Laurinburg students enjoy safe and enjoyable exchange

Exchange students from Laurinburg US joined OHS pupils at their summer prom. Photograph: Kevin McGlynn.

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After a two-year break students from Laurinburg, USA, have once again been enjoying all that Oban has to offer.

Now in its 29th year, the Laurinburg Exchange involved visiting students being housed by Oban High School pupils, giving them the chance to experience life with a Scottish family, including local food and culture.

This was the first exchange since Covid and organisers were challenged in terms of manoeuvring around travel restrictions and ensuring as safe and enjoyable an experience as they did prior to the pandemic.

During their stay the students enjoyed and took part in a whole host of activities; they explored Oban by boat courtesy of Oban Sea Tours, dined at Lochnell Castle, attended the OHS Summer Prom, toured Oban and Lorn, visited primary schools and attended the Oban Rotary Club lunch to talk about their experiences, had a trip to Glasgow and Blair Drummond Safari Park and a tour of Cruachan Power Station.

At the weekends the American students spent time with the families who hosted them for the two-week exchange.

Oban High School Principal Teacher of PE and HWB Murray Hamilton is part of the organising group and said: ‘I am happy to report that this year’s group of students have been fantastic; one big challenge is always fundraising and the Oban community has really supported the students and the exchange this year.

‘Students and families have raised all the money for the activities we did with our American guests.

‘The aim is always to show them the best of our community and despite the weather not always being perfect we feel the students have done a fantastic job and we are very proud of them.’

This year’s Oban High School exchange group includes: Rachel MacCormick, Brianna Sloss, Andrew Boyle, Dylan Howe, Jodi Anderson, Cameron McEwan, Ben MacCorquodale, Elena Cameron, Alex Welsh, Gaz Goldie, Lauren MacLeod and Shauna MacLeod while the chaperones this year are Greg Fairbairn and Hannah Stevenson.

‘It is fantastic that this exchange has come back as strong as it left; it is a truly special programme that continues to grow,’ added Murray.

‘The Oban students are already looking forward to their trip to the US in October. They will visit the capital Washington DC before travelling south to Laurinburg, North Carolina.

‘The students really are ambassadors for our town, community and their families and we are very confident they will make us all proud.’

Next year will be the 30th anniversary year of the exchange and organisers are already planning to have a gathering in Oban next June for all past and present participants, friends and families who have been involved over the last three decades.