The Grade 8 students of Caronport Elementary School in Caronport, Sask., looked a little puzzled when they watched Environment Minister Peter Kent’s video announcement projected on a wall in their gymnasium this past April. But then it clicked. They’d won Canada’s Coolest School Trip, an all-expenses- paid vacation to Nova Scotia from June 3 to 7 to visit the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site and to explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Cheering erupted that might have been loud enough for the whole town to hear, starting with the winning class and rolling through all 180 students and teachers gathered in the gym.
Canada’s Coolest School Trip is an annual contest run through Parks Canada’s My Parks Pass program in partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Nature Canada and the Historica-Dominion Institute. The contest asked students to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Fortress of Louisbourg through a print, audio or video advertisement.
“Winning this contest is such an opportunity for my students because many of them would never have had that chance otherwise,” says Laurie Pylatuk, the winning class’s teacher.
The announcement came as a surprise because the school had been assembled for the unveiling of Canadian Geographic Education’s newest giant floor map, which depicts Canada’s national parks and historic sites. The 11-by-8-metre map, created in partnership with Parks Canada, was launched at the event, but was used partly as a red herring for the contest announcement.
Pylatuk’s class went above and beyond to win the competition. They enlisted members of the community to help film their entry, and spent hours outside in -30 C temperatures this past winter to get the perfect shots for their one-minute video. (Watch their winning entry and view other submissions at contest.myparkspass.ca.)
“The Caronport Elementary School ad was remarkable for many reasons: the quality of the work, the class’s witty sense of humour and the contagious enthusiasm the students demonstrated in their production,” says Alan Latourelle, Parks Canada’s chief executive officer. Latourelle and André Préfontaine, president and publisher of Canadian Geographic and executive director of the RCGS, formed the judging panel that chose the contest’s four category winners this past March, including Caronport’s grand-prize entry.
Pylatuk sums up her students’ prize succinctly: “It will be amazing for them to see that historical place and culture.”
For more info on the Parks Canada giant floor map, visit education.canadiangeographic.ca.