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RCHS welcomed foreign exchange students

Left to right: Ayanna Cudennec, Erin Malensek, Clara Benko, Abby Benko, Avery Bjorklund and Ninon Georges.

Earlier this year, Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) once again welcomed several foreign exchange students to the jungle. Ten students from France came to Colorado (with others going to Montana, Kansas and Washington) and eight of the 10 were hosted by RCHS families. This was the first year, post pandemic, to welcome foreign students into the community.

The French students are the equivalent of high school juniors and were here for three weeks to experience a deep dive into American culture and language. Host families welcomed and absorbed the French students into their lives.

French and Spanish teacher Alexis Savas is the lead contact at RCHS who helps organize and facilitate the exchange program. Since 2017, she has partnered with Language & Friendship, Inc., an organization whose mission is to help language teachers and students with educational programs, including language immersion, family stays and hosting opportunities, to name a few.

“We have such generous host families in our area who open their homes and welcome these kids as another member of the family. It is actually amazing how quickly friendships develop amongst the families and their new family members,” said Savas. “I work really hard to try to match students to families with like interests, so as soon as the matches are made, the students can start communicating with their new friends.”

While social media does have many negatives, connecting the students with their families before they arrive is a positive. “Students are often Snapchatting or DM’ing with their host families for weeks before arrival, so they arrive really excited to meet in person,” added Savas.

The exchange students shadowed their host students, attending classes at RCHS to understand and observe how the school system works. They got to attend classes that might not be offered in France, like digital media and communication, and forensic science. They are not expected to take tests or do homework. They also participate in “Shadow Week,” where French National Honor Society (FNHS) members sign up to take a French student for the day.

RCHS senior and FNHS member Nikki Flocco said that she, “Loved meeting the students and learning how their school differs from Rock Canyon. It’s fun talking to them and hearing them speak; it helped me with my French speaking and pronunciation.”

Exchange students were responsible for preparing and giving presentations (in English) on their region and culture to the French classes at RCHS a few days before they left for home to the southeast of France, Tournon-sur-Rhone in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. The city is famous for lavender fields, cheeses, beautiful natural parks and Valrhona chocolate.

If you are interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, email Alexis Savas,

By Celeste McNeil; photo courtesy of Alexis Savas



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