• Congratulations to the grade 8 class at Caledonia Region High School from Hillsborough, N.B. for winning this year's Canada's Coolest School Trip. (Photo: courtesy Parks Canada)

A presentation by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society about the lost Franklin Expedition is about as exciting as most school assemblies are going to get, at least that’s what students from Caledonia Region High School from Hillsborough, N.B. thought.

“They started talking about the Franklin expedition,” Donna Godfrey, principal at Caledonia, said.

“Then someone said Mr. Moore, our Member of Parliament, was in the audience and had an announcement to make. So he came to the podium and said, ‘I think there’s a class here who entered into Canada’s Coolest School Trip. You know, making the top 10, that’s fantastic, but you know what? You guys did better. You made it in the top four! And remember: there’s nothing wrong with coming in second place; second place is great! But you guys don’t even have to worry about second place because you’re the winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip!’

“They went wild,” Godfrey said. “Crying and calling their parents.”

Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest began in 2012. Since then, the contest, run by Parks Canada, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Nature Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Foundation and Historica Canada, has sent three Grade 8 classes to some of Canada’s coolest national parks and historic sites.

This year’s first prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Quebec City from June 1-5. During the four-night, five-day adventure the winning class will canoe in La Mauricie National Park, live like soldiers at the Lévis Forts, and experience the high-life while dining at the exclusive Quebec Garrison Club national historic site.

Which is perfect, Mélanie Doucet, teacher of the winning Grade 8 class said. “I’m teaching a French immersion class, so this is an excellent way for them to learn about French culture.”

Doucet said she asked her class in in September if they wanted to try and win the contest. She explained that to win they would have to choose a national park in their area and write a one-minute song about it and then create an accompanying music video.

“They said, ‘YES!’”

The class chose to feature nearby Fundy National Park, and by October began the first of many drafts of the song. Doucet said it was a school-wide effort.

“Their music teacher let them work on the song, the English teacher let them work on the lyrics and their technology teacher helped them with the video,” Doucet said.

Godfrey says that as a principal it’s great to see how the contest had the whole school working together.

“At the start I saw it as an enrichment opportunity that teachers could collaborate on and students could be involved in,” Godfrey said. “As I said at the assembly when the announcement that we won was made, ‘when one class wins the whole school wins.’”

Canada’s Coolest School Trip begins June 1; join the fun by following along with our forthcoming daily blogs on Canadian Geographic.