William T. Sampson School History

Opened: 1956
Closed: 1966

Guantanamo Bay Naval Operating Base School was dedicated as W. T. Sampson School in 1956. A plaque for the dedication was placed at the school along with a plaque to Admiral W.T. Sampson. Rear Admiral Sampson was the commander of the North Atlantic Squadron during the Spanish American War. The school mascot remained as the Pirates and the school colors remained as green and yellow. The yearbook continued as the Coral Reef.

For the 1957-58 school year, there were fifty faculty members. The high school principal was Wilbur Sweet, and the elementary principal was Jack Brown. The high school had ten seniors, twenty-eight juniors, twenty- three sophomores and forty-five freshmen. The elementary school had three sixth grade classes, four fifth grade classes, five classes for first through fourth, and four nursery classrooms.

The Cubanacan Chapter of the National Honor Society received its charter in 1957 with four females inducted into the chapter. Extracurricular activities included the yearbook; the newspaper, Arrow ; the elementary and high school bands; and the senior and junior high choruses. The senior class presented the play, “The Campbells Are Coming”. The men’s softball team played base teams and placed third in the league. Other sports for men included football, basketball, track, bowling, and tennis. The Girls Athletic Association sponsored swimming, golf, tennis, bowling, calisthenics, roller skating, softball and basketball.

The next school year, 1958-59, John Kneisly became the elementary principal. Three additional faculty members were added. Additional school activities included an elementary chorus and bus and traffic safety patrols. The Junior-Senior play was “House of Terror”, and volleyball and kickball were added to the women’s sports. The next year library clubs were offered for senior high and junior high students.

In the 1962 yearbook, the high school has grades five through twelve and the elementary school at Victory Hill has nursery students through fourth grade. There was an additional nursery school at Leward Point. The newspaper was now called the Buccaneer. There was a junior high and high school band and chorus. A highlight of the year was the presentation by the Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson, the ship named for the same admiral as the school. Commander Forester W. Isen presented the school with a portrait of the late Admiral W. T. Sampson on December 7, 1961. The Commander also presented the school with a ship’s plaque.

During the 1962-63 school year the school was located on two different campuses. The high school was referred to as the Chapel Hill School and the elementary school was referred to as the Victory Hill School. The principal was located at the high school and the assistant principal was at the elementary school. There were approximately fifty faculty between the two locations. The senior class had twenty-seven students but five of them were not able to graduate with the class due to the evacuation. The school was closed from October 22, 1962 to December 1962 due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Victory Hill School had three sections for second to sixth grade, with four classes each for kindergarten and first grade. There were also three nursery classes. The student activities included several clubs such as the National Honor Society; the mathematics club, Chi Upsilon Beta; and the Future Teachers of America. The music program had grown and now included special groups such as the Quartet and Sextet. The high school band had twenty-two members and the elementary band had about forty members. The high school boys’ basketball team continued to play in the base league and had their best season ever with ten wins and five losses. Boys’ football and girls’ softball were added to the team sports for the first time.

The school’s Alma Mater first appeared in the 1963 yearbook. It was composed by Julia McCullers.

Alma Mater

Praise we high our Alma Mater,

Ringing loud and clear,

Treasure of the Caribbean,

Sampson High, so dear.


We shall keep each fleeting moment

Ever in our minds,

Always holding thee in memory,

Sampson High, so dear.


Alma Mater, Alma Mater,

We on life’s great sea,

Steer our course, find comfort ever,

Sampson High, in thee.


In the 1964 Coral Reef, there are approximately fifty faculty members for both buildings. The senior class had grown to forty students, with approximately forty-five students in the other high school classes. A Spanish club had been added to the extracurricular activities. There was a junior high and senior high Girls Athletic Association. The boys had a volleyball team that played base teams and golf and swimming teams were added. The girls started an annual Powder Puff football game with seniors playing juniors. This became an annual event for the school and community. The school added a math club, Chi Upsilon Beta, and Future Teachers of America to the extracurricular activities.

The same year, the yearbook stated that if all went as planned, dependents were to be rotated off the Naval Base during the next two years. It was thought that the school population would dwindle rapidly and soon no longer exist. However, this did not occur, and the school was separated into two schools at the end of the 1965-66 school year.

School administrators included Wilbur Sweet, Jack Brown, John Kneisly, Bruce Keepes, Leslie Allen West, Timothy Kelley, Mario Pfisterer, and V.l. Weaver.

Information from school yearbooks

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