Academic levels of excellence achieved by Queen Charlotte College students after four weeks of foreign travel in 2011 will hopefully be repeated by year 11 and 12 students in 2013.
Thirty put their hands up for the 2013 European Extravaganza in July-August, when 12 different countries, Thailand, Italy and the Vatican City, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Arab Emirates, will be visited over a four-week trip.
"Awesome" is year 12 student Tamsin Woolf's summary of the future trip and she says it is sure to be life-changing.
"It will be a cultural experience like no other. We will be experiencing a 'taster' of each country. For some of us this will be our first overseas experience."
It will be the first time she has been out of New Zealand and, asked how students were selected, she says any year 11 or year 12 student was eligible.
"As long as you are doing your personal best. Obviously, if you are falling off the mark and not behaving, they are not going to pick you.
"But we don't want to be discriminatory; otherwise it ends up the same sort of people who go on these sorts of trips all the time."
Travelling to the other side of the world comes at a cost and students preparing for the European Extravaganza spent much of their summer holidays in paid employment.
"Some friends started at 7am and didn't get home until 5pm," Tamsin says. Her own hours at the Picton Village Bakery were a little more civil, she adds.
Each student must pay $6500 and together the group hopes to raise an additional $45,000. "Already we have learnt so much about time management and money, which bank accounts are best - and how to resist the urge to spend too much!"
Lunch-time meetings are held at school two or three times a week with history teacher Jack Saxon. He also led the 2011 European trip but says it was initiated by a group of really motivated year-13 students.
The 23 students' experiences in Europe was seen as a contributing factor in the academic success they achieved later that year. Several endorsed at Excellence and four scholarship awards were achieved.
"Many of these students have gone on to become top students in tertiary institutes around New Zealand," says Jack.
It is hoped the 2013 trip will bring similar benefits to another group of students. It was organised for year 11 and 13 students this time so the students had more opportunity to give value back to the school from a leadership, cultural and academic perspective on their return, he says.
A fundraising dinner is being held in the college hall on February 23, when students will set the tables, serve guests and clean up afterwards. More money will be raised when they clear up up after the March 16 Havelock Mussel Festival.
Tamsin says students also hope some Marlborough businesses will consider providing some sponsorship.
"Picton is a small community and our businesses are always supportive. However, we often find ourselves turning to the same places when it comes to selling tickets or finding sponsorship.
"I believe the wider Marlborough community should be aware of this amazing opportunity we have been presented with.
"We will go away and come back different people; our horizons will have been broadened and Marlborough as a whole can be the people we thank for getting us there."
The Marlborough Express