebrations throughout their senior year to celebrate their hard work. First, students celebrate The 100 Days Dinner at the beginning of February to celebrate the remaining 100 days of their time left at ISI. Grade 12 students also celebrate Senior Send Off in April to celebrate their final day of formal classes before their IB exams. 

Senior Send Off



As a non-sectarian school, decisions on how to approach events, holidays, celebrations, and awareness themes are based on the following principles:

  • The mission and values of ISI should be reflected in both academic and social experiences.
  • We will ensure that each student’s culture, language, ethnicity, family structure, identity, customs, and beliefs are recognized and valued in our approach to holidays and celebrations.
  • School traditions are treated with respect for the role they have played in establishing our culture, as is a consideration for their continued relevance.
  • Continuity of experience is important in building a shared identity between generations of Gryphons, but it should not impede progress. 

In the Lower School, units of inquiry and assemblies are designed and implemented throughout the year to explore holidays around the world, preparing students by broadening their worldview and emphasizing respect for diverse beliefs and traditions (including their own families). 

In the Upper School, student assemblies, certain classroom activities, and clubs provide a forum for programming related to monthly awareness themes, including holidays, throughout the year. 

other events

Monthly Spirit Days at the Lower School

Lower School Talent Show

Lower School Choir Concert

Grade 5 Exhibition

Grade 5 Moving Up Ceremony

Midnight Madness (Grade 8)

Personal Project Exhibition

Upper School PJs & Pancakes Celebration

Kiddie 500

Grade 8 Moving Up Ceremony

Grade 10 Moving Up Ceremony

Model United Nations Trips

Athletics Senior Nights

All School Patriot Day

Monthly Parent Coffees

Earth Day Celebrations

International Gala

School Dances

Homecoming Dance

Lower School Family Dance

Middle School Dance & Game Night

Winter Semi-Formal 


Upper School Arts

High School Play

Fall Music Concert

Upper School Musical

Spring Music Concert

DP Art Exhibition

Middle School Play

Lower School Overnight Field Trips

Grade 3 Chicago

Grade 3 Camp Flat Rock

Grade 4 Bradford Woods

Grade 5 Washington DC

Upper School Study Abroad Trips

Grade 6

Grade 9

Grade 10

*trip locations differ based on language track