By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
A group of Kokomo High School ninth-graders will earn high school and college credit during a nearly three-week trip to Cost Rica in June.
The exchange is part of Kokomo Center Schools’ effort to provide students at its international schools with more cultural immersion opportunities.
Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said students learn a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures when they can experience and celebrate those differences in person.
“Studying abroad allows students an opportunity to become immersed in another culture, thus learning core educational concepts that are an integral part of that school’s goals and mission,” Hauswald said.
The district already forged a partnership with the University of Costa Rica and is ironing out the details of its partnership with an International Baccalaureate high school in the South American country.
Up to 20 students will make the trek to Costa Rica to improve their conversational Spanish skills.
The high schoolers will spend four hours of every day in the university’s Spanish immersion program getting intense lessons in speaking the language.
Their afternoons will be spent at an International Baccalaureate high school learning how Costa Rican schools operate.
Hauswald said the students will learn about the culture and history of Costa Rica during weekend excursions in San Jose and to the Pacific coast and Arenal — a mountainous region in the country.
All students will stay with families in the area.
Hauswald said the program is so intense that students will be able to earn high school and college credit in Spanish while they’re there.
Students are signing up for the excursion now, Hauswald said. That list will later be narrowed based on criteria like grades, attendance and Spanish fluency.
The district is using grant funds to pay for part of the cost for students. The high schoolers will be responsible for coming up with the rest of the funds themselves.
The money will be well spent, though, KHS Assistant Principal Sean Swan said.
“The opportunity for our high school students to not only travel abroad, but also to earn college and high school credit is amazing,” Swan said. “Being exposed to a different culture allows our students to authentically experience another culture in a way that most young people never dream about doing. This exchange will impact these students for the rest of their lives, and our students will bring so much back to their classrooms to share with their peers.”
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