Last week, Old Rochester Regional High School’s AFS club welcomed twelve students and three advisors from a partnering AFS club in Arcola, Illinois. The visitors arrived Wednesday night and were hosted by students of ORR’s AFS club until their departure early Sunday morning. Throughout their stay, the visitors from Arcola spent their time touring the Boston and Tri-Town areas.
For many of the students from Arcola, the most thrilling moment of their stay was seeing the ocean for the first time. “It was exciting,” said Hunter Gobert, a student from Arcola. “It just looked like it was the edge of the world.”
Coming from the flat land and endless corn fields in Arcola, Klaire Karmazinas was impressed with the Tri-Town’s tall trees and winding roads. “I love the scenery,” she said. “It’s gorgeous.”
On the Thursday of their stay, the students attended school with their hosts. During first block, Kathleen Brunelle – an English teacher at ORR and a published author – gave a presentation on her books and the local history they contain. For the remainder of the day, the Arcola students shadowed their hosts to their various classes. Most felt ORRHS was very large compared to their own high school. Arcola’s high school has an estimated 200 students, with the senior class being the smallest at only 36 students.
On Friday, the AFS club and Arcola visitors took a field trip to Boston. There they toured the Old North Church from bell tower to crypt, learning about its past and its historical role in the start of the Revolutionary War. “I like all the older stuff, knowing there’s a story behind everything,” said Gobert of her time in Boston.
After some free time at Faneuil Hall, the group toured Fenway Park, learning about its history and remarkable anecdotes. Even for those who aren’t baseball fans, this was an interesting tour. “I didn’t realize that there was so much history in Fenway,” said Karmazinas afterwards.
On Saturday, the AFS and Arcola students got a taste of more local history. They began their day at Fort Tabor, and then spent some time at the Ocean Explorium in New Bedford learning about aquatic life. Students had the opportunity to pet sharks and sting rays, and even held crabs and sea urchins.
After lunch at Kool Kone, the students spent the afternoon at Ned’s Point, enjoying the beach and warmer weather. Saturday evening, the students and advisors gathered for a potluck dinner at the house of an ORR AFS student. They spent their last night together chatting and playing games before saying goodbye on Sunday morning.
With new friendships made, the ORR AFS students are looking forward to their trip to Arcola, IL in April. “I think it’ll definitely be a shock,” said Karmazinas, “because [Arcola] is so small and so quaint.”
In other news, members of ORR’s newspaper staff attended a conference last Thursday at Suffolk University in Boston. The conference was to promote journalism and to present awards to the top high school newspapers in Massachusetts. Out of 45 participating high schools, ORR’s newspaper, Paw Prints, won fourth place in the sports writing category. This being their first win, the certificate will be proudly displayed in the journalism classroom.
The Lion’s Roar, a Newton high school publication, won first place in every print category – Excellence in News Writing, Excellence in Sports Writing, Excellence in Editorial Writing, and the Massachusetts Press Association Award for General Excellence – winning a total of $6,500 in scholarships for any student from their staff who wishes to attend Suffolk for journalism. The final award category, Excellence in Online Journalism, was also presented to a Newton high school publication. Next year, the Paw Prints staff hopes to be the recipient of one of these awards.
The guest speaker at this year’s high school journalism conference was Shira Springer, a sports writer for the Boston Globe. Springer spoke about her experiences in journalism and her most recent reporting at the Sochi Olympics. Dr. Robert Rosenthal, the chairperson of the Department of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University, also addressed the crowd with an inspiring speech. Journalism is “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,” he said.
At the end of the night, the Paw Prints staff proudly returned home with their fourth place award, looking forward to stepping up to the competition next year.
In other news, last Friday was the student versus faculty basketball game in ORR’s gymnasium. Students won the game 51 to 50.
During halftime, the junior/senior “Kiss the Fish” fundraiser came to fruition. During the preceding week, students could donate money if they wished to see junior class president Michael Kassabian, senior class president Zach Bowen, or senior class advisor and math teacher Michael Nailor kiss a fish. Donations were placed into jars labeled accordingly. Zach Bowen’s jar raised the most money, so during halftime, the senior class president kissed a monkfish.
Between the “Kiss the Fish” fundraiser and game tickets that sold at $5 each, the senior class raised over $600 and the junior class raised about $400.
By Renae Reints