Global exposure is crucial for any growing child. According to studies, children exposed to diverse environments at a young age display stronger social skills, a greater willingness to learn, and higher tolerance and open-mindedness for others. In turn, this helps prepare them for a world that is becoming increasingly more international by the day — contributing to their levels of success after graduation.
This was certainly the case for French-born Romane Minereau. “I really enjoyed being immersed in an international environment [from a young age] and being able to meet students from all over the world, whether they were coming for a few days or several months,” she shares. It was this that prompted her to pursue an equally global career in international relations and law.
This stemmed directly from her education at Saint-Denis International School. Located in the beautiful Loire Valley, Saint-Denis is a traditional French boarding institution across middle and high school levels. Most importantly, it hosts a warm and friendly community of students from over 30 countries — making for a vibrant international environment in the heart of a classic French town.
Much of this has to do with the school’s commitment to building a learning environment that encourages intellectual and social discovery. For students who are keen on learning over holiday periods or simply want a taste of life at Saint-Denis, the school offers multiple summer camps in July.
Here, students have the opportunity to live and learn at Saint-Denis for two to four weeks. They receive 15 hours of French as a foreign language — of which the school has over 25 years of experience teaching across all learning levels. What’s more, they benefit from hands-on activities and opportunities to explore the beautiful expanse of the Loire Valley — from castle visits to kayaking, from treasure hunts to amusement parks. It’s more than a summer camp — it’s an experience that will surely live on for a lifetime.
Those who attend the institution full-time are steeped in an environment that breeds excellence. Saint-Denis offers the BFI, a specialisation that complements the traditional French education system. The option is known for its academic rigidity, taking on a more student-centred and enquiry-based Anglo-Saxon method of learning. It adds English-taught subjects to the traditional French Baccalaureate.
Opportunities are open for students interested in pursuing an American education, as well. Saint-Denis offers a Dual Diploma programme that blends the American High School Diploma with the French Baccalaureat. Outside of equipping students with strong English language skills, this helps open up doors to resume one’s future studies in the US, Canada and Europe, among others.
They are taught by dedicated and motivated teachers who are invested in ensuring every student is pushed to reach their full potential. “I really liked Mr. Webb, whom I had as a teacher from 4ème to senior year,” recalls Minereau, who graduated from Saint-Denis in 2014. “What I enjoyed was the opportunity to see the evolution of the teacher-student relationship over the years — and even after high school!”
Life outside the classroom is just as rich. The international festival of the arts and sciences, for example, is an annual week-long event hosted by Saint-Denis in April. Here, delegations come from all over the world to share parts of their culture — whether it be through performing dances, songs, and music, or hosting celebrated lecturers who deliver talks on important themes and subjects.
The most impressive part? It is entirely organised by Saint-Denis students. “Taking part in the organisation of the Festival of Arts was a big learning opportunity, although it was not like regular classes,” says Minereau. “Learning how to carry out projects, work with other people, manage things, and take responsibilities are not something that high school students are able to do very often.”
That’s not to take away from initiatives to expose students to life outside campus grounds, as well. During her time at the school, Minereau participated in a trip to the US, where she stayed with a host family and attended classes in an American high school. “The experience was great to not only help me learn English, but also to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone and gain self-confidence. I did another trip during my senior year, and this time, the school had trusted me with a mission to be the point of contact between the students and the school.”
It’s an experience that changed Minereau’s career aspirations — for good. “I know that the international environment in Saint-Denis has contributed a lot in building my interest in international and global relations,” she says. “Whenever I am in places with a lot of different nationalities, I remember Saint-Denis, so maybe that’s why I feel so at ease in those places, because it reminds me of home.”
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