Keira Hogan has remained in the Ramstein community her entire school career

Keira Hogan has remained in the Ramstein community her entire school career (provided by Keira Hogan)

When Keira Hogan started her first day of kindergarten at Ramstein Elementary School, she was still living in the Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF). Her family had just PCSed from North Dakota, with an exciting side trip to Disney World along the way. She celebrated her fifth birthday during that move. Keira says, “I don’t really remember living in the States.”

Keira’s first day of kindergarten, leaving the TLF.

Keira’s first day of kindergarten, leaving the TLF. (provided by Keira Hogan)

Thirteen years later, Keira is graduating from Ramstein High School. She is one of the very few military kids who have stayed in one location for their entire K-12 school career, an exceptional rarity at an overseas location. In contrast, the average military-connected child moves six to nine times between kindergarten and their senior year of high school.

This unique experience has had its own challenges. While Keira has remained at Ramstein, her friends have come and gone. “It’s extremely difficult,” she says. “A lot of people don’t see how my situation is also bad.” Her best friends relocated to Ohio and watching them go was really hard. While fellow classmates have considered her very lucky, however, Keira feels differently.

 “They don’t realize I have to sit here and watch everybody move.” 

Keira progressed from Ramstein Elementary School through Intermediate and Middle Schools and is now excited to finish at Ramstein High School. She has had some influential and supportive teachers during that time. Keira really connected with her high school choir teacher, Ms. Kruzcek, over the four years she was there. At Ramstein Middle School, her drama teacher, Ms. Lee, was another positive influence.

Keira’s first grade photo by the bush in front of her new home in Germany.

Keira’s first grade photo by the bush in front of her new home in Germany. (provided by Keira Hogan)

Since living in the community, Keira has not only seen friends come and go, but has also seen Ramstein Air Base evolve. She has seen the BX shops fluctuate a lot, and she was here when the Burger King burnt down. She feels like growing up in the same house and village has allowed her to build up a lot of local family memories, which is not easy for military kids who move often.

On the other hand, the challenges can be unique. Keira does not know how to drive. This year her parents have taken her to a couple of German training areas so she can get a little experience, but she will need to pursue that coveted license this summer as she moves to the States for college.

Keira’s final photo by the bush in front of her house.

Keira’s final photo by the bush in front of her house. (provided by Keira Hogan)

For her, being in the U.S. feels a bit like being a foreign exchange student. She has visited a handful of times, and there are things that still feel like small jolts of culture shock. For example, when visiting an uncle in Florida, she ordered water at a restaurant right when all the free water was served. Then, “everyone at the table looked at me like I was an idiot” for unnecessarily specifying that she wanted still water, like she needs to do in Germany. Soon, Keira will have the opportunity to learn more about her native country.

She is excited to have been accepted at Illinois State University this fall. Like many military kids, she has been able to take advantage of the education benefits her parent’s service earned. Using the Hazelwood Act from her mother’s enlistment in Illinois and a fraction of her father’s GI Bill, Keira will be pursuing a Musical Theater major.

She has been involved in theater and choir for years in the Ramstein community, both at school and at KMC Onstage. “Theater has always been my favorite place to be, over anything else.” She enjoys that it provides an escape for both the actors and the audience.

As a military kid in the unique situation of staying in one community for so long, Keira has thrived, even with the difficulties. She has had to make new friends every school year, has seen friends move unexpectedly, and has struggled like many military kids with all the change that seems to happen around her. “I think it’s important that the kids that stay get recognized as well,” she says since it feels like “I’m standing still while the world around me is constantly moving.”

Celebrate all this year’s graduates with the Stars and Stripes Europe graduation insert.

Keira’s senior photo

Keira’s senior photo (provided by Keira Hogan)

author picture
Kat is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Kaiserslautern, Germany with a special interest in anything outdoorsy or ancient. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography from Penn State University and has been a travel writer for a long while. Currently, she is in the depths of an archaeology dissertation for a degree at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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