This year Chelsea families hosted four exchange students, two hailing from France and two from China. The exchange program at Chelsea is not new; many students native to France, China, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil have traveled to study at Chelsea over the past decade. To highlight the benefits of this special Chelsea program, members of the journalism club interviewed Benoit, Jean, Dave, and Ryan to shed light on their respective experiences of the exchange program, and explain how they grew as persons intellectually and spiritually. Immersing themselves in the faith, academics, and friendships which Chelsea offers has allowed the foreign students to learn about America and themselves, making for an unforgettable experience that they recommend highly to all students considering the trip.
Benoit and Jean agree that they decided to apply for the program to practice their English, discover new things, and experience living in another country. Benoit said it is very important to him to learn and improve his English for future job opportunities, and to expand his understanding of world languages. Jean was hosted by the Lee family and Benoit by the Lagardes.
At school, the French students enjoy learning during shorter classes compared to those back home, only around 45 minutes instead of several hours. They have found that the classes are easy if you work hard and try your best. The boys love their classmates, the sophomores, and appreciate how welcomed speaking to the teachers and speaking in class is. Benoit says, “[the sophomores] have a very good atmosphere. There are few people as the classes are small, so everybody knows everybody.” They both enjoy history class the most, so much so that they take two history classes with Dr. Wheeler (well, mostly the reason)!
As for extracurriculars, the boys both participate in Chelsea’s Upper School Schola directed by Mrs. DeJak and take art from Mr. Wingate. Benoit and Jean are competing in a schoolwide chess tournament as well, pitting their chess skills against their American friends. The two play on Chelsea’s Varsity Rugby team, valiantly assisting the team through the addition of their top-notch French rugby skills, inspiring leadership and hardworking, competitive spirit. Benoit was even awarded the honor of Most Valuable Player at the Sports Banquet ending the spring rugby season. The aspect of having sports competitions with other schools is something that Jean and Benoit both enjoy immensely, but do not have in their school back home.
Hosted by the Lagarde family, Benoit has been able to visit Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Florida, which he says are not like French cities, but still very beautiful. Jean has spent his free time skiing with the Lees, a favorite of both boys. The annual Chelsea ski trip was an event to remember for them, one which they say should occur in France as well. The two love to do various activities with their host families, including pick-up sports and touring DC. Benoit says that the Lagardes’ cooking is excellent, as is New Zealand food that Jean has occasionally tried with the Lees. Chick-Fil-A, hamburgers, and Chinese food are also among the more interesting, but very tasty foods the French boys have eaten.
Our Chinese students, Dave and Ryan, have spent the past school year with Dr. Helen Wu and her husband, Mr. Lee Gung. They said they left China to improve their English, experience life outside of China, and take part in more athletics. With Dr. Wu, the boys enjoy gardening and fishing in the outdoors, and Mr. Lee’s delicious cooking- the boys’ favorite being barbeque. Other American foods Dave and Ryan like include Costco pepperoni pizza, Popeyes (over KFC!), and lobsters. The boys have also traveled to Orlando Disney World with their host family, and agree that roller coasters are both fun and scary.
At Chelsea, Dave and Ryan like their teachers, their 8th grade classmates, PE class, and math club with Dr. Wu. Ryan said the teamwork at Chelsea, whether in class, on a sports team, or in physical education, is one of his favorite aspects of the school. Dave said, with a smile, “[the 8th graders] are full of energy, and are a loud class.” The boys enjoy having lockers too, which they did not have back in China. The two had roles in the Middle School Play, “The Taming of the Shrew,” as well. Ryan has played on Chelsea’s soccer, basketball, and rugby teams, and Dave has played on the basketball and rugby teams. Though at first he was hesitant about playing sports, Dave now loves them. In fact, both Ryan and Dave have realized the importance and health benefits of participating in sports, and are so grateful for the opportunity to be more active in America. The boys think the education system at Chelsea is better than what they received back in China, and plan to continue at Chelsea through their senior year.
