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Bill Owens lauds international program at Newcomb graduation

The six seniors graduating from Newcomb Central School met guest speaker Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) before the commencement ceremony June 23. From left are Newcomb Central School Superintendent Skip Hults, Owens, Senior Class Advisor Martha Swan, Taylor Goodspeed, Morgan Winslow, valedictorian Marlena Peter, salutatorian Rebecca Bolan, Renna Yandon, Caelan Gould and School Board President Steve Frieman.

The six seniors graduating from Newcomb Central School met guest speaker Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) before the commencement ceremony June 23. From left are Newcomb Central School Superintendent Skip Hults, Owens, Senior Class Advisor Martha Swan, Taylor Goodspeed, Morgan Winslow, valedictorian Marlena Peter, salutatorian Rebecca Bolan, Renna Yandon, Caelan Gould and School Board President Steve Frieman. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The Newcomb Central School District celebrated a big milestone this year, boosting its enrollment to 101 students.

That may not seem like a lot, but considering the school had only 55 students five years ago, topping 100 is a big deal.

The turnaround began after Superintendent Skip Hults began accepting foreign exchange students. They get a uniquely Adirondack education, the locals get more diversity, and Newcomb Central fills classrooms.

The program caught the attention of Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), who was the guest speaker at Newcomb Central’s June 23 commencement ceremony honoring its six Class of 2012 graduates.

“This is a very practical solution, something I like to see, something I don’t often see in my new job,” Owens said. “It shows that there is a place for entrepreneurship and innovation in every aspect of our lives. Education should not be an exception but a model for such innovation. Newcomb has shown that it can be done, and I love to see that. Beyond the specifics of the educational program here in Newcomb is a larger life lesson of perseverance and rebuilding that you will take with you through all of your lives.”

Newcomb Central could have even more international students if the F1 Student Visa Law was amended, allowing kids in public secondary schools to stay in the U.S. more than one year. Owens is trying to get congressional support for the change.

“Tiny Newcomb Central School District found a way to thrive where frankly schools with more students and more resources are barely surviving,” Owens said. “Your school has found a way to innovate and provide a great education.”

Valedictorian Marlena Peter gave credit to the international program for teaching her about different cultures from around the world.

“It’s given me a new perspective on the diversity of our own country and has strengthened my social skills, because where else would I be making new friends from around the globe every single year?” Peter said. “And where else would I be able to take a senior trip to Costa Rica, a world experience all on its own? That’s right. There aren’t a lot of other schools that do that.”

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