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From left, Newcomb Central School Superintendent Skip Hults, Rep. Bill Owens, Senior Class Advisor Martha Swan, the senior class and School Board President Steve Frieman (photo by Andy Flynn)
From left, Newcomb Central School Superintendent Skip Hults, Rep. Bill Owens, Senior Class Advisor Martha Swan, the senior class and School Board President Steve Frieman (photo by Andy Flynn)

Owens lauds international program at Newcomb graduation

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The Newcomb Central School District in the Adirondacks celebrated a big milestone this week. It boosted its enrollment to 101 students. That may not seem like a lot, but considering the school had only 55 students five years ago, topping 100 is a big deal. The turnaround began after Superintendent Skip Hults began accepting foreign exchange students.

These students get a uniquely Adirondack education, the locals get more diversity and Newcomb Central fills classrooms. The program caught the attention of Congressman Bill Owens, who was the commencement speaker at Newcomb on Saturday, June 23. Andy Flynn has our story.

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Andy Flynn
Adirondack Correspondent

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Newcomb Central School could have even more international students if the F-1 Student Visa Law was amended to allow kids in public schools to stay in the U.S. for more than one year. Congressman Bill Owens is currently trying to get support for the change. In his commencement speech, Owens told the six graduating students from Newcomb to make sure, every day, they find time to laugh, time to love and time to listen to other people.

“This is a very practical solution: something I like to see, something I don’t often see,” said Owens. “It shows that there is a place for entrepreneurship and innovation in every aspect of our lives. Education should not be an exception, but a model for such innovation. Newcomb has shown that it can be done, and I love to see that. Beyond the specifics of the educational program here at Newcomb is a larger life lesson of perseverance and rebuilding that you will take with you for all of your lives. ”

Valedictorian Marlena Peter gave credit to the international program for teaching her about different cultures from around the world. “It’s given me a new perspective on the diversity of our own country and it’s strengthened my social skills, because where else would I be making friends from around the globe every single year? And where else would I be able to take a senior trip to Costa Rica, a world experience all on its own? That’s right, there aren’t a lot of other schools that do that,” said Peter.

Newcomb has hosted 43 students from 21 countries in the past five years. There were 13 students this past year from countries such as Brazil, Spain and South Korea. During his speech, Owens called Newcomb a model for struggling school districts throughout the country.

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