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Parents watch as teachers at Robinson Elementary/Middle School lead their students to the classrooms on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Parents watch as teachers at Robinson Elementary/Middle School lead their students to the classrooms on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. (David Rogers/Stars and Stripes)
Parents watch as teachers at Robinson Elementary/Middle School lead their students to the classrooms on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Parents watch as teachers at Robinson Elementary/Middle School lead their students to the classrooms on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. (David Rogers/Stars and Stripes)
Chassity Beisner gives a farewell-kiss to her daughter, Alyssa Beisner, a first-grader at Robinson Elementary/Middle School, on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Chassity Beisner gives a farewell-kiss to her daughter, Alyssa Beisner, a first-grader at Robinson Elementary/Middle School, on the first day of school Aug. 29 at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. (David Rogers/Stars and Stripes)
Pupils at Mannheim Elementary School raise their hands to get the chance to answer a question in Maxie Egele's second grade class, on the first day of school  Monday. It is the final year for the elementary school, as the Mannheim military community closes down.
Pupils at Mannheim Elementary School raise their hands to get the chance to answer a question in Maxie Egele's second grade class, on the first day of school Monday. It is the final year for the elementary school, as the Mannheim military community closes down. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Mary Beth Hail, a third grade teacher at Naples Elementary School in Italy, attempts to corral her new students Monday morning.
Mary Beth Hail, a third grade teacher at Naples Elementary School in Italy, attempts to corral her new students Monday morning. (Geoff Ziezulewicz/Stars and Stripes)
Conner Mackie, 9, organizes his school supplies on the first day of the new school year Monday in Laura Rahaim's fourth-grade class at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Conner Mackie, 9, organizes his school supplies on the first day of the new school year Monday in Laura Rahaim's fourth-grade class at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Jennifer Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Third grade teacher Debbie Hand introduces herself to her newest student, Jasmine Jordan, and her father Darrel outside RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, Aug. 29. The first day of the new school year saw hundreds of families meeting with teachers and school officials. Jordan, who hails from Tifton, Ga., escorted three daughters to school at the eastern England air base.
Third grade teacher Debbie Hand introduces herself to her newest student, Jasmine Jordan, and her father Darrel outside RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, Aug. 29. The first day of the new school year saw hundreds of families meeting with teachers and school officials. Jordan, who hails from Tifton, Ga., escorted three daughters to school at the eastern England air base. (David Hodge/Stars and Stripes)
Mannheim Elementary School pupils in Gloria Yokley's fourth-grade class recite the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of school for DODDS-Europe students. It is the final year for the school, as the Mannheim military community closes down.
Mannheim Elementary School pupils in Gloria Yokley's fourth-grade class recite the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of school for DODDS-Europe students. It is the final year for the school, as the Mannheim military community closes down. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Amy Thomas, a reading specialist at Naples Elementary School, directs students and a mom Monday morning.
Amy Thomas, a reading specialist at Naples Elementary School, directs students and a mom Monday morning. (Geoff Ziezulewicz/Stars and Stripes)
First-grader Elezar Martinez leads his classmates into Smith Elementary School Monday at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. It was the first day of school for pupils at Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
First-grader Elezar Martinez leads his classmates into Smith Elementary School Monday at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. It was the first day of school for pupils at Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe. (Seth Robbins/Stars and Stripes)
Cheryl Buggs embraces her daughter, Victoria, 7, after Victoria's first day in the second grade at Grafenwoehr Elementary School. The school enrolled roughly 300 children for the school year, principal Crystal Bailey said.
Cheryl Buggs embraces her daughter, Victoria, 7, after Victoria's first day in the second grade at Grafenwoehr Elementary School. The school enrolled roughly 300 children for the school year, principal Crystal Bailey said. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)
Jackson Melton, second-grader at Robinson Elementary/Middle School, waits outside for the first day of school to start on Aug. 29 with his mother, Brooke Melton, and his little brother, Tucker Melton, at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Jackson Melton, second-grader at Robinson Elementary/Middle School, waits outside for the first day of school to start on Aug. 29 with his mother, Brooke Melton, and his little brother, Tucker Melton, at Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. (David Rogers/Stars and Stripes)
Spc. Benjamin Shirley and his wife, Cassie, help their 6-year-old daughter Jozlyn search for her teacher at Smith Elementary School on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. Jozlyn (right) started 1st grade on Monday, and her sister Rochelle (left) came to see her off. Rochelle, 5, is to start kindergarten next week.
Spc. Benjamin Shirley and his wife, Cassie, help their 6-year-old daughter Jozlyn search for her teacher at Smith Elementary School on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. Jozlyn (right) started 1st grade on Monday, and her sister Rochelle (left) came to see her off. Rochelle, 5, is to start kindergarten next week. (Seth Robbins/Stars and Stripes)
Leslie Sacchi, a kindergarten teacher at RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, welcomes three young children to the first day of the new school year. Sacchi, a native of Ukiah, Calif., has taught at RAF Lakenheath schools for the past 17 years.
Leslie Sacchi, a kindergarten teacher at RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, welcomes three young children to the first day of the new school year. Sacchi, a native of Ukiah, Calif., has taught at RAF Lakenheath schools for the past 17 years. (David Hodge/Stars and Stripes)
First-grade teacher Julie Clark herds her new pupils into a line Monday, the first day of school at Smith Elementary on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. For Clark, it was her first day as well at Smith Elementary School, having come from a school in the Pacific.
First-grade teacher Julie Clark herds her new pupils into a line Monday, the first day of school at Smith Elementary on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. For Clark, it was her first day as well at Smith Elementary School, having come from a school in the Pacific. (Seth Robbins/Stars and Stripes)
Second-grader Jameson Muse writes a calendar date on a Smart Board, while teacher Holly Magcalas helps another student on the first day of school Monday at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Second-grader Jameson Muse writes a calendar date on a Smart Board, while teacher Holly Magcalas helps another student on the first day of school Monday at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Jennifer Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Malquer Manzueta says goodbye to his 8-year-old son Miguel, as he heads off to his first day of school at Smith Elementary on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. Manzueta, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery 1-84 Field Artillery, said his son was starting the 3rd grade.
Staff Sgt. Malquer Manzueta says goodbye to his 8-year-old son Miguel, as he heads off to his first day of school at Smith Elementary on U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany. Manzueta, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery 1-84 Field Artillery, said his son was starting the 3rd grade. (Seth Robbins/Stars and Stripes)
Students are greeted by school administrators and garrison officials on the first day of school at the new Schweinfurt High School.
Students are greeted by school administrators and garrison officials on the first day of school at the new Schweinfurt High School. (Dan Blottenberger/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Anthony Jones, from Odessa, Texas, escorts his eight-year-old daughter, Sierra, to meet her teacher for the new school year at the RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, Aug. 29. Jones, who is assigned to the RAF Lakenheath's 48th Component Maintenance Squadron, said his young son, Jayden, wasn't due to start school until next year.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Jones, from Odessa, Texas, escorts his eight-year-old daughter, Sierra, to meet her teacher for the new school year at the RAF Lakenheath Elementary School, Aug. 29. Jones, who is assigned to the RAF Lakenheath's 48th Component Maintenance Squadron, said his young son, Jayden, wasn't due to start school until next year. (David Hodge/Stars and Stripes)
Two buddies make their way to class Monday in Naples, Italy. Students at Defense Department schools around the world head back to class this week.
Two buddies make their way to class Monday in Naples, Italy. Students at Defense Department schools around the world head back to class this week. (Geoff Ziezulewicz/Stars and Stripes)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — For some students, the first day of school Monday meant returning to familiar territory, but for others, it was all new.

