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Hebbville Academy teacher honoured for planning 31 straight annual Quebec trips

by Stacey Colwell


Hebbville Academy teacher Alan Grant was recently honoured by Quebec City for organizing student cultural exchange trips to that city for more than 30 years. Stacey Colwell photo
 HEBBVILLE - Hebbville Academy teacher Alan Grant was recently recognized by Quebec City for organizing annual school cultural exchange trips there for 31 straight years.

 "I have trouble lining up the family vacation … but he's done this for 31 years for thousands of kids," laughed Hubert Ryan, a Hebbville Academy parent who helped set up a special ceremony attended by Quebec City's deputy mayor at the Chateau Frontenac last month.

 "I just could not let this go unrecognized," said Mr. Ryan.

 "He's a dedicated professional and the ultimate teacher. He cares about all his students experiencing and understanding the culture and history of Quebec City, Montreal and the St. Lawrence … it's like having the ambassador for Quebec and Canada right here in our own backyard."

 The first trip over three decades ago was organized through a travel agency.

 "But I thought, why have a middleman? Let's cut out the middleman and tailor the trip to our students' needs and interests," said Mr. Grant.

 There's typically a balance between fun and educational things for students to do during their two nights in Quebec City and one in Montreal.

 The annual trip has ballooned from 22 students, one chaperone and two teachers 31 years ago to 226 students and 29 adults from seven schools in 2008.

 "It sounds like a big deal, but it's really not," said the modest Mr. Grant, who is retiring from teaching this month, but plans to continue his involvement with the Quebec trips indefinitely.

 "I really enjoy it and I don't want to miss out on that. I love to do it."

 Some people can't understand why he doesn't take a break.

 "But I think if they tried it once they would understand. It's fun."

 In his 31 years, he said the trips have been overwhelmingly positive experiences, and there was only one time he even considered giving it up.

 "My 13th year was quite memorable, and not for good reasons, unfortunately. A student bought some fireworks, which he set off in a hotel room … and that was just the beginning. Another girl hurt her back, we had to spend extra time in Montreal and fly home. Afterwards, I thought, 'gee, after 13 years, maybe this is time to pull the plug, but then I thought - after 12 successful years - I'd maybe give it one more shot, at least to end it in a more positive way."

 Ultimately, Mr. Grant decided to stick with it, and he said the enduring success of the trips would not be possible without the co-operation of many other staff members at the school and the parent chaperones, many of whom were former student participants.

 "It makes me feel pretty old," laughed the 54 year old.

 "Of course, I can also look around at the staff and see the principal is a former student, too."



posted on 06/24/08
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