School’s out’ gala bittersweet for Kaiserslautern children

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

***image1***The traditional “school’s out” ceremony held June 7 for Kaiserslautern American Elementary School was more than a celebration of a year of learning.

It was saying goodbye to friends.

“It became a celebration of our time together because we know that so many of us are going different directions,” said Principal Donna Donaldson.

This “so many” number is more than 200 students and 14 teachers who will not be returning to Kaiserslautern elementary next school year. Instead, they will be toting their books and pencils to Vogelweh, Sembach or Ramstein elementary schools.

This migration is to make room for more students for the Kaiserslautern American High School, which shares the same complex as the elementary school.

Half of what are now elementary classrooms will be renovated next year to be ready for KAHS students for the 2008-2009 school year. To make this move possible, the last day of school this year for students at Kaiserslautern and Vogelweh elementary schools was June 8, a week earlier than most Department of Defense Dependents Schools. Size is really the biggest change facing Kaiserslautern elementary next school year, said Ms. Donaldson, who will move with most of her students, teachers and vice principal to Vogelweh Elementary School on Vogelweh Housing.

For example, she said, Kaiserslautern elementary school will still have a gym, cafeteria and playgrounds.

Only about 400 students will be waiting for classroom assignments at the Kaiserslautern elementary courtyard on the first day of school in late August.
Kindergarten teacher Larry Jackson has taught at Kaiserslautern elementary school for 28 years, and can still remember when the school had nearly 1,300 students. And he will be at the courtyard on the first day of school waiting for his new students, but he anticipates that day being hard for him.

“I won’t see as many children around. It’s going to be so difficult,” he said. “We’ve been talking about how it’s going to be difficult next year when we won’t be able to see each other day-to-day.”

But, it was still a celebration, and Kaiserslauten students, teachers and staff pulled out all the stops with the first “KES Idol.” Hosting the two-hour event was “Ryan Best Dressed.” Students performed singing and dancing routines from “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” to “Rock Around the Clock” in grade-specific groups. These were judged by “Randy Lacksome,” “Paula MyJewel” and “Simon Cowbell,” with all groups earning the title as “KES Idol.”