News and Updates


Houstonfest Scholarshipswinners announced!


Changes and updates for 2022 including procedures for online contest


State Promo Video Contest


"Texas State German Contest at 40" newsletter series (full of tips for contest prep and Pass auf! study material)


"Leidenschaft der Aussprache" Pronunciation Contest


Scholarships at State


Contest Promo Video #1 (students from one school tell why they love contest)


Contest Promo Video #2 (one student tells why she loves contest)


Teacher-to-Teacher Tips


Tips for Pair Discussion


Photo Gallery


Arrival at Heights High School


Lunch options


Daily log of changes to state-qualifier list



Important Dates


Sat., Jan. 15, 2022, 11:59 p.m.Houstonfest registration spreadsheet due for regular price of $10/student (payment does not have to be mailed until 1/24).


Tue., Jan. 18, 2022, 4:00 p.m.:  Registration opens for pronunciation contest "Leidenschaft der Aussprache" (teachers who submit a Houstonfest registration by the regular deadline will receive a link to register for this special contest)


Mon., Jan. 24, 2022, 11:59 p.m.Houstonfest registration spreadsheet due for late price of $12/student. Deadline to postmark Houstonfest payment.


Wed., Feb. 2, 2022, 8:00 p.m. Houstonfest changes (adds, drops, substitutions) due. After this point, no more changes will be allowed.


Sat., Feb. 5, 2022Houstonfest (virtual) -  submissions of art and recordings due by 9:00 a.m., some events conducted live via Zoom


Tue., Feb. 8, 2022, 11:59 p.m.:  Remote Houstonfest judging ends


Fri., Feb. 11, 2022, 4:45 p.m.:  Houstonfest results announced via live-stream (see Results page for a recording of the awards show)


Wed., Feb. 16, 2022, 11:59 p.m.:  State online registration due for "early bird" price of $10/student (payment does not have to be mailed until 2/18).


Fri., Feb. 18, 2022, 11:59 p.m.:  State online registration due for regular price of $12/student. Also, Mary El-Beheri Memorial Scholarship applications due. Deadline to postmark State payment.


Wed., Feb. 23, 2022, 8:00 p.m.:  Deadline extended: Entries in promotional video contest due to State director Jennifer Christianson.


Sat., Feb. 26, 202240th Annual Texas State German Contest (virtual) -submissions of art and recordings due by 9:00 a.m., some events conducted live via Zoom (ask your teacher for the sheet with all the links!)


Tue., Mar. 1, 2022, 11:59 p.m.:  Remote State judging ends


Sat., Mar. 5, 2022, 11:59 p.m. Houstonfest Scholarship applications due. State awards video released.


Fri., Mar. 11, 2022 Gail Cope Scholarship applications due.


Sat., April 30, 2022 Gail Cope Teacher Grant applications due.

Changes and Updates for 2022


We had hoped to return to live contests this year, but in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the State Steering Committee voted unanimously on January 4, 2022, to hold the 2022 regional and State contests online, as we did in 2021.  This document contains everything you need to know about how this year's virtual contests will work:


Procedures for 2022 Virtual Contests


2022 Live Events Schedule


Notes on the switch to virtual:

  • Rationale: The omicron variant continues to spread rapidly. While it may turn out that we'll "turn the corner" and head back in the right direction pandemic-wise before February 5, it's impossible to predict that right now and risky to count on it. Because both organizers and participating schools need time to shift gears to the virtual mode, the committee felt that the decision had to be made in early January. Some school districts have already forbidden student field trips, and our usual host school is in such a district, making it unlikely that we would be allowed to hold the event there. Even if we could hold the event in person at Heights HS, there is a good possibility that we could see lots of students, teachers, and judges having to drop out at the last minute due to illness, quarantine, or school policy, or that we might have trouble finding enough judges who would be willing to come in person. Finally, it's simply not wise or responsible to hold a large gathering at a time when we're still supposed to be social-distancing.

  • The 2022 version of virtual contest will feature more events than 2021, including all the drama and music events that were dropped last year.  The difference between last year and this year is that almost everyone is attending school in person this year, so that the kids can get together to practice and record the group performances, whereas many kids were doing online school from home last year, making group performances nearly impossible.  It is up to each school and the individual students and teachers to maintain safe practices while working on group events (or to opt not to do them if they feel the risks are too high).

  • The only events NOT offered in 2022 will be seven written tests (Advantaged Speaker Test, Culture, Grammar, Listening Comprehension, Reading Comprehension, Spelling, and Vocabulary) and Scavenger Hunt.

