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Participants in the St. Augustine/Aviles Student Exchange Program stand in front of the statue of Don Pedro Menendez and wave goodbye as they prepare to depart St. Augustine to visit the city of Menendez's birth, Aviles, Spain.

Students Visit Founder's Hometown

When Don Pedro Menendez stepped ashore in Florida on September 8, 1565 and founded a new city, the City of St. Augustine, he surely paused for a moment and contemplated his own home town of Aviles, Spain, so very far away. What he could never have imagined was that nearly 437 years later 12 high school students would depart this new city in the new world to spend two weeks back in the city of his birth.

It would have been a believe-it-or-not moment for the Spanish explorer had he been present on July 1 when those students and their two chaperones stood in front of the Menendez statue for a group photo just before departing for Aviles.

The students are traveling to Aviles as participants in a student exchange program started last year by the City of St. Augustine and the City of Aviles. When the students return later this month, they will be followed by a dozen of their counterparts from Aviles who will visit St. Augustine for two weeks. The program this year is centered on a study of the environment of each region the students will visit. The program is sponsored by the St. Augustine Sister City Association, Inc.

The students pay their own transportation costs and are housed in the homes of their counterparts in Aviles. When the Spanish students visit St. Augustine, they will also stay with host families. The funds necessary to provide transportation and food for each day's very busy schedule must come from local businesses and individuals that support the educational program.

Read the students' impressions of Aviles.

Participants in this year's St. Augustine/Aviles Student Exchange Program are:

Bartram Trail High School
Justin Davis
Yvonne Davis
Brooke LaDue

Pedro Menendez High School
Stephanie Turner

St. Augustine High School
Danielle Brewer
Cassidy Hunt
Sholem Palevsky
Lindsey Pickard

St. Joseph Academy
Ericka Bancks
Johnathon Cozart
Theresa Doll
Sarah Drysdale

The Chaperones are Anthony Gedris and Julie Tugya.


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