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Russians study area school

February 06, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Eight visitors from Russia exchanged questions and information with students and employees of Clear Spring elementary and middle schools Thursday.

Carol Mowen, spokeswoman for the Washington County Board of Education, said she received a call about two weeks ago from the American Councils for International Education, which wanted to bring people to local schools to give them a glimpse of American education.

A teacher had recommended that they visit Washington County schools to learn more about American education in a rural community, she said.

At one point, a few of the visiting Russian educators gathered around three students' desks in a seventh-grade social studies class at Clear Spring Middle School as students peppered them with questions.

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Bruce Mills, 13, pointed to a picture of a horse and carriage and asked, "Do they still ride horse carriages?"

The visitors laughed and explained through a translator that not only do most people in Russia not have horses but many children in big cities have probably never seen a horse.

One student asked what music Russians like and was told "rock" and "pop."

Another student asked what Russian money looked like and a ruble was passed around.

Mills and Steven Davis, 14, said the conversation was enjoyable and entertaining.

"It was, like, fun," Mills said

"I like the money," Davis said.

The visitors went to other classes at the two schools and asked questions.

Alexey Mayorov, deputy head of the Russian Federation Ministry of Education's strategic development and regional policy department, posed for a picture behind sewing machines in the family and consumer science class. He asked if it was true that some boys can sew as well as girls and was told by a teacher that is indeed the case.

In a music class, Mayorov asked if the teacher would find a way to help a student who, like him, did not have much musical talent. Teacher Mark Valco said he would.

Most of the delegation members are part of the Russian Federation Ministry of Education. The others also are involved in education.

Before leaving the schools to attend a panel discussion on state and federal education laws at the Washington County Board of Education's central office, delegation members and school representatives exchanged gifts.

Among the gifts were two separate buttons, designed by Clear Spring Middle School students, that contained the United States and the Russian flags.

Speaking through an interpreter, two delegation members said they were pleased with what they saw.

"You have beautiful, beautiful students. We liked your school a lot," Vera Emeliyanova said

The visitors were impressed with the level of dedication by the students and school employees, she said.

While there is a great geographical distance between Clear Spring and Russia, the students of the two countries are not all that different, Emeliyanova said. They have similar interests and hobbies, she said.

"We would like to stay in touch if you would like that too," she said.

Laura Hart, system supervisor of the Center for Peak Performance and Productivity, who helped organize the trip, said it was worthwhile for all involved.

"I think this is an incredibly great experience," she said.

Hart, who has visited some of the republics of the former Soviet Union, said she hopes there will be similar educational exchanges in the future.

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