Students participate in exchange program to the Czech Republic


Photo Credit: Jenna Hendrickx

The view of Prague, Czech Republic from the top of the Prague Astronomical Clock.

by Katherine Hikin , Staff Writer

Eleven Glen Rock High School students, along with advisers, Mr. Justin Ecochard and Mr. Tom Lyon, traveled to the Czech Republic as part of an exchange program.

The group departed from Newark Airport on Sep. 15 to Kutna Hora, a small town in the Czech Republic. There, they met host families and Czech students also participating in the program.

When they first joined the program, Glen Rock students filled out a survey and were assigned a Czech family with whom they would be staying with during their trip. This gave them the opportunity to contact the Czech students and get to know each other better before meeting in person.

“It was helpful because I was a little nervous, not knowing anything about who I was going to live with, and as soon as I got to know her and her family and what her life was like, the nervousness turned into excitement,” sophomore Jenna Hendrickx said.

The plans for the exchange began when a connection was made through a person who was originally from Glen Rock but had ended up in the city of Kutna Hora. He decided to contact Glen Rock to see if they were interested in setting up an exchange.

Tickets were purchased, every single day of the trip was organized, and all the students had to get the right information. According to Ecochard, the hardest thing about this was taking care of the students, which included making sure that they had the right medical forms and were safe at all times.

Deciding on what transportation would be used in Europe was also key. “They have public transportation to everywhere. They have buses, trams, they have trains, they have subways, they have all kinds of things. The town that we live in, called Kutna Hora, everything is in walking distance. Then, the train from Kutna Hora to Prague is only 45 minutes and costs about three dollars,” Ecochard said.

To get to Kutna Hora, Glen Rock students and advisers took a direct flight. The only other transportation they used was a train to get to Prague. According to the students, all transportation went very smoothly.

“We got to see so many interesting things. Czech Republic has four cathedrals, and we got to see all of them. We went into Prague, the capital city, for three days, we saw the next town over, Kolín, and we even went into one of the old silver mines of Kutna Hora,” sophomore Meghan Kane said. Kane went on the trip after hearing about it from her older brother and sister, who had gone before and really enjoyed it.

One of the main reasons that Hendrickx enjoyed the trip was because of all the new things she got to experience.

“My favorite experience was that everywhere I went, I knew I was going to see something new or experience something new. In Glen Rock, and even in New York City, I have been almost everywhere. I love stability and familiarity, but at the same time being somewhere different and having new experiences was exciting and unforgettable,” Hendrickx said.

Ecochard stated that he had been helping with this program since 2006 and still has an amazing time every year.  He lived in Prague for 6 months and visited many times on his own. He was able to make many connections there that have only gotten stronger over the years. He believes that this trip brings people from different parts of the world together, allowing them to make life-long friendships.

“The big point about this trip is to expand people’s knowledge about what’s out there,” Ecochard said. “There’s other people out there that have a lot to offer and that is why I’m so proud to be a part of it and that is why I really enjoy it.”