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Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes)

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes)

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, head toward their school buses after the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes)

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, are dismissed from their first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students from Yokosuka Middle School at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, are dismissed from their first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes)

Students and staff return to Yokota High School at Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo on Aug. 31, 2015.

Students and staff return to Yokota High School at Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo on Aug. 31, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Students raise the U.S. and Italian flags Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, before the start of the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Students raise the U.S. and Italian flags Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, before the start of the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

High school and middle school students stand as the Nation Anthem plays Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, on the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

High school and middle school students stand as the Nation Anthem plays Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, on the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Aviano Saints Senior class of 2016 sits in the center of the gym Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, on the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Aviano Saints Senior class of 2016 sits in the center of the gym Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, on the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Elementary school teachers and students gather on the playground Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, before walking to their classes for the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Elementary school teachers and students gather on the playground Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, before walking to their classes for the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Elementary students depart the playground in lines behind their teachers Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, during the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Elementary students depart the playground in lines behind their teachers Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, during the first day of school at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Some of the older students at Grafenwoehr Elementary school in Germany file onto the playground for first-day accountability, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Some of the older students at Grafenwoehr Elementary school in Germany file onto the playground for first-day accountability, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael S. Darnell/Stars and Stripes)

Parents, teachers and students alike line up for the first day of school at Grafenwoehr Elementary, Aug. 31, 2015

Parents, teachers and students alike line up for the first day of school at Grafenwoehr Elementary, Aug. 31, 2015 (Michael S. Darnell/Stars and Stripes)

Parents walk with their children into class as Grafenwoehr Elementary school opened its doors for the first day of school, Aug. 31, 2015.

Parents walk with their children into class as Grafenwoehr Elementary school opened its doors for the first day of school, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael S. Darnell/Stars and Stripes)

Terri Sobey, fifth-grade teacher at Grafenwoehr Elementary, leads her new students through first-day introductions, Aug. 31, 2015.

Terri Sobey, fifth-grade teacher at Grafenwoehr Elementary, leads her new students through first-day introductions, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael S. Darnell/Stars and Stripes)

New backpacks mark the beginning of the first day of school at Grafenwoehr Elementary. Here, school principal Dr. Matthew Kralevich introduces himself to some of the new students, Aug. 31, 2015.

New backpacks mark the beginning of the first day of school at Grafenwoehr Elementary. Here, school principal Dr. Matthew Kralevich introduces himself to some of the new students, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael S. Darnell/Stars and Stripes)

Sixth-grade science teacher Steven Swiger gathers his class on the first day  at Naples Middle/High Schoolin Gricignano, Italy, on Aug. 31, 2015. "It's about learning the kids, and the kids learning me," Swiger said of the first day.

Sixth-grade science teacher Steven Swiger gathers his class on the first day at Naples Middle/High Schoolin Gricignano, Italy, on Aug. 31, 2015. "It's about learning the kids, and the kids learning me," Swiger said of the first day. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Parents return from dropping off their children at Naples Elementary School at the Navy support site base in Gricignano, Italy, on Aug. 31, 2015.

Parents return from dropping off their children at Naples Elementary School at the Navy support site base in Gricignano, Italy, on Aug. 31, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Jennifer Arel snaps a photo of the first-grade roster outside Naples Elementary School on Aug. 31, 2015.

Jennifer Arel snaps a photo of the first-grade roster outside Naples Elementary School on Aug. 31, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

About 750 students are set to attend the new Stuttgart High School when class starts Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. The school, located next to Panzer Kaserne, replaces the old Patch High School, which now operates as Patch Middle School.

About 750 students are set to attend the new Stuttgart High School when class starts Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. The school, located next to Panzer Kaserne, replaces the old Patch High School, which now operates as Patch Middle School. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors check out the new football field at Stuttgart High School during an open house on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Schools in Stuttgart, where there is a new high school and elementary school building, are opening on Wednesday, Sept. 2, to give schools more time amid a series of school realignments.

