Wiesbaden HS (Gen. H.H. Arnold HS) History

Opened: 1947
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Wiesbaden High School began when the U.S. Occupying Forces requisitioned a German school on Lahnstrasse, located in the northwest part of the city of Wiesbaden in 1945. Formerly a German school for girls and boys ages 6 to 14, the building sustained little damage during the war and a portion of it was declared fit enough to open immediately as a school for American dependents. The first floor opened in October 1946 as an elementary school called Wiesbaden Dependents School, while the second and third floors were being readied for future use as a high school.

From October 1946 to January 1948, Wiesbaden-based high school students were bused to Frankfurt High School, a daily commute of over three hours. In January 1948, the second and third floors of the Lahnstrasse building opened as an American high school in the Wiesbaden American Dependents School. After the first four months of commuting to Frankfurt, the students were relieved to finally have a school of their own.

In 1949, and for several years after, the yearbook for Wiesbaden High was part of a multi-school production called Erinnerungen (which is German for Memories). But for some reason, the Wiesbaden section rolls off the printer as “Die Krieger,” a grammatically incorrect feminine translation of The Warrior that goes unchecked for four years! The idea that a school could get five years into its existence, consistently publishing an annual with such a big grammar issue is a topic filled with interesting speculation. In fairness to the yearbook staff and its sponsor, it was still early days in the Wiesbaden community. It’s not a reflection on the yearbook staffs, but rather of the times they lived in.

While the unenforceable non-fraternization policy had been dropped quietly within months of the arrival of U.S. occupying military forces, there was still a lot of “together, but separate” propaganda in the area, such as a sign hung at the Wiesbaden Dependents School that read, “This playground of the American school in Wiesbaden may be used by all children except Monday through Friday from 8.30-15.00, when it is reserved for American schoolchildren.”

During the 1949-50 school year, freshman Mary Dodson (class of ’53), came up with the idea to name the Wiesbaden American High School after the father of the Air Force, General Hal Hap Arnold. Mary and twin sister, Martha, worked on a committee with other students to push the initiative through. The high school was officially named after General Arnold within a few months of his passing in January 1950. Mary received a letter from General Arnold’s widow, Eleanor “Bee” Pool Arnold, acknowledging and thanking the students for their efforts. It would be several years before the name would catch on with the students, leading to the erroneous conclusion that the naming of the school coincided with its second campus.

Wiesbaden High School became General H. H. Arnold High School in the academic school year 1949-50, just one year after the high school’s creation.  On January 31, 1955, the new campus up on Hainerberg Hill opened on what was an expansive orchard of fruit trees. Wiesbaden Warriors said goodbye to the Lahnstrasse school for good (the building was returned to the city). At that time, Hainerberg Hill was on the outskirts of the city, on its own with very little near it.

We splashed our way through the sticky mud of the then-unfinished grounds into a colorful and airy plant where we luxuriated in having our own gymnasium and auditorium at last. After having lived among the rather neutral colors of the former school, we were somewhat overcome at finding each separate room boasting of its own individual color scheme: walls, window trim and drapes harmonize in shades of blue, rose, green, or tan. Located on a hill commanding a spectacular view of the Taunus Mountains...

-1955 Der Krieger

In 1957, the first dormitory opened at Wiesbaden High for students who didn’t have their own schools. Depending on where the students lived, some bused back for weekends, others stayed all year and headed home for holidays and summer. 

As reveille sounds each morning, sixty sleepy dormitory students start a new day. Breakfast is served at eight o’clock on weekdays in the bright, new cafeteria adjoining the residence hall; but on Saturdays and Sundays ‘dormers’ are allowed that all important extra hour of sleep.

 After school each day, students return to the dormitory to sign in; but, before long they scatter to the AFEX, athletic practices, or friends’ homes. Evenings were spent in the basement recreation room dancing, playing ping-pong, or just relaxing until study hall begins at 7:45. 

Taps at 10:30 ends each rather hectic but enjoyable day for students from all over the world. Such far off lands as Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Turkey, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries are represented at the dorm where four American and two German supervisors offer advice, friendly talk, and counsel.

- 1957 Vapor Trails

Even among Wiesbaden Warriors, “dormies” experience Wiesbaden High in a way that only other dormies can understand. Home away from home away from home...

The mosaic tile crest made its first yearbook appearance in 1959. The timing of the installation of the crest has been a matter of discussion among Warriors. Some insist it was a gift from the Class of 1958 to the Class of 1959, others say it was a year earlier. Some claim it was installed by the time the new campus opened. The crest quickly become part of school culture as seniors went out of their way to protect it from being stepped on. In later years, the crest was roped off as a preservation measure. Many alumni believed the traditions concerning the crest were identified as forms of hazing, and as a result, were discontinued.

Again, the overall population of the school saw an increase of nearly 200 students. In 1959, the campus got a new building near the gym, to serve as a youth association. An unexpected influx of yet another 200 students at the start of the 1960 academic year saw HH Arnold stretched beyond capacity for the first time as the overall population climbed to more than 775 students. A second dorm opened at the Air Base to accommodate out-of-town students. The school’s two-story building had twenty-six classrooms and the campus was designed to serve about 650 students.

Faced with a severe shortage of space, administration considered implementing half days to allow for double scheduling, but they knew that by reducing learning time that drastically, they could potentially compromise the students’ future education plans. So instead they repurposed the recently built AYA building adjacent to the main gym into a giant classroom. 

