Cap placed on exchange student numbers

Each year, the high school hosts foreign exchange students from all over the world, including countries such as Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Brazil, Russia and others. This year, however, there has been a limit placed on the number of students allowed due to class sizes and problems acquiring student visas, as a result of President Trump’s administrative changes.
In past years, the school has hosted upwards of 18 to 21 students, the equivalent of a full-sized class. This year, however, only eight exchange students are attending Newton High School in hopes of lowering class enrollment numbers.

“Quite frankly, our classes are bursting at the seams right now. Especially our junior and senior English classes and elective classes. They are just extremely full,” principal Lisa Moore said. “By reducing the number, our goal is to take some of the pressure off of those bigger classes.”

While class size remains the main reason for adding a limit to the number of foreign exchange students, acquiring student visas has also been problematic.

“There was some question about how many would be allowed into the country because of some of the things President Trump had said. He was not allowing some people from certain countries in,” special education teacher and local coordinator for CCI Greenheart Georgetta Grimmett said. “We are worried that might affect our company [CCI Greenheart].”

Despite the limit that has been placed on the number of foreign exchange students, Moore and Grimmett look forward to having the exchange students be involved as part of the school and community.

“We are very lucky to be able to [educate exchange students]. The students get to become friends with American students and that’s their whole goal for coming here, to make relationships in America. It benefits the American students because they get to know students from another country and they learn about their culture. They learn about how things may be different in another country. I think it peaks their interest in traveling and wanting to find out about other countries,” Grimmett said. “I get excited when they have a successful year at Newton High School and that they make lifelong friends with their own host family. When I hear about the American host family going over and visiting the exchange student, that really tells me that they built a bond with each other.”

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