Visitors check out the new football field at Stuttgart High School during an open house on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Schools in Stuttgart, where there is a new high school and elementary school building, are opening on Wednesday, Sept. 2, to give schools more time amid a series of school realignments. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Michael Morris, a third-grade teacher at Vicenza Elementary School in Italy looks over his charges before school begins Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, as parents watch from the sidelines.

Michael Morris, a third-grade teacher at Vicenza Elementary School in Italy looks over his charges before school begins Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, as parents watch from the sidelines. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Aaron Ortiz, starting the third grade at Vicenza Elementary, and his teacher Michael Morris start getting to know one another on Aug. 31, 2015. Aaron, 8, is one of four Ortiz children attending Vicenza schools this year, his father said.

Aaron Ortiz, starting the third grade at Vicenza Elementary, and his teacher Michael Morris start getting to know one another on Aug. 31, 2015. Aaron, 8, is one of four Ortiz children attending Vicenza schools this year, his father said. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Vicenza Elementary students line up before classes begin on the first day of school on Aug. 31, 2015.

Vicenza Elementary students line up before classes begin on the first day of school on Aug. 31, 2015. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Boys bound for third grade at Vicenza Elementary on the first day of school Aug. 31, 2015.

Boys bound for third grade at Vicenza Elementary on the first day of school Aug. 31, 2015. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Diane Dickerson holds her son Jaxon while gazing at her daughter, Sadie, who was starting first grade and looking forward to taking the bus home all by herself on Aug. 31, 2015.

Diane Dickerson holds her son Jaxon while gazing at her daughter, Sadie, who was starting first grade and looking forward to taking the bus home all by herself on Aug. 31, 2015. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Sgt. 1st Class John Valdez and wife Michelle stand with their daughter Savannah, about to begin her first day of second grade, outside Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Sgt. 1st Class John Valdez and wife Michelle stand with their daughter Savannah, about to begin her first day of second grade, outside Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Sgt. Ashley Sine, an analyst with the 24th Military Intelligence Battalion, walks with daughter Haley, about to begin her first day of fourth grade, outside Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Sgt. Ashley Sine, an analyst with the 24th Military Intelligence Battalion, walks with daughter Haley, about to begin her first day of fourth grade, outside Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Parents and students of Hainerberg Elementary in Wiesbaden, Germany, enter the school before the start of the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Parents and students of Hainerberg Elementary in Wiesbaden, Germany, enter the school before the start of the first day of classes, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Maj. Mike Stinchcomb, with U.S. Army Europe's Provost Marshal's Office, says goodbye to daughter Lila, about to begin second grade, before the start of the first day of classes at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Maj. Mike Stinchcomb, with U.S. Army Europe's Provost Marshal's Office, says goodbye to daughter Lila, about to begin second grade, before the start of the first day of classes at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Maj. Vincent Cesaro, a field artillery officer with U.S. Army Europe, and wife Dawn escort their two sons, Michael, left, and Jonathan, to the first day of school at Hainerberg Elementary in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Michael is starting first grade and Jonathan is in the pre-kindergarten program.

Maj. Vincent Cesaro, a field artillery officer with U.S. Army Europe, and wife Dawn escort their two sons, Michael, left, and Jonathan, to the first day of school at Hainerberg Elementary in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Michael is starting first grade and Jonathan is in the pre-kindergarten program. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edgardo Pagan, with the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, walks with daughter Sofia to her first day of second grade at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edgardo Pagan, with the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, walks with daughter Sofia to her first day of second grade at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Second-grade students at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, sit in lines on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Students and parents were welcomed by teachers and staff in an assembly before classes began.

Second-grade students at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, sit in lines on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Students and parents were welcomed by teachers and staff in an assembly before classes began. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Adam Bentley, a contractor with the 5th Signal Command, and wife Vincenza share some parting words with son Gianluca, about to begin his first day of first grade, at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Adam Bentley, a contractor with the 5th Signal Command, and wife Vincenza share some parting words with son Gianluca, about to begin his first day of first grade, at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Students, teachers and parents at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to an assembly on the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students, teachers and parents at Hainerberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden, Germany, recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to an assembly on the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Students at Lakenheath High School in England wait for their next session during the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Education officials discontinued a program allowing students to take laptop computers home.