  • Poetry/Prose Memory and Poetry/Prose Reading will again be consolidated into simply "Poetry" and "Prose."  The rationale here is that if we offered a memory category, it would be too hard to police whether the students were secretly reading cue cards, etc.  Thus, we remove the whole reading vs. memory issue from the equation and simply ask the students to give the best possible performance of the piece, whether memorized, read, or some combination (with the understanding, of course, that a memorized performance will probably be more impressive and score better).

  • After much debate, the committee decided to offer an improvised version of Pass auf! this year.  It will be very different from a normal year:  one Kahoot! quiz will be offered at 1:00 p.m. on contest day.  All Pass auf! participants from all schools will join a Zoom meeting at that time  to receive access to the Kahoot! quiz, and the scores will be tallied by school to determine the winners.  Each entering school may have up to 7 students take the quiz, but only the top 4 scores will count toward the school's total score.  A school may choose to participate with fewer than 4 students, but their chances of winning would be very slim since most schools' aggregate scores will consist of 4 student scores added together.  There will be no Novice level this year, just "Varsity."  The questions will not come from the main Pass auf! question bank but rather from this year's special topic (The Three Bs of German Classical Music: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms) and from the series of newsletters published recently by Gail Cope in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the Texas State German Contest.  These newsletters are all linked on this page.

  • For most events, students will submit a PDF file to a Google Form no later than 9:00 a.m. on contest day (February 5 for Houstonfest and February 26 for State).  For the art events, the PDF will contain pictures of their artwork and other documentation as required.  For Digital Logo Design and Research Paper, the PDF will contain the logo/paper itself, obviously.  For declamation, music, and drama events as well as Oral Presentation and Video, the PDF will contain a link to a YouTube or Vimeo video of the performance as well as supporting documentation such as scripts, sheet music, etc.  Across the board, the rule is that the video submitted must be a single, continuous take, not various snippets edited together.  You can do as many takes as you want until you're happy with the result, but in the end, you have to choose just one take to submit.  (The one exception to this is the actual Video category, where editing is always allowed and indeed encouraged.)

  • The February 5 (regional) and February 26 (state) deadlines will apply for ALL events, even those events that have been permanently designated as digital events, which previously were going to be due a week before the contest date.

  • A handful of events will be conducted "live" on contest day via ZoomTimed Writing (which will be expanded to levels 3 and 4 just for this year) and all the oral tests except Oral Presentation. Conducting these events via Zoom worked well in 2021. For the events conducted on Zoom, each student's performance will be recorded and made available to the judges for later evaluation.

  • All submissions will be evaluated remotely by judges from the Saturday afternoon of contest day through the following Tuesday.  Results will be tabulated over the next few days and announced as soon as possible, no later than the Saturday one week after contest.

  • Each regional director will collect the regional and State ribbons, medals, and trophies along with any ordered State T-shirts and patches for each school and deliver them to each school in early to mid-March.

  • Teachers must collect and submit this Consent and Release of Liability form for each student who participates in a regional contest.  The forms of all students participating from each school must be scanned or otherwise consolidated into ONE document (preferably PDF) and submitted to the regional contest director before the date of the regional contest using this Google Form.  The same document can later be submitted to the State director prior to the State contest.  Caution: This is NOT the form to upload actual Houstonfest entries!  It is solely for teachers to upload signed consent forms.

The rest of this was posted last fall but is still applicable (slightly edited where appropriate):


The Texas State German Contest will mark its 40th anniversary in 2022!  Celebrate, reminisce, and contribute memories in the 40th Anniversary Facebook Group.  Share the link with your current students and former students.  Plans are shaping up for some special observances and entertainment at the State contest.


Note from director Rustin Buck:  I have retired from my position as German teacher at Clements High School, but I intend to keep directing Houstonfest for a while, maybe even a long while.  I will now be able to focus all my attention on directing rather than having to split my energies between directing and leading the Clements contingent.  Just remember, when you email me, use, not my old Fort Bend ISD address.


The event Play is dropped from Houstonfest and the Texas State German Contest.  There simply has not been enough participation in recent years to justify its continuation.  Houstonfest usually had a small handful of plays, although even that has been waning, but the other two regions rarely had even one.  The consensus of the State steering committee was to drop the event.


The Pass auf! theme for 2022 is The Three Bs of German Classical Music:  Bach, Beethoven, Brahms.


The Einzeltanz for 2022 will be the Nussetöter mazurka.  The dance instructions, a link to a video, and the music are now posted under the rules for the event.


A generous donor is underwriting prize money for a brand-new event this year, a pronunciation contest called Leidenschaft der Aussprache.  The top five winners will receive prizes of $4000, $3000, $2000, $1000, and $500 !!!  Read the rules and procedures and review the critique sheet (newly revised to reflect the online format).


