Our Story

American Cooperative School

Who We Are


In 1955, in a house in La Paz, a number of parents got together and came up with the idea of providing an English language, American school program for their children. At the beginning there were only 6 children participating. However, by the end of the first year there were 23 boys and girls working with one teacher.

The very next year an influx of Americans to Bolivia caused a group of parents to decide to start a real school. Rather than creating their own curriculum they worked with the Calvert system from Baltimore Maryland and implemented that program. In 1958 the school moved to the Goethe Institute and more subjects were added to the curriculum. It is ironic to note that although the connection with Calvert system lasted only about 2 years, the school is still referred to locally by that name!

Later, in 1958, the school was approved by the Bolivian ministry of education as an experimental school under the name of Cooperative Experimental School. Bolivian students as well as those from other countries were admitted to the school. At that same time the school was moved to Calle 13 Calacoto, the present location of the Hotel Calacoto.

By 1960 the school had continued to grow to the point where there were 316 students. Through a grant from USAID the present property was purchased. This included the “Patino House” and “Casa del Sol”. The only thing that remains is the stone, garden bridge located in the playground.

As the school continued to grow buildings were built and both the program and facilities expanded. In 1963 a master plan for the present campus was completed. Many of the older buildings were torn down and new construction was begun.

In 1964 the name of the school was changed once again, this time to the Franklin D. Roosevelt School. The idea was to facilitate exchange programs with the school of the same name in Lima, Peru. However, that apparently didn’t work so one year later the school’s name was again changed to The American Cooperative School.

In 1968 the school was recognized by the Bolivian Ministry of Education thus allowing graduates to obtain the Bolivian Bachillerato. That same year the school was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

During the political unrest from 1970 – 1973 many American and third country national students left Bolivia. The school struggled during these times but still continued to provide an excellent education for its students. When things finally calmed down American and third country national students returned and the school continued to grow.

In 1977 Mr. Herm Penland was appointed Superintendent. A long-term plan was implemented to rebuild the physical plant and educational programs. The school went through a period of long-term stability under Mr. Penland. Most of the buildings you see today were built during that time period. The last building to be built was the fine arts building which includes our theater, computer classrooms, and music room.

From 1997 until the present the major emphasis has been on building an excellent academic program augmented with community service, outstanding fine arts opportunities and most recently, improved sports and after school programs. Thanks to the hard work of a number of parents and teachers we now have an active PTA for the first time! We are currently trying to establish an Alumni Association. Through the years ACS has continued to move forward!

We are now embarking on a new era.