London Central closes its doors for final time

Published on May 16 2007

My best bud from school forwarded this link to me, the report on the closing ceremony at my alma mater in England. Reading it, I sat and cried like a baby. Silly, huh? I can't even write about it right now. Those two years I spent there were among the best in my life. I would have given just about anything to have gone back to visit one last time. Just to see. Stars and Stripes: London Central closes its doors for final time
London Central closes its doors for final time By Bryan Mitchell, Stars and Stripes European edition, Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Sean Kimmons / S&S London Central High School 1978 graduate Sean Kelly, left, and his brother, Duff, a 1982 graduate, pose with their senior jackets during the school's closing ceremony Tuesday. Purchase reprint Sean Kimmons / S&S Seventh-grader Wesley Tomjack, far left, plays his trumpet along with other members of the London Central High School Concert Band during the school’s closing ceremony Tuesday. Purchase reprint Sean Kimmons / S&S Members of the London Central High School Concert Choir — from left to right, sophomore Alexis White, senior Kristine Fontanilla and junior Lauren Parnell — sing the National Anthem during the school's closing ceremony. Purchase reprint Sean Kimmons / S&S Festive balloons hover above hundreds of audience members at the closing ceremony of London Central High School Tuesday. Purchase reprint
RAF DAWS HILL, England — The brass wore their sharp dress uniforms. The educators were clad in finely pressed dress shirts, skirts and blazers. And the local British mayor wore her traditional decorative necklace. But Marine Corps Maj. Duff Kelly felt he had to honor the class of 1982 the best way he knew how. “I really wanted to dress up for the whole ceremony, but then I thought I would dress just like I did in high school: jeans, T-shirt and my letterman’s jacket,” a beaming Kelly said as he stood outside the London Central High School gymnasium, his faded jacket one size too small but still Bobcat proud. “I had to represent what is widely considered to be the best class in the history of London Central.” Kelly was one of the several hundred people who jammed into the school’s gym Tuesday afternoon for the official London Central Elementary and High School closing ceremony. Students and educators past and present joined military leaders from across the United Kingdom and Europe as well as local British dignitaries in marking the closure of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools’ only boarding school. The closure will displace more than 200 students who come from all over the country and whose parents are stationed across the globe. The gym was strewn with blue and white balloons and streamers, while the band and chorus performed stirring renditions of the alma mater and fight song one last time before the June 7 graduation. American ambassador to England Robert H. Tuttle was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, but sent U.S. Embassy in London deputy chief of mission, David T. Johnson, in his place at the last minute. Dev Parker, a parent of a London Central student, read a May 11 letter from President Bush. But it was the words of past educators and present students that reflected the spirit of the ceremony and the closure. Polly DeYoung, who taught at London Central from 1997 through 2005 and was described by a fellow teacher as the “Queen mother of London Central,” reminded students that — despite the challenges that might lie ahead in new schools and new countries — London Central has prepared them well. “We’ve been through a lot together: problems and protests, drawbacks and shutdowns,” she said. “We’ve been through peace, and we’ve been through war. And, like always, we’ll get through with it and move on.” Another fellow educator urged those on hand to honor the school’s history and tradition rather than rue its demise. Yet, it was a member of the final graduating class, senior Darius Pruss, who found just the right words — short, sweet and to the point — that best captured the feelings of London Central students from 1951 through today. “The legacy is us and the memories we share,” he said. “We are the legacy that is LCHS.”
Duff Kelly was wrong about one thing, though. The class of '82 was NOT the greatest class. His older brother Sean, class of '78, should have corrected this. Everybody knows the class of '78 was the best there ever was. Thirty years later, I still think about all you guys. We *are* the great legacy of that wonderful place and time.

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[...] school which was open from 1951-2007, is now closed. We Bobcats have become a finite group. But we all seem to be aging quite disgracefully judging by [...]
Then, Karl... you gotta make the next reunion.<br /> Wherever it is.<br /> It's worth every nickel of savings to see the rest of the legacy again.
I've been shedding a few tears myself. It's really a tough thing to take.
I'll never forget the phone call to tell me that Dad had been transferred to Calif. All I could think was "they can't make me change schools again in the middle of my senior year! they just CAN'T!"<br /> <br /> And they didn't. The best gift Mom and Dad ever gave me was to "abandon" me in a foreign country at age 17. I've always been so grateful for that.
Sis, All I can say is that I am sad for missing what never was. I wanted to go to LCHS so bad I could taste it. Just when I was so close to going, we moved. I remember us taking you to school and dropping you off thinking, yep! six more months and I'm right here. Then we had to Move to Barstow Ca. where instead I spent the next year trying to keep from getting knifed or shot while I was at school. Gangs were really bad there. I have mixed feelings about not going to LCHS. I would have been part of the Class of 1982. I feel like I missed out on so much. I am however a Bobcat by Proxy, since my older sister was one. I'm sad for you and the school. It’s the end of an era. A time when the cold war was still staring down our throats, when Reagan hadn't even taken office yet and the stability of the world was still held in balance between the Soviets and the USA. Computers were still the size of a building and the thought of a PC was still just a thought. I miss those times myself. Living in Wales was one of the greatest experiences of my live and it shaped my future. I have recently been in touch with some of my old mates from Sir Thomas Picton School in Haverfordwest. It’s sad but many DODDS schools have closed, ultimately a result of the cold war winding down. Roger B. Chaffee School at NAS Bermuda was one of them. It was not a boarding school, however it was open for many years and it graduated many students and classes between the 40' and 1995. Cheer up though. You can always look forward to those class reunions you have been going to.