The World Flags chapter of the American Field Service (AFS) has recognized Delavan-Darien High School as the top-performing member school this year for its continued support of the international student exchange program.
World Flags is an AFS consortium that includes 70 high schools in a 22-county area in Southern Wisconsin.
The award is in recognition of DDHS’s “fostering global competency and working with AFS-USA to incorporate intercultural learning opportunities into their curriculum.”
It was presented to school officials before many of the current and past AFS volunteers and host families, along with the current AFS students studying at DDHS.
The Delavan area has supported AFS since 1954, when area secondary students attended the now demolished Delavan High School. The district, which opened Delavan-Darien High in 1957, has hosted an AFS student every year but two (in the mid to late 1950s), said retired Delavan-Darien teacher Bob Dahl, a longtime local volunteer with AFS.
In those 60-plus years, Delavan-Darien has hosted 177 students from 53 countries, which covered six continents, Dahl said. That’s an average of almost three AFS students per year.
The first AFS student, who was from Finland, stayed with the family of Carol Dinsmore, also a retired Delavan-Darien teacher.
The first local AFS volunteers “believed that if different peoples of the world were given the opportunity to walk together and talk together, we could learn to live together in peace,” Dahl said at the awards presentation ceremony.
This year, six students from outside the United States are studying at DDHS and are staying with local host families.
- Charlie Parton, Australia
- Hedda Rod and Sara Skarstein, Norway
- Gianmarco Brolio, Italy
- Malthe Storm, Denmark
- Julius Kursatz, Germany
“The greater Delavan-Darien community has remained steadfast in its pursuit of a more peaceful world,” Dahl said. “Our school district, and high school in particular, have valued the inclusion of our many hosted students and have welcomed them without hesitation.”
It’s that fact that made DDHS stand out from the other schools in the area, said Jayne Butterbordt, the World Flags Team Development Specialist. Butterbordt presented the award to Principal Mike Kolff and current AFS/International Club Advisor Maria Martin.
“Their openness to annually accept and add students, and constantly accept and add students at the last minute is amazing,” Butterbordt said of the district’s AFS volunteers willingness to provide housing for exchange students. “We’ve often asked and have never been told (by Delavan-Darien families) ‘No, we can’t do it.'”
In fact, DDHS has almost half of the foreign AFS students studying in Walworth County this year. Beyond the six at DDHS, there are four at Big Foot High School, and one each at Williams Bay, East Troy and Whitewater high schools, said Jerry Burns, the World Flags chapter chairman.
For more information about becoming an AFS volunteer or host family for DDHS, contact AFS Advisor Maria Martin, 262-728-2642 x 4437.