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DoD Provides Resident School for Teens at Remote Sites

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2002 – High school students whose parents are stationed in remote locations are eligible to attend a resident school program at London Central High School.

Department of Defense Education Activity Director Joseph Tafoya said the program was started to provide an American high school experience for students whose parents are stationed in overseas locations in which a DoD school isn't available.

London Central High School is a DoD-run school on Daws Hill Royal Air Force Base, in the London suburbs. Students come from military families stationed in England and from around the world through the resident program. Many parents of resident-program students serve in U.S. embassies around the world and in other special assignments.

The two dormitories -- one for male students and a separate building for female students -- can house about 100 students each. They're currently at about half capacity, Tafoya said.

"With people being assigned to locations where there are not a great number of other military folks, we have more and more DoD dependents who are not able to attend a regular high school," Tafoya said. "This is a quality of life issue, and we need to educate those students."

To be eligible, students must be family members of military and DoD civilian personnel stationed in a location to which they are allowed to bring their families but in which there are no suitable American high schools.

For students in these circumstances, the military pays all costs, including room and board. Tafoya said the military covers transportation costs for three round trips between home and school -- winter and spring breaks and summer vacation.

Students have private dorm rooms. Dorms have day rooms, TV rooms and computer labs. Counselors in the dorms 24 hours a day provide constant supervision.

"We're the parent while they're there," Tafoya said. "We need to know where they are and what they're doing and exercise the appropriate parental control."

Dormitory staff set aside evening study time and take the students on weekend trips. "We do put some extra funds on that and some extra effort on the part of the dorm staff to give (the students) opportunities to be part of the London community, as they would if they were there with their parents," Tafoya said.

He said he thinks the dorm setting provides a good balance between security and freedom for high school-age students. "They can individualize their room and make it home-like," Tafoya said. "If my child were there I'd feel very comfortable."

The director said he believes there are some benefits to attending a high school away from home. Having students on weekends allows for supplemental activities like cultural programs or SAT-prep courses. It also helps prepare students for college.

The opportunity to "grow and mature is a very positive experience," he said. "Parents have indicated to us that they believe ... their child is better prepared for college than the average kid who stays at home."

For more information on the residence program at London Central High School, go to www.odedodea.edu/londondorms.

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