I am writing this letter to you on the last day of my time as Chair of the ACS Board of Trustees . Tomorrow , Theodora Konetsovska , ACS class of 1997 , will become Chair . On the surface this is a landmark for the institution on so many fronts : the first graduate of the school to lead the trustees , the first Bulgarian-American , the first woman , a representative of the “ first ” class , and so on . But that list doesn ’ t capture what is most important to me . Theodora is passionate about ACS , deeply thoughtful about what makes it great and how it can be even better , and full of energy and contagious enthusiasm about the future . She will be a wonderful leader .
I have a few parting thoughts to pass on as part of this report , both on my behalf and that of my late father , James E . Clayton , who served as chair in the early years after reopening and as a trustee until his passing three years ago . When ACS was reopened the goal was to build a school that blends American pedagogy with Bulgaria ’ s rich educational history and would be the most academically rigorous secondary school in the country , preparing its students to attend the most challenging English language universities around the world . It is a measure of how successful ACS has been in the 28 years since reopening that ACS now carefully manages its program to be academically rigorous both inside and outside the classroom ( through initiatives like the European Court of Human Rights Mock Trial , Junior Achievement Bulgaria and the International Student Science Forum ).
The trustees have always viewed our commitment to an “ American ” style of education to include not just how students are instructed , but how they are admitted and how the operation of the school is financed . A great school is expensive to operate , and ACS is . It has to attract and retain great teachers and provide great facilities to support the faculty and students in their shared educational efforts . A good school cannot be great if only students who can afford the cost of education attend , and so ACS offers scholarships to families that cannot afford the tuition . This is so fundamental to our mission that many of our donors , including the largest donors and many others , give to support these scholarship awards .
Supporting scholarships is a great reason to donate to ACS , but it ’ s not the only reason . In fact , all the money my family has given to ACS in the last few years in honor of my father has been “ unrestricted ”, meaning it can be used to cover expenses that tuition does not . These expenses can be operating expenses or capital expenses . For example , as Dr . Ewing points out in his letter , the government of the United States , through its American Schools and Hospitals Abroad ( ASHA ) agency , has given ACS a grant of over $ 700,000 for renovations to Abbott Hall . These renovations are desperately needed . But the ASHA grant does not cover the full cost , so the remainder will require some hard decisions on our operations . Unless , of course , we receive donations that are unrestricted or directed towards the cost of the project !
Let me close with two requests . The first is of course to donate to ACS . The second is to help spread awareness in Bulgaria that scholarships are available at ACS for families that can ’ t afford the full tuition . Even in the United States , many families don ’ t realize that scholarships would make it possible for their kids to attend great schools that seem too expensive , and so it ’ s not a surprise that building awareness in Bulgaria is a problem . Thank you for helping us spread this information widely , and for your support of ACS !