Killington Mountain School has many new faces on campus due to the start of the winter-term, and among those are six students from the Paris region in France. Simon Castelain (grade 6), Mathis Petry (grade 7), Martin Hermet (grade 8), Suzanne Ignatiew (grade 6), Chloe Liboureau (8), and Clara Piscopo (grade 9) are making Vermont their home for the month of November, the boys living with Head of School Tao Smith and the girls staying with KMS parents Mike and Beth Castellini. The KMS community is enjoying getting to know them and their culture, and fighting the urge to speak French with them, as part of their goal here is to improve their spoken English.
The French students were fully immersed in American tradition during their first day on campus as it was Halloween. From skiing with the entire school that morning, to watching as adults and kids alike donned Halloween costumes for a contest, to taking part in pumpkin carving competitions, the students had an accelerated window into some local customs right off the bat. While here, they are taking math, art, and language classes with KMS students, as well as keeping up with their studies from home in tutorial time during the academic day. All of the six ski as a part of the Isle de France Northwest Team, and are spending their days here skiing and working out with the KMS alpine athletes.
Alpine Program Director Tom Sell explained how the program came to reality, "Stefano Piscopo reached out to me on the recommendation of my friend Jean-Michel Agnellet, who is currently the Head Men’s World Cup SL/GS Coach. After Speaking with Stefano about bringing his daughter Clara to school," Sell continued, "he and I started to talk about the benefits for a greater pool of athletes, and of more French athletes from his region being interested in the opportunities KMS could offer. As Stefano is the president of the Regional Committee, he was able to start spreading the word about KMS." Sell traveled to France in September of 2015, giving a presentation at the Regional festival for parents and coaches. The outcome was quite a few interested families, yet some were anxious about committing to a full year with their young athletes. In the end, the school came up with the idea of a November program, which fits the needs and desire of the families, allowing their children to get on snow and get in dryland training before the season, while also engaging in American culture and continuing their studies.
The group's presence is a win-win, with the six benefitting athletically, academically, and culturally just as much as KMS athletes are gaining by virtue of being around peers from another country who are exposing them to new ways of thinking, and expanding their global horizons on the hill, in the classroom, and in social situations as well.