The German International School of Silicon Valley has moved into the landmarked Hillside School in the Berkeley hills. Photo: GISSV

A new school has come to the Berkeley hills. The German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV) has settled into the landmarked Hillside School, a site that for many decades was owned and operated by the Berkeley Unified public school system.

The school, which welcomes both German and non-German speaking families, moved from its former location in Kensington which itself was established in 2007 as the second satellite of the original school which was founded in Mountain View in 1999. A San Francisco satellite opened last year.

The private school in Berkeley currently has 70 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, but will add a grade every year until it becomes a K-8 school, according to Birgit Cronin Marketing Coordinator at GISSV.

Cronin said the purchase of the property was in process, and restoration and repair work to the playground in particular was carried out over the summer. First classes were held there on Aug. 13 and a grand opening ceremony took place on Nov 3.

Community and parents gather on Nov. 3 at the opening ceremony of the German International School in Berkeley. Photo: GISSV

BUSD built Hillside School, which is bounded by Le Roy Avenue, Buena Vista Way and La Loma Avenue, in 1925 on the site of several homes that were destroyed by the 1923 Berkeley fire, which also destroyed Hillside’s predecessor. The elementary school was closed in 1983 due to a declining school-age population, and because of seismic safety concerns.

Other educational institutions have been based there: the Berkeley Montessori School (since renamed The Berkeley School) leased part of the site from the school district until 2003 when it moved to its new location in the old Berkeley Santa Fe depot on University Avenue. And the Berkeley Chess School continues to rent space there. Local residents have long used Hillside’s playground as a neighborhood park.

Before the German International School took possession of the property, Hillside was being employed by a group of artists for studio spaces. More recently, the school was used as a location for the Paul Thomas Anderson movie The Master.

The Berkeley campus of the German International School of Silicon Valley is holding open houses on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday Jan. 12, 2013, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...