Alberta Baker stood in the front of her classroom at Crofton Middle School -- where the French flag hangs by the window, pictures from French festivals decorate the bulletin board and French flashcards label everything from the clock to the door.
On this day, Baker, who prefers to converse with her students in French, chose to address her students in plain English:
"Your trip to Quebec City, Canada, has been canceled," she told the class earlier this week.
The eighth-graders' eyes wandered around the room. Some of the students looked confused. A few pounded their fists on their desks. Their sighs of disappointment filled the air.
Similar scenes played out in public-school classrooms across Anne Arundel County recently after administrators announced that all field trips outside of the county would be canceled until further notice while the nation remains under a heightened threat of terrorism.
The announcement affects a number of trips -- from vacations in Scotland to overnight stays in Pennsylvania.
"It's not something we want to do," said Kenneth Lawson, Anne Arundel associate superintendent for instruction and student services. "But on the other hand, our first responsibility is to do whatever we can do to keep the kids safe."
Still, for many students, the logic doesn't make the cancellation any easier to to accept. Some students were already lamenting the loss of school trips that were canceled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the sniper shootings last fall.
"I mean, it seems so silly," said Molly Coombs, a 13-year-old at Crofton Middle. "We can't just lock ourselves in our houses."
"I feel cheated," said Austin Alderman, 14, who was sitting nearby.
School administrators sent a memo outlining the new field trip restrictions to all 120 schools last week, citing several reasons for the cancellations.
Administrators said they were concerned about not being able to predict a terrorist attack and how difficult it would be to keep track of students should one occur.
School officials also said they worried about getting students back to their homes in Anne Arundel County should a crisis develop and traffic becomes snarled.
The memo also noted that students and adult supervisors would likely not lose money on the cancellations because of built-in provisions that protect against backing out of field trip plans.
By early this week, news of the cancellations made it to students at Central Middle School in Edgewater who had planned a May trip to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.
Nearly 175 students had looked forward to the "Music in the Parks Festival," where youngsters play their instruments for a day in a competition, and then to spend a second day at the amusement park.
Since October, students have sold boxes of cookie dough and frozen pizzas to raise money for the overnight trip. The students had chosen roommates and talked about which rides they would try, said Cindy Smith, the school's band and orchestra booster president.
Smith said she could understand why the school system made its decision but felt sorry for the students. The end-of-the-year festival is seen as a reward for the young musicians who arrive at school an hour and a half early to attend music practice four days a week.
"The kids really work for this all year," said Smith, whose son is an eighth-grader and plays drums in the school band. "It's just so sad that the times have been changing."
At Crofton, Baker, who often carries a miniature French flag while teaching, said the five-day trip to Canada would have been the ultimate learning experience for her students.
The trip was planned to include an afternoon with their French-Canadian pen pals, a walk around old Quebec City and tours by French-speaking guides. The 53 students were to tour churches and shop in malls while being asked to speak the language continuously.
Baker said she dreaded breaking the news to her students -- all of whom had earned A's and B's in her class in preparation for the trip.
"I hate to disappoint them when they were looking forward to it, many of them for two years," she said.
Still, Baker and other teachers said they must now focus on finding field trip alternatives.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Virginia and the World Trade Center in New York led to the cancellation of a Quebec trip, Baker took her students to the French Embassy and to the National Gallery of Art in Washington to see a French impressionist painting exhibit.
The restrictions this year would make backup plans like that impossible, but Baker still hopes to offer some sort of consolation. Maybe she'll take her students to a French restaurant in Annapolis or bring in French-speaking visitors, she said. Meanwhile, students said they're getting used to the idea of staying on campus. Some no longer expect to go on field trips.
"With all this stuff going on, you pretty much know for certain they're going to be closing special events, just for the safety of us," said Chris Smith, an eighth-grader at Central Middle.