Two months after nine students were chosen by their peers to represent Calhoun High School in the first leg of a cultural exchange trip to Pascagoula, Mississippi, their southern counterparts traveled north.
Eleven students, along with their teacher and assistant principal, enjoyed a four-day trip that included a welcome party, class shadowing and trip into Manhattan.
On Friday, April 28, both classes met to discuss the differences and similarities between school lives. According to Pascagoula students there is no cell phone usage permitted at school, there are lines directing one-way traffic in the halls and all adults are addressed as “ma’am” or “sir.”
“Culture drives behavior,” stated Assistant Principal Ken Zisel who helped orchestrate this program after several personal trips to the region. “Most of the population is generations of families that grew up in the town of Pascagoula and remained, so folks are well aware of the rules and what is expected.”
Calhoun students spoke highly of the high levels of courtesy and respect they saw in Pascagoula. While their southern friends were surprised to learn of the freedoms Calhoun students are allowed on and off campus, stating this shows a real sign of trust from the staff.
Their curriculum is taught in 90-minute blocks, instead of 40-minute periods like at Calhoun.
“They stick to the schedule and everyone settles down immensely to learn,” said one student from Pascagoula.
The visitors thoroughly enjoyed acclaimed New York fare including pizza and bagels.
Both schools cited a strong sense of community support and commitment to students. And in the end, as Zisel said, “kids are kids no matter where you go.”