WIESBADEN, Germany – With information booths taking over the Newman Village soccer field, rambunctious children and their parents engaged with garrison services and local partner organizations during the "Back to School Expo" hosted by the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's directorate of Moral, Welfare and Recreation on Clay Kaserne, Aug. 16.
Under a backdrop of bright skies, warm temperatures and patchwork clouds, the back to school event signaled the looming start to the 2022-23 school year for Department of Defense Education Activity students across Europe.
This year’s expo encouraged students and families to meet with participating organizations to ask questions and gather information to better understand what support each group can provide within the USAG Wiesbaden military community.
Garrison Commander, Col. David W. Mayfield spoke of how these events smooth the schedule and transition for kids and their families each year. “These are incredibly important events (…) making sure that as a garrison, we help families and parents understand what (resources) are out there," said Mayfield.
“Coming here (to Germany) several times before with a large family and school-age kids, I didn’t even understand all the things that were available until I looked at it through the commanders eyes,” Mayfield added, speaking about his previous time in Germany.
Invaluable to the military community, these events offer an abundance of information for all families, but are especially helpful and informative for those families who recently arrived during the recent summer PCS cycle.
“This is an awesome event that I hope they continue (…) and I hope it grows,” said Alexis Green, the mother of a rising six-grader and the treasurer of the Wiesbaden Middle School Parent Teacher Student Organization. “This event is a resource to the community so we know what organizations and (home-based) businesses are here to offer to us.”
“Families can come out here and get lots of information about the different programs and services the garrison offers,” said Latiska Grant, resident of Newman Village.
Mitigating factors such as limiting people at each booth and distance between the booths ensured a safe environment allowing for this year’s larger and more widely attended event.
Looking back at how the expo has improved over the years, Green commented that due to COVID regulations and precautions, the last expo in 2020 was scaled back and more spread out. “It’s all here (in one location) where we can, of course mingle, the kids get to see each other getting excited about school (…) and parents can get together and see everybody.”
People who attended this event in previous years shared similar sentiments that this years centralized location and easing of COVID protocols, allowed for greater participation, better facilitating communication between organizations and families.
“A lot more interaction this year (…) chance to ask questions and answer questions (…) in an environment where it encourages open dialogue,” said Latiska Grant’s husband Anthony.
While of course the expo succeeds in showcasing information for the soon-to-be-returning students, this year's event also offered up a relaxing break for the kids and parents to enjoy fun, food and friends before life returns to the structure of the classroom next week.
“It is time to go back to a learning environment,” said Anthony Grant, echoing the feelings of all parents as the school year approaches and summer fades.