For children whose families just arrived, adjusting to a new community also means new school, new friends, new teachers. And in Schweinfurt, Germany, it was all about a new high school in the Department of Defense school system.

A small group of former Mannheim High School students waited for the doors of the Schweinfurt High School to open, excited to be the first senior class at the new school.

“We are making history,” said student Madea Brewer.

The Mannheim high school and middle school closed at the end of the last school year in June, as area bases close and U.S. Army Europe soldiers are being relocated.

Former Mannheim students also are attending Heidelberg middle and high schools this year. But Stephanie El Sayed, Heidelberg Middle School principal for the past five years, started the first day the way she always does: with a line dance before the first bell at 8:04 a.m.. “We did the Cupid Shuffle,” El Sayed said. “Something that doesn’t hurt my knees.”

The dancing will continue all week, then sporadically throughout the year, she said. “It’s part of our team building. It’s something all the kids can learn,” she said. “And we like to dance.”

The elementary school in Mannheim will close at the end of this school year. But 220 students started there Monday.

“It’s our last year,” said principal Sharon Overstreet, as she watched the children gather in front of the school, “but we are going to have fun.”

At bases across Germany, in Italy and England, parents and children streamed through the doors of DODDS-Europe schools, which has a combined enrollment of more than 34,000 students.

In Naples, Italy, it still felt like summer, hot and muggy. Lt. Cmdr. Nate Price, escorting his five children to the elementary and secondary schools, said sending the kids back to school had ups and downs.

“As my wife said yesterday, it’s great to get them out of the house, but it’s not great packing the lunches,” he said.

In England, Leslie Sacchi, who has taught at RAF Lakenheath for 17 years, said many of the students are new to the school, which she said had a turnover rate of about one-third to one-half.

“Today is definitely a big day, Sacchi said. “It’s exciting because it’s a transition in life. The kids are coming back to see old friends and make new ones.“

At Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart, school officials welcomed some 730 pupils to class at Robinson Elementary/Middle School.

Second grader Jackson Melton, pleased that he was allowed to ride his bike to school, had a one word answer when asked whether he was nervous: “No.”

At Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany, principal Sandy Meacham saw some new faces in the halls; enrollment this year is at 972 students, up from last year’s 948, in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

Teachers and pupils were busy: There were supplies to unpack, classroom rules to explain, school tours to go on, introductions to be made and friendships to renew.

“They set up their routine and get to know their community,” Meacham said. “The classroom teacher sets the tone for a great year.”

At Grafenwöhr Elementary School, principal Crystal Bailey said the 300 or so students were eager to return.

“Oh my gosh –- they’ve been excited for weeks,” she said. “But I think the parents are more excited.”

Sydney Thornbrugh, 12, was already thinking college on her first day of seventh grade at Netzaberg Middle School.

“I guess I’m basically looking forward to getting as many high school credits as possible,” she said.

The Netzaberg school system is in its fourth year, opening in 2008 to accommodate a growing population in the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

At Smith Elementary School in Baumholder, Sgt. Corey Hayes, who returned from Afghanistan on Saturday for Rest and Recuperation leave, said he was thrilled to see off his 6-year-old son, Camron, who was starting first grade. Hayes held his son’s hand as they searched for Camron’s teacher and classroom.

“I feel wonderful that I got to be here for his first day of school,” he said. “It’s like birthdays or Christmas, you don’t want to miss these.”

Stripes reporters Seth Robbins, David Hodge, Jennifer Svan, John Vandiver, Geoff Ziezulewicz, Steven Beardsley and Nancy Montgomery contributed to this report.

blottenbergerd@estripes.osd.mil

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