Kaiserslautern HS (formerly Rhine HS) History

Opened: 1952

The story of Kaiserslautern High school, Kaiserslautern, Germany began on September 8, 1952, when students arrived for high school in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The school’s name: Rhine High School. Forty students arrived for classes at the beginning of the year. To their surprise classes were held in a Vogelweh apartment building that had been converted for classroom instruction. According to yearbook entries, English was taught in the living room, student’s personal belongings were stored in the kitchen, and the principal’s office was one of the apartment bedrooms. On March 12, 1953, the school moved to a former hospital building. The principal was Mr. Haldean L. Brown. The boys went to a local Kaserne to participate in gym classes, the girls’ gym classes were held outside. The Christmas assembly was held in the playroom of one of the apartment buildings. By the end of the year the enrollment of the school had increased from forty students to almost eighty. That year all school activities were held during the school day because of students who commuted from outlying areas such as Pirmasens and Zweibrücken. The school fielded a six-man football team and a basketball team. Students participated in activities such as the Lettermen Club, Cheerleaders, Annual Board, the Treble Clef, the Library Club, and the Teenage Club which became the central social organization. The height of the social season was the Junior-Senior ball.

On the weekend of January 16-18, 1953, approximately thirty-six students and advisors travelled to St. Goar, Germany, to participate in the Germany American Conference with German students, many of whom had been exchange students in the United States.

In November of 1952 work began on a new combination-grade high school, gymnasium, cafeteria, and dormitories. Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held on March 12, 1953, to officially open the school. In September 1953, 400 students from all areas of the Western Command and France were enrolled in the 7–12 grade school. From 1953–1958 the school included a dormitory that housed approximately 150 French and German students. One member of the Senior Class of 1953 wrote, “We couldn’t have all the students in USAREUR, so we settled for the best”. The school’s first graduating class consisted of six students, all females.

The new school building permitted more extracurricular activities and a more active student council. The council held a conference for student leaders and sponsors from France and Germany, wrote their constitution, and organized clubs in addition to those already in existence. Clubs such as the Photography Club, the Drama Club, Science Club, Rifle Club, and the Men’s Service Club were established. School activities included the Musical Festival, Christmas Open House, Sadie Hawkins Day Dance, the Turn Around Dance, and the Student Council Conference. The first play performed in the new auditorium was “A Little Honey”.

In the 1954-55 school year the school continued to expand in enrollment and activities. The principal was Mr. Gerhardt Eikerman. The Student Council sponsored a get-acquainted dance for the purpose of promoting good will among students. The Junior-Senior Prom was held at the Kaiserslautern Officers Club. The senior class sponsored a class project to provide food and other items to persons in need. Clubs included the Model Club, National Honor Society, the Photography Club, French Conversation Club, Radio Club, and the Beginner and Advanced Dancing groups. The very popular school chorus achieved its greatest participant total with 118 members. They performed throughout the military and German communities.

The Rhine Raiders football team concluded a perfect season by winning its first USAREUR football championship. The next two years they would win their second and third championships, the only team at the time to accomplish that feat. During that period, they also won the baseball championship.

The school achieved in other areas. The Radio Club had a regularly scheduled broadcasting program every Saturday morning over the local Armed Forces Network (AFN) station. Their program, Rhine High Time provide information on activities at the high school. The program was devoted to and presented by students.

The school newspaper, Raider Roundup, was published bi-weekly by a student staff of more than thirty students, who, through fundraising activities, purchased an electric mimeograph machine.

Over the next 60-plus years the school under the leadership of numerous principals continued to evolve. The school’s name remained Rhine High until the early sixties when it began to be referred to as Kaiserslautern American High School and then Kaiserslautern High School. Enrollment fluctuated due to a number of factors including the opening of Ramstein High School and the junior high school.

Kaiserslautern High School has a rich school history. Several notable guest speakers addressed the student body, including Chuck Yeager who spoke to the graduating class of 1988, Robert Gates, the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense who spoke at the graduation ceremony for the 2010 graduating class, Josh Simpson, and Luis Robles, both professional soccer players, and Umut Balli, spokesman for the Republican People’s Party (Turkey).

Since its humble beginnings in 1952, Kaiserslautern High School evolved from a school of forty students holding classes in an apartment building to one that was, at one time, the largest high school outside the continental United States with over 1,600 students. In 2018, Kaiserslautern High School moved into its new multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art complex.

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