Richard E. Byrd ES (formerly Negishi Heights ES) History

Opened: 1948
Closed: 2014

The Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, formerly Negishi Heights Elementary School, was opened under US Army supervision in 1948 with 300 students attending grades kindergarten through eighth grades. The school was built during the spring and summer of 1948. This school was located in Housing Area X and was also known as “Area X School”, although its official name was Negishi Heights Elementary School. The original building was two stories high and was specifically built to be a school. When it opened, it was considered to be a “modern, well-lighted” facility. In addition to the sixteen classrooms, there were two playgrounds, an athletic field, an auditorium-gymnasium, and a music room. In 1960, an extension was added to provide more classrooms due to the increase in enrollment.

In 1949, there were 400 students enrolled in the school, 135 of whom were kindergarten students taught by five of the seventeen teachers.

By 1959, when the Navy took over the schools in the area, Byrd Elementary School had grown to 700 students. Kindergarten and seventh and eighth grades had been moved elsewhere. Between 1959 and 1963, the enrollment dropped to less than 400 in grades one through four. Beginning in 1964, the student body increased rapidly, and by the 1967-68 school year, Byrd was the largest dependent school in Japan with just under 1,700 students. The high for enrollment in 1968-69 was 1,585. The next year the school started with 1,213 students. By September 1971, the student body consisted of 497 children.

Byrd Elementary School was located in the Negishi housing area of Yokohama, Japan. The main building of the school was constructed in 1948, and in 1960 an extension was added to provide more classroom space. During the ’70s, with the increased enrollment, several nearby buildings were annexed to help accommodate the influx of students. For three years the school was on split sessions due to lack of classroom space. As Yokosuka’s housing facilities grew, and much of Yokohama was gradually phased out, the bulk of the school’s population moved south.

For the 1981-82 school year, there were 290 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The school had a multipurpose room where workshops, physical education classes, faculty meetings, assemblies, etc. were held. In addition to the classrooms, the facility contained a media center, art room, faculty lounge and workroom, audio-visual room, Japanese culture room, health room, conference room, reading improvement center, music room, and office/classrooms for specialists. There weren’t any cafeteria facilities.

The staff included a librarian, host nation teacher, a teacher of the mildly handicapped, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, Speech Clinician, half-time reading improvement specialist, half-time counselor, and half-time nurse.

During the last years of the ’80s, the school enrollment dropped to approximately 200 students. A Prekindergarten class was added for the 1989-90 school year.

By 1986, the classrooms were contained within the main building and the school population was around 200. Since the school was old, there had been many patchwork repairs to keep everything in order. In 1984-85, the school was completely rewired. Discussions were begun to build a new school. The main objection to the old building was that it had no cafeteria. Byrd did have some nice features such as the large classrooms and a spacious playground.

A new building was completed for the 1993-94 school year. There were 265 students in PreK through sixth grade. This facility had a multipurpose room, media center, general classrooms, and instructional areas for specialists in compensatory education, learning impaired, ESL, speech therapy, Japanese culture, and physical education. The school also had part-time specialists for guidance, reading, art, gifted/talented, and media. Weekly support was provided to the school by a school psychologist and occupational and physical therapists.

The school was closed in 2014.


Information from internet sites, DoDDS School Information Guides and DoDDS Pacific Region, 1946-1986

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