Augsburg HS History

Opened: 1955
Closed: 1998

Augsburg American High School was located just outside Reese Kaserne on the west side of the city of Augsburg.  Classrooms were located in four buildings which included vocational classes, gymnasium, science laboratories, human ecology room, art room, music room, learning development room, business lab, and foreign language rooms. There were nineteen general purpose classrooms.

The last yearbook of the school, published in 1998, gave a history of the school written by Tiffany Keeler, a senior and yearbook staff member:

Augsburg American High School opened its doors to students in September of 1955. Beginning with fifteen seniors and a total of 205 students. Augsburg American High was not overflowing with students. Regardless of the slow start, AHS would one day be a leading overseas school. Augsburg American High School won the Blue Ribbon Award in 1996. This is the highest recognition by the United States Department of Education. In order to receive it, a school had to write up lengthy reports and be observed by representatives of the Department of Education. This observation must prove that the school was worthy of the Blue Ribbon award.

In 1956, AHS was moved from the elementary school to its present location. It was then reconstructed to include grades 9 through 12 (previously, it included grades 7 and 8). As AHS grew, so did the list of clubs, activities, and sports available to the students. The earliest clubs included “Russian History” and a “Bridge Club”. When the school first began, the main sports available were football, basketball, and cheerleading. Along the way, track, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, and other sports gained more participation, offering girls a chance to become involved in sports. In 1970, Augsburg High’s competition in cross country began. Girls basketball was not offered until 1974. AHS’s first girls’ basketball team averaged only 5’3”! Other activities included an annual Miss AHS pageant, a Sadie Hawkins dance, and an experimentation in free form education. This was a special event that the school administered which allowed students to take several different courses, such as parapsychology, for a short time. This experience was to help students to decide on interests, what classes they wanted to take, and what career they would like to pursue. In 1985, there was a “week of madness”, resembling spirit week. These were five days organized by yearbook staff to help students recover from midterms. Each day, the students dressed up to support a theme and were given “crazy awards” such as the “best pair of lungs”. In 1978, Joe Namath, also known as “Broadway Joe” visited the school. The girls had a hard time trying not to faint! (Imagine someone like Grant Hill or Anfernee Hardaway visiting our school today!)

In 1971, 7th and 8th grade again became a part of the high school even though they still had their classes at the elementary school. In 1973 and 1974 new additions were adjoined to the school. These additions include what is now the media center, cafeteria, gymnasium, art, music, business, and human ecology rooms. In 1974, the career center which included vocational business, automotive, and cosmetology classes was added. Before these additions, the school was very small considering the number of students in attendance. That’s why the use of Quonset Huts on the old, Reese Kaserne was necessary. These huts were called “Splinter Village” and some students had to attend class there for a period of time.

AHS has always had the relaxed and stimulating atmosphere that we now experience. However, it was threatened in 1986 when President Reagan ordered an air strike against Libya in retaliation of terrorist activity in Europe and the Mideast. During this time the school was occupied by MP’s. They were stationed in the lobby and at every entrance. All of the doors were locked and the only entrance that could be utilized were the front doors. All visitors and students had to have passes and ID cards to get into the front door. As a result of the bomb threats, teachers couldn’t park directly in front of the school. This tension and fear went on for over a month. All the while, teachers and students had to continue in their everyday schooling as if nothing was happening.

An experience such as this and the similar one that followed during the Gulf War have only made the staff stronger and brought them closer together. AHS has been described as a “great place to work” and I think that as students, we can identify with that attitude. AHS is also a great place to learn. As the year comes to an end, the teachers and students alike can take into account all that will be missed about Augsburg American High School. The people-caring teachers who take the time to work with each individual student, the students who are willing to learn, and all of the staff who have worked hard to make Augsburg High the “great place” it is today. But as we have often heard: “All good things come to an end.” And though Augsburg American High School is closing, in our hearts it will always live on.

The principals for the school were Philip Holland, 1955–1957; Wibert Patton, 1957–1958; Ted T. Grenda, 1958–1959; Clarence Miller, 1959–1962; John Welton, 1961–1964; James Gallivan, 1967–1968; Mervin Dillmer, 1969–1970; James Gallivan, 1970–1973; Arnold Goldstein, 1975–1980; Dr. John Middleton, 1979–1985; Dr. Jane Ware, 1985–1988; Dr. David Heath, 1988–1989; Dr. Gene Knudsen, 1989–1991; Martha Brown, 1991–1993; Dr. Paul Finkbeiner, 1993–1997; and Olaf Zwicker 1996–1998. The assistant/deputy principals included Paul Chandler, Richard Ashdown, Charles Point, Mr. Leavette, Ms. Powe, Ms. Ethel Gross, Mr. Daniel Young, Dr. Bill Boyer, Debbie Berry, Mr. Michael Murray, Mark DeLany, Sarah Porter, Olaf Zwicker and Dennis LaValley.

The student enrollment by the 1961-62 school year had grown to over 550 in grades seven through twelve. When the seventh and eighth graders left the high school, the enrollment was approximately 400 students. The seventh and eighth grades returned for the 1975-76 school year and the student population again numbered over 650 students. Until the 1993-94 school year, the enrollment fluctuated between 500 and 600 students. From the 1993-94 school year to the final year, the enrollment continually decreased from 265 students to about 125 students.

The first football uniforms for the school were gray pants and PX t-shirts without numbers. The first year of the school, the school played six-man football. By the second year, the football team was undefeated, and the basketball team were division champions. The first sports opportunity for females was the golf team in 1969-70. Augsburg played in the first championship football playoff game in USDESEA in 1975. By the 1990-91 school year the Augsburg Apache golf team had won the championship for four years. The football team was undefeated for two years in 1991 and 1993.

Augsburg had the normal clubs/organizations that every school has such as Student Council, music groups, art clubs, drama, and the Lettermen’s Club (later renamed Varsity Club). It also had organizations that were unique to the school like Classical Music Club, Harmonettes, Black Student Union, Kings Messenger Christian Club, Franco-Ibero Club, Ballet Club, and Martial Arts Club. The school telecommunications class produced a weekly Armed Forces Network (AFN) program which was aired every Saturday morning. The school also had a Teen Clinic at the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the nineties. The school newspaper had many different titles including Tee-Pee Topics and War Cry.

Students participated in regional and district programs like Model United Nations, Brain Bowl, and the Renaissance Program. The JROTC program at the school was very active and there were over 100 students in the program during the 1985-86 school year. Students ran a business enterprise program, the Trading Post, where they sold popcorn, candy, school supplies, etc. and paid dividends to the investors. Throughout the years the school had several different German–American exchange programs and celebrated a ten year partnership with the Fugger Gymnasium in 1993.

Augsburg American High School closed at the end of the 1997-98 school year.


Information from DoDDS School Information Guides, websites, and school yearbooks

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