By Steven Hoover and Charly HoffJanuary 9, 2014
CAMP HUMPHREYS -- There was a lot of "new" for students of Humphreys Middle/High School as they attended the first day of classes on their newly constructed campus, here, Jan. 8.
To start this first day, 344 students, along with faculty and community members, gathered on the courtyard, where members of the school's Junior Reserves Officers' Training Corps raised both the American and South Korean flags and members of the school band played both national anthems. Following the flag raising ceremony, everyone headed to the auditorium as students entered their new school for the first time.
Once the students, except for the seniors, were seated, Principal Shelly Kennedy asked everyone to join her in welcoming the standing seniors as the future "first graduating class of Humphreys Middle/High School…the Class of 2014."
When the seniors were seated, Kennedy welcomed the entire student body to their "new Blackhawk home." She then asked the student body to thank the JROTC and band members for starting the day with a "great ceremony," and then discussed some of the history of Camp Humphreys so the students would have a better understanding of why they are here.
Following a pep rally in the gym, students were released to their teachers, received guided tours of the campus and then headed to their classrooms for the remainder of the day.
Several special guests were on hand to celebrate the opening of the new school including DoDEA Korea District Superintendent Dr. Irby Miller who said afterwards, "Humphreys Middle/High School is truly an exceptional learning facility in every regard. The new DoD schools at Camp Humphreys are also great additions to our two nationally recognized Blue Ribbon schools, the continued strong academic performance of our students, and the unique learning and cultural exchange opportunities available here in South Korea. I'm looking forward to seeing our students and educators make the most of this extraordinary campus for years to come."
In addition to modern and well-appointed classrooms, science labs, and digital art and music rooms, the three-story school features a cutting-edge digital video production studio, performing arts auditorium, rooftop garden for planned culinary arts courses, and an indoor regulation marksmanship range for the JROTC program.
Emily Chipps, the junior class secretary and a member of student council, said the new classrooms are important for the way students learn today, "I had physics today and it was amazing. We can have full labs in our physics classroom now and I really like hands-on learning. I have a hard time learning from a book but I get it quickly with hands-on biology, physics and chemistry labs."
The campus also includes impressive athletic facilities such as a gymnasium, football/soccer stadium, five tennis courts, a baseball field, and a softball field.
Humphreys M/HS is environmentally friendly with several energy efficient, water conservation and indoor air quality features consistent with LEED BD+C specifications established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Built for a capacity of 950, current student enrollment for Humphreys M/HS is 342 but will increase substantially as students transition over the next few years from the Seoul and Dongducheon areas where several DoD schools are slated to close as part of a strategic multi-year re-stationing of U.S. military personnel to areas south of Seoul.
Before entering the school for the first time, Kennedy reminded students that what really makes a new school special are the people inside and their shared experiences, "I would like to remind each and every one of you to get involved -- you will get out of school what you put into school. Participate, make positive contributions and reap the benefits of building school traditions and fond memories to last a lifetime."
Parents and community members are welcome and encouraged to attend an open house for the new school Jan. 13, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
The completion of the school follows the opening of the new Humphreys Central Elementary School in August. The middle/high school configuration is temporary, as a new middle school is currently under construction. Once complete, all middle school students will move to the new middle school and the current high school will revert to grades 9-12. Two additional elementary schools are also scheduled to open in the coming years, which will provide an end-state enrollment capacity of 4,675 for all Department of Defense schools located on Camp Humphreys.
Camp Humphreys is home to the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, along with various military intelligence and support units, and the Army's most active overseas airfield. As Camp Humphreys grows, the garrison is working hard to provide Soldiers and their families a strong, supportive community and a quality of life similar to what they would find at home in the States.
Photos from the first day at the new Humphreys Middle/High School are available from the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys Public Affairs Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usaghumphreys/sets/72157639541377164/