WHS students visit Germany
Nineteen Warwick students, accompanied by German teacher Wendy Andrews and social studies teacher Jeff Martin, left for Germany June 20. They are visiting Warwick’s partner school (König Karlmann Gymnasium) in Altötting, where they are participating in a three-week academic exchange.
They will attend school, live with a German host family and immerse themselves in the language and culture. They have also planned excursions to Berchtesgaden, Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. This marks the 25th year of Warwick’s partnership with KKG, so a number of special events have been scheduled to commemorate the silver anniversary. The Warwick ambassadors return to Lititz July 10.
The following entries were made to the online blog of teacher Jeff Martin during the first half of the trip:
First day of school
After an adventurous weekend of sightseeing, getting acquainted with our host students/families, and possibly recovering from a little jet lag, our students were off to their first day of school with their fellow host students to König-Karlmann-Gymnasium in the town of Altötting. We established a room on the third floor of the school, that will serve as our permanent homeroom, where we plan to meet with the students daily to check in with them, to see how things are going, and to work on their presentation projects.
On our first school day, we started out in the small cafeteria space, where we met the principal of KKG, Mr. Rudolf Schramm, who greeted us warmly and welcomed us to the exchange program. Next Mr. Andrew Galneder, the KKG teacher in change of the German side of the exchange, also welcomed the students, gave a brief description of the school and outlined the daily routine, and finished by giving us a tour of the building and grounds. We ended with a group photo before heading back to homeroom for a few minutes before we started the second half of our school day.
Tour of town
After our tour of the KKG school building, Mr. Galneder took our students on a walk through the town of Altötting to the famous Church Square in the center of town. The site has been continuously occupied for over 5,000 years and is now considered a religious shrine, receiving over a million visitors a year. Many of the visitors arrive in small groups who faithfully journey for days of foot as Pilgrims in the traditional way to visit the sacred church square. There are many large and impressive churches near the square but the most famous of all is the small Chapel of Grace.
Following Mr. Galneder’s description of the square and surrounding key buildings, students were free to explore the small chapel and neighboring church. We then went to the Rathaus (Town Hall) to meet the town mayor in the town council chambers. Bürgermeister Herbert Hofauer gave the students a brief history of the town of Altötting and welcomed the students to the Kapellplatz (Church Square). Interviews were given, a group photo was taken, and the students took an ice (ice cream) break before heading back to school.
Warwick students traveled as a group by bus to the city of Mozart’s birth, Salzburg, Austria. In addition to being a major hub of the salt trade, the city is famous for the Salzburg Cathedral and impressive hilltop fortress known as Hohensalzburg Castle.
The day was predicted to be full of rain but we really lucked out with the weather, only having a brief downpour later in the day around lunchtime. The bus ride was about an hour and a half long but the scenery out the window of the Bavarian Countryside was beautiful, especially when the impressive outline of the still distant Alps Mountains came into view. When we arrived in the city, we were dropped off near the Schloss Mirabell Palace and Gardens, made famous by the movie The Sound of Music. Some of the scenes of Maria and the children singing were filmed here on the grounds of the gardens. A whole tourist industry has developed from the famous film in Salzburg but most Germans, including our host today from KKG: Herman Schneider, has never seen the movie! The gardens were amazing to see and were full of brilliant color!
Our next stop after touring some of the vibrant shopping areas along the way, was the Salzburg Cathedral. The large cathedral was accidentally bombed by the Allies during WWII, which caused the main large dome to collapse and partially destroy the entire structure by fire. The repairs to the cathedral were finally completed in 1957. It was a humbling feeling to absorb the historical and religious significance of such a structure, an enormous man made monument to God.
Following our visit to the beautiful gardens at Mirabell Palace, we traveled through the historic streets of Salzburg to make our way toward the impressive hilltop castle known as Hohensalzburg. The castle was never attacked and students soon found out why as they hiked the steep pathway up the rock face to the gatehouse and then continued walking upward through the castle to the upper levels where the lookout observation areas offer spectacular views of the vast city below, the Salzburg Cathedral, and the towering cloud covered Alps.
KKG Teacher, Herr Herman Schneider, stopped periodically to describe what the students were seeing at key locations. The students stayed together for a group photo on the main observation deck and were then free to explore the castle and the streets below on their own for about two hours. Students spent the time sightseeing, shopping, and getting a bite to eat for lunch on their own. We then met at 2:00 at a predetermined fountain within the city before departing by bus to our next and final destination of the day.
Our final stop in Salzburg was Hellbrunn Palace and accompanying gardens located just outside the city center. It was the most unique estate we visited during our trip. It was constructed outside Salzburg in the early 1600s as a daytime retreat for the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Austria.
The expansive gardens were accented with many fountains and waterways fed from a nearby spring. Over time a “Water Games” atmosphere was installed to play practical jokes on surprised visitors, when sudden streams of water from concealed jets within the garden stonework and pathways would spray streams of cold water on the victims. The Archbishop could stand or sit in a designated area that would not get wet.
Water also powers several small miniature scenes of everyday life in Austria and one enormous creation that shows an entire town center at work! The gardens were beautiful and scenes from the movie “The Sound of Music” were filmed here including the famous gazebo scene in the rain.
25th Anniversary Celebration
The German American Partnership Program between Warwick High School in Lititiz, and König-Karlmann-Gymnasium in the town of Altötting, Bavaria celebrated its 25th Anniversary on July 1, 2014. The entire school took time to attend an assembly to commemorate the milestone event. The United States Consulate General from Munich attended the event and even joined in the dancing.There were speeches, traditional dancing by the Germans, pop culture dancing by the Americans, and sports played from both countries. After the assembly portion of the program, the students went outside to the sports field area and played a game of American style football in the first half and then European futbol/soccer in the second half. It ended in a tie of two scores for each side. It was a festive celebration for a great program that has benefited both schools for a quarter century.
Jeffrey Martin has been teaching history for 20 years at Warwick Middle School. He went on this trip with the students and documented it on his blog, which can be found at campmartintravels.blogspot.de/.