Clark Field Dependents School History

Opened: 1947
Closed: 1954

On July 7, 1947 the Clark Field Dependents School opened for children in grades 1-12 whose parents were US Army personnel and War Department civilians. A school board of eight members had full control of the affairs of the school. This board appointed a principal who was responsible to the Officer-in-Charge. Teachers were qualified dependents of military personnel. Books and supplies were provided by the school board. Some funding was provided by monthly tuition fees of $20 for officers’ children and $5-$10 for dependents of enlisted personnel. The 1947-48 school year ended in April approximating the schedule for Filipino schools.

In 1948 the principal of the Dependents School was an enlisted man who had experience teaching both in the Air Force and in civilian schools and possessed a master’s degree. He was paid an extra $50 per month for these duties. A former teacher and administrator in New York City Schools became Registrar. When the principal’s tour of duty ended in December, it is believed that the Registrar became principal. Fourteen teachers were hired locally because there were no funds to hire from the US. Teachers were paid about $200 a month. The new principal was paid $400 monthly. It was recommended that a raffle be held to raise the funds, approximately $12,000, needed for the school.

At this time, grades 1-8 were housed in the main school area near where the future Clark High School would be located. Grades 9-12 were located in six sawali buildings near what was then the Enlisted Men’s Club.

The first teachers to be recruited from the states by the Department of the Army arrived at Clark to begin school in June,1949. They received a salary of $3727 a year with a 20% differential and free living quarters. In addition to the eight stateside-hires, six dependent wives completed the faculty.

During the summer of 1950, the Clark Dependent School moved to building #3100 located near Mitchell Highway in the vicinity of barrio Margot. Before being converted for use as a school, the building had been central control office for the reconstruction of post-war Clark Air Base.

In 1951-52, there were six teachers for the 82 students in grades 7-12 and the high school graduating class consisted of three members. No records were available for elementary enrollment or number of teachers. During 1952-53 eleven primary, five intermediate and eight high school teachers instructed approximately 700 students in grades 1-12. Eight seniors graduated.

By August 1953, the school had expanded into the buildings north and south of the main building. Supplies, furniture and library books were in short supply. A strong PTA of 500 supported the school. This organization was to grow to 1500.

In 1954 Clark Air Base Dependent School was renamed Wurtsmith Memorial School in memory of General Paul B. Wurtsmith, fourth commanding general of the 13th Air Force during World War II.

Information from DoDDS-Pacific Region 1946-1986 and school yearbooks

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