Sampigny ES History

Opened: 1953
Closed: 1966

Sampigny American Elementary School was located in Sampigny in Lorraine, France. The following are excerpts from a firsthand account of the school written by Frederic Harrell, an U. S. Army dependent who attended the elementary school in Sampigny:

The second grade was in a room with first and third graders and the teacher had her hands full. A couple of things struck my 7-year-old mind were the fact that there was no playground equipment on the playground and the playground was covered with fist sized rocks. No one ever said why there was no playground equipment. However; it didn’t take me long to learn that the rocks were to keep the mud at a minimum.

Playground equipment was only one of the amenities the school lacked. Potbelly stoves heated the school. Instead of coal, the school stoves were fuel-fired – probably diesel. The school library was about the size of a large walk-in closet with a limited selection of well-worn books. We had a wooden latrine about 50 or 100 feet from the school. With heat only on the girls’ side, the boys had to suffer the cold.

There was no cafeteria at the school. At the appointed hour, teachers lined up for the walk to the snack bar for lunch. Nope, we didn’t get our choice of hamburgers. We got cooked cauliflower, peas, or an assortment of vegetables, and a strange tasting meat that I later learned was horse.

The post theater doubled as a location for school assemblies.

There was no dependent housing in Sampigny. For the first two years, we lived in a little town halfway between Sampigny and Commercy. My sister and I were the only American kids. We rode to school in the ambulance, or as the dependent population grew, in the back of a deuce and a half with a row of benches down the middle. In 1955 we moved to St. Michiel and finally got to take a real school bus to school!

By the school year of 1955, a new school was built – with playground equipment. The old school became the chapel and a library.

For the 1954-55 school year there were 85 students in the school grades K–8 and the principal was Mary Conrad.

The school closed when the American military left France in 1966.


Information from Dependent Schools in Germany and France, 1954 and military internet sites

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