DANK School Chicago Northern Suburbs -- Chapter 26
German Language Schools in Arlington Heights IL and Palatine IL
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More than 75 students, teachers, parents and friends sang, drummed, danced and told the story of Fasching as the Chicago Northern Suburbs D.A.N.K. German Language Schools celebrated the coming of Spring 2014.
It was a triple celebration this year. It is the 40th anniversary of the local chapter, D.A.N.K. 26, of the 1973 beginning of providing German language education to students from children through adults. It also coincided with National School Choice Week. Participants wore yellow scarves over their Fasching costumes to show support for increased educational options for all children. It was one of 240 such events in Illinois.
It all worked to support the joyful Karneval atmosphere of the day. Gathered in the cafeteria of the Arlington Heights school where they hold weekly classes, they made noise to drive away the cold winter spirits to make way for the spring spirits to bring warmth and new life.
"I love Fasching because people relax and allow themselves to dance and be jolly," said Trudy Hoyer, who teaches one of the children's classes. "The stereotype is that Germans are always proper and do what they are told. This shows the more playful, joking side."
Frau Hoyer wore a long green, flowing garment and antlers as she danced with the children and other teachers, dressed as faeries, butterflies, dancers or flowers. Adult student Jean Cross taught the traditional dances, which the students practiced as part of their education in German culture in the weeks before the celebration.
Students also learned the drumming and flute music that introduces Fasching and details of how it is celebrated in Germany and that it begins at 4 a.m. in Basel, Switzerland with a three day Lantern Festival. Fasching is similar to Mardi Gras or Carnival celebrations.
Some parents remembered learning German through the DANK schools when they were children and enjoyed seeing their sons and daughter have the same experience.
"I went through DANK as a child and later in school," said Ryan Thaller. He and his wife, Andrea, brought their three children, two who are current students and a toddler who will be come day, they said.
--Jean Latz Griffin