Bitburg MS History

Opened: 1975
Closed: 2013

Bitburg Middle School was located in the buildings that originally were the location of Bitburg High School. When the new high school was opened in 1975, the facility became a middle school that served grades six through eight. Seventh and eighth graders who had previously attended Spangdahlem Junior High were bussed to Bitburg, and the junior high at Spangdahlem was closed. Students were also bussed from the surrounding villages in the Bitburg area. Seventh and eighth grades also came from the communities at Trier and Pruem. The middle school consisted of two buildings. One housed the main offices, the nurse’s office, dental hygiene center, gymnasium, three science laboratories, an art room, two human ecology rooms and an industrial arts room, Career Education Center (Project Beyond), fourteen all-purpose classrooms, and a large supply room. The second consisted of the guidance offices, the media center, two science labs, a reading laboratory, a learning development center, typing room, business education room, and eight all-purpose rooms. The staff consisted of two administrators, twenty-six classroom teachers, a nurse, a counselor, special education teachers, a reading improvement specialist, and specialists for music, art, home economic, industrial arts, and foreign languages. The first principal was Joe DeLoretto and the assistant was Joel Zuckerman. Part of the staff had previously taught at Spangdahlem and had been reassigned to Bitburg.

The first yearbook, which was published in June 1976, described the “New” School:

I Am The “New” School

I was reborn on September 2, 1975 at 8:35 a.m. when my doors were flung open with the ringing of the bell. The knowledge of many people and many places runs through my veins for I am a place of learning. I am the school.

I am 750 students waiting in the cold, rainy slush to rush madly into awaiting classrooms.

I have been a school for many years but now must accept a new role, that of a middle school. I am the screaming, laughing, crying students, the hardworking sometimes joking teachers. This is all a part of me.

I am the ever crowded, cold, and drafty halls. I am also the powdering plaster falling from the wall. I am all the rooms waiting a bright new coat of paint.

Since that day in September I have housed dances, parties, bazaars, and numerous activities. I'll never forget “The Hustle” in the gym. The days were filled with classes and bake sales and I was there also.

I am a dull place of tortuous learning to some people. Hopefully, I am the future for most.

I am big, spread out and still overcrowded. Blacktop, trampled grass, living plants, and dying flowers (outside room 49) surround me.

You can look at me and see Mr. DeLoretto or Mr. Zuckerman walking down the halls. Or maybe Mr. Dunn greeting everyone with a “Guten Tag”. Could anyone forget Mrs. Schilke looking up at her students or Coach Belon pinning two guys in wrestling?

I am the wrestling match or basketball game with everyone yelling for a winner. I am the AY A or cafeteria during lunch, Nosey Rosey in the newspaper or a sudden flash of news spreading like wildfire.

I am the people of the faculty, the organizations like student council, band and drama. I am the Student body.

Yes, I am the school and these are the things that I am. I was meant to be a place of learning, a time of growing, and an exchange of ideas between students and faculty. I will spend my days trying to fulfill that goal. This is my wish for --- I AM THE SCHOOL.

The school enrollment dropped to 700 students the next year and then remained at 550 students for the remainder of the decade. Mr. Kenneth Richards was the deputy principal for the 1977-78 school year followed by Dr. William Yarborough for the 1979-80 school year.

The basic concepts of a middle school were incorporated as part of the school philosophy when it opened. Students had exploratory classes, and students and teachers were assigned to teams. Sixth graders had the same teacher for English and social studies, whereas eighth graders had different teachers for each subject. The school also incorporated a daily nutrition break and an activities period. Student activities included everything from cardboard carpentry to skateboarding to sewing to board games. After-school dances were held each month and were sponsored by the school or the AYA.

The arts were an integral part of the school from the beginning. By the 1978-79 school year, there were five bands. These included two beginning bands, an intermediate band, a concert band, and a stage band. The music department performed at many functions in the local communities including the Fasching parades in Trier and Bitburg. The art students painted the windows at the front of the school to add color to the building and highlight school activities. Drama was an active part of the school in the eighties.

From the first year, students participated in an active sports program. The first year there were teams for basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics as well as an intermural program for each grade level. Student activities included Student Council, National Junior Honor Society, and a riding program.

A unique program at the school was Project Beyond. This career-oriented program integrated business, home economics, and industrial arts. Students produced items that were sold in the community and had shares in their company.

Outdoor Education was a part of the curriculum first as an activity to learn about the environment and ecology and finally as a full week of activities for the entire staff and student body.

The first school newspaper, Royal Review, was published bi-monthly for the 1979-80 school year. The name of the newspaper was changed to Cat’s Meow for the 1986-87 school year.

Field trips to various locations in Germany, Luxemburg, Belgium and France highlighted student studies. Visits included a school trip to Cologne to see the King Tut exhibit, the battlefields in Bastogne, castles on the Mosel and Rhine, as well as many places in Trier and Bitburg.

The student enrollment in the eighties ranged from 550 to 650 students. Administrators in the eighties included Roland Vorath and Dr. Bill Boyer as principals and assistant principals Ms. Marilyn Kemple, Mr. Tom Reyes, and Rebecca Dunn. In the mid-eighties a Talented and Gifted program was added to the curriculum and the school installed a new computer lab. The school enrollment ranged from 550 to 630 students with a staff of about thirty-five teachers.

Bitburg Middle School had the first ever middle school American–Soviet Youth Exchange beginning during the 1988-89 school year. In the spring of that year, students from Bitburg visited Moscow and Yaroslavl School #18 in Yaroslavl, Russia. In May of 1990, the first Russian students and teachers visited Bitburg. The students and teachers stayed in American homes and participated in base and school activities. The exchange continued for several years, with Russian teachers joining the Bitburg staff for part of a year and three American teachers spending part of the school year as exchange teachers in Yaroslavl.

Spangdahlem students were no longer part of the school beginning the 1989-90 year due to a new middle school being constructed on Spangdahlem Air Base. The enrollment dropped to about 500 that year but returned to an average of 550 for the next several years. The fifth graders from Bitburg were added to the middle school. By the 1994-95 school the enrollment had decreased to 440 students, and by the 2002-03 school year there were only 300 students in grades five through eight.

Dr. Jim Lawther was principal beginning in 1990-91. Ms. Virginia Briggs was the principal in 2002. The principal for the 2006-07 school year was Susan Hargis. Students participated in district and national programs such as the National Geography Bee, Math Counts, and the National Spelling Bee.

The closing ceremonies for the school were held on May 17, 2013.


Dependent Schools School Information Guides, school yearbooks, and teachers

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