News and Updates


Changes and updates for 2023 - important!


Houstonfest Scholarships


Scholarships at State


State Promo Video Contest


Arrival at Heights High School


Lunch options


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


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


Tips for Pair Discussion


Photo Gallery


Daily log of changes to state-qualifier list



Important Dates


Tue., Jan. 17, 2023, 11:59 p.m.Houstonfest registration spreadsheet due for regular price of $12/student (payment does not have to be mailed until 1/23).


Mon., Jan. 23, 2023, 11:59 p.m.Houstonfest registration spreadsheet due for late price of $15/student. Deadline to postmark Houstonfest payment.


Sat., Jan. 28, 2023, 9:00 a.m.:  Submission of entries in the 7 virtual Houstonfest events due (get link to Google Form from your teacher).


Tue., Jan. 31, 2023, 11:59 p.m.:  Remote judging of the 7 virtual Houstonfest events ends.


Wed., Feb. 1, 2023, 9:00 p.m. Houstonfest changes (adds, drops, substitutions) due. After this point, no more changes will be allowed.


Sat., Feb. 4, 2023 Houstonfest, Heights High School, Houston


Fri., Feb. 10, 2023, 11:59 p.m.:  State online registration due for "early bird" price of $12/student (payment does not have to be mailed until 2/15).


Wed., Feb. 15, 2023, 11:59 p.m.:  State online registration due for regular price of $15/student. Deadline to postmark State payment.


Sat., Feb. 18, 2023, 9:00 a.m.:  Submission of entries in the 7 virtual State events due (get link to Google Form from your teacher). Also, Mary El-Beheri Memorial Scholarship applications due.


Mon., Feb. 20, 2023, 8:00 p.m.:  Entries in promotional video contest due to State director.


Tue., Feb. 21, 2023, 11:59 p.m.:  Remote judging of the 7 virtual State events ends.


Sat., Feb. 25, 2023Texas State German Contest, Texas State University, San Marcos


Sat., Mar. 4, 2023, 11:59 p.m. Houstonfest Scholarship applications due.


Sun., Mar. 12, 2023 Gail Cope State Scholarship applications due.


Sun., April 30, 2023 Gail Cope Teacher Grant applications due.

Changes and Updates for 2023


The following changes flow primarily from the State Steering Committee meeting held on May 21, 2022:

  • First and foremost, after two years of pandemic-induced online contests, we will return to in-person contests with a full slate of events on the usual dates and at the usual locations for Houstonfest (Saturday, February 4, Heights High School) and State (Saturday, February 25, Texas State University in San Marcos)!

  • We will have our first price increase in many years:  if you register by the regular deadline (Tuesday, January 17, the day after MLK Day), the price will be $12 per student (up from $10); if you register by the late deadline (Monday, January 23), the price will be $15 per student (up from $12). As always, we have some financial breaks for schools who are new to Houstonfest. The same price structure will apply for State.

  • The "Leidenschaft der Aussprache" pronunciation contest will unfortunately not take place this year.

  • Please begin using these new email addresses for Houstonfest director Rustin Buck ( and State director Jennifer Christianson (

  • We will now allow 7th-graders to compete IF they are enrolled in a course that earns them credit for German I by the end of 7th grade, i.e., they will move on to German II in 8th grade. On the other hand, students who are taking German 1a in 7th grade and will continue to German 1b in 8th grade should wait until their 8th-grade year to start entering contest.

  • Instead of using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets sent in by email, we will now use online Google Sheets to register for Houstonfest. As soon as you know for sure that you will be entering Houstonfest (or even suspect that you might), email Rustin Buck to request a link to a Google Sheet registration spreadsheet that will be unique for your school. Please do not wait until the last minute to request a link. You may request the link at any time (even as early as November or December) even if you don't intend to fill out the form right away, so that you'll have it when you do get ready to fill it out. Since the Google Sheet will be a shared document, there will no longer be a particular moment when you "submit" it, but the director requests that you send him a quick email when you deem the form to be substantially complete. However, you may continue making updates (drops, adds, changes) in the Google Sheet on a rolling basis up to Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at 9:00 p.m. After that point, your editing access will be changed to "view only" and your registration will be finalized.

  • Due to inflation, we are increasing the spending limits on all art events that have a limit to $60 (from previously $45).

