London Central HS - High Wycombe History

Opened: 1971
Closed: 2006

London Central High School, originally called Central High, was located at USAF High Wycombe Air Station.

According to Richard Wilson who attended the school from 1954–1957, his father, Lt. General Roscoe Charles “Biff” Wilson, named the school. His father visited Bushy Park and there found the “Umpty-Umph High School Squadron, Dependent”. His father stated that until you come up with a better name this is Central High School. Later, the school became London Central High School on the recommendation of a student, Dale Van Atta. He felt that the name Central High didn’t tell anyone where the school was located.

High Wycombe was designed as an American base and was no longer used by the USAF. For the year of planning prior to the opening, the principal was half time at the school and half time planning for the move. Walt Radford, who had been at Lakenheath was moved to London Central and would become the deputy principal when the school was moved. The Air Force paid for the renovation and the move to the new school. The new school opened with about 1,200 students including 300 dorm students. The base Chapel became the school library, the snack bar was the cafeteria for day and dorm students and the base gym was renovated to become the high school gymnasium.

The US Weather Station became the girls’ gym and several small office buildings became classrooms. Some classrooms in one building were wood-paneled since they had been the Air Force Commander’s Office and the map room. The old base command building became the administrative and guidance offices. The airman’s barracks became dorms, one for girls and one for boys. One office building was made a Medical Aid Station and was staffed by the Air Force to be used exclusively by the dorm students. The dorms were named Mansfield and Trinity Halls. Most dorm students came from the Lakenheath dorm that had been closed.

The facilities at London Central High were located in a campus-like setting, with the school occupying thirty buildings on the air station. Buildings included general purpose classrooms, cafeteria, library, theater, two gymnasiums, science, auto mechanics, industrial arts, home economics, cosmetology, computer and business laboratories. Grades seven and eight were located in a purpose-built school facility adjacent to the high school. When London Central opened, many students, teachers, and administrators transferred from Bushey Hall and additional staff was needed due to the increased enrollment. Two dormitories were opened and served students from several major airbases in southern England on a five-day-a-week status. Students from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia and Eastern Bloc countries were in residence seven days a week.

The school mascot, Bobcat, and school colors, blue and white, remained the same as the previous locations. The school was a seven through twelve high school.

The academic program included a variety of vocational programs in addition to the traditional academic program. There were programs for the exceptional as well as the gifted pupils. During the 1972-73 school year the school’s cross country team was the European Champs. This was the first European Championship for the school. In addition to the yearbook and newspaper, the school now published a literary magazine, Albion. In the 1970s girls began varsity sports competition. The first girls’ competitive sports at London Central were volleyball, basketball, golf and cross country.

During the 1970s the school administrators included Dr. Rolla Baumgartner, Ms. Marie Woerner, Mr. Leo Richards, Mr. William Hagner, Mr. Ira Scheier, Mr. Robert Tryon, Mr. William Kilty, Ms. Ann Bamberger, Mr. Sam Tryon, and Ms. Kay Galloway. The school’s faculty and staff numbered as many as seventy with about fifteen dormitory personnel. Often the senior class was over one hundred thirty students.

The rock band America was formed by students Dewey Burnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley from London Central High School.

During the 1981-82 school year, there were 625 students in grades seven through twelve. The schools staff consisted of seventy personnel including administrators, teachers, dormitory counselors, aids and support personnel. Specialists at the school included two school counselors, one social worker, one learning development teacher, and half-time reading improvement teacher. The first administrative team for the eighties was Mr. Kilty, Ms. Galloway and Blan Palmer. Other administrators for the decade included Mr. Hugh Bradford, Mr. Donald Boepple, Dr. Robert Jones, Dr. Karla Stark and Dr. William Hall.

The school had extensive extra-curricular sports, academic and student government programs. There was also an Explorer Scout Post and church programs held at the school.

For the 1987-88 school year there were purpose built and converted facilities at London Central High School. These included general purpose classrooms, cafeteria, library, theater, two gymnasiums, science labs, auto mechanics, industrial arts, home economics, cosmetology, computer programing and business laboratories, and multi-purpose rooms. A sixteen-classroom addition to the school and a new “small” gymnasium for wrestling and gymnastics had recently been completed. Grades seven and eight were located in a separate facility adjacent to the high school. Two dormitories, recently completely refurbished, provided accommodations for five-and seven- day dorm students.

By the 1989-90 school year the enrollment had dropped to about 450 students. The enrollment continued to drop through the 1990s. Administrators in the 1990s included Ms. Nancy Spurlock, Dr. Charles Recesso, Dr. William Hall, Dr. Paul Ristow, Mrs. Debbie Riley Folmer, Ms. Billie Ramsey, Mr. Sam Menniti, Mr. Dan Mendoza, Dr. Jean Grant and Mr. Carl Albrecht. For the 1992-93 school year humanities was added to the curriculum options and the following year AFJROTC was available to students. For the 1994-95 school year, upgrades were made throughout the school.

Ms. Teresa Barba became the principal for the 2003-04 school year with Beth Pond as the vice principal. Two years later the assistant principal was Mary Waller. Due to the troop withdrawals in Europe, the elementary and high schools were consolidated at the end of the 2005-06 school year.


Information from school yearbooks, the school website and DoDDS School Information Guides

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