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EIL in Monroe County

KONK LIFE EDITORSUN, MAR 15 2015

County students continue with impressive

participation rates in summer travel program

BY TERRY SCHMIDA

We’re No. 2!

Students at Monroe County high schools have once again achieved unusually impressive participation rates in the Experimental Living (EIL) program, the oldest student summer travel project in the country.

This summer, a number of area high schoolers will pack their bags and travel to countries on nearly every continent of the globe, to learn new skills – including interacting with people from different cultures, and preparing the cuisine of these territories, so far uncharted to them.

So far, 19 Monroe County pupils have signed up to take part in the program, by way of an affiliation Monroe County Education Foundation (MCEF), said EIL Director for Admissions Heather Beard, who discussed the achievement on a local radio program on March 12.

More may follow, as the admissions process is only about two-thirds of the way along. As far as geographic regions of the United States, only New York City will send more students on their globe-trotting adventures.

Participants in the program live with host families in the countries they have selected to travel to, and often travel to other parts of these exotic locations as well.

This is the second consecutive year that Monroe has boasted the second highest participation rate, a point of pride for MCEF President Steve Pribramsky, a former School Board member.

“It’s a terrific program that’s open to all students, not just those who have a financial need,” said Pribramsky, whose organization serves as the umbrella organization for the Take Stock in Children scholarship/mentoring program, in the county. “We do try to target high-achieving students for participation, as it is a kind of enrichment program with a learning element to it, and the exposure to other countries and cultures.”

Pribramsky added that for the first time, this year, the foundation has been able to access information regarding the continuing academic progress of college students who took part in the Brattleboro, Vt-based EIL, as Monroe County students.

“There is a direct correlation between these EIL participants and high academic achievement in post-secondary educational institutions,” Pribramsky said. “There’s a sense of adventure, I think, that comes with living in the Keys, and I think there’s something about that mindset that drives our kids to have that kind of mindset, where they want to explore the world. The EIL is a great way to do it.”

Participating students choose from three-, four-, and five-week journeys to locations around the globe.

About 500 American students take part in the program annually, Beard said, including charter school students, who technically are still the responsibility of public school district’s, such as Monroe’s.

“The deadline to apply for financial aid to take part in the program has already passed, but there are still spaces available to students who are interested in going,” Beard said. “But the final deadline to apply is April 15.”

Application forms are available by calling Beard directly at 800-345-2929.

For more information, visit www.experiment.org