Sister schools share cultural convergence

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Students from Pinegrove School in India are spending three weeks in class at their sister school, Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education.

“We first started this relationship in the year 2004 when we took a group of middle school students to India,” said Sandeep Aggarwal, dean of cultural affairs and business at Sallie B. Howard. “Our time spent at Pinegrove School was the most memorable for the students who went from Sallie B.”

Aggarwal said it’s a cultural bridge between the two schools.

“The ideology, the vision and the mission of both schools kind of matched, and we decided to be sister schools,” Aggarwal said. “We have been to India three or four times. They have come here three or four times.”

Students from both schools have traveled to Alaska together.

“Right now, we have 14 students from Pinegrove School here visiting us,” Aggarwal said.

“This time, for the first time, they will be staying longer in Wilson, attending school with our kids, spending more time with local host families, getting to know the culture.”

Having students study abroad was always a vision of Sallie B. Howard, who traveled to 40 countries herself.

“This is a nice trip,” said Ashish Gupta, a ninth grader from Pinegrove School.

“I am learning the culture over here and how they study over here, and I am liking it,” Ashish said. “I like the teaching way of the school. I would also like for them to come to India and see our culture and how we study. We would be glad to receive them and entertain them.”

“This is part of our purpose for being. This is the vision of Sallie B. Howard,” said JoAnne Woodard, executive director and founder of the Sallie B. Howard School. “She put that in us, and it has been articulated in a much clearer way as the years have gone by.”

The Pinegrove school is 200 miles north of New Delhi in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Pinegrove School Headmaster A.J. Singh said the Sallie B. Howard faculty has had great influence on the Pinegrove faculty.

“It was a blessing to come here and learn from them and take it home,” Singh said. “Their teachers have come and trained teachers in India. I feel that our teachers are a far better lot than what they were earlier.”