Presque Isle area school district waiting for final approval on Chinese partnership

Posted March 14, 2013, at 6:30 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Officials in SAD 1 are getting closer to i nking an agreement that would allow SAD 1 to forge educational ties with China and also open the door for students in the district to one day study in that country.

SAD 1 Superintendent Dr. Gehrig Johnson said Thursday that officials should know in approximately a month if the international partnership, which has been two years in the making, will be sealed.

District officials have been speaking repeatedly with the Boa/Phoenix Educational Consortium about plans to establish the Presque Isle International School in Beijing, and Johnson and Charles Anderson, the district’s business manager, flew to China earlier this year to tour high school campuses.

Once signed, the agreement would allow up to 50 Chinese students per year to take Presque Isle High School curriculum courses, including English, in China while also studying their own courses. They would then graduate with a dual Chinese and American high school degree.

“One of the main things that we saw when we were in China when we were talking to the students was how interested the kids were about coming to the U.S. to enroll in college,” Johnson said Thursday. “The program we are setting up will help them do that. This was initiated by the Chinese, so they are very interested in it.”

Johnson said Thursday that he recently had heard from another Chinese high school that was interested in learning more about the Presque Isle International School, and he was pleased that word was spreading.

Chinese officials are now waiting for approval from the Chinese government before signing the agreement.

“Relationship building and bonds are very important to the Chinese, so that is part of why it has taken so long for this go to forward,” said Johnson. “But everyone seems to be happy with the progress. The Chinese students were very curious and asked us a lot of questions when we visited.”

Johnson said that a component of the program allows for an exchange piece that would allow Chinese students to come to Presque Isle and for Presque Isle students to go to China for certain periods of time.

“I know that a number of students in China would be interested in that, even if it were just for a semester,” Johnson said Thursday. “I don’t know how interested our students would be. That would be something we would have to gauge in time. Right now, we are just concentrating on getting this approved.”

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