Rota MS/HS (aka David Glasgow Farragut HS) History

Opened: 1958

Rota High School was originally part of David Glasgow American School. The original school was a kindergarten through twelve school with twenty-eight students. In September 1958, the school was relocated from a fishing village to the housing area of the Rota Naval Station on the Bay of Cadiz on the southern coast of Spain. Adjacent to the naval base is the town of Rota, and a few kilometers away is the town of Puerto de Santa Maria. The 1958 school complex consisted of separate one-story buildings. When the school was moved to the Rota Naval Station, it was named David Glasgow Farragut High School.

The original school was named in honor of David Glasgow Farragut, the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and full admiral of the United States Navy. James Farragut was the son of a Spanish immigrant to the United States. After the death of his father, Farragut was adopted by a family friend, US Navy Captain David Porter, who wanted to give James the benefit of an education and the opportunities of a naval career. Later, James changed his name to David to honor his adoptive father. David Glasgow Farragut was the first senior officer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.

The first yearbook, El Extranjero, for the school complex was published for the 1960-61 school year. The school teams were known as the Admirals and the school colors were blue and gray. The first yearbooks included the elementary and high school students.

For the 1960-61 school year, the superintendent for the Spanish schools was Jack Brown, who was later the supervising principal, and the high school principal was Jack W. Denton. There were twelve faculty members for the high school which had 175 students in grades seven through twelve. The high school newspaper, El Levante, was first published this year, and an active athletic program was begun. The school had sports teams for football, basketball, and baseball. All the competitive sports teams were for males. The teams played base teams. The basketball team also competed against local Spanish teams. Females were cheerleaders and participated in the pep club and the Girls Athletic Association.

The school also had an active band and choral (Glee Club) program. For the 1962-63 school year, Farragut High School had its first marching band. By the mid-sixties the school enrollment was at 275 students, with over 165 students in the junior high grades. Tennis, wrestling, and golf were added to the sports’ programs. The arts program grew with the addition of the Thespians group. Students lauded the addition of gymnastics, archery, riflery, swimming, and horseback riding to the physical education program. School clubs in the sixties included the Library Club; a Varsity Club; Cyclotrons, the first science club; Chess Club; Gourmet Club; and the National Honor Society. The girls’ drill team that performed at the halftime of sports events were the Admiralettes. The school had several service organizations to include Junior Red Cross, a Service Club, office workers, and bus monitors. A computer class and Russian class were offered as extracurricular activities. During the 1968-69 school year, two students volunteered as Teen DJs for AFRS—American Forces Radio Station—located on the base.

The band and chorus participated in local Spanish festivals and the marching band was received well by the Spanish people during their performances in parades and festivals. Students from Farragut High School participated in La Vendemia, an annual festival of the grapes held in Jerez de la Frontera each year in September. American female students helped carry the grapes to a receptacle to be blessed. A week’s celebration was brought to its climax with the blessing of the grapes and the releasing of doves to symbolize a new year of vintage wine. Students also participated in the festivities for Three Kings’ Day in January.

Other administrators for the 1960’s included principals DeWayne Mitchell, Charles Curry, and Thomas Moore. Mr. Oakley McEachren and Mr. Gordon Myer were vice principals. By the end of the 60’s the high school had 430 students and a faculty of twenty-five.

Students were actively engaged in host nation activities through the 1970’s. Students participated in many field trips in the local area and to Seville. The students also were engaged in local festivals like the Fiesta de la Urta, a celebration of a local fish, and La Vendimia de Jerez, a festival celebrating the grape harvest. The 1971-72 yearbook stated that:

This year the Vendemia was dedicated to the United States. The Vendemia started on Monday, with a parade on Wednesday. All during the week there was a feria with bullfights on several days. The girls who participated from the base were divided into two groups, the float girls and the flamenco girls. … The flamenco girls were in the parade on Wednesday, and they also participated in the Blessing of the Grapes on Sunday.

The school music department also did a week-long tour of Spanish schools/venues in different areas of the country, including the Costa del Sol.

The student enrollment in the seventies started at less than five hundred, peaked at 650 for the 1963-64 school year, and ended the decade with 420 students. The number of faculty members fluctuated between thirty-one to thirty-seven. In 1974-75 the school had a new Career Information Center. The school administrators for the seventies included principals Edna Brower and Dr. Leo Browne and vice principal Frank Hendrick.

The school newspaper had several different titles during the seventies including The Coral Reef, Scuttlebutt, and the Admiral’s Log. The yearbook staff also dropped the previous yearbook title and had a theme for each year. Other extracurricular activities in this decade included special interest clubs like Riding Club, Host Nation Club, Travel Club, Electronics Club, and a Pottery Club. Teen Counselors and Model United Nations were also student activities. The school had a large music program including senior high and junior high bands with over 100 members, a chorus of forty, and a Stage Band.

The biggest change for athletics for the school in the seventies was the addition of competitive sports for girls. The school had girls’ baseball, volleyball and gymnastics for the 1974-75 school year. Additionally, the cross country and golf teams became coed. During the 1975-76 and 1978-79 school years the school had championship teams in several sports including football, tennis, cross country and basketball. By the 1978-79 school year, there were two women’s basketball teams.

Since 1975, Rota High School has been an accredited member of AdvancED (formerly North Central Association).

In the 1981-82 school year there were about 430 students in grades seven through twelve, with twenty-six classroom teachers, two counselors, a special educator, a media specialist, and two administrators. The school had several specialists that were shared with the elementary school. Ms. Antoinette Davino became the new assistant principal for the 1981-82 school year, and the next year Fred Antrobus became the principal. In 1984-85 Jeff Martin was the assistant principal and Charles Lockwood and William Hall became the administrators during the 1987-88 school year.

