LAKEVIEW — Cultures from around the world were the main topic of interest at Monday evening’s meeting of the Lakeview Community Schools Board of Education.
Board members heard a presentation from Lisa Jensen, regional manager of the CCI Greenheart student exchange program. Several exchange students currently taking part in the program also were on hand to discuss their experiences, so far, in the United States.
According to Jensen, CCI Greenheart differs from some exchange programs in that it focuses in large part on environmental issues around the world. The organization was founded in 1985, when it was known as Center for Cultural Interchange. Since then, the nonprofit program has placed more than 20,000 students from dozens of different countries with families in the U.S. Many of those students have found their way to Lakeview.
“This year we have at least 18 different countries represented,” Jensen said. “These students worked hard over the year building friendships and giving back to the community.”
So far this school year, exchange students, many from former Soviet Union countries, have participated in fundraising efforts, worked at an area church manning the Feed America food truck, performed cleanup duties at Lakeview Cemetery and collected turkeys and canned goods for needy Lakeview families during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The program also provides learning opportunities for American students, Jensen said. The students recently took part in an International Fair in which they each created booths highlighting their home countries.
“They did it so the public could come in and learn a little bit about these kids’ countries,” Jensen said.
The exchange students, along with their American counterparts, plan to take part in an essay contest early next year in which the grand prize is a $500 award for the school. The contest is sponsored by CCI Greenheart and is open to any student.
Lakeview High School Assistant Principal Tom Wilcox also touted the benefits of the program and shared praise for Jensen’s organizational efforts.
“She runs it,” Wilcox said. “The program here is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s nice to see boys and girls from 20 different countries in our school. Our kids here at Lakeview get to become lifelong friends with them.”
In other school board business, Superintendent Kyle Hamlin explained the progress being made with the system’s technology program. Using money from a recently passed bond, the school plans to purchase handheld tablet devices. At present, Hamlin said, several “pilot classrooms” are previewing different possibilities with regard to which devices to purchase.
“The input from the pilot classrooms will help determine what we go with,” Hamlin said.
Both Apple and Android devices are currently under consideration. The actual purchase of the 180 planned devices won’t actually happen until next summer. Hamlin said the school will wait as long as possible to make the buy in order that the technology be as up to date as possible for next school year’s students.
“From a tech standpoint, that’s where we’re standing,” Hamlin said.
The school board meets next at 7 p.m. Jan. 13.