By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Kate Bomar signed up for German three years ago for the chance to visit the country.

“My brother went a long time ago and I really wanted to explore the world,” said Bomar, who had never been outside of the United States.

The trip was everything she could have hoped for.

“It was amazing. I got to meet so many different people,” Bomar said. “It was really interesting learning about the culture. The world is so much bigger than what you think it is. Sometimes I forget that there’s so many people out there. It was so cool learning about the history and it just gives you a good look on life.”

Bomar was one of 29 McNary students who spent four weeks in Germany this summer, June 22-July 19.

For the first three weeks, students stayed with host families as part of an exchange program with McNary’s partner school, Königin-Olga-Stift Gymnasium, a bilingual college prep high school in Stuttgart.

The exchange is in its 28th year. While German students visit Keizer every spring, McNary travels once every two years.

Nigel Guisinger, McNary graduate and Germany exchange participant who owns Willamette Valley Appliance, donated $2,500 to the exchange for needy students. His gift helped five McNary students afford to go to Germany.

While in Stuttgart, McNary students gave presentations to fifth graders on what life was like at their high school in America. They also followed their host student along through their classes.

Drew Faatz, a 2018 graduate of McNary, took German for four years. His father had spent two years in Heidelberg, Germany when he was about his age.

“Having the German teachers (John Mangan and Elizabeth Jacobson-Secor) at McNary speak German to us all the time was pretty helpful because it wasn’t as much of a shock when we got there,” Faatz said. “We were already used to hearing German all the time.”

While speaking German on the trip wasn’t required, it was encouraged.

“I have students who really make an effort to use German while they’re there and it’s phenomenal how much they are able to improve and what they are able to get from that,” said Mangan who was one of three chaperones along with Secor and Joseph Wehrli, superintendent for the St. Paul School District.  “Even the students who don’t make that much of an effort, it’s phenomenal what they’re still picking up. There’s a great deal they’re learning while they’re there that’s going in and comes out later in class.”

The McNary group went on day trips to Strasbourg, France and Rottenburg, Germany.

“It was a fairy tale town,” Bomar said of Strasbourg. “I felt like I was right in the middle of the Snow White movie.”

The Keizer students spent their final five days in Germany in Munich, staying in a youth hostel.

They walked down the same street where in 1923 Adolph Hitler was arrested after trying to take over the Bavarian government, which resulted in him writing Mein Kampf. They toured the Dachau concentration camp and Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disney World.

They saw the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, including the memorial for the Israel athletes who were killed by Palestinian terrorists and viewed art at one of the oldest galleries in the world— Alte Pinakothek.

“There’s certain things that are historically, culturally important for the students to see, things that they’ll connect with, either they heard about in history, they’ll hear about or they’ll see these things later in life,” Mangan said.

The McNary students that went on the trip were Bomar, Faatz, Seleste Barrera Ramirez, Mariah Boyd, Keith Cardoza, John Catron, Amy Cox, Amanda Deckard, Emily Garcia, Laura Gillespie, Mia Greer, Grant Harms, Kayla Jones, Jania Lopez, Luis Martinez-Reyes, Juan Miguel Montejano, Silas Montgomery, Rose Nason, Angel Olmos, Katherine Perez, Isaiah Putnam, Gavin Robinett, Alexandria Ronning, Veronia Sarun, Joseph Seith, Levi Sheldon, Jospeh Vasquez, Garrett Wampler and Ethan Wheeler.