April 20, 2018
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France still within reach for Easton teens, adults

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

EASTON, Maine — Seven students and eight adults who lost the $65,000 they paid for a summer trip to France after the tour company they were working with filed for bankruptcy will head there next month on a “rescue trip” offered by another educational travel company.

Georgette Ireland, principal of Easton Junior-Senior High School, said Wednesday that the group will travel in France for nine days, starting June 22.

The trip is being offered by the National Educational Travel Council, which provides educational tours. Ireland said that the NETC trip will cost $1,200 per person, which she said was a “greatly reduced” price for the 15 people who intend to make the trip.

The agency has offices in Boston and San Francisco, according to its Web site, but company officials were not available for comment Wednesday evening.

Previously, 10 students, one former student and 11 adults intended to take the journey. That group of 22 saved money and conducted fundraisers to meet the $65,000 cost.

“There are a number of students and adults who are not going on the rescue trip for various reasons,” Ireland said. “Certainly finances are a major reason, but others are so heartbroken and discouraged over what happened the first time that they just don’t want to go.”

The story of the trip debacle unfolded earlier this month.

According to school officials, French teacher Mary Ruth Nichols has made the trip to France with students, former students and adults for the past 10 years. The district has worked with Massachusetts-based Voyageur Tours for a number of years to arrange the logistics and accommodations.

Just recently, however, the district’s attorney, Jeffrey T. Piampiano, confirmed that Voyageur Educational Tours had filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts. Piam-piano is working with the bank-ruptcy trustee in Massachusetts to see if the money will be returned, but has said he is not optimistic.

Those who originally planned to go to France bought trip insurance from the company and reportedly were told the company was bonded and their trip money had been placed in escrow. Ireland wrote in a letter to the community that it ap-pears “this was not the case and that our students’ money cannot be re-covered,”

Since the news was made public, the school has received a number of donations from people who still want the group to take the trip. School and community members will conduct fundraisers to secure as much money as they can for those planning to take the trip.

Superintendent Frank Keenan said Wednesday afternoon the school already has received approximately $1,500 in donations.

“Our plan is to eliminate as much of the new cost to the students as possible,” he said. “If we have money left over, we will use that to help the adults who are going with those students, and to help those who lost their money to Voyageur.”

Ireland said that a spaghetti sup-per will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Thurs-day, May 28, at Easton Elementary School for $6 a plate.

Plans also are under way to sell whoopie pies and other homemade goods.

Ireland said those taking the res-cue trip want to raise as much money as they can before they leave for France next month. The trip will take travelers to the same cities on the same time schedule as the original trip.

Anyone who wants to make donations should send them to “Europe Trip Rescue Fund” at Easton High School, P.O. Box 66, Easton 04740.

Editor’s note: A May 22 story on this subject included a photo of Superintendent of Schools Frank Keenan contributed by the school department that unfortunately did not accurately reflect his feelings and sympathies for the students involved.



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