Exchange student with local connection attends academy

Deidre Cruse
Exchange student Isa Contreras of Guatamala said she learned more in a month at the Math Science and Arts Academy – East than she would have in a year elsewhere. Contreras, center, is shown here with, from left, teachers Robyn Carlin, Susan Schelecht, Julia Estep, Assistant MSA Director Meshell Hill, and teachers Cheryl Russell, Mary Ellen Day, Mary Smith and Gabrielle East.

Iberville Math, Science & Arts Academy-East welcomed an international student, Isa Contreras, to the campus for a month of studies.

Many MSA students quickly befriended the exchange student from Guatamala, says Meshell Hill, assistant director of the academy.

Contreras does have a local connection, her uncle Roberto Sandoval of St. Gabriel.

She was scheduled originally to be a part of an exchange program in September, but Hurricane Gustav prevented her from coming here. She ended up going to New York for some of the session.

After Thanksgiving, she was here visiting her uncle in St. Gabriel, and started attending the MSA on December 1.

"I came here to learn English, but I won more than just English,” Contreras said. “I met many beautiful people, like my teachers and classmates. Living here was truly great and a good experience. In just one month, I learned more than a complete year at home."

"We hope to have other students join in the academy experience as everyone learns from these unique opportunities,” Hill said. “Our students gained valuable knowledge of Guatemala and its culture."

Elvis J. Cavalier, executive director of special projects for the Iberville Parish School System, said the academy setting is perfect for multi-cultural educational experiences.