History of Bitburg High School



In 1950 initial discussions between the U.S. and NATO countries concerning the best course of action to combat the rising tensions with the Soviet Union. A key part of the discussions were the vulnerability to attach, from the Soviet Union, of the Furstenfeldbruck Air Base located 32 km west of Munich home of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing . A decision was made to move vulnerable AirBase west of the Rhine river to the town of Bitburg Germany. A contract was awarded to the French Army to build Bitburg AB in 1951. The area selected was farmers land which previously served as theWehrmacht tank depot and staging area for the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The first elements of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing began to arrive at Bitburg July 1952. The Fighter-Bomber Wing would not officially arrive till November 1952. According to Stars &Stripes Newspaper, the base was still under construction in May of 1953. The housing area which includes the school would not open until June 1953 .   Meanwhile across the shuttle bus gulf, Spangdahlem AB housing would not be completed until 1955.   


Yearbook Facts: The first printed evidence of a yearbook is 1956 which displayed 68 students. The Air Force produced a single bound yearbook for several European schools from 1957 thru 1962 call Vapor Trails. The first Bitburg yearbook was produced in 1963 called the Unsere Andenken . Traditionally all the yearbooks included the photos of the wing commander and the base commander at the beginning of the yearbook. This tradition ended in the 1969 yearbook but resumed in the 1975 – 1980 yearbooks. The junior high classroom photos were included in every Baron Shield until 1976 with the exception of the 1963 yearbook. Nearly every student at Bitburg High studied German under Frau Lichter who taught at Bitburg from 1957-1981. Of significant note, the first student to start grade school and continue on to graduate from Bitburg High was the daughter of (Teacher Coach) Ota Phillips, Lenna Phillips in 1988. After 1988 a group photo of high school students who attended all four years of high school were included in the senior section of the yearbook.  Another interesting story is the Hollenbeck family back in 1987.  The Baron Shield of 1987 page 167 displays a photo of all four siblings who all graduated from Bitburg High 1982-1987.  The first yearbook that included color photos was the 1981 Volume 19. The first completely color yearbook was the 2006 Volume 44 yearbook. The largest printed yearbook was the 1976 yearbook with a massive 279 pages of viewing pleasure.  Compare that to the first yearbook of 1963 having a mere 60 pages.  Three companies printed the yearbooks. Walsworth out of Marceline, MO, Taylor publishing out of Dallas Texas and Josten's publishing out of Vialia California. In 1983 a new tradition called a Colophon was introduced in the advertisement section of the yearbooks. Basically the colophon reported the font type, the quality of the paper used, copies produced and the publishing company.


Sport Facts: The first Stars & Stripes article on Bitburg High was Oct 13 1957 which was a football game between the Mannheim Bisons and Bitburg Barons. The Bisons won the contest 34-28. In 1957 Bitburg was in a division called the 6 Man school conference. This conference was made up of the following schools: Augsburg, Berlin, Bremerhaven, Mannheim, and Wurzburg. These schools were so small they were not considered in the class B schools. On April 25th 1970 Bitburg hosted the first home track meet. In 1972 the student population was now large enough to move up into the Class A division. Girls were allowed to compete in track in the spring of 1974 and Cross Country in the fall of 1974.  Normally tennis was played in the spring but changed to the fall sport season in the 1980's.  With rumors that the high school was going to close in the 2005 time frame, many of the sport teams required supplementation from the junior high school students in order to have a complete team.


Letterman Jackets: The original letterman jacket was a blue jacket with blue sleeves showing an old English B letter in white. The jacket changed to a more traditional look in 1961 showing a blue jacket with white sleeves. The letter B appears to be about 5” and is white with the word “Baron” on it in regular script. The letter B changed again to the 7” size in 1962 .  1963 picture shows a mens sweater in white with small blue B letter available. 1964 & 1965 Yearbooks shows the letterman jacket color is blue with white sleeves and now the letter B is blue with the words Barons on it. The button snaps are white in color. A blue sweater with a blue letter is also displayed. 1970 shows a change in the B letter now showing the word Barons horizontal rather than vertical. 1975 Yearbook shows letterman sweater for girls. 1976 back of jacket shows Bitburg Barons rather than Germany. 1977 Barons down the sleeve and Germany on B letter noted. 1979 yearbook section organizations shows letter jackets men and women. 1980 Cross country, basketball section shows Bitburg Barons with Baron emblem on back of jacket. Index 1991 yearbook shows letterman jacket a darker blue with light colored B.  The most famous letterman Jacket is the Tim O'lnick class of 73 jacket.  The map of the USA shows the various states this jacket has been.


In September of 1954 the school opened when enough ninth graders enrolled to form a class. In September of 1955 the student population was supplemented with students from Spangdahlem and Prum and became the first full four year high school known as Bitburg Middle High School. The class of 1955 had seven seniors that graduated. Of historical interest, the first person to graduate from the Bitburg High accredited system was Sgt Francis Carney in May of 1953 while taking night classes. Further student supplementation occurred in 1956 from places like Trier Germany and Luxembourg. This caused a doubling of the population and required the construction of what were known as the “ prefab ” buildings for additional classroom space. The first complete school yearbook 1957 shows a student high school and junior high population of 124 students, with just 9 Senior high students . By 1963 the high school population had grown to 482 students and again further classroom construction was required. What is typically thought of as Bitburg High School was opened in March 15 1962. The opening is mentioned in the March 30 1962 Baron Scroll.  A  rendering of the new school is displayed in the 1963-1964 Yearbook. Even with the new high school building, more classroom space was required. Novel ideas like having classrooms in housing area basements were implemented. The population of Bitburg High gradually expanded reaching a student population of 1039 in 1973. The Baron Scroll Dec 18 1970 (page 1)  Principal Mr. Valahos stated there are plans to have a new high school within 2-5 years, at a different site.   Mr. Valahos was correct.  A new school   opened in September of 1975. This would be the final high school constructed at Bitburg until it closed in 2017.  With the high school students shifted to the new high school, this opened up classroom space at the middle school at Bitburg.  The Spangdahlem middle school students were transfered to the Bitburg Middle School and annual yearbooks of these students can be seen in the first yearbook of 1976.  The Bitburg Middle School closed in 2016.   The high school closed after the 2017 school year and relocated to Spangdahlem AB.  A new school at Spangdahlem AB was built and opened Feb 2020.