In China, students would prep for Mohawk

BUCKLAND — To be sure future tuition-paying students from China could flourish at Mohawk Trail Regional School, Mohawk is working on a “2 plus 1” agreement with its sister schools in China. The arrangement would give prospective Chinese students two years of Mohawk’s curriculum within an English-speaking classroom in their home school, before they come to Mohawk for their senior high school year.

School Superintendent Michael Buoniconti said the Chinese-based, English immersion classes — to be taught by an American teacher or possibly by a Mohawk teacher — would better prepare Chinese students for spending their senior year at Mohawk. It would also help Chinese students who might end up going to other American high schools.

At a recent School Committee meeting, Buoniconti said he expects that more Chinese students than Mohawk could accommodate will want to graduate from Mohawk and get the academic credentials to apply to a U.S. college. He anticipates Mohawk could accept about 10 Chinese students a year, after these students have had two years of preparation in their home-based high schools.

“We anticipate the first (full-time) senior students coming here three years from now,” said Mohawk Principal Lynn Dole. “We could take up to 10, because they would have essentially gone through an English curriculum and would be ready to assimilate (Mohawk) better.”

Thanks to the Internet and the ability to communicate through Skype and other broadband technologies, “we would have formed a relationship with these students over a few years and be better prepared,” Doyle added.

Earlier, there was talk of accepting a single student the first year, and building up to five students for the full-year program. The cost for each Chinese student’s tuition, room and board is expected to be about $30,000 per year.

This revenue will help the school district, since enrollment has declined by nearly half within the past 15 years.

Buoniconti recently told the School Committee that there may be more Chinese students interested in getting their high school degrees here than Mohawk can accept.

About 60 Chinese students are expected to visit the Mohawk Trail Regional School this summer for three-day summer school programs that will include academic classes, field trips and conversations about getting into American colleges, according to Buoniconti.

Each student’s tuition, of about $130 per day, will generate about $23,000 — enough to pay for the summer program costs, the school principal’s trip to China this fall and for the educational consultant who has been putting Mohawk school officials into contact with their Chinese counterparts.

Last year, Mohawk spent $12,359 for the Fox Intercultural Consulting ($6,000); travel and lodging for Dole to travel to China and make connections with Chinese schools and communities ($5,124) and about $1,200 for a Mohawk Chinese Program brochure, to be distributed in China.

In November, Dole went to China, meeting with education officials, touring schools and forming “sister school” partnerships with two Chinese high schools: the Quing He Middle School and Danghu Senior High School.

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