History of PAHS

History of Paris American High School

1946 to 1967

INTRODUCTION

The Department of Defense started operating American military schools in some overseas locations beginning on October 14, 1946, for the children of military personnel stationed at a wide variety of countries overseas. The intent was to ensure an American educational experience for the American student. Therefore, the children and educational program were and still are American, however, some faculty members were non-English teachers employed to instruct foreign languages and similar subjects.

In 1946, enrollment of a military child in a DOD school cost $10 ($125 in 2017 dollars). The schools received operational funds from profits made by the sale of alcohol at Class VI stores which were located on each post or base.

In 1946, the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) was created for dependents of military members of the armed forces in overseas areas. After World War II, the increased demand for American education overseas was a result of the government's decision to allow military personnel to bring their families with them when they were deployed to overseas locations.

By 1949, almost 100 schools were being operated separately by the Army, Navy, and Air Force in countries around the world. In 2011 there were 120 schools. With the closing of Heidelberg High School in 2012, all of the original high schools opened in post-World War II Europe are now closed, although many other DoDDS high schools have opened since then.

The original six high schools opened in Germany were Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich and Nurnberg. All six American High Schools opened in Germany in September/October 1946. DoDDS also operates Kubasaki High School on Okinawa, Japan, Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, Japan (formerly Yokohama High School), and W.T. Sampson High School in Cuba.

PARIS AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS

The story of Paris American High School (PAHS) is actually a story of two schools – the American Community School (ACS) and Paris American High School.

Founded in 1946, a school called the American Community School of Paris (ACS) was open for the children of those American military families who arrived in Paris in the pioneering aftermath of the Second World War. There can be some confusion among the names of the schools involved in the history of PAHS as the American Community School later became the American School of Paris. ACS, now the ASP, was the very first international school established in Europe and remains the only American school in France. From 1959 until 1967, the ASP was located in Louveciennes, a suburb of Paris, between Saint Germain en Laye and Versailles.

The original Paris American High School was established at 53 Rue de la Faisanderie. This is a photo of the school taken in 1954.

PAHS in 1954 at 53rue de la Faisanderie

 

The building is now the Embassy of Iraq.

 

In 1946, not all classes were located together at the same location. The Elementary School was in a series of trailer homes west of Rue de la Machine. The Middle School was located nearby in a French manor house, and the High School was located in the famous home of the French courtesan/king's mistress - Madame Du Barry! In 1951 the school was relocated at 3 -4 Rue Cimarosa. In 1959, the house was bought by the American School of Paris, which then settled there.

Construction of the new Paris American High School (PAHS) began in mid to late 1952 and the school was opened in September 1954 in Garches, a western suburb of Paris. The new elementary school building was a large two-story structure with perhaps 40 classrooms, situated on a large undeveloped playground. Next to it was an equally large two-story high school facility, a cafeteria building, a gymnasium and 2 two-story dormitories for students who commuted to PAHS from distant locations.

The school continued to grow over the years to accommodate the 185 dormitory students resulting from the increased dependent population of the EUCOM Headquarters located at Camp des Loges.

A new wing, completed In January 1963, provided such innovations as specially constructed rooms for vocal and instrumental music. Mr. Bruce Taft (last PAHS Principal) provided the following overhead photograph of PAHS at the Garches site, complete with those old green Army school buses in the parking lot. Date of the photograph is unknown.

It might be interesting to some to note that the author’s first home upon arrival in Paris in 1955 is visible in this photograph directly across the street from the school. It made getting to class in the morning very easy!

                                      

In 1954 the principal was Jean Mathews Littlefield, who ran a tight ship and had the respect and cooperation of all the teachers. Some of the teachers who were assigned to Paris American in 1954 and later years were: Bill Lutz, Bill Horn, Barbara Barkman, Cecil Driver, Cherie Jova Campbell, and Bob and Nora Serra.

Teachers were responsible for their own housing on the local economy, as well as for their medical needs. Of course, in those early years, the PX along the Seine was a very popular spot for all American personnel. The salary for a teacher in 1954, as a GS-7, was $4,205 per year. Virtually all the students in the school commuted by school bus and every afternoon, some 100 buses were lined up to deliver the students to every corner of Paris and its environs.

     THE LATER YEARS – What I Remember!

