GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The community at this vast Army training center got its first look Tuesday at the long-awaited Defense Department elementary school now providing instruction to 400 students in preschool through fifth grade.
A ribbon cutting for the fully completed facility was held Tuesday, although the school has been hosting students since the spring, while construction was wrapping up.
The school cost nearly $37.5 million to build, according to the Department of Defense Education Activity, and was five years in the making.
“We have been eagerly waiting for today,” said Michelle Howard-Brahaney, DODEA’s director of student excellence in Europe. “We want to inspire a lifelong passion for learning.”
The Army Corps of Engineers and German contractors started construction in 2018. The school was originally set to open for the 2021-22 academic year, but the pandemic caused delays, Army officials said.
The 92,696-square-foot building is packed full of technology and features designed to facilitate the flow of knowledge and stimulate students’ eagerness to learn.
“It’s a cutting-edge school designed with 21st-century concepts,” said Col. Daniel Kent, the Army Corps of Engineers Europe district commander. “The building itself is a teaching tool.”
Each grade level is color-coded and separated into different zones, with additional larger rooms for classes such as music and a gym for physical education.
Classes are taught in large, open-concept rooms with dividers that form individual classrooms for separate instruction.
Outdoor features at the school include an interactive nature path that teaches students about the local plants and animals.
It also has two playgrounds, one for younger grades and one for older children, as well as a basketball court, student-maintained gardens and amphitheater-style steps for outdoor learning and music classes.
This is the 16th school the Army Corps of Engineers has completed in Europe since 2010, according to Kent, and it has plans to build 16 more by 2030 in the DODEA Europe area.