Students practice Spanish skills on trip
Published 11:20 pm Saturday, August 21, 2004
By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Some Niles High School students got the chance to experience a Spanish-speaking culture first hand this summer.
Five students from Niles High School, and one parent, took a week and a half long trip to Costa Rica with Spanish teacher Jennifer Schembri in July.
Schembri graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2003 with a degree in secondary education. This year will be her second at Niles High School teaching Spanish and psychology.
The students traveled all over the country with a tour guide, taking in the culture, visiting hot springs and hiking through rain forests.
They even got to see a volcano erupt while visiting the country.
The trip was organized by Schembri through Education First Tours, a travel agency specializing in booking trips for teachers wanting to take students to foreign countries.
Costa Rica is located in Central America and is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
The Niles group was part of a group of 25 students, five teachers, and five parents. One of the high schools that went with Niles was Mona Shores High School, located near Muskegon, Mich.
Schmebri did her student teaching there under Tanya Olsen, another teacher who went on the trip to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is also one of the most geographically diverse areas in the world, containing 12 of the 22 ecosystems which exist in the world.
While hiking through the rain forest, the group got to go ziplining over the forest.
When ziplining, a harness is worn by the participant and they are attached to a cable suspended between two trees, and they then zip down the line to the other other end. The longest line the group ziplined down was a half mile long, Schembri said.
The group visited a couple of volcanos while in Costa Rica. At the Poas volcano, the group saw a lake on the volcano that changes colors due to volcanic activity.
When the group visited the Arenal volcano, the world's second most active volcano, they got to see the volcano erupt.
One word Schembri would use to describe Costa Rica - wet. It rained every day we were down there, she said.
The group also played it's part in preserving the rain forest by planting a native tree to replace a cypress tree planted by Spanish settlers.
The program was created by a local high school in Costa Rica.
While some other students complained about some aspects of the trip, the Niles students were great, Schembri said.
Getting from location to location was a hazard in itself. Blind corners and small roads winding through the mountains made for some heart-stopping experiences.
No accidents occurred and no one in the group was hurt.
But what trip would be complete without some comic antics from the travellers?
At one of the hotels they stayed at, the lone Niles parent, Denise Mead, decided to play a joke on some of the boys with a fake snake.
Mead then picked up the snake and chased the boys around with it.
But turnabout is fair play when it comes to pranks. The boys hid some crabs in Mead's bed and she slept with them there and didn't even realize it until Schembri pointed it out.
As for next year, Schembri hopes to take some students to Spain. She needs to poll the gather information and find out how many students might want to go.