Lajes ES (now Lajes ES/HS) History

Opened: 1958
Closed: 2015

The school was located in the Azores archipelago which lies in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Base was located on Terceira, the third largest island of the string of nine islands.

The school was opened in 1958 and grew dramatically during the sixties. A picture of the school is on page six of the 1963-64 school yearbook. The enrollment for the 1960-61 school year was 213 students in grades one through six. By the 1966-67 school year the enrollment had risen to 865 students with thirty-two classroom teachers. The first grade had almost 170 students in the seven sections.

The elementary school administrators for the 1960’s were Mr. Fred Souk, Mr. Cecil Johnson, Mr. Harris Buros, Ms. Gladys Zabilka, Mr. Robert Keefauer, Mr. James Willis, Mr. Nelson Lutey, and Mr. Ed McNeil.

The elementary and high school shared specialists and some activities such as the school carnival. The elementary students had a flute band, were majorettes, and had a school chorus. The United States Vice President Herbert Humphrey visited the school during the 1965-66 school year.

Kindergarten was added to the school for the 1969-70 school year. During the seventies the enrollment for the elementary school reached over 825 students for the 1970-71 school year to around 500 students for the last four years of the decade. The elementary choir continued to perform at school events and a Safety Patrol was formed. The principals during the 1980’s were Neil Daly and T. Dean Brown. The faculty and staff numbered twenty-nine for the 1975-76 school year.

By the beginning of the eighties, the elementary school was located in two separate areas on the base. The primary grades were housed in a modern, one-story building consisting of sixteen classrooms. The intermediate grades were housed in a large masonry building that was recently renovated. There were thirty-eight educators assigned to the school with 550 students enrolled in grades K–6.

A new wing was completed on the primary school for the 1986-87 school year to house the intermediate school and the primary school. All students K–12 were now in one location. By the end of the eighties, new kindergarten rooms and handicapped access for the school was completed. The elementary school had a multipurpose room and rooms for speech, special education, and reading improvement specialist.During the 1989-90 school year there were eighteen classroom teachers and seven specialists.

In the nineties, the enrollment decreased from 500 students to just over 400 students. In 2007, the elementary school and high school were combined. One of the major events for the last years of the school was the “Big Give” project. Students in grades K through 12 collected items for local children and families. During the 2010-11 school year the elementary chorus performed at the Angra Orphanage for the first time, and the children of the orphanage did a surprise break dance for their American guests. The event was a cultural exchange as well as a community project. The following year the students at Lajas presented Christmas gifts to the children at the orphanage.

Another joint elementary/high school event was the World Fair that was first presented on February 3, 2011. Students researched countries around the world and presented their countries at the fair. The combined elementary/high school was closed in 2015.

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