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Each spring, the relatively small campus of Washington & Jefferson College is host to nearly 500 middle and high students, there for the day to compete in academic competitions in German. The campus of 1500, smaller than many area high schools, is noticeably busier, louder, and best of all more lively on this date each year. Although such a complex event can be a daunting task, the benefits to the German program, the college, and the community allow programs to showcase the importance of German, sustain momentum, and articulate the connection between high school language programs and college preparation. This essay will focus on three areas of benefit for holding such a large scale event: giving back to the community, public relations for secondary and post-secondary German programs, and providing connections to the relevance for serious study of the German speaking world.
Town-gown relations continue to be a priority on many campuses in the U.S. The fact that the campus serves as an academic center to the community should not be forgotten and should be exploited whenever possible. Using the campus for community related academic events is a great way to bring large numbers of people to campus and expose them to the academic culture of the university. Therefore, it is in both a community service and a service to the institution when the campus donates its space and facilities to host such events. It is also one of the main factors that makes holding a large event like this financially possible. Annually, Washington & Jefferson College provides the space and supporting personnel free of charge to the area’s educational community. The college works with facilities management, the dining service, security, the Theatre program, and the modern languages department to leverage the existing personnel necessary to make such an event happen. Students volunteer their time in preparation and the good will of the campus to have hundreds of students roaming the grounds for the day are fundamental aspects to hosting such an event.