NAPLES — Ask Sander Langerbeeke who he is, and he will tell you without hesitation.
A Dutch boy. He always has been, and always will be.
True, he has lived in Naples since 2001, when his family moved to the United States from Moordrecht, his small hometown in the southern part of Holland. And, yes, between 1992 and 1997, Sander lived in North Carolina. But for the 18-year-old Sander, there’s still no place like the Netherlands.
Nevertheless, it’s not a country he plans to return to permanently after he graduates from Lely High School on Friday.
“It would be another culture shock, and I don’t think I could handle it,” Sander said, smiling.
Sander was about 6 months old in 1992 when his family first relocated to the U.S.; his father works as an adviser for the agricultural company Lely, which prompted the move. Then, in 1997, the Langerbeekes returned to Holland. As a small child, the change barely registered for Sander.
“As a kid, you kind of catch up really easily,” he recalled.
Graduates of distinction
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories looking at some of the 2010 graduates of distinction in Southwest Florida, leading to the upcoming commencement ceremonies. If you attend a graduation, please upload your photos to Participate at naplesnews.com
Not so on the Langerbeekes’ second sojurn to the states. By then, Sander was 10 years old and entrenched in his education. In Holland, his school day lasted from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. This was partially because the school was located in another city, and the students rode their bikes to class. Sander’s trip was about 12 miles each way.
For many American students, this might sound strange. Or tortuous. Yet Sander still grins when he describes it. He absolutely loved it. There was a great sense of togetherness in Holland, he explained.
“Everyone knows everyone,” he said.
The transition to Naples required him to adjust to a different lifestyle and to absorb a new language in the process. At Lely Elementary School as a fourth-grader, Sander was enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.
“It was hard because they didn’t have anyone who spoke Dutch,” he said.
Lely High School’s graduation is 8 p.m. on Friday, June 4 at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Alico Arena. The Lely High School class officers are President John Adams; Vice-President China Pierrelus; Secretary Sarah Paul; and Treasurer Nasha Etienne.
At first, he was resistant to the class. Sometimes, when frustrated, he would complete his school assignments in Dutch. But over time, things changed. He spoke with friends, teachers and his English-speaking parents, and he learned, exiting the ESOL program in sixth grade.
Now, Sander hopes to make a career out of education and would like to become a middle-school math teacher. He will begin following that dream at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero in the fall.
Sander credits his interest in middle school education to his belief that middle school is a pivotal point in a student’s development. Also, he attended the Marco Island Charter Middle School, and had several teachers there he admired.
“I’ve always wanted to be a positive role model in society,” Sander said. “And I think teachers are a positive influence.”
At Lely High School, Sander took two years of the school’s “teacher assist” class, designed for aspiring educators. Teacher assist instructor Robert Alvarez describes Sander as a dedicated student who tries to achieve his best and is always willing to help others.
He considers Sander’s background an asset to understanding the academic challenges of nontraditional students, as well as appreciating diversity in the classroom.
“Middle school is kind of an area that you have to have a calling for,” Alvarez said. “He believes he’s going to be able to reach those students at that age and make a difference in their lives, which is a great thing.”
- Lorenzo Walker's first graduating class
- Project Graduation at the YMCA
- Gulf Coast High School's 2010 graduating class
- Commencement for Ave Maria law grads
- Project Graduation at the YMCA
- Barron Collier High School
- Community School of Naples
- Donahue Academy
- Eden Autism Services
- Estero High School
- Everglades City School
- First Baptist Academy
- Golden Gate High School
- Gulf Coast High School
- Immokalee High School
- Lely High School
- Lorenzo Walker Technical High School
- Naples High School
- Palmetto Ridge High School
- Seacrest County Day School
- South Fort Myers High School
- St. John Neumann High School
- Ave Maria School of Law
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- Hodges University
GRADUATES OF DISTINCTION:
- Barron Collier High School: John White
- Community School of Naples: Connor Timmins
- Donahue Academy: Michelle Williams
- Estero High School: Daniel Rosman
- Everglades City School: Kimberly Brown
- First Baptist Academy High School: Dorothea Bischof
- Golden Gate High School: Cindy Rivas
- Gulf Coast High School: Kaitlyn Weber Lang
- Immokalee High School: Joeseph Brueggen
- Lely High School: Sander Langerbeeke
- Lorenzo Walker High School: Lina Rivera
- Naples High School: Austin Gore
- Palmetto Ridge High School: Ory Bell
- Seacrest Country Day School: Brunes Charles
- South Fort Myers High School: Alexandra "Ali" Sanfilippo
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- Small Everglades class marked by rousing spirit
- 11 receive diplomas at First Baptist Academy's second graduation
- Fallen football coach Tudryn remembered at Gulf Coast High ceremony
- Lorenzo Walker Tech graduates first high school class
- St. John Neumann grads dedicate ceremony to Tony Grasso, former teacher, basketball coach
- Jeb Bush addresses Ave Maria's first law school graduates in Naples
- Despite downturn, FGCU commencement excites graduates, families
- Hodges University graduates 625 during ceremony Sunday
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