April 20, 2018
High school participates in French exchange program
Upper St. Clair High School recently welcomed 17 exchange students from Lycée Saint-Marc, a private school in Lyon, France, for a two-week stay as part of an annual exchange program. In June, 21 Upper St. Clair High School students will spend 10 days with their corresponding host families in France.
“By taking part in the exchange students are able to apply their learning of language and culture that has been studied since their first introduction to French in 5th grade,” Bethany Chase, Upper St. Clair High School French teacher, said. “The exchange allows kids the chance to go beyond the perspective of a tourist and see life through the eyes of a high school student, it's like getting to go backstage.”
Beginning in 2006, Upper St. Clair High School and Lycée Saint-Marc have paired together biennially to create the French-American Cultural Exchange. The program objectives are to develop communication skills in multiple languages; foster lifelong global connections with students and their families and create positive international relations; gain international perspectives; grow as global leaders; and increase intercultural competency.
The visiting French students – all of whom were 10th grade girls – had the opportunity to select which classes to attend at the high school. Among the most popular classes for the French students were 2D Art, American Law & Justice, Ceramics, Chorus and Foods. Other course selections included Chinese, Japanese, Sociology and Speech.
In addition, the exchange students participated in a walking tour of Pittsburgh; visited the Andy Warhol Museum; took a day-trip to Washington, D.C.; met with Boyce Middle School students who are studying French; and enjoyed a farewell pizza party at the high school.
“Our host families also took them to places like Mount Washington, the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning, Phipps Conservatory, hiking and kayaking at Raccoon Creek State Park, the Strip District, Carnegie Museum of Art and National History and the outdoor viewing of a Pens playoff game,” Mrs. Chase said.
On Tuesday, April 17, the French students, along with their USC peers, gathered in the high school’s lobby for a group photo as well as lots of hugs and high fives before boarding the school bus bound for the airport.
While other transportation could have been arranged, Mrs. Chase found great cultural value in providing another authentic experience.
“The yellow school bus is a quintessential part of American culture,” Mrs. Chase said.
This summer, Upper St. Clair students will enjoy a similar experience as they discover the history, culture, art and architecture of Lyon, France. After the stay in Lyon, students will travel to St. Malo in Brittany, visit the abbey of Mont Saint Michel and then spend four nights in Paris before returning to Pittsburgh.
“The program helps students set lifelong goals to advance their studies of world languages,” Mrs. Chase said. “Many of our past students have participated in semester or yearlong study abroad experiences, earned a minor, double major with French and/or work in other countries around the world.”
The district’s world language department offers similar exchanges for students studying German and Spanish. In addition, the high school participates in an annual Thailand exchange and has sponsored cultural excursions to Japan, Italy and Peru in the past.