VICENZA -- The current school year has been a very intense one at Vicenza High School with students participating in numerous cultural exchanges in the area.

A variety of exchanges have taken place for more than a decade that include visits to and from several high schools located in downtown Vicenza. The schools include Liceo Scientifico Statale G.B. Quadri; Istituto Tecnico Industriale A. Rossi; Istituto A. Da Schio; Istituto Tecnico Commerciale G. Piovene and Istituto Tecnico Commerciale S. Ceccato in Montecchio Maggiore. An example of the sorts of events the students participate in is a concert that took place at Da Schio before the winter holidays.

"We have about two visits per month," said Michela Ambruoso, VHS Italian teacher. "In March, the VHS students went to Da Schio and Quadri, and we'll also visit Rossi on April 26. We always go to these exchanges with our Rhythm and Blues Band.

"Then, in the middle of May, the Marching Band and the R & B Band will also participate in the annual Jazz Festival, respectively on May 14 and 21."

During one of the most recent school exchanges, some students from Liceo Quadri spent a week at the end of March attending classes at VHS, while American students joined their peers at the school downtown.

"We had the opportunity to include some of the Italian students into our program, and our kids really enjoyed showing the Italian students our daily Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps functions," said Jesse Woods, JROTC program.

All students practiced their foreign language skills: Italians spoke in their best English, and the American teens tried to reciprocate in Italian.

"It has been a beautiful experience and a great chance to understand a different school method and also to improve my English," said Sofia Girardello, coming from 2a Liceo Quadri.

She added that she particularly liked the history class. "I think our lessons are more traditional; here I saw how students were involved in creating some digital projects."

VHS ninth-grader Jerome Packard acted as a tutor during Girardello visit. He was glad about the opportunity to be able to work on his Italian.

"I have also been able to help others with their English and to show them [students] our school. For example, the JROTC class: I was able to explain the concept of wearing the uniforms and what types of things we learn, such as history of the military and life lessons," said Packard.

Two other Italian students from Liceo Quadri, Valentina Cogo and Rocco Flores, at the grade equivalent to seniors, attended diverse classes through their weeklong exchange.

"During my experience, I had the chance and pleasure to meet many students and teachers," said Flores.

"I noticed that during the lessons professors don't teach all the time, but also ask students many questions. In doing so, they make the lesson more interesting. I also observed the look on the students' face-- they always look happy and they are very warm and welcoming," he added.
His mate Cogo said she also had a very positive reaction while attending seven classes.

"I really appreciated how each student can pick classes he/she wants to attend. As an enthusiast of American history, I loved Government and how Ms. [Lisa] Balboni taught her students. I also made new friends. I will miss many of them, especially my tutor Hope, who was so patient with me and explained all that I didn't understand for being in a different place. This experience has been wonderful, and I learned a lot about their culture."

In past school years, Ambruoso has always stressed that, "It's through language that you can cross the cultural barrier." That vision is still current at Vicenza High School.