  • We are adding an Advantaged Speaker level to the Oral Presentation event (previously open only to Level 4 students). The picture for 2023 is now posted on the Oral Tests rules page.

  • We have retired the Chorus event due to low participation levels.

  • The Digital Logo Design critique sheet was tweaked to add a requirement to include pictures documenting the various stages of the design process.

  • The Needlework critique sheet was tweaked to provide more clarity about the issue of  using sewing machines vs. handwork.

  • We have increased the number of Advantaged Speakers that each school can enter in Poetry and Prose Memory (now 3, as in all the other levels, up from 2 previously).

  • Timed Writing goes back to Levels 1 and 2 only (after we offered it at levels 1-4 last year).

  • We tweaked one of the criteria that define an Advantaged Speaker:  anyone who has lived more than six weeks in a German-speaking country since the age of SIX now falls into the Advantaged category (previously the age was 13).

  • We will now allow exchange students from German-speaking countries to compete in some events that are primarily cultural in nature (rather than language-based). Alternatively, or perhaps in addition, they are still welcome to serve as judges (inform director Rustin Buck of their desire to judge and have them fill out the judging interest Google Form).

  • Because the top sweepstakes tier had only two events (Folk Dance and Varsity Pass auf!) since the retirement of the Play event a few years ago, we have moved Skit 3 and Skit 4 into the top tier. Skit 1 and Skit 2 remain in the second tier.

  • It has taken a while, but we finally have a four-year rotation of dances in place for Einzeltanz. This year, we restart the cycle and use the Heidauer Schuhplattler again. At this writing, we are still awaiting a new video of the dance from our State folk dance coordinator, but the dance notes and music are posted here.

  • The special topic for Pass auf! this year is Scientists of the D-A-CH-L Länder - Space, Medicine, Math. We return to the normal format of Pass auf! (in-person games with buzzers) after our one-year dalliance with Kahoot.

  • The Video Show event is now grouped with the Drama events rather than the Art events. Nothing else about the event was changed.

  • The Houston Saengerbund has, for a second year, pledged $2000 to ensure that we can offer a full slate of Houstonfest Scholarships.

  • The Houston Saengerbund will also offer a limited number of $300 grants to help Houston-area schools with transportation to Houstonfest or State. Details on how to apply will be published when available.

  • As was going to be the case in 2022 before we decided to go entirely online, we will be sharing the Heights campus in 2023 with a band contest. At least, however, the auditorium renovation that was going to complicate things greatly in 2022 is now complete. We hope that sharing the campus won't lead to too many inconveniences, but there will be some changes in locations of events and some sharing of common spaces with the band students.

  • At the State level, the promotional video contest with its $250 prize will be continued for another year, but unless the participation rate improves, it may be retired after that. Please consider making a video!

  • Finally, this was supposed to take effect in 2022 before we went totally online with that contest:  seven events have been designated as permanent "virtual events." See below for the details, but of primary importance is that submissions for these events will be due one week before the date of contest (so on Saturday, January 28, 2023, for Houstonfest).

Permanent designation of some events as "virtual 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, after the 2021 contest, the committee designated these seven events (14 total contests when you account for multiple levels in some events) to remain permanently virtual:  Digital Logo Design, Oral Presentation (2 levels), Photo Essay, Poetry Reading (4 levels), Prose Reading (4 levels), Research Paper, and Video Show. Of course, we also had to move the entire 2022 contest online, but for 2023 and beyond:  having some virtual 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 a virtual and a live event. Virtual entries will be due one week prior to contest day. 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 in 2022, 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 virtual events in one document.  Here are a few thoughts about taking/keeping these events virtual:

  • Digital Logo Design:  The main difference here is that 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, so get started early! Also, we are adding an Advantaged Speaker level to this event.

  • 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 and 2022, 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, but as we discovered during COVID, 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:  It's due one week earlier, but we no longer have to hassle with paper copies, USB drives, envelopes, etc.

  • Video Show:  Submitting the videos online changes nothing about the essence of the contest; it just moves the deadline up one week. Get started early!

When is the next Houstonfest?



February 4, 2023


Where is Houstonfest?


Heights High School

413 E. 13th Street, Houston, TX 77008


Link to Texas State German Contest


Texas State German Contest on Facebook


Texas State German Contest 40th Anniversary Facebook Group