Department of Defense Education Activity

Seoul American Schools close after 60 years

For Immediate Release — June 14, 2019 | HQ

School Closure Brady

Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Director Tom Brady was one of several speakers at the Seoul School Complex Closure Ceremony June 3 in Seoul, South Korea.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA — June 14, 2019 — June 14 marks the last day for Yongsan Garrison schools in Seoul, South Korea. This is the end of an era: Unlike previous years, students from Seoul American Elementary and Seoul American Middle High School will not be returning in the fall. After providing classes to military-connected students for 60 years, the schools at Yongsan will close as the military population shifts south of Seoul to Camp Humphreys. 

“Each of our schools in Seoul hold a rich and proud legacy of service to our military-connected families,” said Tom Brady, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). He spoke at a closing ceremony held June 3 in honor of the schools, the students, the staff and the community.  

The Seoul students have had the unique opportunity to understand the Korean people and culture by growing up in Korea’s capital. Students at Yongsan attend Korean culture classes, where they learn about the history, culture and customs of the country. Many students study the Korean language, and teachers enrich their curriculum by taking field trips with their students and exploring local sites and activities.

“To our students who are leaving Seoul American Elementary School and Middle High School: I am very glad you were able to participate in the shared sense of purpose that defines America’s relationship with South Korea. I hope you will take that spirit of Katchi Kapshida with you wherever you go for the rest of your life,” said Brady.
“Katchi Kapshida” is a Korean phrase for “we go together.” It represents the long-standing relationship between the U.S. military forces and those of the Republic of Korea.

The Seoul American school complex has served the U.S. military community at Yongsan and in metropolitan Seoul since 1959. At that time, the classes were held in Quonset huts, located across from the main Army Community Service building. The first class had approximately 150 students. The first graduating senior class had 19 students, representing 12 U.S. states as well as the countries of Italy and Turkey.

Seoul American was a dormitory school in the 1960s. In 1981 construction began on the new high school, which was completed the following year. In addition to the main, arts and gymnasium buildings, a new structure — which included a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) section — was opened in 1987.

Throughout its proud 60-year history, the Seoul school complex has hosted hundreds of dedicated teachers and staff, and nearly 5,900 high school graduates.

“Everyone who has studied or taught at DoDEA schools in Yongsan are a part of this amazing legacy. We bid farewell to the Seoul American Elementary School and Seoul American Middle High School. But their legacy lives on, in you,” said Brady, speaking to the students and staff.  

The majority of students will transfer to Humphreys Schools in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. About 200 students will take advantage of DoDEA’s Non-DoD School Program (NDSP) which provides educational support and financial assistance for students to attend local schools. 

The decision and request by the command to no longer operate schools in Seoul is based on the pace and requirements of the Yongsan transformation efforts, and the relocation of U.S. Forces Korea from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys — a process that began earlier this decade.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates and manages pre-K through 12th grade programs for school-aged children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the continental United States, Guam and Puerto Rico

Image Courtesy of Army Sgt. Travis Fontane and Army Pfc. Trae Myers

Pacific Communications

Pacific Public Affairs

The DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs Office initiates and manages DoDEA's communications and outreach efforts for the Pacific to include Guam, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea. The office is responsible for media relations, internal information programs and communication with students, parents, teachers, school administrators and the public.

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