Young German-American School quilters score a big international victory
by: Jaime Valdez, Marie Freiss, a fourth-grader at the German-American School of Portland shows her poem on the school’s award-winning quilt. Students wrote World Cup futball-themed poems in German and added them to the quilt. Their efforts earned them a trip to Germ

There is nothing more exciting for soccer fans than the World Cup competition.

That excitement helped 11 soccer-loving students at the German-American School of Portland to win an international contest that landed them at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the site of this year's month-long 'futball' tournament.

The students sewed a quilt that was chosen as one of the 100 best projects from among 1,659 submitted by German schools from 49 countries. It was the only U.S. project that was chosen as a winner.

The German-American School is in Beaverton at 3900 S.W. Murray Blvd.

The contest, which was hosted by the 2006 World Cup Conference, in cooperation with a number of German institutions, was called 'Talents 2006-FIFAWorld Cup in School.' The theme was 'a time to make friends,' which the local students decided to convey through poems mounted on a quilt.

'It's a unique contest and they will not repeat it,' said teacher Kathrin Schmidt, who helped the kids with the project and accompanied them to Berlin for a five-day trip in May.

The students first wrote poems - in German of course - about 'all the nations, friendship and soccer,' and put the poems together on a green and white patchwork quilt.

'We thought of a poem and we wrote it on a piece of paper first and then we wrote it on a piece of cloth and then we sewed it on together,' said fourth-grader Marie Friess.

Speaking German

It was physical education teacher Margit Fischbach's idea to make a quilt for the contest.

'I started quilting when I came to America and I thought this was just a great idea,' Fischbach said. 'Plus the kids learned to sew.'

Fischbach said each student had to sew a poem to the quilt if he or she wanted to come to Berlin.

The project took about six weeks. The students heard that they had been selected as winners in February. They were 'shocked and excited,' but most of all, they were happy.

The international schools festival in Berlin included all kinds of athletic activities and gave the students a chance to look at other winning entries and meet German-speaking students from around the world.

In addition to sightseeing in Berlin (with the cost covered by by Lake Oswego's Biotronik), students presented their project on stage in front of about 12,000 people, Fischbach said.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the project and the trip to Berlin was the chance to speak German with other students from Poland and Malaysia. They also learned that it is important to play as a team to win at anything, Fischbach said.

'They spoke German so well, it was just great,' she said, adding that many people the students encountered could not believe they were American.

Fund-raising help

At an immersion school that is only as old as many of the students who won the contest - 11 years - winning an international German competition was a big accomplishment.

'This was a very big deal for our school because we were the only German school in the United States to win,' said administrator Sabine Moyer.

The quilt not only threw the school onto the international stage, it also brought in a hefty chunk of change at the school's annual fund-raising auction.

'They paid big bucks for it,' said fifth-grader Peter Manicke.

The parent who bought the quilt decided to donate it back to the school, where it will hang in the lobby.

With a blossoming sports program, especially soccer, the $5,600 donation was welcome. The students joked that they hoped for even more improvements on the school's new soccer field.

But for now, the young contest winners are happy watching the World Cup and cheering for Germany to win in the very same stadium where they claimed their own prize last month.

Katlyn Carter is a Beaverton intern from the University of California at Berkeley.

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