The Closing Down Of JFK High School – My Alma Mater

Thirty years ago under the  a clear night sky filled with stars, I joined the class of 1978 and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Tumon, Guam.   Guam is one of the United States’s few remaining territories and it is as American as Apple Pie….or at least as Pineapple!

School Song

Kennedy Alma Mater
Kennedy, Kennedy, we sing to you,

Our alma mater dear,

A home to youth – you gave us knowledge,

You taught the power of truth.








Kennedy, Kennedy we sing thy praise,

You gave us love and friendship,

You showed the ways to paths of learning,

For future days.

Kennedy, Kennedy, we hold thee dear,

Tho’ we may roan and wander,

Tho, we may fail, we’ll long remember thee,

Our Tumon home.


Kennedy, Kennedy, our alma mater,

Kennedy, Kennedy, our Tumon home

I ran across a story on  that the Guam Public School System Health and Safety Task Force closed the school down on June 9th due to numerous health and safety violations. Back in my day, the only serious health violation was what the boys may have been smoking  behind the bleachers on the football field.


I was dismayed when I read the report(    Here are some of the findings:

  • Questionable structural integrity throughout the school
  • Severe water leaks and evidence of structural fatigue in the gym
  • Unsanitary conditions and wastewater backup in the boy’s locker room
  • Roach and termite infestations in many classrooms, including special education classrooms
  • Unsanitary conditions, including standing water, in the cafeteria
  • A large, collapsing freezer in the cafeteria
  • Repair roof in cafeteria
  • seismic upgrades
  • Large, partially destroyed structure being used for storage of trash and unused equipment
  • Reports of a high voltage electrical room that sometimes floods with six inches of water
  • No working fire alarm or bell system
  • The school was built in the 1950’s and started accepting students in 1957-58.  It has been around for 50 years and has seen many of Guam’s residents educated through its doors.  The repair work is estimated at least to be around $10,000,000.  The only hope for the school is to get repairs funded through grants and maybe through some fundraising.  The Government of Guam and its public school system are in a financial crisis so there are no funds available internally in the practical sense.

    There is much debate whether fixing the existing structure is worth it and that the prudent thing to do is to build an entirely new school.  Prudent, it may be, but there is a lump that gathers in my throat to think that JFK High may actually be torn down. I guess if that happens, I still have the memories and the dusty yearbooks.

    As our class gathers at the end of the summer for the 30 year reunion, we may want to raise our glasses and toast those  old group of buildings where we learned about Algebra and Trig, Chemistry and Biology, flirted with each other, dreamt about our futures and had the world at our feet.

    Kennedy “Fight” Song

    Come on and fight, fight, fight for Kennedy: High!

    Get up and raise your banners to the sky.

    We have a school of honor, brave and bold

     And with our colors green and gold, So green and gold.

    Among the palms we’ll have a jubilee,

    For Kennedy’s the best school by the sea.

    We have the finest school you’ll all agree, You’ll all agree.

    It’s Kennedy!

    46 thoughts on “The Closing Down Of JFK High School – My Alma Mater

    1. My husband graduated from JFK in ’92. We, too, are saddened by the news. We have friends who ended up teaching there after college. It’s very disappointing that this school was somehow neglected, for lack of a better term. Kinda shows where the system’s priorities lie.

      Hope you had a great reunion…

    2. Hey, do you know if there is any sort of Alumni list for JFK? I went there in the 60s and was in a band. We’re looking for one of the members; Penny Peterson.


    3. hello, current junior at JFK here. i can’t describe how disappointing it is to suffer because the government didn’t do their job in maintaining our school and other schools on the island as well. this just shows where education really ranks on their list of priorities.

    4. Isha,

      I am so sorry for the situation you are in and hope you canmarshall your parents and your other students to get actively involved on Guam to truly hold the Government accountable to meet the educational needs on the island. Only with active citizen involvement will things change there.

    5. Oh, how sad ! I was a sophomore there in 1968. My brother Scott graduated from JFK. I still have dreams of the science class walk out into the mangrove swamps just next to the track. I learned to do chin ups there so I could get into the gym locker room to shower after class ! “Got razor blades hidden in that hair do sista?” So how can I find my old class-mates from that time period ? We were stationed on Anderson AFB.
      About fiscal responsibility; let’s all start doing some of that today.

    6. I went there in the 7th grade 63/64 when it was George Washington H.S. Would love to find out how to get a copy of my old yearbook. Any suggestions or ideas??

    7. Class of ’67… Student Body President…. Sorry to hear of the closing, great memories…
      After serving in the Navy and Viet Nam lived in Chattanooga all my life. Worked for TVA 23 yrs and now 10 years for the State of Tennessee.
      2 kids, 2 more adopted. Remarried, 5 step children and now raising 3 of my grandkids, 6, 11 and 13…
      Contact me @

    8. I’m a Grad of Tumon High School Class of 63. That year the kids from George Washington HS held classes in the afternoon and we went in the morning. GWH was wiped out by Typhoon Karen in Nov of 62. I believe they changed the name to JFK the following year, my brother Larry Bereman is a 65 Grad and I have a baby sister born in 1965 on Guam.

