Real-life learning in Costa Rica for Red Hook High seniors

Things you don’t normally see in a high school classroom: Lizards. White-water rapids. Monkeys. Dragonfruit ice cream.

To rectify this, Red Hook High School’s International Baccalaureate biology teacher Debbie Beam took a dozen 10th to 12th graders to Costa Rica for spring break this year.

Students from the IB biology and Spanish classes were invited to go on the trip, which was scheduled over spring break to avoid missing classes. (Two of the students were from Stissing Mountain High School.) The adventurers stayed in varying levels of accommodation on both coasts of Costa Rica, ensuring they saw as much as possible. Each student paid his or her own way for the trip; no school funds were used.

“The students were in nine different biomes – different elevations, climates, landscapes, wildlife,” Beam told the school board at its May 28 meeting.

The 12 students were accompanied by two high school staff members and two class parents. The group went on nature hikes, boat tours, whitewater rafting and ziplining, and had some downtime to explore Costa Rican villages and culture.

“From the first day at the airport, everything was fun,” said senior Ryan Hicks. Fellow senior Everett Knag said he went expecting endless rainforest, but was “surprised at the diversity of animals and environments.”

School aide and trip chaperone Debbie Taylor was impressed with the students. “The kids were shining examples–great ambassadors of Red Hook,” she said.

With board approval and depending on fundraising efforts, Beam is hoping to visit the Galapagos Islands for next year’s school trip.

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