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STUDENT OF THE WEEK: HELLE GUNDERSEN
by Colin Howarth | Newport Daily News Staff Reporter
NEWPORT – Whether it be in her studies, food, language or afterschool activities, for 12-year old Helle Gundersen, the differences are apparent between Newport and Norwegian cultures.
Helle, who’s in the seventh grade at St. Michael‘s Country Day School, moved from Norway to Rhode Island on July 4, 2016, with her parents Per and Trude Gundersen after her father was stationed in Newport.
The transition hasn’t been too difficult, Helle said. Learning English was a little bit of a struggle, although she was already studying the language in Norway. Learning Spanish remains a greater challenge, she said.
On top of language, Helle has noticed a difference in her studies. For example, she was surprised to learn she would be studying science in the middle school in Newport. The classes are smaller at St. Michael‘s too, she said.
“I really like the teachers here,” she said. They’re all very friendly.”
Helle, whose family often hikes and skis, has also noticed the differences in the mountains as well. When she visited the White Mountains and Green Mountains in northern New England with her family in the fall, Helle said they were really pretty but more difficult to climb.
As far as skiing goes, she said the mountains in New England seem smaller, the sport is more expensive and there are more skiers on the slopes.
She has had the opportunity to do some traveling since she’s been in this country. Her family visited Puerto Rico during Christmas break and Orlando, Florida, during Thanksgiving, where they went to Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
Near the end of June, Helle said, her father might be stationed in Washington, D.C. If not, the family is thinking about visiting California before heading back to Norway.
She said she misses her friends in Norway a lot and often talks to them through video chat. However, she said she doesn’t “get that feeling” when she’s not with them.
The head of the middle school, Mollie Williams, said Helle’s teachers “consistently comment on her excellent work ethic, focus and engagement, and her determination and willingness to take risks.”
Helle plays basketball at her school and in the summer and fall she played soccer. However, her favorite sport is handball, which she played in Norway growing up.
Her dream job is to work in or own a clothing shop. That way, she can buy more clothes and a pretty house.
“Helle is the complete package: bright, compassionate, talented and involved in the community,” Williams said. “She approaches every challenge with optimism, determination and her famous charming smile.”
The Newport Daily News solicits suggestions for Student of the Week from Newport County principals.
Favorite subject: English.
Favorite sport: Handball.
Favorite food: Tacos or sushi.
Favorite music genre: Pop.
Favorite movie: ‘High School Musical.’