Beneath a blue sky and nestled among family housing towers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Far East District joined the Ministry of National Defense - Defense Installation Agency (MND-DIA), Eighth Army, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys and the Department of Defense Education Activity to break ground on a new elementary school for the installation on Sept. 7, 2023.
“The US Army Corps of Engineers Far East District is here to deliver engineering solutions at these historic times for our two nations,” said Col. Heather Levy, FED commander, during the ceremony. “This project is one more example of the strength of the ROK-US alliance, and the strength of the partnership of the engineers here in Korea – and what we all can do together.”
Donning hard hats and shovels, representatives from the Army, MND-DIA, DoDEA, the contractor and students lined up to ceremonially mark the beginning of the new school.
“Education is the backbone to our readiness and an investment in our future,” said Brig. Gen. Sean Crockett, Deputy Commanding General – Operations, Eighth Army. “This building represents expansion. It is the creation of a space where education can build a foundation to flourish in impactful ways.”
The new school will provide capacity for 440 students and staff with the ability to accommodate up to 600. The facility will be the third elementary and fifth school constructed by FED on the garrison.
“With Humphreys West, and Humphreys Central already serving our military connected students and their families, this third elementary school is rightfully named Humphreys East Elementary School and will bring our total capacity of elementary spaces at Camp Humphreys to nearly 2,400 students,” said Dr. Jacob Sherwood, DoDEA Pacific West Superintendent.
The project also encompasses the creation of a multipurpose athletic field and a nature walking path. It will also have an outdoor learning lab, an outdoor classroom, a sensory garden and an ecology walking loop to contribute to the outdoor environment of the school.
“Oftentimes, school is one of the first places families find connection and community upon arrival to an overseas duty assignment,” Sherwood said. “Within the walls of the school we are officially breaking ground on today, friendships will be formed. Skills will be built. Academics will be learned. And for decades to come, parents, staff, and the Humphreys community will come together to support our youngest military-connected children in this facility.”
A bilateral endeavor, FED designed the school and MND-DIA issued the construction contract.
“For this, by supervising the project jointly between DIA and FED, we shall provide an elementary school with the highest quality,” said Col. Lee, Inchul, MND-DIA USFK Program Division Chief.
Levy emphasized the amount of partnership projects like this take between the two agencies.
“We at the Far East District don’t accomplish anything in isolation,” she said. “We rely on our counterparts at MND-DIA to work side by side to ensure safety, quality, and adherence to the schedule and cost controls.”
The event concluded with representatives participating in a traditional Korean prayer for good fortune on the project.
“This project is a true depiction of unity and the ROK-US Alliance,” Crockett said. “None of this would be possible without the Republic of Korea, Ministry of Defense. Through their support, this building represents the U.S. and Republic of Korea’s aligned goals to achieve mission readiness through the prioritization of people.”