The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District, Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe, German Ministry of Construction and Bauamter, and project partners broke ground on two 21st-century schools in late 2016.

The future Wiesbaden Middle and Vogelweh Elementary schools are part of more than 30 school projects in current and future years valued at more than $1 billion throughout Germany and Belgium.

Both ceremonies featured speeches by district, garrison, bauamt and school officials.
Wiesbaden Middle School student council president Samuel Houston told those in attendance during the Nov. 16 ceremony he expected the 21st-century school "to be the best middle school in the galaxy."

The school, scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year, is the second facility in Wiesbaden designed to support DoDEA's 21st-century teaching and learning model, said Lt. Col. John McNamara, Europe District deputy commander. There will be neighborhoods instead of halls or wings and learning studios instead of classrooms, which is a tenet of 21st-century learning.

Designed for a student population of 540 sixth- through eighth-graders, the school will have a multipurpose room with a performance stage, an information center, high-tech computer labs, art, music and orchestra rooms, a culinary arts kitchen and physical education spaces, McNamara said.

"A school education forms a solid foundation for life," said Wolfgang Schnitzer, with LBIH West, Construction and Real Estate Authority for the state of Hessen, "so does a building need a sound foundation for a long existence. Today's groundbreaking ceremony stands at the beginning as a symbol for the beginning of construction. … Although the new building is slowly becoming apparent, it has been planned and coordinated for quite some time in the minds of the architects and engineers."

Dr. Liz Dunham, DoDEA-Europe superintendent for the Europe East District, said, "It seems like magic watching a school evolve out of the planning and hard work.

"Our magic is later," she said describing how through the 21st-century schools, the educators will provide the skills necessary for the students to develop critical thinking, become problem solvers and agile thinkers using collaboration and technology for hands-on learning.

"The best investment we can make is to invest in our children and their future," said Tamara Petritz whose daughter Mia participated in the Vogelweh Elementary School ceremony Nov. 22. "Traditional schools don't fit the way they think or work anymore. We owe this to them -- matching 21st-century learners with 21st-century schools."

Designed for 655 students, the new school will encompass 166,524 square feet and is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 school year.

In addition to supporting the 21st-century teaching and learning model, the future school will incorporate sustainability and energy-saving concepts to increase its life span, said Col. Matthew Tyler, Europe District commander. These features include extensive use of natural light, and energy-efficient lighting systems that are anticipated to save 42 percent in energy costs annually.

"Overall, the military construction initiative carried out by the Corps enhances the educational environment for about 12,500 students throughout Europe," Tyler said. "These students represent the future of our nation, so it's a quality investment that will have a lasting impact for decades to come."

Sidebar:
Wiesbaden Middle School will be part of a shared campus with the future Hainerberg Elementary School. The sustainable features include: window glazing to allow natural light in the building and provides access to outdoor views in more than 90 percent of the regularly occupied spaces; efficient interior and exterior lighting systems, pumps, fans and building envelope result in an estimated 49 percent annual energy cost saving when compared to a standard design; and, low-flow plumbing that is estimated to save more than 300,000 gallons of water per year. The programmed amount for the school is nearly $51 million.

Vogelweh Elementary School's sustainable features include a reflective roof cover to reduce solar heat gain; extensive use of natural light; energy-efficient interior lighting; and low-flow plumbing that is estimated to save 36 percent in water savings when compared to standard design. The anticipated annual energy cost savings is 42 percent when compared to standard designs. The programmed amount for the school is nearly $59 million. The campus will feature staff, visitor and bus parking, new play areas and a planter garden for teaching.