    9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a ’94 alumn and a current teacher at JFK. The JFK Family has been displaced for almost two years now. This displacement has affected our school spirit, pride, athletic and academic programs, and the overall morale of the school. The sophmores and freshman who are currently attending JFK have never stepped on a “true” JFK campus. I am saddened that our government has not been more involved in actually getting our school rebuilt. I ask that that alumni unite and help us continue to pressure our island leaders to start the construction of a new JFK as soon as possible. E-mail, call, blog, get the word out. We need all the support we can get. BIBA JFK!

    10. Got started in drama at Kennedy with “Our Town” and “Dope”, had more memories than I can list. VERY sad news. Bill – class of ’70

    11. There are a lot of people who wish to help save JFK. It is not too late. I have a facebook page, and in my friend list is a group of people dedicated to saving JFK. As for alumni, there are also alumni groups on facebook. Please look me up and I will guide you to the other groups. In the Chamorro spirit, there are a lot of us wanting to help! Mona Taitano

    12. Just to let everyone know that the groundbreaking for the new JFK will be held on September 2, 2010, at 3p.m. at the JFK Tumon campus. This is a GREAT day for the Islander Family. Please attend.

    13. Hafa Adai! Class of 88! My mom taught there. I graduated there, and have many fond memories, as well. I hope to see another building there, with that name, when I come and see Guam again.

    14. Congratulations, Islanders! I hope the new JFK gets built rapidly and well. You’ve certainly “earned” something nice, after your years in the wilderness…
      Tasithoughts, thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

      [I was class of 1969. Few people from those late-’60s years will remember me, but many should remember my sister Susan, who graduated a year earlier.]

    15. Great News Islander Family… I just want to pass the invitation out to you all to check out the Rebuild JFK Facebook page for the latest pictures on the new JFK. I heard that the buildings should be up by the end of March and construction completed by June 20. Would love for you all to be able to be on Guam for the ribbon cutting for our new campus. GO ISLANDERS!

    16. i graduated back in 1977, that is sad that the school had to closed, i hope theguam officialsc can rebuiledthe school for the future generation. iam just wondering where can i get a copy of my transcript??? now that they closed..

      i graduated back in 1977, and it is sad that the school closed. i hope that Guam Officials can do something about this issues for the new generation and build a new school. now, that they closed i wanted to know where i can get a copy of my transcript???

    17. Was a freshman at GWHS, the following year as a sopomore I attended Tumon High School. It had just been built. It was quite modern with the two story quadrangle and open railings that allowed ocean breezes to flow through the classrooms. Many found memories of the island and friends that I enjoyed while my dad served on Anderson AFB. So sad to learn the school had to close.

    18. I am a JFK ’71 graduate and the class has been enjoying many activities and continuing to make our memories of JFK spirited and alive! We are celebrating our 40th reunion, on August 27th, 2011 and invite all 1970’s alumni to come and share the spirit that keeps JFK Islanders, forever green and gold!!!
      I also wanted to ask if anyone knows the melody to the alma mater. I would like to present the song at our next reunion. Please send me any information regarding the song so I can have it sung during our celebration.
      Plans to reopen JFK are now in the final stages with a few delays but still forging ahead. We are grateful for the many Islanders that have made the dream become a reality. It is a beautiful new structure that represents a great legacy of pride and excellence. We’ll be there to witness its rebirth and rekindle the memories old and new in celebration of the great Islanders traditions. Joey Franquez ’71 (

    19. Hello and Hafa adai my fellow alumini’s. I am a 1974 graduate of JFK and graduated with alot of good memories. Yes, It is time for a new school to be built with better facilities. If you are still searching for the alma mater I will gladly research it for you and will respond by your email. The JFK year books should have the alma mater. Go to the guam library, that would be a good source of information. I am residing in Braddock Heights, Maryland. Here’s my email: My mom and brothers resides in Asan, by the name of Victor and Matilde Jardel.

    20. Sad to hear that JFK had closed. I’m a class of 1976 graduate, that was the time of big typhoon had ruined the island. I have fond memories of that school

    21. Thanks for all the updates on JKF. Like others, I just stumbled across your site and love it. I graduated in 1970 but left just before graduation. Ah, the life of an air force brat! I will look for pictures of the new JFK on the net. Hafa adai!

    22. Sorry to learn of the demise of the school, I attended1960-1961 while my Dad was stationed at Anderson AFB, had we stayed there I would have grad. with class of 1962. Instead, grad. from Suitland HS in Maryland.
      Found memories of the Beautiful views from the upper level of Tumon HS>

      Margo (Ashcraft) Quay

    23. Appreciated your thoughts on the closure of JFK Guam and your other writings. Join your fellow JFK alum for a planned mega reunion in San Francisco planned for the summer of 2014…. lived there myself for 20 years… honoring alumni from class 75 thru 78. Perhaps, we could feature some of your work in the reunion website.


    24. Wow, the years has flew by so quickly,
      Yes, this is sad news about the closer of the best School and I was hoping to return some day to visit. I had fun attending high school to include the overnight stay just to complete our float just before Home coming, for the Gold football team. I sometimes wonder the outcome of my classmates and if they ever accomplish the goals they set for themselves.
      My only regret was not buying Class of 76 year book to show my kids and grandkids and the letter I recieved for playing football. I send my love and prayers to the Class of 76.
      Roy C. Mendiola, US Army Ret.

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