Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
France Service Trip 2015
Sister schools since 1994, Shorecrest Preparatory School and the Lycée Pierre Bayen in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, have been sending our students and teachers across the Atlantic to experience each other's school and family life. Homestays, attending classes and local sightseeing activities have allowed literally hundreds of our students to broaden their horizons and make new friends. We continue this tradition in 2015 with an added service component.
The group arrived over the weekend, and got to know their host families. On Monday, everyone met up at school, Lycée Pierre Bayen. After a visit to the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, students had a baking lesson and made their own bread in a French bakery. The day ended at a welcome reception hosted by the Principal.
Tuesday was spent working at "Restos du Cœur", a food pantry that distributes groceries to needy families. The students pitched right in at various stations like eggs, frozen fish, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, milk, etc while others sorted baby food according to expiration dates. The mostly retired volunteers were so impressed by our students' willingness to work and their friendliness. Even those who don't speak French learned the appropriate vocabulary for the items they were distributing and at the end of the day, after handing out over 5,000 meals worth of food, there were many hugs goodbye between our students and their mentors. It was a resounding success!
Wednesday was a beautiful, sunny day in Châlons. Chargers started out by helping English classes work on their conversational skills. Then they went to the farmers' market in town. After lunch, they split up to do service with the Croix Rouge (Red Cross) and a charity that refurbishes and sells clothes in its thrift shop. Both charities were impressed with our students, who continue to learn more French and to make new friends every day!
Thursday started at school, where students spent time in English, History, Geography, and French classes and then worked on a contribution to the "2015 Community Service Conference" sponsored by the French high school which would take place the following morning. Students, representatives from the organizations we worked with, and the greater community have been invited to talk about service. Representatives will present their organizations and the needs they serve, while Chargers will present about service at Shorecrest and talk about their own personal experiences with the help of a prior Service Week video and a photo slideshow.
A tour of the champagne cellars of Joseph Perrier let the students get a first-hand look at how champagne is made. From pressing the grapes to putting the labels on the bottles, everything was explained. After that, they were received at City Hall by several dignitaries who explained how important the Shorecrest/Bayen exchange is to their community.
There's a little known connection between Châlons-en-Champagne and the United States: It was in this City Hall that the remains of our Unknown Soldier were chosen from among 8 coffins of "unknowns". The remains were sent from here to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.
On Friday, the Service Conference was a big success! The auditorium was full of students, administrators, and members of the greater community of Châlons-en-Champagne. Each and every Shorecrest student spoke well and with passion about their service learning experiences both in the past and here in France. Madame Carnes was very proud of them!
After the conference and lunch, the group set out for a recently unearthed World War One battlefield. After an interesting recounting of the various battles that had taken place in this exact area, the students were able to actually walk in the trenches used by the French and Germans. They saw cots, cans of sardines, shells, canteens, shoes, and bottles that were used to mark where comrades had fallen. There were so many bodies that they would write their name on a scrap of paper, drop it in a bottle and leave it with the corpse to be picked up later. It was very impressive, and the students were a very respectful audience.
Saturday is a travel day for the group. Many flew back to Florida, and some used the remaining days of Spring Break to travel.