1952

Carole (Kelley) Lowell (‘52): School opened on Oct. 8, 1951 in a home. Eight weeks later we moved into another home that had been updated for us at 3 Rue Cimarosa. It had 6 classrooms, a library, a study hall, and a faculty room. The study hall was large and doubled as an auditorium. Usually we left campus for lunch and went to a sidewalk café across the street and ate croissants and drank cokes. We used the American Community Church gym for PE, etc. At that time there were only 50 students. The Army provided buses for transportation but some of us had the privilege of staff cars. We were really spread out all over Paris. Our Jr/Sr prom was at SHAPE headquarters and included an elaborate banquet. We often wandered the streets of Paris, at night, in groups - “Holy Cow if we were to do that today!” The metro was our favorite means of transportation.

We had an annual that first year which was combined with the other nine schools located in Europe that were sponsored by EUCOM. Our graduation was not until July as we started so late. I do not believe Petit Beauregard was built when we were there but we did shop at the PX and commissary located at Camp Des Loges. At that time, we girls wore saddle oxfords and white socks which the French found very humorous.

The biggest joke on us was that we also wore gold ankle bracelets. We later found out, from someone’s driver, that in Paris, this indicated a licensed prostitute! By then we had learned enough street French to know what they were laughing at as we walked along the streets of Paris.

There were only five of us in the class of 1952 – Alice Mott Criswell, Earl Nesbitt, Beth Lewis Tommy Barr and me. Our teachers tried to make everything as American an experience as possible – we even had class rings. We held a few dances and parties, mostly in homes organized by parents. We had an absolutely fantastic basketball team, played in a couple of tournaments in Frankfurt and rode the train there (wow – that was fun!). Alice and I were cheerleaders. Our colors were red and black and we were named PIRATES.

1953

 

1954

Ms. Mildred Linck was the principal from 1954 to 1963 or 1964

1955

 

1956

1956 Bob Eisenhart (’56):  My year at PAHS was my senior year.  Since I lived in Paris I was one of those who had a long bus ride to get to school.  Fortunately, I had just received my driver’s license before I left the States because having a car for other school activities was essential, and we had discovered the VW and purchased one as a second car.  Getting to know the others in my class was easier than in previous schools because most of them were new to the school as well.  We only had 46 in our senior class.  I enjoyed playing on the football and tumbling teams, both with Mr. Gobin as coach.  My older brother was in PAHS also as a senior, having been put back a grade due to a year of illness.  He died of cancer in 1993.

Looking back now I think that the two most significant impactful events from the year were: 1) Mr. Paul Coste, senior class advisor convincing me to accept the job of chairmanship for the school carnival.  I had never taken on so much responsibility before and the resulting success gave me confidence going forward in life, accomplishing things that I probably would not have tried; and 2) Mr. Raymond Flowers, school counselor, recommending an excellent college with endorsement helping me get enrolled for the fall season.  That college started me out with a strong engineering degree opening doors to an enjoyable career.

I was fortunate to meet with Paul Coste in Paris to thank him about 40 years later, and even got to play a round of golf with him.  In his retirement he was a tournament official for golf all over France and could play just about any course he wanted.

I do miss the French baguette, taking a 6-inch piece and, when I got home from school filling it with peanut butter and jelly.  That would be a whole meal for me now.  Actually, that sounds like a good idea!

1957

Bart Bartlett (’57): We arrived in Paris in late summer of 1955 and my father rented a home directly across the street from the school! I was able to dash across the street and get to class easily. My favorite teachers were Mr. Hull who taught English Literature and Mr. Harvey who taught History.

We played six-man football and won most of our games. However, our coach thought we should learn to play regular 11-man ball. So, taking up almost the entire squad, we practiced and practiced. We took a bus to Kaiserslautern, Germany to play KAHS! The score was 46 to 0! But we had a fine time! We had a fantastic basketball team and I participated on the first tumbling team which performed in the auditorium.

My family moved to Ville d’Avray, not far from the school but through the Parc d’ St. Cloud, were our neighbor was Maurice Chevalier! After a while I convinced my dad to let me drive the family’s second car to school - I was very popular! We held some dances in the auditorium, which on one occasion we decorated like the rooftop of some New York skyscraper and our senior prom was aboard the Bateau Mouche!

Lots of travel – skied in the Alps and in Garmish, attended the Europe-wide Scout Camp near Giessen Germany and experienced so many wonderful things. I graduated in 1957 – there were a total of 60 in my graduation class! Our graduating year book was combined with all of the other EUCOM schools in Europe, so PAHS had about 30 pages – all in black and white.

