The Protected School
Office of Civil Defense
When education officials in Laredo added fallout shelter space and other protective features into the newly constructed United High School, the Office of Civil Defense sought to promote this practice by featuring the district in the 1965 film Texas Has a Brand New School. Later that same year, officials released a condensed version of the film titled The Protected School. As a series of still images strung together with narration, The Protected School highlights the multipurpose benefits fallout shelters can serve. Beginning in 1961, architects and engineers employed by the Office of Civil
Defense began a systematic search of existing buildings across the United States in order to find suitable fallout shelter spaces in the event of a nuclear war. Known as the National Fallout Shelter Survey, these inspections examined public and private properties for desired characteristics such as solid construction materials, cleanliness, and below ground rooms. While investigating existing buildings, however, the OCD simultaneously encouraged any party constructing a new building to add a fallout shelter into the planning stages. In order to demonstrate how some organizations were incorporating fallout shelter space into new buildings, the OCD created Texas Has a Brand New School in 1965. Focusing on United High School in Laredo, Texas, the film highlights a number of features which were meant to serve both educational and protective functions.
With a run-time of 23 minutes, Texas Has a Brand New School was deemed too long to screen for standing audiences and passersby at traveling civil defense displays, so officials pared it down to a series a still images strung together with narration. This 6 minute condensed version, presented above, was titled The Protected School. Although not as detailed as its predecessor, the film still manages to showcase some of the more impressive features Laredo education officials built into their new school plant. These included decontamination showers at the main entrance, windowless classrooms in the basement level, an auditorium
that also served as a large fallout shelter, and a massive cafeteria that could serve students in peace time and convert to mass feeding for community needs during an emergency.