Whitcomb resumes exchange program with Japanese school

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Whitcomb resumes exchange program with Japanese school
Heather Roach and Ava VanBuskirk (now a junior at Marlborough High School) in Japan. The exchange program with Akiruno Shi will resume in the fall of 2023 after a three-year hiatus.
(Photo/Courtesy of Heather Roach)

MARLBOROUGH – After a three-year hiatus, Whitcomb Middle School will resume its exchange program with Akiruno Shi, Japan, in the fall of 2023.

First conducted in 1998, the program was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During its meeting on Dec. 13, the School Committee heard from Heather Roach, who is the school’s seventh-grade guidance counselor and the new coordinator for the exchange program.

According to Roach, successful candidates in seventh and eighth grades will have the opportunity to “immerse themselves in the culture and academics of Japanese schools and home lives.”

Roach said eight students will be heading to Japan, while Akiruno Shi, which is in the western part of Tokyo, will send eight students to Whitcomb.

Criteria for the trip includes permission from the student’s parent/guardian; grades C or above in all classes; no suspensions; and a teacher recommendation. Students will then go through a selection process that will include writing an essay and appearing in front of an interview committee before the final selections are made.

“Travel and expenses for the trip are the responsibility of the families of the students going on the trip. We will be providing fundraising opportunities for them to earn the money to pay for the trip,” said Roach.

Families who volunteer to take an exchange student will be vetted, added Roach.

Students from Akiruno Shi would then visit Marlborough.

The dates, which have been approved by the School Committee, include Whitcomb students arriving in Japan on Sept. 8 and leaving the 15. Akiruno Shi students will come to Marlborough Oct. 12 to 20.

According to Roach, the dates were chosen because there were no major holidays.

The application process will begin in early January.

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