Skills, hard work advance German students to next level


photo or infographic by Lisa Parrott

KRUMPUS CREATOR. At Houstonfest, sophomore Lillian Shaw received accolades for her Krampus sculpture and presentation. Of all the winners, she was the only solo competitors.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

Not everyone knows that Herzlichen Glückwunsch means congratulations in German, but the students involved with Houstonfest could probably translate that. 

Houstonfest is an event for students in grades eight through 12 who are learning German. It offers 42 contests for students in German I, II, III, IV and V, including written and oral tests, declamation, drama, art and music. It creates many opportunities for students to meet others that share their interests.

“I’m always very excited about taking students to Houstonfest,” German teacher Lisa Parrott said. “It is a super opportunity for my German students to meet hundreds of other students from the Houston area schools who are also learning this amazing language.”

With qualification comes surprise, as students plan to use this opportunity to the fullest.

“I wasn’t confident I would qualify for such an opportunity, so it came to me as a pleasant surprise when I found out I qualified to go,” senior Janny Valdes said. “I feel like I should make the most of it since it feels like a rare event for me.”

Students can create projects to showcase their expertise and hard work. The process is long and grueling, even for the talented. 

“My project is the head of the folklore creature Krampus. He is a styrofoam head covered in clay and fur then painted. I used some of the cheapest materials I could find and spent months constructing it,” sophomore Lillian Shaw said. “I can’t tell you how many times I restarted or something broke, but overall I had an amazing time trying to create something I have never attempted.”

The students must prepare in many ways for the challenge ahead of them, doing a lot to bring their skills to the next level.

“To prepare myself, I watch shows in German and use Duolingo,” Valdes said. “Thinking in German helps too because I sometimes cannot word a thought because of a lack of grammar or vocabulary, so I then search up the meaning.”

Sometimes to place well, you have to improve upon the mistakes previously made.

“I’m preparing for the next level by reading over many judges’ criticisms,” Shaw said.  “Doing over paint, adding more detail, etc. My main criticism was originality, so I’m finding ways to fix that.”

Even if the number of qualifiers is low, they will make the most of this exciting event.

“This year, with low numbers attending regionals, I only have two who earned the chance to attend the German State competition this coming Saturday, Feb. 25,” Parrott said. “We are really looking forward to spending a terrific time getting to know hundreds of German students from the state of Texas!”