The original section of Babenhausen School was constructed in 1954 and housed seven classrooms, a combination gymnasium/auditorium/lunchroom, an art room, computer lab, main office, nurse’s office, and a conference room. The first addition to the building occurred in 1964 and consisted of prefab classrooms built behind the school. The second addition was added during the summer of 1989 and consisted of a media center, three classrooms, two specialist rooms, and a teachers’ lounge. During the 2003-2004 school year, two rooms specifically designed for kindergarten were added. There were still four prefabricated buildings adjacent to the school. Three of the prefab buildings were grouped together behind the school, housing the music room, host nation, counseling and supply. The fourth prefab building, which housed the speech room, was located adjacent to the school library.
Babenhausen Elementary School served the dependents of civilians and military from the Aschaffenburg and Babenhausen housing areas since the 1995-96 school year when the military facilities in Aschaffenburg closed.
The school staff when the school closed consisted of a principal, classroom teachers for grades K-5, a counselor, a nurse, an information specialist, a gifted education teacher, an art/physical education teacher, a music/compensatory education teacher, a special education/Read 180 teacher, a language arts/reading specialist/reading recovery teacher, and a school secretary. On a part time basis, the school had a host nation teacher, an ESL teacher, an educational technologist, a kindergarten aide, a special education aide, and two supply clerks. Itinerant teachers included a psychologist, a speech teacher and extra special education aides.
The first principal of the school, in 1954, was Ivan Settles who had been teaching reading at the DoDDS school in Aschaffenburg. Ms. Eula Sansing and Mr. Paul Rustanius were also principals in the 1950s. The principals in the 1960s were Mr. Robert Flynn and Mr. Phillip Crooks. Frau Kris Buckli (Kunz) wrote:
“I was the Host Nation teacher at the Babenhausen Elementary School from 1960 where I taught the US Dependent School students until my retirement in 1996. Thirty-six years of teaching brings back many, many memories at this point of closure, where I ‘survived’ eleven principals and met many teachers with whom I have kept in contact through all these years from all parts of the United States. Since 1958 until 1962 Babenhausen used to have grade levels from kindergarten to 8th grade. The classrooms for the 7th and 8th graders were located on the second floor of the daycare center, the building which was facing the entrance to the housing area. The total enrollment at that time was about 500 students. Later on, the 7th and 8th graders were first bussed to Aschaffenburg and afterwards to Hanau Junior High School. I enjoyed teaching at the school and have many fond memories of my years spent there.”
Another teacher, Luanne Gunderson Mehelich, reported:
“I taught first grade there (Babenhausen) for the school year 1964-65. This was my first experience with the military and I must say I was glad that I was stationed at a small post. It felt like family. The most memorable and wonderful outcomes that year were the friendships I formed with the teachers on that base. There were nine teachers, and for ten years, seven of us kept in touch. Christmas cards were exchanged and included greetings from our principal, Bob Flynn. Now, after 42 years, there are five that still keep in touch including four reunions. The last one was in Arlington, Virginia in October 2005 and included the Veterans also!”
The principals in the 1970s were Mr. James Lawther and Mr. Dennis Harter. Ms. Patricia Turner McGlown spoke at the closing ceremonies, June 1, 2006. She came to Babenhausen in 1974 and taught there for thirty-two years. In her speech she said she felt she had grown up in Babenhausen and spent the best years of her teaching career there. Some of her memories of changes in the community included:
Mr. Harter continued as the principal in the 1980s and the other two principals were Christine Holston and Dr. Fran Smith. The school lunch program was initiated by Lt. Col. Broadwater, whose wife taught at the school. Jeanne Leach provided a memory from this time period:
“It happened sometime in the middle 80’s. Since I was itinerant, based out of A’Burg school, I was at Babenhausen one day and a half each week. The half was in the afternoon. One fine day, I came driving up to the school – and no one was there! The school was empty! I checked my calendar to make sure I had the right day, which I did. Not knowing what else to do – I drove slowly from the school to the base.”
There I saw long lines of children and teachers walking toward the gym. I was surprised since I didn’t remember any special program happening on that day. I found the principal who told me to leave the base! It seems that as the engineers were working on the playground: they found a large bomb! Since they didn’t know whether it was dangerous or not: they called the MP’s and demolition crew to disarm the bomb and the school was promptly evacuated. It turned out to be a dud, buried in the ground since WW II. Where it is now – is anyone’s guess.
Although, I didn’t have any classes that day – I did have plenty of time to work and get caught up, for once!”
Ms. Ida Rhodes was the principal of Babenhausen Elementary in the early 1990’s, then Ms. Joyce Shorty, Mr. Ron Sharik, Dr. Jacqueline Hulbert and Mr. Lee Hunt. Mr. Sharik wrote a note for the closing. He stated that he was at the school from August 1990 to June 1992. This was his first assignment as a principal and he said he was lucky to have worked with such a great staff. One of his memories was of the NCA visit and the pride he shared with the staff on an outstanding visit with so many positive comments about the school.
Mr. Lee Hunt was the last principal of the school. He became the principal in 1999. The closing ceremony for the school was held June 1, 2006. Mr. Hunt wrote these words for his closing address for the school:
This elementary school was founded in nineteen fifty-four
Now at age fifty-two and sadly it will close its main door
Intelligent and hard-working students graced the halls each day
Like the sound of music and the sight of chocolate-filled tray
Student learning was a team focus for all and all for one
Students worked hard like soldiers in combat until each challenge was won
Teachers were dedicated to students and parents, morning, noon, and night
Parents and community members were welcome here
And those sounds of a pledge echoed each morning children with no fear
The school had a delightful inner life and personality all in all
Made by a best staff, best parents, and best children, short and tall
May all of us here today and having walked upon this precious ground
Be forever successful and always upward bound.
Information from the school closing pamphlet donated by Kari Bowen-Zilkenat