The trip to France was started more than 20 years ago for students at Ecole Longan. At the time, there were Spanish, French, and German immersion schools in the Kansas City Public School District. Only the French students traveled, however, and this was used as a marketing tool to get parents to sign up for the French magnet school. At that time, the trip was for the 5th grade. The reason was because Ecole Longan ended after 5th grade, and students then transferred to Foreign Language Academy. Just as today, the trip was paid for by a combination of payments by parents and parent fundraising. Small scholarships were available.
The trip to France was very important to parents and teachers at Ecole Longan because of the benefits they saw in their students who traveled. However, the school district decided to discontinue the trip in 1998. The decision to end the trip was one of the factors that led to breaking away from the school district and founding the charter school.
At Académie Lafayette, we support this important travel experience because it gives our students an opportunity to broaden their experience beyond the classroom to experience life in another culture. It also gives them a unique opportunity to build their confidence in their language skills by solidifying their French in day-to-day conversation.
Until 2012, all students went to Bayonne, which is in southwestern France. As our numbers have grown L&F developed relationships with other schools in the area to accommodate the larger number of student travelers. Currently, all of our students travel at the same time, but they are divided into groups at different schools in different towns. The size of the each group determines how many chaperones are with them. There is at least one chaperone at each location.
Register as a new traveler at Language & Friendship. If you do not have computer/internet access, contact the trip coordinator at Académie Lafayette, and she will assist you in using a computer at school. Once you have completed the registration, you must print it, sign it, and turn it in to us with picture of your child and a check made payable to Language & Friendship. Do not mail this to L&F directly. We will collect the registration forms, checks, and pictures and mail them to L&F together. You will not be considered registered until all of these things are complete.
You have until September of your child’s 6th grade year to register for the trip. However, if September is your first payment, you will owe that payment, plus the previous two, all at once before your registration will be complete.
Language & Friendship (L&F) was selected after thorough research. They were chosen because they were competitive on cost and offered us the unique opportunity to coordinate a relationship with the school and host families in Bayonne, France, and surrounding areas.
Originally the school principal organized the trip. However, as the number of students traveling grew this was too difficult to manage. In 2006, Language & Friendship, a company based in Bloomington, Minnesota, was hired to coordinate this trip. According to their website, “Language & Friendship, Inc., was created in 1988 to offer maximum personalized service, custom-designed travel, and family-stay programs for language teachers and their students.”
This is one of the unique aspects of our trip that turns it into a true immersion experience and helps the kids fully experience the culture of France.
Host families volunteer, are personally screened by teachers or school administrators from the hosting school, and are matched using each AL student’s Family Stay Questionnaire and a Host Family Questionnaire.
Yes. It is encouraged that you do. You should receive all contact information — family name, children’s names and ages, address, phone, email — several months before the trip. The host family will receive your child’s information also. Some families speak English better than others, so your child may need to translate any message you have.
The first payment, along with your completed registration, is due March of your child’s 5th grade year. If all of your registration materials are turned in at this time (in March of your child’s 5th grade year), you will receive an “early bird discount” of $150, which will be deducted from your final payment. This payment is the only one that is entitled to this discount. Subsequent payments are due May, September, October, November, January, and March. The complete payment schedule will be made available to parents each year.
The cost of the trip to France is divided into two parts: Travel Costs and Other Costs.
The travel portion is not fixed because it can change from year to year based on airfare. The cost is also determined by the number of students and chaperones who travel. Typically the travel portion of the trip costs between $3,400 and $3,700 per student. This includes:
Extensive preparation materials for students and leaders before the trip
Round trip airfare between Kansas City and Biarritz or Pau (southwestern France)
Meet & Assist upon arrival in Paris (person who meets group at Charles de Gaulle airport and helps them find their bus for their transfer to Orly)
Three (3) bus transfers (from CDG to Orly upon arrival in France; from airport to hotel upon arrival in Paris after Family Stay; from hotel to airport on departure day)
Family stay placements, which includes visiting with, matching, and preparing host families
All meals during Family Stay
All excursions and activities during Family Stay (including school days)
Three (3) nights hotel in Paris
Three (3) dinners in Paris
All entrance fees that can be prepaid to museums, etc. in Paris
Medical and accident insurance
Cost of chaperones
The other costs are not fixed either because they, too, depend on the number of students who do not travel, the number of students who need scholarships, and the number of students who visit the school during the French student portion of the exchange. Typically other costs are approximately $500 per student based on the total number of students in the 6th grade. They include:
Field trips and other expenses for students who do not travel but who need to do more than sit in a classroom while the other students are traveling
Scholarships for students who need financial assistance. Typically there are $500 scholarships available for students who need them.
