Our Legacy

Learning and Serving in New Delhi since 1952

We’ve come a long way since our students brought their own desks to school or studied in a building known as the ‘Taj’. But when roots are deep, ‘coming a long way’ means continually revisiting the beginning of our AES story.  

The vision for AES was born when a small group of Americans, living and working in New Delhi in the early 1950’s, decided to establish an American-style school for their children. One brave teacher launched the program in a single classroom with 12 children spanning six grades. 

In 1960, the School adopted the American International School (AIS) name to reflect the growing diversity of nationalities within the community and the exhilaration it brought. Shortly after, in 1963, the School moved to its current campus in Chanakyapuri. The original stone buildings remain today, taking their shape through the inspired work of renowned American architect, Joseph Allen Stein.

During that decade, we began cheering our teams as Tigers and opened a boarding section that offered a decade of residential life on campus for American students whose parents were stationed in the sub-continent ‘from Colombo to Kathmandu.’ 

In 1973, the School was re-named as the American Embassy School (AES), due to its primary relationship with the US Embassy in New Delhi. Thus began many decades of stability, growth, and innovation. As the School gained a global reputation, the High School was also accredited. 

In the first half of the 1980’s, AES sealed its commitment to a rigorous dual curricular program in the High School by re-introducing the Advanced Placement (AP) program and adding the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

With foresight, a campus building phase was launched during the 1990's. Construction began on the new middle school and elementary school buildings. During this frenzy of construction, the high school facilities and faculty housing also underwent major remodeling. 

AES celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2002, with a Golden Jubilee that brought many decades of alumni back to campus with the enthusiasm and affection that have always characterized our AES Tigers.   

During this time, Former Director Robert Hetzel, Ph.D. accurately summarized the past, present, and future of AES when he said: 

What has never changed is a commitment to excellence in learning and preparing young people to create a better world. The core values provide an unshakable foundation that allows AES to adapt to external challenges and opportunities while never losing its identity and sense of mission.

Robert Hetzel, Former Director

AES school history photo

Words from the Past

New Delhi and AES [were] not just a place but a way of life. Those that went there will always remember it and reference the times. New Delhi was the best.

—Paul Aronhime 1977-1984  

I loved the early morning in India; the sounds of the country awakening to a new day. On the weekends, we’d pack a bunch of AIS’ers into one [auto-rickshaw], pay the driver extra, and go to the movies. 

—R. Butani 1967-1969


Over the decades, teachers, leaders, and families built the school’s values and reputation. This remains true today, as the common thread to AES success has always been our human element.   


Throughout our history, honored guests have added excitement and intrigue to campus life. Among them, AES welcomed US Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton; Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi; and many more distinguished guests such as Norman Rockwell, Coretta Scott King, Jacqueline Kennedy, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Muhammad Ali, Buckminster Fuller, and HH the Dalai Lama.

AES old campus picture