Superintendent’s Spotlight: Anneliese Kirschke


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Anneliese Kirschke

April 22, 2024

Warwick Valley High School senior Anneliese Kirschke was born in America, but her mom is a first generation immigrant from Germany. That’s why the first language that Anneliese ever communicated in was German, and that’s how Anneliese came to be one of only two WVHS students to achieve the New York State Seal of Biliteracy in two languages, Spanish and German.

“Yes, that was actually my first language. My mother wanted me to have that part of her heritage; that ability, you know,” said Anneliese. “She wanted that to be a part of my life early on so I wouldn’t forget it. She and I still speak a lot of German around the house.”

Everyone on her mom’s side of Anneliese’s family resides in Germany. She said that although they have yet to visit this year, her immediate family has made regular visits – at least twice a year, and two weeks at a time – since she was only a few months old.

“My aunt and my three cousins are there. One of them has just had a baby a year ago, who is such a little cutie pie,” said Anneliese with a smile. “It’s so special to get to go over there. I get to practice my German. It can be a little rusty when I get there, but after a day or so, it comes back and it’s all German, no English, from there.”

When Anneliese got the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish, her parents were proud as could be, but that achievement prompted mom to ask the obvious question: “Well, you speak German. Do they have one of those things for German?!’”

It was a great question, and Anneliese got a great answer from the guidance department. Yes!

A student can receive the seal for multiple languages. So, after Anneliese took University Spanish last year and completed all of the steps to earn her first Seal of Biliteracy, she also began working toward her second seal. She saved a few of the major pieces of her presentation for this year, when her senior year schedule could afford her a little more time in her day.

To earn the seal students must demonstrate proficiency in English and another world language. First, they choose a topic for their research, and then must successfully complete an interview with a native speaker, a detailed essay on their topic, and then present a culminating project. The project must demonstrate, both verbally and visually, a required level of proficiency across three key modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal and presentational.

Anneliese chose to explore Oktoberfest.

“I’ve gone to Oktoberfest in Germany and I’ve gone in America, and the celebration has really spread all over now,” said Anneliese. “I explored the history of Oktoberfest, its progress in Germany and how it’s come to be celebrated in other countries. It’s interesting to see how different it’s celebrated around the world; especially how we do it differently here, from over there.”

Anneliese said that while she knows there are many American households with German roots (like her own) that observe Oktoberfest as the traditional family-friendly folk festival it is meant to be, her research also showed the prevalence of such popularly held misconceptions as Oktoberfest being “all about the beer.”

“It’s just more of a culturally significant event in Germany compared to here, where I fee like it’s become maybe a little more touristy of a thing,” she explained. “I feel like here it is a lot more about the partying, whereas in Germany it’s more of a special event, with much more spiritual and cultural significance to people.”

Anneliese did say, however, that there are traditional aspects of Oktoberfest that American revelers have gotten right!

“Especially when it comes to fashion, the dirndls and lederhosen are everywhere,” she enthused. “And it’s so nice to see that things specific to the culture, like the clothes, definitely still make it over here!”

Anneliese’s collegiate and career plans will definitely put her multiple language proficiencies to good use. She is committed to the University of Tampa for the fall and plans to major in international business. She also has her sights set on a possible minor in aeronautics.

“I’ve always loved travel, and I used to think the pilots and the flight attendants that I’d see when we’d travel to Germany were so glamorous,” remembered Anneliese. “So, I’ve just always loved airports and flying, and over the past few years I’ve thought about becoming a commercial or Air Force pilot.”

Anneliese said she’s already been working on her pilot’s license by taking lessons with a pilot/instructor friend of her family. She’s also excited to be entering college as part of the University of Tampa’s renowned ROTC program, and hopes that aspect of her undergraduate career might lead to even more career pathways.


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