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For its 100th anniversary, Hermann-Josef College is going to Rome in 2024. The whole school. This has never happened before in the history of the school and probably in the entire district of Euskirchen. 20 coaches will take 800 students and teachers to the eternal city.

"No, the parents are not allowed. They only get in the way!" Hans Höffmann, a seasoned organizer of school trips from Vechta in Lower Saxony, reliably elicits good-humored laughter from his audience even with this remark. In the culture cinema Vogelsang the straight consists of approximately 800 pupils, accompanied by in each case a parents, and Höffmann explains, what some of the present ones hear unbelieving: From October 4 to 11, 2024, the Hermann-Josef College is going to Rome. The whole school.

A premiere for the 100th anniversary of the Gymnasium am Kloster Steinfeld in two years. Naturally, this requires a certain amount of preparation time, which is why Hans Höffmann is here almost two years in advance.

He thought the idea was unfeasible, admits principal Thomas Frauenkron. Because although a graduation or year school trip to Rome takes place almost every year - these dimensions are enormous even for him. It was in Rome that the journey to 2024 began: Four years ago, Frauenkron was on a graduation trip to Rome with the then Q2. He was traveling on the subway with a few students and a colleague when he noticed that all the other passengers around him - "other middle school students from another school," according to Frauenkron - were speaking German. It was a whole school on a school trip. With the professionals from Vechta, who are recognized as organizers of school trips.

Two years later, the senior boss Hans Höffmann, who came to Vogelsang with his son Andreas, entertains his young audience in the Kulturkino again and again with anecdotes from 53 years of work according to the motto: "Everything has already happened, everything has already been experienced! He had done this the day before in the auditorium of the Hermann-Josef College in front of the 5th and 6th grade classes, and due to a lack of space there for all the other grades along with one parent, now once again on Vogelsang.

In the past, Höffmann begins his part of the art of packing for a week-long vacation, for example, "the girls would have packed seven pairs of shoes. Today it's the boys. But too much is too much: "What fits" is his motto, but don't forget a sleeping bag and a small pillow instead. Both are important on the 20-hour bus trip over 1500 kilometers to Rome, "because the buses all have air conditioning, which blows cold. With a sleeping bag and pillow at the back of the neck, that's no problem."

But he gets the biggest applause for his comments on the consequences of an "entire sports bag full of food for the road" on the gastrointestinal tract of the young traveler who consumes it all: stomach pain, flatulence noises along with foul-smelling gases escaping. Often then a case for the traveling "empty bus", in which a doctor, nurses and the school administration are sitting - which is also a funny idea for many students.

At the beginning of October 2024, the convoy will consist of 21 buses that will set off from Steinfeld on their journey to the eternal city. 20 of them will be filled with 40 students and four accompanying persons per bus. The first destination, 1500 kilometers away, is the "Fabulous Camping Village", about 30 minutes from Rome. There, bungalows have been reserved for five people each, the group unit to which the students have previously been divided. In the mixture of vacation resort and campsite with level there is full board, a large bathing area, food tents and other more: "This is all perfect for 5000 people," promises rice professional Höffmann.

From here, the school will depart for day trips to Rome: sightseeing, a tour of "Ancient Rome," perhaps even a papal audience. This would take place not far from Palazzo Cesi, bought in 1895 by Father Francis Jordan, founder of the Salvatorians, the Society of the Divine Savior. The Mother House of the Order, the Generalate, stands on Via Conciliazione, which leads to St. Peter's Square.

Now the preparations are beginning for what has never happened before in almost 100 years of Hermann-Josef Kolleg, "and will probably never happen again," principal Thomas Frauenkron is convinced. Even in the district of Euskirchen, such a trip with the professional provider from Vechta is a first. Hans Höffmann promises: "We have so far taken around 600,000 young people to all continents and major cities in the world. And back again, too!" (Sli)

Text and picture : Stefan Lieser