From Heinsberg to Prior Lake

The First Decade 2009 – 2019

DIGITAL CAMERAExchange programs with American schools have a long history at Kreisgymnasium Heinsberg. It was English teacher Volker Werner who set up a partnership with West Boyd High School in Spencer, NE. When his American colleague, German teacher Gloria Speiker, moved from Nebraska to Minnesota, a new exchange program was initiated with her new school, Prior Lake High School in Prior Lake, MN.

The First Group in 2009

2009 group

So, ten years ago, 15 students and two teachers (Ulrike Gossen and Fritz Metz) started the series of visits between the two schools. That group was very keen on haunted houses, and lots of parties took place during our stay. Our various experiences can still be seen here.

Frauen Power

The German Department then was ‘manned’ by Ruth Knudson, Gloria Speiker and Birgit Pope.09 gloria speiker ruth knudson

Two years later, English teacher Hans Nijs and his wife took sixteen 10th graders to the German department of our partner school. At that time, Ms. Pope had taken over the organization of the exchange program after Ms. Speiker’s retirement. Mr. Jon Ingalsbe assisted her then.

2013 saw Mr. Metz again with his wife Brigitte Laurenz leading a group of enthusiastic students to meet their hosts. We witnessed early snow in Prior Lake and the government shutdown with all museums and sites on the National Mall closed in DC, and above all it was constantly raining. It was wonderful! As you can tell by our weblog.

13 dc group cr

Due to a ban on international travels at PLHS, the next meeting took place only in 2017, when Dagmar Weiß and Fritz Metz chaperoned their group through Prior Lake, MN, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL. Unforgettable: worn-out students were pushed around in a wheel chair. The chronicles are also still available.

17 alle_cr

Here’s to the Next Ten Years

After ten years of travelling back and forth, this is the time to mention the many that made and make these wonderful experiences come true. Our thanks go out to the Principal of PLHS, Dr. John Bezek, and to the teaching and administrative staff: we know it is a lot of extra work to see after us! Thanks also to the German Department: Birgit Pope always does a wonderful job in setting up our stay there. The most striking experience, however, is the hospitality we experience from our host families: thank you all for making your house a home for our students. We are looking forward to many more chapters of this exciting ongoing story!


On the eve of the jubilee exchange program, we’re all set: seventeen girls and boys are about to carry on the exchange, starting on the 4th of October. They will be accompanied by Ms. Weiß and Mr. Metz again. Of the seventeen days to follow, every episode of the 2019 story can be read here.

F. Metz