Tweaks were made to the rules and/or critique sheets of four of the art events:

  • The rules for Crafts were edited with the goal of better explaining exactly what a "craft" is.

  • For Gingerbread House (applies to Traditional and Non-Traditional), one sentence in the rules was changed, but it's a fairly big deal:  "All visible elements of the project must be edible, except for the base."  Previously, the rule was that absolutely everything used in the house had to be edible (except the base).  Now, notice the newly-introduced word "visible."  Interpretation:  non-edible support elements may now be used to help the house stand up as long as they cannot be seen (not even through any doors, windows, etc.).  Everything the judges can see must still be edible.

  • In Needlework, hooked rugs are no longer on the list of acceptable entries.

  • A very small change was made to judging criterion #2 on the critique sheet for Original Models.

Permanent designation of some events as "digital events" even when contest is held in person:  There's absolutely nothing good about COVID.  However, the State steering committee received a lot of feedback from students, teachers, and judges after our online 2021 contests that some aspects of online submission and judging were actually kind of wonderful.  While we want to maintain our contests as primarily in-person events, a few categories do lend themselves nicely to being submitted and judged online.  Thus, the committee has designated these seven events to remain online permanently:  Digital Logo Design, Oral Presentation, Photo Essay, Poetry Reading, Prose Reading, Research Paper, and Video.  Of course, we have since had to move the entire 2022 contest online, but for 2023 and beyond:  having some online events will give students who have conflicts on contest day more avenues to participate, will let us continue to use judges who live far away or who can't or don't want to come to the contest venue on contest day, and will make contest day slightly less hectic with some events already "in the can."  Some judges may even be willing to do double duty and judge both an online and a live event.  In non-pandemic years, online entries will be due one week prior to contest day, but for 2022, they will be due on contest day just like all the other events.  Judging will occur during the ensuing week, and the results will be announced along with all the other events at the awards ceremony on contest day.  For those familiar with how we did contest in 2021, the procedures remain pretty much the same.  See the rules of each event for details, but here is also a compilation of the rules of all 7 digital events in one document.  Here are a few thoughts about taking/keeping these events digital:

  • Digital Logo Design:  The main difference here is that (in future years) the design will be due one week earlier than usual.  The upside is that we can dispense with USB drives, manila envelopes, etc.

  • Oral Presentation:  The participation numbers for this relatively new event are still lower than we'd like to see.  Perhaps more students will be willing to try this if they can do multiple takes until they get the presentation just right, without the intimidation factor of having to do it live in front of several adult strangers.  On the other hand, they'll have one less week to prepare (in future years), so get started early!

  • Photo Essay:  We expect most students will opt to organize their photos and captions in Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, etc. (before converting to a PDF), but if they really want to do it old-school and paste photos and captions on a poster board, they still can; they'll just have to take and upload pictures of the pictures on the poster board.

  • Poetry and Prose Reading:  In 2021, we offered simply "Poetry" and "Prose" without the usual memory and reading divisions, because we didn't want to deal with potential cheating in the memory category (students claiming to be reciting a piece from memory in their videos when they were secretly reading it).  So we simply said:  "Read it or memorize it, we don't care -- just make it entertaining."  Going forward, we'll continue to have Poetry Memory and Prose Memory live on contest day (when we finally return to in-person contests), but as we discovered last year, the reading events work quite well through video submission, and there's no way to cheat, because you're ALLOWED, indeed SUPPOSED to read.  This does change the nature of the events somewhat, because now, the students can do many takes until they get it just the way they want it, as opposed to the one shot they used to get on contest day, but that's probably a good thing.  They're more likely to turn in a polished performance this way, which makes judging more pleasant and the experience more positive for the students, especially those who might be shy about reading in front of strangers.

  • Research Paper:  As with digital logo, it's due one week earlier (in future years), but we no longer have to hassle with paper copies, USB drives, envelopes, etc.

  • Video:  Submitting the videos online changes nothing about the essence of the contest; it just moves the deadline up one week (in future years).  Get. Started. In. The. Fall!

Also sticking around from 2021's digital contest will be the use of Google Forms to sign up judges for Houstonfest and State and the requirement for the students to fill out a Google Form for most if not all of their events to facilitate the generation of judging spreadsheets.

When is the next Houstonfest?



February 4, 2023


Where is Houstonfest?


Heights High School in Houston


Link to Texas State German Contest


Texas State German Contest on Facebook


Texas State German Contest 40th Anniversary Facebook Group