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Highlands AFS Program & World Language Dept. Receive Prestigious Honors


Highlands High School’s AFS Program and the World Language Department recently received national and state honors, respectively. High School Spanish teacher Laura Fleischer Proaño officially presented these awards to the Highlands School Board at its agenda planning meeting on April 11, 2023.

Nominated by Highlands/AFS host parent Dr. Andrea Adolph, Highlands High School was selected as a 2023 AFS-USA Global School Award Finalist, competing against schools from all over the country. Proaño thanked Dr. Adolph for nominating Highlands and taking the lead in compiling the evidence used to evaluate Highlands against a very rigorous rubric. Jill Woerner, Director of Educational Outreach from AFS-USA, commended Highlands' strong portfolio and noted that it was a very close competition. If they were able to accept two winners, Highlands High School would have been the second school chosen. 

Proaño also acknowledged the commitment and dedication of Highlands AFS Liaison Kathy Harenski. “I want to express my gratitude to Kathy for her support over several decades of countless AFS exchange students (including my sister in 1983 and me in 1993),” said Proaño. “She is truly a gift to this community.”

Proaño also mentioned the four current Highlands High School seniors who have hosted AFS exchange students through the years:

Ava Bollinger, 7-time host sister

Aiden Ochoa, 4-time host brother, in addition to hosting several students virtually during COVID

Ella Adolph, 4-time host sister

Eli Majocha, host brother last year

In addition to the AFS honors, the Highlands World Language Department was awarded the PSMLA Exemplary Program (PEP) Globe Award for 2023-2024 for being one of an elite group of exemplary foreign language programs in the state.

“This is a prestigious, state-wide award given to schools that provide evidence of high quality, standards-based, proficiency-oriented foreign language instruction,” said Proaño.

PSMLA (Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association) is the state professional language organization of which Highlands World Language teachers Joe Novak, Trina Colberg and Proaño are members. It is also the same organization through which the High School offers the Global Scholars Program.

At the end of her presentation, Proaño acknowledged the School Board and community for their continued support of AFS and world languages at Highlands. “I truly am proud of the Highlands community for its long-standing commitment to global education,” she said.

Congratulations to all who contribute to the continued success of the Highlands AFS Program and the World Language Department!