August 24th, 2011 - First Day of School at CMC

On August 24, 2011, Concordia opened its doors and started providing educational services to the students and families of Hanoi. The 44 students and 22 staff helped to lay the foundation of what Concordia is today. From the first day, Concordia was committed to providing a student-focused environment that emphasizes developing the whole child through academic excellence in a rich and diverse community dedicated to serving each other and the world.

"Today there are still several students at Concordia who started with us on the first day in 2011," says Head of School, Steven Winkelman. "I want to give a shout out to our students: Michael (G12), Andy (G12), Shaina (G12), Miles (G12), Grace (G11), Kara (G8), and Rinnah (G8), and our teachers and staff: Mrs. Bloemberg, Ms. Zimbrick, Ms. Kappelmann, Mrs. Garcia-Halpin, Mr. Hai Trinh, Ms. Mai Nguyen, and Mrs. Winkelman. These pioneer students and staff are all that remain from the early days. They have witnessed many changes. From classes at CMC, where we ran to the fields for PE and played volleyball in the auditorium space, to the building of our current campus, and everything in between are all special experiences that Concordia students and staff have enjoyed as our school developed. It has been a grand adventure, and I look forward to many new and exciting things that will happen at Concordia over the next 10 years."

A few of those pioneer students and staff shared some of their memories of the first day at CMC. “When I first stepped into Concordia, my first thought was 'Woah it has the best facility,’" says Shaina (G12). "It was very unique to see the carpets that absorb the sound on every floor, which made me feel like I was in the library the whole time.”

“I remember my 4th grade class - 3 students, only one spoke English," says HS Counselor Linda Bloemberg. "Yet, they were so excited to be there. I teared up at our opening assembly as I reflected on how lives were going to be changed as a result of Concordia Hanoi.”

"I remember the first day when Ms. Hernanz introduced herself," says Michael (G12). "I didn't really understand what she said, but her friendliness made me feel comfortable."

"I remember from the first day of 3rd grade at CMC building when [my classmate] Miles first talked to me," says Andy (G12). "The third-grade teacher let the class talk freely, and in the midst of the awkwardness, Miles first said hi to me. Never did I know I would be spending the next 11 years of my life with that guy!"

"I remember walking into Concordia feeling SOOO nervous for my first day of real school," says Miles (G12). "I was so excited for PE, I wore gym clothes underneath my uniform so I could change like that. I, quite disappointingly, found out that we would participate in PE in just our uniforms. So a hot and stuffy day at CMC was how I started my epic journey in Concordia."

"When I was in second grade, our treasured place of the playground is the most memorable," says Grace (G11). "It was a place where I played with my teachers and friends to hide and seek and I was known to be very good at running, so people called me a cheetah."

“My memory from the first day of school is that I couldn't believe our school looked REAL!" says Middle School teacher Lia Halpin. "It was something we had talked about so long that it seemed too good to be true. Preschool had TWO amazing teachers (Mrs. Elliott and Mrs. Horvath) for only a handful of kids because we didn't have enough kids for Reception class yet. Grade 1 only had four students and so on it went! From floor to floor, classroom to classroom, the excitement was tangible! I was lucky enough to take photos of all the classes on the first day and fully take in this wonderful miracle of Concordia finally opening in Hanoi. After we said goodbye to the last student on a bus, Steve W. invited all the staff to the 4th-floor office (separate from the school) to toast to a job well done in completing our VERY FIRST DAY ever. We also all received certificates that said 'I was there on the VERY first day of school.'"

"I remember that we started with just five buses that first year," says ES Principal Kristin Kappelmann. "Children sat in five little lines in the multi-purpose room and we came to get them when their bus arrived. I remember we started without a Reception class because we didn't have enough children, and how happy we all were when we found out we could open up that grade level after Christmas that first year!"

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