Airmen, schools team up to clean up

Emily Reagan
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***The first day back to school just got a little more pleasant for students, thanks to the help of Team Ramstein and their Combat Proud spirit.

While teachers were setting up classrooms Wednesday, Airmen and spouses were pulling foot-long weeds, trimming bushes, sweeping and edging walkways, and raking school grounds during a back-to-school cleanup.

The cleanup was a joint effort by the 32nd Air Operations Squadron, members of the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses’ Club and other units on Ramstein to clean up the five schools on Ramstein in preparation for Monday.

“We want the kids to come back to school in a clean and safe environment so they can focus on learning,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Craver, 32nd AOS superintendent. “It was an opportunity to give back to the community. We’re all busy, but we want to show that it’s easy to get involved.”

About 50 Airmen from the squadron and a handful of others volunteered 175 hours of manual labor to accomplish that which the Department of Defense Dependent Schools could not afford.

“During the summer days, the DODDS’ money goes to school construction and renovations,” said Dr. John Bohannon, 435th Mission Support Group schools liaison officer. “Historically the grounds didn’t get a lot of attention until now when the military stepped in to help.”

Teams of volunteers rendezvoused at the Ramstein American Middle School, where grounds were in the worst shape, said Dr. Bohannon.

***image2***“We want to challenge other organizations to follow suit,” said Sergeant Craver, who is planning the squadron’s next cleanup at the Fisher Houses on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in October. “These clean-ups are good opportunity to build team camaraderie.”

The work center teams then spread out over the base, tackling the weeds and containing the landscaping dirt at each school.

The cleanup demonstrated the desire and need for parents to get involved in their children’ education, said Lawanna Mangleburg, Kaiserslautern School District superintendent.

“As the community takes pride in its schools, the kids will take pride in them too,” said Tech. Sgt. Pat Waters, 32nd AOS NCO in charge of data links, who worked at the middle school where his sixth-grade son will soon be attending.

With an improved exterior and recently renovated interior, the middle school principal said she hopes her students will have an appealing learning environment and a sense of ownership starting from the first day of school.

Col. Warren Berry, 435th MSG commander, met with the volunteers and handed out Combat Proud “Gold Cards” to show his appreciation for their community service.