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The German American School on Fresh Pond Road is closing due to low enrollment.

A longstanding Ridgewood school has been forced to relocate after changing demographics in the area led to a drastic decline in enrollment, a school official said.

The German-American School Association, which had one of its locations on Fresh Pond Road for 50 years, closed its doors for good in December 2017 after just seven students signed up for the fall semester. According to a press release from the organization, the school’s remaining students and faculty will now be merged with its three other locations in Manhattan and Long Island.

“Leaving the Ridgewood area is indeed sad,” said Dr. Ursula Beitter, a curriculum adviser for the school. “We have ties with businesses, churches and the families whose children graduated from our Ridgewood location.”

The German American School is a not-for-profit after-school program that meets once a week to teach children the German language. The school is open to people of all backgrounds, but the declining population of German descendants in Community District 5 ultimately hurt the school. The decrease in enrollment happened gradually, Dr. Beitter said, and posting signs in multiple languages and advertising in the local papers wasn’t enough to turn the tide.

Ridgewood and Glendale were popular settlements for German immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s, and at one point they accounted for the majority of the local population. As of 2016 there were approximately 10,000 people of German ancestry in Community District 5, just 5.8 percent of the region’s population, according to a United States Census estimate.

The citywide estimate from 2016 shows that 3 percent of the total population is of German decent, yet as one of the most diverse cities in the world there is no ethnicity with a population higher than 7.3 percent. Still, the German-American School Association is hopeful that its Ridgewood students will be able to continue learning in their new environments.

“For our school, the glass is half full,” the press release said. “We are optimistic that our students will enjoy their new surroundings, make new friends, and continue with their German-language education.”


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