1958

 

1959

 

1960

 

1961

Keith Murray (’61): I lived in the dorm and commuted from Fontainebleau, about 60 miles, arriving at PAHS each Monday morning and returning each Friday afternoon after class. Kids from many places in France were dorm students at PAHS while I was there, including kids from Dreux and Evreux air bases. In 1960 schools were opened for these kids in their locations, so they did not graduate with us. By 1960 the only “dorm rats” were from Fontainebleau. Ms. Mildred Linck was the principal for my three years and Mr. Frank _____ was the vice principal.

Some of the teachers I remember well were: Mr. John Hull (English), Ms. DiOrio (French), and Mr. John Hull (Physics and Track). I was the trainer for both football and basketball teams in my senior year as well as President of the Student Council. Hank Dittman (who lived in the author’s house as pointed out above) and I did a “news alert” over the PA system at lunch time every day. In my junior year we held the Junior/Senior Prom at the Hotel Georges V with the Air Force dance band performing. John Foxworth and Diana Gray were crowned as class King and Queen that year.

1962

 

1963

 

1964

Ms. Mildred Linck was still the principal in 1964 but was succeeded by Mr. Charles Curry who continued as principal until 1965

1965

Mike Kanze (’65): The class of 63-64 held a Sweetheart Dance with the theme L’Amour de Paris – not sure but probably in the smelly old gym as well as a Hootenanny with a hillbilly theme and costumes in the auditorium. The Junior Prom was held in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Georges V with a theme of Sous le Ciel de Paris!

Barbara Timmer (’65): We lived in Petit Beauregard and took the bus to and from school. We could walk to Bel Manoir. We didn’t shop at the Embassy PX, but years later my youngest brother was stationed at the Embassy as a foreign service officer. When my parents visited Paris, they found that the head of protocol at the Embassy was one of my French teachers at PAHS, Madame Cardinet!!! Yes, the American Hospital existed, still does. I remember when the French forces captured Ben Bella, one of the leaders of the Algerian resistance, he was injured during the fight, and was treated at the hospital. I remember seeing armed guards standing on the steps as we passed by in the bus.

We vacationed all over Europe in an English Comer Camper, similar to the VW camper. The top raised up to hold one “cot” and we had a big tent which we pitched next to the camper. I loved every minute of every trip. My classmates at PAHS were the best, even if I can’t remember every one’s names. When I got to college I found out I had received a great high school education! I loved band (I played the clarinet), tennis (played for my college, too), the talent shows (think barbershop quartet!) and being part of the student council. I was one of the Pom-Pom girls and enjoyed traveling by bus to other American high schools in France. PAHS played in the “international” (all American high schools) tennis tournaments in places like Berchtesgaden. I also remember taking the train to go skiing in the mountains.

Every summer I took classes at the Alliance Française with Clare Conrad. We took a military shuttle bus to classes and ate lunched at the officer’s club on Rue Marbeuf – we felt quite grownup! I still feel like Paris is the city where I grew up and still feel at home there. I liked all my teachers except two - a math teacher who asked why I (as a girl) was in algebra two (so I left) and a history teacher whose name I forget. I had a problem or two with the vice principal. I had a great art teacher who napped on a table in the classroom during lunch hour with his door locked. I had a great P.E. teacher who taught us how to play tennis as a team.

I do remember going to the Lido after one of the proms The Senior Prom was held in the second-floor restaurant of the Eiffel Tower. A key event that is still etched deeply in my brain is Kennedy’s assassination. We were on a sleepover “on the economy” and heard a commotion in the stairwell. French residents were running up and down the stairs and told us the news. Our parents all came to pick us up Then we listened to AFN the next day, in our apartment in Petit Beauregard. Everyone in the building had their doors open sharing worries. Then on AFN (live) we heard Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald - it was all so shocking

1966

 

1969

Barbara (Walker) Bartlett: Starting with my freshman year, I attended PAHS 1965-1967. I loved PAHS for the reasons the teachers showed an interest in students, getting good grades was important to the students, and many were active on sports teams. We even had a golf team! Our sports teams rocked!!

