Sagemont, A Broward County Private School’s Varsity Basketball Team Visited Israel on Cultural Exchange in October

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Sagemont’s Varsity Basketball Team returned from a trip to Israel in October as part of a cultural exchange program with Maccabi Haifa Youth Sports Organization. The Weston team learned why Israel is relevant to their lives.

“Israel was even more beautiful than the pictures we saw before the trip. Every day I was so excited to experience the culture and history. We were so fortunate to go on this trip.” - Sophomore AJ Jurko

Over the years, The Sagemont boys Varsity basketball team has enjoyed playing games in Washington, D.C., Georgia, Arizona, California, Missouri and North Carolina. Now they can add Israel to the list. Recently, the team set out on a journey and an experience that cannot be taught in the classroom. The team spent nine days travelling throughout Israel and participating in basketball games as part of the Maccabi Haifa Educational Exchange Program. The goal of the trip was to expose the students to the cultural and historical relevance of Israel. The trip was the brainchild of Dr. Richard Goldman, co-founder of The Sagemont School. “Having lived in Israel I was aware that youth sports are run by community groups and not by the high schools. I contacted Maccabi Haifa Youth Sports Organization and we discussed the idea of having Sagemont students develop cross cultural experiences with Israeli students. Sports have a history of bringing together diverse cultures.” Sagemont’s basketball team is made up of ten Christians, two Muslims and two Jews. Throughout their travels, the students were able to learn about the three different religions.

The students travelled in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv visiting places such as Yad Vashem-Holocaust Museum, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall and Baha’i Gardens. They visited an Ahmadi Mosque as well as the Stella Maris Church. They also climbed Masada, a huge desert fortress that overlooks the Dead Sea. When they needed to cool off after that long hike, they took a dip in the Dead Sea. In between sightseeing and learning about the Israeli culture, they had basketball practice and played in three games. Coach Adam Ross said, “This was more than a basketball trip. It was much bigger than that. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that something like this was possible. Our kids came away from this experience with something positive that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The student travelers were required to take pictures and keep a journal to chronicle what they learned. They shared these journals with their private high school classmates upon their return. Junior Joe Kirby said, "After only being in Israel for one day, you could feel how much history was there and how proud the people there were of their country.” Sophomore AJ Jurko said, “Israel was even more beautiful than the pictures we saw before the trip. Every day I was so excited to experience the culture and history. We were so fortunate to go on this trip.”

Each student came away from this trip with a better understanding of Israel, its culture and its significance to the rest of the world. Dr. Brent Goldman, President of The Sagemont School said, "This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students. We are extremely grateful to Haifa Maccabi and the Jewish Federation of Broward County for making this trip possible." Next year Israel Maccabi students will visit Broward County, Florida and Sagemont for a similar cultural exchange experience.

The Sagemont School offers a college preparatory curriculum and operates two campuses in Weston, Fl. In preschool through the elementary grades, The Sagemont School provides core concepts in a creative environment combined with weekly specials that include science, art, music, Spanish for non-native & native speakers, swimming, PE and media and technology. From middle school through high school graduation, Sagemont students choose from a variety of regular, honors and AP course work. In addition, students share in a networked wireless laptop environment and participate in a comprehensive guidance program for college entrance. Visit The Sagemont School Web site at http://www.sagemont.com/.

For more information on The Sagemont School contact Dr. Brent Goldman, President at (954) 389-2454 ext., 305, or email to bgoldman(at)sagemont(dot)com.

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Maria Ackermann

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