Published in the January 24, 2018 edition


LYNNFIELD — The Educatius International foreign exchange student program’s reviews continue to be overwhelmingly positive.

German exchange student Marike Jungk and Italian exchange student Laura Celli discussed their time studying at Lynnfield High School during a recent School Committee meeting. The Educatius International F-1 Public High School program allows foreign exchange students to attend a public high school for either a semester or an entire school year. Students are required to pay tuition to the school district they choose to attend.

ITALIAN EXCHANGE STUDENT Laura Celli (left) and German exchange student Marike Jungk both said they enjoyed studying at LHS as part of the Educatius International program during a recent School Committee meeting. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

In addition to Jungk and Celli, the high school also has three exchange students from Brazil and one student from China attending LHS as part of the program.

Jungk said she graduated from high school in Germany, but decided to study in the United States after graduation.

“I specifically chose Lynnfield High School because it offers music programs, graphic design and a lot of stuff that we didn’t have in Germany,” said Jungk. “I am studying here for six months, but I wish I could stay longer.”

Jungk said she has enjoyed learning new subjects that are not offered in Germany. She has enjoyed “meeting new people” as well.

“I love meeting people from other countries like the United States of America,” said Jungk. “I think it’s important we get to know English on an every day basis because it allows you to communicate with people from all over the world.”

Celli concurred with Jungk’s point of view.

“I have really enjoyed this experience,” said Celli. “I really liked the school and my host family. It was a beautiful experience. It was difficult at the start because it’s completely different than Italy’s schools. In Italy, we don’t have as much freedom to select the subject we want to study during the year. The opportunity to learn new things was pretty fantastic.”

Celli said high school officials and teachers have been incredibly helpful.

“They are always ready to help me whenever I need help,” said Celli. “When you are in a new culture, you have to be ready to know how to react and know how to be part of something completely different than you’re used to. I met new people who are great.”

Celli said her host family is “amazing.”

Jungk agreed.

“I feel like Lynnfield people are very welcoming,” said Jungk. “My family and my host family got really close. It also made me want to study in an English speaking country.”

High School Principal Bob Cleary asked the exchange students if they have considered attending college in the U.S.

Jungk said she has considered attending college in the U.S., but said she still needs to take the SAT.

“It’s kind of complicated and I would have to start next year, which I don’t really want to do,” said Jungk. “I am probably going to start college in the United Kingdom and then transfer.”

Celli is also contemplating attending college in the United States.

“I have to wait another year because I have another year of high school in Italy,” said Celli. “I am thinking about it. We’ll see.”

Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay inquired if the two exchange students have been involved in extracurricular activities at LHS.

Celli said she has enjoyed taking a drama class, but said it’s disappointing she won’t be able to perform in Community Schools’ upcoming production next month because she is returning to Italy.

“It was pretty easy to become part of the school,” Celli added.

Jungk said she laced up her sneakers and competed on the girls’ cross country team this fall. She is also a member of the art club and sang in a church concert last month.

“I think being part of extracurricular stuff helped me meet more people,” said Jungk.

In response to a question from Cleary, Jungk and Celli both said meeting new people was the best part of their experience attending Lynnfield High School.

School Committee member Jamie Hayman commended Jungk and Celli for giving a comprehensive report to the school board.

“It’s hard enough sitting up here presenting when English is your native language,” said Hayman. “And I would argue that you did a better job in English than some people.”

Program overview

Cleary said the high school has offered the Educatius International program for the past five years.

“The first year we had four students,” said Cleary. “The second year we had nine students. We have been averaging six students per year. When we originally started the program, we didn’t want to go above 10. We figured somewhere in the five to 10 range would give us a nice group of kids that wouldn’t be too overwhelming to handle.”

Cleary noted that Educatius International students are required to take a test at the beginning of the school year in order to determine a student’s proficiency level in English and math.

“We have been trying to give them a great experience and not overwhelm them,” said Cleary. “It’s always kind of a challenge, and I think the Guidance Department has done a dynamite job with that. Each year, we have been trying to get the students in a little bit earlier so we can test them earlier. We are trying to figure out where they are at so we can get them into the proper classes that offer something they want and something they need.”

Cleary said the high school has a tutor who works with both Educatius International students as well as METCO students.

“Most of the kids who come in are fairly self sufficient,” said Cleary. “Some kids struggle a little bit more depending on what classes they are in. But if you give them support and go above and beyond, it helps them out.”

Cleary noted exchange students apply to the high school, and Educatius International sends the high school a packet containing different information.

“We go through it and take a look at their transcript and the personal statement they write about who they are and what they do,” said Cleary. “We take a look at that and see if they are a good fit. The students who have come in have been pretty successful and have had pretty positive experiences.”

School districts are also required to obtain an I-20 form from the Department of Homeland Security, which provides information on the student’s F or M status. School districts will release an F-1 visa once a student gets accepted. Cleary said students who attend public schools are allowed to stay for a year, while students who opt for private schools have the option to stay longer.

“We have been able to attract some high quality students,” said Cleary.

Cleary noted Lynnfield resident Barbara Langill is Educatius International’s local coordinator. He said Langill has helped exchange students find host families in town and keep track of student needs.

The high school principal said LHS has been fortunate to find local families volunteer as host families. He noted some of the host families have jumped at the opportunity once their own children went off to college.

“A number of the families have been doing it for the last couple of years,” said Cleary. “We send out a ConnectEd message and emails to ask if there are other people interested.”

Cleary noted former Educatius International students who studied at LHS have come back and visited the high school the last few years.