SHAPE HS History

Opened: 1967

SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) is located near the village of Casteau in the province of Hainaut, which is approximately fifty kilometers south-southwest of Brussels, Belgium.

The SHAPE schools were established as a result of the move of SHAPE from France to Belgium in April 1967. The schools derive their organizational structure from an agreement between the Belgian government and the Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe. This agreement provides for an international school board responsible for the organization and administration of the SHAPE schools. The board is composed of one representative from each of the NATO nations with children in the schools. National school units are sponsored by Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany.

The high school opened in the fall of 1967, and the first edition of the yearbook, Le Lion, was published the first year of the school. The school colors are green and gold, and the mascot is the Spartan. The first supervising principal was Phillip B. Young, and the high school principal was C. Malcolm Smitten. For the 1969-70 school year the administrators were principal William Hagner and assistant principal Armand Banduin. The school newspaper was The Spartan Scene. A full complement of sports was offered for males including football, varsity and junior varsity basketball, and wrestling. Girls were cheerleaders. Other student activities included Senior Senate, Student Council, Future Teachers of America, National Honor Society, band, and chorus.

During the next two years, the yearbook included sections for the Germans, Canadians, and International students at the school. Parts of the yearbook were in English and French. Football, wrestling, and basketball had their first winning seasons. The soccer and tennis teams included females. Cross Country was also added to the sports schedule. The G.A.A.—Girls Athletic Association—was started. Other clubs included the Audio-Visual Club, Lettermen’s Club, Drama Club, Pep Club, Forensic Club, Red Cross, Golden Key Club, Home Economics Club, and Debate Club.

By the 1969-70 school year, a school nurse replaced the health services previously supplied by the military. The school began with twenty-one teachers and just over 250 students. In three years, the faculty increased to twenty-five and the enrollment in grades seven through twelve was over 400 students.

Throughout the years, the SHAPE sports teams were the champions in the district, region, and European competitions. In the seventies, the cross-country team was the Class B champions (1971-72), the wrestling team won the regionals (1972-73), men’s soccer was undefeated (1973-74), the basketball team were the Gold Division winners, the undefeated football team was the All Conference and All Europe champions (1976-77), and the girls’ basketball team won their first championship (1977-78). The school had its first golf team in 1971. Fifty students were members of the SHAPE International Swim Team in 1971. Women’s sports—volleyball, basketball, and gymnastics—were available beginning in the 1973-74 school year. The drill team, “Spirits”, performed for the first team during the 1971-72 school year, and majorettes were added in the 1972-73 school year.

The arts were an integral part of the school program. The first major drama production, Arsenic and Old Lace, was performed during the 1971-72 school year. There were beginning and advanced bands and a modern dance group (1973–1975). Vocal groups included The SHAPE Solid Sounds, Spartan Singers, and a Madrigal group. An art display area, Square Gallery, was started in one room during the 1976-77 school year and quickly grew to four rooms.

The school participated in Model United Nations for the first time in the 1971-72 school year. Students provided service to the school and community through organizations such as the Golden Key Club, Project Reach, T.O.D.A.Y. (The Organization Dedicated to Advancing Youth), and the BOOsers (Beautification Of Our School). Other highlights in the seventies included scuba diving as an elective, the first homecoming parade (1972), first “Tree Planting Day” (1973), and the work-study program for students. During the 1974-75 school year the school began a pilot program where SHAPE students were able to attend the Lycée International St. Germain-en-laye in Paris for a school year. Students could be in grades nine through twelve and lived with French families during the year in order to be immersed in the culture. Students also attended Project Bold for the first time in the 1978-79 school year.

The school enrollment grew from 450 students for the 1971-72 school year to over 520 for the 1978-79 school year. By the end of the decade, there were thirty-three faculty members. The administrators for the seventies included principals Paul LeBrun and Ann Bamberger and assistant principal George Johnson.

