Photo by Kelly White
Avalyn Krastin (at left), 17, of Worth, and Emily Correll, 17, of Palos Heights, dressed in their finest German attire for Shepard High School's “A Little Bit of Germany” event on Feb. 1 at the high school in Palos Heights.
By Kelly White
Shepard High School students dressed in their best lederhosen and dirndls recently to show their love of German culture.
The school’s “A Little Bit of Germany” festival took place on Feb. 1 at the school, 13049 S Ridgeland Ave. in Palos Heights, welcoming in students, faculty, alumni and local community members.
“A Little Bit of Germany gives you the opportunity to feel like you are in Germany and experiencing the culture,” said Shea Fitzgerald, 15, of Palos Heights.
Taking place annually since 1985, A Little Bit of Germany is a fundraising event benefiting the school’s German Exchange Program and ties together German heritage, culture and cuisine.
The cost to attend was $10 per adult and $5 per child under the age of 12. All of the 400 attendees were able to enjoy a German feast prepared by Shepard and Richards High School culinary students consisting of bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad, rye bread and butter, baked goods, pretzels, coffee, water, cider with the option of soda and root beer.
Students and attendees were encouraged to dress in German clothing while dining and enjoying live musical entertainment that was provided by the German-based Paloma Band.
“A Little Bit of Germany integrates German culture well and shows people what a fest in Germany is like,” said Shane Bart, 16, of Worth.
For more than three decades through a student exchange program with Shepard and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Gymnasium in Germany, students have lived together, toured the other’s nation, attended sporting and cultural events, sampled cuisine and built friendships through a German exchange program. The high schools rotate years visiting each other for three weeks, staying with host families from the school.
This year, Shepard students who are enrolled in German language classes will travel to Germany, staying with German host families and attending classes at Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe-Gymnasium during the month of June. It will be the first trip to Germany for many Shepard students, including Emily Correll.
“I am so excited about going to Germany,” said Correll, 17, of Palos Heights. “I hosted a German exchange student last year and I am hoping to reconnect with her in Germany.”
For students, like Correll, A Little Bit of Germany aided in paving the way to Germany.
“I love the people, the band, the culture,” Correll said. “It’s really an amazing event.”
Shepard alum and German instructor at the high school, Jennifer Fischer, has been organizing A Little Bit of Germany for the past 10 years and said she loves every minute of it, especially since she lived near Bamberg in Germany from 1993 through 1997.
“I love to see the community come together and have so much fun during A Little Bit of Germany,” Fischer said.
The 40 students who volunteered at the event helped out in various food stations, ticket sales, and entertainment.
“This is a really cool experience for us as students,” said Alex Lunaberg, 16, of Crestwood.
“This is a nice event that submerges you in German culture,” said Eric Spindler, 17, of Palos Heights.
Even Shepard alums came out to celebrate in the festivities, including 2018 graduate Alex Spindler.
“I always look forward to this event,” said Alex Spindler, 19, of Palos Heights. “It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”
All of the funds raised at A Little Bit of Germany go directly into individual flight stipend accounts based on how many hours each student and their family helped out with the event, Fischer said.
Last year, the event raised $3,821.15 and this year will not be any different as it continues to grow in popularity among students and community members every year, and students continue to love the event.