Albert Gallatin Students Enjoy European Vacation

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Grayling Sanders was eating pizza in a Paris cafe and noticed "some little round things on the pizza."

"We found out they were snails, but we still ate them," he said.

Sanders was among a group of students from Albert Gallatin High School who traveled on a two-week excursion to London, Paris, Lucerne, Florence, Assisi, and Rome, along with a side trip to Pisa, coordinated by French instructor Linda Girard.

Eleven boys and 19 girls, along with their chaperones and other teachers, spent 15 days on their European vacation, spending three- to-four days in each location.

If he wasn't before this summer, Shawn Smearcheck is now a Facebook devotee.

"We met two of the most gorgeous girls at the top of the Eiffel Tower," he said. "But what was interesting is that both were from the U.S., and one moved to London to be a model. You had to be there to appreciate the moment, and we got their Facebooks."

Tanner Dalton will have at least one story for his children and grandchildren.

"It was our first or second day in Rome, and we had some free time to see some ruins near the Colosseum," he said. "We discovered a gated bridge on the far side and crawled around the gate to sneak in.

"As soon as we got in we had to jump over a fence with spikes at the top, then walked in and found some turnstiles. But we were at an exit, so we hopped over the turnstiles.

Then we found out it was free to get in. We felt really stupid when our teachers said we were going there the next day."

For Cody Peebles, the funniest moment happened in Rome where street vendors were selling illegal knock-off purses. Police would come by and the vendors would run everywhere, he said.

"Being on top of the Eiffel Tower with a view of the entire city was an exciting moment," Brandon Pegg remembers. "It was an interesting experience traveling throughout Paris and its subways. Being with my friends and visiting different cities and hearing their comments and sharing their ideas is something I will always remember."

For Girard, this was her sixth opportunity to escort students to Europe -- England, France, Switzerland, and Italy, specifically. Although the trip was not a school-sponsored event, Girard noted, the group was able to use school facilities for meetings.

Of the six, Sanders, Dalton, and Garland had never been out of the United States, Smearcheck to only Niagara Falls, Canada; Peebles lived in Puerto Rico for two years, when he was 7-8 years old and his father's job took him there; and Pegg was in Germany when he was a year old.

But all would return if the opportunity arose.

"It was a real nice experience, and I loved everything we saw," Pegg said. "It was interesting seeing people in the different countries, seeing the different cultures and lifestyles. …