Lakenheath HS History

Opened: 1960

When Lakenheath High School was opened for the 1960-61 school year it was the most modern high school for the United Air Forces Europe. The school’s ten building campus was frequently visited by both British and American educators and journalists. The school officially opened on September 7, 1960. The student council immediately began establishing traditions and the school’s constitution was written. The school’s colors, red, and blue, and its mascot, Lancers, were chosen by the student body. The formal dedication ceremony was held in October 1960.

Lakenheath High School serves three U.S. Air Force bases located in the East Anglia region of the United Kingdom. It is located about 1.5 hours’ drive from the northeast of London. Currently, the school has grades nine through twelve. It is the oldest DoDEA school in the United Kingdom. The school campus is composed of an auditorium, two gymnasiums, four science labs, four computer labs, specialized rooms for art, music, and drama and an extensive Information Center.

The 1961 Lakenheath High School section of the combined yearbook, Vapor Trails, described dorm life:

For the majority, dorm life was their home life. The large day-room which included an outdoor patio, a fire place and a snackbar, was also equipped with a television set and piano; and therefore, it was frequently the scene of the varied activities provided by the Dormitory Council.

The yearbook further reported that…

Movies, dances, study groups, and outings became a regular part of campus life.

The over-all scholastic average of these dormitory students was surprisingly high. They were especially proud to note that practically every senior on the semester’s honor roll was a member of the dormitory family.

On the whole, this year was a very active, filled with all the problems that normally accompany a new school. Nevertheless, the students found that creating traditions, establishing policies, and planning future activities is more rewarding that accepting previous ones, for life itself is a life of building for the future.

There were originally four dormitories on the campus.

Dr. Del Rae Christiansen was the first principal with Mr. Walter Radford as the vice principal. There were over thirty faculty members and a student population of about 450 students with almost 100 seniors. When the school opened it had grades nine through twelve; however, by the 1962-63 school year the configuration became ten through twelve. The school yearbook, Legend, was published the first year the school was opened. The school newspaper, Dragon Tales, was published every three weeks. The year the school opened, there were many extracurricular activities available to students. The clubs available included Pep Club, Arts and Crafts Club, Future Teachers of America, Philosophy Club, Photography Club, Foreign Language clubs, Science Club, Debate Club, Philology Club, Nursing Club, Drama Club and Chorus. The sports for boys were football and basketball. Girls participated in cheerleading.

According to the yearbook,

Athletically, Lakenheath High was equal to its formidable rival, Bushy Park [ed. later known as London Central]. The first football season ended 3—1; and at the end of the first semester, the Lancers boasted an undefeated basketball team.

Meanwhile, the student body established the Cambridge Chapter of the National Honor Society. Each of the four classes sponsored an all-school dance, and both the juniors and seniors presented class plays. The seniors also sponsored and directed the Variety Show. However, the climax of the social calendar was, of course, the junior-senior prom.

The graduation of the first Lakenheath students was the culmination of the year’s events.

Prior to the 1961-62 school year the school gymnasium, football field, track and baseball diamonds were completed. The school now had five dorms. There were over five hundred students enrolled. The Lancer Log, a magazine of memories of dorm life and student writing was published for the first time. For the next five school years the school had grades 10–12. In the 1967-68 school year the school returned to a 9–12 school. Sports added in the 1960s included basketball for girls, wrestling, soccer and rugby for boys, coed track, cross country and bowling. For school year 1965-66 Lakenheath High had its first band and the next year there were three band levels. The Quill and Scroll Society was chartered in May 1964. The school also added Cooperative Work Experience as an elective.

Mr. Alfred Matthews became the principal for school year 1964-65 and Mr. Walter Radford was the principal in 1969-70. Other administrators included Paul Britton, Mr. T. Nocito and Mr. G. Guinan.

In the 1970s the school was again a 10–12 school. Principals included Dr. Jerry Bloom, Dr. Greg Apkarian and Dr. Elstan and Mr. Dean Osborne was an assistant principal. The enrollment reached over 670 students. The faculty and staff numbered around fifty. Girls’ gymnastics, volleyball and basketball were added to competitive sports. The school added an Air Force JROTC program and new extracurricular programs included Model United Nations, Host Nations Club and Guitar Club.

John Love was the principal for several years in the 1980s followed by Dr. Linda Renz and Dr. Joan Holloran. Assistant principals included William Nolan, Barbara Hill, Dr. Ed Watson, Diane Cazzone and Robert Calzini. By the mid-eighties the faculty and staff numbered over sixty-five and the school’s configuration was 9 –12. The school’s dorms were redecorated and a new vocational/laboratory building was added to the campus. The new building included specialized rooms for cosmetology, auto shop and electronics class. During the 1986-87 school year the entire school was remodeled and updated in four phases throughout the year. Parents formed the first booster club for the school. The eighties also brought several honor societies to the school. These included the National Art Honor Society, the Mua Alpha Theta, mathematics honor society, and honor societies for French, Spanish and German. There were five-day dorm students from Wethersfield and seven-day dormies from Menwith Hill.

As a sign of the times in 1987, a Flash Mob was held by the high school students at the Lakenheath Post Exchange. A Red Cross Club and a Random Acts of Kindness Club were formed.

The 1990s brought the Odyssey of the Mind and Duke of Edinburgh programs to the school. The ROTC was located in the buildings that were originally the student dorms. Some of the administrators in the nineties were H. Blan Palmer, Nancy Spurlock, Ken Blackmon and Dianne Cuzzone.

Lauri Kenny was principal and Niels Mateo was the assistant principal for the 2019-20 school year. This was the sixtieth year of the school. The school enrollment was about 400 students and the faculty and staff were about fifty. The school was now the smallest Division I school for sports. The Lakenheath Barracudas swim team was added to the athletic schedule as were baseball and softball.

The 2020-21 school year brought many challenges due to the COVID pandemic. The school principal was Mrs. Moon with Niels Mateo as the assistant principal. The students attended Virtual School with the option of returning to school at the end of the first semester or doing virtual school for the entire year. There were 350 students enrolled in the school.

Currently, Lakenheath High offers competitive sports throughout the school year. Fall sports include cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, tennis and girls’ volleyball. Fitness Games were offered beginning in the fall of 2020. Winter sports include basketball, competition cheer and wrestling. Spring sports include boys’ baseball, girls’ softball and track. The school also supports the Lakenheath Barracudas swim team.

In addition to offering fifteen Advanced Placement classes, the school provides a robust Career and Technical Education program comprising seven different pathway options. Virtual online classes are available in almost every major field through the DoDEA Virtual High School.

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

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