Annual Blitzer Event
by Herwig Wandschneider
Beste Leistungen In Deutsch
The Annual Bitzer Event is the award ceremony for hard working, successful German Language students, i.e. for "Beste Leistungen in Deutsch" in the Region of Waterloo. The event is organized by the German-Canadian Education Fund (a Charitable Division of the K-W German-Canadian Business and Professional Association (GCBPA)) and awards winners of the competition among Grade 12 German Language students. The actual competition was held earlier in the year. In addition, Region of Waterloo High School students, who scored highest in their class in first and second year German, also received awards.
Trophies, certificates and valuable cash were presented at this event to the winning students of the competition by corporate and individual sponsors, generally owners or senior executives, who are of German-speaking heritage or are supporters of the German language and culture.
The event took place at the Alpine Club, a venue with typical German Gemütlichkeit (Oktoberfest posters still on the walls), backed by live music of the String Quartet of the Music Department – Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo. (The singing of "Kein schöner Land …" however, left much to be desired and definitely needs a lead singer). Hors d’oeuvres and sweets were provided and served by Pear Tree Catering Inc, headed by Werner Kuehlenborg, a member of the GCBPA. The hall and stage of the club were beautifully decorated with plants and flowers and gave a welcoming atmosphere appropriate for the importance of this occasion.
Important guests and speakers further underlined the significance of the event. Seated on the stage were the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany - Mr. Holger Raasch, the President of the German-Canadian Congress of Canada - Mr. Anton Bergmeier, the Chairman of the Region of Waterloo - Mr. Ken Seiling, the Mayor of Waterloo - Ms. Brenda Halloran, City of Kitchener Councillor – Mr. Berry Vrbanovic sitting in for detained Mayor Carl Zehr, Chair of the Co-operative Council of German-Canadian Clubs - Gerhard Griebenow, the Director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies – Dr. David John and the Dean of Arts of the University of Waterloo and Keynote speaker – Dr. Ken Coates.
Each of the Special Guests reminded the successful students, why learning German was of momentous importance for their future beyond anything they could now imagine, more so today - in our beginning global environment – than at any time in the past. Learning and using languages would not only broaden the horizon, but would become a necessity for increasing global development. The Consul General of the FRG reminded the students that Germany welcomes them to study and live in Germany, to be part of its enormous influence on the shape of the future Global environment.
If students still did not believe what they heard, Keynote Speaker Dr. Ken Coates convinced them with an incredibly powerful address with an emphasis, that left absolutely no doubt where he stood on the issue of Global development and languages. All of the German-speaking audience, not just the students, were captivated by the convincing logic Dr. Coates presented about the value of the German language in the world. Dr. Coates should know - an expert at historical development and heavy involvement with the Japanese language, he catapulted himself from the Yukon and Northern British Columbia into the rest of the familiar and unfamiliar world.
All of this was organized for those who made a hard-working effort to excel: the students. Awards were given to 11 students in the Regular Category, 4 in the Advanced Category. The top winners of the Regular Category were Andres Hahn of Bluevale C.I. followed by Lucas Melnik of the German Language School Concordia. In the Advanced Category they were Elisa Cristea of the German Language School Concordia, followed by Danko Cvjeticanin of the same school.
The Overall Award – the Wanderpokal or School Trophy – went to the German Language School Concordia, who this year beat out last year’s winner Bluevale C.I. Other financial awards went to the German Clubs of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
This year’s event also recognized the team of Dr. Marga Weigel and Dr. Manfred Richter, President and Secretary-Treasurer respectively of the German-Canadian Education Fund, the key two people whose dedicated work year after year makes this event a success for the students their families and the general public. Also recognized was the hard work of Dr. Alexandra Zimmermann, Wilfrid Laurier University, who heads the Examination Committee to devise, execute and analyze the examinations for the O.A.C. Language Contest.
A major event, which was given totally inadequate emphasis at the award ceremony, was a substantial financial gift to the Education Fund by Berlin Construction Limited (represented by the late Karl Saley, his wife Evelyn Saley, by Fred and Kay Pfisterer) and by Dr. Marga Weigel Property Management. The Fund’s Executive decided that the combined gift of $30,000 should be used to start a German Language endowment in the name of ‘W.L. Bitzer Foundation" to ensure continuation of the German Language Awards into the long term future.
Echo Germanica congratulates above all the hard working students, but also the organizers for another successful event. And congratulations go to sponsors of this event and particularly to the donors to the "W.L. Bitzer Foundation" for kicking off an Endowment that will propel these Awards into a secure future.
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