Thursday, December 14, 2017
Education

Tampa Prep international program grows with 17 students

TAMPA

When Valentin Mortier competes in a tennis match at home in France, his friends don't often come to see him play.

But when the high school junior started playing on sports teams at Tampa Preparatory School, where he's attending as an international exchange student, he was surprised to see so many classmates at his games.

"A lot of students from school come to see their friends," he said.

Mortier is one of 17 international exchange students staying with local host families and attending Tampa Prep this year. The school has often had international students, but it began a dedicated international student program two years ago, starting with eight students. Last school year, they had 15.

Families abroad, especially from Europe and South America, who want to send their children to study in the United States, are interested in diverse nondenominational private schools in urban areas like Tampa, Miami or Jacksonville, said Dennis Facciolo, Tampa Prep director of admissions.

"They like the mosaic of students here," he said.

The school has drawn the attention of international agencies placing students in American day schools. Tampa Prep now works primarily with Educatius International, CCI Greenheart Cultural Exchange programs and STS, all companies that work with families in various countries to find educational programs for their children abroad.

International exchange students go through the same admissions process as American students, but also have to take a test to demonstrate English fluency. The agencies then set the students up with host families in the area. Some are Tampa Prep families, and some aren't, though most have children who have attended other private schools.

Most of the parents send their children to American high schools for the cultural experience, Facciolo said. Sometimes, the students end up at American universities, but often they go to college at home. They get involved in sports and school clubs while they're here because most of their schools at home don't have such activities.

"In France if I want to play soccer it's outside of school," Mortier said.

High school sports aren't important in most of their home countries because college sports aren't either. "It's really competitive here," said Amanda de Souza, a sophomore from Brazil, who plays basketball. "We have practice every day."

Some of the students said going to a new school was difficult at first. They weren't used to speaking and thinking in English so much.

"I had to really think about what I have to say," said Katerina Popiolkova, a senior from the Czech Republic. "Now I just say it."

They've enjoyed a lot of new things while they've been here, including Halloween, milk shakes from Steak 'N Shake, Tampa Bay Rays games, and learning a little of each other's languages.

But sometimes, they miss home, especially the food.

"Even if you go to a restaurant from my country here it tastes different," de Souza said. "It tastes like American food."

The international students offer new perspectives on the events taught in history class, and have learned that stereotypes about American high schools aren't all true. The cliques aren't as extreme as in the movies, and there's much more camaraderie among classmates, they said.

Tampa Prep has had an international club where students learn about other countries and try new foods. But with more international students on campus, "now that club is huge," said Jillian Stanton, assistant to the head of school. "It's really enriched what we already had."

Keeley Sheehan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3321.

Comments

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Caitlin Gille grew up in a union household in Wisconsin, where her mom was a long-time teacher in the small city of Wauwatosa, just west of Milwaukee.She was accustomed to seeing educators advocating for their working conditions and pay, having a sea...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Published: 12/12/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17

Pasco class notes for Dec. 15

School Calendar• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middle High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17