French memories for Suffolk Bulldogs

Published 9:02 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Students at King’s Fork High School enjoyed a memorable trip to France in July, with their history teacher among the chaperones.

KFHS history teacher Sarah Hershey organized a nine-day trip to France for 20 students and seven adult chaperones, from July 11-19. Hershey was assisted by fellow Suffolk Public Schools teacher Jen Hensler, and the trip was facilitated through EF Educational Tours.

Hershey had taught all but two or three of the students herself, she said. She and her students first discussed the possibility of this trip when she was teaching them in 10th grade.


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“They’re a great group of kids, and I was super excited to be traveling with them,” Hershey said.

She said she wanted to give these kids the same kind of experience she had back in high school.

“I went to France and Spain when I was in high school, and it was (so) spectacular and memorable,” she said. “I wanted to bring that experience to these kids at King’s Fork.”

The KFHS Bulldogs took in plenty of sights during their nine-day adventure, from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the white cliffs of Étretat in Normandy. They saw towns and cities rich in history and architecture that date back centuries.

“It was just cool to see what we learned in school is real,” said rising senior Phoebe Bilby, 17. “It was cool to actually be there and see where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors.”

The experience was made all the better by the banter of Phoebe’s classmates, she said.

“I was there with people I’ve known since I was in sixth grade,” she said.

They also got to experience all sorts of different cuisine as a group, too. Sure, there were the familiar — but still exceptional — burgers they enjoyed in the city of Honfleur. But other meals were pleasantly surprising and foreign to them.

Rising senior Hanna Williamson, 17, said the last meal she had in France was one of her favorites. It was like a beef stew, but with mashed potatoes added to the mix.

“It reminded me of a pot roast,” Hanna said. “It was really good.”

Then there was the escargot they tasted in Rouen, port city and capital of the Normandy region. The edible land snails themselves were inside big, fried risotto balls, according to rising senior Alexis Kyles, 17.

“It kind of tasted garlicky,” Kyles said. “It was good, but I wouldn’t be like, ‘oh I want some escargot.’ I wouldn’t say that, but it was a good, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Phoebe added that the trip was well planned and well guided, and that the tour director kept things interesting every step of the way.

“It was one of the best trips I think I’ve ever been on,” she said.

“It was a 10-out-of-10,” according to Hanna. “I really enjoyed my time, and it was definitely worth the money I spent for it. I’m really glad I got to see everything I saw, and I’m glad it was with a really good group of people.”

It turned out to be an invaluable experience for the students, a mix of culture-shock and wonder to foster a lifelong desire to see the world, according to Hershey.

“I’m hoping that it instills in them a love of travel, and I’m hoping that they’ll want to continue to travel for the rest of their lives,” Hershey said.

Hershey has an 11-day trip to Switzerland, Italy and the French riviera in the works for her students next summer.