February 17, 2017
GUELPH, Ontario – The Upper Grand District School Board’s seventh annual trip to St Donat, Quebec took place this week from February 12-15. Forty-eight high school students took part in this unique immersion experience. The students represented six different schools: Centennial CVI, Erin DHS, Guelph CVI, Orangeville DSS, Wellington Heights SS, and Westside SS. Teacher chaperones were Mme Teresa Katerberg (EDHS), Mlle Stephanie Severn (WHSS), and Mme Christina Schilling (Curriculum Leader and teacher at EDHS).
This group of students was extra-ordinaire. The bus ride there took longer than usual due to the snow on Sunday. The group’s Denny’s coach driver, Scooter, was outstanding. Once in St Donat, everyone was ready for the busy program. Skiing and snowboarding took place at nearby Mont Garceau. Conditions were excellent each day of the trip. For some students this was the first time on skis or on a snowboard! Bravo!
It snowed every day of the trip, resulting in a marvelous amount of snow for activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at night. Everyone warmed up around a campfire at the tipi, and roasted marshmallows. Night skating was a highlight, as the village of St Donat maintains a 2 km lighted skating track that weaves through the woods.
While in St Donat, students stayed at a retreat centre, l’Étoile du Nord, deep in the woods on the outskirts of town. Every winter, hundreds of students participate in this full French immersion experience in St Donat under the expert guidance of “les animateurs” and “les moniteurs” of the tour operator “Perspectives Eduscho Ltd.” Students also participate in a music and drumming workshop, learn traditional Québecois legends, and present a talent show. The musicality of the UGDSB students is exceptional.
A trip like this allows students to live the language and culture outside the classroom; it is unique. The dynamic group leaders - “les animateurs” and “les moniteurs” – encourage everyone to participate, to make an effort, and to have fun “en français.” Students were impressed by their own increased comprehension and abilities to communicate in a second language.
This trip is open to all secondary students enrolled in a French as a Second Language program. Information and applications will be available in all high schools in September 2017. Plan to join us in 2018!
~ Christina Schilling