The German-American Partnership Program (GAPP) is a high-school exchange program that links an American and a German high school in a long-term partnership. Its primary purposes are to help students improve their foreign-language skills and to promote mutual cultural understanding. The program is supported and funded by the U.S. and German governments.
In general, a GAPP partnership works as follows: exchanges occur every year or, as in our case, every other year. On the German end, the program is coordinated by a teacher of English, and on the American end, the program is coordinated by a teacher of German. Each of the two schools has 10-20 participating students who are matched with a partner across the Atlantic. In the spring, the German students visit the U.S. for about 3 weeks, attending school and living in the families of their American partners; in the summer, the American students visit Germany for 3-5 weeks, also attending school and living in the families of their German partners. The groups must work together on a learning project, as well.
History of GAPP at Clements High School
The history of GAPP at Clements began in 1997 when we were matched with a German school in Bremen, the Schulzentrum am Rübekamp. We conducted very successful exchanges with that school in 1998 and 2000, with a total of 17 American and 22 German participants. However, the school in Bremen chose not to renew the program after the 2000 exchange, and we were assigned a new partner school in Cologne. We have conducted exchanges with Cologne in 2002 (11 Americans, 15 Germans), 2004 (8 Americans, 11 Germans), 2006 (17 Americans, 17 Germans), 2008 (17 Americans, 19 Germans), 2010 (16 Americans, 20 Germans), 2012 (17 Americans, 20 Germans), 2014 (17 Americans, 20 Germans), 2016 (16 Americans, 20 Germans), and 2018 (14 Americans, 20 Germans). In 2018, Travis High School joined the exchange; of the 14 FBISD students who traveled to Germany, 4 were from Clements and 10 from Travis. Total participants through 2018: 150 Americans, 184 Germans. Future exchanges should occur in even-numbered years (2020, 2022, and so on).
Our Partner School in Germany
Our partner school in Cologne is the Lessing-Gymnasium, which has about 1000 students in grades 5 through 12. The Gymnasium, the most rigorous of the three types of German high schools, culminates in the high-stakes Abitur examination at the end of the 12th grade. A passing score on the Abitur is a prerequisite for study at a German university. The Lessing-Gymnasium is located in an area called Zündorf on the southern outskirts of Cologne. Cologne, located on the Rhine River and settled since at least 38 B.C., was elevated to the status of “Roman colony” in 50 A.D. It is the fourth largest city in Germany, with a population of about one million. The coordinators on the German side since 2014 are Cathrin Stoffregen and Viviane Frank.