Torrejon HS (formerly Madrid HS) History

Opened: 1970
Closed: 1992

Torrejon High School was located on Torrejon Air Force Base, which was a Spanish base. The high school was a complex of six buildings from one to three stories high. The buildings included a main classroom building, which was once an airman’s dormitory, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, an auditorium, a JROTC laboratory, an auto mechanics laboratory, and a music building.  The school was originally known as Madrid American High School and the name was changed for the 1970-71 school year. The school retained the school colors of red and silver and the mascot, Silver Knights. The name of the yearbook remained Accolade.

The school often accommodated over 600 students, many of whom spoke Spanish and were comfortable in the host nation surroundings. About half of the students came from Royal Oaks, a large, leased housing development north of Madrid. Most other students lived in the city or villages near the base. The school had a 7-day dormitory, with most of its residents coming from the Middle East. The dormitory which was opened in 1966 was closed from 1969 to 1976 and reopened for the 1976-77 school year.

There was a strong vocational program at Torrejon, including courses in Computer Programming, Cosmetology, Modeling, Electronics, and Woodshop.

In the 1970’s the school enrollment ranged from about 600 students in 1970-71 to a high of 764 students in 1977-78 and then decreased to 525 students for the 1979-80 school year. The number of faculty and staff began the decade at forty-five and had reached seventy school personnel in the mid-seventies.

When the school was renamed, the “M” Club which was the Lettermen’s Club became the “T” Club. After women’s sports became a part of interscholastic competition, the name was changed to the Varsity Club. Women’s sports became part of the school for the 1973-74 school year. The school had a girls’ volleyball and basketball team, and golf, cross country, track, and tennis became co-ed sports. In the latter half of the 1970’s there were two teams for the major sports of football, basketball, and volleyball. At first, the two school teams were designated as the Royal Oaks, the housing area, and the Base. Later, they were designated as the Red and White Teams. Both teams competed with other schools in their region and in European Tournaments. Gymnastics for girls was added to the athletic program for the 1979-80 school year.

Cooperative Work Experience was added to the curriculum in the early seventies and the school had its first Air Force JROTC program beginning in the 1972-73 school year. The initial JROTC program had four flights and a drill team. The size of the program grew through the end of the decade. A nursing program was added to the curriculum in the 1973-74 school year. The school also had its first presentations to celebrate Black History Week and month.

Each year the several students participated in a ski trip. In the seventies, while students were on the ski trip, the school sponsored various classes that were different from the usual curriculum. The classes included yoga, Japanese writing, and oriental cooking. Many field trips were also sponsored, and students went ice skating, visited museums, and visited the zoo.

The school administrators during the seventies included principals Lee Johnson and Al Mathews and assistant principals Mr. Schlesinger, Larry Daniels, David Gamse, and Norm Friedman.

Ms. Edna Brower became the Torrejon High School principal for the 1981-82 school years. Other principals prior to the school closing were Fidel Gaviola and Ira Scheier. Vice/Assistant principals included Arlene Robinson, Gerald Ludwig, John Armstrong, and Joe Davis.

During the eighties the school continued to have a successful music program including chorus and band. During the 1980-81 school year the school had its first coed volleyball team. Most sports continued to have two teams for each of the major sports. For the 1980-81 school year, the school dropped the Accolade title for the yearbook and used a yearly theme instead.

Activities that reflected the times included a Fantasy Role Playing Club, Pan American Assemblies, a Teen Welcome Club, and Peer Counselors. The cosmetology classes and modeling classes were featured in several yearbooks during the eighties. There was an active Medical Explorers Club, and driver’s education was offered at the school. During the 1987-88 school year, the school participated in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

The 1985-86 school year marked the tenth year of the residence halls at Torrejon High School. That year there were thirty dormitory students who were from countries in Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Africa.

The eighth grade became part of the high school for the 1980-81 school year, and the seventh grade was added for the 1989-90 school year. The enrollment was between 550 and 600 students through the eighties. With the inclusion of the staff for the dormitories, the school faculty and staff numbered around fifty people.

In the early 1990’s, the U.S. presence on Torrejon Air Force Base began to be phased out. The last yearbook for the school was titled “Final Chapter”. A Powderpuff game replaced the traditional football game between Torrejon and Zaragoza when neither school had enough males for a team. During the last year, the Torrejon students were given tee shirts with the school seal on the front and “Going Out of Business” on the back of the shirt.

Torrejon High School graduated its last class June 1992, and the school closed.

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