Twenty-four students from QHS discover Newfoundland

Photo: CQSB

Two QHS students prepare to head down into the iron ore mine located on Bell Island, Newfoundland.

Good grades and a good behavior in class reward Quebec High School students with more than their parents' pride.

Twenty-four such students were rewarded with a trip to Newfoundland. The trip was part of the YMCA Youth Exchange between Quebec High School and St. Michael's Regional High School, which is located on Bell Island, a small island on the Grey River. This is the second such excursion. The first was organized two years ago, when a group of QHS students went to Prince Edward Island from June 28 to July 4, 2008.

During one week, students from grades seven, eight and nine were the guests of local families. In March, some of them had already played host to students from Newfoundland who came to visit Quebec. Family-hosting was an important part of the trip, as its main purpose was to experience a different way of life.

Students visited St. John, the capital city of the province, where they took a guided tour of the Parliament building. They traveled as well to Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America, and to Signal Hill. The site has been classified a National Historic site, as it was the first point in the "New World" where a wireless signal was received over the Atlantic Ocean.

On Bell Island, they visited an iron ore mine. Mining started in 1895 on the island and ceased 70 years later.

"Some students have never flown before, and some even have never left the province of Quebec. This trip was a completely new experience for them, and they loved it. They were a lot of tears when we left," Ed Sweeney, one of the QHS staff member who accompanied the students, said.
The trip was not open to all students.

"It was a reward for kids who did well in school," Sweeney said. Some QHS staff members monitored the grades and behavior of all QHS students, finally choosing the 24 lucky winners. "For some of them, the trip was the only opportunity to travel they have ever had. "

QHS applied to YMCA Youth Canada, a charity organisation which focuses on the development of children and youth, to obtain most of the money to finance the trip.

"The application procedure was long and there is always a heavy administration when kids are concerned," Sweeney explained. "But as the procedure is very demanding in terms of security and organisation, we were well prepared for the trip. This year's trip was a total success. We want to do it again next year. We do not know where we will go yet, but we will apply again."

 Bell Island is actually a relatively large island, about the same size as Ïle d'Orleans, located in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, near St. John's. It is accessible only by a car ferryboat. Grey River is a small isolated community on the south shore of Newfoundland, accessible only by coastal supply ship.