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Westlake Students Connect Across Seas

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – A group of ninth grade students at Westlake High School were given the opportunity to share stories and interact with a group of students across the globe in New Delhi, India.

“It’s becoming exceedingly important for students that they become global citizens,”  Matthews said. “It’s the skill of this century.”

In a project put together by ninth grade honors English teacher Janet Matthews, 17 Westlake students created vignettes based on The Ramayana , one of the great epics of India. The stories are being sent to students in Vasant Valley School in New Delhi.  The Westlake students will then receive critiques and feedback from the students in India.

“It’s very exciting that we can connect with students that are so far away,” said ninth grade student Anelise Catto. “I’m looking forward to what they have to say about our work and to see how we relate to their culture.”

After school on Friday, the class met in the library with Brady Shoemaker and Ann Marie Santoro, two filmmakers and faculty members at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. Shoemaker and Santoro filmed a short lesson by Matthews and then each student individually as they read the first paragraph of their story. The audio and video will then be posted to a website for the students from Vasant Valley to access. Each story is also posted in its entirety on the site using a digitized wikispace.

Santoro praised Matthews for her use of technology in the classroom. “Students are usually very comfortable with the use of technology and it’s important that teachers are at that same level and Janet definitely is,” Santoro said.

Matthews said a school from Mumbai already noticed the students’ website and expressed interest in doing a similar project. “It’s a very time consuming project. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a sort of tour,” Matthews joked.

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