Students, teachers and parents crowded into the Keene High School cafeteria Monday afternoon, listening intently to a student leader describe the school’s different organizations and activities.
But unlike most high school presentations, this one was delivered in two languages — English and French. After all, it was a welcome reception for 19 high school students and two teachers from Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, who arrived that day for a week-long exchange.
The exchange program dates back to 1991, according to French teacher Sharon Wilson, when the high school in Luxeuil-les-Bains reached out to high schools across the United States looking for an exchange partner. Keene High responded, and the program’s been running ever since.
“It’s a lot of work, but they get so much out of it, so we continue to do it. And they meet friends and they keep in touch with them the rest of their lives,” Wilson said. “I even had one student who, two summers ago he said, ‘Madame, guess what? The first day of the exchange I met a girl in a cafe in France. And we’re getting married.’”
The French students, who are staying with local families, had a packed week of activities, including shadowing students at Keene High, participating in homecoming events, visiting the Statehouse in Concord and going to the New England Aquarium in Boston.
“It’s a great way of seeing differences between the cultures, like how much time you have for lunch, what you eat for lunch, the sports after school,” French teacher Marylise Reilly said. “ ... The Americans are very excited, and suddenly it becomes real. Everything I’ve been teaching them is real.”
This is only the second time the French students have visited in October rather than April, Wilson said, with the last being the year the Keene Pumpkin Festival broke a Guinness World Record. The students usually visit their exchange school in alternate years.
French student Clemence Jacquenod, 17, said she’s excited “to spend time with my exchange partner and with her family, and to discover America and the way of life. And also, I’m very happy to be here in the fall season, because I love the colors.”
Though students from Keene High will visit France this April, some have already had the chance to travel to the country in past years. Alyx Scott, a senior from Keene, said preparing for the French students to visit felt similar to preparing for the visit to their school.
“When I was about to go on the trip, I was really excited and anxious, and I did a lot of research of how to act around people,” Alyx said. “And I guess it’s a little bit like the same feeling.”
Plus, there’s still more to learn from the French students, according to Keene High students, such as “French street culture, definitely,” said senior Grace Provencher, who lives in Keene. “It’s something that you don’t learn in a French class.”
ConVal students to attend leadership conference
Three ConVal Regional High School sophomores have been selected to attend the 2020 Hugh O’Brien (HOBY) Leadership Conference at St. Anselm College in Manchester this May. Eva Calcutt of Francestown, Fletcher Maggs of Hancock and Riley Momenee of Francestown were chosen to represent the school at the conference from a pool of 25 sophomores nominated by ConVal staff.
Eva is a member of the varsity Nordic ski, tennis and soccer teams and volunteers at a horse barn, where she is an active vaulter and rider. Fletcher plays on the varsity soccer team and is vice president of the sophomore class. He also received a New Hampshire Scholastic Art Silver Key in January. Riley is a member of the varsity tennis, ski and golf teams and volunteers for Earth Day, community suppers and the Milford Share Program. He received a New Hampshire Scholastic Art Gold Key award.
The weekend-long conference engages sophomore-level student leaders from across the state in leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building activities.
Dublin Christian Academy alumni visit
Alumni of the Dublin Christian Academy visited the school last weekend for its 53rd Homecoming Day. The former students, who represented graduating classes ranging from 1969 to 2014, had the opportunity to tour the school and compete against current students in volleyball and soccer.
They also enjoyed ribs, sausage, pulled chicken and sides at the Blue and Gold Barbecue, where alumni and friends of the school pledged more than $20,000 in donation’s to the school’s annual fund.
Good Citizen Winner announced
ConVal Regional High School senior Shannon Allen of Peterborough has been named the Good Citizen Winner for 2019-20 by the Mary Varnum Platts-Peterborough Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The award recognizes students who have demonstrated dependability, service, leadership and patriotism.
Shannon has held several leadership positions at ConVal, including president of the student council, vice president of the student athletic leadership team and secretary of the National Honor Society. She is also a member of the varsity softball and field hockey teams and supports freshmen students as a peer educator. Outside of school, she has been a lifeguard and volunteered with a soup kitchen in New York City through the Youth Service Opportunities Project.
Shannon will be honored with a commemorative pin and certificate of achievement in May.
A bittersweet note to cap off this week’s column: This edition of Quick Studies will be my last. I’ve accepted a new position at another newspaper and will be leaving The Sentinel this week. I’ve been privileged to write about every kind of student project you can think of, from original short films to hand-designed locker murals and even marshmallows shot into space. I’ve immensely enjoyed covering schools in the Monadnock Region and I won’t soon forget the people I’ve met while working at The Sentinel. Thank you for taking my phone calls, sending me your stories and welcoming me into your classrooms over the past two years.