Thousands of PEI students to take part in historical field trips

PEI 2014 Inc. joins RBC Foundaiton for school trips this fall to learn about life, politics in 1864

Nigel Armstrong
Published on May 31, 2014

Students from Colonel Gray Senior High School in Charlottetown board a school bus after waiting longer than usual for transportation home on Wednesday. The discovery of corrosion on older school buses has led to the 320-bus fleet being pulled from the road. Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

Thousands of Island school children will be visiting Province House in Charlottetown now that P.E.I. 2014 Inc. has arranged free bussing.

It is part of a school curriculum project  to begin next September, jointly sponsored by the RBC Foundation. The project was presented to the English Language School Board during its May meeting in Stratford Tuesday.

Linda Lowther, a former trustee now heading The Lowther Group, is developing the program.

"The people at P.E.I. 2014 wanted to have something happen in the schools," said Lowther. "They wanted our students to know more about the (1864 Charlottetown) conference and to know how important it was, but also to know a little bit about life in Prince Edward Island at the time.

"Originally they wanted every child on Prince Edward Island to walk into Province House but that became kind of expensive," said Lowther.

When budgets were calculated, it became a project for all students from grades 4 to 9, almost 9,000 students, and about half of all high school students, depending on relevant courses they might be taking. It's a potential total of a little more than 11,000 students requiring some 250 busses.

It also became clear that it was nearly impossible to get them all through Province House as the sole destination this coming fall.

Tentative plans are now to provide teachers the opportunity to choose one field trip destination from either Province House, the Farmers Bank in Rustico, Government House in Victoria Park, specialized exhibits at  Confederation Centre Art Gallery, walking tours with the Confederation Players, or the shipbuilding site in Roma at Three Rivers near Montague.

"Schools don't have to do this, but they very seldom get free busses, so we expect they will want to jump on and get involved," said Lowther.

"We want students to celebrate a little bit and we want to look at who we are and what we can contribute as Islanders to the future," she said.

The program also includes a teacher's guide book in both French and English. It includes nearly 50 activities teachers of all grades can use within the existing school curriculum to bring the 2014 theme into the classroom at any point in the school year.

"There is some theatre production, there is singing, there is creating posters, there is a lot of hands-on activities," said Lowther.

"We are even looking at having something for those in woodworking to look at the shipbuilding industry at the time," she said.

The activity guides for teachers will soon be online with clickable links to Internet resources, she said. That will make the program available to teachers across Canada into the future, not just for 2014. That fact will be pitched to education ministers from across Canada when they meet on P.E.I. in July.

Teachers across the Island will be given planning directions for the field trip project to be submitted to Lowther before school ends in June. Logistics will then be sorted out to begin the field trips as soon as classes return next September.

"The idea is for this to all happen in the fall," said Lowther.