South Orangetown Central School District

Forty-nine South Orangetown Middle School students traveled to Quebec in February for a bi-annual educational trip organized by World Language teacher Marie-Laure Spatz. “Through the trip, they discover a francophone neighbor and new culture,” Ms. Spatz explained. “I want them to open up to the world and this trip does that, it inspires them to be curious.”

Quebec City was built by the French and has a European feel, which made an impression on students. “The city’s architecture is unlike any I have ever seen, it is beautiful and unique,” reported eighth-grader Adam G. “The city is split into two parts…The lower part of Quebec has a more old-time feel to it; there are story buildings, stone streets, and beautiful lights hanging. The upper part is more of a modern city, big buildings, and lots and lots of stores. We had lots of time to walk around and experience the city itself.”

The four-day trip offered students real-world opportunities to develop their French language skills and included a walking tour of the city, visits to two interactive history museums, dog sledding, and a visit with students at Ecole secondaire de la Cité. Scheduling the excursion during Winter Carnival allows students to tour one of the world’s few ice hotels and see artworks produced during ice and snow sculpture competitions.

“On our trip in Québec, one of the most impressive things we saw was L’Hôtel de Glace. The entire building was made solely of ice and had many statues made of ice, a chapel, and several hotel rooms with beds. I was fascinated that you could pay to sleep on ice,” said eighth-grader Matt. T. “After seeing the hotel in real life after hearing about it, it is more impressive than I had ever imagined.”

The SOMS Quebec trip began in 2007 with just 17 students, but has been operating at capacity for the past several years. Ms. Spatz expressed her appreciation of staff chaperones Amanda Duffy, Greg Sullivan, Mei Yip-Chen and Joe Onativia, and added, “Thank you also to our administration for supporting us in helping our students to become global citizens!”

Middle school students outdoors in snowy Quebec