They might not know it yet, but students in Beaufort County share a tie with students in Dieppe, France.
The city on the English Channel is the home of Capt. Jean Ribaut, who arrived on Parris Island 450 years ago and built Charlesfort, the first official European settlement in what would become the United States.
Next school year, Beaufort County students in Martine Marshall's Beaufort High School French class will get a chance to strengthen ties with Dieppe.
Marshall has planned a pen-pal program with students at a high school in Dieppe. The students will create a wiki -- a website that allows users to add and update content using their own Web browser -- about the two towns and daily life there. They also will explore the history of Ribaut and participate in video conferences throughout the year.
The goal, Marshall said, is for students to get a dose of a different culture while communicating in French.
"It's nice for the students to have a French connection to where they live," she said.
The arrangement was sparked by celebrations of the 450th anniversary of Ribaut's landing on Parris Island, which wrapped up with a ceremony on Parris Island on Friday. The celebrations also included a lecture series and a free concert of period music in Port Royal.
Mary Lou Brewton, who has helped to organize many of those events through the Beaufort Historical Society, said she looks forward to the pen-pal program. There weren't many young people at most of the celebrations, she said, so it might be a means of introducingRibaut to a new generation.
"We might end up with students from Beaufort being more receptive to being in a global environment," Brewton said. "There's more to the world than just going over a bridge to another island. I think these kids will have a great time (with the program.)"
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