Students at Lakenheath High School in England wait for their next session during the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Education officials discontinued a program allowing students to take laptop computers home. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)

Lamont Scott, a senior, sits in the auditorium of Lakenheath High School for an orientation lecture to start the school year on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. The school traditionally lets seniors attend the first day of school in their pajamas and wearing a crown.

Lamont Scott, a senior, sits in the auditorium of Lakenheath High School for an orientation lecture to start the school year on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. The school traditionally lets seniors attend the first day of school in their pajamas and wearing a crown. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)

Lakenheath High School students receive their passwords to access the school computer system on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Lakenheath High School students receive their passwords to access the school computer system on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)

Students and parents file into Ramstein Middle School, Germany, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, for the first day of school. Parents were able to tag along as the school hosted an open house, allowing parents to sit through abbreviated classes with their kids and meet the teachers. Enrollment at RMS is up this year, with so far almost 870 students in grades 6, 7 and 8.

Students and parents file into Ramstein Middle School, Germany, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, for the first day of school. Parents were able to tag along as the school hosted an open house, allowing parents to sit through abbreviated classes with their kids and meet the teachers. Enrollment at RMS is up this year, with so far almost 870 students in grades 6, 7 and 8. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein Middle School seventh-graders, l-r, Cameron Dickey, Lydia Porter, Kevin Patton and Makani Stenger (plaid shirt) recite the Pledge of Allegiance during first period on the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Ramstein Middle School seventh-graders, l-r, Cameron Dickey, Lydia Porter, Kevin Patton and Makani Stenger (plaid shirt) recite the Pledge of Allegiance during first period on the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

Parents and students make their way to the morning assembly for Kaiserslautern Elementary School at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Parents and students make their way to the morning assembly for Kaiserslautern Elementary School at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Rebekah Langston, a second-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, speaks with parents and students during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Rebekah Langston, a second-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, speaks with parents and students during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Jack Woodfork, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, goes over class rules during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Jack Woodfork, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, goes over class rules during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Third-grade students meet their new classmates during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Third-grade students meet their new classmates during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Jack Woodfork's third-grade class recites the Pledge of Allegiance during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Jack Woodfork's third-grade class recites the Pledge of Allegiance during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A third-grade class stretches during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

A third-grade class stretches during the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Linda Babcock, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, helps students with their first assignment of the school year at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Linda Babcock, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, helps students with their first assignment of the school year at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Students play during recess on the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students play during recess on the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Students hug during recess on the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Aug. 31, 2015.

Students hug during recess on the first day of school at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, at Vogelweh, Germany, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Jack Woodfork, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, greets former students during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

Jack Woodfork, a third-grade teacher at Kaiserslautern Elementary School, greets former students during the first day of school at Vogelweh, Germany, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Classes began Monday for most Defense Department-run schools overseas, with parents and children — some attending base schools for the first time — enthusiastic about the first day of the new year.

“I learned how to say good night in Japanese — oyasumi,” said Kurtisy Chase, 7, after her first day at Yokota Air Base’s Joan K. Mendel Elementary, as she waited to cross the road with her mother, Michelle Chase, 25, and brother Kurtis, 6.

The family moved to Yokota in March from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., said Chase, whose husband is an Air Force staff sergeant.

“I expected the school to be more Japanese,” she said of Mendel, and less like Missouri schools.

At Yokosuka Naval Base, Sharee Perez and her son Antonio, 10, waited outside Yokosuka Middle School for her daughter Alianna, 13. The Perez family arrived just a few months ago, and this is the first time the kids have attended a base school.

Alianna was optimistic about the school year.

“The class sizes are smaller here than the schools I went to, and there is less time in between classes. The classes are going to be harder here, but I look forward to it.”

