Weather Forecast


School spirit and FHS band program impress visiting German students

Anne Pfeifer and Luca Hartmann spent a month in Farmington through The Friendship Connection, Inc. exchange program.

Neither Anne Pfeifer, 15, nor Luca Hartmann, 16, had ever taken a multiple choice test in their lives, up until a couple of weeks ago.

In their homeland, Germany, multiple choice tests aren't an option.

The two high school students are on a monthlong exchange program through The Friendship Connection Inc. They arrived in Minnesota March 18, and were scheduled to leave Wednesday.

They both wanted to come to the United States on an exchange program, but didn't want to take too much time away from their school work in Germany. Over there grades are dependent on essay-style tests, and, more importantly for them, classroom participation. Over there, it doesn't matter if students are still learning in another country; if they're not in class to verbally answer questions, they lose points.

Both students wanted to come to the U.S. and try out their English skills -- both of them have studied the language for half of their lives.

"I wanted to find out if I could survive on my English here," Hartmann said. "This was my last opportunity to do this before I have to start studying for graduation."

The girls wanted to experience a little of the American culture as well. Hartmann, who has been staying with the Dave and Barbara Brasgalla family, donned her Twins t-shirt Monday, ready to go to the home opener at Target FIeld that afternoon. She's been to the Mall of America, Minneapolis and St. Paul and a few other places in the past month, too.

Pfeifer's stay has been a little more low-key, but she really enjoyed spending time with her host family, Frank and Jodi Svoboda, and learning a little about the community here.

The grading practices here aren't the only differences they noticed. The class schedules are set up much differently, and the school days aren't as long. Pfeifer, for example, spends the first five hours of her school week studying Spanish, English and Latin -- that's the first five hours of a 9 1/2 hour school day. Subsequent days are a little shorter, but the work load doesn't sound much easier.

Hartmann was particularly impressed by how much Farmington High School values its athletics, and how important extra-curricular activities are to students and staff.

"The school spirit is way stronger here," she said. "We don't have sports together in our schools."

A clarinet player, Pfeifer was surprised by the number of students who participate in the FHS band program, and by the number of bands options that are offered to students.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

(651) 702-0974