HRH Princess Marie and Copenhagen's lord mayor Frank Jensen cut the ribbon at a ceremony attend by parents, teachers and students.
The school, which is primarily attended by children from international backgrounds, originally opened in 2014 with four classes housed in converted containers in the grounds of the Skolen i Sydhavn school in the city’s southern harbour area.
Since then, the school has been located in various temporary premises in the city. As such, Thursday marked an important step with the establishment of its own buildings in the fast-developing and iconic Carlsberg district.
A ‘public’ school in the Danish context is a school that is part of the public system and thereby free to attend and provided by the municipality.
The European School is a public school financed by Copenhagen Municipality, Realdania, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Nordea-fonden and the Danish Industry Foundation.
There are currently fifteen classes divided into two language sections, English and Danish and in the next academic year this will be extended to a French section too. In August 2019, eight more classes will be added to the school and, when it is fully expanded, nearly 1,000 students from kindergarten to secondary 7th grade will attend and follow the internationally recognised European Baccalaureate programme.
“We wanted to know how to make Copenhagen more attractive to international people and one clear way was to provide a public international school and we were delighted to support the first international public school in Denmark. We are so proud to have the European School here in the centre of Copenhagen,” Jensen said at the opening event.
Princess Marie, who has lived in France, Switzerland, the United States and Denmark, has been the patron of the school since 2014. She appeared visibly moved by the performance of We are the World by the second grade pupils.
“The European School offers a wonderful learning environment and a unique school. More and more international families are enjoying life as Københavners [Copenhageners, ed.] and now they can send their children to a school that is both European and a Danish public school at the same time,” the princess said.
Presentations were made by Jensen, head of Copenhagen Municipality’s children and youth committee Jesper Christensen and representatives from the various foundations which support the school.
But the speech that captured what the European School means to the community came from two fifth graders, Harry Hansen and Alma Feldhütter, both founding students.
“Now we have finally moved into our new building and it feels good! There is light, lots of space and playgrounds on every level. The European School is special in so many ways as we have so many nationalities, cultures and religions here,” Feldhütter said.
“Since 2014 our school has adapted, changed and improved, and is developing into a school which is always open to trying something new and never giving up. We are lucky enough to have teachers and pedagogues who come from all around the world that support and care about us. One thing I have learnt whilst being at our school is that it is important to be curious,” Hansen said in his speech.
“I am really proud to be one of the first students in the school back in 2014. We’ve watched the school grow from just four classes in containers to the amazing school we have now,” Eva Hatting, another of the founding students, said.
Following the opening ceremony, Princess Marie toured the school with pupils showing her the new science labs.
Hanne Schmidt, Head of Primary, has also been part of the school since its inception.
“The students will have their own opening ceremony where they will be able to celebrate this wonderful new building. It is really about the children and I love to hear their pleasure in the playgrounds, see them making the use of the new classrooms and all the space we have here. This journey has been like a fairy tale, we had to overcome trials to get to the prize at the end and now we are here,” Schmidt said.