Ankara American High School was founded when the Air Force Dependents Schools took over the education of dependent American children in Ankara. Previously, American students had attended school at the Ankara American Education Association school. According to the 1958 Ankara yearbook, the Air Force began planning to assume control of education for American military dependents. The assistant area superintendent made a staff visit to TUSLOG Headquarters (The United States Logistics Group Headquarters) to determine the adequacy of the existing school to meet the USAF educational requirements. In December 1956 a contract was signed to remodel the existing school. The following July, after teachers were hired and the contracts had been signed, the Area IV Superintendent visited the proposed facilities. He found the building to be unsatisfactory and presented plans for a new school to the Headquarters in Wiesbaden. Colonel Burris was assigned as the engineering officer to supervise the reconstruction of a local automobile service garage into a school that would meet American standards.
High school classes began September 16, 1957, even though the building was not quite ready. Since the term began late, students attended school on some Saturdays to compensate for the missed time. Only the first two floors had been completed, and a third floor was being added to the building. After the Christmas holidays, the high school was moved to the partially completed third floor. A gymnasium was planned but was not completed.
The school teams were named the Trojans and the school colors were green and white. The school newspaper was the Konusmaker, which was Turkish for “to speak”. There were just over 200 students in grades seven through twelve with twelve faculty members. The supervising principal for the schools was Mr. Jack Daseler. For the 1959-60 school year, the supervising principal was Roger Prince, and the high school principal was Donald Grant.
During the 1957-58 school year, there wasn’t any heat or lockers until December, and the gymnasium still had not been completed. There wasn’t a cafeteria until Christmas. The next school year brought many changes including lockers and installed heating units. A cafeteria was set up and the new gymnasium was finished. Typewriters and sewing machines were available, clocks were in every classroom, and the playground was fenced in.
The school was accredited in May 1958.
The sports programs for men in the 1950’s included basketball, track, and soccer. The sports teams played against other American schools in Turkey, local Turkish schools, and Air Force teams. Girls participated in cheerleading, pom-pom girls, and majorettes. For the 1957-58 school year, the school had its first band and received new instruments. Other activities included chorus, student council, Turkish American Club, and clubs for chess, stamps, science, bridge, photography, cooking, drama, dance, rifles, and folk-dancing. The Lettermen’s Club was established in January 1958 as were the Senior and Junior Honor Societies. There were two levels of band and chorus.
With the increase in students and faculty, new classes were available including French, German, and shorthand. Turkish classes were available to all grade levels one through twelve, and exchanges were arranged with Turkish schools.
The 1960-61 school year brought the first Air Force Consolidated School in Turkey to Ankara. This included the opening of the first dormitory. High school students from throughout the Middle East would now attend school in Ankara. The high school enrollment jumped to over 420 students in grades 7–12. The school now published a literary magazine, the Crescent, as well as a yearbook and school newspaper. Girls now had a volleyball team and the Girls’ Athletic Association was started. During the 1961-62 school year there were two male cheerleaders. The music program continued to grow and now had a Barbershop Octet. The Junior Red Cross Club, French Club, and Library Club were established. A photo of the school can be found on page 15 of the 1962 yearbook. The school yearbook, The Citadel, was now published by the school. By the mid-sixties the school had two newspapers: The Ambassador for the upper grades and The Anatolian Messenger for the junior high students.
Tragedy befell the school when three teachers were killed in a plane crash on December 22, 1961.
Administrators during the 1960’s included Edward Cook who was the Supervisor of the Turkey Schools; Paul Taylor, principal; B.L. Price, principal; Louis Rubin, assistant principal; Fred Root, vice principal; W.A. Ratford, principal; Ethel Gross, assistant principal; David Cook, principal; and Richard Weigler, assistant principal.
On September 12, 1964, the school was dedicated as George C. Marshall Regional High School in honor of George C. Marshall who had been the US Secretary of State, US Secretary of Defense, author of the Marshall Plan, and 1953 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. A new school building began construction during the 1964-65 school year.
The school was often visited by dignitaries including the Gemini 5 astronauts, Gordon Cooper, and Charles Conrad, Jr.
During the sixties the school’s enrollment continued to grow, reaching over 820 students by the 1966-67 school year. Additional activities for the growing student body included the Tennis Club, Literary Society, Future Nurses of America, Future Teachers of America, Junior Classical League, Language Clubs, Key Club, and the Keyettes. The school received a charter for the National Thespian Society during the 1967-68 school year.
The school’s ALMA MATER was published in the 1964-65 yearbook:
OUR ALMA MATER!
To that valley High in Anatolia
In dry autumn
In snowy spring May our hearts forever return.
Seeking again our citadel
Recalling once more
The sources of our inspirations,
Our mentors in appreciations,
For here our life began.
The dormitories were closed at the end of the 1970 school year and, as a result, the school population was drastically reduced. For the 1970-71 school year there were only 349 students in the school. For the 1971-72 school year, the school’s name became the George C. Marshall American High School. The following school year the fifth and sixth grades were included in the high school, and the enrollment increased to about 470 students. The following year the school returned to a seven through twelve high school.
In the 1970’s there were several changes in the sports’ program: tackle football, not flag football, was now a fall sport; wrestling was added to the sports’ schedule; and girls now had a volleyball team, gymnastics team, basketball team, and participated on coed tennis and cross country teams.
Administrators in the seventies included principals John Love and Rex Gleason. The elementary and high school were combined for the 1980-81 school year.
Information from school yearbooks and DoD Dependent Schools Information Guides