Subscribe
Yokosuka Naval Base commander Capt. King Dietrich; Yokohama Construction Office supervisor Koyo Koga; students Jamie Maricle and Crystal Lantoc, as well as Department of Defense Education Activity director Joseph Tafoya cut the grand-opening ribbon for Yokosuka Middle School on Wednesday.

Yokosuka Naval Base commander Capt. King Dietrich; Yokohama Construction Office supervisor Koyo Koga; students Jamie Maricle and Crystal Lantoc, as well as Department of Defense Education Activity director Joseph Tafoya cut the grand-opening ribbon for Yokosuka Middle School on Wednesday. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — New classrooms.

State-of-the-art computer and science labs.

And specialized areas for band, shop and other activities.

They all belong to Yokosuka Middle School.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially marked the opening of the school Wednesday afternoon, but the campus opened to students Monday.

For the first time in its existence, the middle school has its own campus.

“We are just excited out of our minds,” Principal Lesley Dunkle said before the 2003-04 school year’s first day. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Built by the Japanese government, the school is expected to accommodate student population growth for the next 10 years, Dunkle said.

According to enrollment projections, 760 students are expected to start this school year at the middle school.

In 1998, first-day enrollment was 654 students, Dunkle said.

Although school has begun, officials still are scrambling to wrap up a few details, Dunkle said. They include completing stage lighting, a gymnasium divider and wall padding.

And some playing fields will be off limits for about a year to give sod a chance to take root, she said.

Still, Dunkle and other officials are excited about the new campus.

“The nice thing about the new school is everybody has a classroom,” said DODDS Japan District Chief of Staff Peter Grenier said. “And they are state-of-the- art facilities.”

Those facilities include approximately 35 regular classrooms, 10 science classrooms, three computer laboratories, two Japanese cultural classrooms and other amenities such as a shop, band room, home economics area and special education and testing rooms. The new school campus also features a library, cafeteria, multi-purpose room and gymnasium.

Previously, students were housed in portable classrooms or shared space in Kinnick High School buildings, he said.

Many teachers had to “float” between classrooms.

“With the new building, all those problems are solved,” Dunkle said. “We’re extremely happy with our new building.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now