Outgoing DODDS-Pacific director Nancy Bresell, who's assuming the same post in Europe.

Outgoing DODDS-Pacific director Nancy Bresell, who's assuming the same post in Europe. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

TORII STATION, Okinawa — In uncertain financial times, often student activities will feel the pinch.

Twice in the 1980s, co-curricular activities underwent the budget knife at Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

But now, as the DOD is taking a close look at expenditures across the board, former DODDS-Pacific Director Nancy Bresell, in an interview before departing the region for the same job in Europe, said she believes funding for student activities for the coming school year in the Pacific is on good footing.

“I can tell you, [activities] are pretty high up there as far as the use of discretionary funds are concerned,” she said Saturday.

DODDS-Pacific budgeted $2.3 million, about 3 percent of total expenditures minus payroll, for Far East student activities in school year 2008-09, for 22 total activities involving about 2,200 students, according to DODDS-Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff. DODDS projects that level “will be about the same” in school year 2009-10.

Student activities include Far East-wide tournaments in six sports, plus activities such as Model United Nations, Junior ROTC, journalism, drama and music.

Bresell said Department of Defense Education Activity Director Shirley Miles has “made it very clear that student activities are an important part of the total DODEA educational picture and really the heartbeat of our schools.”

Bresell is taking her 34 years of experience with DODEA and DODDS to Europe as regional director. She’s swapping spots with DODDS-Europe Director Diana Ohman, who’s held that post since 1999.

Bresell got her start with DODDS in 1976 as a learning disabilities teacher in Germany. She became DODDS-Pacific director in December 2001.

One of the obstacles she said she had to overcome, especially in her early days in the Pacific, was the “but-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” school of thought, particularly in athletics.

She established the Far East-wide football playoffs in 2005. Next, she unified boys and girls basketball seasons in winter and soccer in spring. Previously girls basketball was played in spring and soccer in winter, with Korea teams playing on frozen turf in cold wind chills.

She said the Pacific will be getting a solid director in Ohman, whom Bresell has worked with for four years in the past.

“An experienced educator, an experienced leader, such a strong leader,” Bresell said. “Diana listens to people, then makes really solid decisions.”

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