The yearbook returned to its original title, El Extranjero, for the 1982-83 school year and the name of the school newspaper was changed to Masthead during the 1985-86 school year. The school began publication of a literary magazine for the 1984-85 school year and produced its first video magazine during the 1986-87 school year.

Additions to the school’s extracurricular activities were a reflection of the times with an Organic Gardening Club, Chef’s Club (later called the Deli Club), Dungeons and Dragons Club, Art Club, Jazz Exercise, Video Club, Bike Club, and Skeet Club. The school also had clubs that fostered special interests such as the French Club, Spanish Club, Pep Club, Craft Club, Equine Club, and Drama Club. The music department continued to expand and grow with the addition of a Chamber Music Ensemble, and the school music and drama groups produced the school’s first musical, “Annie Get Your Gun”, February 1985.

The enrollment remained around 400 throughout the eighties. The faculty was about thirty during this decade.

The first yearbook of the nineties had a message from the staff about attending David Glasgow Farragut School:

At a first glance at this yearbook, one might think that DGF is just like any other American high school. However, a closer look will reveal that our school is truly a unique place. The population of the school is small, but diverse. Students and faculty alike come from places all over the world. It takes hard work to bring together the many different backgrounds and interests of our school population. The students, administration, faculty and staff—all of us—work together to make this happen. Our academic achievements blend with our social life and extracurricular activities to make our high school years a time to remember.

The school enrollment decreased from about 400 students in the 1990-91 school year to 350 students for the 1998-99 school year. The faculty of thirty included a counselor, ESL teacher, learning disabilities teacher, media specialist, language teachers, a reading specialist, and two administrators. New administrators during the nineties included Jena Beth Antal, AP ’91; Eugene Petrillo, P ’93; Susan Simmons, AP ’93; Reid Braslow, AP ’94; Jerry Ashby, AP 96; and Robert Seider, AP ’97.

The newspaper returned to the name Admiral’s Log for the 1990-91 school year. The following school year Rota hosted the 1991 Leadership Conference for Rota, Zaragoza, and Torrejon. Student exchanges with Spanish schools increased. The student council voted to have academic letters for any student with a G.P.A. of 3.5 or above. The first video yearbook was produced for the 1995-96 school year. The music program continued to be a major part of the school, and during the 1997-98 school year, instead of the annual music department trip to areas in Spain, the trip was to Paris.

The millennium brought many firsts to DGF High School. For the 2000-01 school year, the school had its first yearbook completely in color, the first totally digital yearbook, the first time the yearbook was totally done on Apple Macintosh computers, and the first time senior pictures were done in the traditional attire of Spain. The chorus had new robes for the year and performed at Euro Disney in Paris, France. Girls’ softball and swimming were added to the athletic programs, and Math Counts was started at the school.

The high school had its first NJROTC program for the 2001-02 school year. The school also had several Special Interest Assemblies including Ricochet, a country band, a Native American dance group, a Black History Month presentation, and Billy Banks, an inspirational speaker. There were new computers in the library, and the AVID program was initiated. Seminar classes included diverse topics like Street Law, quilting, guitar, Minority Studies, and Game Playing. There was an Outdoor Club and students participated in Project Bold. The title of the yearbook was changed to Visions.

For the 2002-03 school year, the school participated in the schoolwide program, Character Counts, and Model U. S. Senate. There were new Dell computers throughout the school. The Admiral’s Angels was the first dance team for the school.

In 2004-05, the school was called David Glasgow Farragut Middle/High School for the first time. The school still had grades seven through twelve. New programs at the school included the iSAFE program, which informed students about internet safety; the International Student Leadership Institute; and distance learning. The Future Business Leaders of America was started as was a Poetry Club. Men’s baseball was added to the sports schedule.

The following school year students had the opportunity to train at work sites on the base through the Career Practicum class, and Computers on Wheels, a portable computer lab, was available to mathematics and science classes.

Doug McEnery became the principal for the 2006-07 school year. The school had its first Women’s European Volleyball Championship and won its first home playoff game in football for the first time in a decade.

The school enrollment during the first decade of the millennium had dropped from about 350 students to less than 200 students by 2007-08. As a result, the high school was designated as a Division IV school for athletics. That same year, the women’s soccer team was finally able to be a traveling team.

The new school was christened at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year with many military and DoDDS distinguished guests in attendance. During this decade the school enrollment began to increase again. Daniel Serfass and Cheryl Aeillo became the new administrators for the 2011-12 school year.

For the 2014-15 school year the sixth grade was added to the Middle/High School, and many activities were designed for the middle school students.

The school continued to excel in sports with the boys’ basketball becoming the Division III Champs for the 2011-12 school year. The women’s volleyball began their dynasty run during the 2014-15 school year and continued as the Division II champions for the next five years. During the 2019-20 school year, Rota Middle/High hosted its first wrestling match.

New programs continued to be introduced to the school, including Student2Student. In 2019-20, the MUN team went to Prague for the event and sports teams visited several European countries. That same year new classrooms were added to the school.

The pandemic affected school life for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. Many fall events were cancelled in 2019-20 and the school had a homecoming parade without a homecoming game. Students started the 2020-21 school year with digital learning. The new administration for the school was principal Stephanie El Sayed and assistant principal Kristen Foster.

Currently, David Glasgow Farragut Middle/High School, or Rota Middle/High School, has students in grades six through twelve. Students complete a minimum of twenty-six courses and exams in regular and Advanced Placement (AP) classes with the opportunity to obtain college credit. The school administrator for the 2021-22 school year is Edwin Caballero, and there are 323 students enrolled in grades six through twelve.

Share This: