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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Chatsworth

School Makes Impression on Exchange Students

January 16, 1999|STEPHANIE STASSEL

You could tell the jet lag had worn off by their wide-open eyes.

Friday was a day of amazement and wonder for six South Korean teens who visited Chatsworth High School as part of a cultural exchange program.

They witnessed classes in robotics, band and computer education and even saw a jazz musical performance at nearby Lawrence Middle School.

"They were amazed the students had that much talent and could learn this at school," said Chatsworth High Assistant Principal Arlene Anderson.

Back home, their private boys' school has them in class until 5 p.m., then they are tutored until as late at 11 p.m.

Music and dance is done on their own time, not at school, Anderson said.

Last summer, Anderson was contacted by local businessman Sun Ul Kim, who wanted to establish a sister-school relationship between his alma mater, Chungju High School in Chungju Buk, a two-hour drive south of Seoul, and Chatsworth High School, from which his two daughters graduated.

Expecting they would simply exchange e-mail and class projects, Anderson was surprised when Kim paid for her and two students to visit Korea in November.

During the five-day trip, they signed a formal agreement between the schools.

The South Korean students' visit has been less formal, with a flexible schedule that has been kept fluid to accommodate their wishes.

"They're getting a feeling for what it is like to be an American, which isn't too formal," said Diana Dixon-Davis, a Chatsworth High parent.

On Friday night, they watched a boys' basketball game at San Fernando High and today will tour Los Angeles, including Mann's Chinese Theater, CityWalk, Olvera Street and the beach.

Instead of the customary trip to Disneyland, the boys opted for the wild rides at Magic Mountain on Sunday before their return home Monday.

"It's been a real eye-opening experience for everyone involved," Anderson said.

"We hope this type of exchange will continue."

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