North Tahoe students get out of the classroom |

North Tahoe students get out of the classroom

Waking up on a riverboat in the Amazonian jungle, hiking amidst famous ruins and eating piranhas were just a few things some North Tahoe students did during this years spring break.Thirteen students, six parents and three teachers from North Tahoe High School enjoyed a 10-day excursion to Peru this past April.School trips provide a special opportunity for students, according to Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Superintendent Steve Jennings.This is not a required program, he said. These teachers go above and beyond to enhance the curriculum.Instructors at the high school have organized five science trips since 2000, according to teacher Dick Lingle. The trip was different this year because the science and Spanish departments teamed up to create not only a science excursion, but one that helped students study different cultures.This one was more about the people in the country, and the other two were more ecology based, said senior Emily McNair, 17. McNair participated in trips to Belize and Costa Rica in the past.The North Tahoe staff realized it would be more beneficial to teach a blend of curriculums to make sure traveling doesn’t include one facet of learning, said Spanish teacher Krissy McCart.We did math, we did Spanish and science, she said of the trip. Dan Gill, [a North Tahoe teacher], was teaching chemistry it serves a greater purpose [for the student’s learning].Also, the staff considered the economic limitations that parents have and thought more students would sign up if they combined both subjects, said chemistry teacher Dan Gill.The trip, which included a months worth of activities packed into 10 days, cost $3,200 per person, explained Lingle. Although expensive for some families, parents that participated said it was worth it.For the trip, the price was great, said parent Ed Smallman. If you tried to do it on your own and do everything we did you would spend twice that much.The organizers used a professional education tours company, according to Jennings.Recognizing that the cost could be a hindrance, Gill said the staff at North Tahoe is looking at giving more advanced notice to students and parents so they will have a chance to save the money for future trips.Participants got to see two of the countrys capitals; Lima, the current capital and the ancient Incan capital of Cusco, the navel of the Inca, Lingle said. The trip also featured a 300-mile river boat excursion that took the group to the border of Peru, Columbia and Brazil, Lingle said.Days on the Amazon allowed the Tahoe travelers the opportunity to catch an alligator, fish for piranhas and the highlight for many; meet with a village of 30 Huitoto Indians.I would think meeting and dancing with the native tribe in their village [was a highlight], Smallman said. They live in their village like they did 1,000 years ago and they are happy, loving people.In addition to dancing and trading, the group of North Tahoe residents enjoyed a lunch of roasted Peccary stew with the Peru locals, he said.While touring the Amazon, another culinary delight was pan-fried piranha, said senior Joe Erman.We fished for piranhas. It [tasted] really good, he said.Once finished with the tour of the Amazon, the group went to Machu Picchu, the nearly 600-year-old Incan ruins.While on the trip the Spanish students, including some of the first strands from Kings Beach Elementary Schools Immersion program, got a chance to use their non-native tongue, Lingle said.It was really cool to see the kids blossom and be able to communicate, he said.Lingle summed up the benefits.The students will be more worldly, they will speak a different language, they will know about different cultures and they will know what the rain forest is all about, he said.

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