When asked what advice they would give to a student considering applying to the program, Benoit said, “It is a very good opportunity. Take what people give you and don’t compare it with France. Always say ‘Yes!’ if people ask you to do or try something.” Jean said, “Just try it even if you don’t know it!” Ryan encouraged students in China to come to Chelsea and play sports and participate in clubs, and Dave said, “Tell them to live with Mrs. Wu and Mr. Lee, and have barbeque all the time.” Spending a semester in America has enabled these students to experience life alongside Chelsea students, broaden their knowledge of culture, language, and customs, dive into Chelsea Academy’s liberal arts curriculum, and create life-long friendships. The foreign exchange program, according to Jean, Benoit, Ryan, and Dave, is worth it!
Anna is a vivacious student who has called Chelsea her second home since 4th grade. Anna’s love for french, fitness, and food are only a few things that make her stand out in her class. She is a well-rounded, dedicated athlete, who has participated in soccer, basketball, cross country, and even trained for a successful triathlon. Art has been an important aspect of her life since middle school, and Anna often extends her artistic eye to create and sell beautiful jewelry. Last year, Anna traveled to France through our foreign exchange student program, as she learned more about cooking, sewing, and took the time to master her French. In addition to her many hobbies and talents, Anna is great at debating with her classmates and also upholds a keen fashion sense. Besides being involved in many sports, Anna keeps fit by swimming and working out at the gym. Anna will be attending the ROTC program at The Catholic University of America, and hopes to join the Navy after graduation.
Meet our student body Chancellor, Brigid McCarthy! Known for her thoughtfulness and charity, Brigid has spread joy throughout our school since she arrived in 7th grade.
With an eye for beauty, Brigid puts her talents to use as she creates and studies art. Her inspiration is Mr. Wingate, Chelsea’s art teacher. She hopes to follow in his footsteps one day and study art in Italy. While she hasn’t found her medium yet, she always enjoys trying new things and is excited to continue experimentation. She has enjoyed putting her artistic skills to work by volunteering for the hair and makeup department in several Chelsea plays.
Brigid's favorite instruments to play are the violin, guitar, and the occasional banjolele. Her favorite Chelsea memory is swing dancing in the rain after Twelfth Night
Brigid will be attending Benedictine College in the fall, where she hopes to major in art and minor in philosophy. She is excited to continue to hone her artistic skills, working to create beauty that reflects God’s creation and, in doing so, give glory to Him.
James Schwartz, an outspoken leader in his class, has come a long way in his Chelsea adventure. He began as a member of the first-ever 4th-grade class at Chelsea and has taken full advantage of his time here. He is known both for his love of philosophically consistent debates and his public speaking ability. He participated in multiple poetry competitions (making it to the state level one year) and he brought his acting expertise to the stage every year with the Chelsea Players. James is no less accomplished in the athletics department, playing on the JV and Varsity soccer team and serving as Captain for several seasons. When not on the Royal Horseshoe Farm, he enjoys hiking, reading, and especially cooking, so be sure to try his beef stew.
James, true to form, left some words of wisdom for his fellow students:
"High schoolers, do a ton of things. Find something that you love and become completely engrossed in it. Don’t expect praise, do your duty to get your duty done. Doing your job is fulfilling within itself."
In line with his love for animals, James will be continuing his academic career by majoring in Biology at UVA, where he is already in the Echols Scholars Program.
Every morning, Ian holds the door and greets passers-by with a nod and cheerful “good morning,” a job he received from Grafton Lagarde (Class of ‘21). A nine-year veteran at the school, Ian has done almost everything, from playing basketball to helping with both high school and middle school plays. He played center for the Varsity boys basketball team throughout all four years of high school. A star on and off the court, Ian excels in his studies of Physics and Calculus, one of which is taught by his favorite teacher, Mr. Selner. Besides basketball, Ian is a committed weight lifter, proud of his recent achievements. When not in the gym, he is cheering on the Redskins or listening to Kanye West, probably with a glass of orange juice in hand. In college, Ian hopes to put his math and art skills to the test while studying architecture at Christendom.
