Student heading to Australia

— Freshman Brendan Mitchell, 14, will get the chance to explore new cultures and lifestyles when he heads to Australia this summer with the People to People program.

Mitchell, who attends Swartz Creek High School, will participate in the 2011 Discover Australia trip with the organization. He was scheduled to travel to Europe this past summer and had raised half of the funds. But due to unrest in the countries, Mitchell and his parents decided to opt out.

“When things started to happen, we were not comfortable,” said his mother Teri. “We pulled him out and put the money in a savings account and when this trip came up, we decided to put the money towards this trip.”

Mitchell and approximately 40 other students on the 2011 Discover Australia trip are scheduled to leave late June/early July and be gone for 20 days. While in Australia, Mitchell will follow an itinerary which includes a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, experiencing life on an Australian farm and interacting with and learning from Australian Aborigines.

The upcoming trip will be a real highlight for Mitchell.

“He’s really interested in world history and seeing how different cultures developed,” Teri said. “During this time, he’ll also take classes to learn about the different lifestyles and issues in the country.”

Mitchell was selected for the program after being recommended by teachers at Swartz Creek High School. The recommendations were based on grades, behavior and volunteerism. Mitchell is a member of Key Club and the drama department, along with being vice president of the freshman class at Swartz Creek High School.

From there, Mitchell went to a meeting where he had to fill out three recommendation letters. He then interviewed with the leader of the trip, who decided to let Mitchell.

The cost to attend the 2011 Discover Australia trip is $7,000 and so far, Mitchell has raised $3,500. To help raise the additional funds, Mitchell and his family are doing a variety of fundraisers, including selling Christmas cards. The family also hopes to hold a spaghetti fundraiser for his trip.

“Brendan had the idea to start tie-dyeing shirts over the Christmas break and sell them at school,” Teri said of the possible fundraising idea.

The money for the trip is due by the end of March. Individuals interested in donating to Mitchell’s upcoming trip to Australia can contact Teri at 810-730-8374 or e-mail

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