Teachers, school administrators, and school boards today are facing mounting pressure to prepare students to pass mandated academic tests.

Often, it is not the tests themselves that prove too much of a challenge for students. All students are capable of learning, but far too many of them don’t because they simply lack the motivation. Schools, in themselves, cannot spark in all young people the passion for learning needed for discovery and deliverance from ignorance. Schools cannot and do not do this simply because they can’t. Classes are too large, teachers are overworked, costs are too high, and the walls too thick with the concrete and clay of mass production and cookie-cutter pedagogy that stifles the enthusiasm of even the brightest of the bright students and teachers.

How then, do we create exciting and stimulating opportunities for enhancing academic learning? What we have seen for over 25 years at Laval Catholic High/Laurier Senior and now known as Laval Senior Academy, is that adolescents gain a multitude of invaluable experiences from travel, learning both information they will be able to apply to the classroom and skills that will help them personally. It is a “quasi religion” in most high schools in North America that educators contribute to an adolescent’s complete education when including travel in their program as an extra curricular activity which takes place during the Spring Break. I chose to undertake this initiative when student travel was not promoted or known in Laval schools. Consequently, the travel label of Education First began to spread throughout most of the high schools of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. Then, the acronym FUN for Fundamentally Understanding Nations, was added.

Our mission is to foster FUN, respectful, in-depth and unforgettable travel experiences. We empower students to become immersed in the cities they visit by experiencing cultures as a local resident. We take students beyond the beaten path of tourist traps. We channel all of the local insights —a must-do list is designed in collaboration with the long-time travel veteran teachers to enhance the unique experience. When a high school curriculum is not always aligned with societal values, we then embark on the values of “travel, cultural immersion, and empathy.”

Our team’s objective is to combine curriculum with enrichment opportunities that could only occur when travelling.

For over 25 years, more than 2000 Laval Catholic High/Laurier Senior High students have been enjoying educational experiences focusing on a deeper engagement of the world.

During the upcoming Spring Break, emerging from Laval Senior Academy, over 150 graduating students will be making history by being part of one of the biggest, greatest, and legendary Europe Trips ever, “Fantasy 2017”. We can boast that the grand exodus graduating trip is the largest in Canada and the United States. The lucky graduates will be savoring a super-charged rich itinerary filled with the sights, sounds, and tastes of four magical and awesome countries: Switzerland, Italy, Southern France, and Spain.

As this chapter closes, the graduating class of 2017 will cherish the memories of this formidable trip, having expanded their horizons in great places with great people, and discover themselves in the process. And, more importantly, as they move on, they will embark on a new journey of life, meeting the challenges of their future goals and objectives.

Until we meet again! Auf Wiedersehen!