German students visit Central High

Front row from right,  Kristina Jakel, Julia Fritsch, Brittni Nack, Charlotte Jordan, Mitchell Grant-Clark, Johanna Horth, Anna Kolm, Johanna Sickinger, Veronika Engel, Anna Maria Liebi, Julia Katzenmayer, Kody Harmon. Second row from left, Teachers Wilfried Schon and Michaela Nawrat from Germany, Sebastian Raney, Tobias FuBeder, Simon Straubinger, Ronja Leidmann, Carina Glaser, Franz Hutterer, Markus Bohme, Tobias Steinmaier and CHS teacher Mark Kessler

Sixteen German students and two of their teachers are one week into a three-week exchange program at Central High School.

Visiting students are auditing classes at the high school and getting a taste of life in the United States while staying with the families of Central High School German language students.

Sixteen Central students will swap hosting duties with their new German friends in June, when they will travel overseas and test out life in Germany for three weeks. Students will stay with the families of the German student they are currently hosting and attend school in Waldkraiburg, a town of about 25,000 people east of Munich.

Julia Fritsch, a 15-year-old from Waldkraiburg, said she decided to participate in the exchange because she believes “every German wants to go to America at least once in their life.” She has been most struck by Grand Junction’s wide-open spaces.

“The roads are a lot huger and the cars are way bigger. Germany’s a lot more crowded,” Fritsch said.

Sixteen-year-old Markos Bohme, also of Waldkraiburg, has discovered a love for Dr. Pepper and the choice in classes offered to Grand Junction students.

“In Germany it’s more strict. Everyone has the same classes,” he said.

Waldkraiburg English and French teacher Wilfried Schoen also is a first-timer in the U.S. He said he was surprised by the desert landscape around Grand Junction and class offerings at Central that do not exist in high schools at home, including marching band and ceramics.

Although language practice is part of the reason for the exchange, Waldkraiburg English and history teacher Michaela Nawrat said the cultural experiences gained by the exchange outweigh the importance of immersion in the English language for the exchange students.

“It’s good for the kids to see a different system of school and a different culture, even though they’re two Western cultures,” she said.

Central High German teacher Mark Kessler said he is excited to show his students Germany next summer and let them experience a different culture first-hand. Central had an exchange program with a school in Grimma, Germany from 2004 to 2010 but switched to another school this year because that program fell through.

“I’m really excited about our new partnership,” Kessler said. “It has a tremendous impact on our students.”

Sixteen-year-old Central student Brittni Nack said she is excited to see her new friends again in June and experience German school, where students study up to 13 subjects spread out throughout each week.

“It sounds like it’s not going to be like Central,” Nack said.


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