NEWCOMB — Nestled in a remote corner of the Adirondacks, Newcomb Central School just celebrated its 101st student.
The K-through-12 school had enrollment of about 55 as recently as five years ago, but a search for international and regional tuition students has paid off.
As about 50 members of the community crowded into the school gymnasium, Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults recognized scholars from Brazil, France, South Korea and other nations.
The school also added six pupils from southern New York this semester, bringing the total to 101.
“We did it,” Hults said. “The thing that I appreciate is the faculty and staff of this School District. This is, by far, the best faculty and staff I have ever been associated and worked with. I couldn’t do it (without them).”
He also praised the School Board, parents and the community for their support of the school’s endeavor.
“This thing works. The parents and this community never gave up on their school. When we were down to 55 kids, they didn’t give up on their school.
“We would not be at 101 students if it were not for this community.
“I enjoy working with these kids,” he continued. “We do have the best of the best kids from any school district I’ve ever been a part of.
Seven of the school’s 13 international students were at the celebration.
One former Newcomb student is 18-year-old Manon Vernette of Trets, France, who was back visiting when the school marked passing the 100 mark in enrollment.
“I graduated last year,” she said. “I got really good grades; I made a lot of friends. Everybody is friendly here; everybody knows everybody.”
Newcomb is a town of only 445 people, and she and other foreign students were warmly received, Vernette said.
“I got an excellent education here, and I’ll be going to college in France. I still want to come back here when I can.”
Sophomore John Shin of South Korea is an international student at Newcomb this year.
“I want to finish high school in America, and I’ll go to college in Korea,” he said. “Next year, I’m going to school in Bennington, Vt.”
Shin said he’s studying hard and learning a lot about the United States at the same time.
“I like it here. I made many friends here, many international friends.”
VISA LAW LIMITS
Hults said he’s been working with the area’s congressional delegation to try to change the 1996 F1 Student Visa Law that says foreign tuition students can stay for one only consecutive year in the same school. The one-year provision applies only to public secondary schools.
He said U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) will be the school’s graduation speaker on June 23, so they plan to ask him about changing the law.
“We get so attached to the international students, then they leave, and we have a new group coming in,” Hults said. “It’s the whole thing all over again.”
Owens has told them he supports changing the F1 Law, Hults said, and that it looks like there’s support in Congress to do so.
Email Lohr McKinstry: firstname.lastname@example.org