DERRY | Town councilors received a special gift from Derry's sister city on Tuesday night.

Anthony Carnovale, a Pinkerton Academy faculty member and head of the sister city program between Derry and Cherepovets, Russia, presented the council with a Russian flag in honor of the successful exchange program between the two cities.

Carnovale and a group of Pinkerton students and parent/chaperones visited Cherepovets this summer and spent 17 days total touring Russia as part of the exchange program, also spending time at Pinkerton's sister school, School 21.

Cherepovets is about the same size as Manchester, Carnovale said, with about 500,000 people. He said when students and parents visit, they are always treated well.

The exchange began, Carnovale said, during the era of perestroika and glasnost | openness and restructuring of the Soviet Union | and has continued through all the changes the country has undergone.

Groups have been traveling to Russia from Pinkerton for about 18 years, Carnovale told the councilors, saying it's time perhaps to have representatives from Derry's town government make the trip as well.

"They would just love to have you," he said.

Carnovale said he hopes to continue making the trips to Russia regular events and to include town officials as part of the groups that travel there.

"We have always encountered warmth, smiling faces, and very hospitable people in Cherepovets and I believe this will never change," he said. "I have some very dear friends that I love as much as my family."

Carnovale said students from Russia have also studied at Pinkerton as part of the exchange, and one Pinkerton student went on to study at the University of Moscow for a year.

"We've had a tremendous relationship," he said. "I think the program has been very good for us. The kids have learned a lot."

As part of Tuesday night's presentation, Carnovale presented the Town Council with a Russian flag, and said it could join other Russian gifts and artifacts already on display at the municipal center.

Council Chairman Craig Bulkley told Carnovale that perhaps it is time to consider taking the journey to Russia from the town's standpoint.

"Maybe it's time to get a representative over there," he said.

Carnovale said Russia would "roll out the red carpet" for Derry officials who wish to visit. The next trip to Russia could happen next year, and he promised to keep the councilors posted on any definite plans.

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