SCHOOL children will help celebrate Sunderland’s like with Washington DC as the cities’ Friendship Agreement is renewed.
Sunderland City Council signed the Friendship Agreement with the seat of the U.S. Government in June 2006. Sunderland is the only non-capital in the world to have such an agreement with Washington.
Pupils from five schools will take part in a celebration event at Washington Old Hall – the ancestral home of George Washington – on Wednesday February 22.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “Since signing this historic Friendship Agreement with Washington DC, we’ve seen a range of economic and educational benefits.
“Young people in a number of our schools, as well as Sunderland Youth Parliament, have had the opportunity to learn more about America, explore issues important to young people on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as learn more about their own history and heritage.
“There are now more than 6,000 people employed by US companies in Sunderland and Washington, and companies from here have successfully taken their goods and services to the United States with millions of pounds invested in our city by US companies.”
The schools taking part are Broadway Juniors, Washington’s John F Kennedy Primary School, Monkwearmouth Secondary School – which has an exchange programme with DC – Springwell Dene Special School, and George Washington Primary School.
They will be giving performances including music and words at the hall. The National Trust property also annually hosts a US Independence Day Ceremony on 4 July.
A formal renewal and signing in Washington DC is also planned at the British Embassy on Wednesday February 22, witnessed by deputy head of mission to the US Philip Barton.
Monkwearmouth School, which hosted US students in 2011, is preparing for its own exchange with its partner DC school – School Without Walls Senior High School – in March 2012.
Teacher Iain Buddle, who organised the visit, said: “We can be very proud that our city has these links and that they are benefiting the city. We are sharing these links and these are unique links between our cities.
“It’s only right that we celebrate them.”
Altogether 11 students from Monkwearmouth are visiting DC through the school’s exchange programme.
In DC, delegates from Sunderland University, the Chamber of Commerce and business representatives are joining council chief executive Dave Smith at the Embassy renewal.
The delegation is attending a series of meetings, including a meeting with DC’s Mayor, it and includes Chair of the Sunderland Area branch of the North East Chamber of Commerce and Commercial Director of Sunderland AFC Gary Hutchinson.
Mr Hutchinson said: “We all know that our city and region have strong links with the US and Washington DC. It was a major coup to see these strengthened in 2006, we’ve built upon that agreement and now we are about to renew it.”