Travel funds that chaperones take to France to cover expenses such as some admissions that cannot be prepaid. For example, tickets to ride The Metro, four (4) lunches in Paris, certain museums, ice cream, or other special treats while in Paris, etc.
Exchange student expenses when French students visit us (field trips, some meals, admissions). These expenses include bus transportation for their “field trips” since Kansas City does not have extensive public transportation.
The student and his/her family are responsible for the Travel Costs of the trip. Typically $500 scholarships are available to students who need travel assistance. The school, with fundraising assistance from the proceeds of the $10,000 Cash Raffle and PTSO-led fundraising events, is responsible for the Other Costs associated with the trip. PTSO events can change from year to year but typically include: Allez5k fun run, Trivia Night, and the PTSO gala, An Evening in Paris.
Language & Friendship’s website states that chaperones are included at a 1:8 ratio in the Travel Costs for students. Although they may discount the price slightly for the chaperones, the majority of their costs (airfare, hotel in Paris, etc.) are folded into each student’s cost. However, without these chaperones, the trip would not be possible.
Language & Friendship doesn’t know their final costs until airline tickets are purchased and hotel rooms are booked. They will send each family the final invoice with the final amount due about two months before the trip.
Since airfare prices and currency exchanges change almost daily, Language & Friendship has to estimate what the prices may be. They don’t want to lock us into a higher price than is necessary, but they don’t want to lose money on it either.
That is a great way to help subsidize your payments. Those interested should contact Language & Friendship to determine the best way to make a gift to your child.
Any family who thinks they may not be able to pay for the entire trip is eligible to apply. However, keep in mind that the more families who apply, the less money each family may get, so if at all possible, save the scholarships for those families who truly need it. Usually the maximum has been $500 per family.
An application will be available for all families who would like one. To be eligible, you must turn it into the office by the due date on the application.
For parents who have already sent a child on this trip, please read this carefully, as this process has changed. Make all payments to Language & Friendship (except the initial payment). (See How do I register my child?) This may be done by check mailed in or with a credit card using a link on your account page with L&F.
A ratio of approximately 1:8 to 1:10.
All chaperones are staff members. Those interested in going submit a request based on availability. A committee including the Principal and the trip leader determines who should go based on the group of students going.
No. It takes away from the experience for the child, and the host family feels obligated to feed and “host” the parents.
All students will be given a lanyard at the airport with emergency contact numbers for all chaperones. They are to have these with them and wear them at all times so numbers are available.
A series of parent informational meetings will be scheduled throughout the year, usually beginning February or March of your child’s 5th grade year, continuing in September, January, and March of his/her 6th grade year. Although these are not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged you attend as there is a lot of useful information. There is one mandatory meeting a few weeks before the trip to sign authorization for your child to travel outside of the country without a parent.
Any other questions, please contact:
Leslie Houfaidi or
Marcia Berry or
Register as a new traveler at Language & Friendship. Once you have completed the registration form, you must print, sign, and turn in the form to us with a picture of your child and a check made payable to Language & Friendship. Do not mail the check directly to L&F. Your child is not considered registered until all of these things are complete.
All payments for your child’s trip to France are now to be paid directly to Language & Friendship. Please log into your child’s account and pay there.
Please review our list of frequently asked questions. For any other questions, please contact:
Leslie Houfaidi 816.361.7735
Marcia Berry (Finances)