Schools exchange scheme marks 25 years

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 11/09/2013
James Hargest College students USA bound
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

FLYING THE FLAG: James Hargest College students, from left, Aisling Shirley, 12, Faith Rosel, 13, Will Dymond, 13, and Nepia Ruwhiu, 12, are part of the 25th group of students to head to Tacoma, United States, for the Citizens of the World programme. Teacher Sandra Alsweiler, centre, is organising a reunion to celebrate 25 years of the programme next year.

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Theme parks, American candy and culture will be on the agenda when a group of Invercargill students heads stateside this weekend.

The James Hargest College junior students are part of the Citizens of the World programme run at the school.

Teacher Sandra Alsweiler said 17 students would travel to the United States city of Tacoma, where they would spend a month learning about American culture and sharing New Zealand culture with students at Meeker Middle School.

The group would be the 25th to take part in the annual exchange since it began in 1989 at Collingwood Intermediate, she said.

Students from Meeker Middle School travel to Invercargill each February.

A 25th anniversary reunion was being organised for Queen's Birthday Weekend next year.

Anyone who had been involved with any of the trips to Tacoma was invited to attend, Ms Alsweiler said.

Those from Tacoma were also invited, although she was not sure how many would come.

The programme was started by Tacoma teacher Dick Turnbull, whose idea was to find a school on the same latitude as Meeker Middle School, she said.

"The first trip in 1989 had five students travel from Invercargill to Tacoma, now we send about 16 every year."

Ms Alsweiler said probably about 500 people had done the trip in 25 years.

"There are people on the reunion committee who were involved in the trips at the very beginning."

Part of the reunion would be held at Donovan Primary School, the site of the old Collingwood Intermediate.

The students heading on this year's journey will stay with host families and attend school for a day and a half.

Anyone interested in attending the reunion is asked to email tacomaexchangereunion@gmail.com.

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