American students have been wowed by Shropshire after visiting as part of a school exchange trip.

Year nine to 13 pupils from the Tabor Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, visited Ellesmere College as part of a drama exchange which has been running for more than 20 years and performed the thriller The 39 Steps at the college theatre.

The team were in Shropshire for one week and also boarded in the school facilities.

Ashley Li, a student at the Tabor Academy, said: “I loved getting a tour of the campus, especially when we all got to listen to the choir rehearsal, that experience was truly mesmerising!

“I also enjoyed learning about different routines that students at Ellesmere experience daily, I discovered some interesting similarities and differences.

“Most of all, the hash browns and British candy bars were amazing, thank you all for a great trip.”

Fellow student Anna Ambarik added: “I think my favourite part of the trip was when the girls in St. Oswalds awarded us the Ossies of the week.

“All the people in the dorm were really welcoming and it was fun to talk about our different cultures with them.”

The pupils were joined by Charlie Babbitt, Technical Manager, and Jesse Hawley, Drama, English and Performing Arts Coordinator at Tabor Academy.

She added: “The value of this exchange programme for our students that they not only have the opportunity to be immersed in the culture of another school, but they are called on to stick their necks out and share work they’ve done—which can feel quite risky and vulnerable, but which can open the door to a deeper form of communication than just by simply paying Ellesmere a visit.

“It also builds some real-life skills they’ll need such as being adaptable and flexible in the face of uncertainty.

“They performed in a new theatre with unfamiliar faces, fitting in with Ellesmere’s rules and norms.

“My favourite parts of the trip were seeing Tabor and Ellesmere students meet and interact and talking with them about what and how they learn about theatre at school and a question and answer session for the younger audience which was a great moment of cultural exchange.”

The Tabor students also enjoyed a tour of The Storyhouse Theater in Chester and had a sightseeing tour in and around Ellesmere campus and town.

Jesse added: “It might seem like nothing special to you, but the sights, sounds and even smells were new to us, and wonderful to learn about!”

Each of the schools produces a play that they perform in their home country, and then bring it over to the exchange school – ready to perform in front of audiences at a number of schools.

Rachel Schubert, Director of Drama at the Artsmark Platinum Awards school Ellesmere College, said: “Both schools have benefitted hugely from the relationship.

“There are so many advantages to these trips, the chance to soak up the culture of a different country, enjoy an open and frank exchange of views and ideas and how contemporaries are using the wonderful medium of drama in an educational setting.

“We have a unique relationship with Tabor Academy and we were delighted to welcome the students to Ellesmere, we believe it is still something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

“We very much look forward to our return trip to Massachusetts in 2024!”

For more information on Arts & Drama provision at Ellesmere College visit Ellesmere Arts.