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School planning Vimy Ridge trip

by Stacey Colwell

 NEW GERMANY - For Jessica Joudrey, an overseas school trip to Vimy Ridge next spring will be more than a unique educational experience.

 On April 9, alongside her father, Alan, the 17 year old is scheduled to visit the gravesite of her great-uncle, Joseph Fancy, who died 95 years ago that day during a First World War battle that some historians say symbolizes Canada's coming of age as a nation.

 "For me to go over, and for my dad to come with and be where my great-uncle was that day, it means so much more with that personal connection. It's overwhelming thinking about it."

 Ms Joudrey is one of 42 New Germany Rural High School students planning to attend the commemoration ceremonies of the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

 "For these kids to be able to see where Canada was really born on the battlefield, it's one thing to read it in a textbook, but to physically go and see these sights ..." said history teacher Mike Wilson, who organized the Axis and Allies tour along with colleague Hester Gibson.

 "To see the shell craters and the graves and how close together the trenches were ... it gives you a whole different perspective."

 While in Europe, they'll not only be at Vimy Ridge, but tour various cities, and visit the Dachau Nazi concentration camp, the Anne Frank House, the Battle of Britain Museum and more.

 "This goes beyond anything a textbook or curriculum could do in school. Yes, we cover this material, but to go and see it first-hand?" said Mr. Wilson.

 "Taking them over there will do more than I could ever hope to do in a classroom."

 Ms Gibson said it's inspiring to see how the community has rallied to support these students and their wishes to go to Europe for a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.

 "We're not talking about rich people here, we're talking about people making sacrifices so they can send their children and grandchildren, their nieces and nephews. Families are really behind this."

 The 12-day tour costs students approximately $3,000 apiece.

 "Some kids would not be able to do this trip without the fundraising," said Mr. Wilson.

 "It's amazing how the community has given so much to help us so far."

 The next big event is a walkathon from the Upper Northfield cenotaph to the one in New Germany on November 27.

 After that, there's a bake sale at the Bridgewater Mall on December 3 and a penny auction the same day at the Branch LaHave hall.

 "This fundraising for us is essential. ... Every little bit helps."

 On behalf of all the students going on the trip, Ms Joudrey said she wanted to thank Mr. Wilson and Ms Gibson for making it a reality.

 "Because without these two, this trip isn't happening. We all appreciate the work they've done."

posted on 11/23/11
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