Students are beginning an international adventure, as St. Philomena school forms a cultural exchange with Irish counterparts in Clonmel, Ireland.
St. Philomena school is located in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria has four sister cities, but this is a first for a school to have this type of outreach.
“There’s an opportunity for our kids to have their horizons expanded a little bit,” said the Rev. David Richardson, pastor of the church adjacent to the school.
Jim Spears, a St. Philomena parishioner, has been helping to find an Irish school partner. The owner of Jimmy’s Bar in West Peoria is a member of the board of Friends of Clonmel, a Peoria-based sister-city organization. His business has established a sibling relationship with a Clonmel tavern.
Spears emailed Jodi Peine, the St. Philomena principal, about St. Mary’s interest. Peine and Friends of Clonmel members are expected to share ideas during an upcoming meeting.
“She can make as much of this or as little of it as they want,” Spears said Tuesday. “Hopefully, they make a lot of it.”
“The geography lessons are going to be profound,” she said. “Where is Ireland? Where is Clonmel? For our older kids, how about politics? Who do they operate under? How are we alike and how are we different?”
Peine expects much St. Mary’s contact to take place via email, Skype messaging and a YouTube-like video-sharing website. Her school appears prepared.
St. Philomena issues a laptop-type computer to each student, Peine said. The school had a virtual exchange two or three years ago with another in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.