Three students from Princess Alexandra School received some unexpected and amazing news late last week.

At a school assembly on Sept. 14, they were named as the latest young people from the school to be chosen for a surprise visit to Disneyland in California.

However, the trio of Grade 6 students – Leland Lafferty, Ryan Wilson and Charlene Smallgeese – didn’t have a lot of time to think about the trip. They flew out of Hay River on Sept. 18 and will spend all of Sept. 19 at Disneyland before flying back the next day.

The trip is part of a national initiative called Dreams Take Flight, which is now in its fourth year at Princess Alexandra School. Dreams Take Flight is a charity created by employees of Air Canada to take children aged nine to 12 years on adventures.

Ten-year-old Charlene knows who she wants to meet at Disneyland.

“I will want to see Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse,” she said just after being selected for the trip.

Plus, she is looking forward to the rides at the world-famous amusement park.

“What I want to do is run around, be hyper and stuff. Eat candy and run around,” she said. “And just like follow Mickey Mouse around.”

Eleven-year-old Ryan is also looking forward to seeing Disneyland.

Three students at Princess Alexandra School – left to right, Leland Lafferty, Ryan Wilson and Charlene Smallgeese – were surprised on Sept. 14 by being selected for a trip to Disneyland. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo.

“My sister got picked a few years ago and she told me a whole bunch of stuff about it,” he said. “And now I’m really happy, but also kind of nervous.”

When he was announced as one of the young people going on the adventure, it was pointed out that Ryan does a lot around Princess Alexandra School.

“I do the garden,” he said. “I clean up litter around the school sometimes. And I water the plants, make sure they stay alive.”

Eleven-year-old Leland said he didn’t think he was going to be chosen for the trip, and that would have been OK with him because he was nervous thinking about going.

“It’s a different country in the States,” he explained.

But now that he has been chosen, Leland is looking forward to taking the rides and seeing the Disney characters.

“We can’t take it back,” Ryan also told Leland. “We have to go.”

Princess Alexandra School principal Carolyn Carroll recognized teacher Jennifer Tweedie for her continuing efforts in bringing Dreams Take Flight to the school.

“Ms. Tweedie has been working really, really hard behind the scenes to make this work, to make this happen for us,” Carroll told the assembly.

Tweedie said Dreams Take Flight has made many kids at the school really happy over four years.

“I think it’s changed a lot of who they are even,” she said, explaining the trips give students great memories and boost their confidence.

Tweedie said such a trip is a kid’s dream come true.

“They’re treated like kings and queens,” she noted.

At Disneyland, the youngsters from Dreams Take Flight get first-in-line tickets, meaning they never have to wait in line.

Students are chosen for the trips for a number of reasons, including the fact they would not normally go on such an adventure.

“Some of these kids have never been on planes before and they’re going to be on eight planes in three days,” Tweedie noted.

Buffalo Airways flies the students to Yellowknife where they connect with Air Canada.

The Princess Alexandra School students will be among 175 children from northern Alberta on the Dreams Take Flight adventure this year.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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