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Global flair marks board's first session

The Hamburg School Board's first meeting of the school year had a decidedly international flair, with presentations from both the district's French and Russian teachers and action to officially adopt two schools in Africa.

Adopting the schools was the result of a months-long effort that included a 14-day goodwill trip to Rwanda last summer in which Superintendent Mark J. Crawford and School Board President Gregory J. Wichlacz participated.

The district partnership with Umutara Polytechnic-Gakoni High School and the Rukara College of Education is both a humanitarian effort and an attempt to bring Hamburg students to the forefront of understanding Third World poverty and politics, the superintendent said.

Globalization will continue to be stressed next month, school officials said, during a public presentation highlighting students who spent two weeks in Zambia, a local group that has worked in Haiti and school members who went to Rwanda. The program will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the high school on Legion Drive.

French teacher JoAnn Thomasson offered the board details of a proposed student exchange program between Hamburg and Angers, a small town in France's Loire Valley. She said that in the spring of 2011, students will spend two weeks going to school and staying with host families in Angers, then reciprocate by hosting French students in their Hamburg homes.

Thomasson said the advantage of such an experience would be immersion in the culture, which students would be required to research in depth before traveling. According to a teacher at the middle school in Angers, 45 of her students are interested in making the trip to Western New York.

Separately, Sheri Green, Russian teacher for the district's new Global Leadership Program, gave a slide presentation on a trip to Novgorod, Russia, where she worked with about 30 Russian teachers who teach English. She reported enthusiasm in her class regarding the new language offering.

Also, the board approved hiring an additional grounds worker on the recommendation of the district facilities committee. The worker will be assigned to Howe Athletic Field, which has had an $1.8 million overhaul that included the installation of artificial turf.

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