By Tim Leeds
The Havre High French Club will be leaving to immerse themselves in the French language and culture at the beginning of June.
The club will depart on June 1 and returning on June 13, Havre High French teacher and French Club advisor Kitten McLain said.
"We are going to be exclusively in France," McLain said. "We land in Paris and depart from Paris."
The group will spend about a week in Paris, touring the various attractions in that area such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral.
"All of the tourist things." McLain said.
They then depart for the Normandy coast, touring such sites as the memorial to the invasion of Normandy, the spot where Joan of Arc was burned and the Bayeux Tapestry. McLain said at that point they won't be far from Havre's namesake, Le Havre, France.
McLain said they will then return to Paris, where they will have one free day before returning to the United States.
"My hope is that the kids will have an opportunity to use some of the language they have learned" ordering food, asking directions, visiting with the French people, reading and so on, she said.
McLain said there are currently 22 people scheduled to go on the trip. As well as the members of the club, she said, she will be there as the group leader and Dave Westenskow, who teaches languages at Montana State University-Northern, and Shannon Lynnes will accompany the group as chaperones. French Club members and some other adults making the trip as paying participants round out the group.
She said it is a very diverse group taking the trip, with students ranging from a Havre Middle School student to two Havre High seniors, with language experience from not knowing a word of French to six years of classes. The only person who has actually been to France before is Westenskow, she said, who has been there numerous times.
McLain said they preparing for this trip for two years. She said under the traditional rotation, they would have taken the trip last year, but decided to wait a year to raise more money for the trip. And raise money they did, she said.
"There were a lot of times these kids gave up fun things to do mundane tasks," McLain said.
She said some of the things the club has done to raise money include catalog, sucker and rummage sales, summer concessions at Gary & Leo's IGA, two garage-a-ramas, and doing 50-50 raffles during the high school basketball games.
"That really goes over well," McLain said about the 50-50 raffles.
She said their biggest money makers, however, were doing the coupon program at Gary & Leo's. The students spent two nights a week, for six months last year and three months this year, cutting coupons and taping them to merchandise at the grocery store. The customers buying the merchandise had the choice of using the coupons or donating their value to the French Club. She said she and Barb Slonaker each took a night to supervise the students, who would sign in, work on the coupons, then sign back out.
"They deserve a little recognition," McLain said of the students. She said they willingly gave up two nights a week and many Saturdays to raise money for the trip.
McLain said many businesses and community members were supportive as well. She said businesses made donations to help the fund raising, including Gary & Leo's, the Havre Coke distributors, Jitters Coffee House and Cenex Supply. She said an anonymous donor also offered to give a $100 donation to the writer of the best essay saying why the student should go to France. McLain said once the choice was made, the donor gave the student $150 for the trip instead.
"It was a real act of kindness that was really appreciated by the student," she said.
The trip was set up through Education Tours, which McLain said is a top-rated company for youth tours. It is a custom tour, designed around 14 attractions the club members said they wanted to see.
McLain said they planned the trip around 25 members, and still have a few spaces available. She said anyone wishing more information about coming on the trip could reach her at 265-8144 in the evenings.