Monday afternoon, a farewell assembly was held for the high school students and staff to say goodbye to the Redruth, Cornwall visitors that have been a part of our school and community for the last two weeks.
The student twinning exchange program started in 1999 by Jim Jewell and Glen Ridnour.
The men were looking for a city that had a similar history background of mining like Mineral Point.
The Redruth-Camborne area of Cornwall was big in the tin mining industry.
Jewell had connections in that area through David and Juliet Jenkins, along with help from Alan Jewell.
The twinning took off.
This group came to the school for support and to look for students that would be interested.
Sandy Weitzel became involved right away as she has a love of history and interest in her Cornish roots on her mother’s side, thanks to Mildred Olson Stephenson.
At the time, Dianne Bergenske was a 4th grade teacher at the elementary. 4th grade is the time during which students learn about Wisconsin history in their curriculum.
Bergenske, along with Janice Terrill, who was a tour guide at Pendarvis, were the first two to chaperone the first ever trip to Cornwall.
It was then decided the group would go to Cornwall every other year, and in the off year, the Cornish would come to Mineral Point.
Sid Capper, teacher at Redruth School, brought over the first group of students, along with his eight year old daughter, Charlie. Becky Clarke was the other chaperone.
The next trip was chaperoned by Cathy McDonald and Di Sterba. McDonald had taken over being the contact person in the high school for the program. She taught high school English and remained active in the program until she retired.
Weitzel chaperoned her first trip with McDonald and two more times with Tina Barrette and Kris McCoy.
Jeannette Galle came on board to be the contact person at the high school and did a great job but never actually wanted to do the trip as she is Welsh so often took trips back to visit her own family.
That is when Matt Nevers, high school band teacher, came on board and has been the leader on the last three trips with chaperones Barrette, Ann Biba, and Kristin Mitchell.
The group tries to have a parent be one of the chaperones on each trip, as well as a school representative.
There have been at least 200 Mineral Point families involved in the program at some level over the years with at least 100 Pointer students taking the trip across the pond.
John Rodgers just completed his forth trip as chaperone for the Cornish students, and this time, brought fellow teacher Sarah Davies as the other chaperone.
Rodgers was hosted by Nevers and Jeanette and Gary Galle with Weitzel and husband Larry hosting Davies.
The students and their hosts were as follows: Haley Chubb hosted Amber Caley; Caitlyn Goodweiler hosted Jasmin Hoole-Jackson; Tori Palzkill hosted Robyn Perry; Caleb Mitchell hosted Mawgan Trebell; Cole Howard hosted Adam Moyle; Grant Rose hosted Tom Govier; and Jack Neal hosted Adam Prowse.
Many lasting friendships have been made through the exchange and Facebook has been a wonderful way to keep in touch.
Even still today, more than 40% of Mineral Point’s residents have Cornish heritage.
The Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society gives a Benson Scholarship, which is a writing contest to help with the cost of the trip for Pointer students. Dorothy Hyde visits classrooms every two years and encourages high school English students to apply for the scholarship and to take the Cornwall trip.
Many community organizations have been generous with donations to the group through the years, but the students also have fundraisers themselves. Midway pizza is often sold by the slice at sporting events and every winter before Christmas, Racine Kringles are available to order.
While here, Cornish visitors enjoyed spending time in the classrooms, visiting many Mineral Point sites as well as Madison, Dubuque, Wisconsin Dells, House on the Rock, Pointer and Badger football games, an American Halloween, and they spent their last day in Chicago before flying home Wednesday, November 4.
During the farewell assembly Monday afternoon, gifts and parting well wishes between the schools were exchanged.
The Cornish found Mineral Point to be most friendly and welcoming and the group looks forward to hosting the next round of Pointers across the pond in 16 months, or March of 2017.