Spanish students to test language skills

Published 5:48 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles High School Spanish students will get the chance to use their foreign language skills first hand this summer with a special school trip to Costa Rica.
Jennifer Schembri, first year Spanish teacher at Niles High School, is responsible for organizing the trip. It will mark the first trip from the Spanish program in years.
From July 12 to 22, the students will fly into Costa Rica and spend more than a week in the country's lush tropical environment.
She said being in a Spanish speaking culture will really help the students to develop their skills and it can be very exciting for them to use their knowledge in a real life situation.
Schembri told the story of one of her students who got to take a trip to Mexico and was so excited about having the chance to use Spanish in an actual conversation.
Schembri said the purpose of the trip is to "help them to see other cultures and to just have fun."
The group of six from Niles will be traveling to Costa Rica with a group of 17 students from Mona Shores High School, which is near Muskegon.
Schembri was a teacher's assistant at the Mona Shores school before accepting the job at Niles High School.
While talking to the teacher she worked with, Schembri decided to invite her class to make the trip to Costa Rica with the Mona Shores students.
She said the initial response was overwhelming. She originally thought there may be as many as 30 students making the trip, but as of right now there are only five Niles students and one parent who have signed up and made their deposits. Schembri said there are some students who are looking to get sponsors and scholarships to help them to pay for the trip. The trip is being planned by EF Educational Tours and will cost approximately $1,800.
The fee includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, three meals a day and entrance fees to the selected attractions.
The trip will also include a full time translator to be present with the group throughout their stay.
In addition to being a great educational experience, Schembri said the trip will have a lot of recreational opportunities.
The students will have the chance to go on a whitewater rafting excursion down the Reventazon River, zip line through the rainforest and visit a number of the country's national parks.
In the future, Schembri said she would like to organize these trips at least once every other year.