Bad Kreuznach HS History

Opened: 1960
Closed: 2001

Bad Kreuznach High School was located in the Nahe Valley, about twelve miles from the junction of the Nahe and Rhine Rivers. The town of Bad Kreuznach is a beautiful, old city that dates back to Roman times. The city is famous as a spa town and wine producing region.

The high school was located in a converted barracks building in the hospital area of the 56th General Hospital Compound. The school was approximately one and one-half miles from the main housing area. The main building contained eighteen classrooms, laboratories for science and home economics, an audio-visual room, faculty room, and offices. The industrial arts room was adjacent to the main building. Two additions to the school housed a business laboratory and an auto mechanics facility. Physical education class were held in the school gymnasium with some interscholastic athletics held in the military gymnasium.

The first graduating class for the high school was the Class of 1961. There were twenty-five seniors in the class. There were approximately 260 students in grades seven through twelve. The school mascot was the BearKat and the colors were blue and gold. Mr. John E. Lee was the first principal for the high school, and there were fourteen teachers on the staff. The yearbook was Kreuznacher, and the first newspaper was the BearKat Bulletin. The high school sports included football and basketball for boys. Tom Kaczer, a member of the BearKat basketball team, was the first basketball player in USAEUR high school history to score sixty points in a basketball game. Prior to the high school’s opening, high school students took correspondence courses or attended other high schools in Germany that necessitated hour long bus rides. School clubs included a Lettermen’s Club, Student Council, Language Club, Audio-Visual Club, Science Club, American Junior Red Cross, and a Services Club. There were ten clubs available to students.

Other principals in the sixties included Walter Patterson, Royal A. LaPlante, Henry K. Schafer, and John S. Marshall. The student enrollment during the sixties averaged about 260 students with an enrollment high of over 300 for the 1961-62 school year and low of 204 students for the 1966-67 school year.

Several additional activities were added during the sixties. The Girls Athletic Association and a pep club were first reported in the 1962 yearbook. The 1964 yearbook showed nine students in the band and twenty-five in chorus. The first school play reported was the junior class play in the 1965 yearbook. Separate student councils for the senior high and junior high students were formed for the 1962-63 school year. Other new activities in the sixties included a photography club, math club, drama club, chess club, art club, and journalism club. The first mention of the National Honor Society was in the ’63 yearbook. Homecoming ceremonies for football and basketball were first held for the 1963-64 school year and remained a tradition at the school. The newspaper was renamed the BearKat Traks for the 1968-69 school year.

Other sports at the school included wrestling, cross country, and track. In 1966, Bad Kreuznach celebrated its first football win over Baumholder. The previous spring, the school track team won third place in the Class C Championships. The first coed physical education classes were held during the 1963-64 school year. The first ski club was formed for the 1968-69 school year.

The school held a German–American Exchange Week for the 1965-66 school year, and the chorus participated in the Kreisjugendsingen in Hargesheim, a German district singing event, during the 1970-71 school year. A German travel club was begun for the 1971-72 school year.

The school had several drama productions in the seventies including “A Partridge in a Pear Tree” (1970), “An Empty Gesture” (1971-72) and “No Exit” (1972-73). Other arts activities included a school talent show, a men’s glee club and three levels of band.

The student council had the dress code amended during the 1970-71 school year, so girls were allowed to wear slacks to school. The first interscholastic team for girls was the tennis team formed for the 1971-72 school year. This was followed by females on the track and cross country teams in the spring of 1974, girls’ basketball in 1975, and gymnastics and volleyball for the 1975-76 school year.

Mr. Donald Boepple was the vice principal beginning in the fall of 1972, and Mr. Larry Stell became vice principal in 1978. Mr. Francis Smith became the principal in 1976, followed by Mr. Leon Rivers in 1977. The student population ranged from a low of 266 students for the 1976-77 school year to over 400 for the 1972-73 school year. Most years in the seventies the enrollment was about 325 students. The faculty and staff ranged from twenty-one to thirty-two employees during this time period.

For the 1981-82 school year, there were 265 pupils in grades seven through twelve. The high school staff consisted of two administrators, nineteen teachers, a counselor, a librarian, and four clerical personnel. A nurse was assigned part-time to the high school. Mr. Lee Kirsch became the principal that year. Other administrators in the eighties included principals Dr. Dennis McGuane (’85) and Ms. Judith Mayo (’87) and vice principal Gerald Smith (’83).

The facilities were remodeled prior to the 1985-86 school year. For the 1987-88 school year, the enrollment was 350 students with 31 faculty and staff. An additional wing was constructed for the 1987-88 school year. The school cafeteria was referred to as the “Great Hall”.

The yearbooks in the eighties highlighted the sports program and student activities. The school participated in the European Brain Bowl for the first time in the 1981-82 school year and included computers in the curriculum. The next year the school formed the mathematics honor society, Mu Alpha Theta, and had its first charter for the National Junior Honor Society. An Army JROTC unit was added to the curriculum for the 1985-86 school year and had its first Annual Ball that year. In 1988-89, the school began its participation in Model United Nations and Model United States Senate.

Sports successes in the eighties included the first girls’ soccer team in 1984; winning seasons for football, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball; the largest wresting team ever during the 1984-85 school year; a perfect season for boys’ soccer in 1986; and the first golf team for the 1986-87 school year. The 1989-90 school year was billed as the “Year of the Champion”. That year the football team was the conference champion for the second straight year and the boys’ basketball team won its first European Championship. The school won the Small Schools Sports Trophy for outstanding sports program. More students than ever before were named to All Europe teams, all conference lists and more students made the academic all-conference selection list.

In the early nineties, Dr. Jennifer Beckwith became the school principal, and Charles Helmstetter was the assistant principal. Mr. Helmstetter became the principal for the 1998-99 school year with Dr. Ed Tyner as the assistant principal. The last two years of the school the assistant principal was Barbara Hickman.

The school hosted the European Speech Fest and participated in the Geography Bee for the 1993-94 school year. In 1994-95, AVID—Advancement Via Individual Achievement—was added to the school program offerings, more assemblies were held, and honor luncheons were highlighted in the yearbook.

Sports achievements in the nineties included boys’ basketball European Runners Up in 1995, football Division III co-champs with an 8-1 record in 1995, and boys’ basketball Division III third place in ’96. The 1996-97 sports year was a banner year with the football team winning the Division III Conference, the girls’ volleyball team winning Division III Conference, the boys’ basketball team placing second in A-North Division, and the girls’ basketball team becoming the A-North Division Champions. The next year the cross country team was in the European finals, and the JROTC Rifle Team was the best in Europe. The boys’ basketball team won the Division III championship, and the girls’ basketball team placed second in the A-North Division. For the 1999-2000 school year, the football team was once again the Division III champs and European runners-up. The tennis team placed third in Europe, and the volleyball team won the Division III title. The boys’ basketball team won another European Championship, and the JROTC Rifle Team was the European Gold Medal. In the final year of the school, 2000-01, the boys’ basketball team won their third European Championship, and the rifle team repeated with another European Gold Medal.

The last yearbook for the school, 2001, included the following description of a BearKat:

The last BearKat isn’t me, nor am I the first. I am all of them and I am none. I am one. I am a thousand. I am ten thousand. I am army [sic]. I am air force [sic]. I am civilian. I played football and won. I played basketball and lost. But I never quit for I am a BearKat. For over forty-four years I strived and succeeded. I played in the band. I went to drama festival. I was a cheerleader. I was a fan. I ran hurdles for the blue. I kicked soccer balls for the gold. I worked hard and succeeded. And I never quit for I am a BearKat. I followed my father here. I came to support my mother. I lived with an aunt or brother. I studied, I worked hard, and I succeeded for still today I remain a BearKat. I became a teacher for DoDDS, I joined the Army after graduation. I went to college to become a doctor. I went to West Point like my father. I took up the challenge and I succeeded for the future is made of BearKats. So, this school may close. This building may be filled with different children– children who may speak languages. But the hallways will echo with BearKats. The Great Hall shall reverberate with the sounds of pep rallies and cheers. And the class rooms [sic] shall be haunted by the hushed whispers of BearKats learning. A post may close and a school deserted, but the ideals of the BearKat shall remain as long as one student, one teacher, one administrator remembers Bad Kreuznach – The Best Little School in Europe – Home of the BearKats.

The school closed at the end of the 2000-01 school year.


Information from Dependent Schools School Information Guides, alumni, and school yearbooks

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