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In Our Schools: GMS students set off for Quebec



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Students learn to be soldiers during a past Language Department trip to Canada. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012
Gilford Middle School French and Spanish students and faculty recently finished planning their annual trip to Canada to learn about the culture of our neighbors to the North.

According to Jo-Ann Belanger, Modern Languages and World Cultures teacher, since 2008, faculty have been able to bring sixth, seventh and eight grade students to either Montréal or Quebec City each year.

This year, Belanger said they will travel to Quebec City for three days, April 13 through April 15, where they will take in the sights and local culture through walking tours and historical scavenger hunts.

Belanger said they will have an opportunity to see historical sites like the Citadelle, Place Montcalm, the Grande Allée, the Assemblée Nationale, the Quartier Latin and the Parc Montmorency to see Les Chutes Montmorency; a waterfall that is higher than Niagara Falls.

One of the more popular sites for students, Belanger said, was their visit to a sugar shack, where they are able to see how maple syrup is made — though many students are already familiar with the process, having grown up in Gilford. While there, students also learn some traditional folks songs and dances.

According to Belanger, they offer the trip to Spanish students along with French students because the administration felt all students putting in an effort to learn a second language should have an opportunity to visit another country since they do not offer a trip to Spanish-speaking country.

Belanger said there is actually a large Spanish-speaking population in Montreal, which immigrated from Argentina and Chile. She added that Spanish students begin to pick up some French words, and usually try to speak the language during the trip.

According to Belanger, the trip incorporates the "five C's," which are the standards by which World Language classes are evaluated. These are Communication, Cultures, Connection, Comparisons and Communities. Through the trip, students will expand on these facets with a hands-on experince of French Culture.

Belanger said that this year, they will take 48 students to Quebec, along with six parents, four faculty members and School Board Member Rae Mellow-Andrews. Belanger said this was a smaller group than usual, but it's always a challenge to bring a group of students to another country.

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