The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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German exchange students visit Jefferson for two weeks

Cece Benz
German sophomores Antonia Brandl, Merle Schapke, Merleen von Saint Paul, Marlene Auer and Charlotte Kluska from Klenze Gymnasium high school share a moment during their last day at Jefferson. “Everything was great,” Kluska said. “Everything was cool, but [my favorite experience was] probably just spending time with all the people and having a good time together.”

Seventeen German students from Klenze Gymnasium for Science and Technology in Bayern, Germany, visited Jefferson from Sept. 6 to Sept. 15 as part of the Parterschulnetz (Partner School Network) exchange program. The visiting students attended a Jefferson host student’s classes for the duration of their two weeks in America. Jefferson’s German program has been hosting exchange students for ten years and plans to continue this tradition for years to come. 

The exchange students experienced traditional American activities such as Go-Karting, football games and parties. 

“I wanted to try something new and get experiences like another culture and another continent and their school,” German sophomore student Charlotte Kluska said.  

Jefferson students taking the German language participated in the exchange program by hosting a German peer in their home and taking them to their classes. 

“We heard that this could be a possibility a long time ago and I was super excited and wanted to sign up as soon as I heard this was happening,” junior Mila Walsh said.

Despite the likely overwhelming introduction of American school, the exchange students brought so much to the German classroom. 

German teacher Silvia Oszko and sophomore exchange students from Klenze Gymnasium high school gather during an eighth period event the day prior their departure. “I always love the moment when the German group arrives,” Oszko said. “Just seeing those faces light up when the students had communicated for months prior to the first actual encounter and just seeing the people be so thrilled to actually see each other in person, it just makes my heart very happy every time.”

“Everybody thinks it’s so cool to travel to Germany, but I think this program brings so much more to the students,” German teacher Silvia Oszko said. “You’re learning different perspectives from students that are your age, and you know how people on different continents in a different country think about issues that matter to students that are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old.” 

The exchange students also participated in several of the German classes during the school day and met several Jefferson students interested in German culture and language. 

“I think this just teaches a good amount of open-mindedness, flexibility, tolerance and respect for other cultures, and this is something that we always want to teach in any language classroom, but I feel the exchange can take it to a whole different level,” Oszko said. 

German students are also interested in our culture and the way we show school spirit. 

“I’ve never been to America,” German student Marlene Auer said. “I really wanted to know if [American school is] like how it’s in these films, so I just wanted to see it myself. [It was] like I expected with the cheerleaders and football games.” 

To kick off the students’ visit, a host family organized a welcome party for all of the students and hosts participating in the program. 

“It was really fun with a bonfire and s’mores and one of the German students was playing the guitar,” Oszko said. “It was just a super cool bonding experience for everybody.”

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