A trip anything but ordinary
Known for its lush rain forests, Alpine wilderness and rugged beaches, Olympic National Park is an annual spring sixth grade school trip for the students of three of American Academy’s (AA) campuses. Due to travel restrictions the past two years, the now eighth graders finally had the opportunity to experience the cultural and outdoor adventures of Olympic National Park that they missed as sixth graders.
Olympic National Park, found on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest, spans nearly a million acres and encompasses three diverse ecosystems that provide the perfect backdrop for environmental science experiences. The trip was anything but ordinary for these students.
During the week-long trip, students were immersed in firsthand learning experiences in the Olympic Mountains, and they even got to see a black bear on the Elwha River looking for salmon. Students had the opportunity to explore the parks diverse environment by trekking six miles to the
top of Storm Mountain, hiking through old growth forests and canoeing the clear waters of Crescent Lake. Eating lunch by the water after canoeing to Devils Punch Bowl was a highlight for Maddie Ballenger, who thought the trip was going to just be discussions all about salmon and the Elwha River.
In talking with the students, their perspectives from the trip were much different than what they originally expected. During the two-year wait, the students each matured and expanded their knowledge, insight and life experiences.
Ella Scott celebrated her 14th birthday during the school trip. As a sixth grader two years ago, Ella was excited and a little nervous about the trip. She anticipated going, as it was to be her first middleschool travel adventure. Looking back, she realizes how anxious she was about going.
“This year, I felt excited without any hesitations or expectations because I knew it was going to be different now. I also knew the ropes from our trip to Catalina Island last December,” said Ella.
Ella, along with her fellow classmates, appreciates the opportunity AA provides its students to travel and explore different areas of the U.S. and other parts of the world. “The two trips have been the highlights of my middle school years!” she said.
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Chris Todd American Academy