The American School - History

CHAPTER II: 1920 - 1940

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  The American School was first housed in a small two-story building on Taft Avenue opposite the General Hospital. The building, with its spacious grounds, called the House of the Holy Child, belonged to the Episcopal Church. (As the Church was not using the building at the time, it was loaned to the school for a few years, or until the School Board could find other accommodations.)  Philippines
As I remember, there were only the eight primary grades; no high school and no kindergarten. Mrs. Henley, a local American resident, was our principal. Since it was a small enrollment, she knew most of us through our families, and saw to it, in a motherly fashion, that we applied ourselves to our studies. The periods were rung in and out with a large brass hand-bell that sat on her desk. 

When the school moved to an old Spanish house on the corner of Padre Faura and Mabini, the High School was added - without the benefit of laboratory sciences. There were only a handful of us in the High School. The first class to graduate consisted of two girls. Also in my class there were only two graduates. All of us loved the new location because of a tiny Spanish bakery on the corner, cutting into our grounds, which sold those crusty Pan De Sal, warm and fresh - pure ambrosia. Mrs. Daniel Marshall, another local American resident, was our principal. 

From there, I believe, the next building to house the school was also an old two-story Spanish home but far larger than the previous one. It had been occupied before that by a newly formed group called The Community Players, which later grew into the almost professional Little Theater group that staged such fine productions at the Army-Navy Club. The new school location was at the end of Del Pilar, very close to Dewey Blvd. Mrs. Grove became the principal and remained in that capacity for many years, beloved by all. A kindergarten was added. Mrs. Grove's desk was at the top of the stairs sweeping to the second floor, and commanded an inclusive view of all the classes; also in plain view of all the students. Beside her desk was an iron safe which surely served a more useful purpose than the only one the students were aware of. In their eyes it was the punishment box where the bad kids had to sit: should a child be caught in a misdemeanor, the culprit was sentenced to a specified time astride the iron safe for all his or her peers to see. The children were always scandalized, for to arouse Mrs. Grovels ire to that extent they reasoned the crime must be heinous. 

From there the school moved into its own quarters on Donada Street in Pasav. The compound consisted of one two-story building surrounded by sufficient grounds to allow sports activities to be added to the curriculum. Later Heilbronn Hall was added and much later Spruance Hall. With the new building, laboratory sciences could be added to the High School curriculum. Also a very new innovation was a professional education administrator brought out from the U.S. Heretofore all the principals were businessmen residing in Manila. With the arrival of Mr. Miller, the school really moved into the big time. 

Then came World War II and Santo Tomas .... 

By: Gertrude Elser Jordan Class of 1924 

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The American School, Inc. (1920 – 1925)