Friday and Saturday nights meant dances at the Teen Club. It was our sanctuary, off-limits to the younger ones and at any given time, 10 to 20 teenagers would be there, hanging out, listening to music. All it took to be on the Champs Elysees on a Saturday afternoon was a bus ride. Watching the Sound of Music in French with English subtitles on a date in a movie theatre on Champs Elysees  is burned into my memory. What was not to love about being a teenage girl in Paris?

We were a world traveling family - my parents made sure we took advantage of seeing and experiencing the foreign countries we lived in and beyond. Spring break and Christmas meant skiing in Switzerland, Austria or Germany and summer vacation in Spain or Italy. This was common for us. Didn't everyone ski in the alps? I had no idea how fortunate I was. 

1967 brought the American military exodus out of France, my father was with EUCOM which meant moving to Patch Barracks, the U.S. military installation in Stuttgart-Vaihingen and Ludwigsburg American High School for me. Some students moved back to the states, some moved to Brussels with SHAPE and many of us met up at Ludwigsburg American High School. It was as if a giant chasm split the beloved PAHS right down the middle. The principal 1965-66 was Mr. Charles Curry, 1966-1967, and Mr. Bruce Taft was the Assistant principal.

EPILOGUE

When the school closed in 1967, the American School of Paris (ASP), which had originally been the American Community School, moved to its current location in Garches. Taking over the site of what we know as the Paris American High School, ASP's campus now covers a total of 10 acres, a few kilometers from the center of Paris.

In April 2006, a flash flood devastated a large portion of the Garches school campus and ravaged several classrooms and facilities. In the wake of the flood, a new capital campaign was launched to completely renovate and upgrade these facilities, culminating with the reopening of a refurbished Lower School and a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center.

In addition to the Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School sections, ASP's campus now houses a number of student facilities in multiple buildings. Many of these have recently been renovated, including one of the two large gymnasiums as well as the Performing Arts Center. Other facilities available on the ASP campus for student use are:

  • Two libraries, both with comprehensive media resources
  • Four computer/IT labs
  • A well-equipped physical training center
  • Two gyms
  • A soccer/European football field
  • Two basketball courts
  • A baseball/softball diamond
  • Nine newly renovated science labs
  • An Upper School language lab
  • Extensive visual arts facilities
  • Two cafeterias

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Paris American High School (and the elementary school) closed in 1967 and the students moved with NATO and SHAPE to either Belgium or to Stuttgart Germany. In 2009 my wife (who was in the class that experienced this separation in 1967) and I visited the American School of Paris (ASP) now a private international school for diplomatic and corporate children.

Fearful of what we might find (things are never the way we remember them), we were delighted to discover our beloved school had not been allow to fall into disrepair as many other DODDS schools have in other worldwide locations. We were given a personal guided tour of the school by the assistant headmaster and marveled at the many new facilities.

The new ASP campus occupies the same area as did our PAHS but without the chain link fence and with many new buildings.

 

During our visit we found that the previous buildings which had once been the Paris American Elementary School are now fenced off and these are now the Santos Lycée d’Enseignement, a French public educational facility for technical and professional education. The western portion of the campus, what used to be the high school buildings, are now a beautiful campus for the ASP.

       

The ASP school now has a beautifully landscaped campus as well as well-appointed and equipped classrooms. The old chain link fence that separated the school from the busy Rue Pasteur street is gone – replaced by a beautiful tall wrought iron picket fence painted green and which has a manned guard post at the single point of entry.

 

Inside the main building which contains the upper school, the wall lockers are gone as is all the old white washed cinder block which was exposed in the hallways! The classrooms on the lower floor of the main building all have doors which lead out to well-manicured open areas and all have stadium seating for the students.

The science laboratories have new, modern equipment and the laboratory table/stations look as though they came from scientific venues. The auditorium has been totallyremodeled with floor to ceiling theater-type seating, a new stage with an updated sound and lighting systems.

     Classroom seating   

    Theater seating in auditorium     

The old dormitory buildings in the early years which later became the junior high school are now either classrooms, laboratories or teacher offices. The track and football field in back of the school is gone! It has been replaced by three soccer fields and a softball diamond. The gym is in place and has been totally renovated and a new one built at the other end of the campus. Here are a couple of photos from our visit.

 

The football field and track are no more. Now the campus has three soccer fields and a softball diamond.

 

 

Classrooms on the lower floor of the high school building have been modernized and each one has a door leading to landscaped outdoor play or study areas.

 

Administrator's note:

If you would like to add your memories, please send it to me. mademoiselle.pahs@gmail.com