• Feb. 4, 2020

    German exchange earns School of Distinction honors

    GAPP - School of Distinction Upper St. Clair High School was recently selected as a German American Partnership Program School of Distinction for its long-term youth exchange program between the United States and Germany. Upper St. Clair is among a select group of schools nationwide to receive the award.

    The School of Distinction program recognizes GAPP schools in the United States for their outstanding engagement and best practices that facilitate youth exchanges in their school, community and beyond.

    “We thank you, as well as your coordinators and chaperones, for making the GAP-Program a success at Upper St. Clair High School. You are allowing for a life-changing experience that your students will never forget,” Molly Rowland, GAPP executive director, said. “Spending a significant amount of time in a host family and going to a host school in a foreign country allows a young person to grow as a global citizen, which benefits them personally and professionally.”

    In the fall of 2019, 17 Upper St. Clair families hosted students and teachers from Germany. This summer, 16 Upper St. Clair students and teachers will travel to Germany and Austria with the goal of building lasting relationship between and among students, teachers and host families. Sign-ups for GAPP participation will begin again in 2020-21 for the 2021-22 school year. 

    “We are thrilled that we can offer such a great opportunity to our high school students at Upper St. Clair High School,” Lynne Kopaz, world language teacher, said. “Global skills are crucial in today’s world. The world language teachers that I know of never had an opportunity to be a part of study abroad until college. If our students decide they do want to study abroad or choose a career that leads them on an international path, they will be much more prepared after having participated in an exchange.”

    The partnership between Upper St. Clair High School and Lise-Meitner Gymnasium in Leverkusen, Germany began in 1993 through GAPP coordinating teacher, Deanna Baird. The program continues under coordinator Uwe Schneider, with assistance from GAPP teachers Johanna Rennhoff and Lynne Kopaz.

    “Since 1972, GAPP has developed into the largest and most successful bilateral student exchange program in the U.S. with any other country,” said Elizabeth Latham, program officer for the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “As of this year, more than 400,000 students – including students from your high school – have participated in GAPP. The success of this program would not have been possible without your hard work and dedication to facilitating international cultural diplomacy.”

    GAPP’s goals are to deepen relations between the two countries and to promote knowledge of the German language and culture through intercultural encounters and continuing education. According to its website, “Our Program inspires intercultural understanding, promotes German language instruction, and fosters new and lasting friendships in the U.S. and Germany.”

    GAPP is administered by the Goethe-Institut and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and the U.S. Department of State. GAPP is also supported by the WunderbarTogether Campaign.