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Centre Wellington District High School students enjoyed trip to France, Belgium

Educational experience - Twenty-five Grade 10 to 12 students from Centre Wellington District High School travelled to France and Belgium over March Break to visit numerous European battlefields, including Vimy Ridge.  Submitted photo

Centre Wellington District High School students enjoyed trip to France, Belgium

by Jaime Myslik

FERGUS - Last month, during March break, 26 high school students had the opportunity to travel to Europe with Centre Wellington District High School teachers.

French teacher Rebecca Grimes said this is the second time she’s organized the trip, which takes students to various battlefields across Belgium and France.

“I really liked all the different war sites,” said Grade 12 student Michelle Kuntz.

“My favourite was probably Vimy Ridge just because it had the monument there ... and you could really see where the Canadians ... actually were and it also had the visitor centre and the cemetery there, too.”

For Grade 10 student Jake Oates it was a family connection that was his inspiration.

“My grandpa was a World War Two veteran so I thought it would be interesting to go,” he said. “My great uncle’s name is at Vimy Ridge.”

Grimes said much of the trip was about making history personal.

“We talk about statistics and numbers and so many soldiers died or were taken prisoner on the beaches of Dieppe and why it was a disaster,” she said.

“But to actually stand there and see the cliffs and try and run up the beach and go ‘what the heck were they thinking’?”

Grimes said she noticed a lady listening in while the group was walking on the White Beach just in front of Dieppe, talking about the monuments for the different regiments that came ashore in the Dieppe Raid on Aug. 19, 1942.

“Our tour manager took over and was .... giving [the students] some more information so I stepped over and talked to her and she was telling me she was a child there in Dieppe in the raid on Aug. 19, 1942,” Grimes said.

“So when the students saw her and I shared the story that made it that much more personal. That it wasn’t just numbers; there were human beings being affected by this.”

The trip was open to Grade 11 and 12 students in French and/or history/social science.

However, Grimes said some Grade 10 students were also asked if they were interested in the trip.    

 “Hopefully that also helps lead to them doing their own little piece to continue and work for peace so that we don’t go through that again,” she said.

In addition to learning about and seeing battlefields, the trip was also an opportunity for students to use their French in a real-world environment.

“The opportunity to live this language that they’ve been learning, to experience French culture, to try the food, to branch out and develop a little bit more independence, too,” Grimes said. “That’s important.”

Grade 10 French student Rebekkah Kubusch said she enjoyed French in Grade 9 and wanted to learn more, so she took it in Grade 10 and was invited on the trip.

“That’s why I went and I kind of wanted to go and see what was out there,” she said, adding the trip was “very eye-opening.”

She recommended all eligible students take advantage of the opportunity.

“You’re going to enjoy yourself a lot,” she said.

Grimes said the trip is a good introduction to travelling.

“It’s a nice way to start learning how to travel when you are kind of taken care of along the way and people are showing you the ropes and then next time you’ve got a sense of how to figure it out,” she said.

That’s exactly why Grade 12 student Catherine Melburn decided to go.

“I want to travel a lot when I’m ... young,” she said. “And doing it with the school I felt a lot safer and I felt like my money was going into good hands.”

She also got to cross “seeing the Eiffel Tower” off her bucket list.

“It was cool I got to do it,” she said.

Grimes said pending department approval, she’s hoping to run the program again in 2020.


April 13, 2018


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