There are a few Region 12 students who these days don't have a taste for American maple syrup.

The reason?

After a visit to La Cabane Sucre Napert (The Sugar Shack) in the Province of Quebec in Canada during spring break in April, maple syrup made locally just doesn't taste as good.

"What we had up there was so good," said Shepaug Valley High School junior Ava Coploff. "We had maple syrup on everything... maple butter on croissants."

"Oh my gosh, the croissants and hot chocolate were so good," added freshman Tommy McCluskey. "The food there was delicious."

Shepaug French teacher Heidi Edel, along with three chaperones, took 27 French students from grades 8-11 at Shepaug Valley Middle/High School to Quebec City and its surrounding area.

In all, they spent four days in Canada.

Funds to pay for the trip were raised by the American Legion and fundraising activities through the school. Comparison shopping for a tour company by Ms. Edel and careful planning made the trip affordable for students, she said.

"It was interesting for the students," Ms. Edel noted. "They found many times that native French speakers using English used the same reversed language structure like they often did when speaking in French."

For instance, she gave as an example, their tour guide asked one day "Do you ask to him?" rather than "Did you ask him to?"

For Sarah Stratton, a Bridgewater eighth-grader, the French accent she had been learning in class through CDs was slightly different from the accent she heard from native Quebec residents. She also noted a slightly different vocabulary, she said.

For Isabel Steiner, 16, also of Bridgewater, the French history she had learned prior to the trip came to life when she saw the city.

"It put it all in context," Isabel recalled. "We also saw a 3-D film called the `Quebec Experience' that brought history to life."

"It was my first time in Canada," said Washington junior Brendan Welsh. "It was a nice introduction to what life was like in a French-speaking province."

Brendan noted the basilica they visited in Quebec City -- Sainte Anne de Beaupre -- was similar to cathedrals he'd seen in southern Spain.

Ms. Edel had asked the students to speak with Quebec residents when possible and to ask them about their city and their lives there.

She took the students to Montmorency Falls, Le Chateau Frontenac and on a tour of the Martello Tower. There each played the role of a soldat de la tour (British soldier) and learned to load mock muskets.

Isabel Steiner summed up the best part of the trip for her.

"It was nice being with everybody," she explained. "I'd seen the other people in school but I'd never had the chance to talk with them. I got to make so many new friends."