WHS celebrates opening with community

21st century highschool is military’s first to open to students

The student body of the military’s first 21st-century high school celebrated with the agencies that brought it from sketches to blueprints to a state-of-art, three-story building.

The Wiesbaden High School ribbon-cutting ceremony was Sept. 13 in the school’s commons with 550 students seated around a stage and the dignitaries sitting in the Black Box Theatre, both areas designed for flexibility and the ability to be configured to meet the needs of the activity — a hallmark of 21st-century school design.

Officials with Europe District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense Education Activity and German construction partners were on hand to commemorate the event.

Students Lily Young and Michael Bills talked about how the school’s flexible design promotes collaboration and invites creativity and innovation, how the speakers represent the partnerships critical to the success of the new school, and how approximately one-third of the student body had a role in planning the ceremony.

DoDEA Director Thomas Brady spoke about the teamwork it took between the garrison, German partners, USACE and DoDEA to build “the first 21st-century high school in all of DoDEA.”

U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges unveils a plaque dedicating the school to Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, the namesake of the first Wiesbaden high school, at a ribbon cutting for the new Wiesbaden High School Sept. 13. Hodges spoke about how the school represents the strategic importance of the U.S. and German government relationship. — Lori Egan/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Brady highlighted the collaboration and cooperation between the district, the German architects, engineers and government teaming together with DoDEA educators since 2002 “to build the facility you see today. It’s a marvelous example of cooperation between the host nation and United States.”

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, unveiled the plaque dedicating the school to Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, the namesake of the first Wiesbaden high school, and spoke about how the school represents the strategic importance of the U.S. and German government relationship.

“This high school is the first American 21st-century high school that is directly connected to the strategic vision of the United States government because of how the government depends on deployed Soldiers,” Hodges explained.  Soldiers will not come over here unless they are positive their sons or daughters are going to get the best education possible, he added.

Hodges looked at the student body and concluded his remarks, “Most of you have seen your mom or dad deploy multiple times – that’s a price you pay and I appreciate it. Thank you.”

Speaking about the relationships built through years of partnership, Elmar Damm, representing the Hessen Ministry of Finance, pointed out some elements of the school: Environmentally friendly construction material, which is compliant with the European standards and meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Gold certification.

“The fact that the new building could be completed within cost and timeframe is the result of a smooth collaboration of a great team of U.S. and German Hessians,” Damm said. “You all have done an excellent job.

“With this new building, you are now perfectly equipped for the future,” Damm said.

This project honors our past, it was a great team effort and is an asset to forge the future, Europe District Commander Col. John Baker said before presenting the key plaque to Dr. Sandra Whitaker, principal.

“We actually built the predecessor school, and we are happy to build a new and better school today,” Baker said. “We are part of a very great team, whether that’s with our DoDEA partners for whom our district is doing nearly a billion dollars of work that will support nearly 14,000 students across Europe … or our German partners who we’ve worked with for nearly 70 years. … They delivered a $52 million project safely, on time and on budget.”


Department of Defense Education Activity director Thomas Brady addresses the audience at a ribbon cutting for the new Wiesbaden High School Sept. 13. Brady praised the teamwork between garrison leaders, German partners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DoDEA. — Lori Egan/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A building, no matter how beautiful, isn’t a school until students arrive, Whitaker said as she introduced the student council president D’neTanya Bell.

“This is more than just a school,” Bell said. “It is a building block to the 21st century.”

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