Ribbon cutting at Patch Elementary School
Patch Elementary Students cutting the ribbon to their new school alongside their invited guests. (Photo Credit: Balmina Sehra) VIEW ORIGINAL

STUTTGART, Germany – With the aid of a dozen students armed with scissors, Patch Elementary School cut the ribbon to the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) newest 21st Century School, Thursday, Oct. 27.

DoDEA’s 21st Century School project aims to provide cutting edge facilities and education concepts to military schools worldwide. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Europe alone $1.6B has been earmarked for the construction of 28 new schools. Patch Elementary is the 15th new school since 2010.

“This [school] creates an opportunity to better collaborate with each other,” said Patch Elementary Principal Sonja Rodriguez. “The teachers can provide better quality instructions for all children.”

The new 113,500 square foot, 550 student school has six neighborhood areas with learning studios, learning hubs, group learning, and one-on-one spaces. Moveable walls within each neighborhood create flexible and adaptable spaces.

DoDEA spokesman Steve Smith said while the school is specifically designed to embrace new teaching concepts it also emphasizes the usage of technology from a young age.

“You cannot expose children to technology early enough, so our children from the age of kindergarten to fifth grade have some kind of element of technology in their education that’s involved in their education process,” he said.

Rodriguez said since the school only opened up this August it will take a while for both teachers and children to get used to it.

“Adapting to this new concept will take time,” she said. “Some children have adapted faster than others.”

Fourth grader Mina White, 10, is one of those early adopters.

“It’s really nice and big and you get to see new faces every day,” she said with a big smile on her face.

As the ceremony came to a close the students took the day’s guests on a tour of their brand new school, including Deputy Head of Bundesbau (federal construction) Baden-Wuerttemberg who quipped, “[the school] is the most important building, so it should be a nice building.”