Highland students to gain global insight through Intercultural Program

Highland students to gain global insight through Intercultural Program

Feb. 28 school board meeting

by Chris Studor

With global understanding playing an important role in today’s world, Highland School officials announced the district plans to re-launch its Intercultural Program in the 2022-23 school year.

Members of the Highland Local School Board approved the first part of the program at its Feb. 28 meeting. As part of the program, 20 students from France and Spain will be selected as guests at Highland High School for a week and will be hosted by a Highland family.

District Director of Communications Dawn Marzano said it is likely the board will vote on whether to send 20 Highland students to France and Spain in return in the coming weeks.

The Intercultural Program was initiated in 2012 when a group of Highland teachers travelled to China and returned shortly thereafter, taking a small group of students with them. The program was placed on hiatus the last two school years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and school officials say travel to China is no longer being considered at this time.

Highland High School principal Carrie Knapp presented an overview of the program and noted that, initially, the program was offered during summer vacation and was later changed to fall so students could experience what school was like in foreign countries.

Students are able to apply for the program if they meet required academic standing, are enrolled in World Languages and have no significant record of disciplinary issues, Knapp said. Preference is given to upperclassmen and students must pay for their own trip, estimated at $2,900-$3,100.

In past years, scholarships for the trip have been awarded by the Highland Foundation, which again will be asked to contribute to the cause.

If students do travel to France and Spain, they will be staying with vetted host families and will attend high school classes in their respective countries. Trips overseas are fully chaperoned and supported by a program director and constant contact is maintained with the students’ families throughout the trip.

“The students are required to keep up with their Highland academics while on the trip,” Knapp said. “In addition, they can earn a half-semester credit by completing a research project aligned with designated criteria and approved by the project director.”

In other business, a lengthy list of board policies were placed on first reading including a revised policy on public participation which would apply to board of education meetings.

The new policy states: “The presiding officer may interrupt, warn, or terminate a participant’s session when they make comments that are repetitive, obscene, and/or comments that constitute a true threat.” This includes statements meant to frighten or intimidate one or more specific persons into believing that they will be seriously harmed by the speaker or someone acting at the speaker’s behest.

This policy, and others on the list, will have two additional readings before final approval or disapproval at future board of education meetings in the coming months.

Knapp said graduation ceremonies for the class of 2021-2022 will once again be held at the Highland High School stadium as they were in 2021.

“We had such a positive response when we held graduation at the high school stadium last year (due to COVID-19) that we decided to continue holding graduation ceremonies [there],” she said. “Students said they liked the idea of graduating from their own school stadium.”

The first choice for graduation day is Saturday, May 28, at 11 a.m., which falls on Memorial Day Weekend. Knapp said the district is still determining a rain date in the event of inclement weather.

“It will likely be the following day (Sunday, May 29),” she said. ∞