Cristobal JHS/HS History

Opened: 1907
Closed: 1995

Cristobal Junior and Senior High School was located on the Atlantic side of the Panama Isthmus. The school was housed in a three-story air-conditioned concrete building and served students in grades seven through twelve.

The school was opened as an elementary and high school in 1907, with five students in the ninth and tenth grades. Students attended only a morning session in ninth and tenth grades. The first curriculum included: Algebra, Geometry, Latin, Spanish, Rhetoric, Botany, Biology, Physical Geography, and General History.

At the beginning of the next year (1908-09) there were nine high school students in grades nine and ten. A high school teacher was added to the elementary staff who taught high school classes only. German was added to the curriculum.

All high school students attended Cristobal High School in the fall of 1909; some students had attended Gatun and Culebra High Schools previously. Cristobal High School had fifty-one high school students and offered four years of instruction. With the additional enrollment, the school was able to add a library to their campus.

Extracurricular activities were required for all students. Each student belonged to one of the two literary societies and were expected to participate in the athletic program. In 1918, The Caribbean became the high school’s first publication. Male students played basketball and baseball, while the female students played basketball and did calisthenics.

Approximately 500 students attended the seven through twelve school for the 1981-82 school year. The principal was Charles Renno. Specialists on the faculty included special education, host nation, resource, English as a Second Language, media, and a school nurse. For the 1987-88 school year, the enrollment dropped to 470 students. Enrollment continued to decrease with only 200 students for the 1994-95 school year.

The area surrounding Cristobal Junior and Senior High School was reverted to Panama at the end of 1989-1990 school year, which isolated the school from the community it served. The school was moved to Fort Davis to the site of the existing elementary school.

In 1989, 20% of the 210 students were tuition paying students. 10% of the tuition students were of Arab origin whose parents had a connection with the Colon Free Zone (a free-trade zone).

The graduating class of 1990 included the last students who were integrated into the DoDDS schools from the Latin American System in Panama.

Under DoDDS, several changes were made to the school, which included a new roof, elevators, resurfaced tennis courts with lighting, and a new concrete stadium with restroom facilities. The Atlantic Community library was replaced by a school library, and computers became part of the school.


Sources: Yearbooks in AOSHS archives, DoDDS School Information Guides and Schooling in the Panama Canal Zone 1904-1976, DoDDS Panama 1979-1989

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