Patch High School French students put language skills to the test

Story by Lexi Pache
Special to The Citizen

Students across the U.S. don’t have the same opportunities that students at Patch High School have to travel across Europe. PHS is within a few hours from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France — countries that many people dream of visiting. Eight students in PHS French classes took advantage of this opportunity and visited Strasbourg and Colmar March 15-16.

In past years, French students could usually count on a field trip to Paris.

This year, teacher Chris Liles, in his first year of teaching French at PHS, continued the tradition of organizing a trip to France, but the destination was Strasbourg and Colmar, two of the country’s most historic and scenic cities.

Liles was hesitant about taking students on a trip and keeping track of them. “This is the first student trip I’ve ever taken. I was a little nervous about it, but I love France, and I’ve been to both cities before,” he said.

But with the help of three fellow teachers who served as chaperones, the weekend went off smoothly.

“It was a wonderful experience because everybody was not only on target with times and places, and behaving beautifully, it was great to be in those beautiful places with the students,” he added. “It was great to be able to say ‘OK, let’s do our thing and meet back here,’ and everybody did.”

On Saturday, students got to experience the Strasbourg Cathedral up close; touring the cathedral and climbing over 300 steps to the top of the bell tower to look out over the city. They also walked through the town; visited the Musee Alsacien, and used public transportation to travel to a local movie theater to watch a film.On Sunday, the students traveled to Colmar, where they took a boat tour along a canal and learned from the guide that years ago, the color of the buildings represented the occupants’ professions. For example, butchers lived in red buildings and bakers lived in yellow buildings. Today, regardless of the tenant, the traditional colors of the buildings are maintained.The trip merged students from all levels of French classes to practice their communication skills among local French nationals and indulge in the food, culture and architecture first hand.

“I thought it was a great cultural experience to travel to France. I especially enjoyed eating escargot for the first time, which was very good. I did my best to speak with the locals, but I could understand more than [I could] speak,” said French III student Will Ritter.

French teacher Liles hopes to continue with these excursions. “I’d love to do this next year … although we may look at other places in the Strasbourg and Colmar area,” he said.

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