Lyons Township students mark Berlin Wall’s fall
Bella Dontrelli of La Grange, a freshman at Lyons Township High School, works on a painting for the mock Berlin wall project by the Lyons Township German Club. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 23, 2012 6:08AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — A silent cry for freedom greeted students walking into the Lyons Township High School South Campus.
Beginning Nov. 15, a replica of the Berlin Wall stood at the main entrance marking the 28 years the European capital was divided between East and West Germany until 1989. Students were scheduled to tear down their plywood version Nov. 22.
“The wall was actually taken down on Nov. 9, though it was supposed to come down on the 11th,” said Countryside sophomore Katja Loehman as she painted slogans on the wall with fellow members of the German Club.
“Everyone stormed the wall, and the guards just let it go. They couldn’t hold back all the people,” Loehman explained. “The wall represented the division of Germany and how communism didn’t help the people; it divided them.”
Brookfield sophomore Jose Montelongo said the project was a good one to make history come alive.
“They should put this where everyone can see it, because many students may not know what this is about,” Montelongo said. “I didn’t really know about it until this year.”
Faculty adviser Karen McCann, who teaches German and French agreed.
“When I asked my freshmen in German I about the wall, they all didn’t know about it,” McCann said. “Sept. 11 is still pretty fresh in their minds. But as the generations go on and events get further away, it’s just another thing in history.”
McCann said the Berlin Wall has relevance today.
“We talked about the escape attempts and how that’s similar to people attempting to leave Mexico, putting people in trunks,” she said. “That desperation is still going on today.”
Brookfield senior Heidi Cusk said the wall’s history became more real when she imagined a similar structure going up in La Grange dividing neighborhoods and families.
Building the wall was “a good idea, going along with what we’re learning in class,” said Cusk, who takes German for Advanced Placement college credit. “You see it come to life.”
McCann said she’s pleased German Club members embraced the project as a cultural observance for November between an LT version of Oktoberfest sans bier and a visit in December to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago.
“At first I thought we could make bricks out of cereal boxes,” she said. “But then Eugene O’Reilly said his students in the stagecraft class could build a wall for us, and pre-cut it, so it could be torn down.
“The collaboration was great,” she said.