The Alfred Thayer Mahan High School was located at the U. S. Naval Station, Keflavik, Iceland. Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Naval Officer and historian. His books on sea power made him world-famous and perhaps the most influential American author of the nineteenth century.
This NATO base was about thirty miles from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Navy and Air Force personnel were stationed at Keflavik. Until the new high school was built, the elementary and high school shared one facility and had one administration. Both schools were included in the first yearbooks which began publication for the 1962-63 school year. The yearbook was named Aurora Borealis. The school colors were blue and yellow, and the mascot was the Viking.
No information is available about the high school prior to the years the school began publishing yearbooks. The school superintendent for the 1963-64 school year was Cecil Gyer, and he supervised the entire facility, elementary, and high school staff. There were six teachers for the high school with sixty-three students in grades nine through twelve. There were eight seniors and nine juniors. During the school year, President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Iceland and the school. Due to the small size of the high school and the location, the only sports were cheerleading and boys’ basketball. The basketball team played military unit teams. The school did have a pep club and drill team as well as separate Glee Clubs for boys and girls. There was an active student council and National Honor Society.
By the 1966-67 school year the high school enrollment had increased to 120 students in grades seven through twelve. The student council wrote a constitution for its operations and the school had its first newspaper, Mahan’s Messenger. A few years later, the newspaper was called Viking Press. Extracurricular activities included a drama program, Lettermen’s Club, science club, and art club. There were fourteen faculty including a full-time librarian for the 1968-69 school year for an enrollment of over 180 students.
The other administrators for the sixties were Mr. Robert Peek, Ms. Gladys Zabika, and Mr. Jack Richardson.
A separate high school was constructed in 1970. The facility included a large library, closed circuit TV studio, business lab, art room, electronics lab, industrial arts shop, and home economics room in addition to the general-purpose classrooms. Physical education classes used the base gymnasium/pool complex located adjacent to the school.
For the 1969-70 school year there was a supervising principal, Jack Richardson, and a separate principal, Robert Hudson, for the high school. The faculty had increased to twenty-one and the high school enrollment was over 200 students. This was the first year of the Writer’s Forum which was an outlet for creative prose and poetry from the Honors English students. The group published the literary magazine, Interpretations. Additionally, a boys’ service club—Norsemen—was formed to do service projects at the school. A Teen Club and Subteen Club, for junior high students, were begun. Students also served as teacher, office and library assistants. The first host nation program was started for the 1969-70 school year with Mr. Leo Munro as the host nation teacher.
At the beginning of the seventies, 1970-71, the supervising administrator was William Traugott and Robert Hudson continued as the high school principal. The faculty for the elementary and high school totaled twenty-nine and the high school enrollment was less than 200. A Mu Alpha Theta Math Society honor chapter was opened as was a chapter for Future Teachers of America.
On November 5, 1971, the new school was dedicated, and a portrait of Admiral A.T. Mahan was hung in the lobby. School administrators in the seventies included Ole Glundin, Dr. John Hewitt, Burke Adams, Lloyd Morrow, and William Murray. The school faculty ranged from fifteen teachers to over thirty faculty and staff. The enrollment ranged from a low of 227 students to a high of over 300 students in the mid-seventies. The school athletic program for the decade included intramural games and base competitions. The school had its first football program in the 1972-73 school year with intramurals and, later, played base teams in seven-man flag football. The school had boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball teams. The school also participated in swim meets with local Icelandic teams and had a boys’ baseball and girls’ softball team. Some sports like wrestling, bowling and racquetball were part of the base recreation program. Later, wrestling was a school sponsored sport. The school newspaper had several different names during the seventies including Viking Press, Viking Free Press, and the Rock Review. Sixth graders attended the school for the 1974-75 school year. This was the only year that the sixth grade was at the high school. In the 1975-76 school year an activity period was added to the schedule.
