KU News Release

March 1, 2011
Contact: William Keel, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, 785-864-4657

Students from 17 high schools to compete in annual Schuelerkongress

LAWRENCE — Nearly 300 high school students who are studying German will flock to the annual Schuelerkongress at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 5, at the University of Kansas.

William Keel, professor of German, says that although Schuelerkongress translates as “student congress,” the atmosphere for the language and culture event is more like the Olympics than a governing unit — especially during the ceremony for medal winners.

Contests take place on the fourth floor of Wescoe Hall. Medals will be awarded at 1:30 p.m. in 3139 Wescoe.

The Kansas Association of Teachers of German sponsors the day-long event in cooperation with KU’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Department faculty and graduate teaching assistants as well as graduate exchange students from Germany serve as judges for the contests.

Activities include contests in poetry recitation, prose reading, spelling, poster making, cultural tests and oral proficiency. Cultural test questions may run the gamut of geography, cuisine, history — anything related to German-speaking countries, Keel said.

This year, student-produced videos about Germany and German culture will be judged. Additionally, finalists for a trip to Germany sponsored by the American Association of Teachers for Germany will be interviewed to determine the winner for the state of Kansas.

In the Schuelerkongress, 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.

Schools planning to compete in the 2011 Schuelerkongress:

Abilene High School
Blue Valley Northwest High School, Overland Park
Emporia High School
Hays High School
Junction City High School
Lawrence Free State High School
Lawrence High School
Lawrence Virtual School
Manhattan High School
Newton High School
Olathe East High School
Olathe North High School
Olathe Northwest High School
Sedgwick High School
Smoky Valley High School, Lindsborg
Topeka West High School
Washburn Rural High School, Topeka

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