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Hamburg School Board opens year on an international note French, Russian teachers take part

With a decidedly international flare, the Hamburg School Board opened its first meeting of the school year with presentations from the district's French and Russian teachers and concluded the meeting by officially adopting a pair of schools in Africa.

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

The district partnership is with Umutara Polytechnic-Gakoni High School and Rukara College of Education.

The excursion was both a humanitarian effort and an attempt to bring Hamburg students to the forefront of understanding Third World poverty and politics, the superintendent said.

The globalization theme will continue to be stressed next month, school officials said, at a public presentation highlighting students who spent two weeks in Zambia, a local group that has worked in Haiti and members of the school community who went to Rwanda. The program will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in Hamburg 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 the Loire Valley of France.

The exchange is planned for spring 2011, she said, and students would 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 the complete 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, a 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 with the new language offering.

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