The school had an active band program and in the late seventies began an annual week-long band bus trip that traveled to Icelandic schools. The Mahan students stayed in Icelandic homes when they were performing at each local school. For the 1979-80 school year a choral music program was added to the curriculum. That same year, the sports program had its first traveling game. The basketball team traveled to Reykjavik to play the Verslo school. Another first for the 1979-80 school year was the Schoolwide Trivia Contest which also became a yearly event.
The 1980’s started with an enrollment of just under two hundred students with a faculty of nineteen. The drama club became the “Glacier Players” and remained an active part of the school program. The newspaper changed its name again, to the Sheep Skin. Grade-level Powder Puff teams became an integral part of spirit week.
In the 1981-82 school year, there were fourteen teachers who instructed several different classes in their field due to the small enrollment of 235 students in grades seven through twelve. Assistance was available for teachers and students from a reading teacher, learning development teacher, and two aides as well as the speech therapist, psychologist, nurse, and talented/gifted teacher who were shared with the elementary school. During this school year, the student body was divided into four houses, Loki, Baldur, Magni and Thor, that spanned the grades in the school. The Lettermen’s Club became the Varsity Club since women’s sports were not being recognized.
Mr. Arnie Watland became the principal for the 1982-83 school year. The next year was highlighted by the visit of the space shuttle Enterprise to the base. The Enterprise landed at the base on May 20, 1983. The school newspaper got another new name, A. T. Mahan Times. During the 1984-85 school year, the school had its first Model United Nations Group.
In 1985, Barbara Ferg-Carter became the principal and the school competed in athletics and academics with teams in England for the first time. A new high school gymnasium was completed in 1986.
For the 1987-88 school year there were 205 students enrolled and the new principal was Dr. Robert W. Kethcart. There were ten new staff members that year. The school newspaper, which had changed its name to Artic Gull, was now published by the journalism class and was distributed as part of the base paper, White Falcon. Soccer became part of the athletic program. The next school year a new school recognition program, “I Can”, was begun. Students who demonstrated “I can make a difference in my future” were recognized at the end of each quarter and prizes were awarded at semester. The sports teams continued to compete against base teams and through an intramural program. A new activity for the school was a modern dance club that did a winter and spring performance.
Mr. Larry Howard became the principal for the 1989-90 and 1990-91 school year. By this time, the school enrollment was about 180 students and there were sixteen teachers.
TV production returned to the school in 1991-92 and students participated in outdoor and indoor soccer against Icelandic teams. The nineties brought new activities such as the middle school Earth Day; participation in the Odyssey of the Mind program; traveling to Bad Kissingen, Germany for the Model U. S. Senate program; and competing in Destination Imagination and Math Counts for the first time. The band performed at the Icelandic-American Band Festival. The First Lady, Hilary Clinton, visited A.T. Mahan High School during the 1999-2000 school and took time to interact and pose with students. The school administrators in the 1990’s included Miss C. Margaret Deatherage, Arnold Watland, and Debra Johnson.
During the 2004-05 school year, the school hosted the production crew and stars of the film “A Little Trip to Heaven”. The film had an Icelandic producer, Joni Sighvatsson, and starred Forrest Whitaker and Julia Stiles. The stars signed autographs and interacted with the students. Some students were extras in the film and filming was done with the school as the setting. The crew was at the school over eight hours.
Chip Bassat and Zuzana Plesa were the assistant principals during the 2004-05 school year. New enrichment activities at the school included a Poetry Club, an Academy for seventh graders, and Creative Connections.
The final year for the school was the 2005-06 school year. Even though the school was set to close, there was a full complement of activities for athletics and academics. New activities the final year included an Outdoor Activity Class for the seventh grade. This class included mountain hikes, beach walks, and cave exploration. The school also had a Cultural Festival presented by the Spanish and French classes. The school had an enrollment of 165 students at the beginning of the year. The 43rd volume of the yearbook was published.
Information from school yearbooks and DoDDS School Information Guides