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NHS Students Participate In International Forum In Japan



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At its April 19 meeting the Board of Education heard from some of the Newtown High School students who traveled to Japan in February to take part in an educational forum.

As Newtown High School teacher Tim DeJulio explained, the high school had not participated in the Ritsumeikan Uji International Student Forum for three years, but this year four students attended with Mr DeJulio and NHS teacher Susan McConnell.

During the Ritsumeikan Uji International Student Forum, which was held in Kyoto, said Mr DeJulio, participants interact with students from all over the world.

NHS senior Riland Abazi, junior Simran Chand, sophomore Justice Zoto, and senior Christian Thanasoulis all attended the international forum, but Christian was not able to attend the school board's meeting on April 19.

Riland told the Board of Education that Newtown High School was one of three schools from the United States invited to participate in the international forum, noting other represented countries included China, New Zealand, and Great Britain.

The international forum gathered students to reflect on themes, Riland said. The main theme for the forum was "the society and the individual" and subthemes were "on the edge," "the long now," and "darkness to light." Delegates were separated into groups to discuss the themes before returning to the whole group to report on findings.

Riland said hearing one of the forum speakers reflect on how leadership can be lonely, he said attending the forum made him realize the statement can also be wrong.

"Being there with three other peers from Newtown High School has definitely proven that statement can be wrong," said Riland.

Despite differences, Riland said all of the student attendees had many things in common and they learned to share, communicate, and work with others.

"We came to a group conclusion about the fact that we need to reflect about life through art," Riland told the board. "We need to use science to advance discoveries and inventions, but we also need humanities in order to regulate those advancements in technology, for example. It is essential to use our skills, knowledge, and passion in order to find a purpose for our generation. A purpose that promotes diversity, innovation, sustainability, and responsibility to care for others and change the world in positive ways."

Simran spoke of the friendships she made while attending the forum. "It was really life changing," she said, before reading an excerpt from a speech she gave at the end of the forum.

All of the international forum attendees, Simran said, were helped toward being global citizens and the "leaders for tomorrow."

In her comments, Simran said the best part of the forum was meeting "other kids just like me" from other countries. She listed moments she will keep as memories from the forum.

"This forum taught me about passion and purpose," said Simran, "and society can change."

The forum was not focused on presentations, but rather on the conversations and debates, Simran said, adding, "It really prepared us for the global society that will be coming."

Justice said learning of the different perspectives "was great" along with sharing their own perspectives with students from around the world.

"It was just amazing and every single part of the trip was terrific," Justice said.

If she could change one thing about the forum, Justice said she would make it longer. The students have also been keeping in contact with some of the new friends they made through social media, and Justice said she and Simran have plans to meet one of their new friends while they are visiting New York City from India.

Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander thanked the students for being "the face of Newtown" at the event, before noting the students' excitement.

"That shows me you got something out of it, and everybody else got something out of you being there," said Mr Alexander, "which I think is fantastic."

Pictured from left, Newtown High School students Simran Chand, Justice Zoto, and Riland Abazi and teacher Tim DeJulio spoke before the Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday, April 19. (Bee Photo, Hallabeck)
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