GAPP is back at high school
It’s back! For the first time since 2018, the German American Partnership Program is up and running at Northampton Area High School - and excitement is in the air.
GAPP, as it is known, has been an integral part of the NAHS community, occurring every two years since 1996.
The COVID-19 pandemic put this program on hold. Now that it is back, the folks involved are ready.
April Krempasky is the teacher who organized this in 1996 and remains the backbone of this partnership with the Northampton community to this day. The Goethe Institute of Germany and the American government partner to decide which schools should be chosen for this exchange program.
The fact that Northampton was chosen is an honor, Krempasky said.
The Europoschule Gladenbach organization decides which students are qualified for the program. The German students who participate must be in 11th grade. They must have a 3.0 average, no discipline issues and be a role model/leader for other students. The students arrived March 20, and they will spend the next two weeks living with a host family, have a tremendous opportunity to explore this country and learn the American culture.
During their stay, students will travel to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City. They will also experience the history, culture and life of the borough of Northampton.
Americans students participating must be in the German 2 class and be in 10th grade.
This is a chance for all students involved to learn about other cultures’ education systems, practice a second language and build lifetime friendships. Krempasky pointed out that many students from the first exchange in 1996 are still in touch through visits and letters to this day, reflecting the importance of relationship building to the students involved.
Dr. Michelle Schoeneberger, assistant superintendent for Northampton Area School District, welcomed the students at the recent breakfast reception, commenting that five years is a long time without this program. Everyone is more than thrilled the program is back and functioning well.
Luke Shafnisky, principal of NAHS, pointed out the students will really learn from each other and it will be an experience to create lasting memories for all involved. NAHS is happy to support a program such as this, he said.
Krempasky said staying with the families keeps the costs down. It also builds insight into American family norms, structures and practices.
The German students get to see how American life is played out in school, social situations and interactions among peers and their teachers.
On June 7, the American students will go to Germany for two weeks to participate in the same experience and learn about German culture and education. The German school calendar is much different than in America. The structure of the German education system also differs from the American model. For instance, German students have shorter summer vacations but have more frequent breaks throughout the year. German students are required to learn a second language, usually English, around age 12.
NAHS was awarded a plaque that shows they are a School of Distinction for promoting citizen diplomacy and fostering international understanding through a German American youth exchange. It is an honor they do not take lightly, all agreed.