My International Experience #2: Curriculum and Extra-Curriculars

Photo courtesy of Klaudia Rixmann

Photo courtesy of Klaudia Rixmann

At Johannes Kepler Gymnasium (Kepi) the students have quite a full schedule of academics. Differing from not only Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), but also the large majority of United States high schools, Kepi requires students to take more than one foreign language. Students must study a minimum of two other languages, outside of English, those being French, Spanish, or, most impressively, Latin. I was awestruck as other foreign exchange students arrived from France and Uruguay and the classroom suddenly transformed into a stimulating melting pot of interweaving tongues. I realized, in those moments, how unfortunately depraved U.S. students are in foreign languages. I could only connect with the new arrivals in English and broken German. I listened with longing as those around me made jokes and told stories I couldn’t understand.

In KM Perform, learning a foreign language isn’t stressed, and reasonably so. We are an arts school that already speaks the universal language of English. However, perhaps we really are missing out on unique learning opportunities that offer so much in the way of life and communication skills, which KM Perform rightfully boasts about teaching. In an increasingly globalized world, being proficient in a foreign language could make KM Perform students even more well prepared for life after high school. Additionally, being able to communicate in different languages opens up opportunities for students to make artistic connections around the world, like in the cultural hubs of Italy or Spain. KM Perform could include foreign language teachers from Kettle Moraine High School and integrate them into the KM Perform competency-based system, allowing students to have more flexibility with taking a foreign language.

While the German system may be stronger in foreign language, U.S. school systems take the cake in terms of enriching the school experience. At Kepi, there were, at most, four clubs to take part in; student council, debate, rock climbing, and tutoring. Almost all sports are played in clubs not affiliated with schools and other interests like art club, ecology club, robotics, or drama club don’t usually exist, and if they do, are very casual. In general, the students’ main focus is directed toward the twelve courses they take during the day. In this way, KM Perform and the legacy high school provide a more enhanced educational experience that allows students to hone skills in their interest areas in ways they are unable to during the school day. These clubs and activities give students a healthy outlet that allows them to socialize in safe, positive places while learning valuable skills. Having strong academics is, of course, vital to any successful school, but supplementing education with extra-curriculars provides students with a full, well-rounded experience.


Wait for the third installment to learn more about the differences in grading systems, classroom atmosphere, and teacher-student interaction!