Congratulations to Grand Rapids High School for receiving this award. The ability to navigate across a variety of cultures is a critical skill needed by the students of today, and shows up on the Pathway to Student Success in the goal, “Every student will develop the skills to live, work and thrive in an ever-changing world.”

GRHS AFS students

Pictured above are AFS students, from left, Maria Vazquez Ojeda (Chile), Max Wohlerdt (Germany), Olivia Havel (Grand Rapids to Italy next year), Vincent Rivier (France), Karine Koller (Cohasset to Italy next year). Not pictured Paola Baizan Rojas (Costa Rica). Picture submitted

Grand Rapids High School has been selected to receive the “2013 Top AFS School” award from AFS-USA, a leader in international high school student exchange. Schools honored with this inaugural award have partnered with AFS in a variety of ways to foster global citizenship through intercultural learning—both inside and outside of the classroom—from hosting international students, sending students abroad, and working with AFS-USA to incorporate intercultural and experiential learning opportunities in the curriculum. The entire list of schools can be viewed at

The high schools selected from around the country for this public recognition are making a profound difference in the lives of students and in society at large. The ability to speak another language, to navigate in a different cultural context, and to marshal a global perspective are skills that today’s students need to succeed in our increasingly interdependent world.

Over the years, Grand Rapids High School has hosted 20+ students, from several countries, and sent many students abroad. “We’re so thankful and proud to work in educational partnership with schools like Grand Rapids High School,” said Tonya Muro, the Director of School Outreach at AFS-USA. “Today’s AFS is so much more than international educational exchange. Together with schools, AFS is bringing global competencies and key 21st century skills to students, teachers, and the greater community.”

Currently four local families, supported by the Grand Rapids, Minnesota AFS Team, are hosting students from France, Germany, Costa Rica and Chile. Two local students have committed to spending the 2013-14 school year abroad through AFS. Both have been accepted for programs in Italy.

For more information about hosting or sending, contact local chair, Lisa Hain at 326-4854.