KU News Release

Feb. 23, 2010
Contact: William Keel, Germanic Languages and Literature, (785) 864-4657

Junior and high school students studying German to compete in Schülerkongress

LAWRENCE — About 330 high school and junior high school students studying German at 23 Kansas schools will attend the University of Kansas’ annual Schülerkongress at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 6, on the fourth floor of Wescoe Hall.

Top competitors will receive awards at a 1:30 p.m. ceremony at 3139 Wescoe Hall.

“Schülerkongress translates as ‘student congress,’ but the day feels almost like the Olympics when they get their medals,” said William Keel, professor of Germanic languages and literatures.

The Kansas Association of Teachers of German sponsors the day-long event in cooperation with KU’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

The activities include contests in poetry recitation, prose reading, spelling, poster making, cultural knowlege and oral proficiency.

Cultural test questions may run the gamut of geography, cuisine or history — anything related to German-speaking countries, Keel said.

“Studying a foreign language not only helps you learn another language and culture, but it also helps you understand your own language better,” Keel said, noting the need for and importance of foreign language classes.

In the Schülerkongress, poetry and prose recitations tend to attract students because more can win medals in those competitions, Keel said. The poems and prose selections are made in advance by a committee of high school teachers to match students’ level of study, such as first-year or second-year German.

With some 40 percent of Kansans claiming German ancestry, Kansas still has a number of communities where German dialects such as Pennsylvania Dutch and Mennonite Low German are spoken among family and friends. Many older Kansans can still speak Volga German, Bukovina German and varieties of Low German brought by their immigrant ancestors in the late 19th century to the Great Plains.

Faculty and graduate teaching assistants from KU’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures are judges for the contests.

Schools planning to compete in the 2010 Schülerkongress are

Abilene High School
Blue Valley High School, Stilwell
Blue Valley Northwest High School, Overland Park
Blue Valley West High School, Overland Park
Emporia High School
Hays High School
Junction City High School
Lawrence High School
Lawrence Free State High School
Lawrence South Junior High School
Lawrence Southwest Junior High School
Lawrence Central Junior High Schoool
Maize High School
Manhattan High School
Newton High School
Olathe North High School
Olathe East High School
Olathe Northwest High School
Sedgwick High School
Smoky Valley High School, Lindsborg
Topeka West High School
Washburn Rural High School, Topeka
Wichita Heights High School

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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