On Thursday, December 15th, Ms. Van Laanen and the students in German Club hosted "Weihnachten" or "Christmas"!
Read more to see pictures of the event, learn more about German Club, and find details about GAPP, the German American Partnership Program!
If you were walking the halls after school on Thursday, December 15th, you may have heard some festive tunes drifting throughout Apollo. In tracking down the source, Apollo NewsFeed discovered Weihnachten! The German Club's answer to the question, "How can we make a Christmas party unique?"
Weihnachten is German for "Christmas," and that was obvious when we walked into Ms. Van Laanen's room. A bustling Language Arts classroom by day, room 508 was transformed after school to mimic a traditional German Christmas gathering.
Students enjoying the event were getting candy deliveries from a special red-clad, white-bearded man (definitely not Ms. Van Laanen!) and playing the German version of the classic tabletop game, "Settlers of Catan". It was a warming sight to see friends gathered around a holiday table sharing snacks and learning a new game. While this festive gathering was underway, we pulled the German Club advisor, Ms. Van Laanen, aside for a quick interview.
German Club has existed at Apollo for the past three years! There are about 10 kids who come together once a month (a Thursday afternoon from 3:15 to 4:30 - listen for it in the Announcements!) to celebrate German language, culture, and traditions. During the interview, a student chimed in:
The best thing about German club is "learning about culture and how [Germans] do different things. Also, I like learning the language and seeing how it's so similar to our own!" - Brandi McParland, 10
Ms. Van Laanen expressed that she's always open to having students pop by for a meeting to get to know everyone, and she also wanted to share information about GAAP.
GAAP, or the German American Partnership Program, is a student exchange program where a couple German students fly to Minnesota, live with a family in St. Cloud, and attend American high school here at Apollo. The other side of the spectrum allows Apollo students to do the opposite! They get to fly to Germany, live with a family, and experience the German education system! Here's some more details:
If you want to host a German student: It's a two-week long requirement in October of 2017. The student would live with you and your family as you show them the American way of life!
If you want to travel to Germany: The trip would occur in June of 2018 and last for 3 weeks. You would live with your host family and experience Germany as if you were a native German! This trip also include a week-long adventure to Salzburg, Austria. Your cost for participating in this aspect of GAAP totals around $12,000. It's a lot of money, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing experience!
As we were discussing the GAAP program, Sierra McKellar, a 10th grader, told us she's interested in participating in the German exchange program, so she decided to attend Weihnachten.
At the end of the event, kids packed up their stuff and expressed their gratitude to Ms. Van Laanen for hosting such a fun and different event that opened their eyes to how a culture different from their own celebrates the holiday season. Maybe if they're good, Sankt Nikolas will leave them some treats and thank them for being interested in German Club.