School exchange to US still thriving

James Hargest College parents waved goodbye to 16 students at Invercargill Airport as they left on a four-week exchange to the United States on Saturday.

Parent Bruce Rodgers said two teachers and three additional adults were accompanying the students, ages 12 and 13, on the four-week stay in the US, based mainly in Tacoma, Washington.

While most of the time would be spent with families in Tacoma, the group would start their holiday with a week around Los Angeles theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios, he said.

Highlights further north they were looking forward to included a sightseeing excursion in Seattle and a trip to the city's zoo, Mr Rodgers said.

The group would also visit Canada.

While some of the children were a little nervous about spending a big chunk of time away from home - for many, this was the first flight overseas - overall, everyone was "very excited".

Mr Rodgers said this was the 23rd year the exchange had taken place with Meeker Middle School; in February, students from the Tacoma school came to Invercargill for a visit.

The exchange this year was paid for through eight months of fundraising, he said, mainly through cheese roll sales, barbecues and chocolate sales.

Teacher Katrina Grice said each family raised about $1400 through the school's planned fundraising events and activities.

The remaining costs were up to each family to raise personally, she said.

Mr Rodgers said he had been involved in the exchange for a few years and enjoyed seeing children from both sides of the equator get a taste of the cultural differences.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience for kids from Invercargill to see the world," he said.

The Southland Times