During the annual weeklong exchange between Ransom Everglades School and Booker T. Washington Senior High, students from both schools welcomed their partners from across town, stepping out of their comfort zones to look at school life from a new vantage point. The student ambassadors attended classes together, shared stories and laughs, and built friendships.
Twenty-four students, all juniors and seniors, participated from each school, each pairing up with a peer on the other campus. Half of the students remained on their home campus, the rest traveled across town; all accompanied their partners to classes and other activities. RE students enjoyed BTW's state-of-the-art Space Place Planetarium. BTW students dissected pigs with their partners in Dr. Claudia Ochatt's biology class.
"I was new this year, so I know how scary it can be to walk into a new place," said Valeria Solorzano '21
, who hosted a BTW student at RE. "I introduced [my partner] to everyone – my friends, the teachers when we walked into class. I wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible. I wanted her to have a good time and feel welcome."Mateo Jolivert '21
traveled daily to Booker T. Washington. "Everyone was super-warm," he said. "It was a really different environment, but the differences only highlighted our similarities. We are all students striving for the same types of things. We all have goals, want to go to college. We have many of the same interests. It's been a great experience."
RE's Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement Carla Hill, Head of the Upper School Patricia Sasser and faculty member Jeannine Lehr helped ensure the week ran smoothly.
The exchange, in its seventh year between RE and BTW, originated as an exchange between Ransom Everglades and Miami Northwestern Senior High. Ransom Everglades and Booker T. Washington are each historically significant in Miami; RE was founded in 1903; Booker T. Washington was founded in 1926 – it was the first high school for black students in the city.
This year's exchange opened Jan. 21 at Ransom Everglades with a talk on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
in the Lewis Family Auditorium by former RE student body president – and Booker T. Washington exchange participant – Ryan Sears '18
. It concluded at Florida International University, where Booker T. Washington Senior High Principal William Aristide launched a day of reflection and team building entitled "Setting the Standards Today for Tomorrow's Future."
The students heard from a number of speakers: Webber Charles, the RE site director of Breakthrough Miami; Dr. Myya Passmore, a student from the early days of the exchange with Northwestern; Francesca Contreras, Clinical Intern from Affirming Youth Foundation; and Anthony Teague and Emani James, officers at FIU.
The students also enjoyed a dinner with faculty and families on Jan. 23 in the RE upper school dining hall.
"When you're spending every second of the day with a person, you really get to know them," Solorzano said. "It creates a special bond. For sure, I made a friend."
Valeria Solorzano '21
Isabel Ponce '21
Phoebe Beber-Frankel '20
Isabel Almada-Sabate '21
Maya Rosen '21
Alexandra Prio-Touzet '21
Daniela Pineros '21
Paulina Tein '21
Justin Wong '21
Sophie Bernstein '21
Camille Devaney '21
Grace Arriola '21
Rohit Yavagal '21
Georgia Crosby '21
Addyson Weintraub '20
Izzy Szomstein '20
Mateo Jolivert '21
Shuli Rosenfeld '21
Karin Belausteguigoitia '20
Preston Edmunds '20
Hannah Bast '21
Catie Tohulka '21
Max Feinberg '21
Maddie Bagnall '21