Decimomannu ES History

Opened: 1986
Closed: 1991

Decimomannu Elementary School was located on the island of Sardinia, Italy. The quadria-national base (Italian/hosts, German, UK and American) was long established as a simulation AF "war scenario" using electronics as weapons for NATO—much like the Top Gun movie. The German government built a school about forty minutes from the base where the Germans rented classrooms to the British. The building was one story set in a housing area between the base and the capital, Cagliari. Those two countries then had an accompanied family tour of duty. In 1986, Gary Flannery and his wife, Diane, were hired to open a small two teacher school for the Americans. Gary was the teacher/principal. The school had three classrooms and a small "office" to operate. One of the classrooms was turned into a library/storage room. The school was opened in the fall of 1986 for K–8 students. Limited resources dictated that students with special needs would be screened from attending. Diane had grades 4-8 while the principal, Gary, covered K-3. The kindergarten students came every other day and were paired up with the fourth graders. On opening day there were seven students (4 were ESL) with eight more enrolling within the next two weeks making it at least one student in every grade level. By year two, there were over thirty students enrolled. Another full-time teacher, one ESL/aide and one secretary/host nation teacher, Cheryl Biagini (Brit married to an Italian), were added to the staff.

There was no phone available for the first semester of school. Potable water had to be brought in from the base. A number of key essentials normally taken for granted were allusive and labor intensive. The second year, the Mediterranean headquarters in Madrid came through with money for the Americans to establish a playground & a trampoline for the benefit of our tri-national school.

There was excellent cooperation between the three "headmaster/principals" and their staff both in school and weekend socializing. The German students went only half-days finishing with homework at home in the afternoons. The staffs started an "international" club that involved language sharing tips, camping trips, dancing and gymnastics. The American students had numerous host nation study trips including cheese & pasta factories, grape-stomping as part of a wine/grappa tour, folk dancing, and a horse farm. The pasta factory was particularly memorable. The owner was a boy growing up on Sardinia where his family lost everything during WWII. When the students, chaperones, and teachers finished the tour, it was thought that we would get to sample some pasta. Instead, we were treated to a sit-down dinner with white tablecloths, decorated plates and small Italian and American flags. Part way through the multiple course meal, the owner told the students how he and his family were destitute at the end of WWII. Through the generosity of the American's Marshall Plan, they were able to resume and build upon their comfortable life. This, he said, was the first time he has had a chance to say, "Thank you, America”. It was quite emotional for everyone. To this day, surely all the students, parents and staff remember his message.

In year three, Cathy Magni was brought in from Korea to be the principal. She remained principal until the school closed in 1991.

Information provided by Gary Flannery

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