Introducing Genevieve! Her wonderful sense of humor is inclined to make you crack a smile at any time, which only adds to her relaxed and carefree personality. As a Pole House Representative, Genevieve devotes much of her time to organizing fundraisers and house activities, yet she still finds time to enjoy challenging classes like Precalculus and Physics. She enjoys watching football games and is obsessed with country music. Of all her fun stories, she’ll never remember last year’s canoe trip without laughing, since her canoe tipped over, throwing her and a couple exchange students into the river. She likes to keep healthy by lifting weights, and also teaches swim lessons in the summertime, so she is never bored. She plans on attending Christendom College, and will likely enroll in some extra courses so that she can someday become a nurse!
Congratulations to Chelsea’s new Chancellor and Secretary, Jude Lagarde and Bea Stanford!
Our current leaders, Brigid McCarthy and James Schwartz, will pass the torch to Jude and Bea for the 2022-2023 school year!
Though previously these roles were chosen at the discretion of the teachers, this year the student council coordinated an election by the students themselves. Thus implemented, Upper School students were given a formal opportunity to express their choice of the new Chancellor and Secretary. It was up to the candidates to convince the voters of their capability to become the best leaders on the path of success.
Right before Campaign Week began, all of the candidates gave a speech and answered an open Q&A from their peers.The following week, campaigning commenced with posters covering the hallways and mini spiels and skits at morning convocation, not to mention many little treats and party hosting. Last Thursday, 8th-12th grade students enthusiastically lined up and down the hallway to cast their ballots. Shortly after the votes were collected and counted, the tension was broken by Chancellor McCarthy announcing the winners.
Jude Lagarde, a current Fisher House Representative, ran an impressive and successful campaign and has high hopes for next year, with many new ideas to improve and old traditions to bring back to life. To help along the way, Bea Stanford will move on from being a Roper House Representative to becoming the new secretary.
We are all confident in both Jude’s leadership expertise and Bea’s knack for organization, so rest assured we will have a promising Student Government in the coming academic year!
Meet Norah! Upon her arrival in 9th grade, her friendly face often stands out amongst the class of 2022. She loves running and hiking, and her taste in music is so versatile that she wholeheartedly enjoys listening to almost every genre. An avid reader, Norah delves into books by authors Tolkien, JK Rowling, and Rick Riordan. Although she breezes through her tedious physics assignments with ease, her favorite class is English with Mrs. Zepeda. Before senior year, Norah ran on Chelsea’s cross country team and dabbled in basketball and soccer. One of her favorite memories is when she blindly hiked Old Rag in the rain with Mrs. O’Keefe as her guide. Each year she has worked behind the scenes preparing students to take the stage in the Annual Chelsea Play. Norah made sure to bring the fun to tech week, ending last year’s show prep for Twelfth Night with a spontaneous dance in the rain with her friends. After graduating, Norah hopes to attend Virginia Western Community College and pursue a career in physical therapy.
Here’s to your next adventure!
One of the geniuses of her class, Ava is a stellar student who tries to find a balance between her social and academic life. When she isn’t spending time with friends, she is probably playing the piano or reading some good L.M. Montgomery or C.S. Lewis books. At Chelsea since 9th grade, she has participated in both basketball and cross country. This leads to her favorite memory, when the cross country van broke down and she was stuck on the side of the road with her super vibrant team. A very bright student, she has received a couple science fair awards in the past few years and she took first place her sophomore year. This past semester, Ava became the first Chelsea student to become a National Merit Scholar Finalist. To incoming stressed freshmen, Ava cheerfully says “carpe diem!” She is very excited to graduate, and has yet to decide between her top schools, the University of Dallas or Thomas Aquinas College. No matter where, Ava hopes eventually to become a Latin teacher.
Nos sumus cor vestrum, Ava!