Charlotte Shire posted details on the board with important information about the upcoming trip.
Charlotte Shire posted details on the board with important information about the upcoming trip.
Holly Thompson

Study Abroad is Back and Better than Ever

Bouncing back from COVID with a new travel opportunity

All students enrolled in the 2024-2025 school year are eligible to travel to Belize in April to partake in several STEM-oriented activities and unique opportunities such as snorkeling, cave tubing, ziplining, and more.

Science teachers Charlotte Shire and Lauren Garneau are leading a trip to Belize in the upcoming school year. The trip’s focus follows a watershed from the mountains all the way down to the coast.

“They’re going to be engaging with some scientists and going on some nature walks, but definitely related to science and technology. We’ll be actually gathering some scientific data at one of the research stations,” Shire said.

There are plenty of activities students can look forward to, such as hiking and visiting cultural attractions. Shire is excited to work with community organizations and scientists.

“One day we’re going to be replanting some mangrove forests. So, I’m actually really looking forward to that. Giving back to the community in which we visit.”

There are several locations students will visit within Belize after their arrival. Along the way, students will stay in hotels geared toward international travelers.

“We will fly into Belize City and quickly leave that region the following day. And we will go to this region called the Cayo region. It’s up in the rainforest. Then we will work our way down towards Punta Gorda and Tobacco Caye, which is the area where we are going to be doing some snorkeling and things like that.”

Shire believes traveling is important because it broadens students’ perspectives of the world, enabling them to explore new places and see how people in different countries live. Students can also experience a sense of independence that will help prepare them for the future.

“Kids do have an opportunity to navigate relationships with their peers. It’s really fun to see how the group grows and gets to know each other and just experiences a greater world.”

The last school trip abroad was in 2019. Several were canceled due to COVID. To plan a trip, teachers need to get approval from school committees and find out the tour company.

“We submit a proposal for a trip which includes the itinerary, the focus, the targeted number of students, the travel dates that are proposed, and the cost.”

Evans has traveled to several U.S. states as well as Canada but wants to visit more locations and try new things. “Traveling is important to me because it changes perspectives. I want to find out more about the world around me and different parts of the world that I’m not aware of yet.”

Emily Evans is one student who will be traveling to Belize on the trip. Her interest in STEM motivated her to take part in the experience.

“I am interested in science and doing what I can to help other people and the environment. People have done a lot of things to ruin it and I’m interested in finding ways to fix it again,” Evans said.

Evans wants to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity and looks forward to seeing another part of the world.

“I feel like here we’re so stuck in the same narrative and we don’t get very many opportunities to see somewhere new, and I think it will change my perspective.”

Alex Pilacik has traveled to Poland, Mexico, and several national parks. “National parks are definitely my favorite because you get to hike and see all this beautiful stuff and you can find some stuff in Massachusetts but it’s very difficult.”

Alex Pilacik is another student who will be taking part in the trip. He is passionate about environmental science and plans to pursue this in college. Several high school courses impacted his decision.

“I’m currently in Mr. Kudos’ Blue Planet Class and I took his Human Impacts on the Environment class. And I’m taking AP environmental science next year. That’s why I’m going on the Belize trip, because it’s just very interesting to me,” Pilacik said.

Pilacik’s interest in the trip focuses on environmental science and conservation. He looks forward to hiking through the forest and visiting different conservation farms in Belize on a journey that goes beyond your average vacation.

“The school provides a lot more in-depth activities that require research and doing actual assignments other than just going on vacation and doing touristy things.”

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