Students from Wadleigh Secondary School and the Frederick Douglas Academy II got the chance to visit the Garvey Farm as part of a College For Every Student exchange program with students from Willsboro Central School.
It was an exchange of the big city lights to the Adirondack Park.
Students from the Wadleigh Secondary School and Frederick Douglass Academy II in Harlem spent three days with students from Willsboro Central School, part of a College For Every Student (CFES) exchange program between the two districts.
This week, students from Willsboro will travel to Harlem to experience life at the Wadleigh School, while their peers got the chance to experience life in the halls of Willsboro April 18-19.
“Our classes are way bigger — our gymnasium is bigger — it is definitely different from the city,” Wadleigh senior Isaiah Rowe said. “I have one class that is just one section of the class that has 32 students in it.”
Rowe said that he wanted to see something that was different from the high school experience that he had so far.
“I especially wanted to get an experience that was outside of the city,” he said.
“It is fun to see them on the farm, because it can be a big shock,” Willsboro student Tyler Bridge said. “They are a different group of people that have come into the school, but after we get to know each other it becomes fun and lively, just like we had been classmates for a while.”
Bridge said that he was looking forward to the visit to Harlem and getting the chance to see a larger school.
“They will see a big difference in any class they go to,” Rowe said. “I think that they will also get a fun experience when they have to travel on the subway to and from school.”
Delores Roberts, CFES Liaison at Wadleigh Secondary School, said the experience is important for the students.
“It is a matter of coming from the environment that you live in and to be exposed to things that they would not ordinarily get,” Roberts said. “There is a lot from this that they can use in their personal databases, and adding to your database allows you to fit into different places and circumstances.”
Roberts also said that the kids come together quickly as peers.
“It can be a little intimidating at first but after a couple of hours, they all feel so comfortable around each other,” she said. “They are all children who are interested in furthering their education and having new experiences.”
The following week, for students from Willsboro, including Bridge, traveled to New York City to be with students there.
While the students did not get to go to classes with their peers, they were able to see how the students got around, where they lived and attend a leadership conference and the famed Apollo Theater.
“It took me out of my comfort zone,” sophomore Kanesa Kohen said. “I like the city and actually getting a chance to see how they live every day. I knew that it was a big city, but there were some parts that did not seem that big.”
“It was a lot of fun to see what it is like to live in the city,” sophomore Kelsey Sloper said. “You can walk everywhere because everything is right next to them. There is no trip to Plattsburgh. You take the subway to school.”
Senior Tiffani Tromblee said that there were several differences that her peers told her about between the two schools, including one that she had not thought about.
“They said that our school lunches were a lot better here,” she said. “You always hear kids talk about school food, and that was kind of eye-opening.”
“Experiencing their life is a lot different,” Bridge said. “I had been there with my parents before but seeing it for myself and having the independence of seeing the city with other teens was nice.”
Bridge said that he first thought the experience would be a little intimidating, but was soon able to settle in with his fellow students from the city.
“It was fun to interact with the students because you think that there are going to be all these differences but we are all still teenagers and do a lot of the same things no matter where we live,” Bridge said.
“Every year, it is just fun to watch and see how the students are so quiet at first and it just takes a matter of minutes for them to start bonding,” Willsboro CFES Advisor Marie Blatchley said. “It’s fun for me because I already know what the results are going to be from having seen it happen. Every year there is someone like Tyler that says they find out that they are all just teenagers and going through the same things. It’s great to see the process of the stereotypes being broken down on both sides.”