Ribbon-cutting marks opening of new Lakenheath Middle School

By RON JENSEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 4, 2004

RAF FELTWELL, England — A school requires more than mortar and brick, attractive classrooms and top-notch technology to complete its mission, speakers said Friday as Lakenheath Middle School’s new building was opened for the 2004-05 school year.

The facility will welcome 707 students next week when the mission begins to prove that the $26 million needed to build the school was not spent in vain.

“Now the hard work begins,” said Linda Curtis, superintendent of the Isles District of Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe.

She and several other dignitaries spoke to a packed gymnasium of students, teachers and parents who cheered when the ribbon was cut by Janet Klinke, the school principal; Luke Jermy, the school’s student council president; and Joseph Tafoya, director of the DOD Education Activity.

The old facility actually was several buildings, and students had to sometimes brave rain, wind or snow to move from one class to another.

“This is far more than a building. This is a school,” said Klinke.

But she and others cautioned that a building is not enough. It requires the effort of teachers, staff, students and parents to turn the building into a real school.

“We’ve got the building,” Klinke said. “Now together we will build its educational legacy.”

Prior to the ceremony, Klinke led a tour of the building for distinguished visitors, pointing out the highlights as she went up and down the halls.

Every classroom has an interactive white board, which acts as a giant computer screen. And the energy-efficient lighting dims automatically on bright days and increases intensity on dark days.

The hallways are wide and the storage space is a major expansion from the old facility.

From the computer lab to the music room, Klinke was enthusiastic in her description.

“We worked with the specialist in each area to design that area,” she told her visitors.

Tafoya, who said he has visited all 221 of the DOD’s schools, told the audience that the quality of a student’s education should not be dependent on where the sponsor is stationed.

“Our military kids deserve the best we can give them,” he said.

Diane Ohman, superintendent of DODDS-Europe, told the students how lucky they are to attend a new school.

“You need to treat it with respect,” she said.

Shannon Rushford, left, and Cassie Cook, members of Girl Scout Troop 33, present the flag Friday at a ceremony opening the new Lakenheath Middle School.

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