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First 5 Chinese students arrive for academy



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Back row (from left): Litong (Sophia) Pei, Yichen (Hansen) Yao, Bo (Jack) Fang, Liyuan (Evan) Zhang, Noah Brooks and Bowen (Richard) Yang. Front row (from left): Harrison Lavns, Emily Gilmore and Bailey Rochon. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
August 31, 2011 - Oxford's International Residency Academy has officially begun.

On the morningf of Tuesday, August 30, five chinese students – four boys, one girl – arrived at Detroit's Metro Airport from China and were cheerfully greeted by Oxford High School students and administration and taken back to OHS.

According to Oxford High School Principal Todd Dunckley, who also oversees the Oxford International Residency Academy, the five students are expected to be the first of approximately 30 students to take part in the residency academy this school year.

The remaining students are expected to come in time for the beginning of the second semester, which starts Jan. 3, 2012.

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"What we are trying to (do is) make sure nobody comes in the middle of the semester," Dunckley said. "We may to, for the sake of the children, need to hold off until the second semester on the next set of kids because it is going to be very difficult to pop them in during the middle of the semester."

Three to five additional students may be coming in the next 10 days, if they could get their visas interviews completed in time.

After that, the district could see as many as 20 additional Chinese students fly over for the second semester.

"One thing we learned in this, we don't want to put all the eggs of those who are interested up front," Dunckley said. "By the time you sort it out, you might not get them that date...I am trying to get a safe guess at how many would actually come over, and right now it looks 20 additional mid-year."

"By the time we get there, they may choose to go to the (Northeast Yucai Oxford) International School for a year, so it might only be 10," he added. "There is a whole bunch of interested people; of course, we are giving them more than this option because we have the international school over there, and that is drawing some of them there as well."

However, Dunckley said a reason the initial low number was a result of interviews taking longer than normal.

Dunckley added earlier this summer the district was expecting between 20-30 students on the initial trip.

"But by the time they got the interviews, by the time they went through and then they held off, it's like ok, you are not going to make it in time to start here in the fall," Dunckley said.

Some students even had hesitations about coming to America according to Dunckley. "Some of them are all excited, and when it comes time to make the move, they go maybe I should wait a semester," Dunckley said. "It's ironic because their skills are so high and they are not sure if their skills are ready yet. And some of it is just leaving home too."

According to Dunckley, the international school in China is not hurting the draw prospetive students have towards the residence academy.

In fact, he thinks it is actually helping the academy because it gives prospective students another year to learn English and familiarize themselves with Oxford's curriculum.

"It's is our school and it's our curriculum, and because it's our curriculum taught in English, it's part of a transition period for them," Dunckley said.

"Everything is as if you picked up Oxford and dropped it in Beijing, so they get the chance to study there in a small setting, small school while still on their home turf while close to home," he added.

Students would be attending Oxford High School for two years in order for them to earn their high school diploma, so Dunckley is still working on a permanent home for both the male and female students.

Previously the district was working on housing the female students at Queen of the Family retreat center, and Dunckley said "that partnership with Queen of the Family is still ongoing." He added a permanent residence for the boys had not yet been found.

Dunckley noted the district will be receiving the full amount of the state's foundation allowance because the Chinese students would be enrolling as residents on visas.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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