European edition, Friday, June 1, 2007

DARMSTADT, Germany — The effects of the Army’s drawdown in Europe were manifested once again Thursday as Darmstadt Middle School held a ceremony to commemorate its final year.

The middle school will merge with Darmstadt Elementary School in the fall, so when school’s out for the summer at the middle school next week, that will be it. The move was announced in November.

Thursday’s ceremony was full of silliness, speeches, live music and endless allusions to principal Russ Claus’ love of sardines. Claus ran the elementary school and will watch over the merged endeavor in the fall.

Between rollicking numbers by the school band and a clever play that showcased the history the middle school has amassed over the decades, various speakers alluded to the school’s fine history and what the changes will mean.

Lt. Col. David Astin, the Darmstadt garrison commander, told the sixth- and seventh-graders who will be moving to the elementary school to treat the younger kids well, and that they are not there to be bullied.

Heidelberg School District Superintendent Elizabeth Walker recounted her time spent at the middle school. Walker was a counselor and a teacher there.

While it will be good to have all the grades together, next week will surely be melancholy for some, she said.

“I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot of tears shed here next week,†Walker said.

Outgoing middle school principal Liz Dunham said that Thursday’s program was all about consolidation and coordination, and that many members of the middle school’s community had done their part to make the event go on. Consolidation of the two schools won’t be bad, she said.

“This should be the smoothest transition on record,†Dunham said. “You’ll hardly notice the difference.â€

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