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American Exchange Project student with letter

American Exchange Project logo

AEP students pointing to map
Above, High School South's (l to r) Jordyn Lynch on Facetime (Kansas), Ava Jackson (Kansas), Rob Peirson (Oklahoma), Josh Rhine (Texas), Ving Dang (Maine), Jarrod Johnson (Texas), and Jimmy Ruano Aguirre (Wyoming) point to a map highlighting their destinations. Meanwhile, High School North's Nil Patel (left) holds up his AEP acceptance letter to travel to Utah. These students will spend the early part of summer embarking on a unique unification project.

'Connect our divided country'

March 11, 2024-- The mission of the American Exchange Project (AEP) is to "to connect our divided country. We're stitching our country together, one student, one high school, one hometown at a time."

There are more than 30 states and 60 high schools across the country fulfilling this mission, becoming involved in a project that sends high school seniors to hometowns very different then their own following graduation. This summer, Toms River will be on the AEP map.

High School South teacher Charlene Wallace and High School North's Christine Girtain are two of AEP's newest exchange managers, and they've brought the program to Toms River. Seniors will have the opportunity to live with host families in a different state, meeting students from that hometown as well as others from across the country visiting the same location. This June, a cohort of TRRS seniors will embark to different states throughout the U.S.

During their stay, students will be involved with local activities and attractions, as well as community service events and learning about local business. Best of all, the program is free, funded entirely by AEP.

AEP students and teachers

High School North participants show off their AEP destination letters including (from left to right) Mike Baarret (host family), Kodi Sohl (host family), Angelia Pontipiedro (Texas), Natalie Rodriguez (Georgia), Shahaan Gurm (Texas), Matt Shea (Colorado), and Christine Girtain.

"This is truly an opportunity for students to realize we are all not that different after all, while gaining real world experiences and making memories of a lifetime," said Wallace.

The program is not just for students, either. Anyone interested in hosting a student this summer, which includes a small stipend reimbursement for incidentals, or looking to inquire about future travel opportunities for rising juniors, should contact Mrs. Wallace ( or Girtain (, or visit and learn more.

And to our seniors embarking on the AEP summer journey: best of luck!