WIESBADEN, Germany — Students at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons, Belgium, will soon have a state-of-the-art campus to call home as a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday marked the beginning of construction for the SHAPE International School complex.
The $167.5 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District project includes three Department of Defense Dependents Schools — an elementary, middle and high school — as well as facilities for international students.
Paul Jerome, project manager for SHAPE, said the existing schools were built in the 1960s and have exceeded their lifespan.
“It will end up being the first 21st century-style facility we have here; this is a big deal for the community,” Jerome said.
Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command, noted the value of education, “... particularly of this kind of international environment, where so many different nations come together to create a truly magnificent spark of light, which creates a fire of intellectual curiosity among so many wonderful young people,” according to a spokesperson.
More than 1,100 DODDS students will attend the SHAPE schools, and the overall student population is expected to be more than 2,300, according to Jerome.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District spokeswoman Rachel Goodspeed said construction on the three DODDS schools is expected to be complete in 2014 with the international schools expected to be finished by 2018.
Goodspeed said $102.5 million is appropriated for the American schools, and the other $65 million costs will be funded by the other NATO nations operating schools there.
Nine NATO nations will have schools on the campus, and Students from 13 non-NATO nations also will attend school there, Jerome said.
The new complex, which Jerome said architects modeled after a college campus, will have some facilities that are shared by all students, such as sports facilities, an auditorium and the cafeteria.
Jerome praised the coordination of all the nations committing funds, adding that some countries were in a state of hold until NATO’s strategic footprint was validated.
“It’s doing what the alliance does, finding a way to move forward together,” Jerome said.