GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The new Grafenwoehr Elementary School, which is undergoing construction on U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Tower Barracks, is scheduled to open in January 2022. This new 21st century school will serve students currently located in the Tower Barracks area from kindergarten to fifth grade.
According to Grafenwoehr Elementary School Principal Sonya Gates, students and staff will start the school year in August at the current GES location. After the winter break, they are expected to transition to the new building.
“We will work with the students and families to make the transition to the new school during winter break,” said Gates. “If everything goes as planned, we will begin at the new school in January.”
Like everything else in the world, the pandemic threw a wrench in constructing this new 21st century school.
“In addition to the usual challenges we face during construction, COVID made it even more difficult,” said Jonathan Carr, Grafenwoehr’s resident engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “It was difficult getting workers on-site and equipment and materials delivered, but we’ve come up with solutions to every challenge we’ve encountered. It’s been a comprehensive team effort.”
Once complete, the new build will be the first 21st century style school in the USAG Bavaria footprint.
“It’s always nice to see that the children of our service members get these new facilities with modern technologies, and modern ways of learning, that are actually built into the facilities,” Carr said.
According to DoDEA representatives, the new building helps accommodate diverse learning opportunities.
“DoDEA 21st century schools are new facilities designed with learning environments that are more flexible, integrated and adaptable,” said Gates.
The new GES campus is expected to have four neighborhoods, or building wings, that includes a learning hub — a central and flexible space for projects, activities and breakout sessions. Additionally, these neighborhoods will include clusters of learning studios — a new term used for classrooms — surrounding the learning hub.
“The learning studios are paired for collaborative instruction, group learning spaces for smaller-scale project work, and smaller spaces for one-to-one work.” Gates stated. “The 21st century school is designed to be used as a teaching tool, and will facilitate collaborative learning, integrated technology, project-based learning, and sustainability connections to the outdoors.”
GES teachers have been planning this upcoming move for over a year. According to Gates, the staff has already started to incorporate new strategies that will be used in conjunction with the latest build to help ease the transition period.
“We look forward to working with our parents and command partners. We know these new changes are important for students, as they transition to college and work to be competitive in this international world,” Gates said. “We are really excited to bring this to the USAG Bavaria area.”