BAMBERG, Germany -- Commanders from Bamberg and Schweinfurt met with faculty, staff and students at Bamberg Middle High School Nov. 19 to discuss academics, student and faculty issues, as well as effects of deployment cycles on adolescents.

For the second year in a row, leadership from 16th Sustainment Brigade, and battalion leaders of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and 18th Engineer Brigade, along with several other battalion leaders, met to focus on concerns facing students who attend the school, which is comprised of students from both the Bamberg and Schweinfurt communities.

Aca,!A"We look forward to this every year,Aca,!A? Lt. Col. Dwayne Dickens, commander of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, said about the meeting. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs about taking care of kids and taking care of Families.Aca,!A?

Dickens said the meeting with the students provides a good indication on how commanders are balancing their unitAca,!a,,cs requirements for mission success and need for SoldiersAca,!a,,c and family membersAca,!a,,c quality of life and morale.

Aca,!A"It makes you go back and check what you are doing as a commander,Aca,!A? Dickens said. Aca,!A"If a child tells us there is something going on in the way we are doing business that is affecting their family, then we see it from their eyes.Aca,!A?

One student whose parent is in the 54th Engineer Battalion, which recently deployed to Afghanistan, agrees that the meeting with the commanders is beneficial in many ways.

Aca,!A"It helps us to express how we feel,Aca,!A? said Annaliza Montevirgen, who is an honor roll student.

Montevirgen said students usually donAca,!a,,ct know who to talk to about a situation and that the commanders were a welcomed choice.

Aca,!A"We donAca,!a,,ct feel itAca,!a,,cs safe to talk to anybody or feel comfortable to talk to anybody, even if itAca,!a,,cs our parents, but while we are here, we feel that we can actually express our issues that we are having with a deployment or our parents.Aca,!A?

In MontevirgenAca,!a,,cs class, Capt. David Stalker, a company commander in 54th Eng. Bn., answered several of the studentAca,!a,,cs questions about their parentAca,!a,,cs deployment. Stalker provided the students with insight on the life of a Soldier in a war zone. He also discussed the protective equipment U.S. forces use and how next of kin are notified in the event of a tragedy.

Some of the commanders were curious about the stages youth might go through during a deployment cycle.

Lt. Col. Jayson Gilberti, commander of the 9th Engineer Battalion, 172nd Inf. Bde., asked the faculty and staff if they knew what patterns of emotions and behavior a child might go through throughout a yearlong deployment.

Not all of the commanders received or asked questions about deployments, but all of the commanders emphasized the importance of an equally important topic. Continuing oneAca,!a,,cs education after high school was a common theme addressed with both the students and the faculty.

During the meeting with members of the faculty, before meeting with the students, both U.S. Army Garrison commanders from Bamberg, Lt. Col. Steven L. Morris, and Schweinfurt, Lt. Col. Everett Spain, expressed the need for unit commanders to encourage the students to think about their future educational goals.

Aca,!A"We need to increase our academics,Aca,!A? Morris said to the commanders. Aca,!A"We have, pretty much, a statistically low percentage of folks who leave from here and go to four year colleges. We want to change that. See what we can do to help them with their academics; see what we can do to help them with the next step.Aca,!A?

The commanders also focused on working with school staff to understand the schools practices and policies, as well as better coordinate with school officials.

One of the policies discussed was transparent bags at the school. Commanders were under the impression that all backpacks and bags students take to the school need to be see-through.

The reasons for the policy are based on safety and security, said Assistant Principal Dr. Deena Brown.

Bags brought to the school do not need to be clear, but bags brought into a classroom need to be transparent, Brown said.

Another topic discussed among the commanders and staff was the need to get more parents involved with knowing studentsAca,!a,,c grades and meeting with teachers at parent-teacher conferences.

Commanders said they would encourage the involvement of Soldiers to attend their childAca,!a,,cs parent-teacher conference and educate the parents about an online tool called GradeSpeed, which allows them to monitor their childAca,!a,,cs class assignments and grades.

Parents can register for GradeSpeed at'DistrictID=3000001.

School officials and commanders said they plan on continuing the annual program.