It began 200 years ago
According to the local history museum, at the turn of the 18th century there was agricultural land with just under 108 acres and a brick factory north of Fürstenwalde. This place is confirmed by an initial documentary mention from 1827; a certificate which details this estate changing hands, and not for the last time. Sir Hartmann, a local mason, sold the land to the manor owner Göritz in Trebus. After the next change of ownership in 1845, the estate was taken over by the Head of the Town Council Sembritzki from Fürstenwalde in 1863.

Under his oversight, the estate was given the name “Palmnicken”, and received its first public mention as “Palmnicken” in Brandenburg’s 1864 local statistics. In 1897, the entrepreneur Pintsch acquired the estate and expanded it into a modern agricultural business. This is evidenced today by track remains on the hill overlooking Palmnicken. Following two more changes of ownership, the state provincial government of Brandenburg acquired the property in order to set up a seventh provincial insane asylum. An article in the Fürstenwalder Newspaper (Fürstenwalder Zeitung) 1600 – 1700 detailed that lunatics (mentally ill, epileptics, and idiots) were to be accommodated. It was not until 1919 that this plan was abandoned. The property remained in public hands until that day, and its agricultural function was finally abandoned in 1951.

Thus began Palmnicken as an educational institution. Palmnicken developed from a rural tractor school into a recognized agricultural engineering school for melioration and plant breeding. In the years leading up to 1991, over 27,000 agricultural workers from the GDR left Palmicken. During this time, the property experienced extensive expansion. In 1952-53, the culture house – our present-day cafeteria – alongside two new dormitories were built. In 1963, the first new school building – the western part of our present-day House 12 – in addition to a gymnasium was built. In 1973, the new school construction was further expanded; including several adjacent buildings, garages, workshops, and a gas station.

The Upper School Center Palmnicken (Oberstufenzentrum Palmnicken) was founded on August 1st, 1991. The following nine vocational and engineering schools from the former districts of Fürstenwalde and Beeskow were merged in the Upper School Center:

– Vocational School, Fürstenwalde
– Industrial-Technical Vocational School, Fürstenwalde
– Vocational School, Beeskow
– Vocational School, Heinersdorf
– Vocational School, Rüdersdorf
– Municipal Vocational School, Erkner
– Engineering School for Inland Fisheries, Hubertushöhe Storkow
– Engineering School “S.W. Lebedew”, Fürstenwalde
– Agricultural Engineering School for Melioration and Plant Production, Palmnicken

The engineering training at the Agricultural Engineering School was concluded in 1992. The industrial-technical vocational fields of Vocational School 1 and the Industrial-Technical Vocational School Fürstenwalde were the first to move to Palmnicken. Vocational fields including business, administration, personal hygiene, and the grammar school moved to the branch of the Upper-School Center at Beeskower Chausee.

Following the completion of the first construction phase in 1992 (renovation of House 11 and 12), the Heinersdorf and Rüdersdorf vocational schools – containing the electrical engineering and agriculture vocational fields – moved to Palmnicken. During the 1992-93 school-year, the fishery technical training program in Storkow was closed along with the facility. After the completion of the second and third construction phases, the technician training program was able to relocate from Tränkeweg to Palmnicken for the 1993-94 school year. This also led to the closure of the traditional training center of the Engineering School for Technology of Plastics and Elastics Processing. And programs from the Erkner location moved to Palmnicken during the 1993-1994 school year. The vocational fields of painting/varnishing and orthopedic mechanics/medical personnel moved into the renovated House 8. The reconstruction of House 7 was completed in 1995, in order for the Beeskow location to be relocated to Palmnicken with the vocational fields of construction and wood technology for the 1995-96 school year.

Extensive construction and renovation have been carried out since 2001. The dormitories, former workshops, garages, and former gymnasium were demolished to make way for the construction of a new House 11. Upon its completion for the 2003-04 school year, it was able to accommodate Departments 1, 3, and parts of 2. This renovation made it possible to convert and expand the former House 11, such that departments 4 and 5 could be relocated to the main Palmnicken location during the 2007-08 school year. The Upper School Center (Oberstufenzentrum) finally became a joint school. The vocational preparation field moved into the now vacant area in Beeskower Chaussee and received a newly-completed school building. In 2004, the construction of a new three-field gymnasium with surrounding outdoor sports facilities was completed. The canteen was also extensively renovated and supplemented by a cafeteria, in accordance with the requirements of historic preservation.

On September 21, 2011, the Motor Vehicle Workshop was officially opened as the last new school building for the time being. It was inaugurated in the presence of the District Administrator, Mr. Manfred Zalenga, Mrs. Erika Schönwald, and other guests. The new building was named Fritz-Schönwald-Halle, in honor of Fritz Schönwald, a long-standing teacher and co-founder of the Automotive Technology Department

On August 1st, 2012, the two upper level centers Palmnicken in Fürstenwalde / Spree and Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz in Eisenhüttenstadt merged to form one upper level center. The district council determined the upper school center’s name on April 10, 2013; in resolution no. 011/26/2013, the upper school center, sponsored by the districts containing Palmnicken Fürstenwalde and Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Eisenhüttenstadt, was named Oberstufenzentrum Oder-Spree.

Construction of a very important building for us began in September 2012. The Fürstenwalde / Spree city municipality converted a vacant office building on Trebuser Straße into a youth hostel. Since the 2014-15 school year, the pupils of the OSZ Palmnicken location have had 110 beds available for overnight stays, just adjacent to the campus. During the 2014-15 school year, the newly designed inner courtyard was finally inaugurated with a great performance by our theater group in the amphitheater. Following the suggestions of our students, and in cooperation with the “Edel” architecture office responsible for the district, we now have a state-of-the-art space for outdoor learning. Our theater group, educators, and the DS course at the vocational grammar school (Berufliches Gymnasium) are especially pleased about the new opportunities.

There is a shortage of skilled workers in the social sector which will persist in the years to come. Thanks to the support of the colleagues from Eisenhüttenstadt, it has been possible to offer vocational school for social assistants in Palmnicken since 2005, and educator training since 2017. While we were able to develop the personnel prerequisites quickly, the material framework conditions still demanded improvement; with the reconstruction of the upper floor in House 8, modern specialist rooms have been available to the department since 2019.

In the coming years, priority will be placed on value-preserving measures and the reconstruction of House 6. House 6 is intended for additional classrooms and seminar rooms. We are planning tandem language training in close cooperation with our Polish partner schools. And finally,

rooms for the school social worker and health clinic will be created for health education, similar to those in our French partner schools.

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