Cultural Exchange Unites Schools

Cultural Exchange Brings Schools Together

In January, 39 students from East Islip High School spent an entire day 15 miles west at Amityville Memorial High School as part of a Cultural Exchange program to promote friendship and cultural diversity. East Islip returned the favor in February, welcoming 39 Amityville students for the first time.

“Guys, get out there and have a great day,” Superintendent John Dolan told the gathered students. “Smile and make new friends.”

At both schools, the visiting students enjoyed breakfast, conversation and icebreaker activities before attending classes with their “buddies” from the host school. They finished the day with a shared lunch and an informal discussion of what they had experienced. Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi was in attendance to speak to the students from both schools.

Amityville teacher Jason McGowan, who also serves as the coach of East Islip’s varsity girls volleyball team, has been coordinating Amityville’s Cultural Exchange program for years.

“I started this in 2009, with Plainedge High School, and now we do it with Bayport-Blue Point and East Islip,” said McGowan. “Our kids love this tradition.”

“We are really glad that we got to do our first Cultural Exchange and we’d like to see this partnership grow,” said teacher Genesis Dawson, who coordinated the event for East Islip. "I’m really grateful to the great bunch of kids who volunteered for a program that has never been here before. These students really stepped out of their comfort zone.”