A glance at new Humphreys American High School, the 'New Flagship'

It will be the biggest school in DODDS Pacific, matching Nile C. Kinnick as the only ones with three tiers. Enrollment is expected to crest in the high 900s once the Army's move "South of the Han" occurs sometime within the next few years (it's been promised for decades).

But for certain, Humphreys American High School will make its debut come late August, and the era of the Blackhawks, bearing black and Vegas gold, will come into being.

Escorted by the school's outgoing/retiring principal Robert Funk and his Osan American High School counterpart, Morgan Nugent, I took a tour of the coming-together campus, with its spacious sports complex, library and cafeteria and opulent theater.

Assessment: This new school may one day be the hub of several DODDS Pacific Far East tournaments. Should the Army remain as supportive as it has been the last few years, hosting Far East wrestling and soccer tournaments, Humphreys and the high school could host multiple events simultaneously.

The theater, complete with wood-panel seats, lit walkways and acoustic wall padding, with enough seats for more than 900, would easily accommodate Far East Film and Entertainment Arts, Drama and Music. The cafeteria has its own stage and lighting and could easily hold those three events. The Junior ROTC wing of the building features five classrooms and an indoor firing range. The place has five tennis courts (they don't have wind screens yet). Coupled with base fields, Humphreys could hold all four DODDS Pacific soccer tournaments. Between Super and MP gym, it could host at least two of the Far East basketball tournaments.

For day-to-day academics, the school is situated close by family housing, already built or waiting to be.

That said, it's not quite perfect, yet. The football stadium can seat 1,512 spectators, but the press box isn't quite aligned with the 50-yard line. No power outlets on the field, so to run a track meet, extension cords would have to be strung from the press box. The external speakers are WAY too low and are going to be something of a spectator annoyance. The press box DOES have Wifi capability and events can be livestreamed from there. My guess is the football field dedication on Sept. 13 when Osan comes for homecoming will be the first such livestreamed event.

The baseball field has no outfield fence. It wasn't included in the contract. To be fair, the baseball field was initially designed to be a multi-purpose facility. The softball field needs to be rolled and leveled; it's far from ready, but once that's done and sod laid down, it should be fine. The dugouts on both baseball and softball fields are not quite as long as they should be.

Each classroom has plenty of sockets for computers and LAN connections. Unlike most other schools, there are no TVs in the classroom; everything will work off smart boards. There isn't even a lobby, no place to put a directory; that will go somewhere in the administrative offices.

The gymnasium is well-appointed, with four NBA-style portable basketball nets, spacious lockerrooms and big laundry rooms, a football lockerroom (equipment is still boxed up in the base's education center), a storage room and an auxiliary room that will likely be converted to a weight room. It could also be used for a wrestling room. The big drawback: No spectator bathrooms.

All in all, despite its shortcomings, this place will be the "new flagship" as Nugent put it, once the move "South of the Han" is complete and Humphreys American becomes the new Seoul American. Gets a B+ from me for now.

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Ornauer on AFN


Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)


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