From April 3-23, Archer welcomed four girls from St. Catherine’s School in Australia to campus.
Despite being located on different continents, St. Catherine’s and Archer are both all-girls’ schools. Archer Head of School Elizabeth English feels this “connective thread” was essential in bonding the two groups. She says that “the fact that we are both are girls’ schools removes that skepticism [some have about single sex education], and there’s an instant point of camaraderie and understanding.”
“Archer and St. Catherine’s have a similar sense of community and dedication to academic excellence.” -Jenn Babin
The exchange program is new to Archer. English teacher Jenn Babin is heading the program as Archer’s coordinator and chaperone; English teacher Merran O’Connor was the Australian equivalent.
Babin explains, “Archer decided to partner with St. Catherine’s in order to share ideas with and learn from another like-minded girls’ school. Archer and St. Catherine’s have a similar sense of community and dedication to academic excellence. This partnership provides an excellent opportunity for both faculty and students to see what outstanding single-gender education looks like across the world.”
The Archer students who are participating in the pilot round of the exchange this year are Ari Brown ’16, Grace Brown ’16, Sage Orvis ’15, Ava-Rose Beech ’16 and Haley Kerner ’16.
“I felt really welcomed by the Archer community.” -Lucy Johnson ’16
Grace Brown ’16 shared her experience with the Oracle: “I was worried it would be awkward to have someone I had never met in person in my home, but we bonded really quickly and now Izzy [her Australian exchange student] is like a sister to me!”
Haley Kerner also had a good experience, saying, “Lucy and I got along really well, and I think not all exchanges have good fits for both people, but in this case, I think we matched up really well. I really enjoyed spending time with her, and I feel that we’ll be friends for a long time.”
St. Catherine’s exchange student Lucy Johnson enjoyed herself as well: “I had a great time because it was a different experience; something other than I was used to. I felt really welcomed by the Archer community.”
The Archer participants will be traveling to Australia during the summer. They leave on June 11. Kerner says, “I’m really excited to go to Australia. I think it’s going to be a really interesting experience especially since we get to experience the daily lives of teenagers like us.”
Initially, English was unsure about participating in the exchange. She says, “It was fortuitous and unlikely… I wasn’t looking for an exchange program…we have a lot going on at Archer and we do have international travel opportunities already in place.”
She continues, “I have had several inquiries from schools all over the world to do an exchange because everyone wants to come to L.A., but I’ve just been very circumspect about it because it is a significant commitment and I felt like we had good programs in place.”
Despite her hesitation, English says she “really connected with [St. Catherine’s] Head of School, who just recently retired. She talked a lot about how similar the cultures of our two schools were, and that intrigued me, and I agreed to give it a one-year try. I like to pilot everything.”
English feels the pilot year was successful and thinks Archer will “formalize it next year and make it a real thing and open it up with a formal application process.”
Not all upperschoolers would be eligible for the exchange. English says, “Ninth grade is too young, especially for those girls coming here, because girls from Los Angeles tend to be quite urbane and socially advanced… I think 10th grade is a good grade. I think 11th grade is sort of tricky just because there’s so much going on.”
English herself housed teacher O’Connor and an Australian student. She felt that it was extremely nice to have an educator staying with her: “It was so much fun to compare stories.”
“A treasured memory of our trip will always be the generosity and friendliness of everyone connected to the school and the Archer community.” -Merran O’Connor
Australian coordinator O’Connor had a great time as well. She says, “The girls have made lifelong friends and enjoyed having the opportunity to be part of the classes as well as being part of a host family. A treasured memory of our trip will always be the generosity and friendliness of everyone connected to the school and the Archer community.”
She continues, “We were treated to some incredible experiences due to that generosity of spirit, whether they be in the classroom, the streets of Hollywood, Santa Monica beach or visits to Sony, Warner and Universal Studios. We were warmly welcomed by students, staff and parents alike and we will always remember the incredible experiences we had and friendships we made.”