A once in a lifetime trip for local students begins Saturday

By Jeremy Fraser
Sept. 17, 2015

Marilyn McGillivray she was one of the first group of students from Breton Education Centre to participate in the school’s travel group started by John Angione. It was a life changing experience for McGillivray, who is now a teacher.

Thirty-four years later, the travel group is still going strong at the high school.

A trip that will likely headline their graduation year was only hours away as students prepare to travel to Europe on Sept. 19

Fifty-three students from Breton Education Centre and Glace Bay High School will participate in the trip, organized by McGillivray and Jeannette Kennedy.

The students will visit Greece, the Greek Islands and Turkey during the 10-day trip, which concludes Sept. 28 when they return to New Waterford, N.S.

Seeing the expressions on students faces, some who have never left Cape Breton Island, is a priceless moment, said McGillivray.

“These are life-changing experiences and memories that students will have for the rest of their lives.”

McGillivray and Kennedy have been organizing the travel group for over 10 years. The feedback the program has received from parents and students has been outstanding, she said.

“Students have returned to Europe, enrolled in language programs and university programs in other countries.

“I’m amazed by how much students learn and how much they mature while travelling as a group through Europe.”

A great deal of learning in a person’s life takes place outside of the formal classroom setting, and travel is a genuine learning experience, said McGillivray.

“Travel gives students a better appreciation for diverse cultures, languages, geography and lifestyles different from their own.

“Today’s students realize the importance of learning about the world through travel.”

The students will travel by bus to Halifax, where they will catch a flight to Montreal and then to Athens, the capital of Greece.

There, the students will visit the Temple of Nike and Zeus, and the Plaka District and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Chloe Baldwin has been fundraising for the trip for the past two years. The trip can’t come fast enough, she said.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I was in Grade 10. Now that the trip is finally here, the excitement is building.”

The trip will be something she will remember for the rest of her life, she said.

“It’s not very often you have the chance to visit Europe. I’m going to taking it all in, and enjoy the once in a lifetime trip.”

During the last year, McGillivray’s Grade 11 students learned about Greece through pen pals in Athens. The students wrote and exchanged gifts with a school from the country, said McGillivray.

“Plans are being made for my students to meet their pen pals while we are in Greece. That’s pretty exciting.”

After spending a day in country, the group were to board the Louis Olympia on Sept. 21 to begin a four-day cruise of the Greek Islands, with stops in the Island of Mykonos, Kusadasi, Turkey, the Greek Island of Patmos, The Island of Rhodes, and the Island of Crete and Santorini.

The students return to Athens next Sept. 25 to conclude their trip before returning to Canada on Sept. 27.

The trip is costly, which is why students begin fundraising during Grade 10, said McGillivray.

“We are fortunate to have parents like Alanna Gallant who graciously helped organize fundraisers for our students. Without the support of the people in New Waterford, many students wouldn’t be able to travel.”

Students who join the travel group in Grade 10 vote on the countries they would like to visit.

Plans are underway for the 2016 and 2017 travel groups. The 2016 group will visit Greece and Turkey. Meanwhile, the 2017 group has decided to visit Belgium, Paris and Amsterdam.