A brand new, one-story wooden structure housing six classrooms, one auditorium, an office, a girl’s and boy's restroom was located in the center of the still devastated Sasebo City. It was October 1948, and the building was officially named Sasebo (American) Dependents School, APO 27. At the time, the U.S. Army ran most American schools in Japan and even Sasebo, with its naval base facilities, was no exception. Behind the main building was a Quonset Hut accommodating the seventh and eighth grades in the first half of the building and ninth through twelfth in the second half. The total enrollment for grades one through twelve started out with forty-eight students. Most were Army children.
In September 1945, the U.S. Marines landed on Sasebo and laid the foundation for the present U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo. The U.S. Army came and slowly the base and the American community were established in the heart of Sasebo City. The residential areas were named Dragon Gulch, Dragon Vale, and Dragon Heights. The school was named “Dragon School.” A sign with the picture of the Dragon and the name “Dragon School” was built by the Army Engineer Corps and placed on the front of the building. Out of over forty such schools in Japan, Kyushu alone had dependent’s schools in Kumamoto, Beppu, Ashiya, Kokura, Hakata, and Itazuke.
As the years went by, the enrollment increased. School Year 1953-1954 opened with an enrollment of 150 students, grades 1-12. The Dragon School’s enrollment kept growing and approximately fifty students in grades 7-12 moved to the third floor of the Command Post Building (now the location of Sogo Hospital). The U.S. Army left, and the Navy took control of most of the facilities. School administration came under the Chief of Naval Personnel in October 1955.
In 1956, schools located on the U.S. Naval Bases and Air Stations were given names of U.S. heroes of the past. The Sasebo Dependents School was named after the famed World War II Hero, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King. Thus, the official name of Ernest J. King School, Navy 3912, FPO San Francisco, California became effective School Year 1956/57.
In February 1958, the entire elementary grades 1-6 abandoned the ten-year-old “Dragon School” and moved into the second floor of the “Command Post Building” (The children called it “Children’s Prison instead of Command Post). Later, the building was renamed “Community Building,” which was more appropriate since the tenants included Bank of America, The Base Library, Shore Patrol, Stars and Stripes Office, Civilian Personnel, a Beauty Shop, Pass Office, and the Telephone Exchange. The Sasebo District Court and the Prosecutor’s Office now stand at the Old Dragon School Site.
In 1966, the Department of Defense took over the dependent schools worldwide, and the Headquarters was located at Yokota Air Base. The Vietnam War increased the home ported ships for Sasebo. The population of the American Community was at its peak. There were over 870 students, kindergarten through twelfth grade in the “Community Building” with over forty-five classrooms and a faculty of over fifty, comprising the entire three story building. After the Vietnam War was over, the school population dropped considerably.
In February 1979, the entire population of sixty-five students (K - 12) walked to the present site. Hario Housing Complex was completed in 1988. A school having kindergarten through sixth grade was named after Rear Admiral Jack N. Darby. The Darby School was inaugurated on 14 October 1988. October 1998 marked the 50th Anniversary of E.J. King School and the 10th Anniversary of J.N. Darby School.
(As reported by Mr. Adolph Portaria, former teacher at Jack N. Darby School August, 1998)
Note: Two schools were created in May 2003 by splitting the former E.J. King Unit School into Sasebo Elementary School (K-6) and EJ King High School (7-12)
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