Mercer Island’s French American School of Puget Sound was in the spotlight earlier this month when French television channel M6 dispatched a small film crew to the campus to capture part of a segment for its popular “66 Minutes” program.
The segment, which is scheduled to air in France on Oct. 17, focused on Seattle and producers chose to place their lens on new lower school head Khalid Amali and his family — who recently moved to the area from France — and the Island private bilingual school as part of their overall story line.
M6 wanted to delve into Amali’s journey and discovery of a new country, school and ways of teaching and learning, according to head of school Eric Thuau. Amali arrived in Seattle in late July with his wife and two daughters, who are students at the school.
“We wanted to live this adventure for years and it became a reality this year. We didn’t necessarily think about Seattle, but I’m really surprised that I discovered a beautiful community,” said Amali, adding that sometimes it’s difficult living in a new place, but he’s embracing the challenges that each day brings.
During the Oct. 4 filming for the segment, which is provisionally titled “Seattle: La cite émeraude” (“Seattle: The Emerald City”), the crew also filmed fifth-grade students and instructors while classes were in session.
Amali’s main message while being interviewed was, “This community is a family,” he said of the 425 students and 100 employees at the school, which is accredited by the French Ministry of Education and has students from age 2 (tiny young pre-K) through eighth grade. The diverse school has more than 50 different nationalities represented and 20-plus languages spoken.
Thuau said the filming was especially a big deal for the French citizens, who are aware of the program that is apparently viewed by millions of people.
“They really wanted to be part of it to show what they do and to showcase everything that is happening at the school, which was quite moving for me as the head of school to see that. They want to show all these good things that are happening here and that they are proud of, and that I am particularly proud of as well,” he said.
The school, which is at maximum capacity with a waiting list, is located at 3795 East Mercer Way on land owned by the Stroum Jewish Community Center (JCC). Twenty percent of the families with students enrolled at the school live on Mercer Island.
Co-founded by Patricia Blaise-Caves and Véronique Dussud in 1995, the school was first housed in a church basement in Newcastle before relocating into the roomier old fire station on Mercer Island in 1999. They signed an agreement with JCC to construct a one-story building for its primary school in 2004, and then added a middle school and a second story in 2008.
“Our school is part of a very broad network of French international schools worldwide, which is composed of about 500 schools on four continents in 140 countries,” Thuau said. On Mercer Island, the school teaches common core standards for the American side of the education.
Thuau noted that community is one of its core values, and according to the school’s website, they also embrace excellence, integrity and cultural agility in shaping their students’ educational experience.
For more information, visit https://www.fasps.org/.