WSHS Choral Arts German Exchange Program

Between the choir students of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Gymnasium in Eppelheim, Germany
Directed by Dr. Valerie Schnitzer
and the choirs students of West Springfield High School in Springfield, VA
Directed by Dustin Brandt


                This history of this program goes back more than 30 years ago when it first appeared at Langley High School. From there it moved and had great success at both Lake Braddock and Annandale High School. The premise of the program is to share the American choral culture with the German choral culture, to combine in singing and performing together, and to visit the local landmarks and attractions that both our cities and countries have to offer.   In the beginning this program was an opportunity for Dr. Schnitzer, she openly admits, to learn about the American style of chorus rehearsal, American choral techniques, and an opportunity to learn and be exposed to more American choral repertoire.  Lynn Adcock at Lake Braddock, the first chorus teacher to work with Dr. Schnitzer, saw the program as a valuable opportunity for American students to sing and perform in the best and oldest choral concert venues in the world: Cathedrals.

During my time in Eppelheim I have been able to see what this program has blossomed into over the past 20 years. It is much more than a choral exchange between high schools – it is a cultural exchange between communities. At West Springfield we are incredibly lucky to be invited into this growing international community with an opportunity to make new and lasting friendships both in our community and in Germany.  Eppelheim has changed greatly since Valerie first began her exchange 20 years ago. It is now a community that celebrates the choral arts, very similar to the D.C. area – which boasts the largest choral community in the US. The success of this exchange can be linked to countless community and area choirs throughout the Heidelberg region of Germany and beyond.  Dr. Schnitzer has even been invited to Mexico to teach her choral rehearsal techniques – techniques that she has learned by spending time with Fairfax County teachers.


During their stay host families are expected to provide a comfortable place to sleep, as many as three meals a day, and transportation to and from the school during school hours in the morning and as late as 6-9 PM at night. If the hosts cannot provide transportation they are expected to arrange for transportation for their student. Host families are encouraged to engage in group activities with other families and the group as a whole. We want you to be a part of the community! You can choose to be as active as you want, but the bare minimum is a stable environment and transportation for your student(s).

As soon as we have assigned enough hosts to German exchange students we will give you the contact information for the student you will be hosting.  Saturday October 15th will hopefully not be the first time you interact with your student.  You will have a chance to call or email them and their parents. The students will speak English very well, and there will be opportunities for you to figure out what activities your student likes and what foods he or she prefers to eat.


  • During the weekday host families would be expected to arrange for transportation for their student to arrive at WSHS by 8:10 AM and provide a packed lunch for their student.
  • Students will rehearse from 8:10-9:15 or longer, depending on what is needed and then the students will engage in a group activity to a nearby sight, D.C., Alexandria, Georgetown, Baltimore, Richmond, etc.
  • Host families will need to arrange for transportation for the student from WSHS. Students will generally return to the school around 5-6 PM depending on the activity. They can carpool, walk or ride bikes with other students, as long as they know in advance how they are getting home each day.

Sat & Sun

  • Weekends will be a time for the host families to entertain or travel with their host students. If there is a family scheduling conflict you can arrange for your host student and your student to go with a friend’s family.  The German students will budget for food for trips – they love hamburgers – especially 5 Guys!