Reflections of an original First Grader
With ACS Egham International School celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it brought back nostalgic memories for many of us at the school. For Andrew Kittell, Director of Corporate Relations for ACS International Schools North American office he was reminded of Candace, one of the first students to attend ACS Egham. Here Andrew shares Candace’s story:
Back in 1995, in the first Admissions Office of an about-to-open ACS Egham International School, I met Lu Ann Rubenstein. An American expatriate mother, who was trying to find the perfect educational setting for her two daughters. Eventually the family settled in Ascot, Berkshire and the girls enjoyed five wonderful years with ACS.
From that first meeting until this day, I’ve kept in touch with all the Rubensteins. But it’s with their second daughter, then Candy and now Candace, that I feel a particular bond. This is our story, one that begins with Candace recounting her time growing up in England and ends now 20 years later with the two of us again living near each other.
We’re Moving to London!
Not yet seven years old in 1995, Candace Rubenstein experienced her family’s first international relocation. Candace explains, “ACS played a huge role in how welcoming England felt. Being part of something new not just for us but for ACS was a wonderful experience that I’m honored to have been part of.”
And at 26, Candace looks back fondly on her first days at school, “I remember the main building was made mostly of brick and there was a big field directly across from it where we had PE. I remember I thought the campus was huge with lots of beautiful trees and open areas to run around and do cartwheels in.
“The potato smileys we used to get in the cafeteria are a vivid memory of mine and Andrea’s. To this day, I’ll buy potato smileys at the store just to take a trip down memory lane.”
Meeting ACS Egham’s “Chief Welcomer”, Mr. Kittell
When I first met the girl everyone then called Candy, she was only six, less than half my height, beaming with an ear-to-ear smile for everyone she met, including me, Candace recalls, “I remember yours was the first smiling face I would see every morning. I never felt anything other than super-welcome on campus, mostly because of you. Anyone could see your excitement to be there every morning and how proud you were being part of the brand-new Egham campus. I do remember we gave you a little monkey wearing a graduation cap and holding a diploma. It sat on the very front desk greeting every person that walked into the school.”
The ACS Experience Lasts a Lifetime
Since 1967, the ACS International Schools have educated nearly 60,000 young people. Many carry with them lasting memories of the lessons learned and the people they met while attending our schools in the UK and from 2011 Doha, Qatar.
Candace reflects on how ACS Egham helped shape her into the person she is today, “I could write a book about the things I learned and experienced while living abroad and going to ACS Egham.
“One of the most important things I learned was being open to all kinds of people from all walks of life. Every class I took at ACS was made up of people from all over the world. From being exposed to so many cultures as a child, I’m now very open-minded, which has really helped me throughout my life and still does every day.”
During her time in England, Candace developed a love of gymnastics, which she carried forwarded into college where she became a competitive Cheerleader and went to the World Cheerleading Championships.
Reunited in Charm City, USA
Her lifelong love of sport, found and nurtured from her ACS school days, has culminated with Candace now working as a material lab analyst for Under Armour, a company that supports athletes.
In a nice coincidence Candace now lives and works within a few miles of the ACS North American Office in Baltimore, Maryland and I’m able to look back on our shared ACS experience and development since we first met.
Now an impressive young adult, Candace embodies the best of the ideals ACS tries to instill in its students. She’s open minded and world wise, a disciplined lifelong learner with an inner drive and personal resilience.
My family and I are pleased to have one of our favorite ACSers nearby. Candace inspires those around her and gives me great confidence that her parents made the right school-choice decision in England.
Certainly, Candace fulfills the ACS’s core purpose: Through learning, inspire all to make a difference.