In the eighties, SHAPE American High School followed a traditional comprehensive high school curriculum and offered fifty-three different courses for the 1981-82 school year. The school was staffed by a principal, an assistant principal, a learning disabilities teacher, a reading specialist, a librarian, two guidance counselors, and twenty-seven classroom teachers. There were over 510 students in grades 7–12. The physical plant consisted of fifteen general purpose classrooms, four science labs, and laboratories for home economics, industrial arts, electronics, computer science, foreign languages, and business education. The school also had a Learning Resource Center and centers for reading, learning disabilities, and audio-visual presentations. The gymnasiums and the cafeteria were shared with other national sections of the SHAPE schools.

Students were the local DJ’s for a radio program, Generation Gap. The drama program was revitalized in the eighties. The band participated in school events and local programs. In the fall of 1981, the SHAPE band participated in the Armistice Day ceremonies at Flanders Field. Students attended the Presidential Classroom in the United States and the Brain Bowl. AP English students had an annual trip to Paris to follow in the steps of Hemingway. An International Student Council was started with representatives from the Americans, Germans, and International Divisions of the schools.

The sports teams continued to earn honors. The cross country team won their fourth championship in a row in 1983 and the football team had a twenty-five-game winning streak that ended in 1985. Girls’ volleyball won the small schools title in 1984 and 1985. The swim team was undefeated during the 1987-88 school year and won eight of the eleven European Forces Championships by the 1988-89 school year. The cheerleaders received an Award of Excellence. Other championships for the banner 1988-89 school year included first place in the Benenor for the tennis team, both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams were undefeated, and the boys’ basketball team won the regular season, the Benenor Tournament, the Northern Regionals, and the European Championships.

The school band received new uniforms for the 1982-83 school year, and the Art Squad was created. The band attended their first Jazz Workshop during the 1988-89 school year. The drama club joined the International Schools Drama Association in 1984. The next year drama became a year-long course at the school.

During the eighties the school enrollment ranged from 480 students to 520 students. The faculty and support personnel increased from thirty-seven to over sixty. The new administration for the 1982-83 school year were Dr. George Johnson, principal, and Dr. Thomas Smith, assistant principal. Lottie McCoy became the assistant principal for the 1985-86 school year. Dr. William Hall was the deputy principal beginning in the 1987-88 school year.

JROTC began at SHAPE during the 1994-95 school year. That same year Ms. Barbara Ferg-Carter became the principal and Dr. Frank Morgan was the assistant principal. There were just over 400 students in grades seven through twelve with a faculty and staff of forty-four.

During the 1996-97 school year the senior class had students from nine different nations. The SHAPE Seals International Swim Team had over 100 swimmers with students from ten different nations. One yearbook described SHAPE as a “World Within a World”. Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) was reactivated after eighteen years and junior high students participated in Math Counts, the National Geography Bee, and the National Spelling Bee. The next year there were two student teachers at the school. Baseball and softball and girls’ soccer were added to the sports opportunities.

The enrollment during the nineties ranged from a low of 400 students to almost 500 students.

The 2009-10 yearbook stated that over 85% of the student body was on Facebook and 71% spoke more than one language. In the new millennium the school now referred the seventh and eighth graders as the middle school. New events at the school included a School Talent Show, Creative Connections, the Student-to-Student program, Women in Science (club), and a French Language Club. Mr. David Tram was the principal and Rhonda Spruiell was the assistant principal beginning in 2009-10.

For the 2010-11 school year the official name of the school became the SHAPE Middle/High School. The school now had an Air Force JROTC program, Odyssey of the Mind, Photo Club, Homework Club, Chess Club, and a schoolwide Multi-Cultural Festival—this festival celebrated the diversity of the thirty-four nations represented in the school of over 560 students.

SHAPE American High School had the largest number of Division II Football titles between 1992 and 2012. The football team made the playoffs after a four-year hiatus in 2012. The girls’ basketball team won the European Championship in 2012. The baseball team won their first Division II European Championship in 2012.

When the SHAPE Middle School opened in the fall of 2014, the high school became a nine through twelve school.

Currently, the students at SHAPE have a block schedule with 85-minute classes. Each student has seven classes and a seminar period. The school is accredited by Cognia. The school continues to have three sports seasons and many other clubs and activities.

The school administrators for the 2021-22 school year were Mr. Shawn Rodman, principal, and Ms. Heather Rhine, assistant principal.


Information from DoDDS School Information Guides, school yearbooks, and websites

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