Madrid American School (aka Generalissimo School) History

Opened: 1954
Closed: 1955

Until January 1954, there wasn’t an authorized American dependent school in Spain because there wasn’t a need for one. However, during that month a nucleus of American military personnel arrived with children who were of school age. The parents immediately enrolled their children in the available schools – The American Institute, the British Institute, and Spanish schools. Within a few months these schools reached their saturation points and would no longer accept American children. This resulted in the forming of a voluntary school in Mrs. Henry Klenzing’s room at the Velaquez Hotel. This arrangement did not satisfy the communities’ needs. Temporarily, the facilities of the Mangold Institute were rented. There were thirty-five students and two faculty members, Mrs. Henry Klenzing and Mr. Thomas B. Wise. The two teachers handled all difficulties. Each morning the desks and school supplies had to be set up and every evening they had to be taken apart for the Spanish classes which followed. According to an entry in an early yearbook, the situation was not a challenge academically; instead, it was a challenge of getting along with others in a difficult situation. These students became the “pioneers” of the American Schools in Spain.

By the summer of 1954, the new school in the Generalissimo building was being built. In ninety-days-time, September 1954, the school was ready to be occupied. The project was made possible by the untiring efforts and keen interest of General Leo P. Dahl, whom the original faculty called their best friend for education. Deep appreciation was owed to Lt. Col. James Webb, the late Major John Frances, and the many others who helped make the school possible.

In September classes began for the elementary grades in the building at Felix Boix 7 where the grade school was later located. The high school moved from Juan Bravo 18 to Felix Boix 7 in November. Although there were many problems to overcome the school was accredited under the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities on May 2, 1955.

Share This: