Heidelberg HS (formerly JHS/HS) History

Opened: 1946
Closed: 2013

School Mascot: Lions
School Colors: Blue/Gold

Heidelberg High School, Heidelberg, Germany, opened on October 17, 1946. It was one of the original six American high schools that opened in September/October of 1946 in occupied Europe for the purpose educating dependents of United States personnel assigned to the European theater. The others were Munich High School, closed in 1992, Bremen/Bremerhaven High school, closed in 1993, Berlin High School, closed 1994, Frankfurt High School, closed in 1995, and Nurnberg High School, closed in1995.

Heidelberg High School opened for instruction in a University of Heidelberg building. The school was under the jurisdiction of the United States Army. There were sixty students in grades first through twelfth (another source placed the number at 110 students).

By December of that year, because of an increase in enrollment, it was necessary to open a dormitory for students from the Stuttgart and Karlsruhe areas. A further enrollment increase in September 1947 forced a move of the school to the Robert Bunsen School, a German teacher college school located across the river. The Dependent School occupied the left wing of the building, which was constructed with funds donated by Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen, inventor of the famous Bunsen burner. The occupational forces, in the fall of 1947, took over the portion of the building that housed the Dependent School. It then converted the building to a school for American personnel living in the Heidelberg, Mannheim, Stuttgart, and Karlsruhe areas. The 1947 graduating class had eight graduating seniors. During the school’s initial years, the supply clerk was a member of the military. Student meals were provided by the school mess staff that was supervised by the Mess Sergeant. The school’s administrators were Miss. Mildred Linck, principal and Mr. Charles Easterly, building principal.

The school was supported by a boys’ and girls’ dormitory. During the 1947-48 school year the boys’ dormitory, located on the top floor of the school building, contained ten classrooms occupied by twenty-four students. The evening schedule included mealtime, a study hour, and 10:30 bedtime. The boys enjoyed the dormitory because of its living accommodations, the spirit within the group, and the fun they had. The girls’ dormitory was located on Quinckestrasse, three blocks from the school. Most of the girls living in the dormitory were from the Stuttgart and Karlsruhe areas. Girls from Heidelberg and Mannheim areas commuted to the high school. The girls residing in the dormitory were distinguished from the Heidelberg and Mannheim girls by the dormitory rings they wore, an idea put forth by Mrs. Wirth, the dormitory mother. Like the boys, the girls enjoyed living in the dormitory.

The high school, initially referred to as the Heidelberg Dependent School, was later renamed the George W. Orford Dependent School in memory of Mr. Orford, a former Director of Administration and Personnel of the Dependent School Division. A spike in the school’s enrollment, resulting from the movement of the European Command (EUCOM) from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, prompted the relocation of the first four grades to a building across the street.

The senior class of the 1947-48 school year consisted of about twenty students. Many of the changes in the school were driven by the seniors. They began the task of organizing activities and establishing structures reminiscent of those in stateside schools. There was no school newspaper during the first year of the school’s existence. On October 15, 1947, a group of students and teachers met to plan the start of one at the school. Student Prints was adopted as the name of the newspaper. It was selected from a list of possible names submitted by students. The seniors submitted “Student Prints.” The adopted name was a pun on the well-known operetta written about Heidelberg, The Student Prince, by Sigmund Romberg. Printing the newsletter was no easy task. The tedious process included finding worthy topics, writing and typing the articles, vetting the written articles, and determining the layout. The typed stencils were then run off on a mimeograph machine to obtain the final product. The first copies were distributed that year.

There was also a desire by the students to create a senior annual. During these early years, the high schools individually created their yearbooks which were then compiled in the Erinnerungen (“Memories”). Added to the Erinnerungen was a message on the state of the schools in Europe and a letter from the Commanding General or other high-ranking officer. A group of teachers and students in January of 1948 began the school yearbook. Without assistance from higher authorities the group began the process of obtaining the services of a printer, gathering materials such as paper, leather, and metal for the engraver, obtaining hundreds of photographs, and conducting countless interviews.

Although initially limited, student clubs and team sports were established at the school. The first clubs were the Student Council, Girls’ Chorus, Student Prints, H-Club, Dramatics Club, and the Erinnerungen. The student council was organized in the second year and consisted of eight members—two from each class. Among other projects, members of the Student Council provided Christmas boxes of food for the waiters, sold tickets for basketball games, and undertook the task of organizing an information booklet for the next school year. The Girls’ Chorus was composed of forty girls from the seventh through twelfth grade. The Dramatics Club was sponsored by Miss Linck, the school principal. The club membership of thirty students was composed of mostly girls because the club meetings conflicted with basketball and baseball activities. Sports teams during the 1947-48 school year were football, basketball, baseball, and the cheerleading squads.

During the ’40s and the ’50s students organized additional school clubs including the Pentagram Club, Teenage Club (organized in February of 1949), Dad’s Club, the “H” Club, the PEP Club, Dramatics Club, Library Club, German American Club, and the National Honor Society. Because of the popularity of the Heidelberg Teenage Club a Mannheim Teenage Club was organized to support teens in that area. Additional sports teams included tennis and golf. The sport Crew (shell racing) was discovered by several of the high school boys who borrowed shells from a German racing club and formed two teams for competition.

By Easter of 1951 or 1952, work was completed on the new three-story school building located at EUCOM Headquarters on what became Mark Twain Village. The high school occupied the third floor, and the elementary and junior high schools occupied the other two. It was a modern building that featured new physics and chemistry labs. The building also included a large gymnasium which would not be available until the following year. Due to continuing growth in the student population, an annex that provided space for the junior high school was immediately added to the three-story building. Other annexes were quickly added. This building complex served Heidelberg High School until it closed. The high school served students in grades 7–12 until 1976 when Heidelberg Middle School was constructed in Patrick Henry Village for grades 6–8. The school became one of the largest high schools in Germany.

During the 1965-66 school year, the high school celebrated its 20th anniversary. Mr. Phillip Young was principal of the school. The school was said to have attained significant growth during his tenure.

The 1995-96 school year marked the 50th anniversary of the school. The name of the school yearbook had changed over the years. The yearbook committee chose to name the 50th anniversary edition of the yearbook Erinnerungen, thus returning the yearbook to its original title. The layout of the book featured pictures of historical structures around the city. The school took advantage of many of them throughout its history. The Junior–Senior prom was often held in the beautiful Schloss and the senior graduation was traditionally held in the Heidelberg Stadthalle. The principal for this 50th year was Mr. Lewis Johnson. The assistant principals were Ms. Carol Kuzmick and Mr. David Witte. This would be Ms. Kuzmick’s final year at the school. She had served there for nearly 25 years.

The school was proud of its long and distinguished history. It was featured in the February 10, 1947, edition of Life Magazine, which provided a report on the US occupation of Germany. Among the notables that attended the school was Formula Vee Champion Tom Morstein-Marx; ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas; National Football team players Ron George and Eric Zeir; Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of Operation Desert Storm; Frederic J. Brown III, US Army Lieutenant General; and actress Nina Arianda.

Heidelberg High School, from its meager beginning in rooms at the University of Heidelberg, achieved enormous success in educating the thousands of students who passed through its doors. The school was recognized for its strong college preparatory program, competitive athletic teams, and its extracurricular programs. It graduated many AP Scholars with distinction, AP Scholars with honors, and had at least one student selected as an outstanding student of America. Hundreds of students received scholarships to colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Heidelberg High School students were exposed to an array of opportunities to engage in activities outside the academic spectrum. From Roots to Shoots to the Model United Nations there was an abundance of student clubs and organizations that enhanced the high school experience. These clubs and activities provided the means to building new friendships, exploring career opportunities, building one’s leadership skills, providing community services projects, enriching the school experience within the school, participating in learning opportunities outside of the school, and in general just having fun and enjoyment.

The school achieved tremendous success in the world of sports, beginning with the football team going undefeated and winning the European command mythical football championship and the E.C. basketball tournament championship in the 1948-49 and the 1949-50 school years.

Notable sports accomplishments:

  • Track and Field began at HHS in 1952. The women won the championship in 1995.
  • Golf began at HHS in 1955. The golf team won the championship in 2012.
  • Mens’ soccer entered HHS sports in 1969. They were conference champions for 20 years and won 19 European Titles.
  • Women’s soccer entered HHS sports in 1882. They won conference titles for 19 years and honorary European titles for 16 years.
  • Volleyball entered HHS sports in 1976. They were champions for 16 years. At one point the Lady Lions had a 49-game win streak.
  • The men’s basketball team won back-to-back championships during the 2010-11and 2011-12 school years.
  • The men’s football team won 10 football championships, the second most in DoDDS history.
  • Other sports teams had tremendous records.


After 66 years of educating children, Heidelberg High School closed its doors in June of 2013. It was the last of the six original high schools that opened in 1946 to do so, making it the longest serving high school in DoDDS. Kevin Brewer, principal, and Connie Turner, assistant principal, were the final administrators of the school.

Appropriately, the title on the last school yearbook was “The Lions’ Last Roar.” Ironically, during its last year the school assumed responsibility for the elementary school. Thus, it ended as it began, high school and elementary school together.

Special activities were in place for the school’s final year. The final Homecoming activities were special with the traditional Spirit Week activities, the pep rally, Homecoming games, and dance. Spirit Week activities included Wacky Tacky Day, Character Day, and Twin Day. The pep rally included several games, including musical chairs, make up for the boys, and scooter races. The bonfire was moved to Patrick Henry Village to encourage more participation. The rock band Edison performed at the bonfire. On Saturday, 6 October, each sport participated in a Homecoming game. At the conclusion of the day students participated in the final Homecoming Game. Toga Day, a tradition since 1981, was particularly special this final year of the school. Toga Day involved the seniors creating their own togas and wearing them on the day of the pep rally during spirit week. The senior class assembled in the courtyard and arranged themselves in the shape of a thirteen, their graduating year for a group photo. In addition to the togas there were special blue senior shirts worn by seniors with their names and the number 13 inscribed on the back, and on the front a large picture of the school mascot, the lion, surrounded by the words “Last Class of HD” and “MMXIII”. The lettering was imprinted in a gold color.

There was a week of school closing activities attended by past and present students and faculty members, parents, and dignitaries.

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