March Breaking Away

The annual two-week March pause at SMCS will see more than 100 students, faculty, and staff break away --- embarking on five diverse experiential learning trips dotting the globe.

Participating staff provide their perspective on the purpose and learning opportunities of each excursion.

London, UK, Vimy Region, Normandy and Paris, France

“This is my first trip while at SMCS and I am looking forward to visiting Juno Beach and the battlefield of Vimy Ridge, both defining moments in Canadian history. I've had the opportunity to visit Canadian war sights in the Netherlands and it’s inspiring. I'm looking forward to deepening my personal learning and having the students be inspired by the rich history of Canada’s contributions to world peace.”

James O’Brien, Core Intermediate 

“This is the first trip to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In 2017, we took a group on a similar trip to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Paying our respects at the graves of our fallen soldiers – some of whom are alumni of SMCS --- gives our boys the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by young men who were a little older than themselves and hopefully promotes a sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to the community as well.”                    

David Lee ’94, Acting Co-Principal

“This trip is designed to encourage students to think critically about the past, reflect on how it has shaped our nation, and develop a deep sense of national pride. Through their travels, students will gain an understanding of what it means to be a global citizen and acquire an appreciation of different cultures.    

Giuseppe Tropea, Core Intermediate 

"The D-Day trip offers students a special opportunity to explore sites and landmarks of great historic significance to World War II. These sites include the Imperial War Museum, Hitler’s Bunker, Vimy Memorial, Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and the Juno Beach Centre. Students, joined by a full-time history tour director, will pay tribute to Canadian soldiers, and honour our past through ceremonies, guided tours, and historic visits. Students will have the opportunity to engage and reflect before, during and after the tour with the option to create a final reflective project."

Justin DeMarchi, Supply teacher

Germany (Munich), Austria (Innsbruck), Austria (Vienna, Salzburg), Italy (Verona)

“We wanted to offer our senior music students an opportunity to travel to the birthplace of western music as we study it in class. There are so many significant composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn who spent the majority of their lives in the cities we will be visiting. Not to mention the natural beauty of the Alps of Austria and Italy. 

We land in Munich and travel to Innsbruck Austria so we can see the beauty of the Alps first hand with a ride up the mountain on a cable car. From there we travel to Verona, Italy where we will celebrate mass together in a historic church followed by a tour of this ancient city including the Roman Coliseum where they stage the opera AIDA. 

The next day we travel back into Austria, through the Alps, to Salzburg where we will tour a salt mine, toboggan down a mountain and discover the city of Mozart including a musical dinner complete with live string orchestra and soloists in period costume staged in a Baroque ballroom.

We finish the trip in Vienna where we will delight in a ballet performance in the world-renowned Vienna State Opera House, visit the royal palaces of the Austrian royal family and the Esterhazy summer palace where Haydn once performed. In a stroke of luck, we were able to acquire tickets to a Euro Cup soccer match between Austria and Poland in their National Soccer stadium before we fly home.”

Jamie Oatt, Department Head, Music

United Kingdom (London), Austria (Vienna), Serbia, Hungary (Budapest)

“This trip is intended to expose our senior students to some of the most distinguished international economics and financial institutions. We will be given a chance to explore Queen Mary University, Budapest Business School, and the University of Vienna. In addition to touring these schools, we will also connect with Paul Rasbach ’05, an SMCS alumnus in London, England currently working in the finance industry. 

The timing of this trip is auspicious, as it will give the group a chance to learn more about “Brexit” and its economic implications on both the European Union (EU), Non EU, and the UK. We hope to learn about the tensions associated with a shared currency and monetary policies. Moreover, we will get a chance to learn about England, Austria, Serbia's, and Hungary’s economic systems.  

This is our second trip. We visit these places based on giving students an international experience while in their high school career.”  

Dan Lumsden ’96, Economics, Geography

Nairobi, Kenya 

“This service trip provides many opportunities for students to make a difference internationally through WE Villages' five-pillar model. This model addresses the five primary causes of poverty, which allows our students to put experiential education into practice. These five pillars are Education, Water, Health, Food, and Opportunity.

This will be our sixth trip with ME to WE, and our second time to Kenya. It is important we attend service trips, as it allows us to re-evaluate how fortunate we are to have accessibility to clean running water, food on our plates, healthcare and education at our fingertips, and the endless opportunities for career advancement.

All students attending will receive community service volunteer hours and their full Christian Service requirement.”

Andrew Kiel ’09, Coordinator of Spiritual Life

“The ME to WE Kenya trip is about our students stepping out of their comfort zone to meet new people, experience the sights and sounds of a new culture, make connections, and self-discovery. They will be volunteering on sustainable development projects driven by the need of the local village community (helping to build a classroom, health centre, working on a clean water system and sanitation projects, etc.).   

Through this experience of volunteering, our students will gain invaluable skills through interactive leadership training, expand their cross-cultural competencies, and eventually take action as a global citizen.”

Gail O’Grady, Guidance Counsellor

Lviv Ukraine, Poland and Germany 

“Students spend every day visiting historical museums and touring the cities on foot and by bus. All these experiences are led by professional guides. In the past, some of these tours have left a lasting impression on staff and students. The students are exposed to the lesser known aspects of the history of central and Eastern Europe, specifically, through the rise of Nazism, World War II and the Soviet empire in the 20th Century. Although the trip is not directly connected to a specific course of study, the students return with a wealth of knowledge. This year we will be returning to Auschwitz.”

Gustavo Escobedo, Media Arts

The Eastern European Trip is in it's 23rd year with past ventures all over Central and Eastern Europe. This year's trip start in Lviv, Ukraine with such highlights as visiting the National Art Gallery, attending Sunday Mass at the 14th Century Roman Catholic Latin Cathedral, visiting the Lonsky National Memorial Prison and the Arsenal Weapons Museum. In Krakow, Poland, students will have the opportunity to descend into the 327 meter Salt Mine of Wieliczka, visit the St. Pope John Paul II Museum, and bear witness to the atrocities of the Auschwitz Concentration Camps. Each city also includes an extensive sightseeing opportunity with local guides. The boys will once again walk away with memories of a lifetime! 

Jeff Zownir '88 Physical Education & Science