Antonio, who attended his first day at the base’s Sullivans Elementary, could hardly hide his enthusiasm. “The teachers are really nice, and the school is huge.”

In Vicenza, Italy, a thousand or so pupils at Vicenza middle and elementary schools gathered into groups around their new teachers.

Sadie Dickerson, 6, was as calm as could be. However, her mother, Diane, admitted to “feeling a little anxious,” as it would be the first time Sadie would take the bus home by herself. “We hope she’s going to come home on the right bus.”

A scorching sun also greeted students at Ramstein Middle School in Germany, where more than 800 students and many of their parents filled the muggy hallways during a schoolwide open house.

Eighth-grader Alli Mehringer was all smiles as she filed into school, flanked by two friends. She had already found what she was most looking forward to: “Friends,” she said. Anything else? “Meeting new teachers and that’s pretty much it,” she said.

At U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, parents waited outside Seoul American Elementary, some with babies and toddlers in tow, for school to let out.

Melissa Seaton’s 9-year-old daughter, Allie, started fourth grade in a new school. The family moved from Fort Lewis, Wash., two months ago, and her daughter was a little nervous because she hadn’t met many other kids yet.

Mom’s advice? “Just smile and be friendly,” Seaton said. “She’s always done well everywhere else, so we know she’ll do just fine here.”

For some students, the return to school was familiar.

Jakeb Miller was returning to Grafenwoehr Elementary for fifth grade. “We went back to Kansas for a few years, and now we’re back in Germany,” he said. “At least for school I know where everything is. I’m not new to everything.”

Tim Beier was starting kindergarten at Grafenwoehr. His mother, Stephanie Beier, who is German, was nervous. “It’s really different from the German kindergarten,” she said, more focused on learning than play. But Tim’s father, Spc. Aaron Beier, said: “I think he’ll be fine. He’s really strong. It’ll just take a few days to get used to it.”

Not everyone began classes Monday. The Bahrain School started a week earlier, and in Stuttgart, Germany, the first day of school was pushed to Wednesday to give educators more time to prepare for a host of changes, including the opening of two new school buildings.

On Friday, students and parents got an advance look at the new Stuttgart High School campus, which will house about 750 students.

“This is definitely the best-looking school I’ve ever gone to,” said 10th-grader Gabby Newland. “And it’s so clean you could eat off the floor.”

The school, which is connected to Panzer Kaserne by a tunnel, was designed with a heavy focus on information technology. Areas are set aside for online learning, and there are enough computers that students no longer need to rely on personal laptops, students said.

There have also been changes at other DODEA schools.

Lakenheath High School in England is ending a program that provided every student with a laptop computer. The move met with a mixed reaction from students, though Isles District Superintendent Frank Roehl doesn’t expect any negative impact. Kyle Selander, a sophomore, said the laptops made it easier to transfer work between school and home, but Emily Pettit, also a sophomore, was happy to see them go, as they would crash “without fail” before a homework deadline.

At the elementary school in Naples, Italy, Principal Chris Beane said more than 20 new teachers had arrived over the summer, many of them from Ansbach, Germany, where the Rainbow Elementary School has closed. His students and teachers, like those at other DODEA schools, will be dealing with a new math curriculum, part of DODEA’s rollout of the College and Career Readiness program, the agency’s name for the curriculum known stateside as the Common Core.

“Taking on a new curriculum can lead to anxiety, but I think they’re excited about the possibilities,” Beane said.

In Grafenwoehr, Principal Matthew Kralevich was enthusiastic about the school, where he has worked for four years. He has worked in the DODEA system for seven years.

“I love it,” he said. “To be a part of a community like this is something special. I feel we have the greatest parents, greatest kids and the greatest teachers. What is there to not be proud of?”

Stars and Stripes reporters Tyler Hlavac, Seth Robson, Ashley Rowland, Michael S. Darnell, Steven Beardsley, Jennifer Svan, Nancy Montgomery, Adam L. Mathis and John Vandiver contributed to this report.

news@stripes.com

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