RUMFORD — Each year for the last 10 years, students studying French at Mountain Valley High School have journeyed to either Quebec City or Montreal. This year, Montreal was the location. What made the trip different is it was the last one French teacher Cathy Charles will arrange. She retired at the end of the school year.

The travelers included two busloads of students from MVHS and Dirigo High School as well as chaperones, Madame Charles and Madame Kaubrys, French teacher at Dirigo.

One of the hits of the trip was the Biodome that houses four ecosystems common to North America. It was originally built as the bicycle track for the 1976 Olympics.

Junior Shelby McDiffett said, “I loved the Biodome because I plan to do something with animals when I grow up.”

Classmate Leah Perry added, “I really loved the Biodome and the Insectarium. Both were really interesting and a lot of fun.”

The Insectarium is the largest museum of its kind in North America. It displays live and dead insects.

Sometimes the most memorable part of a trip is an unexpected “find.” That’s what happened to three students.

Junior Dalton Milledge explained his favorite part of the trip as “the small café that only three of us found. It was amazing.”

Another highlight, for the teenagers, was exploring the mall, but this one is unlike anything in Maine.

Freshman Julia Perry said, “I learned that Montreal has the largest underground mall in the world.”

Another freshman Lindsey White added, “My favorite part was the mall because it was like four stories. All built underground.”

Dirigo freshman Noah Brown liked “the freedom we had to walk around the mall.”

But the trip to the mall was also a learning experience for some of the students.

Freshman Brooke Carrier recounted, “We went shopping and got lost trying to find our way back to the hotel. I learned how to find my way around by looking at all of the signs. If you get lost, make sure you ask a lot of people for directions.”

Classmate Marissa Crosby added, “Stay with someone and make sure when you have to walk to the hotel you look at the streets so you don’t get lost.”

The chaperones spoke highly of visiting the Notre-Dame Basilica.

Chaperone Constance Venskus explained, “I learned that the Notre Dame church is a basilica, a church specially designated as such because of its particular beauty and historical significance. I enjoyed going to the mass Saturday with some of the mothers on the trip.”

Chaperone Kelly Pelletier said, “The churches are beautiful and mass is shorter there than at home.”

Experiencing a different culture led to learning and insights.

Freshman Andrew Arsenault learned “that Canadians are not Bruins fans.”

Sophomore Ronald Russell added, “Speaking French in real life situations is extremely hard and stressful.”

Junior Kristen Arsenault advised, “Remember at least your basic French words! So many times on my first trip freshman year, I bumped into people and forgot how to say ‘sorry’.”

Dirigo freshman Bryce Whittemore learned “that Canada is very different from the U.S.”

Knowing what to pack seemed to be a point of discussion. Some wished they had “fancy” clothes. Others longed for shorts and other warm weather gear.

Leah Perry advised, “Bring clothes for all climates. The weather was supposed to be rainy and cold so I only brought warm clothes. Turns out it was beautiful and sunny the whole time.”

Julia Perry said, “Bring lots of nice dressy clothing.”

Freshman Becca Roy gave important advice for traveling anywhere. “Make sure you try new things and meet new people.”

The students financed the trip through fundraisers and personal contributions.

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