BY LISA PERKINS
TRAVERSE CITY — Kerry LaBonte was bitten by the foreign-language bug at an early age. She is hoping that same bug takes a bite out of the fourth-graders her high school German students have been visiting.
"Konrad Visser's students visited my fifth-grade class at Glen Loomis; it really got me interested in learning a foreign language," said LaBonte, remembering the Traverse City High School teacher who influenced her to study German and eventually teach the language at Traverse City West Senior High School.
"You never know who you might have an impact on," she said.
Students from LaBonte's German 3 and 4 classes have been teaching German language and culture to students at Central Grade School, Silver Lake Elementary and Willow Hill Elementary School since November.
Third-year students Emma Davis and Kascha Sanor greeted the fourth-graders in Kathleen Sanor's class with "guten morgen," or good morning, before quizzing the Silver Lake Elementary students on the German words for colors and numbers last week.
Hands shot up to answer "gelb" when Davis asked the word for yellow.
Davis and Sanor also read from children's books written for their German class, including one featuring a monkey named Heidi.
"They are always excited to see you come," said Kathleen Sanor, who welcomed the opportunity to bring a foreign language into her classroom.
Davis was just as pleased to share what she has learned.
"It's fun to see how the kids want to learn about what we know," she said.
LaBonte hopes the younger students continue to want to learn German or any foreign language.
"I would really love to end up with some of the students in my class one day," she said.