With over 850 students, the over-population at HH Arnold had reached critical point. In an effort to maintain order, and help with the overcrowded conditions, administration implemented one-way traffic to help students get to class on time. The 1961 yearbook gives no sign of panic from administration or its student body despite the untenable situation they are in. The opening comments about the school described the halls of HH Arnold as “bustling with activity” during breaks and lunch hours. But that may be because a solution to the overcrowding was slowly on its way, day by day, brick by brick. Though the yearbook gives no clues about this solution, the students who were there remember. Another structure is going up alongside the main building at HH Arnold High: the Annex.

By 1963, the student body was bigger than ever, having increased from 935 students in the previous year, to over 1100. But the recently finished Annex building had increased classroom capacity and worries of overcrowding were a thing of the past, even with the population increasing yet again the following year to over 1300. 1963 was the year the school took control of its high school yearbook. There were a few independent yearbooks in the school history. The first year of our school’s existence saw one yearbook independently published. And before the Air Force got its multi-school Vapor Trails annual program together, HH Arnold had stand-alone yearbooks in 1955 and 1956. But in 1963, the school took over Wiesbaden High yearbook publication for good.

The previous year’s expansion of the west end of the Annex building, adding library space and additional classrooms, happened just in time for another influx of students for the 1971 school year. An additional building was also erected near the AYA, providing additional classroom space, as well as part of a gym to meet the needs of the expanding physical education program.

Just a few months into the 1976-77 school year, vandals struck the Warrior gymnasium. They accessed the fire hose located inside the gym and soaked the gym floor with tons of water. Many of the floorboards come away from the foundation. The estimated cost of repair was around $20,000—that would be more than $100,000 by today’s standards. The vandals were never caught, and since it’s likely they were Wiesbaden High students, this went down as a real low point in Warrior history.

During the 1994-95 school year, budget cuts for General H. H. Arnold High School were announced to take effect the next school year. With the closure of Lindsey Air Station in 1993, the Air Force had left Wiesbaden, and the number of personnel and their dependents had dropped in the Wiesbaden area. The proposed changes—elimination of a couple of programs, reduction of the school nurse to half time, and dismissal of several teachers and counselors—did not sit well with some parents and students in the community. The parents took to a letter-writing campaign, which garnered only a form-letter response that did not address their concerns. So, the students decided to act. On April 25th, 1995 at 9:00 am, students walked out of class. The walkout had been thoroughly planned, with signage, timing, participation and press coverage. German and American news teams were at the scene. One of the counselors who was to be eliminated asked the students to return to class around 11:00 am, which the students complied with. The base commander met with the main organizers of the strike and eventually, the student’s concerns were taken into account. One of the issues that led to the Wiesbaden High protest of 1995 was Wiesbaden Community’s pending absorption of the Frankfurt American student population after the shuttering of the Abrams Complex in Frankfurt at the end of the ‘95 school year. Wiesbaden students felt they were going to need all hands on deck, especially their school counselors to deal with the difficulties that were bound to arise with the merging of two of the fiercest sports rivals in Germany’s American school system. The Frankfurt Eagles were coming to Wiesbaden. Nuremberg was also coming, but it was Frankfurt that posed the biggest threat in the minds of Wiesbaden Warriors.

In the midst of shrinking and disappearing military communities in Germany, the hope was that the commonality of overseas brats carried the day, that former rivals worked toward being successful together, and that everyone got over the initial awkwardness and feelings of trespassing, and found a welcoming atmosphere in a close-knit community. Smiling faces throughout the 1996 yearbook told a story, much like the stories that came before and after this transitional year.

In 2006 the U.S. Army issued a directive that streamlined the names of the majority of Army-run schools to reflect their geographic locations, removing any namesakes from their titles. Army dependents attending an army school didn’t really care about why the name was changing. They continued to call it HH Arnold. The teachers also called it HH Arnold. The mosaic crest in the foyer now had stanchions erected around it, which probably changed its role in school culture, but it continued in its place of high visibility, and student life carried on as usual. No one was in a hurry to remove the links to the school’s Air Force past.

By 2010, work had already begun to replace the old Hainerberg High School campus, with the demolition of the breezeway. During 2014 and 2015 construction projects continued. The main gym and locker rooms had been torn down. The old AYA gym was refurbished into a multi-purpose room with skylights, cafeteria, media center and computer lab. A matching new gym was built alongside it. Gone were the days of crossing the street to the cafeteria, the end of yet another era. Finally, in 2016 the Main building and the Annex came down.

In the 2017-18 school year the new campus opened as an open space with a lot of glass and natural light. The halls were spacious, the classrooms open and well-lit. The common spaces had lots of gathering areas with tables, chairs, couches, seats and benches. The color scheme was mostly neutral, peppered with gold and blue decor and the overall look of the place was modern with clean lines.

Not only did an Army-run school continue to show signs of its Air Force past more than a decade after it assumed responsibility, they also carefully preserved evidence of the school’s former namesake and took great pains to ensure those treasured artifacts were re-installed in the new school. The Wiesbaden High School continues to be associated with the “Father of the Air Force,” who was an Army General and an Air Force General at the same time (the only person in U.S. military history to be so).

Based on material from the Wiesbaden Alumni Page written by Lindy Aleshire


 

Wiesbaden General H H Arnold Warriors blue and gold letter W

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