The following is an article written by Éric Galarneau, the Cultural Activities Officer for École secondaire publique Mille-Îles here in Kingston.
Great news! The pen pal program between students at École secondaire publique Mille-Îles and students at Arcadia High School in Scottsdale, Arizona have finally resumed!
After an 18 month hiatus, the letter exchange program, which began in the fall of 2019, is back thanks to the tireless efforts of Suzie Austin, chair of the Kingston committee of the Scottsdale Sister City Association. The school closures in Ontario in the spring of 2020, unfortunately, put an end to the first edition of this exchange between our schools.
In November 2021, Lynnette Slagle, French teacher at Arcadia H.S., started writing the initial letters with her students. This process began in the dark because students did not know the identity of their future pen pals. This writing activity allows participants to perfect their mastering of the French language through an authentic experience. For many students in Arizona, French is their third language learned after English and Spanish!
For their part, in December 2021, the grade eight students at Mille-Îles were preparing to answer the letters without really knowing what to expect. The wait was a little longer than imagined. Mr. Martin had to contain the growing impatience. Of course, it was still a huge surprise for students during the distribution of the messages.
“It’s exciting to know people who don’t live here!” exclaimed Élise, an eighth-grader.
“It’s a fantastic new experience,” added her classmate Esmeralda. “It’s fun making new friends!”
The health situation and the restrictions imposed slowed the process somewhat, but the Coyotes managed to complete their messages before the holidays. The envelopes traveled nearly 3,800 kilometers to reach America’s South West!
Meanwhile, thanks to Emily Wininger of Experience Scottsdale, the Kingston students have each received travel magazines about this beautiful Phoenix-area city. Also, Lynnette Slagle and her students at Arcadia will try to create maple taffy with real syrup from Canada. Sandy Berg, coordinator of the Sister Cities Committee for Kingston, and Mr. Eric shared information on how to prepare this traditional treat. If there is no snow, the maple taffy will be served on a block of ice. It remains to be seen what Arizona delicacy could be served to the Coyotes at École secondaire publique Mille-Îles…
The correspondence is expected to continue until the end of the school year. New friendships could carry on even longer. Who knows? This French writing project might eventually lead to a student exchange program between Scottsdale and Kingston: an unforgettable experience for participants in both Sister Cities.