A Day of Immersion: German Students Celebrate Culture in the City

The German students pose in front of Washington Crossing the Delaware, one of the many paintings they surveyed during their scavenger hunt.

By Brian Willman ’19 and Brady Baylis ’19

Every year, German students demonstrate their improvement in the language through a yearly competition known as Sprachfest.  Arriving at Hauppauge High School early on Saturday, March 18, a group of Flyers were determined to outperform their opponents from other schools in various events that tested their knowledge.  These academic, musical, and artistic competitions, all pertaining to the language and cultures of German-speaking countries, require much preparation and practice in order to win and serve as a testament to the scholarly aptitude of students of Chaminade’s German program.

In the two most challenging contests, freshman and sophomore Culture Bowl and Geography Bee, Chaminade students earned first place.  The sophomore Culture Bowl team swept the competition, but equally-prepared sophomore Brendan Fitzgerald had a harder route to victory.  In his competition, Geography Bee, a student from an opposing school proved to be a tough opponent.  In the end, it would come down to a tie for first place, as both students answered every question correct.

Saddle up! German students pose alongside medieval cavalrymen.

To celebrate their accomplishments, the winners were invited by Dr. Judith Hecker and Bro. John McGrory, S.M. ’84, to experience a “German Day” in New York City.  The trip, attended by students Austin Cusumano ’19, Mark Cirelli ’19, Parker Moore ’19, Brian Willman ’19, and Josef Schindler ’20, proved to be a great success for the students.  

The group began their day with a train ride from Mineola to Penn Station.  When they reached the city, they headed towards the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue.  There they thoroughly enjoyed a typical German-Austrian lunch.  

“It was my first time trying traditional German-Austrian food.  I was a little reluctant at first, but it turned out great! I would highly recommend this type of food to others,” said Austin Cusumano.

After they had finished their meals, the group was able to view famous paintings by early twentieth century Austrian artists on exhibit in the second-floor gallery of the restaurant.  The most stunning of all the pieces was Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also called The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold).

From there, the group traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They viewed many different exhibits from several time periods; however, the highlight of visiting the museum was when the students partook in a scavenger hunt involving works by German artists Alfred Bierstadt and Emanuel Leutze.  The students’ objective was to answer German questions they were given by finding hidden objects within the paintings.  One of the paintings, Washington Crossing the Delaware, was extraordinarily stunning.  

“The size of that painting was incredible,” said Mark Cirelli.  “To be able to put so much detail into a work that large must be a spectacular accomplishment.”

Finally, after leaving the museum, the group headed back to Penn Station and began the trip home.  After spending their day immersing themselves in the German language and culture, the students felt a greater connection between what they learn in school and what they do in the real world.  This educational trip proved to be a fun time for the students, who all wish to continue applying their German education outside of the classroom.