The Webb School experience embodies more than outstanding academics. Our students actively participate and take on leadership roles in extracurricular activities, community service, athletics, the arts, international programs and more.
Student Exchange Programs
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For more than five years, Webb School's partnership with L'Institut Montalembert, located in the suburbs of Paris, France, has helped foster cross-cultural understanding and respect from both sides of the Atlantic.
Each fall, Webb students are selected to host a French boy/girl for approximately two weeks. Students taking French are given priority. In return, the Webb student hosts travel to Paris during spring break and live with their French friends. Highlights include tours of Paris by bus and boat, a visit to the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre, attending classes at the school, and being immersed in French language and cultural life.
Students benefit tremendously from traveling outside their comfort zones, speaking another language, and attending a different school. Through these experiences they improve their foreign language skills and learn that there are more similiarities rather than differences between the two cultures.
One Participant's Perspective
On February 13, a memorable date for us all: it’s the date of our departure for Knoxville, a city in Tennessee. There were 12 of us who had the chance to participate in this incredible experience, accompanied by the marvelous Mrs. Saint-André, English teacher at Montalembert.
After more than 10 hours of flying, we finally met our host families. In spite of exhaustion and apprehension, we were impatient to meet them. And that’s how the adventure really began!
First of all there was Valentine’s Day, filled with love for close relatives and for us as well. Then the welcome party with all the families who participated in this adventure. We got together in a dream house for an American meal; that is to say cupcakes, barbecue, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate-covered pretzels . . . Yes, in America, all is possible and very good. It was a magnificent evening.
Thanks to three days spent with our respective families, we succeeded in adapting to their culture and to the quickness of the language, even if for some among us the beginning stages were difficult.
The next day, we went to Gatlinburg to see the aquarium. We also took advantage of the visit to stroll along the main street of the city. There was a lot of Western-style souvenir shops but mostly a lot of candy shops. We would have liked to eat everything and we took advantage of the occasion to taste the fudge. We all agreed not to have seconds. Fortunately, our good spirits warmed us because the snow wouldn’t stop falling.
The following day was a great day. We went to school: the Webb School of Knoxville. This school resembles more a university than a simple school. It is composed of several buildings of which each has its particular function. They are dispersed on an enormous campus. Upon arriving, we were dazzled by the splendor and the immensity of this school that spreads out from gymnasium to swimming pool, and includes five tennis courts, a real store, an extraordinary cafeteria (the pizza was so delicious that you could tell by looking at our waistlines!), classes taught by each of teachers, an auditorium, "Chapel" (it’s the place where the students perform plays, and where they come at 11:40 every day to listen to announcements and prepared presentations), and I could go on.
During our stay, we all attended a our host students' classes, and we met the teachers. They were so nice and welcoming that we enjoyed taking their classes. What was very surprising and cool was the technology available to the students, such as the newest models of computers everywhere in the school and the large library. Now we only hope to have the same resources available to us some day.
We really liked the daily class schedule. Classes started at 8:20, “Chapel” at 11:40, and the day ended at 3:35. Each person had an hour during the day called “free time.” With this schedule, we could do all kinds of activities after school such as Laser Quest for some of us, ice-skating for others, and shopping for us all!
Toward the end of the week, the weather turned milder as the sun came out. Now we could go out and explore. Some of us had the chance to go to downtown Knoxville, a magnificent place that is very nice for relaxing or taking walks. Knoxville is a very spacious city, very commercial, and the architecture is pleasant. The strong presence of nature and the lake make this marvelous city charming.
All of the houses are large and magnificent. . . We were very lucky. For two evenings, the five seniors cooked French specialties to thank the families during the goodbye party. On the table of the immense kitchen: gratin dauphinois, ratatouille, quiches, savory tarts, maracoons, flan, crèmes brûlées, tarte Tatin, gratin de pâtes, cream puffs, king cake, and a cake salé. The teachers, the parents and our student hosts were impressed by the quantity, quality, and the aesthetics of the dinner. It was simply extraordinary. The evening was full of laughter, joy, and dancing, but above all, emotion and tears.
Wednesday was an emotional day because it was our last day with our Webb hosts. On this day, we had to say goodbye to the teachers who had made us feel so at home and so much a part of the community during our stay. That evening we all did different activities with our families. . . Of course, bags needed to be packed for the next day.
Thursday, a day when we all shed tears. It was hard to say goodbye to families who had been extraordinary, and who shared not only their daily lives and their culture, but also their homes and their love. Now we know that we have a second family in Knoxville that will remain in our hearts. Our stay allowed us to improve our English, but also to open ourselves to others, to share, to love, and to discover a new way to spend a vacation.
We thank the families with all our hearts, these people we love and whose visit we await in June. We thank in particular, Mrs. Saint-André, who, in addition to having organized the whole exchange, offered us the opportunity to meet all of these extraordinary people. We will never forget these fabulous memories. Simply put, THANK YOU!
Spain & Costa Rica
Each June, the Spanish Department offers a two-week immersion trip to either San Jose, Costa Rica or Salamanca, Spain. The trips alternate each summer between the two countries but the goal of full language immersion and cultural exposure is the same. Students enjoy visits to cultural places of interest such as museums and cathedrals, live with Spanish speaking host families, study daily at a language school, enjoy traditional meals with the family, and volunteer for 10 hours in the local community (for service hours.) A favorite activity is learning how to make traditional dishes while in Spain or Costa Rica.
Guatemalan Exchange Program
Guatemalan Exchange Upper School: Since 2009, Webb School has successfully hosted students from Guatemala City for eight weeks in the fall. The students are carefully selected through the Faces and Our Culture Exchange Program to spend 8 weeks at an American high school. Students live with Webb host families, attend classes, participate in school activities, learn more about American culture, and improve their English language skills. As ambassadors for their country, they are also expected to give a presentation to Webb's Spanish classes about Guatemala's history and culture. If you would like to host one of these exceptional students please contact Liz Gregor at email@example.com.
Guatemalan Exchange Middle School: In spring 2016 two Middle School chaperones accompanied 8 Webb students to Guatemala City for a 10 day visit. The students stayed with hand selected host families, attended classes at the bilingual school Colegio Interamericano (http://www.interamericano.edu.gt/), climbed an active volcano, visited a coffee plantation, and spent the day in beautiful, historic Antigua. Participants were able to practice their Spanish while experiencing daily life with Guatemalan families. In fall, 2017 a group of 10-12 students will visit Webb School from October 17th-29th. Webb students will have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala in February, 2018 to stay with their host brother or sister for an exciting 10 day cultural trip. If you would like to host and/or travel please contact Liz Gregor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shanghai Exchange Program
Recently Webb School signed an agreement with the Shanghai Livingston American School in China. Starting in fall 2016, Chinese students will visit Webb for 2 weeks accompanied by a teacher-chaperone. They'll stay with Webb host families, attend classes and explore local culture. In return, Webb students who have studied Mandarin for at least a year will have the opportunity to travel to Shanghai during the following spring break for a full language and cultural visit. They'll take classes at the school in addition to exploring the vibrant city of Shanghai. This unique experience will enable our Mandarin students to improve their language skills in a supportive atmosphere.